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Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Window on the Gates of Heaven

By Nihal D Amerasekera  

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage.”
Anais Nin

In the 20th Century Paris was the centre of the bohemian G- spots in the world.
As the world ushers in the new year it has said goodbye to the most famous brothel keeper of  the last century. High society will mourn its best “Madame” who has served Royalty, Presidents, Prime Ministers and Ambassadors.  The  great and the good enjoyed her services provided with such vivacity, vigor and verve. She did everything possible to keep the customer satisfied but it came at a price. The service was discreet. Her list of clients had always remained a closely guarded secret.  She knew her regular runners and riders like the palm of her hand. Madame’s worn out diaries said it all.

Sex is an intoxicating desire which has mesmerized humans since the beginning of time.  The so called “houses of ill-repute” or bordellos have been a feature of towns and cities since Biblical times. Nowadays such houses are well regulated and suitably controlled. Those that are not remain a social disgrace and a danger to the clients and providers. They are abhorrent to the many who want the girls to be adequately protected from exploitation.

The Madame Duchenne chose her house of good repute with great care. The mansion with beautifully manicured lawns stood in the  shadow of the Eiffel tower just off the Boulevard San Michel in the plush quarter of  Paris. The 20th Century décor in the waiting room was elegant. Canned classical music was played to calm the nerves.  A gentle sweet perfume wafted across the rooms into the foyer. Despite this some clients were seen pacing the corridors, patting their groins, waiting their turn.

The Madame chose her girls carefully. They had to be taller than 5ft9 to be able to fend off unreasonable requests single handed. There was a rigorous process of recruitment for the girls who had to strip naked. She complained looks can be deceptive. Some girls who were slim and pretty with the clothes on were a catastrophe when naked. Some successful candidates were advised to get plastic surgery for improvements to the nose, chin or the teeth.  Of course the girls had to pay for the surgery!!  When God doesn’t get it right the surgeon can.  The girls were trained in self defence, fake orgasm and how to navigate between sex, romance and everything else in between. It is considered an honour to be one of her girls and certainly a slur it was not. They were chatty, cheerful and convivial.  It is considered the finest sex operation in the history of mankind.

There was little competition for this fastidious convent educated girl who catered for the top end of the market. She introduced a telephone booking service and online credit card payments.  Her website merely showed the mythical gateway to heaven and how to book the journey. Members of the ruling political establishment and religious dignitaries were given a special discount. The Madame , who is a storehouse of information, said some lacked the staying power and it all finished even before they entered the room.  Some from the dark continent hit the sweet spot often enough to wild cheers. Those sexually effervescent clients from the Middle East who wanted that little bit extra paid a higher premium. There were first timers who tipped the girls generously to clear their conscience. One girl needed a posterior fornix repair after an “all nighter”, a well known occupational hazard. Radiologists say such work causes free gas to appear under the diaphragm on an erect abdominal X ray. Injuries that occur on the job were covered by insurance.

There were bouncers to protect her and the girls. Money flowed in as did the “tips” for those added extras. The rooms were specially designed and sound proofed to cut out the “oohs and the ahs”  and also the puffing and grunting.

As the “house” looks for a new Madame business is booming. Whatever the state of the economy and the stock markets, human desires take precedence over everything else. Many will salute the Madames of this world for the huge service they provide. As for Madame Duchenne let’s hope she found the Gates of Heaven which she so readily showed her clients for over half a century.

I write this piece tongue in cheek!!  It is not a glorification of the oldest profession and the bordellos but an acknowledgement of its survival. As long as human frailties and desires exist trade will flourish. It is my wish such encounters are between consenting adults and equal partners.

I wish the readers of our Blog a very happy, healthy and peaceful New Year. I hope my humble literary foreplay is sufficient to enjoy the pleasures of the flesh in the comfort of your own home.  Some may care to spare a thought for Madame Duchenne’s legacy in Boulevard San Michel.


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Reunion of First Ruhuna Batch

E-mail from Sanath Lamabadusuriya. Dear Friends, Yesterday the medical graduates of the first Ruhuna batch who graduated in 1983, had a re-union and some of their teachers were invited, I delivered the attached presentation at the event. Kind regards, Sanath Tip from Speedy who also helped me to get Sanath's power point posted on the blog. For a running presentation, click on the "arrow triangle" or go one by one by clicking on the arrow to its right. You can even choose the slide by clicking on the little apex down arrow next to "Slide 1". If you want to run the presentation without overlap, you can just have the presentation only on the screen by clicking on the "show full screen" icon after the slide 1 = he one with four arrows diverging from the centre. This will give you a presentation on the screen and to get back to the Blog, just click on that area again.

