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World Affairs








Sunera changes the stage of life for the differently-abled

An attempt to analyse and address issues and challenges of modern society through theatre and (inset) Sunethra bandranaike


More Review Articles...

The importance of not teaching Singlish

People shunning bus travel

Paul Perera the able lieutenant

Doctors bring prestige to Lanka in Spain

A hundred and one cakes...

Herbs - a panacea for many an ailment




By Ranee Mohamed

Sunethra Bandaranaike who with her Sunera Foundation has worked with differently abled people for almost a decade, last week showed us all an amazing new performance in Kurunegala titled Breaking The Walls Of Illusion.

It was called Forum Theatre and the performances revolved around the true story of Nimal.  The showings choc-a-bloc with talent, versatility and ability were a result of the coming together of conscientious workshops conducted in the Kurunegala District and the dedication of Sunera's trainers, volunteers and other staff members.

Sunethra Bandaranaike who has for over eight years taken the differently abled to a stage where they did not have to strut and fret anymore, created history last week with  this newest Forum Theatre which took root in Kurunegala. With performances on June 26, 27, 28 and 29, the cast of abled and differently abled drew applause, which they love.

Address issues and challenges

Forum Theatre makes an attempt to analyse and address the issues and challenges of modern society. This play focuses on a conversation and therefore is staged twice in each presentation. Viewers are simply asked to carefully observe and digest the information during the first staging.

 During the second staging of the performance, members of the audience are given the opportunity to intervene, suggest alternative solutions and even perform  their own alternative outcomes quite freely, the only stipulation being that the performance be free from violence and is socially acceptable. 

Breaking The Walls Of Illusion presented by Sunera's cast, brings to life a story, but look deep and it shows us something even more. It is a vivid portrayal of  the success that the cast, their trainers and the Sunera Foundation itself have achieved in overcoming  almost every challenge on their road to success.

This forum theatre has set the stage for the differently abled not to merely perform scenes that have been practiced and replayed, but to think and venture on at the spur of the moment. With the audience as their guide, instructor and critic, the challenge that lay ahead both for the abled and the differently abled cast is immense.

Love applause

"But the differently abled are never nervous. They in fact are eager to go on stage and they love applause," observed Sunethra Bandaranaike, with a smile of contentment that comes only with job satisfaction.

Throwing aside her family connections in the country to the backstage - as the daughter of two former prime ministers and the sister of a former prime minister and president, Sunethra Bandaranaike mingles with the differently abled - threatening to worship them in return if they do stoop to pay obeisance to her at the insistence of their parents.

"The Forum Theatre is new to these differently abled persons because it is different. Now, we were being quite bold taking up major challenges with the Forum Theatre," said Sunethra Bandaranaike who spearheaded five weekly workshops in the Kurunegala District. She speaks glowingly about her trainers and volunteers and said that the workshops were conducted by young men and women who have received training from specialists with a thorough knowledge of the performing arts.

With two disabled soldiers from the Boyegane Rehabilitation Camp and the other cast consisting of different communities, the performances were remarkable. The true story of Nimal which was performed, is reality based and it being portrayed with so much emotion coupled with the fact that it was not a fictitious story that was being staged, made the performances touching and pregnant with human feeling.

What determination can do

The differently abled strode on with their eight able counterparts on stage, they portrayed more than their 'true story,' they  showed the spectator what determination can do, what one step taken in the direction  of the differently abled could result in bringing them up here on the stage to perform, entertain and change lives  and thinking of both the audience and of the players.

With half the cast consisting of differently abled people, Sunethra Bandaranaike says that it was not easy. "In fact it was tough. It was a challenge, but Sunera and its young trainers and the differently abled participants have always enjoyed challenges," said Bandaranaike.

"We have been training every weekend for about three months," said Bandaranaike and these residential workshops have demanded that the cast be resident in the particular area for three days in the process of putting the play together.

The coming together of differently abled persons of various communities and social backgrounds have in addition to bringing us a performance on stage, brought about a change of scene in their own lives. "They have formed a bonding and connectivity that has enhanced their work," observed Bandaranaike.

Joy and enthusiasm

"During their training they  develop their self confidence and they cast aside their inhibitions. They come in as introverts and change to extroverts and long to get on stage to perform. They have no sense of nervousness and they do their parts to the best of their ability. There is so much joy and enthusiasm in their performances. 

"They love applause," said Chairperson Sunethra Bandaranaike who has put so much passion into changing the lives of the differently abled in Sri Lanka. "And their parents say that when these differently abled go home after a week of rehearsals, they never stop talking about it," she said.

"I do not see this as a one-off thing. I see this as the beginning of many such theatre performances using audience friendly methods which would enable them to interact with the players." said Bandaranaike.

