Royal People

A dedication to those wonderful people who served Royal Primary School & Royal College, in Sri Lanka, since 1835, and, who will be remembered for their committment, sincerety and unselfishness.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

LOLLO's Toast at the RC 125 Dinner - Jan 2016

LOLLO’s Toast at the RC 125 Dinner – Jan 2016

ROYAL COLLEGE OLD BOYS UNION TOAST
LORENZ  PEREIRA

IN HIS INTRODUCTION, KEN REFERRED TO ME OFTEN AS LOLO.

LET ME TELL YOU OF ITS ORIGINS.

YOU MAY FIND IT QUITE DIFFICULT TO BELIEVE BUT IN SCHOOL, I WAS A VERY GOOD LOOKING,
HANDSOME CHAP.  THE GIRLS THOUGHT I WAS QUITE SEXY.

AT THAT TIME, THE INTERNATIONAL STAR WAS THAT EXTREMELY BEAUTIFUL AND SEXY ITALIAN
ACTRESS, GINA LOLOBRIDGIDA.

MY FATHER WHO WAS AN ENGINEER AND DESIGNER OF BEAUTIFUL BUILDINGS,  MADE THE
LOGICAL CONNECTION BETWEEN THE SEXY MS LOLOBRIDGIDA AND HIS SEXY SON AND NAMED
ME LOLO.

THE NAME HAS STOOD THE TEST OF TIME, ALTHOUGH THERE HAS BEEN SOME
DETERIORATION IN THE PHYSICAL ASSETS OF THE OWNER.

THE HONOURABLE MR RANIL WICKREMASINGHE, PRIME MINISTER OF SRI LANKA, THE PRINCIPAL
OF ROYAL COLLEGE, LADIES & GENTLEMEN,I CONSIDER MYSELF EXTREMELY PRIVILEGED TO
BE STANDING HERE TONIGHT TO PROPOSE A TOAST TO ROYAL COLLEGE ON THIS VERY SPECIAL OCCASION CELEBRATING 125 YEARS OF THE LIFE OF THE UNION.

I THANK THE UNION FOR THIS UNIQUE HONOUR AND TO CHRISANTHA PERERA WHO CONVEYED THE
INVITATION, ON BEHALF OF THE UNION.

IT CAUSED A MAJOR DILEMA AS TO MY ACCEPTANCE, AS I FELT THAT A MERE SPORTSMAN
THAT I WAS, WHOSE CANVAS WAS THE SPORTING FIELDS OF ROYAL COLLEGE, DID NOT HAVE THE
REQUIRED CREDENTIALS TO DELIVER A TOAST BEFITTING SUCH A PRESTIGIOUS OCCASION.

THEN I RECEIVED A CALL, LATE INTO THE NIGHT, FROM MY DEAR SCHOOL PAL AND RUGBY TEAM MATE
AT ROYAL, KEN BALA.

THEY SAY SUCCESS IN LIFE IS ABOUT GOOD TIMING AND THERE IS NO DOUBT THAT KEN’S TIMING
IN CALLING ME AT THAT TIME, WAS IMPECABLE, AS HE CONVINCED ME, WHILST STILL IN MY DREAM
ZONE, TO ATTEND AND HERE I AM.

I REALISED THEN THAT THIS GUY IS QUITE CAPABLE OF SELLING ICEBERGS TO THE
ESKIMOS.

IF YOU SHOULD ASK ME, WHAT ROYAL HAS DONE FOR ME, I WOULD SAY WITHOUT ANY
HESITATION THAT ROYAL HAS GIVEN ME ALL THE QUALITIES, ALL THE ATTRIBUTES AND ALL THE
LEARNING SKILLS TO ENABLE ME TO MAKE IT HERE TONIGHT TO SHARE THIS STAGE WITH A PRIME
MINISTER OF THIS COUNTRY.

IT IS UNDOUBTEDLY THE CROWNING GLORY OF MY LIFE.

THANK YOU ROYAL.

MY DEAR FATHER WHO WAS VICE CHANCELLOR OF THE UNIVERSITY OF PERADENIYA AND A
SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNION FOR MANY YEARS AND A ROYALIST PAR EXCELLENCE, QUITE
UNLIKE ME, WILL BE SMILING FROM UP THERE AND CONVEYING A SINCERE THANK YOU TO THE UNION.
STANDING HERE TONIGHT IS A VERY EMOTIONAL EXPERIENCE FOR ME.

PLEASE BEAR WITH ME SHOULD I STRAY OR FALTER.

THANKS KEN FOR THAT EXTREMELY FLATERING, GENEROUS AND COMPLIMENTRY
INTRODUCTION TO MY INDULGENT AND CHEQUERED LIFESTYLE AT ROYAL.

IT WAS SCAREY TO LISTEN TO.

HOW DID I SURVIVE AT COLLEGE PLAYING SO MUCH SPORT?

WAS THERE ANY TIME AND EFFORT DEVOTED TO STUDY?

AS PER OUR MOTTO, I SHOULD HAVE BEEN ASKED TO DEPART ON MANY OCCASIONS.

THE MOTTO IS QUITE BRUTAL IN THAT RESPECT, QUITE BLACK AND WHITE WITH NO ROOM FOR
COMPROMISES.

STRANGELY, THERE DOES NOT APPEAR TO BE ANY RECORD OF WHO GAVE THE MOTTO TO THE
SCHOOL.

ALTHOUGH, PRINCIPAL TODD (1871-1878) CONSTANTLY REMINDED STUDENTS THAT THEY MUST
LEARN OR DEPART.

A SCHOOLMASTER’S TYPICAL THREAT RATHER THAN AN INSPIRATION TO LEARN.

I NOTE THAT SINCE THE MOTTO HAD BEEN INTRODUCED, NO ONE HAS BEEN ASKED TO DEPART
FOR LACK OF LEARNING.

I AM NOT SURPRISED.

FOR LEARNING IS A LIFE’S JOURNEY.  THERE ARE NO STOPPAGES, NO MEASUREMENTS.