Monday, December 28, 2015

SNOW - MY RELATIONSHIP WITH THE WHITE STUFF

By Srianee (Bunter) Dias

Don't worry, I don't have a drug problem!  I'm talking about about the wet white COLD stuff that descends on us in the northern part of the United States intermittently from November through March. I don't remember when I saw snow for the first time, but it was probably sometime in 1970 or 1971 shortly after I moved to New York City. It didn't have much of a impact on me, because at that time I was staying at home with my daughters and we were able to watch the very pretty snow flakes from inside our warm apartment, and enjoy the few inches that had accumulated on the ground after the snow storm was over.

After I moved to Connecticut, it was a different story. I was driving my children several miles to a Montessori School every morning, even though I lived within walking distance of the Hospital where I was doing my residency training in Pathology. When snow storms were predicted, there was palpable anxiety in our house. How many inches will accumulate? Will they close the schools? The school closings are usually announced on the local radio stations, and very often one wouldn't know for certain until the early morning announcements. We would watch the late night TV weathermen who loved to "hype" it up when a Nor'easter was coming from the south along the shore, picking up more and more moisture from the ocean. They would strut their stuff, predicting 10 or 20 inches.  It was almost a game to hit the target number. Sometimes the storms veered out to sea and left only a few inches on the ground.

I didn't care exactly how many inches accumulated on the ground, I just needed to know whether or not to line up a baby sitter for the next day.  Hospitals didn't close down, so we had to show up regardless of the weather.  Once, my colleague and I resorted to taking our three girls (all between the ages of 4 and 6) to work, and allowed them to amuse themselves in the conference room with art projects.  They survived!

Then I began to realize that other people were really enjoying themselves during the snow season, and started making day trips and weekend trips with my daughters, and sometimes friends, determined to learn skiing.  The kids got the hang of it in a very short time, but my first group  lesson resulted in my crashing into my instructor and taking him down with me.  Fortunately, neither one of us was hurt.  This first experience did not discourage me, and I made several other attempts to learn downhill skiing.  I succeeded in enjoying the experience a few times with a patient instructor, whenever the ski slope was not so crowded (mid-week) and the teenage hot-shots were all busy at school.  Finally, the rational side of me realized that there were better things to do than strapping on a pair of skis and uncomfortable boots and sliding down a mountain with the chilly wind blowing in my face and neck.  I found the perfect solution and stayed inside the ski lodge with a good book and a hot chocolate, by the fireplace, while my daughters had fun on the slopes.

I have also endured some major blizzards in the past.  The definition of a blizzard is when the snow comes down at a rapid rate with high winds and near zero visibility.  Luckily, most of these storms are predicted ahead of time, so most people dash in to the grocery stores to stock up in anticipation of several days of hibernation.  The stocks of bread and milk get depleted rapidly.  Most wise people stay at home during these fierce storms.  Driving on the roads during a blizzard means risking at least a "fender bender" or worse.   For those of us who work in hospital there is no choice; we have to get the work done.  Routine surgery is often cancelled, and those who can make it into work plan on staying the night.  Patients who are able to go home get discharged in order to accommodate hospital staff who have to stay overnight.  I have often camped out on the floor of my office on an air mattress rather than risk my life going home.  Then, there were other days when I braved the weather and the slick roads, and made it home, usually if I had the day off the next day!

One memorable blizzard was a surprise in early April.  My commute was usually about 20 minutes from hospital to home, but that day it took much longer. My department started emptying out early after we completed the urgent and most important work.  It was already Spring so some of us hadn't even worn our warm coats to work that morning.  Fortunately, my winter gear consisting of a blanket and shovel were still in my Honda Civic.  I headed home in a complete "white out" where I could not see the road at all.  The roadway and sidewalks were all  blended into one continuous snowdrift.  Fortunately, the route was very familiar and some of the barely recognizable buildings and the tail lights of the cars ahead of me guided me towards home.  Any hills or upgrades that one did not notice in clear weather were now like climbing an Alpine trail.  Other cars were getting stuck in the rapidly falling snow, now about 6 inches high on the ground.  My trusty 5 speed manual transmission kept me moving forward, although my car was barely clearing the snow.  Finally, got to an area where I couldn't see the edge of the road, went too close to the edge, and hit a snow bank where my Honda just got stuck.  I couldn't move forward or reverse.  I then got out with my shovel and began shoveling the snow away from under my car and around the wheels.  A few minutes later a Saab drove up and ended in the same predicament.  A guy in a suit got out (he had left his overcoat at home that morning) and asked if he could borrow my shovel, promising to help me after he dug his car out.  It didn't take him much time to clear the snow under his car and then he started working on my car.  After a few half hearted attempts, he mumbled something about waiting for help, handed the shovel back to me and drove off!  I was speechless, and couldn't retrieve swear words fast enough from my vocabulary to yell after him.  A few minutes later, a few good Samaritans, a bunch of teenagers in another Saab, armed with long handled shovels drove up and dug me out in a matter of minutes.  I was on the slippery road again.  Just near the turn off to my street where there was a hill, I got stuck again.  But, this time there were several guys on the side of the road who were lending a hand by pushing the cars up that hill.  I was truly grateful for all those kind people who got me home safely that evening.  And I also learned a lesson that day.  Never trust a guy in a suit!