"After eight years, I certainly have become acutely aware of the nature of the reality for people with disabilities in this country. The realities which they have to live with, the sadness, the feeling of being edged out and also a degree of confusion with which they have to live with, simply because their own parents who have in fact given birth to this child fail to understand that this is a special child with special talent," said Sunethra Bandaranaike, determined to change the lives of the special people everywhere.

She went on to say that sometimes the disabled are left on their own.

And what perhaps sometimes the parents of such special children have not seen; Sunethra Bandaranaike has seen and touched.  "I can see how disciplined they can be. How much they care and how much love, how much they are capable of.  You love them and they have so much love to give you in reciprocation," said Bandaranaike.

Outreach extends

"I find that I am very comfortable with these young people. It is almost as if I have developed a language through which I can communicate effectively with them," she said.

"It gives me an enormous sense of achievement when I see Sunera growing and Sunera's outreach extending. And parents seeing how their children have changed for the better. I wish we have more finances and human resources to further extend our work." said Bandaranaike who is determined to forge ahead, come what may.

"We need more experience and in order to obtain that I am already setting up plans to invite experts in Forum Theatre from overseas to give an in-depth training to our own trainers who conduct the workshops," added Bandaranaike. Sunera has 31 trainers and conducts 42 workshops.

The Sunera Foundation with their performances have proved to be different. Sunethra Bandaranaike has gently taken the differently abled on stage to show us all what these people whom people chose to cast aside, ignore and relegate to the background, can actually do.

Treated as equals

Her life today revolves around these special people. "It's fun to be with them. All my life my family members and I have been surrounded by sycophants. I have found them to be very disgusting and false. These young people, on the contrary, work with the differently abled and the differently abled too treat you as their equal. They do not care a hoot who you are and what you do. They respond to you the way you respond to them.."

There are many ways of doing social service, several ways of bringing happiness into the lives of other people, and in changing the lives of the differently abled in a way that brings so much happiness, smiles and sunshine into their otherwise dark lives, calls for not merely an applause but for a lifelong recognition.

Sunethra Bandaranaike has spearheaded  a unique attempt that has made not only the differently abled realise their own abilities, but has also made us all wake up to thoughts, feelings and the heartbeats of the differently abled.

Sunera down the years

The stirrings of the Sunera Foundation began when Rohana Deva and Wolfgag Stange who later became Sunera's full time creative directors visited  Chairperson of the Sunera Foundation, Sunethra Bandaranaike to see the work they had been carrying out with differently abled persons in Sri Lanka.

Observing the progress and the talent, Bandaranaike had assured them of long term support of the Sunethra Bandaranaike Trust which gave them financial support to carry on with the work they had been doing.

The relationship resulted in the formation of the Butterflies Theatre Group in 1998 following the success of the theatre group's first full scale production Butterflies Will Always Fly. The Sunera Foundation was officially established and was recognised as a charity in April 2008.

From then on Sunethra Bandaranaike's Sunera began to change the lives of the differently abled persons in Sri Lanka in a way that they never thought possible.

From Butterflies, to Flowers Will Always Bloom and the Journey Into The Subconscious in 2003 to Swinging Times - A Fairy Tale For Adults and in 2004 Turtles Will Never Fly. In September 2004 Wolfgag Stange left the Sunera Foundation to spend more time with his UK based foundation, the Amici Dance Theatre Company. Ramani Damayanthi joined Sunera as the new assistant creative director.

In October 2006 Sunera participated in the Biennale of Theatre and Psychiatry in Padua, Italy where they staged a new production titled The Last Two Minutes. It portrayed the story of a man, who upon dying gets the opportunity to look back on his life with the Angel of Death. The Sunera Foundation was honoured when  it won the special award from the Jury of the Biennale for this production.

Through its interaction with both participants and the parent the Sunera Foundation recognised the importance of providing a forum for the parents of differently abled persons to receive support or simply vent their concerns and frustrations. Consequently April 2007 saw the beginning of the Parent Support Group in various parts of the island. Sunera's mission is to be the partner of choice to develop self confidence, self worth and leadership abilities of the differently abled through a process of creative self discovery.


The importance of not teaching Singlish

By Manel Atapattu

With the attainment of independence in Sri Lanka it was naturally felt that the study of a national language should be given preference. It was also realised that the study of English ought not to be done away with the study of the official language. In Sri Lanka English has to be studied as a second language.

It is quite clear that the same standard of English that has existed in schools in the past cannot be maintained in the future. This is because the teaching of other subjects in the curriculum which has been done in English earlier is being done through the medium of the national language.

In the absence of any incentives to speak the English language at home or among friends, or reading English novels or story books in  English, English education is limited to the 40 minutes devoted to the English period per day which is woefully inadequate.

Widely spoken

Today English is the 'global language,' spoken throughout the world more than any other language, and its importance in the life of every educated man is being felt daily. Recruits to the country's administrative service and diplomatic circles will have to be assured of a high standard of English education. Here I do not suggest that we have English as a medium of instruction. It is sufficient if we only have English as a well cared for language.

