A child bride speaks of her ordeal
Bharathi posing for a photograph
with her nephew on her wedding day
Too young to wed...
By Jamila Najmuddin in Batticaloa
When I met 14 year old Bharathi, in her sister's home in
Batticaloa, she was covered in layers of cloth.
part of her forehead was bruised and her arm was deeply burnt.
She seemed to be crying, yet did not fail to get up and come
near us. She had a child crawling behind her, who kept crying
to be picked up.
Bharathi has beautiful brown eyes and takes one of my hands in
both of hers and greets me warmly. "She is a very friendly
child," her sister tells us. But she looks much older than her
age and already has wrinkles under her eyes. At a young age of
14, it is difficult to understand that Bharathi has already
endured such horrible suffering and is the mother of an eight
month old baby.
Bhari as she is fondly called among her family and neighbours,
was married late in 2005 at the age of 12 in her mother's
house in Batticaloa. Bharathi says that she did not know of
her marriage till she woke up one morning and her mother came
and laid a red saree on her wooden bed and asked her to get
dressed in three hours as her inlaws would arrive later that
day to celebrate her marriage. "I had heard of child marriages
but I never thought it would happen to me. All my pleadings
were in vain as my mother had locked me in the room," she
Bharathi had left school at the age of 11 as her mother could
not afford to bear the expenses. When Bharathi was five years
old, her father committed suicide as he was unable to pay his
After her father's death, Bharathi explains, her brother who
was nine years old at the time, went out to work with her
mother. It is her brother who had been providing for Bharathi
and her sister, ever since. However Bharathi's sister was
married at the age of 19, two years ago. "She moved away to
her husband's home and since then it was just my brother and
me with my mother. Everything was perfect till November 2005,
when rumour spread that young girls were being abducted and
recruited by the LTTE," she said.
Bharathi's mother who lived in fear ever since her husband's
death, was quite certain that Bharathi would be abducted if
she was not given in marriage. Her aunt's daughter was also
married at the age of nine. Bharathi's mother had been
continuously advised by her aunts saying that considering the
rise in disappearances of young girls, it was only right that
Bharathi be wedded off to an older man, in order to be
mother had promised to give me in marriage to her relative's
son, who lived closeby. He was 27," she said.
Wedded in a small ceremony
Despite her pleadings and tears, Bharathi was wedded in a
small ceremony in her home in December 2005. The Hindu priest
arrived home and performed the ceremony. There were no
elaborate celebrations, and no guests draped in elegant sarees
or jewellery. Bharathi herself wore, only one gold chain and
two bangles, which her mother had borrowed from her relatives.
Bharathi left for her husband's home and at the age of 12, she
was forced to take care of not only her husband, but also her
Bharathi further explains that her life turned for the worse
after she went to live with her husband. "Since I was very
small, my in-laws thought they could make me do all the
house-work. My father-in-law asked me to do everything - the
laundry, cooking, cleaning, sweeping etc.
only time I was able to sleep in the house was when everyone
else had gone to sleep. I also had to wake up at four, every
morning, and prepare breakfast. The others in the house awoke
at 6 a.m," she said.
Three weeks after her marriage, Bharathi says that the
beatings began. "No matter how much I worked, they were never
satisfied, They always thought I was a dumb kid," she said.
Recollecting one of her worst nightmares, Bharathi says that
one night, after her husband and in-laws had gone to bed,
Bharathi sneeked into the kitchen to get some food. She says
she was kept hungry most of the time. However while she was
pouring out some broth, her mother-in-law caught her by the
hair and pushed her into the hall. Her husband and
father-in-law came rushing out at her screams.
order to teach young Bharathi a lesson, she says, that while
her mother-in-law kept beating her and kicking her in her
abdomen, her father-in-law came and poured boiling water on
her right arm. "The burn on my right arm is because of that
incident. My husband just kept looking while my in-laws kept
beating me. The pain was too much and I lost consciousness,"
When Bharathi gained consciousness hours later, she was forced
into the kitchen to wash the utensils. Since that day, she was
called a thief, as she had tried to eat on the sly the
previous night. "The pain was unbearable but I got used to it.
The days were very long and I got beaten every day. Right
throughout, my husband was silent. He would not talk to me
most of the time, except at nights, in bed," she said.
A few weeks pregnant
Five months after her marriage, in May last year, Bharathi
told her in-laws and husband, she was a few weeks pregnant.
However rather than rejoicing, she was only insulted saying
the child would be as lazy as her if she didn't work harder.
Her husband reacted the same way.
week later, Bharathi's sister came to visit her. Seeing the
bruises on her face and arm, Bharathi's sister at once
insisted that Bharathi should come and live with her for a few
days. "At first my in-laws refused. But there was little they
could do when my brother-in-law insisted. They knew my
brother-in-law has a lot of connections with the Batticaloa
police," she said.
When Bharathi left her in-laws' home in late May last year,
she vowed she would never return. Since then she has been
living with her sister and brother-in-law who look after
filed for divorce a year after her marriage in December last
year. Since then, her husband and in-laws have not visited
Bharathi. She gave birth to her son Ranjan on February 18,
this year. Her husband is yet to give her the divorce or come
to see his son.
