First with the news and free with its views                                     First with the news and free with its views                             First with the news and free with its views                                    


   April 1, 2007  Volume 13, Issue 41










"Today is not a special day for Sri Lankans"

Tennyson Cooray 

Drive into Willoruwatte and ask for Tennyson Cooray and people begin to gather around you to give directions to his house. Cooray lives in a beautiful  home and drives a sleek vehicle. "But I did not want to become a doctor, pilot or engineer," says this actor cum comedian proudly. Merennghe Edward Tennyson Cooray has the amazing ability to make people laugh with his mere presence. As he sits back on his white sofa, he gives us a different tint to the more serious problems of life 

By Ranee Mohamed

Q: What will you do in the event of a bomb blast?

A: I believe in honesty and I always try to achieve recognition in life. If there is a bomb blast I will rush to the scene and look around to see if there are any more bombs. If I find three more, I will take them and rush to the defence establishment, then they will recognise me and honour me and perhaps give me a padakkama (medal).

Q: What if one of them explodes on the way?

A: Then I will tell the authorities that there were only two. It's common sense, can't a journalist understand how to handle a simple situation like that?

Q: What is the reason for the prevailing hot weather?

A: It is because of the anger and the fire in the hearts of the people. All the angry words and the hatred have contributed to make it too hot for us to live with each other.

Q: Will there be another tsunami, if so what will happen to Sri Lanka?

A: I  think another tsunami will bring more business to this country. I personally think that tsunamis are bad; but judging by past experience, aid will flow, much money will exchange hands and there will be many new businesses flourishing again..

Q: Will Sri Lanka win the World Cup?

A: Yes, we definitely will, by the way we are performing. I think that we all ought to celebrate if we do win  the World Cup this time. For we can put the World Cup to good use. Winning the World Cup means that Sri Lanka will take the spotlight, so we can use it to achieve peace in Sri Lanka. We can offer the cup to the LTTE and tell them, if you stop the war, we will give you the cup and they can't say 'no' because the world will be looking at our negotiation. Also, I am disappointed that the World Cup we won in 1996 is not put to good use. We ought to use this at least to fill wine at tamashas.

I am also a cricketer, I played cricket in our school team, then our principal saw my ability and split the whole team, and abolished cricket in the school.

Q: Why is there so much animal cruelty in the country? Why do people ignore the hundreds of starving cats and dogs?

A: I agree that there is much animal cruelty in the country. No one cares for the starving animals. I have thought about this problem. I think, dogs and cats ought to band together and appoint their own leader. Then they will appoint a good and forceful dog, with a fierce bark as the leader, then this leader can take up their problems of starvation and housing with the authorities. He will have to walk the streets everyday because sometimes people in government institutions are either having tea or on leave. Anyway the  dog leader will have to  remain on the streets waiting for things to happen.

Q: Have you ever been to a abattoir in Sri Lanka and seen the cruel conditions therein?

A: Yes,  I have been to abattoirs and have been horrified by the conditions. I thought to myself that we are the animals to be eating the flesh of these starved, traumatised beings.

Q: Will life improve for the average Sri Lankan?

A: Yes, it definitely will, if he goes overseas.

Q: Can you define a journalist.

A:  To me a person who is on a journey with a list in his hand is a journalist. There are several types of award winners in this country. Among them are those who make aththa, neththa (distorts truth), makes neththa athatha (creates untruths), and then there are those who work for both sides. Of these, those who play the double role are the most benefited materially of course. There are yet a handful of others who write the complete truth, and it is for them that life is always difficult, always dangerous.

Q: What do you have to say about the closure of newspapers and the muffling of the media?

A: I think closing down newspapers is not a hit at journalists. Journalist Parameshwari was taken into custody and then released, it made her a heroine. I think all journalists who suffer eventually become heroes in the hearts and minds of the people. A journalists will always be a journalist, no one can take that away. But closing down a newspaper clearly means that the government wants to hit the common man - the kadala seller, the fisherman and the  butcher and those who do not have towels to wipe their hands and feet.

Q: Do you think this LTTE problem is being handled satisfactorily?

A:  No, I don't think so. Guns can't solve the problem. Its simple, common sense, you have to clear the jungles. We don't need guns for that, perhaps some mammoties will do.

Q: I can see that you are getting ready to go to Korea, Canada and the USA for dramas. Are you scared of flights?

A: No I am not scared of flying. I am only frightened about doing dramas here in Sri Lanka, because I am scared to walk here.

Q: What's your goal in life?

A: My goal is to become a swimming champion.

Q: So, why don't you try for the championship?

A: Because I can't swim and I am scared of water.

Q: How can we be happy in life?

A: The only way to be happy in life in this country is to do something every evening to forget about what has happened during the day and what will be happening at the dawn of the next day.

Q: How do we handle the country's garbage problem?

A: There is no need to handle it. I think it is something to do with tourism. I think all the  mayors have got together and made a policy decision to keep the garbage the way it is kept today. They may have thought that it is best to keep garbage dumps all over the road so that foreigners will know that we are eating bananas,  cheese and other canned foods and also packets of sausages and biscuits and also that we have enough rice to through away in our buth packets. Otherwise, these foreigners might think that we are another Somalia or Ethiopia.