The first point to be considered is what sort of use English is to be put in education and this would determine the standards to be attained. As English is an international language is can serve as a medium of contact with the world at large and a mode of communication in every conceivable sphere.

In a research carried out in the course of an international scientific undertaking the value and importance of English could be clearly seen. An important consideration is that which would come under the term 'education.'

Western countries like USA, Britain, France, Germany, etc., are today undoubtedly far ahead of Asian countries in scientific research. Our minds can have access to this great volume of study and research only through the language of English. Secondly, the books dealing with various specialised subjects such as scientific knowledge, medicine and engineering exist in English.

It is also generally accepted that one of the richest literature books that the world has ever known is in English. Books written by William Shakespeare are used even today in private and international schools for literature.

Below standard

It is a fact that the standard of English in government schools and the government sector is far below standard. The books used in government schools are far below in standard too. However there are signs that the English being learned in Sri Lankan schools are of a peculiar nature and stricter standards have to be maintained. If a child reads a book and does not understand what he reads the words themselves will remain as ciphers or dead symbols.

Another fact is the difficulty faced in the implementation of an educational policy regarding the English Language which is the lack of capable teachers. At present teaching of English is entrusted to teachers whose own knowledge of the English language is far from perfect.

Let me cite just one example which took place recently in a Grade 7 class in a prestigious school in Colombo South. Eight out of the 10 answers given by the teacher were wrong when I checked the student's exercise book. With over 45 years experience as an English teacher and lecturer, I was simply shocked when I saw the book. The present day English teacher hardly knows all the tenses nor the correct pronunciation of words nor do they know the grammatical exercises in the texts.

There have been instances where the English teacher went blank when certain intelligent and bright students asked the meaning of a particular word or a grammatical question. A thorough training in English for teachers is vital if chaos is not to ensue, by students being taught the wrong things. It will be like 'the blind leading the blind.'


The English medium has been introduced to government schools. This is welcome as it gives children in government schools a chance to learn in the English medium. But are the teachers capable of moulding these students to face English medium question papers when they (the teachers) have had a Sinhala medium educational background from childhood?

I think it is high time that 'A's or distinctions given for English are reduced and not lavishly distributed to  G.C.E. O/Level students who can hardly talk, understand or write fluently, or even inadequately in English. This malaise of cheap, easy and convenient 'A' passes at the O/Levels has taken place during the past 10 years or so.

I appeal to the English Unit of the Education Ministry to take immediate action to consider these  facts and remedy this sad situation. Will the private sector (which plays an important role in Sri Lanka) or those who are recruiting for jobs aboard employ an individual simply because he has a 'distinction' but no fluency of the language at all?

Let's hope that the teaching of English will not be teaching of SINGLISH in Sri Lanka.


People shunning bus travel

People have cut down on bus travel

By Shezna Shums

The majority of Sri Lankans  use public transport - the bus or the train on a regular basis to get to work. This includes school children as well.

Even with the fare hikes the public simply had no choice but to use public transport. However, the recent spate of bomb attacks in buses and trains have resulted in a decline in the number of passengers using public transport.

Loss of revenue

The Private Bus Owners Association (PBOA) said that after several terrorist attacks on buses in the past few months they have noticed a marked decline in passengers which in turn has led to lesser revenue when the daily earnings are calculated.

The fear of bombs going off in buses appears to have discouraged those from the outskirts of Colombo coming into the city to shop like they used to in the past. Most people now prefer to remain in their areas and patronise shops in their localities.

President, PBOA, Gemunu Wijeratne said that this has resulted in a marked drop in their daily collections.

The National Transport Commission, on being questioned  if the number of persons using public transport has reduced said that they have not carried out a survey in this regard but that the PBOA findings are usually correct as they calculate their profits on a daily basis.

In order to enhance security the Transport Ministry is set to employ 600 ex-military personnel to assist in carrying out security checks in buses and trains.

These security officers will be deployed at bus depots and railway stations to strengthen the existing security arrangements in ensuring that the security measures in place are followed.

Ex-military deployed

One hundred and fifty ex-military personnel will be deployed for the train services while the rest will be deployed for the bus services.

According to a report put out by the Chairman, National Transport Commission, Professor Amal Kumarage over 800,000 people commute to the city of Colombo everyday. Of this number 90% take road transport while the balance 10% use the railway service.

The 750,000 road passengers entering the city and its environs  do so in over 200,000 vehicles. The 200,000 vehicles entering Colombo consist of approximately 11,000 buses, 15,000 goods vehicles and 175,000 private vehicles. Interestingly, at present, only 15% of  road space is taken upby buses and vans although these vehicles transport 80% of the travelling public.

Private vehicles and hired vehicles use 65% of road space while 20% of roads are used by goods vehicles states the report by the NTC Chairman. In addition to the 200,000 vehicles entering the city there are another 250,000 vehicles registered within the Colombo Municipal Council limits that also ply within Colombo on weekdays.

