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.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Arasa & Arul - Heavyweights of yesteryear

Herewith is a correspondence between some old Royalists of the 1964-66 era talking about old times and the majestic memories of how they managed their affairs with some of the best Math & Chemistry teachers that ever lived.

Email: To Reza Ashroff (Bawa) from Lloyd Perera in response to Bawa’s mail below

Hey Bawa Sorry I cannot help with Pope Benedict ... not had an audience with him yet. But I do recall "Pope" Emanuel form RC - who could well be a saint by now. However, if Colin Ghouse is made a saint while still in the land of the living, he might want the 72 Virgins delivered immediately - and that would definitely kill the bugger - or at least make him grumble about all the women he has to satisfy.


Email: From “Colin” Siddiq Ghouse
mohamed ghouse
Mon, 20 Nov 2006
22:51:27 +0000

Dear Bawa

circulate to our boys please.

siddiq ghouse / boston usa

Email: From Eric

Hi Guys,

I just phoned New Zealand and talked to Mr. Arasaratnam.

I said, "I and our class just want to thank you Sir, for all your greatefforts in teaching us math".

He said, "it was nothing, it was nothing"

I gave my name and asked him if he remembered me or any otherclassmate. He asked what year, and I said 1964-65-66. He said, "that was 40 years ago, I can't remember".

He asked me when I left Sri Lanka, and also asked where in Canada I was living, and if I was happy here. I said everyone in our class are well and happy and doing great. He said, "that is the main thing, if you all are happy, that's good, that's the main thing".

I told him he would probably get more calls from some of us.He said he has a son also living in Auckland, New Zealand, and a daughter living in Sydney, Australia. He does not have e-mail. But here is his phone number and address from the phonebook:

Phone: 0064 - 9 - 528 - 6602

Thecountry code for New Zealand is 64. It may be different in Sri Lanka.

I think New Zealand time is about 7 hours ahead of Sri Lanka time.

His address according to the phone book:

#14, Pyatt Cre Meadowbank, Auckland, New Zealand.

It is very easy to find someone’s phone number abroad. Just go to Google and search for the phone directory of the city you want. For Mr. Arasaratnam, search 'phone directory AucklandNew Zealand'.

I was very happy to talk to him, and I will also be writing to thank him. I think he deserves to get thank you letters from us. Better than a phone call, it is something he can keep.

Best wishes to all,


Commemt from Fazli/Riyadh KSA: I owe all my Math to Arasa who spared no pains to instil those decimals, logarithms, calculus, coordinate geometry and trigonometry into my head, and, it has certainly been the main ingedient that has facilitated my 36 year successful IT career since 1970. May God Bless them for their knowledge, dedication, cmmittment and sincerety.

Those who called/responded to Arasa after this message was circulated:

Sat Dec 2 2006


Thanks for passing Arasa's contact around. I shall write to him immediately. None of his students can forget Arasa. He made Maths so simple by teaching the basics right. He helped up to see through every problem in life using simple basics. In his own way he made us listen in class and there was no need for any additional home work or tuition. I used to be fascinated by the way he drew a perfect circle (perfect every time) on the black board in a split second, while illustrating geometry.

Thanks. God Bless Arasa!

Sube - Colombo SL

Tue Nov 28 2006

Dear Fazli,

I too called up Arasa. I was not that great in maths, but joyfully he did remember me. He even recalled that I stayed at Bamba at Temple Lane. What a joy. As all said sounded frail but was happy to hear from us.

Best regards,

Mazher - Colombo SL

Mon Nov 27 2006


It is great indeed to hear of Arasa. He did do one hell of a lot for me and maths. Unforgettable


Mon Nov 27 2006

Hi Guys,

Thanks for the contact number of Arasaratnam. I called him and he sounded good!
Made Maths seem so easy …!

