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The season says it with flowers

Splendour that man can never create
(inset) Beautiful flowers: a bouquet of
happiness from nature and White and
green set amidst a blue and white sky

By Risidra Mendis

Some bloom at night and others during the day. But there are also those that bloom during a season. During the months of February and March trees with flowers in a variety of colours and sizes can be seen along the streets of Colombo and its suburbs.

It is during this time of the year that some big trees are known to shed their leaves and in their place produce clusters of colourful flowers.

However in most cases these flowers do not last long. One day you may see these big trees with their branches full of flowers but the next day all that remains would the green leaves and a tree without flowers.

The dry season in the country is not welcomed by people. The dry and sweaty atmosphere most often is the cause for complaints by most of us. However this is one of the ideal times of the year for many flowers to bloom. Trees and plants that often rot due to heavy rains prefer the sun and dry weather to produce flowers.

Pink flowers

Speaking to The Sunday Leader Director General Peradeniya Botanical Gardens Dr. C. Wijesundera said, "Most of the trees that bloom in February and March are from South America and Venezuela.

"Tabebuia rosea is a huge tree bearing pink flowers, and Tabebuia serratifolia is a medium size tree with yellow flowers. Tabebuia spectabilis and Tabebuia guayacan are medium size trees that bear yellow flowers and mauve flowers respectively and bloom in February and March," Dr. Wijesundera said.

He added that the Jacaranda mimosifolia with mauve flowers, blooms in March and sometimes in August too.

"There are vines such as the Doxantha unguis-cati with yellow flowers which can be seen at the Peradeniya Gardens and in the Peradeniya University premises, and shrubs such as the Clerodendrum quadriloculare known as the Valantine plant or Philippine fire works or Star dust, and herbs such as the Psederanrtheum graciflorum with violet flowers also known as the blue Crossandra or Florida twilight, bloom during this time of the year," Dr. Wijesundera explained.

South American origin

He went on to say that the Tabebuia rosea is a tree of South American origin. A variety of other flowering plants such as euphorbias and cactus are also known to bloom during the dry season.

"I haven’t noticed any unusual bloomers during February and March. The Ehela tree blooms in late February and March but is not an unusual occurrence. The Tabebuia rosea is not an exotic tree but in comparison to other trees, it produces more flowers," Environment lawyer Jagath Gunewardene said.

Gunewardene went on to say that the Valentine plant and bougainvilleas are other frequent bloomers during the dry season. "Some trees such as rubber are known to defoliate during the dry season," Jagath said.

Nature lovers

But irrespective of the kind of plant or tree, flowers that bloom during the season are of more value to nature lovers and environmentalists as they can be seen during a certain period of the year.

Some trees and plants bloom in the night, and these night bloomers will always be of special interest to nature lovers as they create a sense of uniqueness due to their ability to bloom only at night when the sun has left the skies, and fade before the sun rises the following morning.

The kadupul and the pigeon orchid are probably the most unique of the night bloomers as they bloom at 12 am. The kadupul flower starts opening out in the night but is in complete bloom by 12 midnight. Among the other night bloomers are the red water lily which is the only variety in the lily family that blooms in the night with trees such as Jamaican Ebony, seven varieties of Jasmine, Sepalika, Actaria, Queen of the Night and the Ra Manamali (bride of the night).

A Rose by any other name

By Raisa Wickrematunge 

ou can call a Rose by any other name, so we call her Rosie. Rose Bernadiene Ramanayake whom we know as Rosie Senanayake spent her childhood in Ampara and Embilipitiya. She went to pre-school in  Ampara and thereafter when her father, a government servant was transferred to Gal Oya, Rosie had to make her way to a school in Embilipitiya. She and her three sisters were also boarded at Ferguson High School in Ratnapura. While her two brothers went to Ananda College.

"I enjoyed my days at the boarding school because my parents would come and visit us during the weekends. They brought us many goodies," recalled Rosie.