Manning Market in a soup

By Nirmala Kannangara

Due to the rising cost of living not only the consumers but also the traders at the city's trading hub - the Manning Market are suffering immensely. Apart from a drop in their daily income, the traders and vendors complain of the lack of basic facilities at the market which have compelled most of them to stay away from business as the situation is going from bad to worse.

Comparing the Manning Market to a filthy hell during the rainy season with heaps of rotten vegetables and fruits all over, the traders complained that the Colombo Municipal Council does not do a proper job in removing the garbage.

"Although people could come here during the dry season nobody wants to step into the Manning Market during the rainy season because of the stink and more over because of the mud puddles all over. Even inside the market people have to be under umbrellas," claimed the vendors.

"If it starts pouring before the New Year then we will have to do odd jobs to look after our families. How on earth can we expect people to come to a place where even the basic facilities are not provided although we pay rates" complain these suffering vendors.

According to these sellers although there is a drop in income these days it will be much worse during the rainy season. The wholesale and retail traders when asked told The Sunday Leader that their income has gone down of late and that it has affected their families and also the lives of their helpers.

According to these vendors the best times of the year  where they could expect a good income is during the coming New Year season and the Christmas season.

Here are some of the woes of the vegetable sellers at Manning Market and Fifth Cross Street in Pettah;  

Gamini Handunge

A retail vegetable seller at the Manning Market for the last 40 years Handunge said that he is suffering huge losses for the past one and a half months due to the drop in customers.

When asked as to why there is a sharp drop Handunge told The Sunday Leader that there are many reasons for this. "The main reason is that people do not want to come to Colombo because of the unsafe security situation and also the high bus fares. They opt to buy the stuff from a nearby boutique paying a little more than spending on bus fare. These are the main reasons for the drop in business. This has affected our families as well. Apart from this most people still believe that the vegetable prices are still high as it was in January, which was due to the floods in the hill country," said Handunge.


Sarath travels daily from Blomendhal Road in Kotahena to the Manning Market for his retail business said that although there is a drop in business at present he still manages to sell his stock, invariably at a lower price. "The prices of vegetable have now gone down. But still the general public may be thinking the prices are high. Some times I have to give away the vegetables at the same price we buy from the wholesale market. Most of the time after 10 am I am compelled to sell the vegetables at a lower price," Sarath who is in this business for the last 15 years told The Sunday Leader.


A pumpkin wholesale trader who has been engaging in this business from the 'old market' days, Perumal said that most of the time he has to give away the pumpkins at a very much lower price and there are days that he incurs losses. "During the dry season the inflow of pumpkins is very high and due to this reason the prices have now gone down. I have five to six people to help me in this business so at a time like that they too have to bear the losses with me," added Perumal.

Konesh Kumar

 "The prices of onions and potatoes have gone down and our daily income too has gone down. At the end of the day it is our families that have to suffer," Kumar claimed.


"I have four helpers in my business and due to the prevailing prices of vegetables in the market there is a drop in the number of customers coming into the Manning Market as they could purchase goods from their towns at a lower price. Though they know that here they could buy fresh vegetables they opt for even old vegetables from the pavements. When my income is affected my helpers' day-to-day income too drops sharply," added Gunaratne who has his small boutique on Fifth Cross Street in Pettah.


A dried fish vendor for the past 12 years, Vasantha told The Sunday Leader that her's is a profitable business. According to Vasantha she never incurs losses. "Earlier it was my husband who did this business. But since his death now I am doing this to give an education to my three daughters. Unlike vegetables, dried fish never gets rotten. If the vegetable vendors fail to sell their stock within a day they have to incur losses. But I am happy to do this business as the stock could be kept at least for a week," Vasantha added.


A jack seller from Mahawatte, Menike said that she has been engaging in this job for the past 40 years. She had started by helping her mother when she was 12 years old. "There are some days that I get a good income but most of the time i just break even. I buy a jackfruit for Rs. 70- 80 these days. Usually I buy about 10 fruits each day from the people who bring it from the outstations. Almost everyday I have to throw away at least three fruits, as by evening they become ripe. If they are 'waraka' I still could sell but most of the time I get 'wela' hence I have to throw them away as there is no demand for it.

Udaya Kumara

Kumara comes to the Manning Market once a week to buy vegetables. She told The Sunday Leader that she is happy as the vegetable prices have now gone down. "A few weeks earlier the prices were very high and we couldn't bear the prices then. But from last week the prices have gone down unbelievably. I hope this will continue at least till the New Year time," Udaya Kumara said.

Fire in Freemantle

Once it got cut off, I came out of my own little world to hear people outside my building rushing towards one end of High Street. I got up, stood on the couch and tried to look out through the windows but all I could see was people holding up cameras, their attention drawn by something happening down the end of the block.

Something was happening. I grabbed my cell phone and used the light from it to navigate my way to my keys and out the front door where I saw smoke. A lot of smoke. My neighbour leaning over the wall that was a storey above told me to be careful - "They have wet down the buildings!" He gave me a heart attack at first because his voice came out of nowhere.