Colombo Sri Lanka

Mon Nov 27 2006


I called Arasa, in NZ, a few moments ago (8;20 am Riyadh time), too, and I can tell you it was so gratifying talking to the man who spared no pains in instilling all that math into my head that has been the backbone of my IT career for the past 36 years. He sounds frail but in good health although his memory is nt what it used to be. Most important of all he was extremely happy that most of his boys were doing well in life and are successful in their careers. I think its good to call the man as he must feel good when he hears us even though he may not remember us by name anymore. He was my Frm Master in 1966, the year I left RC after the A Levels. He still couldn't remember cos he must have handled thousands of young miunds during his sucessful tenure at RC.

Who can forget a wonderful man like Arasa?

May God Bless him.

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Thoughts of an ageing Royalist

Nuwara Eliya

Rail me back to Nuwara Eliya,
There's where the tea and the pears and berries grow.
There's where the streams trickle sweet in the springtime.
There's where the mist in the morning hangs low.

Drive me round the vast open spaces,
There's where the dairy and the meat and veggies grow.
There's where the horses neigh snorting in the sunshine.
There's where the flowers bloom brightly from their bough.

Walk me up old Piduru-tala-gala,
There's where the fauna and the wily old fox roams.
There's where the rocks are hewn all over nature.
There's where true peace reigns calm in our home.

Take me down to the lush green Plains.
There's where the birds and the bees and fauna go.
There's where the world seems to end in its lifetime.
There's where the beauty of life seems to flow.

Fazli Sameer,
Riyadh 2006


Is there such a dayas tomorrow,
that will bring sunshine
and take away the rain
and the agony of pain
from this big blue marble
where humanity struggles
for survival
maybe, in vain?

Is there such a time
as the future,
that will change
the evil ways
and bring happier days
into hearts and minds
of each and evey kind
where life struggles
maybe, tomorrow?

Fazli Sameer,
Riyadh 2005

Lost in Time

We seem to be lost in time
busy with our commerce;
making money and building towers,
waging wars and reaping flowers.
What did our old folks do
in their lazy old lifetime
to bring forth such a generation
of humanity that seems to be
totally lost in time?

Fazli Sameer,
Riyadh 2005

Just a brief onversation,
over dinner;
Two Worlds had spun!

Two hearts, spoke
across a table;
Had so much fun!

Is it love,
or a loneliness;
that brings us together?

From up above,
He provides us;
A sweet scented savor!

We reach out,
so blindly, moving;
Away, out of sight!

Like two ships,
passing each other;
Through a stormy night!

Ministry of Defence, Seeb Camp, Sultanate of Oman, 1992


I set foot on the sands of the Arabian Gulf
In Nineteen Seventy Nine;
The sands, since then, have swallowed me up,
And consumed all of my time;
My time has been spent, in work and in prayer,
Through the warm Arabian Nights;
The nights have exploded and lifted me up,
To wondrous towering heights.

The streets are all paved with 24K Gold,
In the mystic Middle East;
The Gold is so pure, spreading an array,
Of a gala sumptuous feast;
The feasts are so many and time has so sweetly,
Played on my favorite song;
The love songs of life, that keep on singing,
Moving me on and on.

The nights are lit up, from the skies above,
By a million or more stars;
The twinkling stars that shine out of the dark,
Are like watchful eyes from Mars;
The eyes that peer ‘neath black silk veils,
Of sweet and charming faces;
The faces of fortune, in oil rich sands,
Of sleek and flowing graces.

How many times have I left these sands,
To return and roost back home;
But the sands keep calling, luring me back,
To its great mosques and domes;
The domes that keep shining, reflecting the warmth,
Of the sizzling noon day sun;
The sun that keeps rolling, simmering the sand,
Around, almost everyone.

A Home away from home, is what I’ve found,
In these hot and burning sands;
The sands of time, that have kept me so close,
To these wonderful Arabian Lands;
The land of Prophets and a great belief,
That one man toiled and taught;
A teacher so mighty that none could defeat,
Even though, they, in vain fought.

Let me rest beneath the burning sand,
When my day is over and done;
Let my day be near, so I can lay my head,
Beneath the scorching sun;
Le the sun shine bright, through all of time,
In this beautiful bounteous land;
Let the land flourish and grow on to become,
A heaven on earth so grand.

