"I will miss them all.."
By Dilrukshi Handunnetti
Here is a lady who pledges to listen to all
of Beethoven's nine symphonies in her
retirement and dedicate hours to practicing
the piano. Priyanee Wijesekera, the outgoing
Secretary General of Parliament sounds truly
ambitious about making her retirement a
music-filled one, not rules of procedure and
Besides wanting to immerse herself in music,
she also intends to read all the books she
never had the time for. "Books and music are
my best companions," she smiles. As she ends
her tension filled yet exciting job as the
chief executive officer of the legislature,
she intends making her retirement a
All these years, her life was dedicated to
the law; to interpret, to help apply it in
the tumultuous parliament where rules and
conventions combine, posing a constant
challenge and giving regular headaches.
Naturally, listening to musical compositions
or reading classics were long denied
luxuries to Priyanee Wijesekera. She has
dedicated 18 years of her life to helping
run the country's legislature as smoothly as
possible. Anyone would agree, that it is
indeed a hair-raising experience.
Wijesekera hung her boots officially on
March 28 and is now determined to 'follow
her bliss.' "To listen to Beethoven and
Elvis Presley. Read all the books I gathered
without the time to read them." Then, she
As for finding herself holding the top
executive job in parliament, she attributes
her success to 'mere chance.' A self
confessed unambitious woman, she had
artistic ambitions, not legal. This may be
disputed given the distinguished positions
she has held so far, but Priyanee Wijesekera
still prefers to play the piano than run the
"I never thought I would become a lawyer.
After my A/L examination, it was by sheer
chance that I entered the University of
Colombo. I pursued a legal degree and then
found myself at the Ministry of Justice in
1972. I served as an assistant secretary
and moved to the Bribery Commissioner's
Department as a legal officer."
Then came her only break. "For two years
thereafter, I was in Nigeria. My husband was
a doctor and he got posted there. Looking
back, those two years were the happiest
years of my life. My children were small and
I was at home. I enjoyed my Nigerian days
immensely," she adds with nostalgia.
Besides playing housewife and mother, she
also enjoyed getting to know the Nigerian
people. "They were incredibly nice. I was
touched by their gentle and considerate
Soon she returned home to recommence work
with the Law Reform Commission as secretary.
Then came her biggest career break. In 1992,
the vacancy of assistant secretary general
of parliament was advertised in the
newspapers. Wijesekera applied and was
selected. There was no looking back since
then, but her promotion to the highest
executive officer level, the only time a
woman held the prestigious post, was
achieved amidst hiccups.
Was it because she was a woman? Is it
difficult for a woman to reach the top? She
smiles and shakes her head.
"What difference would gender make? I think
any average woman can become successful. But
what matters is not the position but how you
handle the job."
Despite all the challenges that it entailed,
Priyanee Wijesekera admits to having had a
rewarding career. "My job proved extremely
challenging as well as exciting for a
constitutional lawyer. Only, that job needs
to be handled with a lot of innovative
skill. It is not just for a mechanical
follower of rules but for someone who loves
to interpret and apply the rules in
different ways, while remaining well within
For Wijesekera, parliament practice is
sacred. "The procedures and rules are not
inviolable. It is the function of the
legislature that is sacred. Parliament is
all about democracy."
"After all, it is parliament and other
representative bodies that ensure
democracy's continuance. And the content of
democracy lies in the rules of procedure -
the Standing Orders of Parliament," she
"And innovative application is key," she
adds. "The rules and conventions go hand in
hand. When deviating, it should be for good
reason. What I suggest is a lot of common
sense," she smiles.
A strong advocator of the need for
parliament to evolve, she believes that
Standing Orders must evolve accordingly.
After all, created in the wake of the 1948
Constitution, the rules were amended but
never truly formulated with the present
constitution in mind. "You know what they
say about things that do not evolve," she
Besides, the legislature faces logistical
issues such as its inability to accommodate
the massive present cabinet. When Jeffrey
Bawa designed this magnificent building, it
sought to cater to 24 ministers - no more.
There were eight consultative committee
rooms that prove woefully inadequate today.
"It is required to appoint an equal number
of consultative committees which means we
need many more rooms. The Indian and the
United Kingdom parliaments have expanded and
built annexed buildings. This needs to be
urgently addressed," she notes.
Priyanee Wijesekera claims to have seen
better times as a parliamentary official.
There is a gradual, general decline, in the
debating quality, discipline and
understanding of the rules.
No ugly scenes
Parliamentarians of yore, she recalls took
orders from the Chair with humility and in
the proper spirit. There was hardly any
aggression and certainly no ugly scenes. For
the lack of indiscipline, there were great
exhibitions of the thrust and parry kind
with many brilliant orators holding the
"I am saddened by what I had to witness
during the latter part of my career. On top
of the meaningless shouting, abuse and
fisticuffs, there were wreaths and coffins
smuggled into the Well. I don't consider
disrespectful behaviour funny," adds she.
