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.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Soda's of Royal

Emma Fernando's Class

Sometimes when masters-in-charge were absent, one of the boys was asked to "look after the class".

Once it so happend,1/4 Soda volunteered. (Who listens to 1/4 Soda, anyways?). We were having a merry time, playing football, some shouting, some chatting.

Art Master, Mr. Emma Fernando (who died in Canada), walked in, "Who is in charge?" 1/4 Soda put his hand up. "Get up on the form" was the order. This happend in the West Wing 3rd. floor 2B Ruperty's class.

Next small class was 1/2 Soda's. By some misfortune, 1/2S had gone to the WW lobby canteen under the stair-well, to get his cuppa. He was walking very carefully not to spill any tea. Telepathy must have awakened his alfa rays, he glanced sideways to the left and carried on deftly.

I can still picture how 1/4 S shivered like a chic that was to be slaughtered. Back came 1/2 S., Upturned left palm and crooked index finger was giving the order. One good ‘Kaney’ on the cheek, one good kick on the running offspring. 10:30 interval. 15 mts. rest.

Hapu - Apr 5 2006

RSR & 1/4 Soda

There are so many stories on the exploits of 1/4 Soda. I remember RSR telling me one day that he was on duty at Katunayaka Airport when SL refugees who went to Germany were deported back to Sri Lanka.

Apparently R S R was the senior officer there with instructions to bring everyone back and remand them. When the refugees came in escorted by German police officers he heard someone shout "Hullo R S R", yeah you are right it was 1/4 Soda who was one of the refugees.

Needless to say RSR, in his own peerless style saw to it that all, except for one refugee who somehow was smuggled out of another doorway, were remanded. And 1/4 Soda escaped to perhaps even have another attempt at crashing into the 3rd Reich all over again.

That was the way the '59 groupers helped each other. Great days, huh?

Half Soda Kick

I remember hearing the story about 1/4 S getting a kick from the father, I was in 2C, Soda's class and I remember how scared he was of the father. One thing is that 1/2 S was very consistent . . . every one got the same kick irrespective of whether they were offspring or otherwise.

Wasn't Emma Fernando, the Vespa scooter master, WW Art Room, who had a rather unusual Musto, the one who was rather cuddly with Malani Saranapala from the Canteen?

Wonderful days Hapu, our children do not have time for fun, its very sad.

Nihal - Apr 5 2006

Rasavath Mems: From Prasanna in OZ:

Machang oo quarter soda neda? Ugey pappa the master ne half?

Also still mystery who changed Bella's clock. Niki Cum thama suspect...

Jayasinghe was the older of the two peons. The younger, darker chap?

Then the ground boys: David & Noor no? During a speech, I mistakenly ref'd to Deen here.

Your rasavath memories can go on. I enjoy them as they are short & sweet - and you write like a short story writer rather than Martin Wicks or WA Silva ! Very funny spirit - glad to see the boy has kept up his school spirit. Most people don't respond to any email, so just ignre their silence and keep until your mind's empty. Upto them to tell you. Your em's are not a nuisance ....... donta wurry U.

Prasanna Mendis
Apr 5 2006


In those days of glass bottles for areted water, soda came in two sizes, full and half.Considering the similarity in hight and shape, some far thinking Royalist named Mr.Sabaratnam - HALF SODA. Nihal, you are right. If father was half, son has to be quarter, that is simple logic. Thank you once again. If I remember right there was a third Sabaratnam, younger brother of our mad bugger. Wonder if he was known as 1/8 Soda?

According to what I heard, about changing Bella's clock, many of people suspect Niki Kum. Opinion is divided whether Niki did the job solo. In my view, Niki must have had a team of dare devil 59ers such as UCJ, NC, MHS Anil K, together with some seniors. But Niki must have gone in to bell the cat. Lets give full credit to Niki.

Jayasinghe was the old cad. Dovan Singho was the squint eyed darkie. Curly haired peon without a portfolio was Piyadasa.

Principal's peon was Kulatunga. Lab boys were Dabare and a darkie clad in National suit. I forget the lab asst. name. I owe a beaker.

