1 is AIDS Day
to face with AIDS at De Saram Place
De Saram Place, Colombo 10 is
a building to which
HIV positive and AIDS patients from Sri Lanka walk in
every day. Consultant Dr. Kulasiri Buddhakorala, MBBS, MSc.,......
on the road for compensation
cubes for your children?
travelled on a difficult path
the winding Devale Road
notes of an idle sailor
1 is AIDS Day
to face with AIDS at De Saram Place
De Saram Place, Colombo 10 is
a building to which
HIV positive and AIDS patients from Sri Lanka walk in
every day. Consultant Dr. Kulasiri Buddhakorala, MBBS, MSc.,
MD is the consultant
who works in there and meets with AIDS patients everyday.
are men and there are women, but all of them cry and are
depressed for a long time after they are told that they have
been found to be HIV positive. Their immediate fear is about
death, " said Dr. Buddhakorala.
his very basic office, this doctor who has been dealing with HIV and
AIDS since 1987 when the first case of AIDS was discovered in Sri
Lanka, says that the threat is greater today. He says that people
ought to be aware of the threat that is HIV and AIDS and abstain
from casual sexual encounters. But the doctor went on to say that
those who have unprotected sex are at greater risk.
Kulasiri Buddhakorala said that the patients who walk into this
building housing the National STD/AIDS control programme are assured
of confidentiality. "We do not tell anyone about their
condition - not even to their spouses. However with counselling we
try to tell them to get their spouses to come and talk to us. Once a
person is identified as HIV positive we want to counsel his or her
spouse too," said the doctor. "A few of them have already
brought their spouses," he said.
building has no sign board and it is not easy to find out why a
person is walking into this place. This perhaps is a way of further
making people comfortable - to walk in and find out whether they
have contacted a sexually transmitted disease or the HIV virus.
Kularasiri Buddhakorala meets with AIDS patients everyday.
"They are people in distress and I comfort them whey they cry.
I touch their arm and try to console them. This is a great source of
consolation to them because they think no one would even want to
touch them hereafter. But AIDS as we know is not spread through
touching," explained Buddhakorala.
is well documented information to say that HIV is transmitted not by
mere touch but through sex. It is also found to be transmitted
rarely through oral sex," he said.
went on to say that HIV in Sri Lanka is not limited to a particular
section of society. The poor may have acquired it through poor
knowledge. It must be mentioned however that a greater number of
patients are found to be
from the lower social economic group
said that when men and women are told at this clinic that they are
HIV positive, they fear for their spouse. Then they worry about who
will find out - whether their employers or their colleagues will
find out. But the doctor said that there is no law to report the HIV
patient to any authority, that is because HIV does not spread
through casual everyday contact - only through sex and blood
doctor said that 600 people have been identified with HIV so far in
Sri Lanka. People we do not know may be carrying the virus. This is
why the threat of HIV and AIDS hangs over us all.
is free and anyone is free to walk in here for STD or HIV tests,'
pointed out Dr. Buddhakorala. The doctor also said that HIV takes 10
to 15 years to develop into AIDS.
consultant warned of the need to be aware, to be educated and to
take care. The warning goes to the sexually active people and
especially to those
in the forces.
care about the patients. We do not try to pressurise them into
bringing in their family and their sexual contacts here. We do try
to tell them to bring them, but if there is no response we
concentrate on the patient and his well being," said the
Buddhakorala went on to say that those who lead promiscuous lives
and who have had casual, unprotected sex ought to undergo the HIV
test. "Some people have unprotected sex because he or she may
be known to them. They think of
that person being faithful," said the doctor.
important advice, Dr. Buddhakorala quoted President George Bush who
referred to the subject of AIDS and HIV with
ABC - Abstinence, Be Faithful or Condoms.
