11th October 2001, Volume 8, Issue 17

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reviewpic1.jpg (26148 bytes) Mandira - a real life story

By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema

On her sixth visit to Sri Lanka, Mandira Bedi (better known as Shanthi, Pragathi and Sujatha to Sri Lankan viewers) says she feels she has arrived in her 'second home.' She is even thinking of buying a house in Sri Lanka, to spend more time every year.Mandira is originally from Bombay, but her family moved to Delhi, where she worked as a yong girl. Her father worked for a commercial firm and

her only sibling - brother (who she says bullied her in her young days) - is now a banker in Singapore. Mandira has a post graduate in mass communication. Coming from a family which had never produced actors, Mandira has come a long way in the field. It was merely by chance that she acted in her first TV role - Shanthi. While working as an apprentice in a production house, Mandira was asked to come for an audition for a teledrama. Not knowing what was happening, she just read out some lines, and was surprised to be called for the second audition as well. It was after she was told she was selected to play the role of Shanthi. From then on Mandira has captured the hearts of many Asian women through her characters - Shanthi, Pragathi and Sujatha.

Married for 2 1/2 years, Mandira and her husabnd - who is working for a production house - have not yet got a chance of working together.

Q: Before coming to Sri Lanka, did you know you had a following here? What did you feel when you first came to Sri Lanka?

A: Before my first visit to Sri Lanka, about 4-5 years ago it was at Cannes that a gentleman told me that I should make a visit to Sri Lanka as I'm a popular figure there. Naturally, I didn't believe it. On my first visit I was tired after a night flight, but when I landed here, as soon as I stepped out of the flight, I saw about 20-30 ground staff holding their breath. They were so excited to see me and I was shocked. The journey from the airport to Colombo took almost 4 1/2 hours as I was stopped many times by crowds down the road to get my autograph. There were so many people and I couldn't believe it. It was awesome and overwhelming. What surprises me more is that after all this time there are still people who come to the roads to see me on my visits.

Q: Would it be correct to say you are more popular in Sri Lanka than in India?

A: Well, I am popular in India as well. But in Bombay, from where I come, there are many celebrities. But I should say I'm not as popular as I am in Sri Lanka. The reason I guess is the characters I play are universal characters. Asian women can easily relate to them. The dubbing is excellent which makes some people believe that I'm speaking in Sinhala. Therefore, the show looks quite Sri Lankan and that has made many Sri Lankan women close to the characters.

Q: Describe your role in Sujatha?

A: The character I portray in Shanthi and Pragathi are two rebellious characters who fight for justice. They do not have time for romance and love. But in Sujatha I portray quite a different role. Sujatha marries early in the role. But she too is a strong character. She is strong in marriage.

Q: With which role would you identify yourself?

A: Well, I'm not at all like the characters I have portrayed on TV. I'm a fun loving, happy person. I love to laugh unlike in the characters I portray who cry most of the time. I can make people laugh. But, I've not done a comedy so far. Actually, soaps are easy to do. But, comedies are the hardest to do. It is easy to make people cry but not to make people laugh.

Q: You spend a lot of time away from home, how does your husband cope with it?

A: My husband is a very supportive, loving and understanding person. Since he is also in the same field as I am, he knows what my work involves and what it is like. He did come to Sri Lanka once. But, unfortunately I did not have much time to spend with him as I was under a very tight schedule. He likes the fact that I'm very popular in Sri Lanka. To make time for each other we never work on Sundays. That is solid time we spend with each other. Well, I will take some time off to start a family in the near future. But I will come back because I love my job.

Q: How did you meet your husband?

A: He once worked for film director and I did a teledrama for his company. That is where we met. But we never worked together. One week after I met him he asked me to marry him. It took me one week to give him an answer as I was shocked at the proposal and I didn't know him well at that time. Then two years later we got married.

Q: As a role model for Indian and Sri Lankan women, what characteristics would you like them to have?

A: I like them to be strong and to be able to stand for what is right. They should be confident of themselves and should have the strength to reach to the top.

