"Money can buy happiness in the Remand Prison"
By Ranee Mohamed
Life has its twists and turns for each one of us, and for veteran journalist Chandra Perera, the twist came rather late in life. This journalist cum film and television, director, producer, editor, and commercial.....
> Your future in your thumbprint
> Back to chaos and closed roads
> Identify the snakes, lest they bite you...
> A blend of outstanding qualities
> Memories without computers
> Of Xanga and other webs of intricacies...
"Money can buy happiness in the Remand Prison"
Chandra Perera - back to freedom
By Ranee Mohamed
Life has its twists and turns for each one of us, and for veteran journalist Chandra Perera, the twist came rather late in life. This journalist cum film and television, director, producer, editor, and commercial producer who won the Edicoin award, worked in USA, UK and Germany has many achievements in the artistic world, but none of them seem to beat his
experiences in real life which he experienced in the month of March this year, at the ripe age of 72 years. For Chandra Perera was locked up in the Remand Prison in Borella due to what he explains as a miscarriage of justice, in an instance where he, the complainant, was forced to become the accused as the accused knew the police in Peliyagoda.
It all began with Perera's enthusiasm about the hot water springs in Sri Lanka. "People in Sri Lanka knew only about two hot water springs in Sri Lanka, one in Kinniya in Trincomalee and the other in the Southern Province of Madunagala, where water was used to bathe at different times on different days to cure illnesses. But my interest was in finding out more about the natural thermal resources available
in other parts of the country," said Perera.
Thugs and threats
Having written and published about these hot water springs, Perera was elated when he was offered research study and future possibilities with hot water springs and health resorts in Slovania and Romania. Having taken three understudies, Perera had proceeded to Romania. After a two week stay at a five star hotel, Perera returned to Sri Lanka after the research studies, his understudies had not for they said they had
claimed refugee status in view of the tsunami crisis.
"Six months after my return, the relatives of these people turned up at my house and accused me of abandoning them and not taking them to Italy and France. They demanded money from me. My wife was at home and they harassed us both. There were thugs and they threatened to kill me. They took two cheques and two letters from me by force. I wanted to go to the police but my wife said they may kill us. But I went and
met an IP at Police Headquarters about this incident but he told me that he would only be able to lodge a complaint about the police in Peliyagoda who were working with my assailants," said Perera.
"On Sunday, March 5, the people who went with me to Romania came to my house, I was in the backyard. I heard them shouting and I ran into the house of a neighbour who was an advocate. He advised me to call the police emergency, 911," said Perera. Though the police emergency had come and sorted out the problem, Perera who had rushed to the Peliyagoda police had been made to wait there until his assailants
arrived, he alleges. Perera also alleges that his assailants were first taken in and allowed to record their complainants and his statement was recorded as the accused, though he was there first.
Perera mentions names of an 'officer' in the Peliyagoda police who initiated the whole debacle. "Each time I tried to talk I was asked to shut up," alleges Perera.
Perera's compliant dated March 19, made at 12:20 p.m. on page 228, paragraph 83 lodged at Police Headquarters lists the gross cruelty and abuse of power by the Peliyagoda police, who journalist Perera alleges locked him up in a cell from the morning of March 5 until the afternoon of Monday, March 6 until a statement was recorded from him at 4:30 p.m. "During this time, they did not even give me a cup of tea or
food," said Perera.
But like all journalists, Perera seems to take the vendettas and brickbats levelled against him in his own special stride, putting it down to just the way life is. Just as much as how he, the complainant, was made to wait and the statement of the accused parties recorded first has shocked him, Perera says that what takes the cake was his stay in the Remand Prison - a story of prison life that is barely two months old
will shock us all even in these modern times.
"I was sent to the Remand Prison. The first night was horrible. There were about 100 people packed in a room about 20x15. The kitchen staff consisted of the prison inmates themselves. Some of them respected me when I said I was a journalist and a television and film personality. In fact some of the criminals who were from my area knew me and was shocked at what I was doing in there with them. It was a great
boost, knowing all these guys because they gave me pol sambol and a piece of bread. I had to eat from the palm of my hand because I did not have my own plate. I drank some plain tea too which tasted like hot water in which a cup of plain tea had been washed," pointed out Perera.
