Lost and found
anguish and love at being reunited
with her child and (inset) Wasantha,
SSP, Jayathilleke and OIC Prasanna
By Ranee Mohamed
Wasantha and Shamalee Fernando found their
infant, just a day before Christmas. It was
the only answer that they wanted for their
fervent prayers and pleas for six days. Baby
Gavish Gihan Fernando came home to a house
decorated with balloons and coloured crepe.
The family was celebrating another great
coming - the coming home of their lost baby
back into their arms again.
"It was the most traumatic time in my life.
I have never been so unhappy since the day I
was born," said Wasantha Fernando speaking
from his residence in Wijerama, Nugegoda.
"I still remember the day my wife was crying
uncontrollably and telling me that our baby
had disappeared. For one moment I thought
that I was losing my mind," said Fernando,
shaking with the memory of the nightmare on
Tuesday, December 18.
"We had promised our three and a half year
old daughter Nethmi Dilupa that we will be
bringing home a malliya (brother) for her.
When my son went missing there was no way I
could face her. There were times when I
stood outside our house till 11p.m or till
midnight till my daughter fell asleep," said
the saddened father.
But little Nethmi had felt her father's
tears. In her own little way, she had
inquired whether her mother was ill. 'What
is wrong?' she had asked her father in a
whisper. But Wasantha Fernando suffered in
silence. He did not tell her anything.
Shamalee Fernando (29) was admitted to Ward
21 of the Colombo South Teaching Hospital,
Kalubowila on Monday, December 17 for the
delivery of her second baby.
Baby Gavish was born at 1.58 a.m on December
18. When Wasantha Fernando visited his
wife in the morning, he was overjoyed to see
his bonny son.
As he could not bring his daughter to the
hospital to see the baby, he photographed
his newborn with his mobile phone so that
the sister could have her first glimpse of
her baby brother who would be home soon.
Carrying a specially made lunch for his
wife, he had visited her again at 12 noon.
"I was counting the hours to take them
home," he said.
When he left however, little did he know
that the birth of this baby would bring the
young couple a sorrow that they have
hitherto not experienced in life.
For in the afternoon, when Shamalee had
visited the bathroom and returned, her heart
had almost stopped beating when she saw that
her baby was not in the cot. Neither was
there anyone carrying a baby in sight.
Meanwhile hospital authorities and
sympathising mothers in the ward recalled
the visit of a lady who said that she had
given birth prematurely and that her baby
was in the premature baby room.
Offer to look after the babies
Mothers and the hospital authorities also
recalled that this 'mother' was particularly
kind to women who had given birth to boys.
Talking to mothers in the ward, the suspect
had visited the two mothers who had given
birth to boys and had offered to look after
the babies, insisting that the mothers
The mother who had given birth to the other
baby boy had refused help from the suspect,
almost snapping at the 'kind' woman that she
was not tired and did not need help to look
after her baby.
Approaching Shamalee the suspect had asked
her whether she remembered meeting her at
the prenatal clinic. But Shamalee could not
recall meeting this strange woman.
She had gone on to tell Shamalee that she
had given birth via caesarean section and
was awaiting documentation of the birth. The
suspect, mothers recall, had gone to every
bed and inquired from the mothers about the
well-being of their babies.
In maternity clothes
Hospital authorities meanwhile said that
they had no reason to suspect the woman
because she was clad in maternity clothes
and had been present in the ward since
Thus there was no reason for Shamalee to
refuse when the suspect offered to 'keep an
eye' on her baby when she went to the
bathroom around 2 p.m. When Shamalee
returned, the baby was not in the cot. There
was no sign of the woman either.
In anguish, she had cried for help, calling
out to the hospital staff. The fact that
patients are discharged around 2.15 p.m.
went well with the plan of the baby
snatcher. The security and staff of the
Colombo South Teaching Hospital had no
reason to suspect her. For she had all the
paraphernalia required for a baby.
What Shamalee and Wasantha Fernando did not
know was that the woman had brought along
her 10 year old daughter as an accomplice.
The young girl had helped her mother to
carry a pillow and other items. The duo did
not look like robbers, thieves or baby
snatchers. They were two women with a baby,
but when they took the baby out, the baby
had not been in their arms. It is learnt
that the baby had been smuggled away in the
baby bag which is actually meant for the
After this heartbreaking episode, other
young mothers hugged their babies close,
some even taking their new born babies to
the bathroom with them.