WHEN WE ENTERED ROYAL, WE BEGAN THAT JOURNEY TO LEARN OF BOOKS AND MEN AND
LEARN TO PLAY THE GAME.

WE BECAME INSTANT WINNERS.

THOSE PRECIOUS WORDS FROM OUR SCHOOL SONG, GIVE US ROYALISTS A STATUS SYMBOL, A SORT OF
ELITISM, A DISTINCTIVE COMPETETIVE ADVANTAGE IN BEING A LEARNED GROUP.

I AM SURE THAT EACH ONE OF YOU WOULD HAVE BEEN INSPIRED, INFLUENCED OR
BENEFITTED FROM THOSE WORDS TO SOME EXTENT.

IN MY CASE, I DIDN’T LEARN MUCH FROM BOOKS, - CERTAINLY FROM MEN, FROM MY GREAT MASTERS AT ROYAL AND LEARNT A GREAT DEAL FROM PLAYING THE GAME.

LET ME ELABORATE.

FIRSTLY, TO MY PRINCIPAL MR DUDLEY DE SILVA, WILL REFER TO HIM AS PRINCIPAL
DUDLEY HEREAFTER, WHO TOTALLY CHANGED THE PATH OF MY LIFE.

I WAS AN ABSOLUTE RASCAL, PLAYING SPORT AT LUNCH TIME AND AFTER SCHOOL AND CHASING
GIRLS THEREAFTER.

I WAS DESTINED FOR THE SCRAP HEAP.

THEN ONE DAY I WAS SUMMONED INTO HIS OFFICE.

HE SAID, I AM GIVING YOU A CHANCE TO REDEEM YOURSELF.

I AM MAKING YOU A PREFECT.

MY KNEES COLLAPSED UNDER ME.

IT WAS THAT SINGLE SENTENCE THAT DEFINED MY LIFE, CHANGED MY DESTINY.

THANK YOU ROYAL.

WHEN MY FATHER HEARD OF THIS HE WAS EXTREMELY DISTURBED.

HOW COME HIS SCROUNDAL SON WAS ELEVATED TO A POSITION OF PREFECT OF ROYAL COLLEGE.

BEING A PASSIONATE ROYALIST AND A SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT OF THE COLLEGE UNION, THE VALUES,
STANDARDS AND TRADITIONS OF ROYAL COLLEGE MEANT MORE TO HIM THAN AN ACCOLADE FOR HIS
HE IMMEDIATELY CONFRONTED PRINCIPAL DUDLEY.

LATER I GATHERED THAT PRINCIPAL DUDLEY HAD PROVIDED SOME VAGUE HYPOTHETICAL RATIONALE
OF EXPERIMENTING WITH THE USE OF REVERSE PSYCHOLOGY IN RESPECT TO MY BEHAVIOUR.

IT WORKED. I LATER BECAME HEAD PREFECT OF COLLEGE AND TOOK THESE SACRED VALUES THAT MY
FATHER STRONGLY BELIEVED IN TO EVEN MORE RIDICULOUS LEVELS.

LET ME EXPLAIN.

MY YOUNGEST BROTHER AND HIS CLASS MATE, PA, WERE REPORTED TO THE PREFECTS ON A
WEEKLY BASIS. TOGETHER THEY CAUSED ME IMMENSE PROBLEMS.

ONE DAY I RECEIVED SOME INSIDE INFORMATION THAT BOTH OF THEM WERE GOING FOR A PUFF AT A
PARTICULAR TIME AT A PARTICULAR LOCATION.

SO I GOT THERE 15 MTS EARLIER FOUND A SECLUDED BUSH AND WAITED IN AMBUSH.

30 MTS PASSED AND NO ONE TURNED UP.

CAN YOU VISUALISE THAT SCENARIO.

THE HEAD PREFECT OF ROYAL HIDING IN SOME BUSH IN THE SWELTERING MID DAY SUN TO NAB HIS
BROTHER.

IT SEEMS SO DEGRADING, BUT LIKE MY FATHER BEFORE ME, THE COLLEGE AND ITS CODE OF
CONDUCT REIGNED SUPREME.

I LATER FOUND OUT, THAT WHILST I WAS SWELTERING UNDER THE BRUTAL MID DAY SUN, THE
TWO OF THEM HAD BRAZENLY WALKED THROUGH THE MAIN GATE, HAD A SMOKE AND RETURNED
SAFELY.

THE STORY OF PA IS FASCINATING AND INSPIRING.

PA WAS AN ORPHAN BOY FROM A VERY POOR HOME.

IT’S A STORY OF IMMENSE SUCCESS THAT CLEARLY PORTRAYS THAT LEARNING AT ROYAL IS FAR MORE
THAN LEARNING OF BOOKS.

PA HARDLY PASSED AN EXAM AT ROYAL, WAS GENERALLY PUSHED UP EACH YEAR TO AVOID
CAUSING DISRUPTION TO THE FOLLOWING YEAR STUDENTS.

HE WAS FINALLY EXPELLED DUE TO A MISDEAMER IN CLASS AFTER MANY WARNINGS.

THAT WONDERFUL MASTER, MR ELMO DE BRUIN, SOUGHT SOME FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE FROM OLD
BOYS AND SENT HIM OFF TO LONDON.

THE NEXT I HEAR OF HIM IS WHEN HE WAS PICTURED ON THE FRONT PAGE OF THE LONDON TIMES,
STANDING NEXT TO MARGARET THATCHER, LEADING AN IBM DELEGATION.

SUBSEQUENTLY, HE BECAME CHAIRMAN/CEO OF ONE OF THE LARGEST BANKS IN BELGIUM.

IT CLEARLY SHOWS THAT ROYAL PROVIDES US WITH A WHOLE PACKAGE OF LEARNING TOOLS
TO HELP US ON OUR WAY THROUGH LIFE.

ANOTHER PROBLEM GUY THIS GUY, CALL HIM M, WAS THE FATHER OF ALL RASCALS – THE GODFATHER.

WE PLAYED CRICKET TOGETHER FOR ROYAL IN THE BIG MATCH.