Q: After a hectic day how do you unwind?

A: I go for a work-out. After that I just love to sit in front of the TV and switch channels. When I'm in Sri Lanka I love going shopping.

Q: What is your preference in entertainment and the movies?

A: Me and my husband, we both have a passion for films. We watch Hindi, English and some foreign movies. Most of the time when me and my husband spend time together, we watch movies. Watching movies helps us to relax.

Q: What's the secret behind your figure?

A: I work out and try to control my diet. I have given up eating chocolates and that is a rough life. I'm a vegetarian and I believe in healthy eating. But I love Sri Lankan food. Kiri bath, hoppers, pol sambol, dhal, thalaguli, kiri appa with jaggery and cadju curry are some of my favourite dishes. At first I couldn't eat Sri Lankan food as it was quite spicy. But now, I just love it and anytime someone asks me out for a meal in Sri Lanka, the first thing I say is, 'it has to be Sri Lankan food.'

Q: Do you have any plans to go into movies?

A: I have done a small role in a Hindi film. That was the only movie I appeared in. If I get a good role I might consider entering the silver screen. But I don't want to do small roles in cinema. After doing significant roles in soaps, I don't think it is a wise idea to do small roles in movies. Unlike earlier, now, the gap between TV stars and movie stars is much less. You see big time movie stars on TV.

Q: What do you think of Sri Lankan men?

A: I have met quite a few Sri Lankan men and they are a lot like Indian men. It is only the language that is different.

Q: Have you had any touching or unusual experience in Sri Lanka?

A: There have been two experiences. There was one fan whom I met in my first trip to Sri Lanka. She wrote a poem for me and showed it to me. She has even pasted my pictures around her bed. Later on, she had published a book of her poetry with two poems dedicated to me. That was so touching. Everytime I visit Sri Lanka, she makes it a point to contact me. If not, she makes it a point to keep in touch through e-mails. She definitely is a die hard fan.

There was another fan who quite scared me. Last time I came here, I had to go for the opening of a jewellery shop in Kandy. It was there that I came across this fan. He pushed his way through the crowd and took photographs of himself with me. He went on taking pictures for a while and when the security personnel asked him to move aside he pushed them aside and came back again. When we finally decided to leave, he started knocking on the shutters of the car. A few days later, he also turned up at one of my shooting sites to take more photographs of me. That was quite scary.

Q: Are you a religious person?

A: I would say I am a religious person. I pray every night and I believe in God and think of God when I wake up. I never pray for anything material. I only pray for peace of mind and peace on earth. When you say peace of mind almost everything is covered.

Q: What do you feel about the status of Asian women? Do you contribute in any way to change their status?

A: I think the Asian women are the worst off in the lot. I think Pakistani women are the ones very badly affected. Indian and Sri Lankan women are quite progressive. But quality and reaching equality is a long way off. From what they were, Asian women have come quite far. But they still have a long way to go.

Through my characters I hope to inspire women. But changing the attitude of men is not so easy. I was surprised to see that I had a big male fan club in Sri Lanka even though I rally for women's issues, and help them stand for what is right. I know that many women like my characters as they can relate to those characters in many ways. One is because the programmes are done to appeal to the Asians, and the other is the fact that all the issues portrayed in the dramas are ones they are aware of.

Q: What is your message to women?

A: Believe in oneself. Always say to yourself, 'I am capable of doing what I want to do.' Confidence is a must and with confidence you can make things happen. You should also love yourself. Men will try to put you down and make you feel worthless. But you must always stand tall and build up your confidence. Then the sky will be the limit for any woman. Nothing is impossible.


Imagining heart attacks

By Dr. D. P. Atukorale

"His heart rules his head" is a commonly used phrase usually to imply that a person has more kindness than intelligence. But in literal sense the heart rules the head in all of us. It also rules the other parts of the body as it provides nourishment and keeps the vital organs alive.

The relationship between the emotions and the body is no new discovery and hence the saying "a sound mind in a sound body." The reaction of the heart to emotional disturbances is obvious to everyone of us.