Bharathi has not lodged a complaint with the police and wishes
to remain silent for the sake of her son. "I do not want my
son to grow up and visit his father in jail. I too, do not
want to be questioned by the organisations or the police. I am
just happy to be alive," she said.
Get married or get abducted
adds, "In spite of our desire to continue our studies, our
parents arrange an early marriage for us. With the current
situation in the war zones, we cannot blame them, because
either we get married or get abducted. However as a result we
become pregnant soon. At a tender age it is quite difficult as
well as risky. I should know, because I am 14 and I already
have a son."
While Bharathi now lives with her sister, her mother and
brother have refused to see her as she is no longer with her
husband. However Bharathi says the love she receives from her
sister is enough for her to keep living each day. "I have to
love my son and take care of him. I do not care about anyone
else other than my sister," she said.
While Bharathi decided to speak to us and narrate her story,
there are many other young brides in Batticaloa who wish to
remain silent. Child organisations in Batticaloa who are aware
of the situation of child marriages say they are unable to do
anything due to the silence of the children and public.
Marriage the only recourse
While parents in the war zones do not believe in having their
children educated, they believe that marriage is the only
recourse if one needs to be protected. "Either we get them
married or see them falling into the hands of those fighting
this terrible war," is the opinion shared by most mothers in
the war zones.
While parents get them married because of the war, the young
brides however admit that such a step only robs them of their
childhood and normal life experiences other young people take
for granted. Many have been forced to drop out of school and
their health is at risk because of early sexual activity and
They say that friendship with other children of their age is
often restricted as they are confined to their homes, in-laws
and children. Talking to another man, even if one is yet a
child, is taboo. While most of them have not even completed
grade six, their young lives now revolve around their
children, husbands and home.
"We are aware"
Head of Save the Children in Batticaloa,
Robert Oreno told The Sunday Leader that the
organisation was on the look out for incidents of child
marriages in the east, as the number of cases had
increased in the past few months.
"We are aware of child marriages happening
in Batticaloa, but there is very little we can do as the
people are afraid to talk about it. Sexual issues are
taboo in Batticaloa and incidents such as child rape and
assault also go unidentified," he said.
He added, "The fear and silence of the
people in Batticaloa has led to a lot of problems
especially where children are concerned, because if people
are willing to seek our help, then a lot of children can
Continuing, Oreno said, one of the main
reasons for child marriages in the east was the prevailing
security situation and poverty.
"They are silent"
Officials from the United Nations office in
confirmed to The Sunday Leader
that child marriages were indeed happening in the area.
However they said there was very little action they could
take, as no one was willing to come forward to talk about
it or lodge a complaint.
"The UN is aware that child marriages are
taking place in Batticaloa. We do not know the exact
reasons behind it. However we are providing help to the
few young brides we have come across. But there are many
more who continue to suffer in silence," the official
Stressing that the situation in Batticaloa
was far from safe due to the prevailing security
situation, the official added the organisation was unable
to carry out its humanitarian work in a satisfactory
manner as its officials/volunteers were always accompanied
by the security forces.
"Sometimes we are unable to conduct our
relief activities in the manner we want, because we are
accompanied by the security forces. Very often we are not
granted access into an area without the presence of the
security forces. This makes it very difficult for us
because we need to reach out to the people and the
children," the official said.
Citing the reasons for child marriages in
the east, the official added that most of them were due to
the volatile security situation, poverty and the fear of
By Ranil Wickremesinghe
met Paul Perera 35 years ago. That was the time I was entering
the legal profession as a junior lawyer.
memory of how I was introduced to him at the chambers of H.W.
Jayewardene, QC, remains as if it happened yesterday.
Thereafter I got the opportunity of working together in
several cases in the legal profession. We worked under H.W.
Jayewardene and M. Thiruchelvam.
Jayewardene gave both of us the opportunity to join the
working committee of the United National Party in 1973. Since
we worked closely in the legal field, we also could work
together in the political arena.
support I received from him during the period I entered active
politics both as the organiser for Kelaniya and candidate for
Biyagama, is immense.
had a broader political vision as a result of the experience
and maturity that he had inherited as a lawyer and being in
the administrative service.
ability and the acumen in finding solutions to problems and
the massive capacity to organise was not limited to the legal
field but also extended to the political field. This talent
was a great support to J.R. Jayewardene, the United National
Party and the Jathika Sevaka Sangamaya.
Paul Perera was an outstanding member of the team that was
instrumental in the historical victory of J.R. Jayewardene in
other members of this team were my father Esmond Wickre-
mesinghe, Sirisoma Ranasinghe, N.G.P. Panditharathne, H.W.
Jayewardene, J.W. Subasinghe, G.V.P. Samarasinghe and W.P
Since Paul Perera was a resident in the immediate
neighbourhood of J. R. Jayewardene he was close to
together with J.R. Jayewardene and the party fearlessly dealt
with situations such as the attempted arrest of J.R.
Jayewardene by the then government, when a Parliamentary
Select Committee was appointed against Jayewardene, when
emergency law was imposed to prevent Sathayagraha campaigns
and when loud speakers were banned at UNP meetings.