It was during her  childhood which was spent  in the harsh surroundings of remote areas, that Rosie realised the hardship suffered by the poor and the underprivileged. "I was moved to tears by their poverty and suffering, but there was nothing I could do for them" said Rosie Senanayake.

Etched in her heart

But the thin faces and the emaciated forms were etched in her heart. Subsequently she took the memories of these kind and simple village folk to United Kingdom where she went for her higher studies.

She also took these memories to Harvard Law School where she was last year with a group of other female politicians.

Some of us have beauty and riches, yet others have beauty and a successful career. There are many women in Sri Lanka today who can speak of a successful life studded  with good times, romance, a rewarding career and financial successes. But Rosie Senanayake is a rare woman. From Miss Sri Lanka she climbed up to reach a more beautiful success – Miss Asia Pacific. Rosie Senanayake had been the only Sri Lanka to take part in this contest.

Then like the average woman – she married Athula Senanayake and had a child. But her beauty did not either wane or wither, instead it blossomed enough to make her win the Mrs World title in the U.S.A. Rosie Senanayake surely did put Sri Lanka on the international map. She not only caused amazement in the international audience with her grace and glamour but also sent a new flush of admiration with the confidence and intelligent analysis in her answers to the questions flung to determine the intelligence and I.Q. of the beauty queens. And at an international pageant in U.S.A, this surely had not been easy.

And all this while the suffering and the needs of the common Sri Lankan  remained etched in her mind.

The international certification of her beauty gave her the qualification to get the help needed for the poor and the underprivileged. So Rosie Senanayake strode on in her missions of mercy.

Wherever she went, there were stares and admiration. People flocked to get her autograph, the admirers were many, and Rosie acknowledged them all with her beautiful smile – with the same smile and the serenity with which she countered the rumours and the gossip mongers.

Short visit

Rosie and her husband who lived in England had come to Sri Lanka on a short visit. Rosie had been 18 when she went to England for her higher studies and her husband Athula too had left the country in his teenage years to go to Hotel School in England. Having lived for over 6 years in England, Rosie Senenayake decided to come to Sri Lanka for a short time.

 And she could not go back. "But we decided to stay on because my country was in my heart. I just could not go back to England. However I found that wherever I went the procedures were different and difficult," she said of her experience in dealing with government departments.

"My advent into reaching out to  the suffering and needs of the nation is not an overnight  thing. After I won the Mrs World title, Elena Jayewardene the wife of the late President J.R. Jayewardene invited me to the Seva Vanitha Unit. I was a lifetime member and became more involved.

My achievements helped me to help. I did much to empower women and worked at the grassroots level. Thereafter I worked with the late President Ranasinghe Premadasa and Hema Premadasa. It was amazing, they went all over the country — the north, south, east and West and we went with the mobile presidential unit.

Hema Premadasa achieved much. She was tireless.  She ensured self employment and empowered women in Anuradhapura, Trincomalee and Amparai. We raised much money for the Seva Vanitha Unit. People see me in social magazines and say ‘that is Rosie Senanayake’ but that was not what was important; it was the work we were doing at grassroots level for the helpless poor.

 Hema Premadasa was determined in her efforts to help the poor, yet at all times she wore her smile and worked with ease. The work however was very hard.  We were woken up at 4 a.m. during the Gam Udawa project because the late President Ranasinghe Premadasa and Hema Premadasa woke up at that time  and from then on we were on the field, we went to sleep at 2 a.m. the next day. My life was never easy," said Rosie Senanayake.

People of my country

"I knew there was a calling for me and I knew that it was to serve the people of my country. I saw so much misery from my childhood years that the question on my mind was, why is it that I have this and not them," recalled Rosie Senanayake.

 "And this was why I decided to enter politics. I wanted to make a change, give them what they needed and give them what I had," she said as she sat with a special elegance. The touch of glamour and the ways of a beauty queen were still fresh around her.