You are aware of the strong beating of your heart during moments of fear. This is due to the stimulation of part of the nervous system called sympathetic nerves which secretes a chemical called catecholamines which in turn cause palpitations by accelerating the heart rate and raising blood pressure.

In popular belief, the heart is supposed to be the seat of the soul, the fountain of life and the seat of emotions. Hence popular phrases and figures of speech such as "heart and soul." Therefore the heart as a part of body image enters into symptomatology of many neurotic conditions. So it is not surprising that serious alarm and anxiety is caused when a doctor raises the slightest doubt regarding the integrity of a person's heart.

Medical men therefore, should be extremely careful when they pass a verdict on a patient's heart. Once a person has been told that he has a heart ailment any suggestion that the heart is normal even by another more qualified physician will be rejected by some patients.

In view of the key position the heart occupies in our body, the heart may be profoundly influenced by psychological and psychiatric states. There is one disorder that is apparently psychogenic in its origin which continues to disable many young men and women called "irritable heart" (also called effort syndrome, soldiers' heart, Da Costas' syndrome and neurocirculatory asthenia) first described by Da Costa in 1871. In this disorder, the people who are affected are very young males and females usually between the ages of 16 and 25. These patients complain of palpitations, difficulty in breathing, fatigue, sharp left sided chest pain, sweating of palms, headache, dizziness and fainting attacks.

When these healthy young men and women are examined one is unable to find evidence of heart disease. Electrocardiograms, X-rays and other cardiac investigations are normal. Recently we came across a young athlete who had all the above features of cardiac neurosis. Extensive investigations showed no evidence of any heart disease. The patients would not believe that he has no heart disease although four senior physicians and many other doctors who saw him previously had reassured him that he has a normal heart. Recently he was seen by an eminent cardiologist in U.K. who confirmed the diagnosis of cardiac neurosis.

The disease is emotional in origin and fear is the emotion involved. Certain proportion of patients become physical invalids if it continues long enough. Fear of heart disease and sudden death take the patient from doctor to doctor, from specialist to specialist until the patient gets referred to an understanding psychiatrist, with psychotherapy majority of patients get cured.

Personality disorders are not uncommon after heart ailments. In one of these personality disorders the patient seems to lose capacity for doing things for himself and requires help from others even in ordinary matters. He clings on to his relations like a helpless child. This ultimately become a nuisance to the other members of his family.

Others use the heart ailment as an emotional device for the domination of others. This type of aggressive behaviour is often a nuisance to patients' relations. In contrast to above in compulsive type of personality disorder the patient meticulously follows all the precautions and medical advice to the letter. The observance of these rituals often intrudes into the lives of other members of his family that this becomes a source of distress. The heart patient with personality disorder thinks he has no psychiatric condition. It is the patient's close relations who complain of the change in behaviour of the patient.

There is another category of heart patients who refuse to believe that they have heart disease. The neglect to observe the precautions and often neglect treatment. They become physically overactive. A patient few days after a heart attack may swim far out in the sea to show that he is not afraid of his heart ailment. These patients if not given correct treatment may get a relapse and often end in premature death. These patients are the chronically elated type or hypomanic type as opposed to depressed type.

In other cases, the cardiac neurosis is due the parents over-protection of the child who has been found to have a "heart murmur" by the family doctor. Over-protection of a child by the parents leads to mischief in later life as patients subconsciously use this idea of a "weak heart" to avoid unpleasant tasks and justifies his idleness.

We sometimes come across teenagers with cardiac neurosis who have not been sent to school because they have been found to have a heart murmur by the family doctor. When these children with heart murmurs are investigated we find that some of them have normal hearts.

In Sri Lanka, cardiac neurosis is quite common in coronary thrombosis patients and rheumatic heart patients. It is known that anxious doctors and nurses have anxious patients. About two decades ago coronary thrombosis patients were given three months bed rest and a good number of them were cardiac invalids at the time of their discharge from hospital; as a result majority never returned to their previous jobs. Now it is known that prolonged bed-rest is harmful to "heart attack" patients.