It was a day when mothers cried more than
the babies. The news reached every corner
of Sri Lanka, with the media taking on this
touching story. It became a social
commitment and news giants as Sirasa not
only telecast the story, but also offered
half the reward which amounted to Rs.1
million. It was a story that touched the
hearts of every mother and father. As the
news reached every home and office, mothers
hugged their children close. Everyone kept
an ear for an infant's cry in the
Ever since that day, Fernando and his
friends roamed Colombo and its suburbs in an
agonised frenzy. "I went to Horana, Negombo,
Kalutara, and Katunayake. I went everywhere
while my wife cried for days without food
asking for her baby," recalled Fernando.
Meanwhile, Kohuwala police, under the
guidance of Divisional Officer - DIG, C.D.
Wickremaratne and SSP, S.M. Jayathilleke
sprung into action.
"I could call them at 2 a.m or 5 a.m and
they would answer the phone and tell me the
situation. The police officers were very
understanding and handled this very
sensitive case in a delicate manner. I did
not have to ask them 'What are you doing?'
or 'Have you done anything about my son?' I
felt that the police officers were acting
as if they were looking for their own child.
I know for a fact that they did not expect
anything from me," said Wasantha Fernando.
It was on Monday, December 24 on a tip off
that Wasantha Fernando was asked to
accompany the police team to a location in
Kanatte Road, Thalapathpitiya. Inspector of
Police (Crimes) U.D. Alawatte and the team,
guided by DIG, C.D. Wickremaratne, SSP, S.M.
Jayathilleke and OIC Prasanna Brahmanage
worked day and night to find Wasantha and
Shamalee Fernando's baby.
But the crucial information came via a
telephone call. And it was immediately
after that that a police team together with
an impatient Wasantha Fernando approached
Kanatte Road, in Thalapathpitiya. At first
they had gone to another lane. But gradually
found their way to the particular lane. They
were looking for a house of a particular
"As we walked down the narrow lane, we saw a
young girl walking towards our way from the
house. The moment she saw us, she stalled
for a second and then calmly turned back and
walked into the house," recalled Fernando.
Fernando had then run into the house,
overtaking the girl and had opened the door.
There in the small hall was the alleged
suspect named Ramya Kumari (29). When
Fernando had rushed into a partition and
peered inside, there lay his son.
The happiest day
"It was the happiest day in my life. But I
had to be sure that it was my baby. The
jutting umbilical cord of this baby was not
there. I know that it takes about seven days
for the naval to heal. I had to be sure
especially because this woman was insisting
that she had given birth to this child at
the Jayewardenepura Hospital. Thereafter she
told us that she had given birth at the
Kalubowila hospital," recalled Fernando.
When his wife Shamalee and her mother had
arrived at the scene, the baby had snuggled
into the warmth of his mother. Having given
him only two feeds of breast milk, not only
was her breasts heavy with milk but was
choking with an indescribable love for her
Losing confidence in her own story, the
suspect had then confessed that she had
stolen their baby. She had gone on to tell
them that she wanted to prove to her second
husband that she was able to have his baby.
That she wanted to show off to his relatives
that she was the mother of his child.
But Wasantha Fernando says that he does not
believe her story. "Just as much as she has
looked after the baby, I know that she could
not have taken our baby for her to adopt.
She has two children. There is no way that
she could have brought up this baby in this
place and in her financial situation.
"Besides, she was looking for a male child.
There ought to be another story here,
especially since her husband is involved in
tourism and is not home for weeks," observed
Fernando, shuddering at the thought of his
baby being sold to someone, somewhere.
Meanwhile, the husband of the alleged baby
snatcher could not be found even on
Reward for the informer
Wasantha Fernando will soon reward the
informer with one million rupees of which
Rs.500,000 will be given by Sirasa, as
promised. "I will give this money very soon"
said building contractor Wasantha Fernando.
He says that he is not a rich man, but
finding his baby has erased a miserable
future from his life. "I would have suffered
everyday of my life with thoughts as who
was looking after my son; is he being fed;
who is taking him to school; where is he?
etc." said Fernando, agonised at the mere
thought of such an eventuality.
Some times one conscious action on our part
can touch another human being for life. And
this is what happened with one telephone
call made (source kept confidential) to the
Kohuwala police station. This telephone call
has brought happiness into the lives of this
young couple. It has brought laughter back
to their home. It has brought happiness to
the whole country in this season of
Today little Nethmi Dilupa does not let
anyone touch her little brother. "I heard
that he got lost. I will not let anyone take
him away again," she says with a childish
Fernando says that despite making this
payment, he owes a huge debt to the media,
to the police and to the whole country. For
they cried with him when he cried for his
baby. "I will always tell my son that the
whole of Sri Lanka are his mothers and
fathers - for everyone cried with me when I
cried for my baby son. and today they smile
with us as we smile ..Shamalee, me and our
baby.." he said, wiping his teardrop from
his baby's face.