The report also highlighted the fact that there is a continuous demand for vehicles and more road space, especially in the city of Colombo. Given the increasing number of people on the roads - school children and office workers, the police and the NTC urge the public to be vigilant of suspicious parcels or persons.

Emergency numbers

The importance of remembering the emergency numbers - 118 or 119 is regularly highlighted in the media with various organisations running campaigns in the public interest. These messages serve to inform the public that anyone could call these numbers from any land or mobile phone to alert the police of an impending problem or a terror attack.    

The public is being advised to be mindful of suspicious parcels left in buses or trains. NTC adds that drivers and conductors of buses should check the entire bus before it leaves the depot and before passengers are allowed to board the bus.

Drivers and conductors who do not abide by the guidelines provided to ensure the safety and security of vehicles and passengers will be dealt with by NTC or the police.


Paul Perera the able lieutenant

Paul Perera

Today is the 79th birth anniversary of  Elupitimudiyanselage Peter Paul Perera who was born in Negombo and was educated at Maris Stella College and became one of its most illustrious sons.  At school, Paul excelled both in studies as well as in cricket, football and athletics. 

He entered the University of Ceylon and continued to excel in studies and also represented the university in cricket and football. Having graduated with Honours, Paul sat for the Civil Service Examination and was taken into the position of assistant archivist at the National Archives. 

Paul married Kulaseeli Wijeratne and their family consisted of four sons and a daughter. He moved to the Port Cargo Corporation, under its Chairman Hamilton Shirley Amerasinghe, where he served as secretary and also attended the Ceylon Law College and soon passed out and was enrolled as an advocate. 

Paul apprenticed with the late H.W. Jayewardene, QC and the late Neville Samarakoon, QC who later served as chief justice. Paul left the Port Cargo Corporation and soon built up a lucrative practice.

By that time Paul and Kulaseeli had built a comfortable house in Ward Place almost opposite the residence of J.R. Jayewardene and Paul soon became a close confidante and acolyte of the UNP leader. Paul founded the UNP Lawyers' Association which became a vibrant organisation under his stewardship. He was in the thick of the fray during the 1977 elections and was appointed competent authority of the Times of Ceylon and also a founder director of the Greater Colombo Economic Commission which later became the BOI. 

Together with Upali Wijewardene, Paul was successful in attracting a host of investors into the Katunayake Free Trade Zone which was managed profitably with great zest. After the untimely death of Upali Wijewardene, Paul took over the reins of the GCEC and founded the Biyagama Free Trade Zone with great success. 

Paul was soon called upon to enter parliament representing Kaduwela and was made the minister of justice under President Jayewardene who also appointed him a President's Counsel in December 1988. Paul continued under President Premadasa and served as minister of science and technology.  Paul served on the Working Committee of the UNP for several years.

Paul's stout and doughty frame and resolute jaw were symbolic of his character and stood him in great stead throughout his life and career. He had a wide coterie of friends and colleagues both in and out of parliament.  He was a great story teller and a faithful friend and a much loved husband and father and grandfather, and is greatly missed. 

It is told that when Paul approached the Pearly Gates, he identified himself as Peter Paul Perera and President Jayewardene from inside had chuckled and declared "He is my able lieutenant" and Paul was immediately granted entry!

- Ben Eliathamby, PC


Doctors bring prestige to Lanka in Spain

President, Primary Care Respiratory Group, Dr. Seneth Samaranayake and Secretary, Primary Care Respiratory Group, Dr. Sarath Paranavitane were invited to participate at the Fourth World Conference of the International Primary Care Respiratory Group  (IPCRG) held in Seville, Spain recently.

Dr. Seneth Samaranayake participated as the chairman of the conference and also presented a poster while Dr. Sarath Paranavitane participated as a plenary speaker. There were over 950 delegates from all over the world and it was an hour for the medical profession of Sri Lanka to have been invited to participate at this prestigious international conference.

Dr. Samaranayake and Dr. Paranavitane are general practitioners who have a special interest in respiratory medicine and have participated in many international and local respiratory symposia. Their special interests are asthma in children and adults, and also chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.


Gold for Vijaya

Vijaya Corea, a household name in Sri Lanka, received a Gold Award recently at the first ever National Media Awards Ceremony where outstanding veterans in the fields of press, radio and television who had made outstanding lifetime contributions were honoured for their service to the nation through their work.

Vijaya received his award from Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake for his service towards uplifting our national media in the field of broadcasting.

After his secondary education at S. Thomas' College, Mt Lavinia, he opted for a career in Chartered Accountancy, but quite by chance, ventured into the arena of broadcasting. In an interview held at Radio Ceylon in the year 1964 to select announcers, Vijaya came first of just five selected from among 350 applicants.

