Sunera changes the stage of life for the
An attempt to analyse and address issues
and challenges of modern society through
theatre and (inset) Sunethra bandranaike
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
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
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
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
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.
"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
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
"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
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.
"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
"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
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
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
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
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
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
The importance of not
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Let's hope that the teaching of English will
not be teaching of SINGLISH in Sri Lanka.
People shunning bus
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
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
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
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.
One hundred and fifty ex-military personnel
will be deployed for the train services
while the rest will be deployed for the bus
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.
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
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
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
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
- 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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
And truly so, with 101 cakes to flaunt, the
Cinnamon Grand seems to have covered every
occasion in life. and more.
"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
Herbs - a panacea for
many an ailment
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,"
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,"
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.
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
"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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
After some time, the older doctor asked his
patient how she had been feeling.
"I've been a little sick in my stomach," she
"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
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
"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!"