Ran out

I ran out into High Street. Five buildings away from my building in a street filled with heritage listed buildings from all eras of Australia's European settlement history, was The National Hotel. The National Hotel is a 105 year old building and it wasn't just on fire, it was blazing. Behind the barricades was the Fremantle fire brigade trying desperately to get it under control before it spread to the other buildings which included two banks, several shops, a backpackers and my flat.

In the street was everyone who was in Fremantle city centre on that Sunday night. People had left their fancy dinners in the restaurants on South Terrace and come running, others had left their television shows, their drinks in the pubs and we were all standing in the street watching the flames with a feeling of helplessness.

On the kerb

And as they poured water from high pressure hoses on the flames, we wavered between abject terror and relief as the smoke kept alternating between threatening to blow sparks and cinders towards the other buildings and moving straight upwards. None of those who lived on the block were able to go back into their buildings till everything was over and Western Power deemed it safe to switch the lights back on.

I spent most of Sunday night on the kerb with a cell phone with a dead battery and my house keys, chatting to various other Freo residents, shivering as the combined effects of Cyclone George and it's counterpart made the wind blow towards the sea, fanning the flames even more. Of all the times for the weather to decide to be contradictory.

There was no one in the building - it had been shut down to be refurbished and restored so that it could be reopened as a bar and cafe in eight months time - no one got physically hurt which was a blessing. But as we all stood there watching open mouthed unable to tear our eyes away, it hit home.

Overly protective

No one can hope to live in Fremantle for long without suddenly feeling a little territorial - overly protective of this little port city and its long and colourful history. This is why the university can get bad press for buying up more buildings in the West End. This is why small civic issues like parking rates and spots and where to put a high rise building matter so much. This is why books on Fremantle's history sell out so fast and are the Fremantle Arts Centre Press's stock in trade.

The last few days have been very subdued. They have barricaded off part of High Street and Market Street to all except foot traffic because they are afraid that the facade of the hotel is unstable and may fall down at any moment. Every single building in the area has been wet down again. The buses that usually go down Market Street now have to go down Bannister and turn down Pakenham - two much narrower streets. South Terrace hasn't seen as much business as it usually would, though people are coming down to Fremantle just to look at the building.

Centre of attention

Everyone who passes by the National now pauses to look up at it. Fremantle residents especially. Though the facade remains, the internal parts of the hotel were gutted and the roof caved in and we all fear that once the arson investigation is over, the engineer will recommend that it be pulled down and demolished.

To lose something that has been part of the urban landscape for over a century is like anathema to the city. People like C. J. Conner and John Curtin probably had drinks in that hotel - it has been immortalised as part of the city in numerous works of fiction set in Fremantle by the likes of Tim Winton.

We are still human though. We cover up the sense of loss with humour. As we watched the fire brigade on Sunday night, we were making jokes. Jokes about why couldn't it have been the damn carbuncles of 1970's architecture that made up the offices of the National Australian and Commonwealth Banks next door rather than a heritage listed building from 1901.


We were trying to determine why the brigade wasn't using more water pressure or whether it was really out or not yet from what we could see where we were standing behind barricades and trucks. We were laughing at the propensity of the backpackers to get drunk in any situation especially when they kept tripping over the fire hose and tried to take photos of themselves with the barricade tape across their chests.

We found it amusing that when the local paper's photographer turned up to take photos - he ended up giving a masterclass in photography techniques to possibly the only sober backpackers for over an hour and a half. We debated whether it was arson or not and whether the gossip about the owners being in financial difficulty was true or not. We waved at my neighbours who had decided that despite the fact that their building may go up in flames, they were going to have a few beers and watch the proceedings from the rooftop terrace. Very Australian of them I must say.

Similarity in behaviour

Maybe Sri Lankans wouldn't exactly pop open the esky and have a few beers when an emergency occurred but they would definitely run towards the scene and stand around joking and making comments about what should be done and what should not be done. Whether that would be to cover up the disbelief, the shock or the fear, I don't know.

What is comforting is that there is that similarity in behaviour even though I wouldn't expect the average Sri Lankan to get sentimental about losing a heritage listed building. Maybe we have a longer history and therefore a longer time to get used to and accept the fact that things change.

This however will now become Fremantle lore - the night the National burnt down. The big fire of 2007. A century from now whether the building is gone or not, Sunday night will become part of Fremantle's history. We were all there, it was just one building but it will become a story to tell and another stop on the historical tour.

Oddly enough, there is some comfort in that - it may not be here in a year's time but because it was in some weird intangible way so important to people, they will remember it.

- Marisa Wikramanayake

A beautiful union

Becoming a beautician is no easy task. One can never force oneself to become a beautician because it is a profession that requires dedication, concentration, patience as well as  hard work. To succeed as a beautician one has to have a natural liking for the field and also a feel for it.  

By Sunalie Ratnayake

Piyal who studied at Thalapathpitiya Siddhartha Vidyalaya had a passion for the arts, especially arts that would be the results of his own creative hands. "From my childhood, I was drawn towards the creative aspect in life. Especially, beauty and creation obsessed me," the enthusiastic Piyal told The Sunday Leader.