HE HAD THE AUDACITY TO ASK MY FATHER WHO WAS DEAN OF THE FACULTY OF ENGINERING, FOR A
CHARACTER REFERENCE.

MY FATHER ASKED FOR SOME BACKGROUND ON HIMSELF.

I AM A GOOD FRIEND OF YOUR SON, LORENZ.

DON’T TELL ME THAT YOU ARE A BLOODY FOOL LIKE MY SON.

NO SIR, NO SIR, NO SIR, WE ARE ONLY IN THE SAME TEAM, BUT I HARDLY KNOW HIM.

OK THEN AND GAVE HIM A GLOWING CERTIFICATE.

MY FATHER SAW SOMETHING IN HIM THAT NO ONE, NOT EVEN M HIMSELF EVER DREAMED OFF.

MY FATHER WAS ABSOLUTELY CORRECT.

IN ANOTHER INCIDENT, M WAS ABOUT TO BE SUSPENDED, BUT PRINCIPAL DUDLEY WANTED THE
COURTSEY OF INFORMING HIS FATHER BEFORE HE DID SO.

A MEETING WITH HIS FATHER WAS ARANGED FOR THE FOLLOWING MONDAY AT 9 AM.

AN IMMEDIATE MEETING WITH HIS FELLOW CONSPIRATORS - THE ROYAL MAFIA AT THAT TIME
WAS SUMMONED.

A SUBSTITUTE FATHER NEEDED TO BE FOUND URGENTLY.

AFTER A FEW INTERVIEWS, ONE DRIVER OF A CAR THAT BROUGHT A STUDENT TO SCHOOL WAS
SELECTED.

ON THE APPOINTED DAY, THE DRIVER ALL DOLLED UP IN TIE AND JACKET ENTERED PRINCIPAL DUDLEYS
OFFICE.

HE SAT DOWN WITH M IMMEDIATELY BEHIND.

PRINCIPAL DUDLEY WENT ON A TIRADE OF MISDEAMERS COMMITEED BY M.

THEN HE SAID THAT THERE WAS NO ALTERNATIVE OTHER THAN TO SUSPEND M.
THE FAKE FATHER IMEDIATELY STOOD UP AND GAVE M TWO THUNDERING SLAPS THAT SENT HIM REELING TO THE REAR WALL.

PRINCIPAL DUDLEY HAD TO INTERVENE HASTILY AND PACIFY THE FAKE FATHER AND CONVINCE HIM THAT HIS SON WAS REALLY NOT THAT BAD.

IN FACT, PRINCIPAL DUDLEY TOOK THE FAKE FATHER ON A HALF HOUR TOUR OF THE SCHOOL TO COOL
HIM DOWN.

THE GUY BECAME EVEN MORE UNBEARABLE, NOW THAT PRINCIPAL DUDLEY HAD GIVEN HIM THE ALL
I NOTE THAT IN 1946, JCA COREA BECAME THE FIRST SRI LANKAN PRINCIPAL OF ROYAL. SINCE HIS
TENURE, ROYAL HAS EVOLVED SO DRAMATICALLY IN MANY WAYS, SUCH AS SUBSTANTIAL INCREASES IN
STUDENT POPULATION (NOW ABOUT 7,000), ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE, SPORTING SUCCESS, ETC.

YET, NO TANGIBLE RECOGNITION, FOR POSTERITY, IS NOTICEABLE FOR OUR LOCAL PRINCIPALS, SUCH AS COREA AND DUDLEY DE SILVA, AS COMPARED WITH THEIR BRITISH COUNTERPARTS, SUCH AS HARTLEY, HARVAERD, MARSH AND BOAK, AND MORE RECENTLY IN 1970, MR REED.

I HOPE THAT I AM WRONG. IF NOT, I THINK IT IS A REGRETTABLE OVERSIGHT.
WHAT DID I LEARN FROM PLAYING THE GAME?

ABSOLUTELY PLENTY, I DEFINE GAME IN THE CONTEXT OF THE SCHOOL SONG TO BE FAR GREATER AND FAR WIDER THAN JUST SPORTS PARTICIPATION.

TO ME IT ENCOMPASSES THE WHOLE GAME OF LIFE, WITH SPORT BEING ONE CONTRIBUTOR.

I CAN CONFIDENTLY TESTIFY, FROM MY OWN EXPERIENCE, THAT THERE IS NO BETTER PLACE
FOR A STUDENT TO LEARN OF THE GAME OF LIFE THAN AT ROYAL COLLEGE.

IN REGARD TO MY SPORT, I WOULD NEVER HAVE ACHIEVED WHAT I HAVE ACHIEVED IF NOT FOR:

1. THE INHERITANCE OF SOME GOOD SPORTING GENES. INDEED A GOOD STARTING POINT.

2. BEING AT THE RIGHT PLACE AT THE RIGHT TIME. THAT IS BEING AT ROYAL.

THE SYSTEM AND THE PREVAILING ENVIRONMENT AT ROYAL AT THE TIME ENCOURAGED US TO
PARTICIPATE AND TO EXCEL.

WE HAD THE GOOD FORTUNE OF HAVING MASTERS WHO WERE PASSIONATE ABOUT THE SPORT THEY
WERE IN CHARGE OF LIKE MR THAMBAPILLAI (THAMBA) WHO WAS A SORT OF DEFACTO FATHER TO
IN ADDITION, THE BEST TEAM MATES ONE WILL EVER WE HAVE REMAINED AN INTIMATE FAMILY ALL THESE TO ME THAT’S THE ESSENCE OF ROYAL – INTIMATE FRIENDSHIPS.

THANK YOU GUYS.

LOVE YOU ALL.

ABOVE ALL, ROYAL WAS AND IS THE CRÈME DE LA CRÈME OF SPORTING COLLEGES WORLD
NO OTHER SCHOOL HAS THE SPORTING PEDIGREE THAT ROYAL HAS.

NO OTHER SCHOOL CAN BOAST OF NOT ONE BUT TWO OF THE GRANDEST SPORTING CONTESTS AT
SCHOOL LEVEL – THE ROYAL THOMIAN AND THE BRADBY.