Fazli Sameer,
Ministry of Defence,
Seeb Camp,
Sultanate of Oman 1992

Monday, November 20, 2006

Forgotten Campaigns, forgotten Veterans

Brian Randall Kriekenbeek

Extracted from an article by Sergei de Silva - Sunday Times Nov 5 2006

Now an elderly gentlemen of 83, yet vibrant and alert, Brian Kriekenbeek recalled for the first time, during his telephone conversations with me, his memories of over 64 years. When war began, Brian felt assured of his motivation to fight: “I accepted the fact the British were occupiers, and felt the Empire was guarding Ceylon from the Japanese.” On completing his schooling at Royal College and turning 18, he volunteered to join the Ceylon Defence Force (CDF) and was accepted for officer cadet training at Diyatalawa. In December, 1942, after finishing a six month basic training course, he obtained a commission as a Second Lieutenant in B Company, 2nd Battalion, CLI.

In November, 1943, he volunteered to serve at the Burma front. Within days of selection, he entrained from Colombo to Talaimannar and embarked on a ferry to Dhanushkodi, the closest proximity from Talaimannar to Southern India on the Rameswaram coast. On January 1st, 1944, he was attached as reinforcement to the 114th Indian Infantry Brigade in the Arakan and posted to D Company, 4/5th Gurkha Rifles, as a Second Lieutenant. Brian’s tour with the 4/5th Gurkha Rifles was an outstanding experience. In his short three-week stint he was accepted by the other ranks and officers of the battalion. Ethnically, the unit’s composition was typical of the British-Indian Army of that time, mostly British officers and Indian other ranks.

His first experience of patrolling through the jungle was uneventful. However, his experiences soon changed. As he sardonically recalled, his first combat experience was: “Quite frightening because no one had shot at me before”. However, on his second dusk patrol they stumbled on to a Japanese platoon near a paddy field. Immediately both patrols began firing at each other from a distance of about 200 yards. The loud clatter and confusion of rifle and sub-machine guns firing went on for several minutes before both patrols hastily withdrew into the jungle – as he remembers, there were no likely casualties in the skirmish. Out of the six patrols with the 4/5th Gurkha Rifles, four made contact with the Japanese.

At that time, due to the static nature of their portion of the front, they had simple orders to collate field intelligence on Japanese positions, movement and numbers. As Brian said: “I conducted all my patrols at night, scouting for Japanese positions, which was pretty grim work. Night patrols were normally conducted after dinner, around 7 pm, and usually lasted several hours. We tended to stay away from the jungle tracks as they were prone to ambushes. The ‘No Man’s Land’ area we operated in was normally between three quarters to a mile in distance. At night we could not see, so we navigated with a hand-held compass which was difficult. When we encountered Japanese patrols it was always nerve wracking and confusing and we were not quite sure where they were, so we fired wildly in their direction. Once contact was made we would either drop flat on the ground or take cover and frantically scan for enemy silhouettes or muzzle flashes. If we spotted them we fired our weapons and threw grenades. The duration of these skirmish actions lasted sometimes for up to 15 minutes. Quite often contact was made out of the blue with the Japanese patrols.”

Through his encounters and experiences, he had developed an ungrudging respect for the Gurkhas he served with. “It was a brotherhood. They treated me in an excellent manner. The Gurkhas were so special, it was like working with military machines.”

Once his brief tour with the Gurkhas was over, he was posted to another unit on the Burma front for an even shorter tour as a 2nd Lieutenant in the all British composed, 1st Somerset Light Infantry, better known as the ‘SomLI’.

His posting was with C Company, 1st Somerset Light Infantry, which was attached to the 7th Division’s 33rd Indian Infantry Brigade. His duties were identical to his experience with the Gurkhas, taking part in three uneventful night patrols with no sign of the Japanese. As destiny would have it, Brian’s short two-week tour of duty with the SomLI was to be a starkly different experience. He remarks rather indignantly: “When they found out where I originated from, there was a definite change in their attitude towards me. They had very ill-informed and negative views of Ceylon and its people to the point of being condescending and just bloody rude. They didn’t like that I was an officer, didn’t respect my commission and displayed irritation when saluting me!”