Kulasiri Buddhakorala said that the strange thing about HIV and AIDS
is that in the very early stages one does not have many symptoms and
the only way of finding out is through a test.
about your behaviour, evaluate yourself and this is the way you can
find out whether you do need a test," he said. The doctor went
on to say that women are at a greater risk of
contracting AIDS/HIV because they have a larger anatomical
area in the region.
however referred to the initial symptoms as a non productive cough
or skin rashes, mouth thrust and with time - severe infections of
Buddhakorala said that times have changed and today HIV/AIDS drugs
are available in Sri Lanka. "Drugs are great source of
consolation to these people and we give these drugs free of
charge," he said.
drugs cost from Rs.5000 to Rs.10,000 a month. Dr. Buddhakorala said
that the World Bank has given funds through the STD/AIDS control
programme for these drugs for four years.
you think HIV/AIDS is only a subject to read about in books printed
overseas, you ought to walk into this place down De Saram Place,
on the road for compensation
to desperation, The former toilet is tyhe kitchen and Children
trying to understand
Alwis is certainly a poor
man; nevertheless he is lucky enough
to have a roof over his head and a home of his own. However his roof
is falling to pieces, while the walls supporting his home have huge
cracks, and look as if they will collapse at any moment.
is certainly disturbing Alwis, as it would any family man. He lives
in this dilapidated house with his wife and seven children
years ago Alwis lived on a four perch land and in a relatively
comfortable house. However, when W.A.Silva Mawatha at Colombo 6 was
being widened a large part of his home was broken down to make way
for the road. Part of the land his house was in, was reclaimed by
said that he did not mind them breaking part of his house for the
road widening. But what irks him is that the government has turned a
blind eye to his plight, and not a cent has been paid as
occupants in the opposite houses as well as the buildings next door
have all received compensation except ours", he complained.
is not a well to do man. He does plumbing and welding work as well
as other odd jobs for his daily bread and butter. Of his seven
two attend school, his younger son and daughter - the other children
do odd jobs for the households in their area.
with whatever he earns and whatever condition his house may be in,
his only concern is for the safety of his children.
government must give us the promised compensation or even if someone
can help us with making the house better for living, we will be so
grateful," he said.
the help of neighbours, Alwis wrote several letters to the Prime
Minister and the Ministry of Highways, but he has not received any
positive reply from them.
may not have the land deeds for the house but my national ID card
and some tax receipts I have, state this address," he noted.
went on to say that he had read in newspapers people living in
unauthorised houses too had received compensation, when other roads
have been widened and the land cleared for a highway. "Why are
they not giving the due compensation to us then, specially after
agreeing that the land can be claimed only if they are given
compensation?" he questions.
and his family have been living in this house at W.A.de Silva
Mawatha for the last 28 years and if this house collapses, they will
have no choice but to live on the street.
the road was being widened, our hall, two rooms and the kitchen had
to be broken, now we sleep in what was earlier the store room and
cook in the former toilet, now made into a kitchen," he
small area to enter their house, serves as the family's hall and
this is the place where the children study and sleep as well.
said that the authorities want to break the front wall of this house
to make the drain and that they will pay Rs.30, 000 for this, but he
is not letting them do so because he asks, "What will we do if
they do not pay the compensation?"
this is the main wall that is holding the house together and even
this wall has huge cracks in it.
we worry as to when the roof or the wall will collapse, and when it
rains there is no place in the house that is dry, everything gets
soaked, but what can we do, this is the only home we have,"
complained his wife Chandrika Podimanike.
children are aged from six years to 27 years and they all live with
us at this house," he added.
family may be poor and live in a dilapidated house but they care for
each other and look after each other.
The Sunday Leader visited their house it was clearly visible that
what the family wants is for their house to be safe.
Safe so that the family can live in peace and continue with
their existence. Although poor, they are united and want to be able
to do up their house so that they can live in their home free of
it the duty of the authorities to ensure that families are not
thrown onto the streets due to development projects?
there are delays due to red tape and children have to suffer, then
at what price is this type of development?
their home is taken-they have to be given another.
that the human thing to do?
cubes for your children?
from last week
there are a percentage of
people who cook and eat natural foods and I salute them. The
problem is, obtaining these eating habits takes effort and time.
Best of all it saves money but many of us do not believe so.
we buy the ready made food and plonk ourselves down to eat it in
front of the TV we become couch potatoes instantly. As home-makers,
parents have to ensure that the family is in the best of health and
if they do fall ill it's probably because of the trash we have been
giving them to eat out of love - this love can kill. For those of
you who would like to follow my recipe here's how:
Make the children help whenever they can - do not force them
into it - just coax them. Even as small as three years, children
love grating carrots. Older children can help cut up for salads.