Perera, who complained about the food, said that he just could not eat the mallun and the vegetable and rice that was given to them. "We barely got fish or meat, if ever it was soya meat. Life was sad and the food was horrible because I was so used to my wife's good cooking," said Perera, whose wife is a heart winning cook.
"That night there was barely any space to sleep," said Perera and thanks to some of the real tough guys who respected the newspaper profession and the film industry, Perera had some pillows for himself.
Drugs and unpalatable meals
Though Perera tried to sleep and dream about hot springs and health resorts, the other prisoners had hotter stuff on their minds. "I was nudged awake in the night and the guy closest to me gave me a piece of rolled foil. He told me 'meka adinna' ( pull on this). I told them that I was a non smoker and in this way I did not have to inhale the kudu that was making circles in the air. Sometime later, at about 10:30
p.m. Everyone applauded when another man came carrying a small parcel. This time it was ganja. 'Meken ekak gahanna,' they coaxed me, but then again I told them that I was a non smoker. But through the night the party went on," reminisced Perera.
Perera said that the first two days in prison were awful. "I began to question the other inmates as to why the food was so unpalatable and was told that though they were allotted about 300 coconuts, only about 100 reached them. The others they said went to the employees of the prison. They told me that it was the same with vegetables," said Perera.
Perera who suffers a cardiac condition had later got himself admitted to the prison hospital. "The amazing thing is that about 70 percent of the patients at the prison hospital are not ill," pointed out Perera. But the treatment here is definitely better though the food is the same of course," lamented Perera.
"Money is the magic word at this Remand Prison," said Perera. "Even on the first night one of the employers asked me how much money I had. He asked me where my purse was," observed Perera.
"Everyone was in dire need of money, especially the employees of the prison. Also, the prisoners who had money with them had fairly comfortable lives, though of course they could never get out. People who had money ate biryani and fried rice and chicken. Telephone calls are available at Rs. 100 a call," said Perera. Perera said that he had been 'advised' by the employees of the prison to ask his family to
bring some money the next time they visited.
"The most disgusting thing that I ever saw around March 11 or 13. I had lost the days and the count of time. But what I saw will never leave my mind. An old man, about 75 years old, was made to stand against the wall in the prison hospital, ward one and he was whipped about 15 times by a jailor. The man was screaming but no one took any notice. After the whipping two other guards began to assault him, kicking
him and beating him. The screams were agonising," Perera said, closing his eyes for a moment as if to black out the pain in his mind.
"Anything is available"
Then to get into better spirits, Perera spoke of the pleasures that are available at a price at the Remand Prison. "Liquor is available, but at a price. Cigarettes too. Good food for those who can pay up. The food is bought from outside. Even drugs and ganja, anything you desire can be got here. I turned down all these 'worldly goods' not because I did not take a drink but because I did not have money with me
and I was not in a state of mind to enjoy life. The only good food I ate was what my wife would bring for me sometimes," said Perera.
This veteran journalist, the man behind the films Pitisara Kella and Wehilihini; the man whom the late Esmond Wickremasinghe brought to Lake House in 1952 and thereafter led the life of a celebrated artiste in Germany, UK and USA said that nothing compares to the paradoxes that lay behind the walls of the prison. "Paedophiles and homosexuals (also called suddhas in prison jargon) who had been sent in here for
sexual offences are given boys at a price by certain workers in prison. This is their way of making a fast buck. Boys and women are available for those who desire them," pointed out Perera.
Perera speaks of a good friend that he made in prison. He is the personal bodyguard of a former prime minister. What he told me was that all these activities in the prison must be exposed.
"He told me about his stay in the Kuruwita Remand Prison. I have never been there, but what my friend told me was hair raising. The prisoners in there had parties in the night he told me. Liquor and bites were freely made available as these were prisoners with money. The food was cooked upstairs and included fried rice and bites," said Perera.
And as the party got hotter, some of the females from the female wards were brought in to the party to have a nice time, the bodyguard who had stayed there had disclosed to Perera.
"I do not say that there are no humane officers and workers in the prisoners. I have met fine people like the jailor called Kudabanda from Kegalle and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Wijesinghe. But my memories of my stay in prison are filled with amazement, awe at the wonders available and the shock of having it all there."
Perera laments not so much about being locked in Remand Prison, but about losing his belt that cost him 3,000 francs.