Abandoned accountancy

He abandoned his pursuit of accountancy and initiated the beginning of a distinguished career in broadcasting. He came after a league of world-class broadcasters such as Tim Horshington, Mil Sansoni, Livy Wijemanne, Barry Wittington, Chris Greet, Vernon Corea, Jimmy Barucha, Bob Harvey and others who were meticulous in the correct usage of language and pronunciation.

Whether "on air" or "live" on stage, Vijaya's resonant voice together with the excellent command of the language and an outstanding style of presentation, earned for him thousands of fans both here and abroad, especially in India to which the All-Asia Service was transmitted from Radio Ceylon. Many still recall how they kept everything else aside just to keep a special date with radio to listen to Vijaya presenting The Morning Show.

Whenever a popularity poll was conducted by the newspapers, Vijaya always came way ahead of the others to be voted the Most Popular DJ and Showbiz Personality. Vijaya has also been commended as an excellent newsreader.

In his heyday, no important state function, big show or dance went on the boards without Vijaya's services as master of ceremonies. He has had the privilege of being called upon for his skilled presentation skills before audiences, includingsuch distinguished personalities as the Queen of England, Prince Philip and many heads of state at various functions of national and international importance.

Many 'firsts'

He also had the distinction of being the first to stand on the BMICH stage to present a musical and cultural pageant designed for television and the inauguration of  the fifth Non-Aligned Summit Conference in the year 1976.  This was telecast 'live' on global television, thus, qualifying him to be the first ever television presenter in Sri Lanka.

Vijaya holds the unbroken record of presenting 16 sponsored programmes per week, consequently earning much revenue for the radio station which was the only electronic medium at that time. In the year 1971, the Ceylon Broadcasting Corporation rewarded his services with the addition of  five increments to his salary.

He also handled 'live' audience radio shows with distinction, such as the Maliban Talent Quest, Elasto's Moving Designs, Zellers Go-Go Show, the Sooriya Show and the Take It Or Leave it show.

The climax to his broadcasting career was when he was appointed the director general of the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation during which time his hands-on skills combined with his administrative capabilities resulting in a fresh impetus and resurgence to radio.


Remembering Yasothera Balabaskara

Until me meet again...

With pen in hand, I know not what to write. Chitra  Banerjee Divakaruni's Sister Of My Heart comes to mind. She surely must have experienced what I did to have written that book about two 'sisters' who were like one entity.

We could not reminisce when we  should  have; so  let's do so now. I was born just two years after you, but even as a toddler you took charge and fondly named me 'Kultis.' For the benefit of the Sinhala domestics you also called me 'Podi Baba' which became 'Podiba.' Yes, we spoke only Sinhala to each other in your childhood. It was our first language! We begged the servants to make rathu pittu and rathu sambola. I guess Shankari made rathu pittu for you for the fifth day rituals.

I have but fleeting memories of the Chando Street days and of the evacuation to Jaffna during the war. Back in Galle, the Fort not being safe, we moved to Hirimbura. Those were carefree and halcyon days - plenty of land around the house to play in at our own sweet will. You were always the leader and I followed the leader implicitly.

Back to the Fort - Rampart Street - schooling at Southlands in the English Primary, especially created for us by Miss Ridge; we formed lifelong friendships with Lynette and Lucille; walks on the ramparts; and at your insistence we had the spunk to snatch the wickets while a game of cricket was on - because those big boys had annoyed us in some way!

Rampart Street days are incomplete without mention of Shirani Jayawickreme, the girl  next door. We had wonderful times - singing, dancing and playing. Two balls were about our only play-things, nevertheless we derived immense pleasure from bouncing our balls and also playing "Mademoiselle She Went To The Well." Of course there were the music lessons at Brenda's and the awe inspiring Trinity College examinations.

You went to Uduvil a year ahead of me. Being in the hostel you took on the mantle of 'elder sister' very seriously. I always followed you and your clique - so much so that the teachers would remark "Mary had a little lamb."

Again you went to Methodist College in Colombo a year before me. The matron put me in the same dormitory as you, and Yehelee was also one of the eight. We had lots of fun and played many a prank. Seba was also in the same dorm and you and seba made an awful mistake dressing Guy Fawkes in the matron's clothes.

You left school a year before me. So, in all we were separated for three years. Then it was the wasteland between high school and marriage, in Chundikuli, not having gained admission to the university when admissions were restricted to 100 to each faculty and the numerous avenues that are available to school leavers today, not being heard of then, we plodded a long and weary road.

However, nostalgic memories of those years are many. We did a lot of sewing on two machines at each end of the dining table. We sewed enthusiastically for babies to be born into the family and later had those babies clad in all the wonderful little clothes we had turned out with love's labour going into every stitch.

We had holidays in Colombo at Ruba Aunty's - and Nimala made it a trio - shopping for sarees in Colombo and in India as if our whole lives depended on the number of sarees we collected. Ironically we have hardly worn saree in recent years!