And there was a fresher determination — to make a change. "I realised what the brain drain was doing to Sri Lanka. I saw that people who had benefited from the system of free education were seeking greener pastures. I did not want this to happen to my children. I did not want it happening to all the children around us," she said.

The right environment

"I was determined to create the right environment conducive enough for them to come back. Parents send their children to foreign universities, but soon find that the climate in Sri Lanka is conducive for their children to come back. So they live on, in a foreign country,…." said Rosie Senanayake sadly.

Rosie Senanayake said that being a mother she knows the pain and heartburn parents in Sri Lanka have to undergo to make their children achieve academic excellence.

"From the Year 5 scholarship to the O/Ls and A/Ls to finding universities, parents struggle to give a good education in order to ensure a good future for their offspring and after all this they find that the climate in Sri Lanka is not conducive for their children to live safely and achieve greater success," she observed.

Leave a legacy

" I want to leave a legacy behind for our children. It is this change that I want to make. I want to change the lives of average Sri Lankans. I want to ensure that Provincial Councils function efficiently and effectively so that the Central government can concentrate on more involving issues. It is the Provincial Councils that will ensure that children get into the Grade One on time. It is an institution that   runs with public money and is totally detached from the Central Government. Provincial Councils  are a totally separate entity. 

"Today, parents cannot admit a child to the first grade on time, children given their textbooks in the last term, question papers are not provided on time and school uniforms are not given on time, hospitals do not have medicine and we do not have pethidiene to give our soliders" noted Rosie Senanayake. "Thus my plea is to vote the UNP and have a better Provincial Council which will take care of your day to day needs," she said.

"If anyone thinks I am a pretty face and a namby pamby, they are mistaken. I have been told my many people to give up politics for my own safety. But I will not give up. People say that there are great risks in taking part in Sri Lankan politics. But I am determined to go on, I am determined to make this change for the sake of our future, for the sake of our children. I know that the protection will come from above," said Rosie who went on to say that she is willing to take the risk for the sake of all the children, "which includes my own three children," she said.

Live peacefully

"I want a nation where children will be able to live peacefully, can live and work. I want to stop the brain drain and I want our children to be able to acknowledge anywhere in the world the fact that they are Sri Lankans without being ashamed. I want to eradicate terrorism, bring about a solution to the ethnic crisis and bring back to Sri Lanka, all the Sri Lankans who have left this country and also make them feel proud that they are Sri Lankans," she said.

"There was an era where we were a model nation and everyone envied us. We had a rich heritage and we were self sufficient in every possible aspect. Our per capita income and that of Japan  in the ’50s had a difference of only one dollar," said Rosie Senanayake who went on to say that as a true patriot she could sit back and watch the degeneration.

Better tomorrow

"I am fighting for a better tomorrow. When we leave this earth, it is not the academic qualifications, the fame, the power, the titles and the riches  that we take with us — it is the good we have done for other human beings and how clear our conscience is, is what comes into focus," she said.

Rosie Senanayake went on to say that she has faced much political harassment. "My character has been assassinated from all quarters because I was linked with the party. I was initially distressed but today I have learnt to deal with such negative experiences and I have come out stronger than ever," she said.

"People must judge us on the work we do for them and on no other basis. I will try to build a truly Sri Lankan identity rather than identities based on narrow parameters which will hinder our progress as a nation and as a people," said the beauty queen who has preferred to step away from the international limelight to walk to the fore to change life of the common man in her motherland.

Hints that will help you at the Pola

The cacophony, fresh vegetables
and succulent fruits at the Pola

By Sithara Fernando

Sundays for some are not complete without a visit to the Pola. In fact it is the best workout ever. First you do the slow walk, looking at all the fare laid out, then you gradually begin your purchases.

If you purchase your bananas first, chances are that they will only be good for a fruit salad or smoothie when you get back. So make sure you purchase your bananas last.