"When I went to get it at the time of leaving, they shouted at me and told me to hurry up or get back into prison again. I could never find my belt, what I got was one that has been chewed by a dog, said Perera, who shivers at the memories of the barks that he received in there, all for the want of money.
Amazing predictions by Nadi Vakyam readers
Your future in your thumbprint
Chief Nadi Vakyam P. Jaisankar with bundles of ola leaves at his desk in Colombo on one of his regular visits from London where he lives. he has a large clientele and obtained UK citizenship recently
By Leslie Dahanaike
You may be amazed to know that certain marks on your thumb will give you the details of your horoscope at birth, an indication of your place of birth including a rough geographical sketch of its location, your names and the names of your father and mother and the number of children you already have, if any, and you are likely to have in the future, their sexes, and if they are grown up,
their line of studies, nature of employment and vocation or occupation, their present situation in life and their future course of events.
All this, by fishing out the correct ola leaf from a bundle of olas which gives an exact reading of your life from birth to death with details of past events, the present and future events, if you wish to know.
The Indians engaged in this work of reading the olas are from Trichinopoly in Tamil Nadu. Their chief is Jaisankar. What these readers really need from those who seek to know their future is their thumb impression and date of birth. Then the readers check the ancient ola bundles for details.
Once the thumb impression and date of birth are given, the readers give a special date and time to meet them again. These fortune tellers or Nadi Vakyam readers as they are called, have a collection of ola leaves which contain the distilled wisdom of the ancient rishis Thanzik and Agasti. The chief of this group Jaisankar told The Sunday Leader that the ola books contained the lives of all human beings born on
Jaisankar said one should have the luck to read these books. One must have an educational background. The people in his group learn to read the pulse or nadi for a period of five years in India. It is an ascetic procedure. During the period of training the student should avoid eating the flesh of any creature and eat only vegetables. He should be away from home and lead a secluded life. Besides purity, we do not have
any special knowledge of the occult, he said.
Jaisankar also said pulse reading was not a hereditary talent. He could make predictions but his ancestors did not have this talent. No one in his family had it. It is so difficult to understand the writers in the ola leaves. The characters have a similarity to ancient classical Tamil.
At times the Vakyam readers have to contact their headquarters in India if there is something unusual or peculiar in the thumb impression. This, of course, is very rare.
It is possible to gather information from the olas with regard to an auspicious period for marriage, reasons for the marriage getting delayed, outlook and character of the future partner. If married, the details about the husband or wife are clearly indicated in the ola books.
These books also reveal the good and bad periods in one's life, accidents which may occur, life expectancy, etc.
"The thumb impression will reveal a person's prosperity, means of income, expenditure, gains and losses, overseas travel, details of birth and death and also rebirth, if you wish to know about your life after death and discuss your previous birth. The readers will also discuss the various types of illness, both chronic end inherited, you may suffer from or will suffer from in the future. The readers will also
recommend remedial measures and shanti karmas and the use of talismans, if need be, to avoid any calamity or to tide over evil periods due to the malefic transits of planets.
Extraordinary mental powers
The right thumb impression of men and the left thumb impression of women are needed for thumb impression reading. The rishis and maha rishis of ancient India through their extraordinary mental powers, foresight, insight and hindsight were able to divine the fortunes of human beings and these predictions as they were uttered either alone or in conclave such as the seven rishis in conference Sapta Rishi Vakyam were
committed to writing, first it is believed, on copper plates and later on ola leaves.
Some people are lucky to find their ola leaf in the bundle of leaves but a few people are not so lucky. It is also a question of one's own karma which takes you to these Nadi Vakyam readers and makes you decide to peer into your future through these time-tested ola manuscripts.
This writer is one who got his 'life reading' many years ago in India and can vouch for the accuracy of the reading up to this point in time.
Back to chaos and closed roads
By Shezna Shums
It is back to barricades, road blocks and check points in Colombo and its suburbs. The closed roads are due to the impending threat to security.
People who have forgotten about these road closures are now recalling the painful experience of trying to get around in the city of Colombo. Road blocks have been set up in and around Colombo previously, but were taken away after the ceasefire. They were introduced again this year, much to the annoyance of the public. Office workers, school children and residents who use these roads now have to go around town to get
to their destinations.
Restricting once again the freedom of movement as well as reminding people to always carry their National Identity Cards wherever they go is certainly something that not too many people are happy about.