Wijesekera admits that parliaments
essentially have a heated atmosphere, given
the political intensity of debate. "What I
object to is the infantile behaviour, the
ribald and gutter level exchanges. I
appreciate refined invective. Just think of
the many legislators of the UK parliament
and our own who were known for their gift of
the gab. Decades after their death, their
wit is still remembered. In my opinion, the
British Hansards carry a wealth of
literature even far surpassing William
Shakespeare," Wijesekera notes.
Recalling with regret that today's
legislature appears to be a 'free for all,'
the newly retired chief executive officer
adds that members cross over with scant
regard for the existing anti defection laws
that form a part of the constitution and
conveniently blame the constitution for
every ill that prevails.
"Basically, there is no respect for the
constitution. It has become a plaything for
some and strangely enough, these are people
who have contested under the provisions of
the same constitution having pledged to
uphold the same."
"Besides, parliament is largely a
misunderstood concept today," she muses. The
entire parliamentary process has been
devalued. Most members appear to feel that
it is a waste of time to express divergent
opinions because eventually the government
will have its way due to enjoying a
majority. "That's not what parliament is all
about. It is about being the threshing field
for a multitude of ideas," she notes.
Eighteen years later, has she got any
regrets? "I have had many ups and downs,
more downs than ups."
"I have had my disagreements with a large
number of members but they don't bear any
malice. I think, deep down, they are
But she adds that her tenure was tainted by
malicious character assassination attempts
by a vicious few. "Some members of the staff
have been extremely vicious. They seem to
consider that indiscipline is a fundamental
right. It is a malady that prevails in the
public service. Instead of leading by
example, they have degraded the service.
"Who wants to give an extra hour of work
without being rewarded today? It's all about
perks and privileges. In their scheme of
things, there is no room for the development
of this nation."
What was the biggest professional challenge
she faced? Pat comes the reply. "Undoubtedly
the election of the Speaker in 2004. That
was historic. There was a tie, and we just
couldn't believe it. I even wrote about it
to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Journal
which was published. I was in the chamber
together with my deputies for 11 long hours
just to finish this vote. We heaved a sigh
when there was a result eventually."
As she ends her long and distinguished
career, Priyanee Wijesekera vows not to make
ambitious retirement plans. "I don't want to
go from one intense thing to another.
"But certainly, I look forward to doing the
many things I could not do. Like reading
books, watching my collection of DVDs, not
to mention listening to Beethoven's nine
symphonies. Actually retirement makes me
smile," she offers, flashing a full smile.
For someone who once contemplated a career
in an artistic field, what lies ahead? "I
consider music to be the finest form of art.
I missed a creative career. There are some
brilliant modern composers and I love their
work. And I love Elvis Presley," she gushes.
Then she adds, "You know, my career as a
parliamentary official has proved
controversial all along. Just last week, I
attended the Bangladeshi National Day
celebrations. Many guests were saying that
there was a controversy when I was appointed
and now another, as I retire.
"It must be my destiny - a controversy for
all my quiet ways," laughs Wijesekera, the
only woman to have held the prestigious post
of parliamentary secretary general so far
and a winner of the prestigious Zonta Woman
of Achievement Award for her brilliant
career in law.
What this soft-spoken, serene woman finds
inspiration from is nothing but simplicity.
"I appreciate simplicity and integrity above
all. Likewise, what irks me most is the
sight of bombastic poops who are puffed up
with self-importance." And she adds on a
laugh, "I have seen far too many."
A convinced Buddhist, retirement also would
give time for her to get acquainted with
Buddhist philosophy. "I am not ritualistic.
But I love to visit temples on non-poya days
for the tranquil peace I find there. It is
an amazing feeling."
Now that parliament is a thing of the past,
would she consider returning to serve the
institution in a different way? She ponders
the question and adds, yes, she would like
to serve, and even without remuneration.
Then adds, "I have already told the Speaker
that if he ever needs my assistance, I would
be at the other end of the telephone line."
"It was truly a pleasure working for him, I
enjoyed working for the late Anura
Bandaranaike, and Joseph Michael Perera.
They are very gracious gentlemen," she
She predicts that her successor will have to
grapple with more problems than she did.
After all, the job is a trying one and is
likely to become more challenging. "It
should be so. That's the way with any
legislature. And I really wish him well."
Is the first ever woman secretary general
likely to miss anyone or anything in
retirement? Her eyes take on a nostalgic
expression. "Yes. The library. And also the
MPs. In the long run, they have been very
good to me. And of course the speaker. I
will miss them all." .
daughter passes with flying colours
Amali Upeksha and (inset)
By Ranee Mohamed
It was a day when Group Captain Ravi
Jayasinghe of the Sri Lanka Air Force was on
When his daughter, Amali Upeksha Jayasinghe
(16) had walked into Visakha Vidyalaya she
had been surrounded by well wishers and
happy class mates.