The purchase of bananas can surely drive you bananas if you are not careful. Make sure you are not fooled by the succulent ones at the top. If you want to be an ‘intelligent’ buyer, make sure you tell the seller to turn them upside down. Most often your investigations will reveal that you were just about to pay Rs.12 or Rs.15 each for the squashed ones at the bottom.

Compare prices

When buying pineapples, make sure you always compare prices. Cost of pineapples vary from Rs.40 to Rs.90. If you walk about and look around, you will not have to pay Rs.80 for a dry worn out fruit. One question that will baffle you for life is why the supermarkets have to weigh the pineapple with all its paraphernalia and charge you close upon Rs.9 per 100 grammes and then break off the leaves, stem and other parts of the fruit and keep it for themselves before they actually put the fruit in a bag for you. Is this allowed? If so why?

Getting back to the Pola. If you wear your Saturday night’s Batik party shirt to the Pola just before you wash it, chances are that you will pay Rs.25 or Rs.30 for your bundle of mukunuwenna and gotukola.

Jack and Jackfruit seeds will expose you to great fraud. You may pay Rs.30 for jackseeds and go home to find some withered seeds which belonged to a tender jack fruit or a wela fruit.

Deformed bits

Make sure you stare at the jackfruit being put into the silly silly bag otherwise you will go home and find that you paid Rs.40 not for the succulent parts but for the deformed bits at the back.

Don’t be surprised that your carrots, ladies fingers and beets are always one or two short when you weigh them at home. To avoid this you will have to take your mobile weighing scale to the Pola.

Buying mangoes will never be a sweet exercise at the Pola. When you pay Rs.12 for the Rata amba they may ripen if you are lucky. If you pay Rs.35 for the Karathkolamban, they may be watery yet you will have no power to hold anyone responsible, for that is just the way your luck turned out to be.

Solid goods

Goraka, ginger, amu kaha and kurudu pothu are the best buys at the Pola because you cannot be cheated with these solid goods.

You will always note that the vendors are often in a big hurry. They will grab the bag and stuff it even while you are protesting. Don’t be afraid to tell them that you have no plane to catch. Do not be intimidated by vendors in a hurry. It is a ploy to get their goods off their shelves. There is nothing to stop you from walking away. There is no rule that you have to buy what they are trying to sell.

Always beware of vendors showing off can openers and tin openers and such other out of the ordinary ware at the Pola. The can openers will never work and you will never bump into these vendors in that Pola ever again.

Bags of sponges tied in bags costing Rs.30 will turn out to be pieces of sponges that you will have little use for. Always have a look at what you are buying.

The feeling of being cheated will depress you. But if you are alert there is little likelihood that the vendors can cheat you. Honestly is sometimes not the best policy for them, buying what they sell need not be a policy for you.

Reach out to Unawatuna

Secluded Unawatuna beach

By Kshanika Argent

Unawatuna is a troubled child. The Tsunami and slump in tourism left it reeling - and unlike its resilient neighbour Hikkaduwa, the small beach town has had a harder time bouncing back.

Not to say that Hikkaduwa has had it easy. The Tsunami brought the party central of the south to its knees - but it was fast in bouncing back to its glory days. The Hikkaduwa Beach Fest last August gave the town a much-needed boost. It was a small step that went a long way in putting Hikkaduwa back on the tourist map. The life and party of the south was back. This together with the fact that Hikkaduwa has been an incredibly developed town for such a rural area, (steak houses, pubs, nightclubs, start class resorts, and it’s surfer friendly waves) have made it hard to keep this town down for long.

Unawatuna is a special child. It has been for as long as anyone can remember, a chill out spot for a certain niche market. Maybe this is why the little beach town needs some extra help.

Not quite the place that hippies that flock to like Hikks and yet not quite the Bentota or Galle that attracts the cream of tourists, there’s something about Unawatuna - you just can’t put your finger on it – but there’s something.