Furthermore, the people who use public transport and even the people traveling in their own vehicles are greatly inconvenienced and delayed because of the numerous roadblocks and the time they spend in finding looking for an open route to their destination.
Not only do the roadblocks and barricades make it tiresome and delaying, it also adds to the fuel bill. With the ever-increasing cost of fuel this extra payment is hard for the public to stomach. Currently, Colombo Traffic Division, Police Headquarters, SSP Y.G.P. Laffire told The Sunday Leader that from Thummula junction towards Stanley Wijesundera Mawatha (Bullers Road), the road is closed due to
Utharananda Road, Rotunda Gardens and Justice Akbar Mawatha are also closed due to security reasons, while a small stretch of Galle Road is also closed during the night and the vehicles going to and fro have to use only one side of this main road. However, places where other government officials and judiciary officials reside are not closed for traffic although there are barricades. This seems to make vehicular
movement difficult and these roads are congested during peak traffic times.
When President Mahinda Rajapakse is traveling, the main road on which his vehicle passes and the adjoining by-lanes are packed with security personnel, and other vehicles are not allowed on these roads.
Although there are stationary check points, there are also a number of check points which are changed strategically.
The barricades in Colombo were first seen in the 1980s and their presence was all the more significant after the 1983 riots in Colombo.
It was after 1994 that the security measures in Colombo were strengthened and it was the Central Bank Bombing in 1996 that brought about checkpoints as well as barricades in the city of Colombo.
Not only did it bring about an ever-present security blanket, but caused much inconvenience and annoyance to the people traveling within the city. The dangerous barbed wire on the road near check points, spikes on the road and camouflaged barrels do not go hand in hand with investment.
Removal of barricades
This chaotic environment then continued until around 2001, when the UNP came into power and kept their promises of getting rid of barricades in Colombo and recommencing the peace process.
Thereby, from 2001 to 2002 when the peace process began, the barricades in Colombo were removed, ending around seven years of barricaded roads and sentry points. This was like a breath of fresh air for the residents of Colombo, the people coming into Colombo, and especially for tourists and investors.
Not only did the situation ease in Colombo, it was also felt in Jaffna and the east. The north and east specially Jaffna saw a surge of bikes, motor bikes and necessities reach their markets. However, items such as explosives, arms and ammunition, remote-controlled devices, barbed wire, binoculars and telescopes and penlight batteries were not sent to these areas.
After the ceasefire and relaxed security on the roads, large numbers of tourists and locals also made their way to the north and east of the country to take advantage of the beautiful beaches and see a part of the country they were not able to visit during war time.
However, the recent suicide bomb attacks at the Army Headquarters and the shaky peace process has resulted in the present government tightening security in the country and closing many roads.
The murder of late Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadir-gamar and other incidents in the country also resulted in more security checkpoints and random searches of houses and the checking of NICs.
If the peace process is to be judged by the environment within the country, it does not seem too good given the high security atmosphere, road blocks, random house checks and checking of NICs. All these activities seem to point out one thing - that we are going back in time towards the grim realities of war.
Identify the snakes, lest they bite you...
By Risidra Mendis
They are poisonous, slimy and can be dangerous if provoked, which is why most people tend to kill a snake the moment they spot one. However, unknown to many of us, snakes play a major role in balancing the environment.
The need to protect the snakes in the country has now become an important factor for environmentalists who are engaged in many awareness programmes which highlight why one should refrain from killing snakes, proper medication to prevent snake poison from spreading in one's system and how to identify a poisonous snake from a nonpoisonous one.
Identifying the snake
Speaking to The Sunday Leader naturalist Udaya Chanaka said a snake bite victim should at first try and identify the type of snake that bit him or her. "The poison of a snake contains a type of protein. There are around 16 enzymes in the snake poison. The different types of enzymes in the snake poison is what causes complications in the human system," Chanaka said.
According to Chanaka, depending on the type of snake bite, a person's nervous system, blood stream or muscles can be affected. "For a cobra bite a person's nervous system will be affected while in the case of a polanga it is the blood stream that is affected. Many people do not realise that a person suffering from a snake
bite should be immediately taken to a hospital for treatment. The reason for rushing the snake bite victim to hospital is to prevent the poison spreading to the rest of the body," Chanaka said.