Mother, don't cry
Dananjani and Roshan by their
mother's bedside and (inset)
Malini Priyanka, Thilekeratne
Ranee Mohamed in Poobowe
The road leading to Rathmalla off Kurunegala
is strewn with poverty. And the jungles make
way for the road that leads from Katupotha
and winds its way finally to Poobowe.
At first sight, Poobowe appears as an oasis.
With coloured flowers swaying in the clear
waters and large birds hopping in the
greenery, studding green spaces with neon
colours. Poobowe seems like paradise at
first sight. But driving along one sees
poverty everywhere. Emaciated men and women
with helplessness and innocence written all
over their faces volunteer to show us the
It is the people around who direct us to the
house of L.D. Thilekeratne. It is the
address we are looking for, but sadly
Thilekeratne has no address, only a little
hut in the middle of the jungle that is
about to stretch out to its vastness. They
call his house 'ledage gedera.' (The home of
Thilekeratne walks towards us, he lowers his
upper body with deep respect and guides us
to this hut that he calls home. "I have been
lighting an oil lamp to the Buddha and
wished for help," he confides. "I know that
this is the result of my veneration to the
Buddha every morning and evening," he adds.
There is barely space to get into the hut.
Inside, on a broken down bed lay 27 year old
Malini Priyanka, his wife. She wants to
welcome us, but she is unable to get up. The
tears roll down her cheeks and she asks us
to come in. Malini Priyanka is conscious of
everything that is happening around her.
Beside her sit her three children. Dananjani
(10), Lahiru Lakshan (7), and Roshan (4).
The children refuse to move from their
mother's bedside. In fact they have their
measly meals by their mother's bed.
Time and again they make a mouthful and feed
their mother. It is lunchtime and the rice
and the green leaves picked from the jungle
is their only meal for the day. The three
children finish feeding their mother and
they run inside and bring a wet cloth. They
wipe her mouth.
Then daughter Dananjani brings a comb, sits
by her mother and combs her mother's hair
and arranges the tattered pillowcase and
There are thousands of mothers all over the
world who look after their children - feed
them, shower them and clothe them. But here
in Poobowe the role is reversed. There are
three little children who have to care for
their mother - feed her, cloth her and sing
a lullaby to make her sleep.
"My wife must live for the sake of my
children. I do not want her to die," pleads
Thilekeratne. This young father leads a life
of suffering. He is unable to go to work as
the helper of a mason. Thus he is unable to
earn an income.
"In the nights I have to wash my wife's
clothes and my children's clothes. I wake up
early and cook for them. Sometimes my mother
helps me. During the day I clean coconut
leaves and take out the ekels. I sell them
to make ekel brooms," said Thilekeratne.
Thilekeratne gets Rs.10 per kilo of ekels
and this is how he buys some food for his
suffering wife and children. The priest at
the church had built them their little
abode, for it was not very long ago that
Thilekeratne and his family had no place to
live in. A sympathiser, understanding the
problems that Thilekeratne had to face when
cleaning his wive's sheets in the night had
got them an electricity connection. A
catheter now winds its way from this
suffering young woman, but there have been
times when the children in their enthusiasm
in caring for her have accidentally pulled
it away. "Then I have to find a way to take
her to the Kurunegala hospital for the
catheter to be inserted again," said
Malini has been in the intensive care unit
of the National Hospital for several days
and thereafter at a ward. "During those days
I used to go to Colombo everyday leaving my
children with my mother. I had no place to
stay in Colombo, so I used to wait on the
road till the next visiting hour," said
Thilekeratne in tears.
Till August 2004 Malini had been an active
housewife, cooking for her children, getting
them ready for school, washing clothes and
even helping Thilekeratne to clean the
coconut leaves and get the ekels ready to be
How it began
The problems had begun when Malini had
complained of a numbness in her left hand.
"As the complaints became frequent I thought
of taking her for treatment. Initially we
tried ayurveda treatment from a veda
mahathaya in Kurunegala. But there had been
no improvement in her condition. In fact her
condition had got worse because she had been
unable to pass urine. This was when the
frightened Thilekeratne had taken her to the
"From there she was sent to the National
Hospital," said Thilekeratne recalling the
most traumatic time in his life. "I was
alone with my children, I had no money and
no knowledge about what was happening to my
wife. I wanted so badly to go and see her
but there were days when I could not go
because I did not have the money for the bus
fare," he cried.