It was just after completing his ordinary level  that young Piyal stepped into the world of beauty culture. Little did Piyal know that this initial step he took without much thought, would also be the turning point in his life, enabling him to realise his dreams.

 Having had 18 years in the field, Piyal has managed to gain a great deal of knowledge and experience.  "I am thankful to everyone who helped me along the way, for without the support of those who encouraged me in the field, nothing would have been possible," Piyal said with deep appreciation.

Ideal combination

Manel, Piyal's wife,  initially learnt bridal dressing from veteran beautician Premasiri Hewawasam; and hair cutting and colouring from well-known beautician Tilaque de Silva. "It was after completing my ordinary level exam that I cultivated an interest towards beauty culture.

"After studying all areas in the field under veterans in our country, I travelled to Dubai and obtained vast experience in the field by working there, for over four years," Manel said.

Being in the same field, it was fate that brought these two together and indeed, it was for the betterment of their lives in every aspect. Both Manel and Piyal had faced many an obstacle in attaining fame in the field of beauty culture, but they did not forget to thank those who lent them a helping hand during difficult times.

"It was not easy to get where we are today. A lot of dedication, patience and hard work had to be put in all through the way. There are two persons to whom we wish to offer our sincere thanks. They are Deepika Premaratne and Nomiko Nidharshana who supported us all along the way," said a grateful Piyal and Manel.  

New venture

Making their dream a reality Piyal and Manel  opened their own salon, Sithmi Salon about five months ago.

Piyal believes that a beautician should be professional and creative in his or her own way. Fashions come and go. Fashions of long ago, come into vogue again. Things change in the blink of an eye. 

"In the field of beauty culture, I offer my customers the best possible service. I don't say that I'm the best, but I always try to do my best. We are successful mainly due to our clientele and it is important to keep them happy at all times, despite any odds," said Piyal.

Expressing her thoughts on beauty culture and her clients, Manel said, "A customer can either make or break us. Offering them a quality service and keeping them satisfied is a key factor in this business in addition to being professional.

High standard

"We do not try to compete with the maestros in this field, and all we want is to give a high standard of service to our clientele.  Business is picking up  and we have established new  clientele in the area."

Manel had also taken part in contests such as the Sunsilk Hair and Beauty Fair held last year, but since the opening of the new salon, they both have decided to take one step at a time. First of all, they want to make their foundation strong.

Their salon is equipped with imported fittings and the best of brands are used.

Even though walk-in customers are welcome, considering the convenience of their clientele, Sithmi Salon operates on prior  appointment basis.

Piyal and Manel both have the intention of gaining further experience in the field of beauty culture overseas.

According to them, trends are ever changing and it is challenging to keep up with the current needs of clients.

"We always make it a point to discuss the needs and requirements of our customers. It is very important that we listen to them. However, if we feel that a certain style does not suit a particular customer, we make sure that we let the customer know it.

Customers' choice

"We don't want to force anything on anyone, but it is our duty to give our frank opinion and we never take decisions on our own, but give preference to our customers' likes and dislikes," said Piyal. 

Piyal and Manel firmly believe that just because one has completed a course in beauty culture, one does not become a beautician.

"Nowadays, it has become a style for everyone who does a course to call themselves 'experts' or 'veterans.' In fact, there are only a handful of veterans in this field. Even with experience nearing two decades, I still do not wish to call myself a veteran. There is a lot more to learn and we must learn until we die.

What we need at this moment is to concentrate on the business and build up our own clientele. We want to make our presence felt, but we have no intention of breaking the clientele of other beauticians in the field," a humble Piyal said.

In addition to hair cuts, perms, colouring, highlighting, straightening, tints, hair styles, treatments, bridal dressing, make-up, waxing, threading, manicure, pedicure, facials, galvanic treatments, bleaching and rebonding,  Manel also takes orders for wedding and birthday cakes  and cake structures having learnt the art of cake making from Clement a veteran in the field.

Sithmi Salon offers its services to those of all ages,  ranging from children to youngsters and elderly people without discrimination. Sithmi Salon certainly is a place rich in ambition and customer service, where all your beauty needs could be fulfilled.

Mid summer madness

Now The Party is over, and we are left to limp on! My younger sister

            left this morning for the airport almost, but not quite, immediately from a nightclub. Alas, my elder sister couldn't join us for this last wild night, she has ended up on crutches! I'm not joking; both her knees got danced out and this is the sad ending to her Let Loose and Running Wild party.

She has decided to renew ties with old acquaintances, since for the last couple of years she has been the Busy Businesswoman and had no time left for such trivial pursuits. So, those of you who know her old friends, therein starts the running wild part. Party animals! For the umpteenth time I've decided that I have to lose weight before my legs collapse on me.

My younger sister had flown down especially for this important event. Afterwards, they both brainwashed me into leaving my family overnight for the very first time. What my elder sis actually said was, " You never know, by the time the three of us are together again, one of us might be dead!" I wanted to point out that then there's only two left, but thought better of it. Anyway, I got the gist of what she was trying to say. Caveman said, "Go, for God's sake, one child is alone abroad, surely I can look after the other for one night?" Ha! More on that later.