With early mobilisation, less anxious attendants and better communication, nowadays we rarely see cardiac invalidism. Majority of coronary patients who are admitted to the cardiology unit leave hospital at the end of one week and majority resume their previous jobs in about twelve weeks.

Over the years doctors have been guilty of great sins in creating cardiac neurotics.

Till the days of Mackenzie who was a famous physician, many a boy was kept in bed for months on account of sinus arrythmia (normal variation in pulse with respiration), and on account of innocent heart murmurs. Today the brunt of cardiac neurosis fall on suffers of high blood pressure and coronary thrombosis.

Unless properly investigated by a cardiac physician any pain in the chest, palpitations and cardiac murmur etc., should be disregarded as unimportant and to lead a normal life. Otherwise as mentioned earlier the patient may suffer from cardiac neurosis and may become a nervous wreck for the lifetime. Such a patient is called a hypochondriac.


"No known preventive measures"- Dr. Jagath Wijesekera,

Consultant Neurologist, National Hospital.

Dr. Jagath Wijesekera, Consultant Neurologist, Neurological Unit of the National Hospital said that Guillain Barre Syndrome is a potentially reversible condition. "It is an illness that affects the peripheral nerve. Guillain Barre Syndrome is a condition that is caused when a virus gets into the body and an antibody is built against this bacteria," he explained.

"It is a relatively rare condition and there are no known preventive measures," he added.

He explained that Guillain Barre Syndrome is not a direct infection but an auto immune.


Power-cuts to continue despite rains 

By Hemamala Wickremage

Rain is only part of the problem the main causes are corruption, inefficiency and lack of foresight - Energy expert

So the rains are finally here, which also means the power-cuts will be a thing of the past and we could all live happily ever after, right? WRONG!

But a senior engineer attached to the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) who wished to remain anonymous for obvious reasons, claimed that the power-cuts are here to stay, despite the rains.

"Unless of course there are dramatic changes to introduce other sources of energy without further delay," he pointed out.

"Rain is only part of the problem. We have now reached a point where hydropower is insufficient to meet the ever-increasing energy needs in the island" he explains.

The possibility of totally lifting of the power-cuts in the coming days, is only to hoodwink or fool the voters. It will be just a strategy to win back votes at the forthcoming elections and regain lost confidence, said the official.

However, it will be only a temporary measure and the power cuts will continue if the PA government is reelected for the simple reason they don't have any solutions at hand, the Electricity Board official commented.

"Nurochcholai, power-station should have been up and running by now, despite the protests. The government messed it up big time and the poor consumer had to pay the price," he said.

Another energy expert who also asked not to be named attributed the current crisis to mismanagement and lack of foresight. According to him there is no way that energy can be saved. Therefore, there should be sources of constant energy supply be it hydropower or thermal-power. If we can not keep up with the supply to meet the ever-increasing demand then we have no option but to reduce the power supply as in form of power cuts.

It is needless to say that power-cuts cause inconvenience to the ordinary citizen who can not afford the luxury of generators, politicians and their cronies.

Besides, we are now living in the 21 century and it is quite unacceptable to have to put up with this type of difficult living conditions.

Manel, a mother of three school-going children, said it's not only inconvenient but also depressing. It's like we have gone back to the stone age. As pointed out by former PA Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris, why do we need a government if we have to rely on rain?

Savithri a manageress attached to a leading bank is Colombo complained, "The problem is we are used to all these electrical gadgets and we take electricity for granted. We are so much dependent on electricity as our main source of power. So one we are deprived of it unfairly, our lives are upside down. It's very difficult to get used to alternative methods now.

"In Sri Lanka we have a minister for power and energy and a ministry full of officials who are paid by the state to ensure a smooth functioning of electricity supply in the Island.

"But we have to put up with regular power cuts simply because they are not capable of doing their job," said Sanath, a corner shop owner. He said the constant power cuts have caused him losses to stock and to his freezers. "I paid most of my week's earnings to repair two of my freezers just last week. If this continues, I'll be out of business very own," he said.