TODAY, THEY ARE NOT JUST SPORTING CONTESTS BETWEEN TWO TEAMS, THEY ARE ICONIC SOCIAL
FIXTURES THAT CAPTURE THE MIND AND SPIRIT OF ROYALISTS WORLD WIDE.

WE SHOULD BE VERY PROUD OF THIS.  IT HAS GIVEN US A UNIQUE PATRIOTIC CULTURE, NOT TO BE
FOUND ANYWHERE ELSE.

THANK YOU ONCE AGAIN FOR THIS UNIQUE HONOUR BESTOWED UPON ME.


PLEASE STAND FOR THE TOAST – TO ROYAL

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Oh Bailas, Verses, and Boundary Line Heroes

Oh! Bailas, verses and boundary line heroes

(Dedicated to David, Royal’s respected ground boy of yore; Noor, his onetime able assistant, who later took over from him; the legendary ‘Kadalay’,who was eternally flitting about the Royal Boundary Line like a benevolent spirit and the many others ,who have so ungrudgingly served the cause of Royal Cricket from the Boundary Line)
From the boundary we always cheered our heroes. (Pic by Saman Kariyawasam)
That joy and glory has been most heart-warming for us, watching cricket, especially Royal cricket, from the boundary line.
Apart from pretending to wield the willow and polish the cherry, once in a while, in the dim, distant past, our life, had been well spent, we should say, indulging in that pleasant pastime of watching Royal cricket for well over 50 years-watching not only the Royal-Thomian but the other games as well played by the Royal First eleven.Indeed, if colours were to be awarded for watching -consistency, then quite a few of us like Devaka Rodrigo, Rohan Hapugalle, Ranjit Jayasekera, Chrysantha Perera, Jeiya Ranasinghe, R.J.(one time known as Rakshana Janashakthi) de Silva, Dr. J.C. Fernando, Nimal Dias Jayasinghe, to name a few, along with yours truly, would surely be deserving contenders!Those days the Royal Primary School (RPS), now known as the Royal Junior, though very much Royal in spirit, was a separate entity ably led by that great Headmaster, A. F. de Saa Bandaranayake. RPS was never given the Friday half-holiday enjoyed by the students of the College proper, whenever matches were played at Reid Avenue. Both entities were in double session during our time.

Consequently, we, at RPS, had to adopt surreptitious means to sneak through the RPS Tuck Shop, situated then adjoining the old, College Hostel, during the afternoon 2.10 interval, highly motivated as we were to get a glimpse of our cricketing heroes. (They were our only heroes then!)- the Van Twest brothers Desmond and Brian, looking crisp-white and elegant; Nirmalalingam , the immaculately stylish opening batsmen, the diminutive Lalith Hewavitarane; ‘Frecko’ Kreltsheim, with his magical wicket-keeping gloves; Ubhaya and Ranjit de Silva, two fine allrounders ;Turnour Wickremasinghe, the left arm spin artist, perhaps so named at birth by his progenitor, sensing a future spinning prospect; the wily Wignarajah, another left arm spinner, quite elastic just before and at the point of delivery; the two Seneviratnes, mysteriously (for us) known as ‘Ata Gemba’ and ‘Gadaya’. ‘Ata Gemba’, in particular, will be well remembered for his peculiar stance at the crease, which both interested the observer and confused the bowler. He gave the impression of a rather tallish soldier, crouching in question mark fashion, marching on the same spot, in this instance the batting crease, waiting to hammer the enemy out of sight! It was a peculiar form of footwork which began even before the bowler commenced his run up. Little as we were, it was not difficult to recognize him not only because of his idiosyncratic stance but also because the enterprising cheering squads announced his arrival with well-orchestrated strains of “‘Ata Gemba’………………. croak, croak!’”

Regular rejoicing 

Apart from the cricket at the centre, one couldn’t help being moved by the regular rejoicing on the boundary-line ,mostly with innovative ‘Bailas’ (each season churning out a new one ) sung by the many Royalists, senior and junior, who thronged the boundary , push bikes, flags and all, to hail their cricketing heroes, with the juniors proudly joining in chorus (quite unlike the dull mortuary lull one experiences at Reid Avenue these days- hardly a bike, a flag or any cheering –only vacant spaces policed by College prefects in tie!)

Among those innovative, enterprising groups were the “Bucaneers”, a rollicking cluster of Royalists, living up to their self-proclaimed label, one of whose gang was one time a prominent and industrious member of the Sri Lankan Cabinet. He may or may not have had a premonition then of things to come, when he lustily joined the rest to sing about – 

“Lakmavage ekama putha,
Kothalawala mahatha....”
along with, Summa Amarasinghe (father of the 1983 winning Royal captain and current Royal coach), ‘Honker Nana, Jehan Raheem, Ponnasamy, Jayantha Jayaratne,’Kapoor’, Magha-lingam,’Pibba’ Perera, Abey-singho to name a few, intermittently asking the inviting question,
“Oh, what will you give me….if I show…you the….?”
or the more serious one ,
“How are you Baldsing dear, how are you…….?”
or the unmistakable assertion,
“We are boys of Royal College, Kollupitiya South,………..
followed by an important and rhyming bit of information,

Have you heard of Bundi Belleth, fat, short and stout” rather accurately describing one of our dear, respected masters of yore; or the ‘Abeyratne Anthem’, so fondly dedicated to the female cadres of the ‘domestics’ fraternity,
“Abeyratne kivvama than kauda nodanne,
Visheshayen ilandari soyala balanne…..”

None of these bailas was ever written down as such. It was simply the oral tradition –or better still an oral-aural-oral tradition. And it was very much on the job training: standing, listening, imbibing (ever so readily!), singing. We also knew that sooner or later we had to be very much a part of that tradition and contribute our share, which we did more surely no sooner than we hit the Third Form at College. 