RCH had head boy (50 or older) William, Piyasena, Sugathadasa.etc.etc. Matron, Ms Ratnayaka, ayahs - Podinona, Roslind, Kamalawathie (dark beauty) etc.etc.(lots of stories)

Ground Boys- David and Noor (both bastads) story later.

Hapu - Apr 4 2006

Comments from Nihal

I can fully understand your remembering ayah Kamalawathie . . . . but to remember all the others so lucidly is truly great. Can I ask you what your diet is?? A lot of us can do with a few more memory cells.

Half Soda sure had a lot of oomph resulting in "the urge to merge", often. If I remember right there were a lot more bottles in the family, and I think someone did mention that either 1/8th or 1/16th died tragically after being run over by a car. In fairness to the car driver it may not have been his fault as all Soda's were prone to bouts of absolute madness!!

I fully endorse Prasanna's line about most people not responding to mail, normally I would not have either. I responded so fast because I enjoyed it thoroughly and did not want it to stop.

Great stuff machan, keep the press rolling. I am sure we are in for some good episodes in the future. Hope Faz can cope with all this . . websites, writings on Kollupitiya, Bamba, keeping his full complement of 4 wives content . . grandchildren etc. etc.

Nihal - Apr 5 2006

Goo Siebel

The RC Cadet Platoon

The year was 1960.Junior Cadets were drilling like mad for the prize giving. The place was the triangular opening between the hostel and west wing lobby. From the hostel dorm B we could see the cadets below. Seibel was incharge of the platoon.

UCJ, Ambe, Sri Muruga, SY Sam (RIT's Bil), DERH and some others were watching the platoon below. Seeing Seibel commanding, we decided to have some fun off him. He was a man with a short temper. So all of us ij one go shouted, " 1! 2!! 3!!!, Ado Goo Seibel". This went on for about 3 or 4 times.

What we did not see was Mr.Wickremaratna (Music Guru) under the hostel lean-to-roof below.

He came round and caught us red handed and granted us a 1000 lines "I will not disturb the Cadets, and will behave myself in future".

Hapu - Mar 29 2006

True Tales of Terror from the 59er days

Majestic Theatre

A palm-sweating experience of finding myself and a pal seated right next to Nondi Senaratne, Kataya's bunching pal, at the Majestic Theatre at a matinee during school hours. Luckily, he was full of approval for our taste , and never dobbed us in.

– Prasanna Mendis /Australia

Loose Neck Guneratnam

Many times have I encountered loose-neck Gunaratnem at places outside College during school hours, but never bothered, and he too would have been too far away mentally to know or care. -

– Prasanna Mendis / Australia

The 2-10 Cut

Cutting college during the 2:10 interval to go for the matinee at Majestic, wasn’t I surprised to bump into Dudley driving past me on Thurstan Road when he pulled up by the curb and had me get in his car and brought me back to College and almost suspended me from my O levels. It was after much pleading that he spared me and also saved me from letting my old mman know.

– Fazli Sameer / Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Spicy Snippets from RPS 1953-58

Mrs De Alwis & the Rickshaw Man

Mrs De Alwis, who was a retiring teacher soon after we joined RPS was my grand aunt. I remember my first days in school when I used to travel at her feet in her rickshaw (drawn by her faithful rickshawman Sandanam) along with my cousin Alaine who was in a parallel class at Ladies. Must have been some sight... three in a rickshaw!!!

Jeremy Perera – May 17 2006

RPS English Medium Mafia

Schoolboy gang warfare at RPS was at its peak with the two big gangs from the English Medium class, led by Maurice Chapman (Maurie’s gang) and Nigel de Kretser (Naiya’s gang), which I am sure many of you will remember. Although I was not a member of either of the gangs and never got involved in the many confrontations and fisticuffs that took place by the drain near the maypole and on the grounds behind the pavilion, it was always fun to keep abreast of the latest situation on the ground and who had beat up whom and when and where and why and how. I bet many of you must have lots of interesting episodes to tell on the RPS “mafia”? It was true Al Capone style in its own small and special way.

The Sinhala and Tamil medium boys too had their own little gangs that did their own little things within the confines of the school.