Amanthi and Nilanthi are two sister attending a leading girls' school in Colombo. They find it extremely had to cope with their home work. Especially since Nilanthi is sitting for her O/L's this year.

"We are not rich enough to have a generator like some in our class. We depend on candles to study at night. But it's very difficult. So we tend to sleep during power cuts and that has made sticking to a regular study schedule impossible."

If the authorities fail to take action in the immediate future, it is clear that ordinary citizen's misery would certainly continue. The long nights with candle light and kerosene will be around for quite a while.


Lanka home of acupuncture

By Marianne David 

When one walks into any one of Dr. Anton Jayasuriya's clinics, one is overwhelmed by the number of people sitting around with needles stuck into various parts of their bodies. Seemingly relaxed, none of them seem to mind that they look like human pin cushions, and rather scary ones at that. Acupuncture: the word alone gives some of us the shivers, but amazingly, it is totally painless and the large number of patients at his clinics are testimony to the fact.

Little children come close to Dr. Jayasuriya and show him the various places where they want their needles stuck in and chatter away with him while they are being treated.

Acupuncture is used to cure a large number of illnesses and has proven to be a successful mode of treatment.

Dr. Jayasuriya's patients are given free consultations and treatment and so far, he claims, he has treated over 2.5 million patients throughout almost 50 years of practice in Sri Lanka and 110 other countries in the world. His title, if you can call it that, is a mouthful: Lord Pandit Professor Raja Guru Doctor Sir Holy Tibetan Lama Healer Anton Jayasuriya!

Dr. Jayasuriya also has quite a few of his own private clinics, the most popular being that at No. 8, International Buddhist Centre Road and is called Feng Shui.

In Dr. Jayasuriya's recent publication Archaeological evidence proves that acupuncture originated in pre-historic Sri Lanka, it is said that, "In pre-historic times and thereafter, acupuncture was practised in Sri Lanka in a much broader spectrum than in China. In Sri Lanka, acupuncture was extensively used, not only on humans, but also on domesticated animals (such as dogs, cats, horses, cattle and poultry)." It goes on to say, "It clearly appears on the basis of these findings that acupuncture first originated in Sri Lanka, probably even as early as 37, 000 years ago (Mesolithic period) and later spread along the elephant laden spice route, together with the medicinal herbs, poisons and spices to Europe through Persia and also to North Africa."

Medicina Alternativa doctors from 110 countries will meet at the B. M. I. C. H from November 27-30, at the 39th World Congress of Alternative Medicines. During the last three decades, Medicina Alternativa has been responsible for the progress of oriental medicines world-wide. Distinguished scientists, clinicians and researchers from over 90 countries are to participate. They will discuss creating an unified strategy to enable them to be ready to overcome bio-terroristic epidemics by means of alternative medicine. The scientific presentations programmed from Sri Lanka are: To err is fatal by Professor Carlo Fonseka, A vision of the integration of medicines in the third millennium by Professor Denis Aloysius, Is today's quackery tomorrow's orthodoxy? by Professor J. B. Peiris, Archaeological evidence proves that acupuncture originated in pre-historic Sri Lanka over 30, 000 years ago by the Medicina Alternative Chairperson Professor Dr. Anton Jayasuriya. Professor Dr. P. R. Anthonis has been invited to chair the pre-congress scientific sessions, evaluate and summarise the scientific proceedings.

Patients cured of bronchial asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke and brain tumours, without the use of drugs or surgery will be there in person and demonstrations will take place at the World Congress. After the four day World Congress, the delegates will be taken to the Beli Lena cave at Kithulgala, which was a home of the Balangoda Man, says Dr. Siran Deraniyagala, director general of Archaeology, Sri Lanka. The final sessions of the World Congress will be held at the Medicina Alternativa Health Centre, the Plantation Bungalow.