Shock and horror

Big sis had booked us into a luxury spa down south. When I heard the price of the room -  shock and horror! We were supposed to set off early morning, but when I arrived, Big sis was solving office problems and settling quarrels adorned in a towel and her hair in rollers! I had forgotten about that. I was also reminded how she bathes herself in perfume. This is not an exaggeration!

On the way, Little sis checked out a particular shop, which apparently had got swept off by the tsunami. We then consoled ourselves by ordering Bloody Marys and Margaritas even though it was 11 in the morning. Of course, Big sis was recognised by the staff there, since everywhere she goes she makes an impact. The less said on that topic the better! We toasted ourselves as "The Three Witches."  When I informed Beautiful Dreamer what we were doing, she said,  "Very nice, ah, you mad women! I hope none of you are driving."

Arrived at the beautiful hotel, we each had a huge room and equally large bathroom to ourselves. Big sis had a suite! We were introduced to our personal butlers, very posh! After lunch, Big sis had to check on her office in town.

 Then we got back, and I was informed we were going to use the spa. So we steamed ourselves slowly, and then I was shouted into the bubbling jacuzzi since I was sure I would slip and break my neck there. So there we sat, sipping champagne, saying, "This is the life!"

'No thanks'

I drank least of all, imagining tipsily tipping over and breaking something! Then the other two went in for a head and neck massage, the pleasure of which I declined. I didn't fancy being pummeled to death. The next day, Big sis admitted her shoulders and arms were achey.

More champagne was ordered with dinner, and then we ordered some liqueur. Big sis then started playing on the grand piano in the zale, to the alarm of the staff. They then started pointedly looking at their watches, clearing tables, setting tables, clattering about and generally asking us to call it a night.

Big sis carried on undeterred until it suited her to stop. Then she came and asked us, "Here, aren't there any nightclubs in this town, men?"  I said I knew of one nearby, but I also pointed out she had to drive there as well as the whole place seemed so dead, with hardly a tourist in sight. Dragged her reluctantly to our extra large four-poster beds.

Little sis had her manicure and pedicure that I refused to have, I can jolly well do it myself. Set off after a hearty breakfast. Learned on my arrival, Dancing Doll had been yelled at by Caveman, the maids had been yelled at and the driver had been also yelled at. And me being away just for one night only! How would they ever manage without me, I wondered?

- Honky Tonk Woman

Student invents coconut breaking, scraping and milking machine

Madushantha's invention

By Risidra Mendis

The energy and hassle involved in breaking, scraping and squeezing coconuts will soon be over. For many years a coconut had to be cracked, scraped and squeezed manually by housewives, chefs and cooks in hotels and restaurants.

But today, thanks to the invention of a 15 year old student, cracking, scraping and squeezing a coconut is possible at the touch of a button.

For the first time possibly in the world a machine that operates on electricity that can break, scrape and blend a coconut has been invented by a student in Nugegoda.

Just 12 when the idea came

D.A. Dilshan Madushantha Pushpakumara was only 12 years old when he came up with the idea of inventing a machine to crack, scrape and blend a coconut. It all began when Pushpakumara went to the Bhikku Centre in Maharagama on a Poya day.

Speaking to The Sunday Leader Madushantha said "I was watching the dayakas breaking the coconuts to prepare the dane for the devotees at the Bhikku Centre. I saw the difficulty these dayakas were going through to break and scrape hundreds of coconuts. I thought to myself 'what if I could invent a machine that could be operated by electricity to break, scrape and blend many coconuts at a time'," Madushantha said.

As the cracking of the nuts continued Madushantha's brain started working. His thoughts were not on the activities taking place on a Poya day at the Bhikku Centre but on how he could solve the hassle the dayakas were facing when manually cracking coconuts.  

Madushantha came home and started to experiment with the idea of inventing a machine. He finally invented a machine that could break a coconut and displayed this invention at the Young Inventors of the Year 2004 exhibition organised by the Sri Lanka Inventors Commission (SLIC).

Won award

Madushantha won an award for his invention at the exhibition. However not satisfied with his model Madushantha went on to invent a three in one coconut machine that could break, scrape and blend coconuts. His new machine was completed in 2006.

Madushantha participated in the Second Young Inventor of the Year 2006 exhibition held by the SLIC where he won an award for his latest invention as well.

The coconut machine has three switches for the three functions of breaking, scraping and blending the coconut. "Once you plug in the machine you place the coconut in the space provided for it to be cracked and press the switch that breaks the coconut. Once the coconut is broken you have to hold one half of the coconut next to the coconut scraper and switch on the second switch.

"The coconut scraper will start operating and scrape the coconut. The scraped coconut can then be placed in the plastic jug for blending. When you switch on the third switch the scraped coconut will be blended and the coconut milk separated from the pieces," explained Madushantha.

Efficient machine

Around 20 to 25 coconuts can be cracked per minute by this machine, while 10 coconuts can be blended in the plastic jug.  Madushantha added that the machine is fitted with a light motor and is not heavy on electricity.

The new three in one coconut machine can be seen at Madushantha's house at 211/55 Old Kottawa Road, Mirihana, Nugegoda. However for this young student of Sri Jayawardenapura Maha Vidyalaya (CMS) his dream of making this invention a useful household item is yet to materialise.