During the 1977 election, even people of the calibre of Ananda
Tissa de Alwis who were working in the political office had to
enter active politics. When all of us were entangled in the
field, the person who oversaw the office work was Paul Perera.
really is a proud member of the 1977 victory.
After the victory, Jayewardene started revolutionary
socio-economic changes in this country.
doing so, Upali Wijewardane was appointed as the Director
General of the Greater Colombo Economic Commission and the
Deputy Director General was Paul Perera.
While Upali Wijewardane focused on investment promotion and
avenues for investment Paul Perera was tasked with the
building of Free Trade Zones and the infrastructure
decision to build the first Free Trade Zone next to the
Katunayake International Airport was on the basis of
convenience of air transport for the produce.
Before completing one year of establishing the GCEC, several
acres of coconut land was made into a gigantic industrial zone
as a result of his organising capacity which was par
After Katunayake, J.R. Jayewardene wanted to build a Free
Trade Zone in Biyagama with the intention of serving his
electorate. That was the stepping stone to his political
the time, Biyagama was the least developed ward of the Gampaha
District. There were no proper roadways. It was not practical
to build a Free Trade Zone in such a locality.
the MP of the electorate I discussed with Paul Perera. The
development plan for the area was submitted to him. By this
time the election pledge by M. D. H. Jayawardane and me to
build a bridge connecting Kaduwela and Biyagama was becoming a
development of Sri Jayewardenepura under R. Premadasa also
included building Raja Mawatha from
up to parliament as the first step. Paul Perera and I
forwarded a fresh proposal in this regard - that is to extend
Raja Mawatha from parliament to Kaduwela, and up to
Balummahara over the newly constructed bridge.
This is how we could overcome the difficulty in developing the
road- ways around Biyagama to build the Free Trade Zone.
Biyagama Free Trade Zone finally became a reality.
Perhaps the reason for Paul Perera to get the opportunity to
fill the vacancy of the Kaduwela electorate due to the illness
of M.D.H. Jayawardane MP, was due to his immense contribution
to the Kaduwela area in building roadways and the bridge.
With his legal, political and the administrative background he
was able to contribute tremendously as a Member of Parliament.
He was accustomed with the ethics and traditions of parliament
in no time.
also earned a reputation as a strong personality in politics.
He loved this identity. He never missed making use of this
successfully contested the parliamentary election from the
Gampaha District as the organiser of Attanagalle in 1989. He
was also made a minister.
indeed served the people without reservation as a bureaucrat,
member of parliament and minister from 1977 to 1994. He
contributed to the party with the same vigour even after the
UNP became the opposition.
did not rest when it came to helping the UNP even at a time of
sickness. He worked for the party at all times.
What began in 1977 was the revolution to make a modern society
in this country. The revolution to make a speedy economic
growth. The colossal socio-economic development was in place
within two years as a result of this revolution. Projects such
as the Free Trade Zones, Mahaweli, industries, housing and a
massive awakening which extended to the spheres of youth,
women, education and health were the hallmarks of his
This it the awakening of a modern society. Today we tread on
the path of modern development that was started then.
Paul Perera is in the forefront of visionary leaders who were
responsible for the new beginning. That is the reason why we
remember him with reverence with each step we take along this
Ladies who long for
The Lady Fareed Home for Elders in Makola
and (inset) Lady Ameena Fareed
By Nirmala Kannangara
youth the days are short and the years are long; in old age
the years are short and the days long - Panin
the 'residents' (inmates) at Lady Fareed Home for Elders the
days are long. They want company, attention, love and
happiness. Like the rest of us they too love to spend their
time amongst their kith and kin. But the sad fact is that they
do not have anyone near and dear to dote on them and bring
them a little happiness in these their sunset years.
They long to see someone visiting them. Anybody who visits
them be it known or unknown they rally round them as if the
guest is known to them for long years. When The Sunday Leader
visited Lady Fareed Home for Elders in Pamunuwila Road, Makola,
Kiribathgoda, the 14 residents were overjoyed. For some we
were their friends and for the rest we were some of their kith
Established in 1957 and opened by Sir Oliver Gunatilake the
then governor general of Ceylon, this was the only elders'
home for Muslims in the country then. This was a generous gift
by Philanthropist Lady Ameena Fareed who also gifted Muslim
Ladies College Bambalapitiya. She was the wife of Sir Razeek
Fareed, father of the Sinhala-Yonaka Ekamuthu Kama and the one
who moved the Sinhala Only Bill in the then legislature.
Destitutes and those well to do
Governed by the Moors' Islamic Cultural Home and managed by a
committee, Lady Fareed Home for Elders could accommodate 60
although the number of residents are only 14 at present.
There are two types of residents - the destitutes, and those
who can afford to spend on themselves. Those who are destitute
are given free food and accommodation while those who could
spend on themselves make a contribution. "We do not demand a
particular amount from these residents, but according to their
affordability they give us money.
"This is a place where the elderly can spend the evening of
their lives in a quiet and tranquil environment. It is tidy
and comfortable and those living abroad prefer to keep their
parents and loved ones at this home.