A quick, string hopper, ‘pol sambol’ and beef curry lunch, all for Rs1/25, a la Saranapala, at the Tuck Shop, situated then next to the Old Lab and off we crossed to the happy plains of Reid Avenue. We used to occupy one of the wings of the Old Pavilion – that magnificent edifice of character, sadly no more, demolished by insensitivity and insensibility. We had our place reserved there every Friday and Saturday, whenever Royal played at Reid Avenue-Kalu and the Merry Band – (so the papers of the day reported it), with Anura Rajapakse and self on button accordions, the late Anwer Thassim (‘Thassa’) on bongos, Thosai Para (now known as Dr Waran), Gane Weeravagu, the two Fernandos, ‘Ura’ and ‘MRS’, ‘Chester’ Ratnatunge, ‘Gamit’ Ameresekere, P.B. Madurapperuma, (Madhu), the late ‘Rana Betta’ (B.N. Ranasinghe), Rudolph ‘Rowdy’ Wiiliams, ‘Ombi’ Sivalingam, ‘Mahasona’ de Silva, O.K. (Omar Khayyam) Raheem, to name a few, all joining in unison in between overs and muting their efforts before each delivery, so as not to disturb any batsman of either team. Omar and ‘Rowdy’ in particular were real assets, well -versed in the oral tradition handed down by their elder brothers Jehan and ‘Alfy’ respectively. It was from them that we really got the yen and feel for the seniors. Omar, in particular, was a real treat. At times he led the way and reproduced in his own inimitable style what he had picked up aurally from his elder brother! 

So for Omar it was,

“Hona iting (for Onna Ithing)
Pata…gatha( for Patang gaththa)
Bahila selema( for baila sellama!)”
or “kusi hama Sehera (for you know what!)
Such perennial favourites as ‘Thanakola Peththo’, with the intriguing prologue,
“…..Pasyale cadju kalaa,
Beire wewe wathura beela,
Wheel-barrow eken yanawa vel balanta….” or “..Kalamediriyo –o, mokoda kapothi…” were very much up in our list.
We had our own share of innovations as well, such as, “….Aney ‘Navva’ mehata warenko, Mage langing waadi weyanko…” sung to the tune of a famous Hindi favourite of the day ‘Le Mama le Manamali’, ‘Navva’ being a tender reference to a dear class-mate of ours.

At that time, watching our cricketing heroes, little did we realize that our own classmates would in turn take on that mantle. In fact , seven of the RC ‘54 Group went onto play in the Royal-Thomian between 1961 and 1963 and win their cricket colours, to wit, Darrel Lieversz and late S.S. Kumar, who captained in 1962 and 1963 respectively, S. Thyagarajah, Padde Withane,’Kota’ Jayaratne (who still holds the Royal-Thomian wicket-keeping record for most number of dismissals in an innings ), Neil Crozier and ‘Cuckoo’ Rajaratnam, the latter being the progeny of one our respected masters, who himself played for Royal in his time and continued the good work while on the staff by assisting Royal cricket on the field ,and ‘thrashing’ resounding ‘sixers’ off it, as any of his students would readily assert. ’Kota’ and Kumar were almost inseparable on and off the field. When at the wicket the two were an absolute delight to watch: polish and perfect understanding.

But there were others in our time, also classmates, who should have played for Royal, if not for unfortunate circumstances. Of these the late Sarath Kodagoda and Geoffry Assauw were notable certainties. Sarath, that scion of a famous catering clan, who, but for a nasty injury sustained in the revived Royal-Zahira rugby encounter of 1959 (a fearful suicide expedition from Zahira’s perspective) would most certainly have adorned any Royal side. In fact, Sarath was a brilliant cricketer, a batting marvel moulded in the shadow of such cricketing greats as Mahesa Rodrigo (literally and figuratively in the shadow, so to speak, for they were neighbours then). Sarath was cited by a former Royal College master, with cricketing insight, Elmo de Bruin, “as an outstanding example of a complete cricketer.” Sarath lived, thought and loved his cricket.

Real treat 

Watching from the boundary line it was a real treat to listen to Sarath regaling us with a ball by ball ‘Test’ commentary, very much in the manner of a Rex Alston and then giving us a resume of the day’s play with the crisp likeness of a Johnny Moyes. One had only to close ones eyes to be immediately transported to the ‘Test’ atmosphere at Lords or the ‘MCG’. Sarath captained every Royal team at every age group and was well on his way……until that unfortunate injury which put paid to what would surely have been a rewarding career for him and for us. Geoffry Assauw, a brilliant batsman in the classical mould also would have adorned the Royal team if indiscretions had not got the better of him, which placed him at cross purposes with the establishment! Reliable information has it that later on he had been selected to play in a trial for Victoria and thence, perhaps, to achieve greater glory, but for his own carelessness. Geoff never turned up for that trial for Victoria for reasons best known to him!

Watching Royal cricket may or may not have made us as fanatical as that electrician, who, when asked what ‘DC’ stands for at an interview for promotion to the position of Foreman, promptly, confidently and loyally responded that ‘DC’ stands for Denis Compton, of course!

Joy and pleasure

At least as far as he was concerned he had not got his circuits crossed! Yet , it was from the Royal boundary line that we derived so much joy and pleasure-the type of pleasure only a series of scintillating centuries and a 99 in the ’56 season from the enchanting willow of wicket-keeper batsman Selvi Perimpanayagam could provide; or the sheer joy only the crafty fingers of an artiste like ‘Mynah’ Wijesinghe could offer. Who could forget that memorable effort, when the artiste grabbed four wickets in four balls, (in rapid succession, of course!) in the Royal-Ananda game of 1957 at Campbell Place, thereby earning for himself a warm niche in our hearts, (which has not lost its warmth to this day) and a cricketing memento from that great scribe S.P. Foenander- a gift of a set of books on cricket presented by Foenander himself at the College General Assembly amidst resounding cheers. Who knows the donor may have intended the young recipient to join his tribe in time to come! Who could forget the instance, also at Campbell Place, in 1959, against Nalanda, when Daya Sahabandu, sent in as the night-watchman ducked, on sweet advice proffered by skipper Sarath Samarasinghe, batting at the other end, that the next ball was going to be a bouncer, only to be hit on his neck and thereabouts by a pretty ordinary delivery, nearly getting himself declared neck b.w! Who could forget ‘Kota’ Jayaratne being carried away, horizontal, with his private parts in total disarray, after being hit by a snorter from Brian Perumal at Reid Avenue in the 1961 Josephian game. This was reminiscent of the Wesley game at Campbell Park in 1954, when A. Rabindran had to be carried off after getting his nose cracked trying to hook a bouncer off Adihetty. Who could forget the many refreshing innings played by Jagath Fernando (the one at Campbell Park in 1969, being particularly so,) culminating in that devastatingly delightful century in the 1971 Royal-Thomian, which broke Ronnie Reid’s series record for the highest score or the polished elegance of Sumithra Warnakulasuriya, who, after many a hundred for Royal, lived up to his promise in the Royal-Thomian of 1980 by scoring the highest in the series -197 runs so immaculately compiled. Decisions based on personal acrimony rather than merit prevented a promising star from representing his country with distinction.