Giggling was, and is, a family weakness or malady. It was absolutely our forte. I recall to mind one incident in each of the different phases of our lives. As kids we were sent to the Ephram's Dispensary to buy some medicine for Amma. We couldn't speak because we started giggling and went on helplessly. The dispenser said he had a medicine for giggling and gave us 'chicklets'- tiny white lollies. We were intrigued because even after many chicklets the giggling wouldn't stop!

Uduvil days - at the Girl Guide Rally in the Old Park, Jaffna we were singing an action song -in two concentric circles, and at the end of each verse the outer circle moved one place anti-clockwise. Suddenly we found we were partners. It was hilarious for us - nodding to each other with a finger placed on the right check among other absurdities!

We giggled as women too. In Madras we were trying to fix an auto to take us to Mylapore for a day's shopping. We were overcome by the giggles and had to dismiss the man and get another auto after regaining composure. The saree you bought in Mylapore that day is what Shankari chose for your final journey. I am sure you approved her choice.

I can recall so many little incidents, but I would need reams to write them all.

Until you got married in 1965 our lives were so entwined that Selvi's sister Siva Sorubini, in all her childlike innocence could think of us as only 'one' and aptly addressed us 'Yasothilaka.'

That bond we had is being perpetuated by our sons in this generation.

It is not for us to ask why your life had to change irrevocably, so suddenly and without warning. We are all united in our gratitude to Bala, Shankari, Gajen and Robin for having looked after you so well and kept you comfortable until the end. I also thank myself for having made that special trip to see you on your birthday, May 17, barely two weeks before you attained glory.

Socrates said,  "And now our lives part. I go to death while you go to life. Who goes to the better only God knows." Socrates in all his wisdom ought to have known he was going to the better.


A hundred and one cakes...

The team of Cinnamon Grand chefs and
(inset) Rohan Karr with senior managers

By Ranee Mohamed

There are different ways of say-ing what we feel and what we have to say. Some say it with words, others say it with flow-ers but the Cinnamon Grand Hotel, in keeping with its unique style has chosen to say it with cake.

And so for the first time in the history of the hotel and the hotel industry itself, one hundred and one cakes came under one roof, spreading not only sweetness and good taste but a professionalism that is in keeping with the futuristic trends of the modern era.


"The credit goes to our professional team. Our chefs have worked very hard and they have helped us achieve another milestone," said General Manager Rohan Karr.

"Today is a very special day for us. We have had so many cake exhibitions before, but they have been the collective efforts where every hotel brings in a cake. But this is the effort of 11 people." said Karr, referring to the chefs who worked together to make these perfect cakes and went on to laud their talent and commitment.

As visitors gasped at the colourful cakes it was their fine finishing touches that put the icing on the cake, giving them that special Cinnamon Grand quality.

From an ABC Book cake decorated with an apple, banana and carrot, to an Air Balloon, Alien Space Cake, Bee Happy, Bubbles The Fish, Busy Bees, Candy House, Circus Clown, Cosy Cars, Dippy The Dinosaur, Doggy Dear, Dog and Bone, Hair Dryer, Flower Power, Fearsome Dragon, Dream Castle, Hot Dog, Little Bo Peep to Little Monster, Jewellery Box, Smiling Sun, Sporty Spider, with its eight legs this time in all their sweetness, to the Spooky Tower, the Spider's Web, the cakes went on to portray creativity, ability and good taste. One hundred and one cakes in every imaginable way ought to capture the essence of any occasion.

"We will have a catalogue from which these cakes can be ordered from our Coffee Shop," said  Public Relations Manager  Tharika Goonetilleke, the brains behind the theme. It had been Goonetilleke's idea to have an exhibition of cakes and General Manager Rohan Karr, the man who made many things happen at the Cinnamon Grand made the 101 cakes happen on that Saturday morning.

Quality and perfection

Sweetness they say does not last a lifetime, and on the morning of Saturday, June 21, it happened just for a few hours - from 9 am to 1 pm. "All this quality and perfection just for a few hours," asked visitors. And there it was, just as General Manager Rohan Karr wanted - come, view and make that short memory last forever.

It was a proud day for Chef W.D.M.L.  Niranjan, head of pastry, who guided his team to create the masterpieces. As the team watched the viewers gaze in wonder and exclaim at each different cake, it was job satisfaction being viewed from a distance.

Chef Morugama who had made a revolutionary culinary change at the Cinnamon Grand was also seen amidst the colourful cakes and the even more colourful pastry chefs who drew the spotlight at this cake show.

"This is in keeping with our brand promise of affordable indulgence," pointed out Public Relations Manager Tharika Goonetilleke and went on to say that there are cakes at the Cinnamon Grand for every occasion.

And truly so, with 101 cakes to flaunt, the Cinnamon Grand seems to have covered every occasion in life. and more.