"Those who need medical treatment are attended to by our
doctor who visits the home twice a week, and the home provides
them the food they really love to taste," said the management
committee members on the basis of anonymity, to The Sunday
Enjoying the facilities provided for a comfortable life, the
inmates gather at meal times in the well kept dining room and
watch movies in the lobby. They are happy. They share jokes.
They also help one another. The residents give a helping hand
to those who cannot walk without help. They also help out
those who cannot do things on their own like combing hair
Although this home was housed in a grand old building earlier
it later became dilapidated with time. It is now housed in a
new building put up by Hajee Eliyas Abdul Kareem in memory of
his departed parents Abdul Kareem and Zubeida Mohamed. The
home shifted to the new building from September 2 this year.
Friendship and warmth
childlike faces of these inmates speak volumes and they seek
friendship and warmth. They need our love and care very badly
and sharing a few hours with them would bring them happiness
and satisfaction. Charity does not mean just giving money.
It means providing happiness - a ray of hope and light to
those who are in the evening years of life.
"Although some are from affluent families they still love to
get a present - no matter how small - for it brings them
"There was a rich lady from
Kandy - a teacher at Girls' High School,
Kandy who passed away a little over two years ago. Though her
kith and kin bought her what- ever she needed she still loved
to receive gifts from visitors. Once I asked her what she
would wish to have and she innocently came up to me and
whispered 'a bottle of spray perfume.' The very next day I
gave her the bottle of spray perfume," added the management
Sunday Leader spoke to some of the residents and this is what
they had to say about their lives and how they spend their
time at the home.
Ranee Cuttilan from
Kandy, although old and feeble told The Sunday
Leader that she was 16 years old.
Not given in marriage
Cuttilan is forgetful, and according to her friends she was
not given in marriage and she still feels sad about it. She is
from a well to do family and her relations visit her
sometimes. "I am 16 years old and I will be going home
tomorrow. My father got a big house built for me and I'll be
getting married tomorrow. Please do attend my wedding
reception," she invited me to her imaginary wedding. She held
a doll in her hands and when asked as to who that was,
started stroking the doll's head. "This is my baby. I love her
so much and I want to cuddle her," she said with an aching
heart and innocent smile.
Marian from Kannantota is another inmate who spoke to The
am not married but have relations in Avissawella. They are not
in a position to visit me due to financial difficulties. I
have been in this home for the last 11 years and a few years
ago I got TB and I was hospitalised in Ragama and Welisara.
All my expenses were borne by the management. Although I am
really happy here, I would like to stay with my relations.
"But this is life, what's to be done. From my small days I was
working for a Muslim family in Avissawella but they ill
treated me. I had to suffer immensely. Fortunately a kind
hearted lady brought me here," claimed Marian.
am the only child and come from a well to do family. After the
demise of my Mummy and Daddy my relations brought me here. I
am really happy here. I do not want to go home again," said
Razul Jessima from Balangoda .
was adopted from my childhood and they brought me here. I have
never seen my parents," said Abusa from Kandy.
Hijudeen, 76 years old, looks after the home in the absence
of the warden. He claims that he has a son who is a DJ and is
longing to go back home once the construction of his son's
house is finished.
Met with accident
wife is not living and I was a salesman in a mercantile firm
and once the government sent my Indian employers back to India
I worked at a security firm as a supervisor/control officer. I
met with two accidents and now one leg is two and a half
inches shorter than the other. I am here for the past 10
years," claimed Hijudeen.
studied in a leading girl's school in Colombo but cannot
remember the name of the school. Although I am staying here I
am very rich. I like to go home but nobody wants to take me,"
said Bin from Mt. Lavinia, innocently.
those who would like to share a lighter moment with these
innocents, the management is ready to arrange the setting for
such a meeting. The management would welcome those generous
enough to provide a meal or two to the inmates, and those who
wish to have the meals cooked at the home could make use of
the well kept kitchen - there are two helpers to give a
helping hand in the cooking - and share the meals with the
inmates to bring a smile onto the faces of these helpless
A facelift for a fort
Strolling within the Galle Fort, the charming and quaintly
beautiful houses will jolt your imagination as to what life
would have been like during the colonial times.
houses belonging to the Portuguese and Dutch era stand strong
even today and would make any visitor curious.
What is heartening is that moves are now afoot to restore
these houses to what they were whilst conforming to the
regulations stipulated by the Archeological Department.
Renovations to some of these old houses started this year with
the help of the Galle Heritage Foundation under the Ministry
of Cultural Affairs and National Heritage.
Chairman, Galle Heritage Foundation, Parakrama Dahanayake told
The Sunday Leader that this project has been mooted by the
'Netherlands Sri Lanka Cultural Cooperation Programme which is
funded by the Netherlands government.
allocation of Rs. 51 million has been made to carry out
renovations to the houses within the Galle Fort.
"The deadline to finish renovations is December 31, 2008 by
which time we hope to complete renovations on 60 houses," said
Dahanayake who took office in August this year from the
previous chairman Ajith Kumara said that the amount of money
that would be spent on each house would depend on the state of
the house. "Most of the roofs are in poor condition. Therefore
many roofs are being repaired."
Furthermore the facades of many Dutch houses have been altered
by the present residents and the Galle Heritage Foundation has
had to renovate these houses to bring back the original look.