They will not give you perfect results - were you perfect at that
age ? By the age of six they can make themselves a salad, as well as
a variety of sandwiches. By the age of eight they can actually cook
a tasty dhal curry and 'do' a kang-kung fry with bits of chicken or
meat. Teach them to operate the rice-cooker at about the age of 11.
If you teach the kids safety in the kitchen you have nothing to
fear. You can also be sure that they will never bug you for food at
odd times. Holidays are great for them to try out new things - not
fancy food - hunger appeasing stuff like uppuma, sago pudding and
savoury roti/pittu are great for starters.
Set the alarm - stay in bed for five minutes after it rings
and meditate on what your tasks are for the day. Deep breathe as you
do this. Set a separate alarm for the kids.
Cut up veggies and greens the night before-only what you need
for the day.
Scrape coconuts and freeze in small containers.
Cook chicken and other meats/fish in bulk and pack for
freezing. Teach the kids and your spouse to use up all the contents
and never put back anything after it has been re-heated.
Set aside tasks your spouse thinks you're too weak for - this
helps in boosting his ego. Do not overdo it !
Always forward plan breakfast foods. Pulses are great and it
doesn't take long to boil if you add a pinch of soda-bicarb to the
Use left over godamba roti for a koththu - kids and their
friends love this ! Add finely chopped gotukola and raisins. You can
do the same with left-over string hoppers. Contrary to belief red
strings taste delicious.
Get the family used to eating soups before dinner - around
7pm. This helps older children fill up and younger ones can even
skip their dinner if they are too sleepy to eat. Mushroom soup is
the easiest. Second comes pumpkin and spinach soup and if you are
ambitious try a combination of left over veggies with an egg added
for good measure.
have to be nurtured to liking natural food flavours which is why
doctors tell us to refrain from adding salt and sugar to their baby
food. They grow to actually liking natural foods and reject the
artificial taste of processed foods. Therefore, we must discipline
ourselves, and avoid taking the easy way out. This is the only way
we can show our love in the long run. Do not join in the rat-race.
Stand apart from it. Enlighten those that need it and dare to make a
conclusions from statistics, the world has become enthralled in what
is easiest. According to the conference on obesity held in Bejing in
2002, ".the total population of overweight people in the world
has reached an unprecedented 1.2 billion, almost equal to the whole
population of China." This can be largely credited to bad
eating habits, consisting mostly of processed foods.
We were not created to consume processed foods. The sooner we
realise this the better. In 10 years time you will reap the rewards
when the friends of your children are warded in hospitals and their
parents are running hither and thither not knowing what ails their
child and facing the burden of paying soaring hospital bills.
you can thank me. By then, I might not be around.
- Shanthi Wijesinghe,
Early Childhood Educator and President AMDE, Sri Lanka
travelled on a difficult path
Stanley Jayawardena is an out-
standing personality whose accomplish-ments cannot all
be listed here for want of space. He was the first and only
Sri Lankan to hold the position of chairman, Unilever in our
Readers I am sure would like to know a little bit about your
father, George Peter Tikiri Banda Jayawardena of Basawakkulama
Walauwe, Anuradhapura received his education at Christian
College, Kotte. A born Buddhist, he was later converted to
Christianity while in school. After completing his education
he chose to go back to his village at Diganegama and joined
the kachcheri as a clerk, which was a respected job then.
married a Miss Aluvihare from Matale, who was educated at
Hillwood College, Kandy and excelled in her studies. The
favourite in school, she chose to be converted to Christianity
and my father and mother got married at St. Paul's Church,
Kandy. Being Christians they soon emerged to be popular
socialites who played a dominant part in social activities in
had four children - Margantha, Stanley, Iranganie and Asoka. People
from all walks of life flocked to our home to consult my father on
various matters and he was looked up to as a very knowledgeable
gentleman whose advice was invaluable. After a few years, he was
promoted to the position of rural court judge who sat in judgement
at the village tribunal. My father, being a landed proprietor
holding a responsible position and earning an attractive salary, was
able to give us a comfortable life and we were considered an
affluent, leading family in Anuradhapura.