"I cannot afford to make more of these machines on my own as I don't have the funds," he said. Madushantha now seeks the help of a manufacturer who can undertake the responsibility of manufacturing these machines. His future dream of seeing his invention being made use of will be possible if he can only find a manufacturer to give him the needed assistance.

Doctor with a special love for children

If one were to say that Sri Lankans are truly talented, few would disagree. 'Talent' could be a natural endowment or ability of a superior quality. But to talk about 'talent' alone would be underestimating the abilities of the unique personality we feature today. To call him a genius wouldn't be exaggeration either, because he indeed is an extraordinary intellectual who holds the DCH (Ceylon), DCH (England), MD (Paediatrics), MRCP (UK), FRCP (Edinburgh), FRCP (London), FRCPCH (UK), FSLCPaed and FCCP, in addition to his MBBS from the University of Ceylon. He is non other than Dr. B.J.C. Perera who heads the paediatric unit at the Lady Ridgeway Hospital (LRH) in Colombo. 

By Sunalie Ratnayake

It is indeed our duty to appreciate those who had rendered immense service to society. Dr. B.J.C. Perera is one such individual who was recognised for his unique endeavours in the field of paediatrics. He was conferred the prestigious 'Outstanding Paediatrician of Asia' Award by the Asia Pacific Paediatric Association on March 12 at the BMICH.  The significance of this is that Dr. Perera is the sole recipient of this award from Sri Lanka.

Born in Wadduwa, Dr. Perera is the youngest in a family of three siblings. His father, Victor Perera was a public servant, who held significant positions at the Telecom Department. His mother Rose Perera was an educated and dutiful housewife.

Being born to a public servant meant lots of travelling without being able to settle down in one location. Travelling also meant changing educational institutions as well. So, Dr. Perera received his initial education at De Mazenod College in Kandana and at eighth standard, he shifted to St. Peter's College, Colombo 4, as a result of his family shifting to Dehiwela. St. Peter's was his alma mater until he entered the Faculty of Medicine in the University of Colombo.

Why medicine?

Going down memory lane Dr. Perera told The Sunday Leader, "I did not know anything about medicine. I didn't even have the slightest idea of becoming a physician. My parents never put pressure on me to become this or that and I was given absolute freedom in deciding my future career. However, after I sat my O/Ls, to my great surprise I obtained two distinctions and five credits, which was a big deal at that time (1962). So, ultimately, it was my teachers at St. Peter's College, who on my behalf decided that I should study bio science for the A/Ls."

Dr. Perera after completing his A/Ls in the Bio Science stream entered the Colombo Medical Faculty in 1965. "Unlike nowadays, those days we did not have to stay idling for long periods to enter university. The results were out in August 1965 and I entered the Colombo Medical Faculty within a month," Dr. Perera said.

The year in which Dr. Perera qualified as a young physician was a significant year for the faculty itself, as 1970 was also the centenary year of the Colombo Medical Faculty.

Further studies

Starting from 1970, Dr. Perera served in local hospitals until 1975. He initially served in the National Hospital and the LRH. After completing service in these two hospitals, Dr. Perera made his way to the hill capital, where he proceeded with a combined university and hospital course. He lectured in pharmacology, while serving as a registrar in medicine. Then he returned to the LRH and served as a registrar in paediatrics. 

At the time Dr. Perera also completed the MRCP Part I and the DCH (Ceylon). Meanwhile, he was offered no pay leave by the ministry in order to complete the MRCP Part II in the United Kingdom. "I worked in the UK for one year at the City Hospital in Nottingham from November 1975 to 1976. Then, I was in Crawley, West Sussex for another two years. After completing the postgraduate, I returned to Sri Lanka in 1978," Dr. Perera said.

Returning home

After returning home, Dr. Perera served as a resident paediatrician at the LRH for four months. From there, he was posted to the Badulla Hospital and this ultimately became his first 'main consultant appointment.' He served there for six years, from 1979 to 1985. Then he served at the Ratnapura Hospital for three years. From Ratnapura, Dr. Perera moved to the Kurunegala Teaching Hospital, where he served for two consecutive years and then moved to the Kalubowila Hospital, serving there for four years. Finally, Dr. Perera was appointed to the LRH in 1994, where he has been serving ever since.

When asked to compare his experience gained locally and internationally Dr. Perera said that here in Sri Lanka doctors work under very difficult circumstances when compared with the Western world. "We have a huge demand of work to meet, with minimum facilities. At LRH, we have a minimum of 2,500 children who seek the services of our OPD daily and 30 daily admissions are made," he said.


Pointing out the areas that he felt should be improved in the local health sector, Dr. Perera said that more investors should come forward and invest in the local health sector. "I think that it should come from the citizens of our country. If we have a system like national insurance in the UK, things would turn out to be much better. If people can sacrifice at least 0.1% from their salaries to the medical service, it won't affect them much. However, there may be logistical problems," Dr. Perera said.

Focusing more on the local medical arena, Dr. Perera appreciated the virtual elimination of some of the 'killers.' "In addition, polio and diptheria are hardly seen in Sri Lanka. There is very little whooping cough too and no measles at all. Theses are the triumphs of our health service due to the vaccines," he said.