"This is the first time that funding is being provided to
private houses since previously funding was provided to only
public institutions such as churches and libraries.
renovations to around 40 private homes in the Galle Fort area
started mid this year and repairs seem to be going on apace,
ahead of schedule added the Chairman.
"Under the current speed in which work is being carried out we
are confident that we can even exceed the targeted number of
houses to be renovated and we may even be able to go up to 80
houses if the required funding is available," explained
Galle Heritage Foundation established in 1994 seeks to
promote the preservation, conservation and development of the
Galle Fort together with its surrounding area as a historic
city centre and as an area of archeological interest.
Chairman also said that the renovations are being supervised
by students of architecture from the University of Moratuwa
under the guidance of the Head of Architecture at the
university, Professor Samitha Manawadu.
houses that require renovations have to apply to the Galle
Foundation Institute seeking assistance. Thereafter the
foundation will provide the necessary funds needed to carry
out renovations. Techinical staff could be sourced by the
owners or through the foundation.
Project officer, Tharanga Liyanaarachchi told The Sunday
Leader that technical staff, trained masons and carpenters are
also provided by the foundation to renovate the houses.
Renovation plans have to be authorised by the Department of
Archeology after which the renovations can be done, supervised
by the students of the Department of Architecture, University
Residents living in an old Dutch house at 75, Peddlers Street,
Galle Fort said that the work is being carried out speedily
and commended the workers as well as the students involved in
residents said that if the foundation did not carry out the
repairs most of the houses would go into ruin.
many changes and alterations have been made to these
Portuguese and Dutch houses but gradually we hope to bring
them as close as we can to their original architectural
character," the Chairman said.
Sunday Leader team that visited the Galle Fort last week
found the area being restored to its pristine glory and it was
a pleasure to walk around and see the houses with their newly
regained original charm and character.
old world houses possess much charm and if only the houses
could tell their story it would surely be a long, interesting
and thrilling tale of yore.
The Galle Fort
The Galle Fort with its historic and
romantic walled streets occupies a total land area of 36
Built by the Portuguese in the 16th century
in order to protect the residents it was taken over by the
Dutch in 1640.
Many of the buildings one sees in the Galle
Fort today are reminiscent of buildings that stood there
during the Dutch era with pillared verandas and homes
resembling old mansions that belonged to sea merchants.
At present the Galle Fort remains the only
fort built by European invaders in South and Southeast
Asia which effectively combined the influences of Dutch
architecture with South Asian traditions.
Let not a drop of rain water
By Risidra Mendis
Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink! We have often
heard of this quote but how many of us take it seriously?
Water is available today, for tomorrow and for many more
years. But there will come a day when our water resources may
run out if we do not use it sparingly.
can survive without food for a day but we cannot survive
without water for more than an hour which is why conserving
water has become so important in today's context.
best way to conserve water is to reuse it and the only way you
can reuse water is to recycle it. As a way of conserving water
and reducing the costs on high water bills professional
landscapists are now advising people to adopt a rain water
harvesting system in their own gardens.
Rain water harvesting is the collection and storage of rain
from roofs or from a surface catchment for future use. The
water is generally stored in rainwater tanks or directed into
mechanisms which recharge groundwater.
Speaking to The Sunday Leader landscapist Upul Amerasinghe
said you can reduce 50% of your water bill if you adopt a rain
water harvesting system in your home garden.
"Rain water that is collected can be used for day to day needs
such as washing vehicles, watering plants, cultivating crops,
increasing soil moisture for urban greenery and reducing
erosion," Amerasinghe said.
Harvested rain water can also be used to flush toilets, wash
laundry and even to bathe. "Rain water is not suitable for
drinking purposes unless treated with a chemical. However in
some Western countries rain water is used for drinking
purposes as well," he said.
Traditionally, rain water harvesting has been practised in
arid and semi-arid areas, and has been used for drinking,
domestic needs, for livestock, for small irrigation and as a
way to replenish ground water levels. This method may have
been used extensively by the Indus Valley civilisation.
"When landscaping a garden I advise my clients to invest in a
1000 litre tank for Rs. 3500 to collect rain water. Instead of
letting the rain water go waste it can be reused in the
garden. An underground sump and a pump can also be used
instead of a tank to collect rain water. The excess rain water
can be used on the turf in the garden," Upul said.
added that the tank has to be covered from the top to prevent
bird faeces, moss and windblown dust particles collecting in
study conducted on how harvested rain water in low cost
surface run-off tanks could be used to improve the income
level of households in the dry zone area of Sri Lanka has
During the study it was revealed that from the total rainfall
around 25% of rain water is lost in the form of surface
study showed that in the dry zones in the months of February,
March, July and August farmers are unable to cultivate their
crops due to the lack of water.
However during the rainy period ( Maha) these areas receive
approximately 710 mm of rainfall. More than 40% of this
rainfall is lost as run-off water. This amounts to 1150 mm
from an acre of land. If a proportion of this water can be
collected and retained in the home garden it can be used to
irrigate crops during the dry season.
five mm rain water run-off tank constructed at the bottom of
the garden at Kurundamkulama, Mihintale collected an average
volume of 5426 litres from the Maha season rainfall of 537 mm.