Smashing Golubellas

I also remember smashing Golubellas into the drain behind the 1C Class during lunch breaks. It was a pastime and funny to see the shells crackle on the cement. I know its cruel but at the age of 5 who knew about cruelty and stuff? Imthiaz Jaffer and I never failed to break the back of a snail whenever we found one.

Mrs Croning and poor ole Gramps

My paternal grandpa, May God Bless his soul, used to bring me to RPS in a rickshaw too and he even used to sit in the circular cage meant for the “abbots” (maids or ayahs) until school was over during my very first few days at RPS in Jan 1953. I used to peep out of the door of Mrs Cronings class and call out for him, saying, "Appa Appa" which meant "Grandpa" as we used to call him, in order to make sure that he was still there and had not gone home.

One fine morning, Mrs Croning seeing me calling out to him, called out for him very sternly and chased him away from the school saying “these grandfathers are the ones who are spoiling the kids today” and telling him never to stay in the abbot cage anymore. That incident is so vivid in my mind I can still picture the whole scenario with Mrs Croning screeching out in her hot black curls and poor old Gramps slowly walking away. She was a great teacher and he was a wonderful Gramps for all of us too.

May God Bless them both!

Fazli – May 16 2006

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Old Crocks at the Roy-Tho

March Madness

Metha, Preman, Weera, Soori, PH Wicks, Bass Suraweera, and the rest had organized the crock. A red Hillman California tourer. We were in the middle of the procession. We went pass the OLD SILK ROAD (College, Thunmulla, Havelock Rd, Vajira Rd, Galle Rd, Bamba, Kollupitiya, Polwatta Church, Bishops, Turret Rd, and finally, Eye Hospital Junction.)

Right opposite the present ODEL gate, the car tilted to the left. Believe me, we saw the front tyre rolling past the Piliyandala Bus Halt! Poor owner/ driver ran behind the tyre, and brought it back amidst hoots and catcalls of bystanders.

We took a taxi back to the Oval.

Edward Hapuarachchi
May 14, 2006

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Tonsorial Treasures

Edwins Barber Saloon

Do any of you fellows remember Symbo Abeysinghe? He was in the RCH for a short time. He was a ‘60 Grouper. He used to sweat all the time. His mother was closely related to the Bernard Botheju knit wear pioneer family.

Symbo's Haircut at Edwin's - Dehiwala

Edwin's Hairdressing Saloon at Dehiwela, as it was called, had all modern equipment of the day, for a gentleman's haircut. Shampoo, Singe, Massage, Washing while seated, Hot air blow-dry etc etc.

The entrance, a small sitting area with swing doors beyond where 4 barber's tilting seats werfe located with a wash tub in front of each comprised Edwin's. Patronized by elite of the town and many from far away as Matara. (Metha should vouch for this).

Edwin the burly barber, white sarong, white shirt, broad black belt and no slippers(duck foot), who would chat for hours non stop even with a corpse, was the proud owner of this prestigious establishment.

It was a Saturday, our friend Symbo went in and sat at the reception area. After about a quarter hour, Edwin appeared through the swing doors said, "Enna Sir" (Come Sir). Edwin must have had telepathy to sense trouble, anyway asked one assistant to attend to Symbo, Abe. Our man was duly seated, a clean sheet was wrapped tightly around his neck which covered the barber's chair and all.

A quick trimming, by clak,clak barber machine and scissors, followed by razor and dettol spray, wiped clean and he finished the job.

The assistant then asked Symbo "Sir Shampoo". Symbo nodded. Shampoo finished.

There was more, "Sir Singe". Nod again. "Sir Massage" , OK.

At the end of the massage Symbo was snoring, only to be woken by the assistant with a bill for Rs.7.50 on a tray.

Symbo said "I only have 35 cents." (that was the cost of a haircut those days)

Listening to all this was Edwin the Barber, took Symbo by the hand and asked "Where do you live?".

"Kawdana Road" was the answer.

"OK, Come", and the duo were walking down to Kawdana Road and finally came to No 63 where Symbo lived.

Symbos mum was drying the daily washings on the line and seeing he two, asked" Mokada?" (What?)