At  Christmas time, the radio stations play songs such as "White Christmas" and "Winter Wonderland" which romanticize snow. Frankly, I don't see anything romantic or enchanting about snow.  After all these adventures, I now resort to avoidance by flying away to Sri Lanka for most of the winter.



Saturday, December 19, 2015

Creative Spot by Mahendra (Speedy) Gonsakorale

Mevan Pitisere (Originally sung by Sunil Shanta)


English Translation provided by Vasantha  De Silva and his wife Kanthi.

Living in this poor little hut in a remote village 
You are my sweet loving wild flower

Away from you little princess, where is my pleasure
Wild flower, you are my loving dove
You are the light in my world of love
And I will forever be in your loving arms

Slender waist wrapped in a pink Saree
With a matching lace-top
Scented oil rubbed on your hair
With rings of jasmine buds around 
Will make you the most beautiful

Two delicate bracelets around your pretty wrists
And anklets around flower like feet
A red scented spot (Bindi) worn on mid forehead
Will make you pretty as Goddess Saraswathi





Friday, December 18, 2015

From Here to Eternity

By Nihal D. Amerasekera

When I qualified as a doctor in 1967 all I wanted was an easy life.  I wanted to be free of the stresses of examinations , to be far from the madding crowd and closer to nature.  My obvious choice was to be a DMO. After 2 years as an MO/OPD in Kurunegala I applied to become a Medical Officer of the Peripheral Unit in Bingiriya which had fallen vacant.  Bingiriya was a small, serene and peaceful town at the edge of the dry zone.  Chilaw with its bounty of fish. crabs and lobsters was just 10 miles away. The peripheral unit had its own doctors quarters. It was a small quaint hospital with a garden full of mango and jak trees. I waited with bated breath for my official confirmation but when it arrived, I had the shock of my life. I’ve been  transferred to the Central Blood Bank in Colombo with immediate effect.

These movements of doctors often in a four yearly cycle were euphemistically called transfers. In my recollection half a century ago, there were many  thousands of these transfers arranged by the Head Office. The Director was unable to do it all by himself and the work was delegated to a clerk who was quite knowledgeable and had done it for many years before. Some of it was done like shuffling a pack of cards and where you were posted depended on your luck. Occasionally what mattered was whom you knew. It makes me humble to think my entire professional future finally depended on a random selection at the Head Office.

The Central Blood Bank (CBB) was at the GHC site.  It was on the left when you enter the hospital from Kynsey Road. It had a modern façade but within it was an old house. Many warned me this was a dead end job.  I was quite prepared to while away my time and enjoy life in the capital. The CBB was an autocratic setup with Dr Percy Gunawardene as the boss. The doctors and other staff were happy and the Blood Bank was run with precision and efficiency. The doctors went on trips to collect Blood from all corners of Sri Lanka except Jaffna and Trincomalee. I saw the country on government expense.

Being in Colombo had its pleasures. Many of my medical and school friends were still around in town ready  for a good social life. We frequented the bars and eating houses.  Health Department Sports Club was a popular watering hole. After a couple of years I got tired of this hazy, lazy, crazy life. For the first time they planned to hold the MRCP Part I examination in Colombo in 1973. The faculty library was next door to the CBB. I worked hard to pass the examination. This changed my life forever.

It was now the early 1970’s. The country has been through a bloody insurrection in 1971. Our coffers were empty with constant government reminders to tighten our belts. There were import restrictions and occasional food shortages.  It was then the dark clouds of ethnic strife appeared on the horizon.  It was rather ominous but these never bothered me as much as my desire to complete my professional qualifications. I remember the well oiled and endless circular discussions I’ve had with my doctor friends whether to leave or stay.