From the boundary line one could recall at random other memorable performances by Royalists- performances that spelt character, courage and assertiveness. For instance, in the 1963 Royal-Thomian, Vijaya Malalasekera sent us literally reeling with joy on the Oval Green with a cracker jack innings of 112 not out, his hundred coming off a power packed drive, so powerful that it deflected off the hand of a writhing Roger D’ Silva to the boundary (As a former sub-continental commentator might have said: the ball went scoo-rr-sching mothe-rrr ea-rrr-th to the rr-a-a-a-ps!). It seems that Malale was seeing the red cherry like a football after lunch. What he did at lunch to improve his vision is anybody’s guess! He literally pulverized that ball and was rumoured to have been admonished by his ascetic father, a respected and avid proponent of ‘ahimsa’, for causing undue harm to both the ball and to ‘outstation’ sensibilities!

Indelible mark 

More recently in the 1992 Royal-Thomian, Gamini Perera made an indelible mark with a remarkably brilliant, match saving hundred. Given the circumstances, it was sweeter and far more rewarding than winning any match. By that innings, not only did Gamini bring honour upon his school, his team and himself, he also prevented an unique bit of history from being made. For, had the Thomians under Suresh Gunasekera, won that year, (which they most surely would have, if not for that century, Harin Samarasekera’s breath-taking half-century and Nalliah Rajan’s dogged innings), it would have been the first time (perhaps the only time ever) in the series, when a father and son would have led either side to victory, Suresh’s father the late Premalal having led the Thomian’s to victory in 1964. The wonder of Gamini’s memorable innings was that the night before, when it was all panic in the Royal Camp, he had promised his coach that he would get a century!

Whirlwind partnership 

What of Jothilingam’s hundred in the 1956 Royal-Thomian under high-fever conditions or Royal skipper Michael Wille’s identical score of 121 in 1957.What of Skipper Nirmalalingam’s scintillating sixty-nine runs in the 1954 Royal -Thomian, who, but for an unfortunate run out, would surely have got a brilliant hundred. What of the whirlwind partnership of 106 in 40 minutes by tail-enders Vidda (Vidanage) and Harsha (Samarajeewa), better known for their bowling prowess (the latter affectionately identified by a similar sounding nomme de plume then) in the Peterite game of 1960 at Reid Avenue, mostly against the attack of the firey Anton Perera and the wily Le Mercier; or Darrell Lieversz’s and R.C. de Silva’s glorious effort in routing the Peterites, comprising, inter alia, the famous Heyn brothers, Richard and David, at Reid Avenue in 1962.The two panthers, Darrell and ‘CD’, the one breathing fire and the other smoke, shared between them the twenty wickets,12 and 8 respectively, running through the Peterites by early Saturday, thereby enabling us to make it to the matinee show quite comfortably; or Ajit Devasurendra’s patient hundred against the Peterites also at Reid Avenue in 1980,in a valiant, yet futile , bid to save the game for Royal; or Ranjith De Silva’s mighty six in 1954 over covers at Campbell Park onto the ‘Mara’ tree, which was on a higher elevation on the main road, a truly ‘Mara’ six ,so to speak; or Sarath Samarasinghe, irrepressibly and dangerously slashing outside the off-stump to send the ball sizzling to the boundary; or his acrobatic wicket-keeping accompanied by that resounding ‘howzaaat!’ with or without the ball in hand; or young Chandana Jayakody’s back to the wall innings (thank Heaven that his back was to the wall!!!) with eleven hungry Thomians literally breathing down his neck and legs, to save Royal from certain defeat in the Royal-Thomian of 1984; or Thotuwilage’s two delightful innings (95 and 108) at the Royal-Thomian of 2001, where he missed creating a record of scoring twin hundreds – these were only a part of the salacious menu dished out over the years for us on the boundary line.

Hovering patiently on the Royal Boundary Line all these years has been a very pleasant and rewarding experience, indeed!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Kadalay!

A Man for All Reasons ....


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Dr. L A W Sirisena

Friday, December 27, 2013

Bogoda Premaratne is laid to rest

Gentlemen



It is with a deep sense of regret that I inform you of the demise of Mr Bogoda Premaratne, former Principal of Royal College. His remains will lie at his residence, 31, Jayasinghe Road, Colombo 06 tillSaturday, 28th of December. The Cortege will leave residence at 12:30 pm on Saturday to Royal College (College Hall from 1pm to 3 pm) and thereafter for cremation at the Kirulapone Cemetery at4:00 pm

Members are requested to gather in College tie at the College hall at 1:00 pm and thereafter at the Kirulapone Cemetery at 4.00 pm on 28th of December 2013 to pay their last respects to this distinguished Gentleman


Chandana L Aluthgama

Secretary

Sunday, December 01, 2013

RITA moves on

Educationist and the Founder principal of D.S Senanayake College R.I. T. Alles passed away a few hours ago at a private hospital in Colombo at the age of 81 following a brief illness, the government information Department said.