Showcasing talent

"This is an opportunity to show the talents of our pastry chefs. And Pastry Chef Niranjan and his team have shown exceptional talent. They have shown the market what they can buy before they can buy it. Today we have displayed 101 cakes and 101 cakes give one 101 options. They have been made with a lot of love and detail and much hard work has gone into every cake" said Goonetilleke.

"There are lifestyle cakes, kids selections, occasion cakes and cartoon cakes," said Public Relations Manager Goonetilleke who joined the smiling staff of the Cinnamon Grand on this happy occasion.

And with 101 cakes colouring their atrium, Cinnamon Grand Hotel continues to ask - 'How may we indulge you?' - a question that takes the cake.


Herbs - a panacea for many an ailment

By Risidra Mendis

The mention of the word ayurveda and most of us know what it means. But if you were to hear someone talking about a herbal chair pad, a herbal car seat pad, a medicated herbal bed pad, a medicated mat, a yoga exercise mat or even a sandalwood pillow case your mind would start working overtime.

It is unbelievable but true. Due to the hard work and dedication of one man, for the first time in Sri Lanka seat pads, pillow cases and cushions consisting of herbal products are now available in the market.

Speaking to The Sunday Leader K.P. Lalith Nandika said he was fascinated by the number of people cured by ayurvedic herbal medicines in the country. "My grandfather, and father K. P. Kamburupitiya Somadasa veda mahaththaya practised ayurveda and cured many people suffering from various diseases. They treated patients free of charge  from the knowledge they had acquired from their ancestors. But today times have changed. People lead hectic, busy, lifestyles and suffer from common ailments such as backaches, body pains, gastritis, bloated stomach, piles, headaches and phlegm," Nandika said.

Reaction to synthetics

He went on to say that people suffer from these ailments due to the common use of plastic, rubber and synthetic products such as chairs, car seats and mattresses. "When we sweat profusely reacting to plastic, rubber and synthetic material we suffer from gastritis, ulcers and bed sores. However the modern generation unlike our ancestors don't like to use herbal medicine due to the smells that emanate from herbs. This was the main reason that drove me to invent these products," Nandika explained.

Nandika commenced production four years ago and has received a good response from people suffering from various ailments. He has even managed to export his products on a small scale to Japan and The Netherlands as the quality is certified by the Ayurvedic Department of Sri Lanka.

He added that herbal chair pads, herbal car seat pads, medicated herbal bed pads, medicated mats, yoga exercise mats and sandalwood pillow cases are specially made with herbal medicine sewn into the covers. "This process keeps the odd smell of the medicine within the product. These  are environmental friendly, natural products and have no side effects. They can be used in air conditioned rooms and vehicles without causing any undesirable odours or scents," Nandika added.

According to Nandika the herbal chair pad prevents back pains, reduces gastritis and is good for the spine; the seat pad prevents piles and backaches; the bed pad prevents sweating and helps you sleep well; the exercise mat prevents perspiration while the herbal medicine absorbs the sweat and gives a healthy effect to the body. This reduces phlegm and gastritis. The sandalwood pillow case prevents headaches and phlegm.

Ayurvedic wonders

The contents of these products include ingredients such as uluhal (fenugreek), kollu (a medicinal cereal), arattaa (a medicinal tuber similar to saffron) and savandare (a medicinal grass with a pleasant fragrance).

"The ayurvedic herbal seat pads are made according to inherited ayurvedic recipes and have excellent heat control, absorption and a medicinal effect for people who rest or sit on rubber, plastic or synthetic cushions for long hours. Its medicinal effects is an ideal solution and relief for gas build-up, puffiness, bloated stomach, piles, gastric problems and aches in the hip and body and to prevent bed sores," Nandika explained.

Providing employment

Nandika's factory in Buttala where these products are manufactured provide employment to 10 families in the area who engage in collecting the herbs and medicinal products from the nearby jungles.

According to Nandika it is due to his wife's support and help from HNB Buttala that made him come this far in his venture. These products are available at supermarkets and the Industrial Development Board, Katubedda, Moratuwa. "It would be good if the government can provide me with some assistance to develop these products further. I can provide more employment opportunities to poor families if the government can support me financially or help me market my products," Nandika said.


Keeping vigil ain't easy

The day before yesterday, I was up until 3 a.m, since the girls were out with their friends. When they were younger, I would be the only mum sitting outside a nightclub texting furiously and asking them to come out, or else!

Once I actually asked the top guy who ran the club to announce that their mum was outside and wanted them to come quick. After that, all I had to do was threaten that I was coming to announce their names and they would fly outside in a flash. How embarrassing, having your mother coming to pick you up!

Then, I became the official dropper-off of the girls. I quite enjoyed the comings and goings, as I got to listen to all the girly gossip both ways.

Apparently the other night, the reason they got late was that they were stopped at many checkpoints, and since now they are all university students, they just couldn't have parents come to pick them up. Gosh, the very idea!