Chanaka said that in some cases the snake bite victim may not have seen the snake and may not know species. "In such cases the symptoms of the victim have to be observed. In some cases doctors cannot identify the type of snake. In such cases snake bite victims can die because proper medication had not been administered. In Sri Lanka unlike in other countries the same type of anti snake venom is given for many
types of snakes. In some cases the victims do not respond to this treatment," explained Chanaka.
According to Chanaka, the anti-snake venom available in the country is an Indian formula. "This anti-venom has been made taking into consideration the type of snakes found in India. This is one of the reasons that some snake bite victims in Sri Lanka do not respond favourably to this treatment," Chanaka said.
Many snake bite victims who do not respond to the anti-venom treatment have undergone other complications such as kidney problems, stomach problems, blindness and forgetfulness among others.
"However, our Sinhala traditional medicine has shown positive results with regard to snake bite victims in comparison to Western medicine. The veda mahaththayas in our country can, with their experience, identify a snake bite from the symptoms shown by the victim. Sinhala medicine has no side effects and has in many cases saved victims bitten by poisonous snakes. Even pregnant mothers can be saved from the
poison of a snake by Sinhala medicine," explained Chanaka.
According to Chanaka many victims of snake bite are known to seek treatment from a Sinhala veda mahaththaya after having sought Western treatment. This, says Chanaka, is because they know the value of traditional Sinhala medicine.
"There are only five types of poisonous snakes in the country. They are the thel karawala, mudu karawala, nagaya, thith polanga and the veli polanga. However, people tend to kill any snake they come across due to fear," Chanaka said.
A blend of outstanding qualities
By Sunalie Ratnayake
Founder Principal Malini Abeysekera Dissanayake
Portals of learning...
THE school playground is not only where you got your first knee scratch, it's also where you first learnt to interact with other children. Your school informed your adult life, your career and your character.
Your teachers were those beacons of light that showed you the way forward.
The Sunday Leader continues to feature those great halls of learning that helped shape Sri Lanka's citizens.
School colours: Gold and Maroon.
Flag: The flag has three stripes, maroon on top, gold (yellow) in the centre and maroon again on the bottom. These lines (stripes) are equal.
School motto: "Lak Gehi Pahanata, Api Wemu Miniketa." (We students shall be precious gems to our country Sri Lanka, which is a house with light.)
School emblem: Three lines depict the unity of parents, teachers and students and they are considered as one family as well as Buddha, dhamma, sangha. Ten lotus petals resemble peace. A lamp depicts education and education is considered as light to one's life. A book symbolises education.
Houses: Rose, Orchid, Daisy, and Lily.
Starts at: 8 a.m.
Closes at 2 p.m Extracurricular activities are started to be conducted at 7:30 a.m. and they continue after school hours until 5 p.m. or longer. News reading and religious observances are also conducted during these hours.
College uniform: White frock with a buckle on the white on the belt sewn with material. White shoes, white socks. Hair is plaited into two plaits and tied with red ribbons at each end. Prefects wear the prefect's badge. The house badges are worn during special occasions such as the inter house sports meet.
School prefects: Junior prefects are selected from grade four and five. They add up to 20. Stewards are selected from grade six, seven and eight and they add up to 20. Senior prefects are selected from grade nine, ten and eleven. They also add up to 20.
Situated down School Lane, Nawala, Rajagiriya, Janadhipathi Balika Vidyalaya is a unique portal of learning, which came into existence only a decade ago. It certainly is a miracle, I would say, or a dream come true, as the current condition of the school, makes anyone a bit reluctant to believe that it came into existence only 10 years ago.
It certainly is a dream which was made a reality by a unique blend of individuals with utmost determination, courage and will power. Seeing is believing and when one sees the condition of Janadhipathi Balika Vidyalaya today, one may also think that a blend of outstanding qualities can certainly create miracles. Added to the above-mentioned characteristics of these excellent people, it is also their utmost devotion
and ambition as well as having the nerve to make a difference that contributed to the inception of this great hall of learning.
Earlier, a school by the name of Diyawanna Maha Vidyalaya existed in the premises. This happened to be a mixed school with a total of 60 students. Only one building was in existence and another building had been demolished. It did not cater to the requirements of a complete school. The immediate surroundings of this school had been nothing more than a thick jungle with trees and shrubs. Obviously, such surroundings
definitely meant trouble to the students and few teachers who spent a considerable amount of their time at the premises due to the presence of dangerous reptiles.