Once his five-week tour of Burma ended, he was ordered back to Ceylon in February 1944 and rejoined the 2nd battalion, CLI at China Bay, Trincomalee where he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant.

Soon after, he attended an advanced infantry training course for NCOs and junior officers at the ‘Battle School’, near Weliveriya. Subsequently, he was sent to India to attend the Jungle Warfare School, at Shimoga, in January, 1945, for one month, before rejoining the CLI in February, 1945. In mid 1945, he led a group of 10 soldiers from his battalion on a special mission, escorting 26 interned Japanese POWs to India. As he recalled, “They were just poor harmless bastards who were captured probably from the merchant navy.” The escort party travelled by train from Colombo to Talaimannar, and the group was ferried to Dhanushkodi. Once in India, they travelled by train all the way to the Red Fort, Delhi, where the POWs were transferred. Brian affirms that by the end of the war the CLI furnished guards as POW escorts for at least 6-8 missions, between Ceylon and India.

Demobbed in mid 1946 he was awarded the Burma Star and the War Medal. Subsequently in 1947, he signed up as a 2nd Lieutenant in the British Army, General List Infantry (Ceylon Section) and agreed to serve with the 1st battalion, Ceylon Corps of Military Police (CCMP) that was deployed in Malaya from August, 1947, to June, 1949, where he was promoted to the rank of Captain. After Malaya, Brian returned to Ceylon and in 1949 migrated to Australia.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

S S Perera

S.S. (Chandra) Perera an icon of Royal College
By Bernie Wijesekera - Sunday Times Nov 19 2006

On a somewhat chilly evening last week, I made a slow trek despite intermittent showers to meet S.S. Perera yet another icon of Royal College.

S.S. Perera, Better known as Chandra, to his friends, he now leads a quiet life with his wife at Clifford Avenue, in a fast changing environment. Unheard and unsung, the octogenarian spends much of his leisure time playing with his grand-daughter, Maydini. She keeps her Appachi alive. Watching Tv childrens programmes (cartoons) is a source of mental relaxation for Chandra. Perera has had a cherished history at Royal College.

His father, G.G. Perera, played cricket for Royal From 1908-12 excelling on and off the field. Endowed with a rich cultural heritage his maternal aunt (Loku amma) married Simon Hewavitarne, brother of legendary Anagarika Dharmapala.When I stepped into his abode he was in the company of another diehard old Royalist.

Chandra still regularly attends Royal College Old Boys Union, meetings. One of its oldest members, he is also one of its most vociferous. His latest project is the Royal College Archives and its future. A proprietory-planter by profession, Chandra had an abiding interest in printed material, published records and statistics. His collections pertaining to the history of Royal College is probably unique, something that can only be treasured, not measured. No wonder the Stately school picked him to write and record the history of Royal College to coincide with the 150 years of Royal College.

Chandra joined Royal in 1932. He played a match or two for Royal in 1941, in a team studded with stars under O.W. Wambeck's captaincy. He jocularly recalls that year saying he was more often carrying the drinks than playing. In 1942, under Gamini Salgado, he was virtually a scorer. An early start to his life-long interest in keeping records.

His first love was cricket. Be it at Royal or for Sri Lanka, Chandra has earned world acclaim for his rare collection. A local Wisden, Chandra's services have been retained by the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka (BCCSL),Universities and Clubs. He played cricket for Panadura SC and did much to uplift its image in its formative years. Later, as he began his planting career at Weligama, Chandra became Matara SC's representative for the BCCSL. He believes in that old adage "Humility at all levels". This, he says, is what was taught to him by his parents, and the then masters at Royal. "Discipline. No nonsense. No excuses", that's his credo, something on the wane today even at school level.