Farmers were able to cultivate crops such as chilies, brinjal,
maize, cowpea and capsicum and thereby increase their income
by 200% from last year's Maha season.
Rainfall of 460 mm in the Yala season collected on an average
5055 litres of water in the tanks and the farmers were able to
cultivate gourds, thibbatu, papaya and also keep the yearly
crops from drying.
doesn't cost much to invest in a 1000 litre water tank and
adopt a rain water harvesting system. For around Rs. 20,000
you can set up a simple rain water system in your home garden
and enjoy the benefits by using rain water," Amerasinghe
The law of the garbage truck
often do you let other people change your mood? Do you let a
bad driver, a rude waiter, a curt boss, or an insensitive
colleague ruin your day? Unless you're a robot you are bound
to blow your top off. However, the mark of a successful person
is how quickly he or she can get back his or her focus on
Sixteen years ago, I learned this lesson. I learned it in the
back of a New York City taxi cab. Here's what happened.
hopped in a taxi and we took off to the Grand Central Station.
We were driving in the right lane when all of a sudden a black
car jumped out of a parking space right in front of us. My
taxi driver slammed on his brakes, skidded and missed the
other car's rear by just inches! The driver of the other car -
the guy who almost caused a big accident turned around and
started yelling bad words at us.
taxi driver just smiled and waved at the guy. And I mean he
was really friendly. So, I said, 'Why did you do that? This
guy almost ruined your car and sent us to the hospital!' And
this is when my taxi driver told me what I now called, "The
Law of the Garbage Truck." Many people are like garbage
trucks. They run around full of garbage, full of frustration,
full of anger, and full of disappointment.
Don't be the dump
their garbage piles up, they need a place to dump it. If they
happen to dump it on you, don't take it personally. You just
smile,wave,wish them well, and move on. You'll be happier if
you did that rather than fight them. So this was it: The Law
of the Garbage Truck.
started thinking how often do I let garbage trucks run right
over me? And how often do I take their garbage and spread it
to other people: at work, at home, on the street? It was
that day I said, 'I'm not going to do it anymore.' I see
garbage trucks everywhere and everyday.
see the load they're carrying. I see them coming to drop it
off. And like my taxi driver, I don't make it a personal
thing; I just smile, wave, wish them well, and I move on.
The bottom line is that successful people do not let garbage
trucks take over their day.
What about you? What would happen in your life, starting
today, if you let more garbage trucks pass you by?
- Capt. Rohith Fernando
scence & heard
It was a way of getting together again
Many schools are in need of a name board. This is why the 2005
- 2006 committee of the Past Pupils Association of
Presbyterian Girls' School, Regent Street, Colombo 10, under
the guidance of President Sumana Sakalasooriya was able to
gift a new name board to the school. It was one of the items
in the planned project for the year 2006. The project was
carried on by Vice President, Chandranie Kothalawela
out-going committee requests all past pupils to keep the
school flag flying and be of service to their alma mater
keeping in mind it's motto "on stepping stones to levels
Latvian musical treat in Colombo
musical group from Latvia will in Colombo this month featuring
Raimonds Tiguls, gifted keyboard artist and composer who has
written and produced several CDs of beautiful ambient music;
Intars Busulis, upcoming internationally renowned jazz singer
and trombonist with whom he recently collaborated on the CD
Fashion Mood with acid jazz and dance music, and double
bassist, Janis Mednis who has played with Kremerata Baltica -
the celebrated Latvian classical chamber music group led by
violinist Gidon Kremer.
Janis Mednis is also a gifted photographer and recently
published an exquisite album of photographs of the
other-worldly coastal region of Livonia where about 200 people
still speak the original ancient language of their people.
There will be a 30 minute presentation from this work with
original live music (specially composed for and sold with the
award winning book) by members of the band at the Latvian
National Day celebrations at the Trans Asia Hotel on Friday
band will play jazz standards and some unique music for
invitees the following Saturday and Sunday at Trans Asia. The
public will have the opportunity to enjoy this brilliant and
lively band at Barefoot on Wednesday November 21 where they
will play the coolest acid jazz and dance music from Fashion
Mood and other favourites.
Latvia is a country of about two million music-crazy people
and now the pressure is about to make Colombo explode.
Maris Jansons, the renowned Chef from La Boheme Restaurant
Riga will be in Colombo offering Latvian specialties.
Playing it safe is also fun
Horrors! The kids have just informed me that they went bungee
jumping. After a minor eruption, they hastily informed me of
all the safety precautions taken in this stomach flipping
exercise. I can just picture Dancing Doll hissing to Beautiful
Dreamer, (who let the cat out of the bag) "Why did you tell
her?" I gave them a long lecture about taking stupid,
unnecessary risks, especially when being away from home.
"Okay, okay! Chill, ma, be cool!" was the general response.
Chill, indeed! I was quite heated up.