Mr. Alles served as the State Secretary for Ministry of Education from 1989 to 1993 and was the Chairman of the Gateway Group till his death and he is the beloved husband of Rohini Alles, and father of Tiran and Harsha Alles.

responses from the old boys:
I am saddened to note a the passing of a doyen of education in Sri Lanka. Do forward  my sincerest  sympathies  to his loved ones.
Warm regards.
Lakshman Samaranayake

Machang,
In school he was a very strict disciplinarian,and we all thought he was a monster. But inside him he was a kind,loving,gentleman of the highest caliber
May he rest in peace.
Edward Hapuarachchi

Please convey my deepest condolences to condolences to the family.  I have always remembered him as a tough disciplinarian.  I was taken by Mr R I T Alles to the Metal-work Room to be punished as I had carved my name on a very new shiny Satinwood desk in his classroom.  I had to bend and hold the desk as he was swishing the long cane.  As I glanced back, the cane went up but never came down.  He said 'You can go now' and I learnt my lesson.
 Later in life, he was very helpful when my younger brother and nephews sought admission to DSS MV.
 May he rest in peace
M J M Peroos

Dear All,
        Like Peroos my first experience was nasty.In my case the sharp end of the metal ruler did come down on my bottom at the mechanical drawing/metal work class. However as a junior and a senior cadet I came to know him as a stern man with determination to achieve.Once I believe He had fallen far behind with preparation of his year end class reports etc. he asked myself and another to help out on a Saturday .He must have thought that we were good in maths! As it involved lots of additions and standardisation of marks etc.,It was then that I realised what a devout Catholic he was.He grew up as a youngster in Akmeemana ,in very modest circumstances.Anyway his wife -with a little tot-treated us with delicious food.His passion for excellence saw him "head hunted" for the post of principal,at the then fledgling DSSenanayake school  -which prospered so much under his stewardship.His subsequent achievements at a national level in education is well known.From humble beginnings he managed to contribute so much to national education -a unique person with purpose and fortitude.
May he R.I.P

Nihal. (NPR Gunasekera)

Hi
It is nice to here from so-many guys!
Alles was someone whom I was very close to,thru' cadeting. When he left college I was the Sgt and we made a meagre collection and had a farewell dinner for him,at the dinner he requested us cadets to help him clear the plot where DS MV is and we did indeed do that,it was snake infested luckily none of us got bitten.At that time he did tell us that he will make DS as good a school as Royal and I think he has done that. 
He was someone who made an impression on me as a student both in the classroom and in the field.
I lost contact with him after i entered med sch.I did however hear rumours abt him and i am unable chk the truthfulness of the rumours!
I will always remember him as someone who was a great educationalist and someone who help mold me as a person and I am grateful to him.
My condolences go out to his family.
Rgds
Deva (Manikkarasa Devakumar)




Monday, September 23, 2013

From Booruwa to Billiards

From booruwa to billiards: Those were the days!

Reminiscing his Law College days, senior lawyer Hemantha Warnakulasuriya recounts why a witty Lalith Athulathmudali called him a ‘criminal’ and shares other memorable anecdotes
View(s): 39