Today his wife is very much with him and the
children but sadly, she cannot leave her
"Don't run. Don't fight," she cautions the
children from her bed. At most times Malini
has to watch her children running around the
house with her mother-in-law in command. She
tries to do her best to make the situation
at home tolerable. But there is nothing much
she can do while lying down in bed.
"What we enjoy most is the time when we give
our mother a bath. We help her to sit up and
father carries her near the well. We make
her sit on a chair and father holds her neck
and upper body up while we pour water on her
and then rub the scented soap on her," said
The bath is a weekly ritual. "We try to buy
some talcum powder for her body, but we have
not been able to do that for a long time.
Father says that there is no money for us to
buy the food." confide the children.
"I don't care about the suffering and the
hardship. All I want is for my wife to be
with us. I pray and wish that we had the
money to give her a better life. I wish that
I had the money to give my family proper
food. I want to get medical treatment for my
wife, but I do not have the means. I really
do not know what to do. But I am thankful
for small mercies that my wife is with us.
My children need the warmth of their
mother," he said in tears.
And quite rightly so, for a mother is
irreplaceable. And few of us realise the
worth of a mother for as along as she is
with us. For these little children about to
lose their mother, she is worth her weight
in gold, or even more. There are a few
things in life that we all yearn for, but
none of these compares to the longing of
these little children - to have a mouthful
of food from their mother, to be able to go
out with her on a holiday, but more
importantly, to be hugged by her on a rainy
"Our friends ask us why our mother does not
come to our school and our mother asks us
whether the mothers of our friends come to
school with them," said Malini's children
who find that they are unable to answer any
of these questions.
Questions that cannot be answered will
always cause heartache. Just like longings
that are never realised, and wishes that do
not come true.
What the stars hold for
you in 2008
What goals do you have for 2008? You might
think that it's a bit early to start making
new year resolutions, but if there is ever a
time to jump the gun with this tradition,
All signs are that 2008 is going to be a
year of transformation and will be a hectic
and tumultuous year.
Those who are prepared for economic and
political shake-ups should be able to
continue with their lifestyles, though even
they may hit a few bumps in the road.
Global economic upheaval might cause larger
personal expenses, and investments might not
be as profitable as you had planned.
Political tension worldwide could create a
troubling atmosphere, and you might find
yourself unusually irritable.
Yet clever, insightful people who can sense
the needs of a changing society will grow
stronger by adapting and staying flexible.
They might even find themselves suddenly
wealthy. This year will not be a year to
rationalise or to ignore the admonishments
of economists, were some of the predictions
for 2008 by astrologers.
Very often we go through life wearing
blinders, but those who take off those
blinders and prepare for a rocky road can
thrive in 2008.
To help start a better year you should try
to get your own life in order now. Whatever
is uncertain, firm it up. Pay off as many
debts as you can, and avoid running up any
Start setting aside a little nest egg for
yourself, and clear up any tension there may
be between you and friends or family members
to improve the mood. Secondly you shouldn't
depend on anyone but yourself to solve your
By taking matters into your own hands, you
will be able to enact change in your life
and in the lives of those close to you. If
you want something done right, do it
If you're dissatisfied with your life, work
to change it, perhaps by joining one of the
grassroots movements that have been popping
up like mushrooms all over the world.
Finally you should start getting involved.
What cause appeals to you the most? Is it
world peace, health and fitness for all,
sustainable energy, or perhaps the rights of
the weak, such as children and animals?
Doing good for others will give you
inspiration in other areas of your life, and
overcoming obstacles will give you a sense
of pride and accomplishment. Now is not the
time to back down from a challenge; you
could surprise yourself with how
successfully you deal with a difficult
Astrologers have also made some predictions
based on the star signs:
Aries: You should slow down! Decide how you
want your life to be, and then work
enthusiastically but diligently towards it.
You've got vision and enthusiasm. Make the
most of it.
For Taurus: A hackneyed but nonetheless wise
old adage says, "Don't put off until
tomorrow what you can do today."
Don't be tempted to fall into your old habit
of procrastination. The world needs you
With regard to Gemini: Your way with words
and your gift for persuasion could play an
important role in world transformation.
Even if you only serve as spokesperson for
your own community, you're still making a
difference. Remember that.
If you are a Cancer: Your kind heart and
nurturing nature makes you a shoo-in for
boosting the morale of your own community.
If you're the crusading type, don't be
afraid to speak up for the rights of the
Your passions will speak for themselves.
And Leos: The charisma and gift for
self-expression render them as born leaders,
and thus could prove invaluable for getting
the message they are promoting out to those
And the louder Leos speak, the more likely
to be heard.