What person in their right mind wants to be thrown down from a
great height? Crazy coots!Now I'm really freaking out! They
say they are going parasailing. When I ask them fairly
politely what the hell that was, they calmly say, "It's very
safe, a boat pulls you and you go behind harnessed to a
glider." I sent a furious text back, and they said they were
only joking, that I should, one guess, yes, chill!
wondering whether to call Caveman in the midst of his golf
tournament to ask him his thoughts. But then on the other
hand, he said the last time I tried to contact him, they had
sent a motorcyclist roaring up to him, and he was asked to
call home immediately. Apparently, his heart missed a beat!
really can't understand why people have to pay to be scared
witless. I can just barely manage to approve a visit to a
House of Horrors, a scary movie or virtual reality where,
unless you have a heart condition and run the risk of dropping
down dead, it would be a bad move.
some people just can't get enough. Beats me! I went on the
kiddies roller coaster once and swore I'd never board another.
Just look at the queues at all these theme parks overseas! You
begin to wonder. I know, like one of my friends said, no risk,
Sometimes I thank heavens for small mercies like not being as
advanced as more developed countries! We merely have to avoid
gunfire and bombs! Seriously, how does one consider something
like rock-climbing as a hobby? One slip and you will be
dashed against a very hard surface swinging in space. Imagine
the state of your knuckles, knees and other very tender spots?
Bury you alive
you want to get to the top of a mountain, take a helicopter!
Of course, check that it is in good working condition and the
weather is conducive for take off. No harm in being cautious,
is there? And skiing, what on earth, how do people think they
can avoid going over hidden stones and tree stumps?
you are Superman and have x-ray vision, then you can see
through the snow and dodge these obstacles. Or else, break a
leg! What about a sudden avalanche that might descend on you
and bury you alive? The cable car ride alone gives me the
saw to my horror that under the guise of adventure sports,
shark diving was listed. So, does one deliberately dive into
shark-infested waters? I wonder what you are supposed to do if
attacked, engage in combat and kill it with your bare hands?
That is, if you have any limbs left.
same goes for crocodile wrestling in places like Thailand. Of
course they might use very old crocs and remove their teeth,
but imagine if you get whip lashed by a croc's tail!
White water rafting
Surely we know already we are superior beings by being able to
talk? I wonder about intelligence, though.I was invited to go
white water rafting but I politely declined. I said I'd love
to come and watch.
friend said she needed two days to recover, since it had been
raining and she had slipped down the sloping river bank even
before she climbed on board. Then because of the rain, she
slithered all over the raft and fell, as she described it,
"like a kos atey, darling!"
a result, she was covered with cuts and bruises and was glad
she was going home to her husband when they had all healed.
She said he would give her a good telling off so she thought
it wise not to mention that part of it!No, I shan't go up in a
hot air balloon (it might catch fire or deflate and we'd
plunge down) or sky dive from a plane (what? And break a
bone?). I'm so boring and unadventurous!
- Honky Tonk Woman
Road trip rush
had a bit of a shock today - a pleasant one because it left me
laughing in the library but nevertheless a shock.
First I have to explain something. The Earth is a three
dimensional globe. Maps being flat are two dimensional.
Therefore when you represent the earth on a map, you have to
distort things so that you can fit three dimensions on to a
two dimensional surface. So people look at maps and get the
wrong idea sometimes. And it's because of that people think
Australia is smaller than North America. It isn't - it's
actually bigger. The Mercator maps were created to show
relative position and location but to do so it had to distort
live on the West Coast of Australia in Western Australia which
is 16 times the area of France and it's just one state of
seven states and two territories on the continent. One of my
friends lives on the East Coast in Melbourne - possibly the
furthest away from where I am that she could be.
called me today with a proposition - she remembered that I
travelled twice to Brisbane recently to meet someone else and
thought I would therefore be an ideal candidate. "Um, ideal
candidate for what?" "A road trip!"
road trip? This refers to the practice of piling various
assorted friends into a car and setting off to drive across
long distances supposedly to either get to an extremely
interesting destination with some diverting detours along the
way or to go sightseeing. Something borne out of beat
generation American writers - I blame Jack Kerouac myself for
starting this trend. I knew there was a reason I wasn't so
happy with him.
the United States you go from New York to LA, Seattle to LA,
or down to Florida for spring break while you are in college.
The only exception is if you live in New Jersey in which case
the sooner you leave the better and anywhere other than New
Jersey is a plus - or so I am led to believe.
Australia you usually do a round the country trip - you
follow the coast and go clockwise or anti clockwise or you go
straight across between Perth and East Coast or from Darwin to
Adelaide. But my friend wants go from Melbourne to the Gold
Coast and to hug the coast going northwards up to Queensland.
in case you haven't been following all this geography
carefully: she wants me to join her. From Perth. From the
other side of the country. She wants me to travel a distance
equal to going from Nepal to Denmark to join in order to
travel a distance with her that equates to about say,
Amsterdam to Spain.
she wants to start this Sunday. The very day you will be
reading this article is the very day that she wants to start
which is less than a week away. By which time I have to have
bought my ticket, flown over there, and met up with her with
all the necessary cash and baggage. I gather she came up with
the idea last night.