was going well until tragedy hit us. My father who was suffering
from acute diabetes passed away leaving behind a young widow of 31
years to shoulder the responsibility of looking after four young
children. I was seven years and schooling at Trinity College. We
were devastated and felt the roof crashing down on our heads at a
time when we needed our father most. The parental love I needed was
not there and I felt lost without it. Young, as I was I had nothing
to look forward to.
particular reason why your father chose to educate you at Trinity
had quite a few Trinitians in the neighbourhood and that probably
influenced my father to give preference to Trinity over S. Thomas'
were the repercussions of this unexpected tragedy?
family fortunes sank and I came to realise that I was a poor boy in
a rich school. My mother was faced with a huge crisis. Even though
many relatives advised my mother to remove me from Trinity and send
me to a school in Matale my mother had a vision and vowed to somehow
see me through Trinity. Unable to carry on, she sold the furniture,
rented the house and went to live with her parents. Although the
boarding and school fees were paid I received no pocket money and I
did not have the necessary sports gear to try for a place in the
college team despite representing Alison House in rugby, boxing and
athletics. I was nicknamed "Galba the Farmer" since I
showed no interest whatsoever in sports.
all these drawbacks, did you enjoy your stay at Trinity?
immensely. Trinity was my second home. The boys all came from decent
family backgrounds and were groomed to adhere to the rules and
regulations that were strictly enforced. No one was permitted to
walk on the lawns but along the pathways. The Christian way of life
was enforced to the letter..
there anything in particular that you cannot forget?
soon after I joined the boarding a boy was given
a public caning in my dormitory for breaking a bird's nest. I
was terrified and developed an allergy for bird's nests after I had
an insight into Trinity's capital punishment!
Anything that fascinated you?
the College Chapel... with its imposing architecture and impressive
features. At the age of 12, I decided to revert to Buddhism and when
I expressed this desire to the chaplain and the staff there were no
objections whatsoever and I was allowed to exercise my fundamental
rights. That, in essence, showed the spirit of Trinity College!
How was it during the war years?
part of the school was occupied by the British Army and that's how
the boys got hold of the best brands of imported cigarettes!
What caused you to revert to Buddhism?
came under the strong influence of my relatives who were all devout
Buddhists. To cap it all, we were also living in the midst of
temples, dagobas and vihares and visited these places of reverence
all the time in the company of our relatives.
How did you end up at Trinity?
got through the university entrance and my mother in particular was
extremely happy. She got me a place in Brodie, Ward Place and though
the fees were paid she still did not give me any pocket money and
that really upset me.
bet you must be having some memorable episodes to relate about your
varsity days? Let's talk about how you met your life's partner.
was one year ahead of me and although I noticed her striking good
looks there was no occasion for us to meet. One day however, Sujatha
walked up to me and said that a girl in my batch was interested in
me and wanted to have a love affair. My reply was that she will
never ever make an acceptable wife for me and dismissed the idea. We
then went into having a little chat. I told Sujatha that my search
for love and happiness will be pursued all the time until I found
the right person. My views were strong and my thinking, very
was poor and to that extent my search for a partner was way down in
my list of priorities. I explained to her all what I had gone
through and she listened attentively believing every word I uttered.
She left saying that she would like to meet me the next day. She
came as promised and the first thing she did was to hand me a little
photograph of herself behind which she had autographed with some
endearing words. That was the beginning of a romance that culminated
in our marriage.
got married on May 14, 1950 with the "poruwa" ceremony, at
the YMBA followed by a reception held at the GOH. Prime Minister, D.