For Virgo: You're a natural server, and you
tend to take a hands-on approach to
Whether they're your own problems or those
of your entire community, you're out there
setting things right. You're already making
Libra is an instinctive diplomat: You may
spend much of 2008 working out differences
with your family, your love partner,
creditors, and anyone else.
Once that's done, you can turn your
attention to bettering yourself and, if you
choose, the world.
Scorpios will find their business interests
expanding far beyond anything they expected.
While many around them are struggling, they
are going for the gold.
And if Scorpios choose to get involved,
they could become one of the leaders.
With regard to Sagittarius: Your altruistic
side will definitely show itself continually
throughout the year - though you'll
undoubtedly take occasional time off to have
a little fun.
Whatever you do, you'll do what you enjoy
the most; being with other people.
For Capricorn: This is definitely your year.
Your self confidence will be at an all-time
high, opportunities for advancement will
fall into your lap, and success should be
just over the horizon.
Just be careful how you manage your
Aquarius is known for altruism, and in 2008
that will be near the top of your list of
Whatever your cause, you'll give it more
than ever before. Nonetheless, you should
remember the old adage: "Charity begins at
For Pisces: Mysticism is a keyword for
Pisces, and your abilities to see beyond the
veil will expand greatly.
Your knowledge and wisdom will also grow,
and you could find yourself constantly
giving invaluable advice. Tip: Heed it
Check out the night of
nights in Colombo
By Kshanika Argent
If there's one question on everyone's mind
these days, it's what they're going to do
come December 31. The final day of the
Gregorian year and the day before New Year's
Day, New Year's Eve is more than just an
observance of New Year's Day.
In 21st-century Western practice, New Year's
Eve is celebrated with parties and social
gatherings spanning the transition of the
year at midnight but the practice has now
spread across the world, even to little Sri
Lanka - yes it's true that you don't need to
be in New York or Las Vegas to have a wild
night, 'cause this year Colombo will be a
melting pot of parties continuing well after
the crack of dawn.
Exciting line up
The line up of parties this year seems as
exciting as any happening around the world,
and offer a lot more than just noise and
fireworks. Many youngsters claim that
Colombo could put Melbourne, Tokyo, London,
Los Angeles, Madrid, New York City and Las
Vegas to shame!
An overstatement perhaps? Well there's only
one way to find out and that's by hitting
any one of the happening parties in town.
Plans have been in the pipeline for months,
and organisers are gearing up for some stiff
competition. The music, the food, the
entertainment and the lights, not to mention
all those fabulously dressed up people, and
if you are one for socialising and partying
the night away, then this New Years Eve is
not to be missed.
From the Fantasia theme at the Galle Face
Hotel to a Vegas theme at Water's Edge, and
the ETV party at Taj Samudra and let's not
forget the Hilton going all out to make this
night spectacular, party organisers are
throwing a night to remember everywhere you
turn, but with a price tag.
Tickets, which are on the pricey side this
time around happen to have deals that
include dinner, breakfast, spirits and some
even offer a room and shuttle service to and
from home to the party venue. Coupled with
this, there's heaps of entertainment with
both local and international DJs.
But if a wild night is not on the cards for
you this year, then you may want to check
out the very same venues for a laid back
dinner. The Hilton offers an array of
restaurants with deals to suit almost any
pocket. The Grand Ballroom, Il Ponte,
Spices, Spoons and Curry Leaf all have
exciting dinner menus just for the
night.˙Holiday Inn, Mount Lavinia Hotel and
Galle Face Hotel too have dinner buffets.
However, if you're through with staying at
home or if you're wondering if there'll be
anything different happening this New Year's
Eve, worry not. There are plenty of places
to go and if all else fails, there's always
New year wishes, resolutions and parties!
And so another year has whizzed past us.
When I was younger, a year seemed such a
long time, but now, before you realise it,
another one has ended. Are we doing too much
too fast? They say you should take time off
to smell the roses, but really, even if you
do decide to take it easy, someone calls and
there goes your peaceful day.
So next year, maybe I'll hide! The thing is,
people assume that I've got a lot of time on
my hands since the girls are generally away
at university. Actually, I always have some
project going on all the time and I have
plenty to do - in fact sometimes - I find I
don't have enough time to finish up. Or then
maybe age is catching up with me!
This year has been rather a horrid one
altogether. Lots of awful things happened
that I hope will never be repeated again. I
think as a whole, we are a very optimistic
nation. Every year, we live in eternal hope
that things couldn't get any worse. They
simply have to get better. It stands to
reason, doesn't it? I suppose this trait is
better than just giving up altogether and
sinking into a gloomy depression. One just
goes with the flow and drifts on.. to where?