In the village next to Beli Lena at Kithulgala, Medicina Alternativa is growing the largest herbal garden in the world. All the herbs and potions carried for medicinal uses to Europe along the ancient spice route are now being grown in this garden, which will join the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens as a showpiece to the world.

Dr. Jaya-suriya was decertified by the Sri Lanka Medical Council in January, 2001. The Medical Council said that Dr. Jayasuriya was decertified because he did not respond to a letter they sent him. According to its rule, members must respond to their letters within six months, or else their names are struck off the list. Dr. Anton Jayasuriya is of the opinion that SLMC decertified him on an insignificant technicality.


Freddie is no more

Something tragic that we never thought would happen, happened two weeks ago. Freddie Silva, famous come dian and actor suddenly and unexpectedly passed away on October 29. He was visited at his hospital bed and written about just one week before his death. At the time, his family was full of hope about his condition since the medical report read, 'This patient is better now.' He was discharged and taken to his son Janesh's house soon after.

Having read about Freddie Silva's plight in The Sunday Leader (Review Section) on October 21, 2001, Ajantha Wijesena, Director of the internationally acclaimed film 'Sita Devi' mailed in a cheque of Rupees 5, 000 to be given to Freddie Silva, in the hope that it would help him in some way.

"I just couldn't get over it when I read that Freddie Silva is in hospital. I have known him for so long. So I thought that I will give this money in the memory of my parents and I hope that it will in some small way make him better and help him to regain his voice," said Wijesena.

Going in search of him at the hospital, we were told that he was discharged a few days before. We next went to his house at 22/4, Church Road, Rawatawatte, Moratuwa. His younger daughter and son was at home and told us that Freddie was at Janesh's house.

"Now he is much better. He said that he will come and stay with us as soon as he can because we are alone here. We are so happy that he is okay now," his daughter Sashi said. The cheque was handed over to her and she was very happy that someone remembered her father and wanted to help him. She then took down all the details that she wanted to pass it on to her father. The two children had given the cheque to Freddie and told him about the donor just a few days before he died.

On that fateful day, Freddie Silva had suddenly gotten into a bad state and was rushed to the Kalubowila Hospital, but he passed away before they reached their destination.


Mind, mood and mirrors

By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema

Beacons from tiny pieces of mirror on a wall hanging form in your mind and mood, a lasting impression. The beauty of such an artifact is nothing short of being breath-taking. Designing an interior decor to suit the life styles of people is no easy task. But it is nothing short of a miracle to learn that the combination of mirror and jute could create something of lasting value which is unique and enduring.

Producing such breath-taking creations is the what makes Maheshi Munasinghe feel on top of the world. It was following her childhood dreams that made Maheshi decide on trying her hand at making her innovative ideas become a reality. She has now achieved her goal in interior designing. Maheshi who had turned out some wonderful wall hangings earlier has exhibited her creations four times in the past.

This year, she will yet again exhibit her creations on November 16, 17 and 18 at the Lionel Wendt. The exhibition, aptly named Mirror, will highlight her creations in mirror and jute. This new addition is sure to catch the attention of those who love creations which are unique by nature.

A product of Ladies' College, after completing her education, Maheshi has followed a two year course in interior designing at the Sheffield School of Interior Designing of New York in Singapore.

When asked what she concentrates most when desgning her creations, "it is modern contemporary disigns I do," Maheshi said. She explained that it is hard to make traditional designs with mirror as it is hard to cut the mirrors into small pieces.

The reason Maheshi opted for raw material as jute and mirror, is that they are environment friendly. Being eco friendly in her creations has also added to the uniqueness of Maheshi's masterpieces.

In her first exhibition which was held in 1998, Maheshi had highlighted painted glass in her creations. But it was in her second exhibition she concentrated on jute and mirror. The response had been very good. That has motivated her to continue creating her masterpiecses in jute and mirror.

This time too Maheshi's exhibition on creations of mirror and jute - Mirror - will sure be a treat for those mad about unique creations to highlight the taste and ideosyncracies of those who prefer to lead life with a unique touch.

 

 

 

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