S. Senanayake tied the thread with the witnesses being Sir John
Kotelawala and Sir Richard Aluvihare. Their children are Ramani,
Prasanna, Ruvani, Priya and Sanjeeva.
plans did you have in finding employment?
results, I began teaching at Ananda Sastralaya, Kotte while Sujatha
having graduated, was teaching at Presbyterian Girls School,
Dehiwela. After I graduated, I joined the Department of Inland
Revenue and had just completed a little over five years when a close
friend of ours, S. B. Senanayake (civil servant) told us that he had
turned down the post of sales manager offered to him by a
multi-national company for personal reasons. Jokingly I said,
"Why don't you give my name?" The next thing I knew was
that Alan Griffiths, the marketing manager of Lever Brothers
(Ceylon) Limited called me and asked me whether I would meet him. I
did, and at the end of our chat he took me to the chairman. When the
job was offered to me, I consulted Clarence Amerasinghe for his
advice and bang came the response that I should take it.
joined Levers as sales manager on May 1, 1955 with no knowledge or
experience in sales. Thereafter, I served in a number of jobs in
marketing and received intensive overseas training in Australia,
United Kingdom and India where I worked with Lintas, Bombay for one
year, taking the family with me. I returned in 1966 to take over the
post of marketing director, the first ever Sri Lankan to hold this
like to wind up this interview with my personal comments on the
couple I knew so well. Stanley Jayawardena, one-time marketing
director at Levers Brothers and later, personnel director has played
a dominant role in shaping both divisions with a brand of leadership
that was rarely seen in the business sector. He was a stickler for
discipline but yet kind and understanding. He was never prepared to
compromise on the principles he resolutely believed in. Those who
worked under him knew him to be a human being with sterling
qualities. He always had the welfare of the employees at heart.
was a gracious and charming lady. At any company event she would
mingle with the crowd and her presence was eagerly looked forward
to. Laughter, warmth and friendliness accompanied her wherever she
went. She was like a breath of fresh air! She once got me to
spearhead a fund-raising project in aid of handicapped children and
I was amazed by her commitment to the cause! Behind every successful
man there is a woman and Stanley Jayawardena was spontaneous in
admitting that Sujatha stood solidly behind him at all times. It is
a pleasure and a privilege to have known the Jayawardenas, Stanley
and Sujatha, a couple
Siri Sangabo Corea
the winding Devale Road
ancient devale in Depanama
driving down the long
and winding Devale Road in
Pannipitiya the last thing one would expect to see is ancient
stone pillars by the side of the road. But unknown to many of us
these ancient stone pillars, over a thousand years old, are the only
indication of what is left of an ancient devale in Depanama,
few feet away from the stone pillars is the unmistakable sight of a
60 year old Nuga tree that provides shade and comfort for all those
who wish to find out more about this place of great historical
closer look at the stone pillars and one cannot help but notice the
unusual carvings in a language yet unknown. But despite the mystery
that surrounds the Depanama Sri Ganegoda Devale, people from seven
villages continue to pay homage to the gods here.
from Depanama, Pannipitiya, Polwatte, Kottawa, Hokandara, Kalalgoda
and Thalangama still believe in the powers of the gods. It is the
powers of the many gods that have saved the lives of the people in
these seven villages.
on approximately 25 acres of land during historical times, the
Depanama Sri Ganegoda Devale boasts of the tallest statue of the
Katharagama God. The statue was completed in 29 days and is 10 feet
present Kapu Mahaththaya of the devale is Devagathi D Lasantha.
Devagathi Lasantha took over the role of Kapu Mahaththaya in 1984
from his father D Somapala. Prior to Somapala the former Kapu
Mahaththaya of the devale was Somapala's father and Devagathi
to The Sunday Leader Devagathi Lasantha said according to tradition
and customs practiced by his ancestors the kapu mahaththayas of the
Sri Ganegoda Devale have always been confined to his family members.
"I belong to the seventh generation of kapu mahaththayas"
says Devagathi Lasantha.
Lasantha went on to say that it was in the Kotte Era (800 BC) and
during King Perakumba VI, rule that the devale was built. "We
can prove the historical significance by the ancient artifacts that
were found on the premises of the devale. While digging to expand
the devale we found some ancient bangles made out of damba
raththaran (a type of gold) which is far more valuable than gold,
believed to be worn by the Paththini God. People in the area had
found a piece of a tile with unusual carvings believed to have been
used thousands of years ago" says Devagathi Lasantha.
to Devagathi Lasantha while digging to build a wall around their
house which is situated close to the devale, residents had found a
tiny gold coin with carvings on both sides.
the historical significance of the name Depanama, Devagathi Lasantha
said King Perakumba VI having built the devale had lighted two lamps
and bent his feet to worship the gods. "The Sinhalese meaning
of bending his feet (depa namala) was used to name the Devale
Depanama" explained Devagathi Lasantha.