Enough of this rambling! Let's have a party!
New year's eve dance
Each year, the price of New Year's Eve
dance tickets are even steeper than the
last. Imagine paying so much just for one
night! I think a dinner at home would be
nice, but one year, even though I called
people very early, they couldn't make it.
The very religious ones were all going to
Midnight Mass with their kids. They were
horrified that I even suggested going for
mass the next morning. "We do this every
The with-it party animals had to go to a
hotel dance. There was no atmosphere in a
house, they informed me. After about 20
telephone calls, I accepted defeat.
We went out to dinner with the kids who were
in a sulky mood since all their friends were
going to hotel dances. Unfortunately they
were saddled with us as parents! Nowadays
it's taken for granted that they will be out
on New Year's Eve and so, to our surprise,
we also decide to go out. If you can't lick
'em, join 'em! How can we possibly spend New
Year's Eve just by ourselves? Of course, we
definitely don't go to an expensive place.
One has to keep one's standards!
People make New Year resolutions that they
often break within a few days. I'm one of
the resolution-breakers. Who knows, maybe
this year it'll be different, and by the end
of the year, I'll have a silhouette to die
for! Just you wait and see. This is because
the new year is associated with new
beginnings and new life, like plants and
animals in spring. So people strive for a
fresh and better start, hoping that the new
year would be better than the last. I'd like
to think it means they want to be better
The most popular song played all over the
world is Auld Lang Syne. The Scottish poet,
Robert Burns, wrote the words to this song.
It means "The Good Old Days," where one
reminisces about past good times. Maybe we
should sing it regularly!
People gather in public, in places like
America and Britain to countdown and listen
to the chiming of midnight, to see the new
year in. Whistles, horns, foghorns of ships
all sound at midnight, heralding in the new
year. In general, there is a giant party
atmosphere all over the world. Over here, we
light crackers and other fireworks by the
In certain European countries, it is
believed that the first visitor after
midnight on new year's eve will determine
how the next year will be. It has to be a
dark haired, pleasant faced man. So they
make sure that no women, redheads or blondes
appear first on their doorstep.
This person brings coal, bread, money and
salt, all supposed to bring good fortune to
the household. The coal signifies it will
always be warm, the bread that they never go
hungry, and money of course signifies
prosperity. Here we boil milk and make milk
rice, a traditional dish for a new
beginning. Here's wishing this coming year
will be a wonderful, peaceful and happy one!
- Honky Tonk Woman
Christmas in the southern hemisphere
The supermarket has run out of prawns. Out
of shrimp, out of prawns, out of lamb and
It's six days to Christmas and this is what
it seems to mean in Australia. Get the
family together for Christmas lunch and pull
out the barbecue for grilled prawns and
In changing rooms, in clothes shops across
the city you overhear the kind of gossip
about who has been invited to whose
Christmas party and who hasn't and why.
"She says I can't come because me and Jason
aren't together yet."
"But you're going out?"
"She said we can't come because we aren't
All of Fremantle has been decked out in
Christmas gear. They have unearthed
glittering silver stars from some storage
room in the town hall and strung them up
along High Street - one star per lamp post.
Next door in the Navy Club both WA Samba -
the Brazilian samba band - and an unnamed
opera singer are practicing loud enough for
everyone within a five block radius to hear.
Ostensibly this is for a Christmas pageant
or festival of sorts. I have never been in
Fremantle during Christmas to find out
exactly how they celebrate.
Brisbane celebrates by locking doors and
having everyone head off southwards to the
Gold Coast to the theme parks. Hobart
celebrates by having the usual Christmas
dinner and going out to see Abba tribute
concerts in the casino. The rest of
Australia by all stereotypical and
advertising notions seem to have an Aussie
barbecue lunch. But I have no idea what Freo
There must be a service in the many
churches. The Italians and Irish must
congregate in St. Patrick's for a service.
Bather's Beach must be the centre of some
part of the festivities. South Beach's green
park bit behind the sand dunes must be
packed to standing room only as families
jostle for space and their turn at the
barbecue before hitting the waves for a
And it is sweltering hot. The desert heat
wafts in - dry and dusty. The electricity
bill goes up as people switch on air
conditioning and fans and fridges for the
huge amount of beer and soft drinks that
will be consumed. In most areas brown outs
will become common but not during Christmas
Grass is no longer green in the southwest,
it takes on the dusty brown colour of the
soil except in the Pinjarra region where the
red brown soil of the iron ore rich layers,
cake all the things that pass by. Trees,
shrubs, animals, birds, humans, vehicles -
all these will take on this hue going from
one Christmas colour extreme to another.
