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Talk anything but politicians and Hollywood stars

Our newspapers have two categories of people on whom we should not waste even one second of our precious time but about whom the newspapers write volumes and volumes and we stupid readers keep lapping them up. Yes one is the politicians and the other is the Hollywood actors.
Actually, do the newspapers reflect the attitude of the people, or is it the other way about? Is it the people reflect the attitude of the papers? Do we get our ideas shaped by the newspapers? Is it because the papers keep publishing useless, horrible or tasteless news about small people that we the Sri Lankans also have become “small” in our thinking? Have we been brainwashed by our newspapers to magnify the insignificant and ignore the important matters?
Whatever our stupid, useless undeserving, politicians do become the big news. It is talked about for weeks. It is commented on, praised, condemned – anything but taken action on. We have become the gossiping, grumbling, resenting people – we have become sick and tired of them but still keep lapping up their stories because they have become our past time and we have nothing better to do. We don’t know much about anything else to do. Even Hollywood stars sigh it is news! Their adulterous life is juicy news. Their moods are what we live on. Their sizes are what we waiting to know about. Who is sleeping with whom is what makes our day. Aren’t we a shameful nation?
Why not for a change stop harping on the atrocities committed by the politicians? Not that we are going to do anything much about them anyway. All of us agree one and all –we are just a bunch of lotus eaters. So might as well talk about only the good deeds done by them that is if at all they do anything worthwhile or else let’s talk about something worthwhile. Even the weather. Or the birds. Or the moon. Anything but these two. Please.

Dr Mrs Mareena Thaha Reffai


National reconciliation is a crying need

I for one cannot connect our government’s apparent concern for national reconciliation and the recent cabinet decision to sing our National Anthem only in Sinhala. To my mind, this decision seems to be a reaction to that Oxford invitation. Leaders of nations should not and must not react like this. The leaders of our land must respond positively and creatively to that Oxford invitation.

Of course, some of us were rather pessimistic when the government announced the appointment of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC). For in a sense, the history of our land on the subject of national reconciliation has been one of broken promises and when one major political alliance wants to handle and manage the reconciliation, the other would not co-operate and help.
Reading the media on the subject of the National Anthem, it is very clear that some of us sadly have a very strong pro Sinhalese mindset. As a minority, I cannot feel what the majority community feels but I can understand their feelings.

During the period 1505 to 1948 our land was under foreign rule and during this period sadly the Sinhalese suffered like the minorities. With independence in 1948, the pendulum has swung the other way and Ceylon/Sri Lanka did not take on board the minorities.
As a minority with regard to race, religion, language, I nevertheless think of myself as a Sri Lankan and, therefore, given my background, I will still respect Mother Lanka.
However, at a recent public function when the National Anthem was sung in Sinhala, I saw a few members of the minority community not mouthing those words. How can they? For the National Anthem states that all of us are the children of one Mother. In this context, the President and the Cabinet must ask the question does the mother force all the children to learn only one language when the father in a mixed marriage belongs to another language group.

So, this Karunanidhi bashing by writers from Colombo/Sri Lanka and overseas will not help us. We have been told over and over again that we need a home-grown solution to our national problem. So, may I suggest like at a recent musical programme the National Anthem was played, the words were not used, and I saw all in that hall stand to attention and appreciating the sentiments.
If the leaders of our land are genuinely interested in national reconciliation then they must show it and not just mouth words to please India and some world body.

The minority of this country are not only the Tamils and the Muslims but also the Sinhalese who are part of Colombo’s 55% in the slums and Sri Lanka’s 80% of the poor. Therefore, it does not really matter in what language the National Anthem is sung but what matters is that all our people from Hambantota to Jaffna, Colombo to Batticaloa must have rice and curry on their table. For this economic development there must be political stability based on genuine national reconciliation.

Can’t we, therefore, taking the reality of all our religions consider the people of Sri Lanka as human beings and using the values of the four major religions of our land to work for peace and justice for all our people. Hence, the immediate need is to address the deep rooted problem of all the minorities certainly both political and economic. Over to all Sri Lankans, who value the unity of the country and respect the plural nature of our land.