Beams of light
The standards of Diyawanna Maha Vidyalaya had been below average and with the existing conditions, the operation of the school was no longer a success. The then Western Province Chief Minister, Susil Premajayanth had a vision. He wanted a massive change.
To start with, Premajayanth transferred the few students to different schools. Clearing up the premises and building could not be done with a daily operation of a school, so given the circumstances this move was the right one. Premajayanth is considered the founder of Janadhipathi Balika Vidyalaya. Among the many others who contributed towards the project is Minister Reginald Cooray.
At that time, Malini Abeysekera Dissanayake, a courageous woman who wanted to make a difference, stepped forward with much determination to take over this major project of building a school, which another would have not even dreamt of taking up. There were no students, no teachers and hardly any buildings. How could a school pop out of such a pathetic situation, one may think, but the story is one of success.
Dissanayake had conducted duties as primary principal at Samudradevi Balika Vidyalaya from 1990 to 1996. She then applied for the post of principal of a school which did not exist and having passed the interview, Dissanayake was handed over the appointment by Premajayanth and she assumed duties as principal of the new school, while it was yet to be built.
The hard times
The few parents, teachers and students united and first started clearing the jungle by holding shramadanas. An unbelievable change occurred after clearing off the premises. Yet, there were many things left to be achieved that could not wait much longer. A school was waiting to be started, regardless of the hardships to be faced.
The school began on February 14, 1996 with one teacher who is the current principal as well as the Founder Principal Malini Abeysekera Dissanayake and 13 students. The school crest and motto was born exactly one month after the school came into existence and it was Dissanayake's brainchild.
There was only one single story building that was used to conduct duties. By December the same year, the number of students increased to 35. In June 1996, a grade six class came into function with three students.
By that time, three teachers were there. By December the same year, the number of teachers gradually increased up to five. By the end of the year, there were eight students for the grade six class and 33 students for grade one.
Dissanayake taught mathematics and science while the current Secondary Education Sectional Head Melani Kariyawasam taught all subjects. The first project was buying telephones, which were important for the functioning of the school.
The staff, students and helpful parents held many shramadanas as well as concerts to collect the funds required to buy a phone line. The dream of obtaining a phone line was made a reality with the immense contribution of all parties that worked together towards that common goal.
Publicity about the new school was given by walking from doorstep to doorstep. By the year 1997, one grade five scholarship class with 42 students came into existence. Also, four parallel grade one classes began. Over 400 applications were received. There was no proper place to hold concerts, English days, bhakthi gee, Sinhala Hindu avurudu festivals and the sil campaign. All these events were first conducted in a
small room in the school.
"I got an empty land and I was thinking day and night, what will I fill this empty space with? Today when I turn back and recall how I made it, it gives me extreme happiness and pleasure, which I cannot describe in words. I am ever so grateful to Education Minister Susil Premajayanth for believing in me and I can never forget the unconditional support given, all through the years by the parents, staff and my
students. "If they did not believe in me, nothing would have been possible. In an extremely short period we have done tremendously well," Dissanayake told The Sunday Leader.
Yesterday (27), Dissanayake was awarded an honorary designation by the nearby temple, Wimala Viharaya in honour of building a great school for the village. The award was handed over by Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake. She also received the Neepa scholarship, related to administration, from India in 1997. Dissanayake's reports contains the words in Sinhala, "Kese Godanagamda Me His Bima?"
The school today
While Dissanayake is the principal, the Deputy Principal, Administration, is Sriyani Perera. The Deputy Principal, Education Development, is Kamani Gunesekera.
The Senior Sectional Head is Kumudini Samarawickrema. Being there from the inception, the active and youthful Melani Kariyawasam is the secondary education sectional head and the Primary Sectional Head is G. Bandulatha. Currently, the school consists of 10 buildings. The current strength of staff is 83 and the school has 2,200 students.
From 1996 up to 2006, through the short period of a decade, the school has achieved a lot. First it obtained telephones. A security shelter was built at the entrance of the school. The garden was built in front of the school, also as a tool of education.
Children learn many things about nature, through their own breathtaking school garden. A children's playground was constructed. A school van was bought. The principal's office and the classrooms have been interconnected through a public speech system. The lane to the school has been tarred and colourful flowers are grown on either side of the road.