"I wish to thank my school for making me
what I am today," said a jubilant Amali
Jayasinghe. Speaking to The Sunday Leader,
student Amali Jayasinghe said that she
wishes to thank her principal, Rukmani
Gunaratne and the three deputy principals.
"At this time of great happiness I must
mention my class teacher, Maya de Silva and
the class teacher of Grade 10, Shanthi
Weerasinghe," said Jayasinghe.
As this star student was mobbed by
television crews and newspaper reporters,
she insisted that there was nothing
extraordinary that she did to obtain 'A'
grading in all her nine subjects.
"I did not go for special classes, I did not
study till the wee hours of the morning. In
fact, I went to sleep around 11.30 p.m.
almost every night," said young Jayasinghe
who went on to say that she awoke at 5.30
a.m. everyday because she had to come all
the way from her home in IDH area off
Buthgamuwa Road and did not want to miss her
"When I walked into school that day, I
expected good results, but I did not expect
to get the best results in the country,"
said Jayasinghe unable to stop smiling. She
said that she is overjoyed with her results,
so much so that she can neither eat nor
When asked about her future plans,
Jayasinghe said that she hopes to become a
Advice to students
When asked about what advice she would give
fellow students all over the country, Amali
Jayasinghe said: "My advice is to take your
school work seriously and not hoard it up
till the last minute. Do your day's studies
the same day. If you study each day's work
then the work will not be difficult. Also, I
advice fellow students to attend school
everyday because teachers work hard and it
is our duty to concentrate and benefit from
the hard work that they do for us," said
Amali is the older child of Sandya and Ravi
Jayasinghe. She has a sister also studying
at Grade 3 in Visakha Vidyalaya and a
younger brother who is a student at Ananda
"I owe much of my happiness to my parents
who have always stood by me. My mother is a
housewife and she has always been with us,
helping us through difficult times," said
"We are so proud of our daughter, but I must
say that all this is her own effort and the
commitment of the school and its teachers,"
said Group Captain Ravi Jayasinghe, when
contacted by The Sunday Leader.
Tower of strength
Group Captain Ravi Jayasinghe who has
frequently been away from his family due to
the call of duty, said that it was his wife
who was a tower of strength for the
children when he was away.
As Visakha Vidyalaya became the venue of
interviews and film clippings, two of their
students who obtained both the best
results and the second highest grading,
countrywide, became stars in uniform.
While Amali Jayasinghe obtained the best
results for the GCE Ordinary Level
countrywide, Janisha Liyanagunawardene also
from Visakha Vidyalaya obtained the second
highest grading, countrywide.
Avinash Suriyarachchi from
College and Kavindri Perera from Ave Maria
Convent, Negombo obtained the third highest
gradings. Coming in fifth place with a high
grading is Janaka Udayantha Bandara from
Maliyadeva Boys School in Kurunegala.
Spare a thought for the
Save electricity, reduce emissions
Electricity is vital in today's context but
with the ever increasing demand, supply is
not always enough to meet the need.
Power shortages are not just a local problem
but a global issue as well.
The more industries, homes and development
means more power is needed to run them.
we seem to take this subject lightly as we
have electricity throughout the day, around
the world there are awareness campaigns on
how to reduce electricity consumption.
Take for example last week's Earth Hour,
held on Saturday which certainly made a lot
of people take notice of this issue
seriously and actually do something about it
for even one hour.
Earth Hour was created to take a stand
against the greatest threat our planet has
ever faced. Earth Hour meant one had to
simply switch off the lights for one hour so
as to deliver a powerful message about the
need for action on global warming.
Earth Hour started on March 31, 2007, for
one hour. Sydney, Australia, made a powerful
statement about the greatest contributor to
global warming - coal-fired electricity by
turning off its lights.
Over 2.2 million
residents and over 2,100 businesses switched
off, leading to a 10.2% energy reduction
across the city.
What began as one city taking a stand
against global warming caught the attention
of the rest of the world.
On March 29, 24 cities across the planet
participated in Earth Hour at 8 p.m.
Earth Hour is the highlight of a major
campaign to encourage businesses,
communities and individuals to take the
simple steps needed to cut emissions on an
It is about simple changes that will
collectively make a difference from
businesses turning off their lights when
their offices are empty, to households
turning off appliances rather than leaving
them on standby.
Simple actions like turning off appliances
while not in use and switching light globes
to energy efficient bulbs will certainly
help reach the goal of reducing annual
emissions by 5%, the Earth Hour site
Even something as simple as turning out
lights when you are not in a room makes a
big difference. Some quick and easy tips to
save electricity include switching compact
fluorescent light bulbs to save money and
Lighting accounts for around 5% of household
greenhouse gas emissions, and compact fluros
use 75% less energy than an equivalent
Turn appliances off while not in use. Unplug
any appliances like mobile phone chargers,
TVs, microwaves, MP3 players, which are not
being used and are on standby.