Depanama Sri Ganegoda Devale has a snake living in one room of the
devale. "We do not harm this snake. Many years ago a drunken
man walking past the devale saw the thumbaha where the snake lives.
In his drunken state villagers heard the man shouting that snakes
and humans cannot live together. He then took a mammoty and broke
down part of the thumbaha. The man went home but never recovered
from the mistake he made. He gradually went mad and finally died.
But even after his death his family suffered the same fate"
says Devagathi Lasantha.
despite the strong feelings and religious beliefs these villagers
have for the devale the government has taken no interest in
protecting this place of religious significance. "This ancient
devale continues to exist due to the devotion and hard work of the
villagers who feel it is their duty to protect this for future
annual pooja of the devale will be held on December 17, 18 and 19,
where a large number of people from the seven villages participate
in religious activities.
to Devagathi Lasantha if the religious pooja is not held annually
the villagers fall sick, especially with sicknesses related to the
we are to continue to pay homage to the Gods and protect the
existence of this devale we need the financial support of the
government. We hope the government will take an interest in this
ancient and historical devale and help us financially during our
annual pooja to protect it for future generations" says
Depanama Sri Ganegoda Devale Society (DSGDS) President, Keerthi
Ceylon Motor Yacht Club at 75
notes of an idle sailor
Jirasinha and Jan Wimaladharama in rough seas-without the benefit of
a golf umbrella
sports go, sailing is up there withthe
oldest, together with buzkhasi and the ancient Olympian
pastimes of hurling stuff like discuses and javelins about
the place. A great many heroes of yore were sailors, right from the
time of Jonah (who had that unfortunate incident with the whale)
through Jason (of Argonaut fame). Every time St. Paul wrote one of
those epistles of his to the Corinthian citizenry or decided to take
off for a long weekend at Philippi, it was to his trusty sailboat
that he had to turn. Nelson and Drake would not be household names
if not for their skills on the water. Sailing is a truly ancient
long ago, you could not have dreamed of being the progenitor of some
great race if you could not get your genes across a fair bit of
ocean. Indeed, legend has it that the founder of the Sinhala race
got here by ship, and given the indolent tribe he founded, it is
most unlikely that he paddled (the Tamil race, in case you wondered,
did not need to be founded: it was always there). To prove
early-human propensity for sailing, the late Thor Heyerdahl spent
much of his time building improbable craft and sailing them across
vast expanses of water, in the process giving the coastguard rescue
services of several maritime nations something to do in their spare
how times have changed! Nowadays, you can get by in life even if you
do not know your port from your starboard, or for that matter, your
port from your sherry. We have become a bunch of sissies,
landlubbers almost to a man. And the cause of it all is this
newfangled sport (I use the word loosely) they call golf. Can you
picture Papa Columbus on a Sunday morning asking young Christopher,
a pimpled youth of 14, if he'd like to motor down to the local yacht
club for a sail? "Bracing breeze this morning, me boy",
he'd say (in Italian, of course, but I can't do the dialect).
"Would you care to go down to the water and practice going
west? It'll put some pink on those sallow cheeks of yours."
would the upshot have been for posterity should young Chris have
demurred? "Nah, Pa," he might have said, "I think I
will go practice my chip shots at the Royal Neapolitan."
Columbus the Explorer would not have got a lot of exploring done if
he spent all his time smacking a little white ball aimlessly hither
and thither with a stout stick in the outskirts of Genoa, would he?
Why, America might never have been discovered. No double
cheeseburgers. No ketchup. And Osama Bin Laden would be out of a
not everyone subscribes to the view that sailing is the sport of
kings. I heard a golfer once, after it was pointed out to him that
golf is not an Olympic sport, pouring scorn on us yachtsmen.