The primary section and other sections of the school have been supplied with clean drinking water, tables, chairs, notice boards and the secondary section has been given electricity. The computer department with five computers has been secured with grills on the windows and doors. It has also been carpeted and curtained. New books have been added to the existing library.
Physics, chemistry and biology laboratories have been given water, electricity and all other essentials. A brand new school name board has been made. Attorney-at-Law Ravindranath Dabare wrote the school song and Rupavahini Corporation Programme Producer Ajith Jayaweera wrote the music. All these were done commenced free of charge for the betterment of the school.
Instruments were provided for the two Western and two Eastern music bands, both junior and senior. Overhead projectors and amplifiers were put up as well. All classrooms have been provided with tables, desks, chairs, steel cupboards and most of them have radios. To fulfill the requirement of more classrooms, the corridor beside the main hall has been converted into classrooms. Grade four classes are built around the
playground as well. The walls of the incomplete three-storey building have been plastered and the floors are cemented. All these are great achievements in a brief period of time.
A great difference
"I saw how the school was improving day by day, month by month and year by year. The academic side improved as well. The school became first in the zone in O/Ls and A/Ls. These are all results of the teachers, students as well as parents who are dedicated. Even during school holidays, most of the staff and students are present in school. We faced many hardships to come to the position the school is in
today," Sriyani Perera said.
"I joined the school in its second year. The teachers were so dedicated, they did not care about their high qualifications and agreed to teach in the primary section. Our students are well-disciplined and apart from education, they cultivate good values. We frequently conduct parents meetings and point out the mistakes or areas that need improvement. We also describe how parents' conduct affects the education
and mentality of the children," Kamani Gunesekera said.
"Being here with the Principal from the inception, I experienced every step with her. She taught us how to handle the good times and the bad equally. The difference of the status of the school in every aspect then and now is indescribable. There is a great rapport between the teachers, students and parents, which is a main reason for its rapid growth. I love working here as our Principal treats us just like her
children and we always look forward to another day in school," Melani Kariyawasam said.
The list of achievements in sports is seemingly endless. It is the same with academic achievements of the students. There are many societies functioning such as the Do You Know Society, Photography Society, debating team, Environment Society, Buddhist Society, Girl Guides, Little Friends, English Society, Sinhala Society, Media Society, Health and Nutrition Society as well as the Mathematics Society.
There is always a 99% pass rate in GCE (Ordinary Level) examinations. In 2005 the school obtained the best score in the zone in the commerce stream with three students who obtained A passes for all subjects. Dayani Shanika, Amali Gunawardene and Rajika Nirmali were these outstanding students.
In 2001, Nadheera Madhavi won the second place at the all-island Sinhala poetry competition. Pubudini Uthpalawanna won the second place for Sinhala reading in the same year. Thamali Dharmasiri won an all-island certificate of merit in 2004.
Since 1997, the school has taken part in many programmes conducted by the Rupavahini Corporation. Three camps were conducted to develop the knowledge of English in other schools.
Sports such as swimming (Ananda College pool is used), hockey, badminton, netball, volleyball, elle and karate are conducted here. Table tennis and chess will be starting from this year. Track and field events are being held as well.
Roo Rataa, the first art exhibition outside the college premises, was held at the Art Gallery in 2004 with over 700 paintings by the students. Last year, D.Y. Lakmini Wijewardene and current games captain P.K. Irosha Prabodini Premasiri won silver medals by taking part in the Rajiv Gandhi International Tug of War (the game was held under water) competition in India.
Every year, the entire college is lit up on its anniversary. Other yearly events held are the English Day, Science Day, Commerce Day, Media Day, Prefect's Day, the sports meet, avurudu festival and the Sil campaign.
What is unique about this portal of learning is that all these achievements and much more had been reached within the course of just 10 years. The Principal's next dream is to see her students enter the medical and engineering faculties of universities. For an iron lady like Dissanayake, nothing in the world would be impossible. We wish her and Janadhipathi Balika Vidyalaya eternal success.
Memories without computers
Looking around at computers, ipods, cellular phones and DVDs surrounding me, I remember how little it cost us to have fun when we were teenagers. In the first place, we wouldn't be embarrassed to actually be seen playing and running around. True, it was much safer. All the kids in the neighbourhood would join in so that there always would be one or the other to keep us company.