Just four kilometres south of the World Heritage Site Galle, Unawatuna is a land in itself - steeped in centuries old history and myth.

The spot was a favourite place for what tourism officials call ‘frequent independent travellers’. Year after year they kept coming back for what was a vast stretch of unspoilt beach, free of ‘dodge ball characters’ (beach boys) and the shoestring, back-packer joints that now litter the beach front.

Development it seems, has taken away the charm of the world-renowned beach - often rated amongst the Top Ten Beaches of the World.

Yet for all the changes, Unawatuna still retains some mystic charm, like its laid back, sleepy feel.

The beach is Unawatuna’s main focus. Though the Tsunami took away much of the beach front, the remaining narrow stretch is still beautiful.

With rebuilding, many restaurants and accommodation spots mushroomed. You can sit at a pub on the beach and be surprised to have the sea come up to your feet!

Long walks along the beach, a swim in the calm shallow waters and sunbathing outside ones room is about all there is to do.

The beach itself is pretty quiet but thanks to recent festivals in neighbouring towns, (Hikkaduwa Beach Fest and the Galle Literary Festival) and parties held by Offshore Life and CNL, one can find the odd pub/restaurant playing a compilation of electronic beats.

A boat ride could be arranged or snorkelling, there’s even a diving equipment spot right on the bay where you could rent out goggles and stuff. The other place of interest is the Buddhist temple on top of the hill at one end of the bay.

It’s a short and easy climb up some steps. All there is to see is the imposing white dome but there is also a superb view - of peaceful Unawatuna bay itself to one side, and the rather more ferocious sea crashing against the rocky cliffs to the other.

Worth the walk any time of the day but its particularly beautiful to watch the sunset.

A handful of visitors clicked with this secluded beach. The select few who knew exactly what critics were talking about when Unawatuna was voted amongst the top ten beaches in the world.

Once rated among the top ten beaches in the world, Unawatuna is still in the midst of finding its true identity. The world hasn’t been too kind either.


The impaired genie

An American goes into a bar and sits down next to an English guy.

The American notices that the English guy has a huge BIC Lighter.

The American says, "Wow cool lighter, where did you get it?"

The english guy says, "A genie granted me one wish when I rubbed this bottle".

"Wow", says the American, "Can I have a go?" "Sure", Says the Englishman.

The american rubs the bottle and the genie comes out, "You have one wish" Says the genie.

The American wishes for a million bucks, the genie grants the wish.

About 5 minutes later a load of ducks come into the bar, there are thousands of them.

The American says "I don’t believe this I wished for a million bucks, not a million ducks".

The englishman says "Well do you really think i wished for a 12 inch BIC?".

The cook

Hotel Management gave advertisement for a good cook to recruit. One cook has sent one application as follows : "Dear Sir, I am a good cooker. If you appoint me, I am sure I will be able to cook you. When I was working earlier in a hotel I cooked them all."

The Engineer

A priest, a lawyer and an engineer are about to be guillotined.

T he priest puts his head on the block, they pull the rope and nothing happens -- he declares that he’s been saved by divine intervention-- so he’s let go

The lawyer is put on the block, and again the rope doesn’t release the blade, he claims he can’t be executed twice for the same crime and he is set free too.

They grab the engineer and shove his head into the guillotine, he looks up at the release mechanism and says, "Wait a minute, I see your problem...."

Last Wishes

Sometime after Sidney died, his widow, Rachel, was finally able to speak about what a thoughtful, considerate, and wonderful man her late husband had been.

"My Sidney thought of everything", she told them. "Just before he died, he called me to his bedside. He handed me three envelopes. ‘Rachel’, he told me. ‘I have put all my last wishes in these three envelopes. After I am gone, please open them and do exactly as I have instructed. Knowing you’ll do this, I can rest in peace’."

"What was in the envelopes?" her friends asked.