Turn off anything that doesn't need to be
on. A good rule is to turn off anything not
being used. When you leave a room or leave
the house, turn off your lights or
appliances like the TV or computer as well
as the very simple things you can do in the
office, like printing double-sided and using
recycled paper. There are many other ways to
help your workplace reduce its carbon
In office try turning off any equipment at
work that is not being used, including
computer screens, photocopiers and printers,
particularly at night.
Turn off lights at the end of the working
day. Before you leave your place of work
remember to turn off any lights in your
workspace and your computer if you use one
at work. Unplug your mobile phone or laptop
charger when it is not in use.
Your school can make a difference everyday
too by turning off lights and fans when no
one is in the classroom, especially during
the break and when school is over.
And do save water by always turning off the
tap when you finish washing. Inform a
teacher or the school office if there is a
leaking tap in the toilet, classroom or
playground. Attend to any leakages in your
home too, promptly, so as to save the elixir
Red Fin Giant Gourami
By Risidra Mendis
Who would have thought that a child with a
fascination for ornamental fish would be
responsible for creating a turning point in
the history of Sri Lanka?
Rearing ornamental fish and studying their
behaviour patterns was a fascination that
Dayarathna Atukorala had since his childhood
days. Presently a professional fish breeder,
Dayarathna through sheer determination and
courage has achieved the almost impossible -
the breeding of a variety of ornamental fish
for the first time in
Having followed a course in ornamental fish
breeding at the Jathika Tharuna Seva Sabhava
in Battangala in 1988, Dayarathna was
successful in breeding the Red Fighter in
1994, the Black Carp in 1996, the Maroon
Gold fish in 1998 and the Golden Giant
Gourami in 2004 for the first time in Sri
Lanka. His professional fish breeding
specialties were once again displayed
recently when he was successful in breeding
the Red Fin Giant Gourami for the first time
in the country.
Dayarathna, speaking to The Sunday Leader
took us back in time many years ago to the
days when he had his first fish tank at
home. "I was in Grade 3 when I got a fish
tank. I didn't have money to buy fish at the
time and there weren't many aquariums from
where I could buy ornamental fish. I got my
first two gold fish from my friends.
Whenever I had the time I studied the
behaviour patterns of these ornamental fish.
I was eventually successful in breeding the
Hi Fin Dwarf Gourami which I exhibited at
the Min Visithuru ornamental fish
exhibition," Dayarathna said.
Breeding ornamental fish became an
interesting challenge for Dayarathna who
despite the many obstacles he had to face
continued to experiment and breed these
colourful and unusual varieties of fish.
"The most difficult fish to breed was the
Golden Giant Gourami. It took me 15 years to
study the behaviour patterns of this variety
and provide the correct environment for it
to breed. Through experiments I found that
the Golden Giant Gourami needs water plants
and a certain level of water for it to
breed," Dayarathna explained.
Commenting on his latest achievement of
breeding the Red Fin Giant Gourami
Dayarathna stressed that this particular
variety was different to other giant
Gouramis. "The Red Fin Giant Gourami uses
pieces of straw, coconut leaves, water
hyacinth and hydrilla water plants to build
its nest. The nest is about the size of a
volleyball and is built a little below the
water level in the pond.
The Red Fin Giant Gourami is considered to
be a rare species as it lays only around 500
eggs in comparison to the Golden Giant
Gourami that lays around 8000 eggs. Out of
the 8000 eggs laid by the Golden Giant
Gourami around 4000 to 5000 are hatched. But
in the case of the Red Fin Giant Gourami
only around 75 to 150 eggs are hatched,"
The first time Dayarathna was successful in
breeding the Red Fin Giant Gourami 20 eggs
were hatched. His second attempt resulted in
the hatching of 75 eggs while his third
attempt was the most successful with 150
eggs being hatched.
He added that when other varieties of Giant
Gouramis lay eggs it is the males who take
on the responsibility to hatch the eggs. "In
the case of the Red Fin Giant Gourami it is
the female who takes on the task of hatching
the eggs. The eggs of the Red Fin Giant
Gouramis take 11 days to hatch. If there is
enough room in the pond the male doesn't
need to be taken out," says Dayarathna.
According to Dayarathna after the first
batch of eggs are laid the female lays one
batch of eggs every 15 days. After five
batches of eggs are laid the female doesn't
lay eggs for the next six months. The male
gourami develops the red colour on its fins
and tail three months later," Dayarathna
Dayarathna was awarded a certificate by the
Lanka Professional Ornamental Fish
Producer's Association and a cash prize of
Rs. 5000 from Lumbini Aquaria for breeding
the Golden Giant Gourami.