I left Sri Lanka to complete my MRCP which I did 18 months after arriving in London.  The bright lights and the personal freedom was a great distraction but commonsense prevailed. The rest including my desire to follow a career in radiology is now history. As always, I will continue to call this turn of events that lead me to leave the country, as the awesome force of destiny.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Encounter with a Palm Reader

By Sanath Lamabadusuriya
 
In late 1971, few months before I left home for studies abroad, I decided to visit a palmist named Kingsley Goonethilaka who had an office in Ratmalana. I parked my car (Triumph Herald ) some distance away and walked into his office with long hair, a beard, unbuttoned shirt and in slippers (That was the year of the first JVP insurrection). I paid Rs.10.00 for the consultation. He applied Indian ink on my palm and got a palm print on to a paper .He  asked me what my job was and I replied that I was a bank clerk. Then he  told me that I have to be some one more than a bank clerk and if I wanted an accurate reading, I have to be honest. When I told him that I was a doctor, he told me that I have to be doing something more than treating patients, like teaching or research (I was a lecturer in paediatrics at that time). He told me some things about my past which were true, but off the mark by about an year. Then he told me that I would be travelling abroad very soon and that I would return home few years later as a single person. He told me that I would get married to a girl known to my family. I had no idea who Buddhika was at that time.

I returned home on the 1st of January 1975. In February 1976, I married Buddhika. It was an arranged marriage;(both  our fathers were related to each other and were from the same village  (Pahalagoda in Tangalle). He also told me that I would become a professor before my 40th birthday. At that time, it was most unlikely because both Priyani Soysa and Herbert Aponso were due to retire in the early 1990's after reaching their 65th birthday (I would have been in my late forties by then). 

During the latter stages of Sirima B's government, speeches were made in parliament by opposition MPs like Gamini Dissanayake that they would do away with standardisation at the "A"level examination if they come to power. With the landslide victory in 1977, they had to honour  their pledges. When standardisation was abolished, it was discovered that a disproportionate number of Tamil students would have to be admitted. That would have been political dynamite. Therefore, they decided to admit a similar number of Sinhalese students. To accommodate the increased intake, two new faculties were created in Ruhuna and in Jaffna.

The professors post in Ruhuna was advertised in late 1978 and I applied for it. I was appointed in April 1980 and I assumed duties on the 1st of September 1980 when I was provided with two interns. (I was 37 years old at that time).

So my friends, two predictions made by a palm reader for a meagre fee of Rs.10.00 was proved to be accurate several years later!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Creative Spot by Mahendra (Speedy) Gonsalkorale

Vikara Pissoo Concerto Performance

A mythical Sri Lankan pianist  (Srimath Vikara Pissoo) performing his own composition, a piano concerto, the 3rd Movement of Gonzos Piano Sonata, and compered by another mythical stiff Englishman (Boris Spofworth-Smythe OBE). Gonzo is Vikara Pissoo's stage name.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=swjNuqkRN94

Please see the Review by Nihal D. Amerasekera after enjoying the clip.




Gonzo’s Piano Sonata by Srimath Vikara Pissoo – A Review by Nihal D Amerasekera

Vikara Pisso was the inspiration for this sold out concert of contemporary music. The performance was introduced by Boris Sposworth - Smythe, a fumbling octogenarian with a flawless aristocratic diction. His audible mutterings and the painful squirming colicky look had the audience in stitches. Boris is a colourful personality of the British Empire, once the envy of the world. His delusions of grandeur is a remnant of his debauchery in the sin spots of the Far-East. His manhood bears the scars of his wars with the spirochetes.

Hiding behind the persona of the psychologically challenged, Vikara Pissoo is an accomplished pianist. The erudite audience appreciated his musical sensitivity.  Despite his occasional Parkinsonic rigidity during the performance he maintained a perfect tempo. The scintillating keyboard skills of this mythical Sonata outshone the lunatic antics of the presenter and the performer. The pins and needles from his Type 1 Diabetes brought on the occasional thump which enhanced the fluency of his magical interpretation of this masterpiece.

The evening sadly ended abruptly without the usual encore as the octogenarian’s colic had reached its climax and needed to be relieved.

This is a reminder of the lives of Schumann and Beethoven who both inconspicuously shuffled between sanity and insanity. Their sublime music will continue to thrill and intoxicate music lovers until the end of time.

The whole performance brought joy and laughter to my life on a bleak winters day.

Mahen, you are a huge talent and we have seen nothing yet but the tip of the proverbial ice-berg. What amazes me is your inherent modesty despite your many achievements.






Friday, December 11, 2015

Restoration of Private Practice

By Sanath P. Lamabadusuriya

In 1979, private consultation practice was given to the University staff. There was a very interesting story behind it.  When Professor Rajasuriya died, the logical successor should have been Dr. David Chanmugam. When Professor D.A. Ranasinghe retired, he should have been succeeded by Professor T.Visvanathan. However for reasons best known to the higher authorities (probably communal) Professor  Dharmadasa  and  Professor D.E. Gunatilleke (Gunti) were appointed to the Chairs of Medicine and  Gynaecology & Obstetrics respectively. Both were seconded from the Ministry of Health for two years. During this period private consultation practice was restored to the Ministry of Health Consultants. When the two years were over, both Professor Professor Dharmadasa and Professor Gunatilleke threatened to revert back to the Ministry of Health, if private practice was not given to them. To retain their services (and prevent the 2 logical successors from assuming duties) private practice was given to the University staff. 