Dr. Perera also expected to see a change in access to most of the OPDs, where people even walked in for minor matters. "I would like a referral system being established in the government hospitals, not the private sector. I would like to see this being changed as well, but it will be a politically sensitive thing," he said.   

"I initially started as a house officer on March 25, 1971 for the second part of my internship. At the beginning, I actually hated paediatrics as I wanted to do adult medicine. However, I gradually developed a liking for children," he said with a smile.

The man who hated paediatrics, today has devoted his entire life to children. "Children are such that they tend to grow on you virtually. The most attractive thing that I see in paediatrics is that we manage to prevent or cure a lot of illnesses in children and it is quite different than treating adults," Dr. Perera said.

Marriage and family

Dr. Perera married Dr. Sarojini Perera in 1975. She, at present is working in the HIV/AIDS prevention project of the Healthcare and Nutrition Ministry. Their only child Maneesha is also married and settled down and thus Dr. Perera is the proud grandfather of a one-year old grandson.

For Dr. Perera, the cardinal rule in life is 'to do well whatever you do.' "Fortunately or unfortunately, I am a bit of a perfectionist and being so tends to put a lot of stress on my own self, while trying to achieve perfection," Dr. Perera winded up.

An ayurveda massage is different

By Ranee Mohamed

'There are many kinds of massages today. But the ayurveda massage dates back to over 3000 years. It stimulates, warms and treats certain parts of the body which the individual himself has never been able to touch," explains Dr. Sujeewa Vithana of  Mansuwa Ayurveda, Mansuwa.

Situated near the Batalanda Staff College, on Vihara Mawatha, Makola, it is described as a 'veda medura' and has been the home of a priest who formulated and advocated the miraculous Pranajeewa herbal oil for high cholesterol and modern day ills.

Today, this hospital has dedicated every brick therein to the cause of ayurveda. The treatment is for the more critical conditions. But its  massages which involves a generous use of their own herbal oils speak for themselves.

Tenets of Ayurveda

As two ayurveda physicians begin the massage, they concentrate on every cell in the body. The oil is warmed and the atmosphere serene. "We dedicate our services to the pancha karma and all our treatments are according to the tenets of ayurveda," explains Dr. Vithana.

As the herbs steam, the patients get ready to step out after his oil massage to be steamed in the herbal sauna. "As the curbed wooden enclosure wraps on the patient, only the head becomes visible. Inside, the herbal steam enraptures the body, causing every pore to open.

"This is called a full body herbal oil treatment and a steam bath," explains Dr. Sujeewa as a glistening patient is kneaded softly by two ayurveda physicians. Closeby, the oil is warming and the patient is asleep. The massage goes on for an hour. The focus is on the pressure points.  In another enclosures sits a patient with a snake bite. He has to sit in the herbal concoction for two days, the doctor explains.

Tension and headaches

Elsewhere is the popular Shridora, where drops of oil falls on the forehead of a patient, who waits patiently for the stress to dissolve. This is the ideal treatment for headache, tension, premature graying and falling hair," explains Dr. Sujeewa.

There is a generous amount of oil being poured in here as patients bathed in oil hover in the hospital. As one waits for drops of oil to fall on the forehead there are others being bathed in  oil. "This is called Saravangadaara treatment and the patient is bathed in oil. This is the best treatment for strokes, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and skin diseases," says the doctor in charge.

As the strong herbal scents fill the air, one is able to see herbs, roots, barks and seeds being dried in the garden.

It is a purely traditional place, sans airconditioning. The massages are done to warm the body and the kasaya or herbal concoctions are boiled and cooled to body temperature   before the patients are bathed for 40 minutes. 

 'Beauty clinic'

In keeping with more modern trends, the hospital has its own 'beauty clinic.'  Herein, herbs and powders are used for the facials and cleansing systems and the fragrance of sandalwood fills the air.

"Ayurveda is not a commercial system of massage. The panchakarma that we practice here makes treatment a sacred process," said Dr. Sujeewa Vithana.

"Panchakarma involves vamana karma. This is a main treatment that also involves the upper respiratory tract, chest and stomach to  bring out impurities and unwanted elements. This helps in the treatment of phlegm conditions, catarrh, asthma and skin diseases." said Dr. Vithana.

"The nasal treatment also helps to drain away unwanted elements and thus helps to relieve sinusitis, eyediseases and diseases of the skin. It also helps to add a glow to the face, and rid one of psychological ailments too," explained the doctor.

He went on to explain about virechana karma, a treatment that involves the clearing of  the stomach and the digestive system.

Massage, a must

"Vasti karma is a treatment that concentrates on administering kasaya (herbal concoctions) via the rectum. It is a proven method for the treatment of paralysis and constipation," he said.

Explaining further about raktha moshanaya, Dr. Sujeewa Vithana said that this treatment involves the purification of blood. "Ayurveda uses leeches to drain the 'bad' blood away and this treatment helps to wipe out skin patches and in the treatment of varicose veins," he said.