But despite time and commitment in breeding
the Red Fin Giant Gourami for the first time
he is yet to be recognised for his
achievements. No certificate was given to
him for his expertise in breeding this Red
His Red Fin Giant Gourami though displayed
at the Min Visithuru exhibition was not even
awarded a certificate despite the exhibition
being organised by a leading organisation
dealing in ornamental fish breeding which
was held at the Sri Lanka Exhibition and
Convention Centre recently.
Dayarathna's future plans include the
breeding of Arowanas, Cat fish and a new
variety of Giant Gouramis. "There are three
varieties of Giant Gouramis in the world. I
hope to produce a new variety of Giant
Gouramis in the future," Dayarathna added.
It is left to be seen whether even at this
late stage Dayarathna will be given due
recognition for his untiring efforts in
breeding the Red Fin Giant Gourami which is
considered the national fish of Malaysia,
for the first time in Sri Lanka.
Srimanie Dassenaike and (inset)
Somapala : Sweet counterpart
By Ranee Mohamed
She has been surrounded by sweetness for 50
years. And there is nothing that she does
not excel in when it comes to food. She
holds out a golden brown kavun that borders
on being dark and crispy. "Making kavun is
not such a difficult task, if only one would
give it a try," she urges.
"The batter is made of rice flour and kitul
or pol treacle (kitul or coconut treacle).
You drop a spoonful of this batter into hot
coconut oil and insert an ekel to this small
portion of lightly frying batter and turn
the ekel around, manipulating it into the 'konde,'
said Srimanie, in the hope that the busy
woman of today will take sometime off in
this avurudu season to try making konde
kavun (oil cakes) at home.
Srimanie Dassenaike (80), has always lived
with the aroma of good cooking. "Whatever I
have done, I have done it well," she says
happily. From 35 years at Lakpahana where
her sweets and lamprais were hot favourites,
she has gradually chosen to simmer away.
Today she has her own, quaint, little shop
at Sri Saranankara Road, Pamankade,
adjoining a saree and shalwar boutique,
where she has literally, gone to town, with
"I am too old now to do it all by myself,"
she says. But her lively spirit disputes
her. She is the very active lady at this
sweet shop, insisting on perfection at every
Surrounded by sweets
She lives a life surrounded by kavuns, roda
kokis, kalu dodol, thala guli, aluwa, mung
ata kavun, bibikkan, milk toffee and asmi.
Unimaginable amounts of other sweetmeats too
pile up here. In this modern era, when
cakes, doughnuts, pizza and ‚clairs seem to
be given preference by the younger
generation, Srimanie insists that our
traditional sweetmeats are around to give
the modern treats some sweeter competition.
The lesser known alpals, fuggathi, iyzer
koekies, compete with the rulang toffee,
macaroons, kisses, cheesecake, potato
toffee, marzipan dates and coconut rock at
her shop too.
This sweet little shop called Variety has
another corner stacked with other hot Sri
Lankan favourites such as seeni sambol, date
and lime chutney, mango chutney, pickled
olives and achcharus.
"My father's sisters' were very good cooks
and I learnt it all from them. I began at a
very young age. In the 1930s, as a young
girl I lived in
Lavinia. I still remember the breezy area.
There were many trees and not so many
buildings," she recalled with nostalgia.
It was about 50 years ago that I began to
make sweets, short eats and lunches. I was
supplying lunches to offices too. My father
who was an officer in the Department of
Education expired in 1973," said Srimanie
There is no other work that she has done, no
other skill that she has acquired than the
skills of cookery and needlecraft. Be it
sewing or crocheting, Dassenaike reigns as
the role model for all woman.
" A woman ought to know how to cook," smiles
Dassenaike whose kavuns, kokis and mung
atirahas will always be in demand as long as
there are hotel weddings and functions that
give tradition first place," said the queen
Dassenaike recalled the high quality of food
in the days gone by. "Eat a biryani in the
days gone by and the rich aroma lingered on
in your fingers for hours. The fried rice
too was very tasty and made to perfection.
Today, the making of almost every kind of
food involves some 'shortcut' that makes it
less tasty" she observed.
Dassenaike warned that traditionally
favourite dishes seem to be gradually
relegated to that era. With a grandmother
from Kandy, Srimanie Dassenaike however
relishes Kandyan dishes and speaks of the
goodness of the traditional dishes as
thakkali ambula, miris ambula and polos
ambula. "The taste of these very traditional
dishes will always linger as long as we let
them," she said with a smile.
Srimanie Dassenaike was the name on the lips
of the ladies of Colombo 7 at lunchtime
when it came to her lamprais. "There were
times when I had to supply 450 lamprais on
various occasions," she said. "And making
lamprais itself is not an easy process. In
addition to this I had to gather, wash, cut
and warm the banana leaves required for the
lamprais," said Dassenaike who said that she
had about eight to 10 girls helping her to
get these orders through.