When I entered Law College, my class mates at Royal College, who had entered Medical College, as their parents had dreamt, said, at our batch get-together, that they were happy that the most notorious thug that Royal College had produced had entered Law College, as the Law College was deemed to be the refuge of scoundrels, who had failed to enter Medical College.
I said “you are calling me a thug because I saved your life when that man Dole ran after you to hit you with his knuckle dusters and I saved the day by giving him the thrashing of his life time”. They replied, “You did not assault him alone, your lorry drivers did that for you.” 
Group photograph of the most exclusive and permanent members of the 'cut table'.
At Law College, we had a galaxy of teachers, including the late great Lalith Athulathmudali, Harihara Aiyar and J.A.L. Cooray.
Mr. Athulathmudali made it a point to intersperse anecdotes to his lectures to make it interesting and thereby prevented us from spending time in the canteen while others were engaged in a more lucrative pastime of participating in the ‘national past time’ or at playing ‘booruwa’, at the cut table. Once Mr. Authulathmudali said in a more jovial manner, “you know, like this word ‘Grundnorm’ I was interested in the word ‘midwife’. The whole class laughed and the girls giggled.
Who wants to be a civilian?
Then, I raised my hand and asked him, “Sir, when did you get interested in mid wife, before or after you got married?” He could not help but laugh, but was not to be outwitted by some student, who had come from a village. He immediately asked the students, ‘Please raise your hands, those of you who wish to become civilians after you leave College. ‘Civilian’ meant those who wished to practise civil law. The majority of the students raised their hands. He then looked at me said, ‘Warnakulasuriya, I always knew that you’re not a civilian but a criminal’. The whole class laughed at me.
At Law College, we had long intervals between lectures and some of the lectures were so boring that quite a few of the students did not attend them, including some of the girls. They were in the Ladies’ Room, whilst some of us were in the Canteen and some others, in different places. 
We spent most of our free time in the canteen, not drinking plain tea and smoking a cigarette, but playing ‘booruwa’ for stakes. That was where 15 or 20 lawyers, who got together and carried out the noble traditions of our forefathers, who had played the game before us. It was said that it was nothing but fair not to let the old boys of Law College down, so we upheld their tradition and played ‘booruwa’. It was the most lucrative pastime for a few of us but not for some others who had a disastrous time, even gambling with their college fees.
There were some card sharpers who knew how to produce the correct card in their favour. They were hounded out from the exalted congregation. There was no magic in this game and there was no complexity. It was called ‘booruwa’ because I believe even Homosapiens, with donkey’s intelligence, could play the game and understand it. Sometimes, it went on till 11 or 12 in the night and we used to even have visions of winning and losing.
When we came to Law College, we had heard about Mr. Pulle, the Principal, who was a stern disciplinarian. Students used to tremble to go into his room. He was aware that the students played ‘booruwa’ in the canteen. However, as some of the students were sons of Supreme Court judges and sons of other well connected people, he turned a blind eye and never walked out of his office into the canteen.
One day, we found a man with a goatee walk into college. We decided to rag him, when he returned, only to be warned by a peon that he was the new principal. Old Mr. Pulle had retired and the new person looked like a rebel with a cause. He therefore also looked much more tolerant and kind. When he became our new principal, I was told that he was a cousin of one of my great friends, Hemal. 
Praisoothy was the oldest student at college. He had been a student from time immemorial and never seemed to sit or pass exams or follow lectures, but was always in the canteen. He was skipping exams and using this as his excuse to stay at Law College. He was living with a watcher of Law College, in his small apartment, inside the college premises. He never played the card game, but always supported us and brought in new students, inveigling them to participate in the noble game.
There was a student just out of school who had entered Law College, but was frightened or shy to participate, but was hovering around the table enjoying the spectacle of his friends winning or losing, sometimes losing a grand sum nearly 100 rupees. Remember, these were days when a gallon of petrol was only Rs. 1.10.
Justice Oliver Wendell
Praisoothy turned towards the student and asked him, “Have you heard of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes?” Our young friend said, “No Mr. Praisoothy, I have only heard of Sherlock Holmes”.
“He was a great American judge. He had once said ‘before you know your case you must know your judge’. How do you come to know your judge otherwise, by intensely studying him? So before you study your law books and study the facts and become a master of fact, you must first intensely study human nature and how human beings act in a given situation. 
“The study of human nature will help you to study the judge. So, the forefather of Law College had thought about this and had introduced our national pastime to Law College, though it is not a part of the curriculum. If you want to be a successful lawyer, you must play our national Game of Booruwa”.
“But what has booruwa got to do with being a great student of a judge”? 
Praisoothy replied, “My dear brother, only the most observant people can play ‘booruwa’ and win. You must carefully observe the cards. You must carefully observe the dealer. One must carefully observe the person who holds the pack and who cuts it and his reactions, closely and intensely, you must observe how the dealer deals with his sleight of hands. You must carefully place your bets and you must carefully watch everyone else who places their bets.
You must have 100 % concentration when you play ‘booruwa’. Similarly, when you go to Courts, before you master the facts and the law, you must first have a knowledge of the Judge and observe the manner in which he smiles, the manner in which he talks, the manner in which looks at you, the manner in which he pounces on the police, the litigants and the lawyers and the dry jokes he cracks and you have to laugh obsequiously.
Even if you have obtained a ‘class ‘ from Law College, you must go through this game and undoubtedly only then you will be a successful lawyer. All those who cram and get 1st classes, without playing the game, end up being Legal executives at banks or they may become judges or join some firm. But you will see the truth of what I say in another 30 years or so. Most, of those who play the game will become great lawyers. Everybody laughed and I saw my friend immediately placing a bet and winning it!
One day, around 4 in the evening, when there were about 25 students around the table, lo and behold, who walked in — R. K. W. Goonasekera, the principal. He made a straight line towards me, who was then supposed to be the biggest veteran at the Cut Table. He said, “Mr. Warnakulasuriya and Mr. Devapura, both of you come to my office.”
I reminisced of what happened to me at Royal College when Mr. Bogoda Premaratne was the Acting Principal. When Bogoda Premaratna wanted to cane me, I said “Sir wait there is a huge bug on your coat” and tried to remove a nonexistent bug from his pure white coat while rubbing all the dirt on to his coat. Then what happened was history. 
I walked behind Mr. Goonasekera to the office room. In the room I could see the photographs of the past principal and judges. They seemed to be frowning upon us, virtually requesting the principal to kick these two ruffians out of Law College. But, instead Mr. Goonasekera spoke patiently and said, “You know I don’t object to you playing cards in the canteen. These games are played amongst the elite and in very exclusive clubs and manors. But my only objections is that my two watchers, who get a paltry salary, also play cards with you and their wives have complained to me that they do not give any money towards the upkeep of their children as they have no money left after gambling.”
This was the only time we knew that he was aware that we were playing booruwa in the canteen. “Surely”, he asked, “you should have something better to do with your time?”
I was speechless, but my friend Devapura had no such problems. He said, “Sir, sometimes our lectures start at 8 in the morning and by 10, lectures are over. Then we have to wait till 1 o’ clock doing nothing in the canteen until the next lecture starts. We have no other recreation other than to play cards. Not even a chess or carom board Sir, but if we have a billiards table we will assure that we will not touch a pack of card even at a funeral Sir.”
‘The question is funds’ the principal said. Then Ranjit intervened, “surely Sir Law College is the educational institution in the country, the board of management could easily sell some stocks or shares they have invested in South African Diamond mines sir”. 
The Principal smiled, “I don’t know about the South African Diamond Mines but find out the price of a Billiards Table and let me know’. Devapura and I quickly got into my Karmanghia and ran round Colombo in search of a Billiards table. In the shortest possible time we found one. No sooner had we found the table, it was installed in the boys common room and Ranjith proudly opened it by playing the first game. As promised we gave up playing ‘booruwa’.
Then, I reminisced what the oldest student Mr. Praisoothy had told us about our future in the profession. Therefore, I suggested that we all should walk to Jonathans Studio and take a Group photograph of the most exclusive and permanent members of the ‘cut table’. This photograph was taken in 1970. The photograph is reproduced here though, I promised the members not to name them I believe most lawyers and clients and readers would be able recognise them. 
For your information, Parisoothy’s prophecy was correct. We have two ambassadors. Four President’s Counsel , an owner of international corporate law firm in Melbourne, another jet setting corporate lawyer, attached to a prestigious law firm in Hong Kong, another having a lucrative practice in Britain, another one, who was in the working committee of a world federation of sports, two former secretaries and a former president of the Bar Association. Some of them have migrated back to their hometowns and have established themselves in their respective Bars, as leaders of their Bars, and have contributed immensely to make Sri Lanka a better place.
Only three joined the Attorney General’s Department, but as Praisoothy prophesied two of them resigned from the department and established their own practice and excelled at it, except one who is unfortunately no longer with us but ended as the Deputy Solicitor General. Then my best friend Hemal migrated to Australia and was with the legal aid in Australia. Now retired and practicing in Sydney.
Those were the days we had one of the best principles Law College ever had, who eventually became the foremost human rights lawyer in Sri Lanka. Praisoothy, long after, graduated and donned the black coat