Sailing, he said, was the only sport in which you stay seated
throughout the event. It was, he said, much the same as chess except
you don't need any brains. You don't have to be paraplegic to be a
sailor, he said, but it helps. Funny young swine, he thought he was.
Criticism we yachtsmen welcome, but this surely is mere calumny. And
from a golfer, to boot! The only time a golfer breaks into a sweat
is when the income tax returns arrive. There's simply no comparison
between sailing and golf. Sailors do not practice their art while
trading stock market gossip. They do not require the services of a
caddy to tell them how to play-and to carry their umbrella for them
in case it rains. They do not yell "Fore!" at one another.
They do not have handicaps in the 20s. And they certainly do not
have ridiculous names like Tiger (why not Hippopotamus, Aardvark or
is a dignified sport. We sailors are not called upon by the rules of
our trade to place our feet 18 inches apart, bend our knees to 120
degrees and wiggle our bottoms in the manner popularised by hens
laying eggs. We do not ramble on about birdies, eagles and other
assorted avifauna. We do not wear preposterous tartan caps with
woolly pompoms on top. And we have no need to compete for Mercedes
Benzes-beastly, noisy things that cause no end of global warming.
just 400 years of age, golf is a mere infant in pampers beside
sailing. It was not even invented when the Vikings were sailing
across the North Sea and sneaking the Sunday roast off the tables of
the inhabitants of The Royal and St Andrews. The result of golf's
embarrassing youth is that, apart from "Fore!", the game
has no vocabulary of its own. Sailors, on the other hand, possess a
rich and eloquent lexicon. "Starboard", they croon to one
another. "Water at the mark", they call cheerily.
"Windward boat, keep clear", they advise politely. None of
the reckless aggression of golf. The very idea of whacking a ball
into orbit and hoping futilely that a shout of "Fore" will
deter it from planting itself in the gluteus maximus of some fellow
citizen would fill a sailor with horror.
is fine, of course, for those too old to sail. But when it comes to
repelling an invasion or fighting off the enemy, it isn't much good,
is it? I mean, when Good Queen Bess needed the Spaniards kept off
her shores, was it to a golfer she turned? Right silly Francis Drake
would have looked, standing on the cliffs of Dover waving a nine
iron at the Armada. And if it was a Monday he would not have shown
up at all: that's when they replace the divots.
the most important difference between sailors and golfers is that
sailors have pretty wives (and we all know that it's sailors, not
golfers, who've got a girl in every port). I met a golfer's wife
once. She looked like a walnut run over by an express train. Why do
you think they take to golf in the first place, escaping from their
homes and wandering aimlessly into bunkers and water hazards in the
burning sun for hours on end? Remember, it was a sailor's wife-not a
golfer's-who had a face that launched a thousand ships. It is but
rarely that a golfer's wife owns a mug that would launch a kayak.
but I digress. My commission, from the committee of the Ceylon Motor
Yacht Club, was to write a story informing you, the public, that the
club is now 75 years old. They want that sung from the rooftops
(they also wanted that bit in about sailors having pretty wives, I
have no idea why). So, pray be informed that the Ceylon Motor Yacht
Club was indeed 75 years old as on October 7, 2004. Now that I've
got that off my chest, they want me to tell you something about the
history of the club.
October 7, 1929 (they wanted me to say), a group of well-meaning
citizens gathered together and decided to found a boat club. The
name first proposed was Ceylon Cruising Club, which idea was dropped
after some of the founder members pointed out that they were married
men. Given that the club would be devoted primarily to sailing and
not to motor boats, it was duly decided to call it the Ceylon Motor
Boat Club. There were still members however, who entertained
delusions of grandeur. "Motor boat" does not quite convey
the illusion of actually doing anything other than turning the wheel
and pushing on the throttle to the accompaniment of lots of noise;
besides, it sounds common and squalid. So, within a month of the
club's creation, its name was changed to Ceylon Motor Yacht Club.