Today, she continues to make these delicious
lamprais - both in the authentic version and
with chicken. "For several years I have
trained a young man - P.G. Somapala and his
wife, Bandara Menike. Today, they too are
experts in these very special arts. They
have three sons and these children are like
my own children," says Srimanie Dassenaike.
Somapala's family too helps to keep this
'food chain' going - with their eldest son
Shaminda (29), helping in the making of the
lamprais and Roshan (26) the second son
helping out in the shop and driving around
for the various demands. Although he is a
computer wizard with several computer
courses to his credit, he seems to bask in
the aroma of the sweets and the sweet
success that has come with it.
For the youngest son, Rajinda (13), having
family members who dabble in both the making
and handling of sweets everyday is,
understandably, a dream come true.
Long for it
"It is only when Sri Lankans go overseas
that they begin to appreciate our
traditional sweets in great measure. When
they come to Sri Lankan it sometimes become
impossible to meet their demands for halapa,
weli thalapa and pickled olives," said
"Today it is sad to see that many ladies are
on 'diets.' But avurudu time is not a time
for dieting," said the queen of cooking.
"Eating kavuns, kokis and other avurudu
sweet will not harm anyone. After all it is
not being eaten on a daily basis as a
staple," assured Srimani Dassenaike.
When asked about her weakness she said: "It
is the asmi that I cannot resist. The
juggery that is poured atop the asmi is the
reason why," smiled Srimani Dassenaike and
went on to whisper that she is diabetic.
"But I take medication," she said with some
It may be the living amidst all this
sweetness for 50 years that has rubbed off
on Srimanie Dassenaike. She reaches out to
help the poor and gets active to wrap up
lunches for beggars. "I am not a rich
person," she says for making these sweets is
her bread and butter.
Visiting her, seeing the sweets and
relishing the perfection in each item gives
one a consolation that our traditional
sweets are being systematically stirred
into our memories by this grand old lady.
Srimanie Dassenaike, with her kindness,
generosity and loving, simple ways seems
like a mother to us all. She embraces us
with the greater assurance, kindness,
perfection and the warmth of homemade food -
that only comes from a home.
Centre of excellence in
The apical suction device in use
By Fathima Razik
Matters of the heart, matter the most - were
the words articulated to introduce the
Centre of Excellence for cardiology at The
Lanka Hospitals Corporation PLC (TLHC) last
Sri Lankans will recall that the renowned
Apollo Hospital changed ownership in
September 2006, and under its new owners and
management, The Lanka Hospital was born.
Continuing in the tradition of providing
state of the art, all round medical care,
TLHC focused on launching a heart centre
that is billed to provide up-to-date
preventive, curative and rehabilitative
advice and treatment for a wide range of
cardiac diseases with the intention of
giving what is now known in marketing
parlance as a total solution in cardiology
treatment in Sri Lanka.
However, this is no marketing gimmick,
parlance notwithstanding. The hospital is
committed to giving the best in care to
patients who would seek treatment, it was
stated at a briefing.
Chairman, TLHC, Ajit Jayaratne said that the
new ownership has a close relationship with
the Apollo Group in India and that the
auditorium in the hospital has been named
after its founder - Dr. Prathap C. Reddy.
"The first thing we wanted to do was to
upgrade the heart centre," said Jayaratne.
CEO, Lakith Pieris added: "Heart surgery and
Apollo are synonymous and hundreds of lives
have been saved over the years. We are also
introducing medical tourism by mobilising
patients from the National Health Service in
the UK to seek treatment in Colombo. An
objective of the Centre of Excellence is to
extend excellence in all other areas of
healthcare - oncology, renal care, sports
medicine, et al."
Team of experts
Such up-to-date procedures in treatment will
not be possible unless there are qualified
and experienced medical professionals whose
expertise and knowledge are available, and
in this respect, TLHC has a team of doctors
whose reputation is known, worldwide. This
team of doctors includes Dr. Sujeeth Suwarna
- an eminent cardiac surgeon from India who
has extensive experience and exposure in the
UK, Dr. Mahesh Krishna Kumar - the resident
interventional cardiologist of Apollo
Hospitals, Dr. Richard Firmin - paediatric
cardiothoracic surgeon and Dr. Ranjit
Leanage - paediatric cardiologist from
Glenfield Hospital, Leicester, UK, and local
cardiologists - Dr. Rajeeva Pieris and Dr.
These doctors shared their experiences and
the types of surgery and interventions that
they have performed over a period of time,
and the expertise they have gained which was
has been much sought after for paediatric
surgery in the region, and whilst continuing
to uphold the reputation it has gained over
a very long period of time, the Centre of
Excellence, under its preventive care, will
carry out educational programmes on healthy
living, dietary education and awareness
programmes to all levels of the community.