Edwin expecting the Rs.7.50, poured down the saga from A to Z.

The wise lady asked Edwin one single question.

"Kawda me podi lamainta oya magul karanna kiwwe."
(Who asked you to do all this fancy things to a child of this age)

Edwin the Barber - "OK, H@#$%^& Putha, let me catch you at Dehiwala Junction."

To this day Symbo avoids walking on the land side of Dehiwala Junction.

Hapu - May 13 2006

New Monia!

Spelling at Royal

1960, 2nd form 2B, I think. Pol Tokka, Lionel Samararatna, was our English Teacher. Spelling and Dictation was his specialty.

Allan Ebert was on my left I forget the name of the Tamil chap who sat on my right side. The killer word for the day was Pneumonia. I was very poor in my spelling and wrote "New Monia" and showed the chap on the right. He nodded his head as if to indicate OK. As he had a hidden smile, I showed Allan Ebert who almost dropped dead. Then, like the good chap he is, he showed me the proper spelling. I soon copied it carefully and gave the book to Quarter Soda who was collecting the books for Pol Toks.

The following day, marked books were given back, the only correct word was pneumonia. Tamil chap had written Newmonia!!!

I am sure Allan must have forgotten this episode. But it stuck to me like glue.

Edward Hapuarachchi
May 12 2006

Buruwa at the RCH

Losing one's pants

Saturday & Sunday mornings at the RCH was real fun. Karunathilaka, HSL, brought this game to the RCH. "BURU GAHANAWA" or "Asking/Hitting", we had heard about but never played in our lives.

There was a battered pack of cards in the junior common room. He brought this up to Dorm A, SJW Ambepitiya, DR Pulleperuma, Nihal Cane, UC Jayasinghe, SW Athukorale, Akram Dawood, KI Mahmud and myself sat on two beds close to the door forming a circle. HSL started serving. First he put two cards aside and served the cards into two lots. Collected the cards again, put two aside and asked UCJ, "What?". UCJ said Queen of Hearts. The next card served on UCJ was Q of H.

The game went on like this with no real fun. As our cash reserves were very low, didn't want to play for money. Believe me! we thought playing for money was WRONG/BAD.

There was one little thing we all had in common. Can you remember, before the age of Zip fasteners there were wooden STUDS which soon was injection molded in plastic. Each pair of shorts or longs had 4 to 5 corresponding button holes on either sides of the trouser front opening. They were sold in a card of ten and cost a buck a card.

We soon started playing for STUDS. I can very well remember, Pulle, KI Mahmud and Palitha Mancha lost all buttons to seasoned gamblers, HSL and SW Atukorale. Ambepitiya with the last two buttons was seen semi nude in the Study. Asked what happened to the trouser studs came out with the story.

Asking Hitting for trouser Studs was officially forbidden.

Nihal Cane and I were dancing the "Red Indian war Cry" around Pulle who lost all studs but still could have visited Queens House in that Navy Blue pair of shorts without embarrassing the Queen. (Can't see in the dark Ne?)

May 12 2006

Monday, May 08, 2006

Karunasekera, the famous Punter

Evils of Cigarette Smoking

Dear Fellows,

Karunathilaka HSL, had a cousin Karunasekara. He was a boxer, ruggerite and RCH & RC cop. We were in our last year at college 1967/68. He had left about 3 years earlier. We, (Prasad Koralegama, late DM Jayasinghe, PH Ratnaseela, Walla de Silva) normally go to Lion House Bamba. for tea and punt (tea-10 cents, punt 4Aces 8 cents) after combined studies at our boarding house at 10, Lauries Rd. We entered Lion House and sat at the usual table covered by the wall.

Karunasekara seeing us asked whether we were still at college. Obvious answer was YES. He started to tell us the harm smoking could do to our lungs. Boring it was for the complete lecture went on for nearly half an hour after which we all got up to drop PH Ratnaseela at the bus stand on Bullers Road. We were walking back, and who walks out of Lion House with a punt in hanging from his mouth, the great lecturer on lung cancer KARUNASEKERA. We all had a good laugh.