Q: What kind of school was Royal College during your time?
A: Royal College was a secular school open to all races and religions. It is so even today.

Q: Who were your contemporaries ?
A: Late Elmo St. De Bruin (who passed away in the West Indies). He played cricket at College. Later, he became cricket and athletics master-in-charge. Gamini Salgado. He's another well-known planter. He later coached Royal cricket.

Q: You have an amazing collection of books and records of the History of Royal College.
A: Yes. I continued the good work of my father. He had a fine memory.

Q: How long did it take you to write the History of Royal College 1835-1985?
A: 12 years. I am thankful to the Sri Lanka Archives, The Colombo Museum Library and the Library Services Board. The Royal College Union assisted me. It was not a money making book. I spent much of my time and energy to make it a reality. The book is dedicated to our pioneer principals, whose love and devotion laid the foundation to make Royal College what it is today.

Q: The Janashakthi Book of Sri Lanka cricket. That's another achievement of yours. It has gained World recognition.
A: To this I owe a debt of gratitude to the Old Thomians and Sri Lanka Cricket, and to Chandra Schaffter and his son Prakash..

Q; You took to politics as well?
A: Well, yes, I contested the Weligama seat in 1970, and got caught to a landslide.

Q: And your planting days from 1944-72.
A: In Hallala Estate, Weligama. I was the Chairman of the village committee for many years. It was aCommunist Party stronghold. We were never paid a salary unlike today.

Q: Who was your cricketing idol?
A: Sir Donald Bradman. Despite his exploits he still led a humble life, until his last breath. Among the Sri Lankan cricketers late Sargo S. Jayawickrema.

A proud product of Royal, Sargo, had a rural upbringing and showed simplicity at all levels has to be admired. His name has to be treasured, be it at Royal, SSC or Sri Lanka.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Eulogy - by E Lorensz Pereira (Lollo)

Rosanna Helena Huntingford

Born to Eternal Life 20th October 2006

St. Leonard’s Church
349 Springvale Road
Glen Waverley 3150
Victoria Australia

I am finding it almost impossible to comprehend as to why I am standing here to deliver this Eulogy at Rosanna’s funeral. That certainly was never intended to be the script.

]She had all the credentials for a long, healthy and contented life. She had the right genes. Her Mother, Madeleine is a well preserved 80 something and Rosanna’s elegant, stately Italian Grandmother, Gungi, lived actively on a remote coconut plantation in Sri Lanka to a ripe old age. But so very, very sadly that has turned out to be not the case.

She had a very short illness suffering from that horrendous disease, lung cancer. Not once during this brief illness and certainly not during her last 48 hours did she ever greet anyone without that sweet charming smile which she maintained right throughout the conversation. This in spite of enormous difficulties in her breathing.

I understand that she passed away with that sweet smile still on her face. One could not wish for or pray for a more beautiful and peaceful departure. We thank the Lord for that very special blessing.

Rosanna had a fettishness about paying bills. She was a Creditors delight. Here she was lying in her bed, fully aware that she was dying, yet the first thing she always asked me was wether there had been any more bills that day. She drove our Daughter Anneliese crazy about paying these bills immediately. In fact Anneliese was severely admonished, just the day before Rosanna passed away, for failing to do so, on one occasion. Rosanna, will you please find some time from having fun up there, to step into my home one day and sort out the mess of my many unopened bills scattered all over the place.

Those who came in contact with Rosanna will ever remember her lovingly, as a beautiful person in every sense of the word. She was vivacious, possessing that fantastic and infectious smile that instantly disarmed anyone. She was extremely youthful looking and attractive, as you would have gleaned from the presentation on the screen. She was the Belle of Colombo. Soon after leaving school she worked as a Dental Assistant. The clinic attracted a flood of young guys, feigning unimaginable dental problems, just to be able to see her at close quarters.

I vividly remember attending a function with her in Colombo in our early thirties. This lovely little girl came up to Rosanna, pointed her finger at me and asked her “Aunty is that man your father?” It took me a long time to live that down.