Hoity-toity and ever so U. That done, the club has not looked back.
the club has almost 200 members, and there is a sailboat race every
Sunday. Sadly, only about 40 people in the country know how to sail,
the bright side of which is that that's more people than who can
speak Latin. We have the best of both at the club, actually, because
after a couple, many sailors actually find they can speak Latin:
shouts of "Dextra!" and "Aqua!" are not uncommon
on the water.
club bar serves some of the best beer south of Dehiwala (it is also
fully licenced, VAT number 4090 88791 7000, in case those zealots at
Inland Revenue happen to be reading this and get funny ideas into
their little heads). So well is the bar patronised that a former
Commodore (we do not have a president, we have a Commodore, a Rear
Commodore, a Vice Commodore and so on. All nautical appellations.
Very grand... Now where was I? Ah, yes. A former Commodore had made
the astute observation that the CMYC was "a drinking club with
a sailing problem". Indeed, the residents of Bolgoda maintain
that on Poya Days, when the bar is shut, the water in the lake goes
down by a whole foot.
talking of Commodores, there is every chance my cheque will bounce
unless I mention the incumbent, Joseph Kenny. Joe works for a major
purveyor of intoxicants and is therefore a natural choice for
Commodore. A mean sailor (or is it "keen"?), he has
secretly taken up golf, honing his skills in preparation for his
retirement and declining years. As head of the club, Joe runs a
tight ship (the committee are nearly always tight). Ah, an
interesting mob, our members. There's our Trustee, David Blackler,
who rears donkeys. There's our Oldest Member, Asian Games medallist
Ray Wijewardene who, when he's not crash-landing some flying object,
spends his idle hours digging up his front lawn. Then there's our
rabbi, Hans O Svendsen, who maintains order in the club (he is not
Irish: the "O" is just added for effect). And of course,
there's our Bar Secretary Mohan Balasuriya, whose job it is to keep
the bar amply stocked with laryngeal lubricants. Together they
ensure that the club operates strictly as a meritocracy: everyone's
for those of you easily impressed by rank and title, the club has
had its share of big-wig visitors. The king and queen of Nepal have
been there, though that was in 1956, so I might be more correct in
saying 'the late king and queen of Nepal'. Another highlight, though
some years before I was born, was the visit to the club of Prince
Philip in 1952. Not only was this a great honour to the club, but it
also set a record as yet unbroken: His Royal Highness became the
only sailor to grace the waters of Bolgoda in a GP-14 sailboat
correctly attired in long-sleeved shirt, long trousers, argyle socks
and bally shoes. No one got to see the royal knees.
committee wanted me to tell you also about the young optimist
sailors. They are called optimist sailors not because they are
romantic idealists, but because the class of boat they sail was
named Optimist, evidently by a designer who knew he was coming into
a lot of money. There's 16 of them now, eager beavers all. The
Optimist Brats (which is what we call them when they aren't within
earshot) are causing a certain amount of dyspepsia among the older
membership because they are sailing so well. After all, who wants to
be beaten by a 12 year old? Every weekend the optimists are out on
the water, training. They are coached by another Asian Games
medallist in our team, Lalin Jirasinha. Lalin spends all his waking
weekend hours training the brats, and has a tan to prove it.
golfers might say, sailing is a great sport. Well, look at it this
way: come the Asian Games of 2006, CMYC's Optimists almost certainly
won't be laying eggs in the Red Sea-not sitting, nor standing
When I submitted this little piece to The Sunday Leader, I omitted
to provide a footnote explaining what the game of buz khasi
involves. Leader readers, after all, belong to that discerning
segment of society better described as the cognoscenti: there's not
an ignoramus among them. The Editor rang me up, however, and pointed
out that the paper is bought also by a number of golf players who
might require enlightenment on this point (and, doubtless, on many
the benefit of our golfing friends then, buz khasi, an Afghan sport,
was the precursor of polo. Much the same as the present-day game, in
fact, except that instead of a ball, the protagonists employed a
goat's head (the goat having previously been detached from it). As a
Saturday afternoon pastime, everyone found it most diverting except,
of course, the goat. The late Genghis Khan, we are told, had a
scratch handicap and played an impressive innings, modestly
attributing his success to his deft follow-through, though
contemporary sports commentators thought it had more to do with his
topspin. "Bend it like Khan" was a household phrase
throughout Inner Mongolia at the time.