The shops have as usual gone overboard.
December sales are on, catalogues are out -
buy this at such a percent off the usual
price. Have a Myer's Christmas, an on Target
Christmas, Christmas is at Kmart or David
Jones knows what Christmas should be like.
And of course since everything is the other
way around in the southern hemisphere, they
will play carols about snow and ice in the
stores, while everything on offer will be
swimsuits and sundresses for the December
summer weather outside. This Christmas get
the perfect tan!
Some people have tried to tailor Christmas
to fit Australia with banksias instead of
pine cones, Santas in board shorts on a
surfboard instead of a sleigh, or kangaroos
or dingos instead of reindeer. Instead of
Rudolph, Skippy the redback kangaroo,
Home for X'mas
I am leaving all this behind. I have yet to
experience what Perth or Fremantle do on
Christmas Day or Eve. I have always been ...
elsewhere. This Christmas isn't any
different. I am going home. Away from one
madness to another.
I am going to the tropics for Christmas. To
eat turkey and put up a Christmas tree, to
swap presents, go to church and listen to
carols about snow when it's 37 degrees
celsius outside. I am going home for
Christmas for the first time in three and a
I think I am going to spend most of it
- Marisa Wikramanayaka
New Year resolutions we can keep...
Are you sick of making the same resolutions
year after year that you never keep? Why not
promise to do something you can actually
accomplish? Here are some resolutions that
you can use as a starting point:
1. I want to gain weight. Put on at least 30
2. Stop exercising. Waste of time
3. Read less
4. Watch more TV. I've been missing some
5. Procrastinate more
6. Drink. Drink some more
7. Take up a new habit: smoking
8. Spend at least Rs.10,000 a month on
Ladies of the Night
9. Spend more time at work
10. Take a vacation to someplace important:
like to see the largest ball of twine
11. Stop bringing lunch from home: I should
eat out more
12. Quit giving money and time to charity
14. Start being superstitious
15. Have my car lowered and invest in a
really loud stereo system. Get the windows
tinted. Buy some fur for the dash
16. Speak in a monotone voice and only use
17. Only wear jeans that are two sizes too
small and use a chain or rope for a belt.
Only wear white T-shirts with those
fashionable yellow stains under the arms
18. Personal goal: bring back disco
Cricket in Heaven
A very keen cricketer asked a divine entity,
allegedly with good connections on high,
whether there was any cricket in heaven.
The priest replied: "I can't tell you now,
but if you come back on Sunday, I might have
On Sunday the priest told the cricketer:
"I've had good news and bad news. The good
news is: Yes, there is cricket in heaven.
And now for the bad news: You are in to bat
Aliens and cricket
Two aliens were visiting Earth to research
local customs. They split up so that they
could learn more in the time allowed.
When they met to share their knowledge, the
first alien told of a religious ceremony it
"I went to a large green field shaped like a
meteorite crater. Around the edges, several
thousand worshippers gathered. Then two
priests walk to the centre of the field to a
rectangular area and hammer six spears into
the ground, three at each end. Then eleven
more priests walk out, clad in white robes.
Then two high priests wielding clubs walk to
the centre and one of the other priests
starts throwing a red orb at the ones with
"Gee," replied the other alien, "what
"Then it begins to rain."
Meals on wheels
One day a cat dies of natural causes and
goes to heaven. There he meets the Lord
Himself. The Lord says to the cat: "You
lived a good life and if there is any way I
can make your stay in Heaven more
comfortable, please let Me know." The cat
thinks for a moment and says: "Lord, all my
life I have lived with a poor family and had
to sleep on a hard wooden floor." The Lord
stops the cat and says: "Say no more," and a
wonderful fluffy pillow appears.
A few days later, six mice are killed in a
tragic farming accident and go to heaven.
Again, there is the Lord there to great them
with the same offer. The mice answer, "All
of our lives we have been chased. We have
had to run from cats, dogs and even women
with brooms. Running, running, running.
We're tired of running. Do you think we
could have roller skates so we don't have to
run anymore?" The Lord says, "Say no more,"
and fits each mouse with beautiful new
About a week later the Lord stops by to see
the cat and finds him snoozing on the
pillow. The Lord gently wakes the cat and
asks him, "How are things since you got
The cat stretches and yawns and replies, "It
is wonderful here. Better than I could have
ever expected. And those 'Meals On Wheels'
you've been sending by are the best!"
A radical feminist is getting on a bus when,
just in front of her, a man gets up from his
seat. She thinks to herself, "Here's another
man trying to keep up the customs of a
patriarchal society by offering a poor,
defenceless woman his seat," and she pushes
him back onto the seat.