But here is the thing. It can be done. In Australia despite
the size, it is a lot easier to travel around than it is in
other places. In the United States for instance, you need a
car because the trains and buses run on routes that are
frankly just big detours in themselves, that haven't been
altered since the 1930's. In Europe, it costs a huge amount to
travel between the countries and within the countries on
public transport even though they have organised the system so
that you can buy a day pass and visit three to five countries
in one go - in fact it's a lot cheaper to fly within Europe
which is a pity because you miss what you can see via train or
Maybe it is because of the large expanse of land that they pay
a lot of attention to the ease of travel. If we really wanted
to this road trip for instance, it is possible for me to walk
in and buy my airline ticket today, to buy bus tickets and
train tickets once we get there or to walk up and hire a car.
And as for accommodation, it's easy enough to find the nearest
backpackers in any town along a highway, complete with bar and
free internet for $10-20 a night. There are no toll roads,
there are enough ways to get where we want to go, with enough
stops along the way.
fact, in my mind, I have already packed my bag. It would be
easy and cheap to do save for the cost of the flight there and
back for me. It's just that ..... do I have to go this coming
Sunday? Why can't it be the next one? Because I would love to
go and it would be fun and then you could read about all the
antics along the way but something is holding me back.
Willing and flexible
have to be willing to be really flexible to do something like
this but there are certain things that still need to be pinned
down firmly. You cannot be vague about certain things. So far,
the people who want to go on this road trip want to go via car
and take different routes and hence don't want to go by bus or
train. They need to figure out between themselves as to
whether they have a car, have decided on routes and a level of
fear is that the whole thing might be canned simply because
there was no car available and they don't want to go by train
or bus or someone has pulled out and they decide they can't go
without them. Which would be a shame because whether I end up
joining them or not, it sounds like something awesome to do.
In the meantime, I'll check flights and wait for them to get
back to me and confirm everything.
never know. This time next week I might have taken advantage
of my independence and waltzed off to the East Coast. And you
might just get another article complaining about the concrete
in Brisbane again.
- Marisa Wikramanayake
One track mind
hunter from the countryside was tramping through the woods
one day when he found a ravishing young woman, totally naked,
lying on a blanket. After staring at her breathlessly for some
moments he asked:
"Are you game?"
sure am," she replied.
he shot her.
Two words every five years
middle-class man decides to go off and join a monastery which
requires an oath of silence. No speech is allowed except for
two words every five years to sum up one's experiences to the
After the first five years, the monk asked him what two words
described his experiences and all he said was "HARD BEDS."
When the next five year period came the monk asked how things
were and he replied "BAD FOOD."
After five more years he walked up to the monk and said, "I
monk nodded and muttered "Yes, this doesn't surprise me.
You've been doing nothing but complaining for the past 15
else is there?'
man is running along and falls off a cliff - I don't know why
he falls off a cliff, he just does, OK?
he's falling he manages to grab onto a tree about 15 feet
down, growing out from the side of the cliff. Now he's hanging
there and he looks down and sees this 200 feet drop below him,
but he knows he's only 15 feet from the top of the cliff.
Looking up he cries out for help, "Is there anybody up there?"
Much to his surprise he is heard. A voice replies which can
only be that of the Lord (the reverb has been turned up and
there's too much bass), "Let... go..."
man looks down at the 200 feet drop, and then looking up once
more, cries out, "Is there anybody else up there?"
Rhymes and no reason
small town farmer had three daughters. Being a single father
he tended to be a little over-protective of his daughters.
When gentlemen came to take his daughters out on a date he
would greet them with a shotgun to make sure they knew who was
evening, all of his daughters were going out on dates.
doorbell rang, the farmer got his shotgun, and answered the
door. A gentleman said,
here for Flo,
We're goin' to the show,
she ready to go?
farmer frowned but decided to let them go.
doorbell rang again, the farmer got his shotgun, and answered
the door. A gentlemen said,
here for Jenny,
farmer frowned but decided to let them go.
doorbell rang again, the farmer got his shotgun, and answered
the door. A gentlement said,
the farmer shot him.
Occupation and pre-occupation
goes to a psychiatrist. To start things off, the psychiatrist
suggests they start with a Rorschach Test. He holds up the
first picture and asks the man what he sees.
man and a woman making love in a park," the man replies.
psychiatrist holds up the second picture and asks the man what
man and a woman making love in a boat."
holds up the third picture.
man and a woman making love at the beach."
This goes on for the rest of the set of pictures; the man says
he sees a man and a woman making love in every one of the
pictures. At the end of the test, the psychiatrist looks over
his notes and says, "It looks like you have a preoccupation
the man replies, "Well, you're the one with the dirty
Why God never received tenure
He had only one major publication.
It was in Hebrew.
It had no references.
It wasn't published in a refereed journal.
Some even doubt He wrote it Himself.
It may be true that He created the world, but what has He done
His cooperative efforts have been quite limited.
The scientific community has had a hard time replicating His
He never applied to the Ethics Board for permission to use
When one experiment went awry He tried to cover it up by
drowning the subjects.
When subjects didn't behave as predicted, He deleted them from
He rarely came to class, just told students to read the Book.
Some say He had His son teach the class.
He expelled His first two students for learning.
Although there were only ten requirements, most students
failed His tests.
His office hours were infrequent and usually held on a