"The first envelope contained $5,000 with a note, ‘Please use this money to buy a nice casket’. So I bought a beautiful mahogany casket with such a comfortable lining that I know Sidney is resting very comfortably.

"The second envelope contained $10,000 with a note, ‘Please use this for a nice funeral’. I made Sidney a very dignified funeral and bought all his favorite foods."

"And the third envelope?" asked her friends.

"The third envelope contained $25,000 with a note, ‘Please use this to buy a nice stone’.

At that point, Rachel held up her hand and pointed to her ring finger, on which was a gorgeous ten carat diamond ring.

 "So?", said Rachel "you like my stone.?"

Mud Baths

A man goes into his doctors office for an annual physical. After a while, the doctor comes out and says, "I’m sorry Bill, but we have discovered you have a condition which only allows you another 6 weeks to live."

"But Doctor," Bill replied, "I feel great! I haven’t felt better in years. This just can’t be true. Isn’t there anything I can do?"

After a moment the doctor said, "Well, you might start going down the street to that new health spa and take a mud bath every day."

Excitedly Bill asked, "And that will cure me?"

"No," Replied the doctor, "but it will get you used to the dirt."

Good parenting helps children to build character

Dinner table — a place to learn values

It is one of those essential facts
of life that raising good chil-
dren—children of character—
demands time and attention. While having children may be "doing what comes naturally," being a good parent is much more complicated. Here are ten tips to help your children build sturdy characters:

1. Put parenting first. This is hard to do in a world with so many competing demands. Good parents consciously plan and devote time to parenting. They make developing their children’s character their top priority.

2. Review how you spend the hours and days of your week. Think about the amount of time your children spend with you. Plan how you can weave your children into your social life and knit yourself into their lives.

3. Be a good example. Face it: human beings learn primarily through modelling. In fact, you can’t avoid being an example to your children, whether good or bad. Being a good example, then, is probably your most important job.

4. Develop an ear and an eye for what your children are absorbing. Children are like sponges. Much of what they take in has to do with moral values and character. Books, songs, TV, the Internet, and films are continually delivering messages-moral and immoral-to our children. As parents we must control the flow of ideas and images that are influencing our children.

5. Use the language of character. Children cannot develop a moral compass, unless people around them use the clear, sharp language of right and wrong.

6. Punish with a loving heart. Today, punishment has a bad reputation. The results are guilt-ridden parents and self-indulgent, out-of-control children. Children need limits. They will ignore these limits on occasion. Reasonable punishment is one of the ways human beings have always learned. Children must understand what punishment is for and know that its source is parental love.

7. Learn to listen to your children. It is easy for us to tune out the talk of our children. One of the greatest things we can do for them is to take them seriously and set aside time to listen.

8. Get deeply involved in your child’s school life. School is the main event in the lives of our children. Their experience there is a mixed bag of triumphs and disappointments. How they deal with them will influence the course of their lives. Helping our children become good students is another name for helping them acquire strong character.

9. Make a big deal out of the family meal. One of the most dangerous trends in America is the dying of the family meal. The dinner table is not only a place of sustenance and family business but also a place for the teaching and passing on of our values. Manners and rules are subtly absorbed over the table. Family mealtime should communicate and sustain ideals that children will draw on throughout their lives.

10. Do not reduce character education to words alone. We gain virtue through practice. Parents should help children by promoting moral action through self-discipline, good work habits, kind and considerate behaviour to others, and community service. The bottom line in character development is behaviour—their behaviour.

As parents, we want our children to be the architects of their own character crafting, while we accept the responsibility to be architects of the environment-physical and moral. We need to create an environment in which our children can develop habits of honesty, generosity, and a sense of justice. For most of us, the greatest opportunity we personally have to deepen our own character is through the daily blood, sweat and tears of struggling to be good parents.

  More Reviews.....


A Rose by any other name

Hints that will help you at the Pola



Reach out to Unawatuna


Good parenting helps children
to build character











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