I was one of the first beneficiaries and I did a little practice at the Sri Lanka Nursing Home, Wellawatte, Central Hospital, Horton Place and Glass House before I went to Galle. The channel fee was Rs.20.00/- only. Dr. Thavarasah used to refer newborns to me. I used to visit MacCarthy Hospital and Frazer Nursing Home to see newborn babies. MacCarthy Hospital was owned by my classmate Chandima de Silva’s family.

At that time Frazer Nursing Home only admitted expatriate whites. As the patients were dwindling they decided to admit other foreigners as well. When one of Mr. M. H. Mohamed’s (who was a Cabinet Minister) relatives wanted to be admitted, he was asked whether it was a “foreign” Mohamed or a “local” Mohamed and told that only foreigners are admitted. When it was brought to the notice of Mr. J.R . Jayewardene, who was the President of the country, he threatened to take over the Nursing Home unless their policies were changed. Then they decided to open the doors to all  Sri Lankan patients.



Thursday, December 10, 2015

Message from the Secretary, College of Community Physicians of Sri Lanka (CCPSL)

I am pleased to share the following information (from the Secretary, CCPSL)  with members of our batch.

Lucky

***************************************************************************

Secretary CCPSL, secretaryccpsl@gmail.com

04:21 (4 hours ago)
to 
Dear Sir/ Madam,

The College of Community Physicians of Sri Lanka has launched a Public Health Forum website which also includes a Blog.

We would be happy to receive articles from the membership for this. 

Comments are also welcomed.

You could also follow the blog on your personal email and receive notifications of new posts by email. 

The link to the Public Health Forum Blog is attached.

Public Health Forum; Sri Lanka
 
 
image
 
 
 
 
 
Public Health Forum; Sri Lanka
Health for everyone
Preview by Yahoo
 

 
Regards
Shamini

How to trace an old post

The easiest way to trace an old post is to type a keyword in the blank bar with the little magnifying glass right at the top of the page on the left hand side and then press the return key of your computer or left click the little magnifying glass icon inside the search box. 

This will bring all posts containing that word. e.g: If you are looking for any that contains info on Mahendra Gonsalkorale (Speedy), just type "Speedy"and all the posts will be seen ordered by date. To get back to the Blog, just click on "Show All posts".

Indra Anandasabapathy's comment on medical education

Some of you may have read this already because Indra wrote this as a comment on Speedy's piece on "Teaching Medical Students" posted on November 27th. Although Indra had made this comment on December 1st, it is unlikely that some may have missed it. As I have repeatedly pointed out before, it's the comments that make a blog post more interesting.

In the same way that I handled such a situation on an earlier occasion, I am re-posting Indra's comment as a new post. 
****************************************************************************************

Interesting topic you guys are in.I have often reflected on my experiences as a medical student & my experience as a teacher of both medical students,nurses & residents in the USA.

To start with I will add Prof. Lester Jayawardene to this list. This stems from my first meeting with him as part of a sig. group that was tested on their knowledge of the shoulder joint. It was our first sig. our first few weeks in the block, and our first meeting with the teacher from Peradeniya whose reputation for being strict preceded his arrival in Colombo. We did put in the effort for sure but without the right guidance.

He went right to the point with his first question. What are the movements of the shoulder joint. None of the eight in the sig.group knew it because it was in fine print in the dissecting manual- by Cunningham.
The eye brows went up, and he bellowed, I am sure you know thev rest of the stuff, but if you did not know the movements of the shoulder joint you really have missed the whole point.

I did learn from that day on the importance of applied anatomy ( by extension applications in other subjects too) which was also well thought by Drs. Panditharatne & Bandaranaike, who were good teachers too.I had only once listened to Prof. Kirthisinghe , when he held a post mortem on the failures in surgery after both he & Prof. Navaratne took over the teaching of surgery, but the little bit I heard was enough to realize here was another good teacher.

The point has been made that our teachers tried to belittle you if you attempted to question them or make a mistake in answering a question. teachers need to encourage students to ask questions , the attitude of several of our teachers was sad to say the opposite.What I found out quickly in the USA is that if you don't talk, the Attending staff (consultants) think you don't know & mark you down.

Several years ago one of my daughters & son in law, both med. students were in the professorial ward at LRH. Sanath was away on sabbatical. The acting consultant made remarks trying to ridicule the two kids from the US, even after they kept answering his questions.Well that culture has to change if one wants the kids to learn & develop into confident adults.

The forms to evaluate the teachers is there in most institutions in the US too.