In addition, special heart packages for
cardiac disease screening of early detection
of congenital heart disease, especially for
school children is yet another feature of
the heart centre. Yoga, aerobics and gym
facilities within the premises are also
Interestingly, TLHC has also launched its
corporate social responsibility programme in
collaboration with Lanka Bell - a member of
its group of companies and well known
telecommunications provider by conducting
paediatric heart surgery free of charge to
children whose parents cannot afford the
cost of surgery in private hospitals.
More so since there is a long waiting list
of children having to undergo cardiac
surgery in the government health sector,
which while providing an excellent, free
medical service, cannot cope with the
numbers that seek treatment through its
hospitals. Thus this CSR initiative will be
a boon to at least a certain number of sick
children from the poorer segment of society
in Sri Lanka. As of now, three such
surgeries have been performed.
Under curative healthcare, TLHC has designed
rehabilitative programmes for post surgery
patients, exercise and lifestyle programmes,
and counselling. CEO, TLHC, Lakith Peiris
said that the hospital has now brought
international medical standards and
facilities within the reach of every Sri
Lankan, irrespective of their social status
or income level. "We have in-patient
facilities - an air conditioned room for a
mere Rs.1500 per day inclusive of meals,
telephone and TV with a choice of rooms that
would fit royalty," he said adding that this
is a facility which in his view no other
"Sri Lankans need not go overseas, even in
the Asian region to seek medical treatment.
We have 350 beds to cater to people at all
economic levels," he said in conclusion.
The combination of Apollo Hospitals and its
new ownership in Sri Lanka - The Lanka
Hospitals Corporation - one hopes will be
the answer to many a prayer in the field of
health care that Sri Lankans seek so
earnestly in their endeavour to a healthy
life sans anxiety and stress that are such
common features today.
The world is a better place with the
Wow! I just noticed that whilst I was
staring at my screen, the cute paper clippy
thing was taking a snooze. When I started
typing, the thingy opened its eyes and
jumped up! What a marvelous invention the
computer is. At the click of a mouse, your
mood can change considerably.
Well, all right, anyway my mood improves
when I'm talking to the Darling Daughters.
So, yesterday, I had every intention of
finishing my writing, but Dancing Doll sent
me a text asking me to come online and talk
This conversation lasted well over an hour.
Caveman returned from his game of golf and
the lunch wasn't on the table! When I told
her I had to go, she airily said, "Tell him
to wait, I want to talk to you!" He readily
agreed since he wanted to have a beer
anyway. She was telling me about her
Singaporean classmates, who have just now
gradually started thawing towards her after
a period of about five months.
Ultra-cautious, these Singaporeans!
Anyway, they told her, "From the first day
we saw you, we knew you were a clubbing sort
of person." "How did you figure that out?"
she inquired, mystified. "You have a
clubbing face!" they answered. When she
asked how they justified this observation,
they said she had a wild look about her, her
hair highlighted and flowing all over. I
agree with them one hundred percent.
She also has this habit of shrieking,
tearing at her hair maniacally and
spluttering like hot fat on fire when things
don't go her way. So in the midst of the
Maths lecture, when she gasps, "Kill me!
Aaaargh! Help!" and flings her hands up in
disgust, pulls at her hair and throws
herself dramatically across her desk, they
stare at her in a worried manner.
After a couple of these eruptions, they had
all approached her and said, "You know, you
might be having suicidal tendencies in your
inner psyche which are coming out. You
should talk to someone! We are all there for
you." At which point she started laughing
hysterically. "You crazy Singaporeans!
Chill! Learn to express yourselves!"
Then they asked her if she had done Drama as
well. She said, yes of course, her family
was well known for its prowess in that
field, and that she too had won several
awards. "Aaaah!" they all said thoroughly
satisfied, "No wonder! Soooo theatrical!"
When I tried to resume my writing that
evening, on comes the Beautiful Dreamer, who
was too grumpy to talk that morning. She had
to go meet someone and D.D. thought no way
would the Dreamer be ready in time, so in
addition to her alarm, she had hidden her
own alarm, set for much earlier on. B.D.
said she thought she was going out of her
mind when she knocked the alarm off and it
rang again. Then she thought she had dreamt
about the earlier one!
Anyway, they had gone for the Body Shop
sale. I asked for some fruity fragrances,
and what do they buy me, Papaya and Mango
Body Spray, and Peach Body Butter. For
Heaven's sake, I wanted something exotic! "I
thought mango and papaya were as exotic as
they get," she innocently answered.
For Caveman, they had got White Musk Body
Lotion that apparently, has a sensual aroma
and women like it! So he gets to walk around
sensually attracting women and I have to
smell like a darn fruit salad! They fell
over laughing when I voiced my opinion.
They had just gone to an Indian place for
dinner. They mimicked how the steward took
their order, " Two buuuttrrrr chikaaans and
two garrrrrlic naaans!" Then apparently they
spotted that they had Kulfi for dessert.