Most of the guys have got their driving licences and some even their own vehicles, so the girls are dropped off home. But I'm still up until the wee hours of the morning.

Catch up on lost sleep

Our security guards come here every evening to catch up on their sleep. At about 10 p.m, when I set off sometimes to drop the girls off for their nights out, whoever is on duty is sound asleep and doesn't even get up even with all our chattering and giggling. I feel like volunteering to do the job since I'm up anyway and will definitely do a much better job!

The newest guard definitely looks Differently Abled. Once, when Caveman was downstairs, he noticed someone at the gate. Since he was on the phone, he finished his conversation and went and asked the guard who had come. He replied that he didn't know, it was a woman muttering to herself. Then Caveman asked him how he was going to enter it in the logbook. He said he hid in the shadows and watched her, as one cannot be too careful nowadays with all these suicide bombers on the loose! At this, Caveman burst out laughing and told him he was indeed a very fine guard! He hasn't appeared here since.

Night bird

Although I'm a night bird, there are some days I want to retire to bed when I'm sleepy. So I heard Caveman telling some friends of ours, "When the girls are away in Uni, she's up in the middle of the night, and I can see her texting at full speed in bed. Now they are here, she's still texting them in the middle of the night!"

What the heck? I mean, it's perfectly easy for him; he just gets up in the morning and asks me, "What time did the girls come in? Who dropped them? Who's sleeping over etc.?" As if I enjoy drowsily watching the clock! So, people who call me at normal hours in the morning and are told I'm still asleep, don't be too hasty to jump to conclusions, it's just that I went to bed very early the same morning!

Things to do

So I watch a lot of movies, I read more, I work on my computer in the dead of night and therefore some of my daytime functions are rather disorganised. Since I enjoy listening to music, the solution would be to also go to a nightclub and hang around but the thing is, Caveman is too tired after his golf game.

Also, there is a limit I can take with noise (some of the music can be regarded as such), smoke and idiotic behaviour, which is available in plenty at such places. As well as, explaining my presence on the road at an ungodly hour of the morning at every checkpoint along the way is not exactly my cup of tea.

So, recently, I went for a formal dinner with some of my friends, and on my return, was accosted by Beautiful Dreamer standing at the top of the stairs.

There she stood, with her hands on her hips, doing a Me! "Where have you been all this time? You should really get your priorities straight! We're leaving at 5 a.m out of Colombo, and this is the time you return? Who dropped you? Was he after alcohol?" etc. and when I doubled up laughing, "What's so funny? Have you been drinking?" We both laughed hysterically for about half an hour before going to bed.

- Honky Tonk Woman  



Wandering dog

An old, tired-looking dog wandered into the yard. I could tell from his collar and well-fed belly that he had a home. He followed me into the house, down the hall, and fell asleep on the couch. An hour later, he went to the door, and I let him out. The next day he was back, resumed his position on the couch and slept for an hour. This continued for several weeks. Curious, I pinned a note to his collar: 'Every afternoon your dog comes to my house for a nap.'

The next day he arrived with a different note pinned to his collar: 'He lives in a home with four children - he's trying to catch up on his sleep. Can I come with him tomorrow?'

Sneaky diagnosis

A young doctor moved out to a small community to re-place the aging doctor there. The older doctor suggested that the younger doctor accompany him as he made his house calls so that the people of the community could become accustomed to him.

At the first house they visited, the younger doctor listened intently as the older doctor and an older lady discussed the weather, their grandchildren and the latest church bulletin.

After some time, the older doctor asked his patient how she had been feeling.

"I've been a little sick in my stomach," she replied.

"Well," said the old physician, "you've probably been over doing it a bit with the fresh fruit. Why don't you cut back on the amount of fresh fruit you eat and see if that helps."

As they left the house, the younger doctor asked how the older doctor had reached his diagnosis so quickly.

"You didn't even examine that woman," the young doctor stated.

"I didn't have to," the elder physician explain. "You noticed I dropped my stethoscope on the floor in there. Well when I bent over to pick it up, I looked around and noticed a half dozen banana peels in the trash can. That is probably what has been making her ill."

"That's pretty sneaky," commented the younger doctor. "Do you mind if I try it at the next house?"

"I don't suppose it could hurt anything," the elder physician replied.

At the next house, the two doctors visited an elderly widow. They spent several minutes discussing the weather and grandchildren and the latest church bulletin. After several minutes, the younger doctor asked the widow how she had been feeling lately. "I've felt terribly run down lately," the widow replied. "I just don't have as much energy as I used to."

"You've probably been doing too much work for the church," the younger doctor suggested without even examining his patient. "Perhaps you should ease up a bit and see if that helps."

As they left, the elder physician said, "Your diagnosis is probably right, but do you mind telling me how you came to that conclusion?"

"Sure," replied the younger doctor. "Just like you, I dropped my stethoscope on the floor. When I bent down to pick it up, I looked around and there was the preacher hiding under the bed!"   


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