To end this note in a humorous note, in one of his afternoon ( sleepy) lectures,
Prof. Sinnathamby mentioned about seeing a monkey with a blue scrotum- in the middle of his talk. It was unrelated to what he was trying to teach. Well I had never seen one in Sri Lanka though I remembered his odd remark. Well, more recently on a trip to Masai Mara in Kenya, I did come across the monkey & things clicked- he Siinathamby must have been there. Sorry this is unrelated to what we were discussing.

Indra Anandasabapathy

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Brain Drain

By Sanath Lamabadusuriya

In the late 1950's or early 1960's, the government decided to establish a second medical school in Peradeniya so as to solve the problem of shortage of doctors in the country. We who sat the University Entrance examination (equivalent of today's "A" levels) in December 1960 were the beneficiaries, because the intake was increased. All those who passed in all 4 subjects were selected for direct admission to Peradeniya and others like us who failed in one subject, had to follow a 6 months course in the failed subject in Colombo's Science Faculty in 1961. Of the latter group, some entered the Colombo Medical Faculty and the others the Peradeniya Medical Faculty in June 1962. As the buildings at Peradeniya were not ready, its first batch entered late and eventually qualified in January 1967. We qualified in March 1967.

After the first Peradeniya batch completed their internship, they were  informed by the Ministry of Health (MOH) that employment was not available and were offered a monthly allowance and requested to attach themselves to a GP. Few months later, all of them were offered jobs in the MOH. It is rather ironical that the Government which created a second medical faculty to solve the problem of shortage of doctors in the country was unable to offer employment to its very first batch!
 
That is the time we all started sitting for the *ECFMG because of the uncertainty of employment in Sri Lanka's MOH. Nearly all of us who sat the ECFMG passed it at the first attempt and applied for jobs in the US. As the US had a shortage of doctors at that time, all who applied for jobs were successful. By this time, the MOH was able to offer jobs to all of us. However, some of our batchmates decided to emigrate. After a few months, they wrote back saying how wonderful it is to work in the US. Most of them started in Coney Island hospital in New York. As the 'brain drain" gathered momentum in the next few years, the government introduced in 1972, a 5 year period of compulsory service.

So dear friends, that is how the "brain drain" started and is still continuing, although to a lesser extent.

PS: *ECFMG" was an examination conducted by the Educational Council for Foreign Medical Graduates. At that time, it was the sole qualifying exam to select foreign qualified medical graduates to practice as doctors in the United States.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Congratulations!

Before I publish this latest post, let me offer my own heartiest congratulations to Speedy. I am doing so at a time when our own batch blog is closing in on that magical figure of one million "hits".

As I have stated before, Speedy is my adviser and it was his idea to introduce the "Creative Spot" category on this blog. He has also been the most regular contributor to that category, and together with ND, among the most prolific contributors to the blog in general. It was just the other day, that I posted his version of "Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow". But it has been on You Tube for a while longer. This is how I heard the good news.

Lucky

Mahendra Gonsalkorale

Attachments5 Dec (2 days ago)
to .......
I am really chuffed and I hope you don't mind me wanting to shout out and say "Yippee"! This is the first time any of my songs topped 1000, the nearest to  this being "Oh how I miss you tonight with 302 hits and "Nalavee Sanasenney" with 262.

The range of countries is amazing. I am sending these to you because  I had no idea that Youtube songs are being accessed by so many countries.. I won't bore you with all the countries but the top ones are 

Sri Lanka -369,UK-115, US 120, Aus-35, Phillipines-34, Quatar-29,UAE - 19, Japan- 16, Canada-16, Polean 15, South Africa -11, France-10, India -10, Taiwan-10, NZ-10.

Mind you 1000 hits is nothing! Deborrah Allen's version of "Oh how I miss you tonight" had 17.100 views! --- Just to put matters in perspective.




Friday, December 4, 2015

Creative Spot - By Mahendra (Speedy) Gonsalkorale

Intro by Speedy:

This song was composed and sung by me with lyrics provided by Shanta. Shanta's son and swiss wife had a baby boy and Shanta is yearning to see the baby their first grandson. She wrote the lyrics and asked me to compose a suitable song and here it is - the eagerness and happiness and yearning she is experiencing for an event that is going to happen soon.

Speedy


Moving House

By Dr Nihal D Amerasekera

It is often said moving house is as traumatic as a divorce.  Having done both I wouldn’t disagree. We moved into our present house 33 years ago from busy London. I recall the day with such great clarity it seems just like yesterday. It was a warm sunny autumn afternoon with hardly a breeze. A couple of chirping  robin redbreasts perched in a window sill welcomed us to our new home.