They both looked at each other and chorused
"Kulfi!" Then they planned to torment me
about it since they know I love it. They
asked if they could take it away as they
live close to the restaurant. The steward
looked doubtfully at them, "Taaaaike awaaaiy?
I can't gaaaaranteee, ok?"
When they insisted, he went dashing around
madly as if on an important espionage
assignment, came panting up to them and
said, "No gaaaranteee, ok?" So the little
devils tantalise me by saying, "We have
three flavours, pistachio, strawberry or
orange. Which one do you think you'll like?
Anyway, it's a marvel at how your mood
swings when you switch on your computer, for
someone has thought of you today.
Honky Tonk Woman
Aplane was taking off from Kennedy Airport.
After it reached a comfortable cruising
altitude, the captain made an announcement
over the intercom:
"Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain
speaking. Welcome to Flight No. 293 nonstop
New York to Los Angeles.
The weather ahead is good and therefore we
should have a smooth and uneventful flight.
Now sit back and relax... 'Oh my God!'"
Silence followed and after a few minutes the
captain came back on the intercom and said,
"Ladies and gentlemen, I am so sorry if I
scared you earlier, but while I was talking,
the flight attendant brought me a cup of
coffee and spilled the hot coffee in my lap.
You should see the front of my pants!"
A passenger in economy piped up: "That's
nothing. He should see the back of mine!"
Manny is almost 29 years old, his friends
have already got married, and Manny just
dates and dates.
Finally a friend asks him, "What's the
matter, are you looking for the perfect
woman? Are you that particular? Can't you
find anyone who suits you?"
"No," Manny replies. "I meet many nice
girls, but as soon as I bring them home to
meet my parents, my mother doesn't like
them. So I keep on looking."
"Listen," his friend suggests, "Why don't
you find a girl who's just like your dear
Many weeks go by and again Manny and his
friends get together. "So Manny, did you
find the perfect girl yet? One that's just
like your mother?"
Manny shrugs his shoulders, "Yes I found one
just like mum. My mother loved her, they
became fast friends."
"So do I owe you a Mazel Tov? Are you and
this girl engaged, yet?" "I'm afraid not, my
father can't stand her!"
Brakes give a break
A fire started on some grasslands near a
farm. The fire department was called to put
out the fire. The fire was more than the
country fire department could handle.
Someone suggested that a nearby volunteer
bunch be called. Despite some doubt that the
volunteer outfit would be of any assistance,
the call was made.
The volunteers arrived in a dilapidated old
fire truck. They rumbled straight toward the
fire, drove right into the middle of the
flames and stopped. The firemen jumped off
the truck and frantically started spraying
water in all directions. Soon they had
snuffed out the centre of the fire, breaking
the blaze into two easily-controlled parts.
Watching all this, the farmer was so
impressed with the volunteer fire
department's work and was so grateful his
farm had been spared, that right there on
the spot he presented the volunteers with a
cheque for $1,000.
A local news reporter asked the volunteer
fire captain what the department planned to
do with the funds.
"That oughtta be obvious," he responded,
wiping ashes off his coat. "The first thing
we're gonna do is get the brakes fixed on
This man is at work one day when he notices
that his male coworker is wearing an
earring. This man knows his co-worker to be
a normally conservative fellow, and is
curious about his sudden change in "fashion
"Yo, Bob, I didn't know you were into
"Oh yeah. Sure," says Bob sheepishly.
"Really? How long have you been wearing
one?" "Ever since my wife found it in our
Judge: "The charge here is theft of frozen
chickens. Are you the defendant?"
Defendant: "No, sir, I'm the guy who stole
A captain working for a particular
Australian airline really hammered his jet
down onto the runway while landing, making
it very hard and uncomfortable for the
passengers. There was no damage.
As the first officer stood at the exit door
saying "Goodbye" and smiling to the
departing passengers he hoped that no one
would give him a hard time about the
landing. To his great relief no one said
Everyone had deplaned except for a small
elderly lady walking up the aisle with the
assistance of a cane. As she passed the
first officer she said... "Would you mind if
I asked you a question?" He replied, "Why no
ma'am, go ahead."
The old lady then said... "Did we land, or
were we shot down."
A guy is sitting quietly reading his paper
when his wife sneaks up behind him and
whacks him on the head with a frying pan.
"What was that for?" he says after regaining
"That was for the piece of paper in your
pants pocket with the name Marylou written
on it," she replies.
"Two weeks ago when I went to the races,
Marylou was the name of one of the horses I
bet on," he explains.
She looks satisfied, apologises, and goes
off to do work around the house.
Three days later he's again sitting in his
chair reading when she nails him with an
even bigger frying pan, knocking him out
When he comes to, he says, "What the heck
was that for?"
"Your horse phoned."