Sydney Knight


Don’t fall for credit card tricks

I am writing this letter to advise all credit cardholders particularly housewives who are gullible to dirty tricks employed by the promotion of various supermarkets and outlets by using particular credit cards. All those gilded advertisements indicating big discounts is a huge farce which has gone unchecked by any decent authority in government or private sector. As to why there has been no authority either controlling or regulating the lies of these hawks is incomprehensible in this modern age.
If ever you see an advertisement promoting discounts from 5 to 50%, you can be sure that the 50% discount would be for some faded old balloons or some useless items.
Before you do your shopping, check as to what exactly is entitled to what discount or you will be saddled with a meagre discount or no discount at all because they all cover these up under ‘Conditions Apply’. It is always the poor sales girl or the cashier at these supermarkets and outlets that bear the brunt of the wrath of the customers. I have personally witnessed many angry customers berating these poor girls at the counter. In fact, I myself have been annoyed and have confronted them about this kind of robbery perpetrated by so called respected private sector companies.
So beware, especially during this season of these predators, who will brew everything possible to entice you part with your credit cards for purchases you do not want for which you have to pay enormous interests to the banks.
Nilmini Ranasinghe


Halt cruelty to animals

The stray cats and dogs on the government hospital premises of Nagoda, Kalutara are being killed in a very cruel and inhuman way by the hospital labourers using lethal injections.
This is a covert operation carried out by the hospital’s minor employees with the connivance of medical practitioners attached to the hospital.
The public, religious workers and animal lovers are deeply concerned about this merciless act.
C M Kamburawala


Don’t blame the met men

I write to inform the learned Professor O A I Illeperuma, with reference to his letter appearing in an English Daily, that no one should blame the met men for the inaccurate weather forecast as it is beyond their ken. It is self-evident from the below mentioned verse from the Holy Quran:
“Verily, the knowledge of the hour is with Allah (alone). It is He who sends down rain, and He who knows what is in the wombs, nor does anyone know what it is that he will earn on the morrow. Nor does anyone know in what land he is to die. Verily, with Allah is full knowledge and He is acquainted (with all things).” (Chapter 31 -Luqman: Verse 34)
It is well nigh impossible for the met men to give correct forecast always as the knowledge is only with the Omnipotent, Omnipresent and Omniscient God (Glory be to Him).
I also like to draw the attention of my non-Muslim brothers and sisters as to why we, Muslims say Insha Allah (God Willing) when we intend doing something later on because as per the above verse we do not know what will happen the very next moment!

Mohamed Zahran



Rev Bro Alexander Cyrillus FSC

God’s inestimable gift to generations of Benedictines

The demise of Rev Bro Alexander marks the end of an illustrious chapter in the annals of Lasallian education in the country.
The life of Bro Alexander ended on a sombre note after several weeks of lapsing into a state of unconsciousness; his voice was stilled and the weary physique at rest. The late Brother, commenced teaching in the early 1950s as a fledgling member of the De La Salle Order. The years and decades that followed witnessed Bro Alexander making remarkable strides in the education of students who came under his tutelage in the institutions coming under the purview of the Brothers in the metropolitan city and townships beyond.
Bro Alexander made a very significant and perennial contribution to St. Benedict’s College both as a teacher and director. He was a martinet who focussed his teaching on the hallowed motto of the school “Religio Mores Cultura”.

During his stint Bro Alexander proved his acumen as a mentor par excellence and capable administrator aided by his personal vision of sending his myriad students into the world with innate confidence to surmount challenges, if any. It was in the 1980s during his stewardship as director that St Benedict’s witnessed a renaissance and in this backdrop the college continued to register commendable progress and emerge as a front-runner in the schools arena.

Past students from the 50s onwards will recall the invaluable guidance rendered by Bro Alexander in moulding them into useful citizens in the social milieu. The majestic building in recognition of his stature by the global Benedictine family stands as a silent sentinel to his laudable achievements and a perennial symbol of remembering their beloved teacher.
In 1979, Bro Alexander was appointed Provincial Visitor of the De La Salle Brothers in Sri Lanka which post he illumined until the end of his term in 1981. The saga of our former mentor will be etched in the minds and hearts of his fellow Brothers, teachers and vast concourse of students who benefited from his academic prowess and penchant for English in which he excelled and the warmth and affection he exuded.

In his seemingly valedictory letter to me dated June 21, 2010 Bro Alexander had remarked “I’m okay now. My father died at 83 and hoping to die at the same age. I’ve three more years to live. That’s good enough.” It was not to be and the Creator summoned him to His Heavenly abode as a well-merited reward for the unswerving and exemplary commitment to his vocation as a De La Salle Brother. It could be verily said that Bro Alexander was God’s inestimable gift to generations of Benedictines and alumni of other Lasallian schools where he diligently followed the hallowed precepts of his Founder.

In retrospect countless students who have accredited themselves in their avowed professions will in unison attribute their success to their beloved mentor whose educational skills and incisive imparting of knowledge with due emphasis on discipline had equipped them well to face the world.
Bro Alexander was a colossus and an educationist par excellence with his wide repertoire of men and matters. He was at ease with the affluent and the ordinary folk and endeared himself to all those who had the privilege of being associated with him during his sojourn on earth.