"It is important that every kind of treatment is carried out after taking into account the temperament and the body conditions of the patient. We use oils to suit individuals and massages are done with different oils for individuals," he said.

"A massage is a must in today's rat-race existence. An ayurveda massage will not only help burn the fat away but will soothe, treat and cure the ailing and the tired and the disease ridden," he said.

"It is important that these ayurveda massages are done under the guidance of qualified ayurveda physicians. An ayurveda massage has more to it than massaging the body in different directions with some commercial oil," cautioned, Dr. Sujeewa.

Fighting cancer with food

People who eat vegetarian or near vegetarian diets have the lowest rates of cancer in the world. A vegetarian diet comes  closest to the dietary guidelines for reduction of cancer set forth by the National Cancer Institute of USA which estimates that one third of all cancer deaths in USA and eight out of 10 of all cancers are related to diet.

According to some estimates about 30% to 40% of cancers in men and up to 60% of cancers in women are due to dietary factors (Bayer and Gragam, 1984).

Surveys have revealed that Asians and Africans have much lower incidence of breast cancer than Europeans and Americans who consume Western-type diets, There is evidence to show that vegetarian diets protect against breast cancer because -

I. Vegetarians have lower levels of blood oestrogens hormones that  raise the risk of breast cancer ( B.K. Armstrong et  al  1990).

II. Vegetarians begin menstruation somewhat later than average and there is a longer time between periods. Dietary fat shortens the menstrual cycle while fibre increases it (Cassidy et al 1990)

III. Soya food consumption can block the activity of oestrogens and soyabeans contain chemicals called isoflavones which act against cancer.

In Haryana it has been observed that daily consumption of green and yellow vegetables rich in  betacarotene, vitamin C, calcium and dietary fibre lowers the risk of cancer. There has been shown a strong relationship between animal protein intake and breast cancer (Graham et al, American Journal of Epidemiology, 1991).

Colon cancer

Diet is more strongly linked to colon cancer than to any other type of cancer and vegetarians are less liable to get this disease (Journal of  National Cancer Institute, Vol. 30:1983).

In vegetarians unlike in meat eaters colon cells are much less active (the more the colon cells divide the greater the risk of cancer). Secondary bile acids  which are carcinogenic are more in omnivores compared to vegetarians. Vegetarians have fewer of the bacteria that convert the harmless bile acids into ones that are carcinogenic compared to non vegetarians.

Oesophagus and stomach

Although tobacco and alcohol intake are major risk factors for oesophageal cancer, low intake of vitamin A and C are also associated with increased risk of this cancer. Lack of consumption of fruits and vegetables has been linked to cancer of oral cavity.

Vegetarians have higher blood levels of betacarotene which is thought to protect against cancer. Polyphenols prevent cancer of oesophagens and stomach and non vegetarian diets contain powerful carcinogens such as nitrosamines.

Cancer of prostate

Among the men in the USA cancer of the prostate is the second most common malignancy and this cancer is not common among Seventh Day Adventist men as compared to general population, suggesting that vegetarianism is the protective factor (American  Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1994), high fibre intake decreases the risk of prostate cancer and high fat intake raises the risk (Cancer, Vol. 58, 1986).

At the first Cancer Project Symposium held in July 2006 in Bethesda (USA) where hundreds of cancer specialists (oncologists), nurses, health professionals, dietitians presided by Dr. Neal Bernard MD, the oncologists came to the conclusion that  plants such as broccoli, kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, arugula, watercress and radish may be effective in reducing cancer risk of several organ sites. Crucifers are rich in certain chemicals e.g. glucosnolates which induce the liver to produce enzymes that detoxify potential carcinogens.

To be continued.

-  D. P. Atukorala

Sri Lanka Institute of Interior Designers to beautify living

The Sri Lanka Institute of Interior Designers will have a series of workshops on the theme `beautify your living,' to enlighten on the importance of applying design elements to enhance the look of indoors, outdoors and other socio-cultural festivals and events.

The first workshop in the series will be held at the Galle Face Hotel, Colombo (Main Ballroom) on Saturday,  April  7 from 9 a.m to 1 p.m.

The programme will present the making of a room with respect to space planning, furniture arrangement, lighting, colour schemes, selection of furnishings and decorative accessories in keeping with one's budget.

Demonstration on floral presentation and arrangement, is another item on the programme, emphasising the importance of using fresh flowers, foliage and other natural materials.

The next segment is planning your garden, which includes both planting and creating outdoor living areas with relevant decorative features in the garden.

Sri Lankan festivals is another highlight, with the making of decorations for the celebrations, creating the right atmosphere and environment for the occasion.

Beautifying Your Living is a workshop for the Sri Lankan woman, highlighting on the saying by Philip Rosenthal 'part of the art of living is living with art.'

The working woman, the housewife - not leaving out the young girl - aspiring towards homemaking will benefit to make a pleasing environment for all.

There will also be a range of products both decorative and gift items for sale to make a worthy purchase this festive season. 

        More Review Articles....

Manning Market in a soup

A beautiful union

Student invents coconut breaking, scraping and milking machine

Doctor with a special 
love for children 

An ayurveda massage is different

Fighting cancer with food

Sri Lanka Institute of Interior Designers to beautify living


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