With a stable job and a happy family it seemed like the beginning of paradise. The hard grind of training and exams was over. I created a little “Walauwwa” in a leafy suburb in rural Hertfordshire far from the madding crowd as I could manage.

My professional career and the boys education took precedence. My wife gave up her career to care for the kids. Ferrying them to school and back and for the myriad of their activities usurped our time and energy. Their success was our joy which we recall with great delight.

As I look back what amazes me most is how rapidly time has gone. The children have now flown the nest leaving empty rooms , empty chairs and a void that cannot be filled. Every corner of every room brings back a store of memories of times past.

Wherever we went on holiday it was our ritual to bring back a momento. A collection of those adorn the mantelpiece and the windowsills. Reading has been my joy since I was a kid, a habit which has been passed on to my sons. The resultant collection is a fine library. Computers have been my hobby and Apple Macs whirr away deep into the night. Their detritus and wires fill every corner of my study.

A “Walauwwa” ,  however magical it may sound is not the place for an aging couple in their retirement. Keeping such a place in good shape even with help is tiring and time consuming. We have now taken the hard decision to move to a small flat just enough for the two of us.

Downsizing is a heart rending business. Losing personal possessions specially those attached to important events in our lives is not easy. Throughout our lives we took photos which are a priceless reminder of times past. They were real paper photos that need space and care. It is impossible to retain them all. Discarding them broke our hearts. Much of the books, clothing and furniture have been given away to charity.

Downsizing helps to concentrate ones mind to what is important in life. We come into this world with nothing and we leave with nothing. What happens in between is a journey and its memory evaporates into thin air as it ends. After all the next move will be our final rest.

Although I will be moving just 50 miles down south it will be harder to keep friendships with my close pals and former colleagues of 33 years.  As adults we grew up together and have much in common. Meeting them now will need planning and effort. The all important ingredient and social lubricant called alcohol will not be at the table as they must drive back.

Getting used to a new apartment takes time. Living in a new environment with brand new neighbours will be a challenge. But it will not be harder than what I have done in the past to move 5000 miles to a new life in England.

Buying and selling a house is fraught with problems. Estate Agents are in a cutthroat business as are the solicitors who like scavengers live on other people’s misery.

Moving house is not the end of life but the beginning of a new phase in my lifes journey. I look forward to the peaks and dread the troughs as I have always done. London is a place of fun, which we can still enjoy. The museums, galleries, concerts and the theatre will fill our time with joy. It is the culinary capital of the world and a gourmets’ paradise. I will drink a toast in anticipation - no more moving house again.



Wednesday, December 2, 2015

More on the Meththa Foundation

I think our viewers have got enough and more. This correspondence is now closed.

Lucky

Mahendra Gonsalkorale

Attachments02:23 (5 hours ago)
to me


Dear Lucky,

I am very pleased that Sanath has given more details of the Meththa Foundation.

Could you please do this post from me also.

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

You have seen a lot of the Meththa Foundation and I make no apologies for doing my best to help them. Actually seeing the Amputees and the dedicated work force was very moving and powerful. 

Santath has very kindly posted more information on the Meththa Rehabilitation Project.
I want to emphasise the relevant links to Websites and the Bank details for donations or standing orders.

There are two websites worth looking at  


The Bank details are
Hatton National Bank, 
Cinnamon Gardens Branch, Account number 07601009438

The Meththa UK account details are:-  ( A standing order could be arranged)
HSBC
sort code: 40-11-18
Ac Name: Meththa Foundation UK
Ac no;  04456173


I have attached a copy of the Guest Lecture he gave at the 2015 Anuradhapura Clinical Society held jointly with the SLMA and the SLMDA of the UK in October which I attended.

Just to give some idea of scale.
Maho managed  729 users  in 2014 and 463 users from 1.1.2015 to 31st July 2015

Mankulam had 552 from May to July 2015.

Pana himself has arranged to collect unwanted prostheses from UK (they have plenty of discarded ones which can be used for spare parts and adaptations) and ship to Sri Lnaka.

The limbs he turns out with his ingenuity are actually more functional and of the highest quality. The cost of a Below Knee prosthesis to be made in Sri Lanka is about £140 (in the UK it is about £750) and an Above Knee is about £152 (£1500 in the UK). As you can see he makes maximum use of resources and the limbs are provided free of cahrge. Up to May 2014, about 1800 prostheses were provided.

(Lucky, I have attached the AMS report as a pdf and as a JPEG and you can choose the most appropriate.

I have also attached a few pictures of his Team and 2 with patients, one a delightful little girl who was the victim of a landmine. I do hope you will be able to post it.)





Dr. Panagamuwa writes about THE METHTHA FOUNDATION

I have thus far refrained from using our batch blog for fund raising. But this request comes from none other than our own batchmate Sanath Lamabadusuriya. After all, it is for a worthy cause.