A few minutes later, the man tries to get up
again. She is insulted again and refuses to
let him up. Finally, the man says, "Look,
lady, you've got to let me get up. I'm two
miles past my stop already."
Gifts for the teacher
On the last day of kindergarten, all the
children brought presents for their teacher.
The florist's son handed the teacher a gift.
She shook it, held it up and said, "I bet I
know what it is - it's some flowers!"
"That's right!" shouted the little boy.
Then the candy store owner's daughter handed
the teacher a gift.
She held it up, shook it and said. "I bet I
know what it is - it's a box of candy!"
"That's right!" shouted the little girl.
The next gift was from the liquor store
owner's son. The teacher held it up and saw
that it was leaking. She touched a drop with
her finger and tasted it. "Is it wine?" she
"No," the boy answered.
The teacher touched another drop to her
tongue. "Is it champagne?" she asked.
"No," the boy answered.
Finally, the teacher said, "I give up. What
The boy replied, "A puppy!"
Scene & Heard
Schengen area expands
A meeting of the Council of the European
Union, Justice and Home Affairs in Brussels
on December 6 adopted a resolution by which
nine new EU Member States - Latvia,
Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, Czech Republic,
Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia and Malta joined
the Schengen area.
This decision provides for the abolition,
from December 21, 2007 of border control on
land and maritime borders of Latvia with
Lithuania and Estonia, and thus this border
has become the internal border of the
Schengen space. The abolition of border
control at the internal air borders is
planned for March 30, 2008.
With the accession of Latvia to the Schengen
Area on December 21 this year, applications
for visas for entry to Latvia have to be
submitted at the Embassy of the Federal
Republic of Germany in Colombo, in which the
Republic of Latvia will be represented in
the issuing of the Schengen visas effective
December 21, 2007, or at the nearest
diplomatic of Consular Representation of the
Republic of Latvia.
The borders of Latvia with neighbouring
countries Russia and Belarus, which are not
members of the Schengen Treaty, have become
the external border of the Schengen Area.
Border controls on the external border of
the Schengen Area are maintained.
Havies' new year party
Havelocks Sports Club where much has been
happening lately on the social front is to
usher in 2008 in style with a grand
celebration on new year's eve.
This year the focus is on the family with
many activities and loads of fun planned for
the kids. DJ music, a sumptuous barbecue
dinner and all the traditional trimmings,
organisers say, will ensure a night to
Dinner dance tickets are moderately priced
at Rs. 900.
LBC hosts regional consultation at Hotel
Lanka Bible College Centre for Graduate
Studies recently hosted a regional
consultation on Leadership Development where
over 50 participants from India, Pakistan,
Nepal, Bangladesh and Indonesia met at Hotel
Topaz, Kandy. LBC offers university
validated degrees in Leadership and
Education at Bachelors and Masters levels
through its main campus and the Colombo
based Centre for Graduate Studies (CGS).
Picture shows the participants at the
Palm Beach Hotel, Mount Lavinia will
celebrate New Year's Eve with a gala dinner
dance. The grand event called `Whispering
Palms' is the talk of the town with the band
Faith backed by DJ Manju belting out the
sounds. Music from the '70s, '80s and '90s
will herald in 2008. There will also be
prizes for the Palm Beach Queen, the best
dancing couple, the best dressed lady and
gentleman, table draw and ticket draw says
General Manager of the hotel, Lanil
CNAPT office bearers
The 59th Annual General Meeting of CNAPT was
The following office bearers were elected:
President - Dr. B. Kaluarachchi
Vice Presidents - Dr. Sicille P.C.
Kotelawala, Dr. P.R. Anthonis, Prof. Emil A.
Wijewantha, Muni Kundanmal, Siva Obeysekera
Council Chairman - W.D. Ailapperuma
Vice Chairman - Dr. V.I. Jayasuriya
Deputy Chairman - C.P.P. Senaratne
Members of the Council - G.C. Wickremasinghe,
Dr. S.R.Paranavithana, Dr. J.G.Wijetunga,
D.Weerapana, Dr. K. Sooriyarachchi, Dr. H.
W. Perera, Dr. S. Kodikara, Dr. Anil
Goonethilake, Harold Peiris, N.
Wannakukorale, Susiri de Silva, Asanga
Weerasinghe, Navin Marapana, Henry Peiris,
T.M.T.D. Herath, M. Mahindraratne, P.
Kalupathirana, H.L. Perera, P. T. Senaratne,
Dr. J.N. Jayakuru..