As little girls, the most famous game was 'house' with our dolls and teddies. Some days we would conduct classes and one of us would be the teacher. On other occasions we would have tea parties, where we would also dress in our Sunday best. A table would be set in someone's garden, and actual food would be brought along by each person coming. We would have these polite conversations on topics we thought 'posh'
aunties spoke of, generally in a very British accent!
Cooking and dancing
We would also get together and cook, when we were older. Those of us who had brothers had them hanging around to get their share of the food. Of course, they would scoff it down in a jiffy and then proceed to criticise it heavily, until we all got together and punched them!
We would also diligently practise our dancing steps when we were alone. I remember the Twist, the Shake, the Charleston and the Jive. Later on there was the Spanish Hustle, etc. Nobody laughed at anyone, this was serious business, we all tried to help each other perfect it. Once one of my friends tried hard to teach me to belly-dance, that was a total flop for me! Us guuurls would also play French cricket, where you
didn't run from one end to the other, but counted runs by passing the bat around and back again to the front. Dodge Ball was like its name, you couldn't allow yourself to be hit by the ball. Lots of jumping around there!
One night, a comet was supposed to be sighted. Some of my friends brought a picnic dinner and we went down by the beach to sit on a wall, where there would be a clear skyline to spot it. It just goes to show how safe it was back then, since they had a 20 minute walk back to their homes at almost 10 in the night. None of their parents called my parents to check if we were going to be safe, and neither did any of them
come to pick up their girls from my place. My kids say, "You all were sooo lucky!"
The boys would join us for lots of the other games. 'Tracking' was a very popular game, where we would split into two teams and one team would hide and the other had to find them by following the arrows drawn to show where they were heading. These arrows were drawn with broken bits of brick in the most unlikely places, like the underside of a small stone or a leaf pointing the direction. Of course we had to confine
the area, or else would be wandering in the adjoining lanes and would get into trouble with our parents.
Another game was Seven Stones, wherestones would be piled up in the middle. One team hit the pile with a ball and scattered the stones. Then they had to prevent the other team from making the pile up again. You had to throw the ball from the waist downwards at the opponent, if it struck, then he/she could not replace the stones. It was quite noisy, and we had to frequently tell the boys off for throwing the ball at
us so hard.
There was also Dog and the Bone, where the 'bones' (a pile of sticks) would be in the middle. One of the 'dogs' from each side would come and circle the bones and try to grab a bone. The other dog had to tap his hand and that meant he couldn't touch the bones. The side with the most bones won. What great fun we had! (sigh)
The boys would always be daring us to play marbles with them, since they were invariably better and would win all of ours! I was too polite to refuse and would regularly lose, until one of the sisters would march up and say, "You bully ! Return all her marbles at once !" They would sheepishly oblige.
- Honky Tonk Woman
Of Xanga and other webs of intricacies...
One thing that has always disappointed me about having a weblog on Xanga is that not everyone can contribute unless they sign up. Another is that I have had made really good friends or at least connected with people only to have them disappear forever and on the flip side of that - every time I feel like I really do not want to
post for a couple of months, people seem to get disgruntled. I disappear for at least a couple of months a year on average because there are times when there other things in my life.
Sometimes other things take over. Xanga was never meant to be anything different to what occurs in real life - I have friends with whom I interact in the same way regardless if they are online or offline. Sometimes one isn't in touch for a long time but then one pops up again and says "Here I am! What have you been upto?" and what results is a catch up fest.
I always come back to Xanga because I have had this weblog since 2000-2001 and while I ponder ways of dragging into my website so perhaps I will do more with it, I won't just up and leave it, like I easily could. I like the people I meet on here, I like their opinions on things I do. I like being able to coordinate my writing from here.
But people grow and change. I am not a teenager anymore - instead of 17, I am now nearing 23. While I love being on Xanga, I love going to school, spending time with the boyfriend and my other offline friends, writing, and doing other things.
Just as I refuse to write anything to do with a novel for a year or so, so do I refuse to do anything with Xanga for a couple of months. Sometimes nothing interesting is happening to talk about, sometimes I get too caught up or exhausted with everything else, sometimes I know if I get online I will post something I will regret because of the mood I am in. If I am ever disappointed in Xanga, it will never be because
of the people I meet via it, it will be because of how limited I feel in terms of how I can integrate with everything else in my life and how often I can change that.
- Marisa Wikramanayake