I don't know Dr. Panagamuwa personally, but I do remember meeting him once at Karapitiya in the company of Chandrasiri (Niriella) when "Johnny" (as we used to call Chandre) was living and I had to visit the Ruhuna Medical Faculty on official work over three decades ago. Chandrasiri was the VC at the time and Dr. Panagamuwa I believe, was a Senior Lecturer in Surgery at the Ruhuna Medical Faculty. If I am not mistaken, it was during that same trip that I, accompanied by my late work colleague Dr. Marcus Fernando (brother of former Health Ministry Secretary Dr. Joe Fernando) visited Lama at his Karapitiya Quarters.

I have reproduced below, Sanath's correspondence with Dr. Panagamuwa. I shall try to upload another document as a separate post.
***********************************************************************

Professor Sanath P. Lamabadusuriya

Attachments22:04 (1 hour ago)
to me
Dear Lucky,
This e-mail from Pana is self explanatory. As you can see he wishes it to be circulated. Could you please post it on our blog site giving Pana's e-mail address as well.?
Kind regards,
Sanath
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: B Panagamuwa <bpanagamuwa@blueyonder.co.uk>
Date: 2 December 2015 at 21:32
Subject: Raising funds for charity
To: ushacsam@yahoo.com, "Professor Sanath P. Lamabadusuriya" <sanathp.lama@gmail.com>


Dear Usha, Dear Neville

I hope you both and child (?ren) are well.

I am sitting at my desk in Birmingham this cold and miserable winter afternoon thinking of ways to raise funds for our charity, the Meththa Foundation.  I am trying to recruit a few people who may be able help me now and carry the Foundation further when I am no longer there.  I have been wanting to ask for your help since I met you all briefly at the Water's edge 2 years ago but have not had the time to put my thoughts to paper.

Prof Lamabadusuriya has just joined our organisation and I got your email address from him.

Our work has grown exponentially and we now treat more than one amputee every working day.  We have a case load of more than 3000 amputees who seek our services regularly.  More recently, a number of neuro disabled children and adults have begun to come to our Centre at Mahawa seeking help from me.

We need approximately SLR 900,000-1,000,000 per month for our work. Until now, we depended entirely on donations from the Tamil diaspora and a few friends in the UK for our routine output and grants from agencies like the International Rorary Foundation for a few special projects.  Even though an European mobile telecom company named Lebara Foundation owned by a team of young people of a Sri Lankan Tamil origin supported us from 2011 and pledged GBP 45,000 for our services to the war injured Tamil people this year, there was a delay in getting this money and we faced a severe crisis in February.  I managed to keep things under control using our family savings of about 4.2 million rupees this year alone.  I will not have the resources to do this again.

There is an urgent need to find a regular funding stream to continue this valuable work because there is no other reliable service for amputee and other disabled people in Sri Lanka.  Everything is private, expensive and the quality, as far as I have seen is far from ideal

This is what I have in mind.  I taught three batches of students at Galle into their final year and I was very close to them.  Many of them are senior consultants now and all of them are no doubt affluent in their own ways.  I want to ask them if they would give up a small amount of money monthly by standing order for an indefinite time.  If I can recruit about 200 doctors, I can build up capital and eventually, bring our organisation to a stable level.  I have in mind about Rs 5000 every month but that is not a fixed amount.  I guess consultants like Neville, Ananda Perera, Sunil Perera, Kanishka etc to name a few can afford to give this amount and some others may not.

I shall be extremely grateful for your views on this proposal.  You and a few other girls showed leadership in arranging batch get togethers etc which were really enjoyable and I hope that you will agree to carry the same spirit to this venture.  I will be extremely delighted if you agree to support and advise us and in fact, join the Meththa Foundation (we are desperately looking for a Secretary to our Sri Lankan Board).  I will be disappointed if you decline but I will not be angry with you at all.  Please do not feel pressured in any way

I have attached a writeup about our latest work which we hope to take to the President of Sri Lanka and seek his support but I am not very hopeful of a long term solution through a political route. Personal contact and commitment of benevolent people will be more valuable for us and their support will be more solid.  Feel free to circulate the document if you wish to.  It should download through networks with a reasonable bandwidth  You may want to remove the highlighted section about reconciliation because of its sensitivity.  You have first hand knowledge about how your friends feel about these matters and you also probably know how I feel.

I am copying this to Prof Lamabadusuriya who is very interested in this work and asked for more information.  I have a feeling that he will contact you personally seeking help.

Our website is www.meththafoundation.org.uk

Unfortunately, I will miss the first batch get together later this month but hope to catch up with you all in the new year.

Best wishes for a Healthy and Peaceful 2015.

Pana