In the College Magazine published in 2000 it was edifying to peruse Bro Alexander’s article titled “A Benedictine Vision - 2100” – in it one comes across many a gem of wisdom for Christian educationists to ponder over. The visionary Brother imbibed the fundamentals of being a true disciple of St John Baptist De La Salle and was a crusader for the poor and marginalised in society.
“They that instruct others unto justice will shine as stars for all eternity”
Farewell dear Bro Alexander! We will cherish the memories of your noble life.
Eric Motha

Dr A T Navaratnam

A life full of pride, joy and happiness

Quite often we find people that change our way of thinking, who are selfless in their offering and who are committed to their vocation. As Albert Einstein puts it, “The value of a man should be seen in what he gives and not in what he is able to receive.” In one word Dr Navaratnam was a man who gave. He gave much to his work, much to the people who knew and worked with him and much to the family he left behind.
His was a life that exemplified brilliance, and inspired all who crossed his path. With his dedicated service as the resident doctor of the Galadari Hotel since its inception, Dr Navaratnam touched the lives of many with his kind and gentle nature, his soft-spoken words and his ever smiling face. He was sincere, earnest and loyal in his service. His was living proof of how fine a physician can be. He was not only cheerful in himself but he gave much cheerfulness to others, especially to his patients.
He was known for his generosity, known for selfless giving. He was passionately interested in his vocation as a physician. Ample are the situations where he has helped the employees free of charge, giving out personal care and going out of his way to make certain that a patient was duly cared for. Many of whom he ministered found him to be a splendid person of great intellect and a very big heart.
So as we pay our last respects to this great man more a father to all whom he ministered to, sorrow fills our hearts Dr Nawa, as he was known throughout the hotel, has silently closed the door of life and departed from us. Our lives will be empty in the areas that he had brightened and his light will shine on in the hearts of thousands that came to know him more as a person than a physician. As Thomas Campbell sees it “To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die”
The management and the staff of the Galadari Hotel are deeply saddened by the death of Dr Alalasundaram Thirianasambandar Navaratnam. He was indeed an extraordinary physician, a true friend and most of all a great humanitarian.

Staff of Galadari Hotel

Lakshman Attygalle

He was an embodiment of love and generosity

When I read my mother’s text message to my husband’s phone ‘How can I break the news to Randi that Lakshman aiya passed away this afternoon” I was stupefied, I was dazed and went numb. My father’s closest kin, his most beloved ‘loku aiya’, our beloved ‘Lakshman mahappa’ was gone…

Being the only child thaththa is, he looked up to Lakshman mahappa as his own sibling- son of his eldest uncle. Lakshman mahappa in turn cherished thaththa as the little brother, like his very own. We grew up loving him and relating to this warm human being through the deep bonding my father and he mutually shared. He was robbed from all of us in the cruelest way when we were all looking forward to a ‘fun-filled’ weekend at his exotic hide-out in Hanthane. The last thing I would have contemplated was penning words of appreciation about Lakshman mahappa when all of us would have been celebrating his jocund company in the misty hills.

When our busy schedules were testing us against our will, I remember telling amma ‘let’s cancel everything and go to Hanthane this Saturday, it’s now or never’. The words still echo in my mind, Lakshman mahappa, you left us forever, never will we hear that much-loved jovial chuckle of yours… Your visits to maha gedera in Madapatha were always memorable, marked only by humour and your warm persona complemented by a tune on the organ - your inherent musical faculties coming alive! We are poorer today, Madapatha Attygalle clan robbed untimely of another supreme human being.

You were an embodiment of a committed professional, a success story of inspiration. You took pride in your strenuous yet fulfilling professional journey which commenced at Lanka Porcelain. With a considerable share of foreign exposure, you reached the pinnacle of your career, an asset to the organisation, standing by it through many a trial and tribulation, so much so they would not let you call it a day. I remember as a child how I was mesmerized by the beautiful crockery you gifted the family with, in those intricate designs you took pride in. ‘Blue Hill, Summer fruits’ still adorn our collection, of which call upon a reverie of yours…
Your hospitality touched every heart in the family. The second generation of the family was not spared of it! When malli and his ‘Rugby clan’ were stranded in Kandy at the last match, you came to their rescue offering ‘right Royal’ lodging at Hanthane. Young at heart that you were, I’m sure you concealed many a boyish pranks of theirs!

When the tragic news reached me that you simply collapsed at home, I questioned ‘why was the fate so cruel to steal you when we were to see you in few more days? Why did you summon us only to say our last adieus to you?’ You loved us dearly as children and I know that you looked forward in cherishing our little Samadhee enjoying the vistas of your little Eden. We were not so fortunate.
You are leaving behind your soul mate Amitha nenda and your precious son Tharindu, creating a void in them which cannot be filled. A doting father and a loving husband, you were an embodiment of warmth. Thaththa is poorer without you Lakshman mahappa - he who cherished you with no conditions attached. We all are indeed. We will only live with beautiful memories of yours and that unmistakable laughter which will echo over the Hanthane hills….

Duwa- Randi (Randima Attygalle)




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