As most of you would know, Rosanna and I have been divorced for about 20 years. But let me tell you that period of her brief illness and more particularly her passing away has effected me badly. I have never experienced such emotional distress before. Possibly, unconsciously, helping to share the grieving with our three children.

At moments like this one’s past is so spontaneously thrust before you. I would like to briefly allude to a few snippets from that past to give you a far better idea of the woman that Rosanna was. Importantly, it will provide our children Robin, Anneliese and Marc of some unique insights about their Mother that they never knew.

But, before I do so I would like to sincerely thank all those who have so very kindly helped me through this very trying period.

My three children Robin, Anneliese and Marc and their spouses, Robert, Katarina and Lilly. My partner, the amazing Grace, my brother Alan and wife Margot, Rosanna’s sister Meropi and husband Ratna, my work colleagues, particularly Watto who rang me a number of times on the day of Rosanna’s death and all my other dear pals. Thank you so much for propping me up. I never knew that sincere, warm, caring words and tender, loving hugs can provide so much relief and comfort.

As some of you would know, Rosanna built her home immediately abutting my home, to the rear, and lived there for the past 15 years. We became even greater pals with a focus on the children and grandchildren. This rare phenomenon of family unity involving the 2 ex spouses, Grace and our children and grandchildren was a blessing that we all valued, nurtured and thoroughly enjoyed.

I well recall the day she moved in. Late that evening I was in the shower when there was this aggressive, somewhat hostile, banging on my front door. Hastily, I wrapped myself in a towel and cautiously opened the door to find Rosanna. Before I could mutter a word, she said “I saw you from my bedroom. You were stark naked. You ought to do something about this”. I most certainly did! I built a trellis over my back fence the very next day. I cared for my front door.

osanna loved her grandchildren. With the pet being Lachlan, as he was the eldest. Lachlan spent most of his school holidays at his Grandma’s. Lachlan used to prepare an extensive and exhausting agenda for each holiday stay. It usually consisted of movies, visiting the video parlour, lunch somewhere and playtime at the park, all this all in the one day.

The program was so intensive that Rosanna obtained well needed respite by sleeping through each movie, to be woken by Lachlan to begin the next agenda item. Spencer was the other beneficiary being taken for regular play with Grandma at Lollipops. They will both miss her dearly. I had the gut wrenching task on Sunday, with Anneliese, of picking up 3 trolley loads of Christmas gifts for Rosanna’s grandchildren that she had put on lay-by. It was so very sad indeed.

Rosanna and I met when we were both 15 years old. So we have known each other in various capacities for over 50 years. Now I will be severely reprimanded by her for disclosing her age. She remained 50 for the last 15 years or so. She certainly looked it.

I was cycling one afternoon in Colombo for tennis, when I heard this distant clapping. I turned and saw this most beautiful, young, tall and slim girl with long hair and a fair complexion. I didn’t take any particular notice as girls were an alien race to us boys at this time.

On my return home, I again heard this clapping. This time, much louder and closer, it was her again. I looked into her eyes and knew at once, that she was beckoning me. I panicked and hastened to cycle faster, but to no avail. She had literally jumped in front of my bike.

Therein, began a magnificent life’s journey for both of us, that subsequently spawned two distinct families, ours and Rosanna’s sister’s who married my best mate and my rugby captain at school, Ratna. So, Robin, Anneliese, Marc and Dinesh, that was your beginning – all Rosanna’s doing. It was a classic case of the woman choosing the man who then chose her. Hereafter, every time I hear the sound of clapping, I will be thinking of her and how she hijacked me and put me on the road, that mattered, to a great and satisfying life. Many thanks, Rosanna.

Our marriage and wedding was out of a John Cleese movie. Rosanna had to make a choice of migrating to Australia with her family or staying back and marrying me. I was just out of school, no proper qualifications, no job and no prospects for the future. Yet, she decided to marry me. At the church wedding, here she was walking down the aisle, when my best man Rupert, he is here today, turned to me and asked for the ring. A desperate search occurred. I had left the ring at home. We looked around and someone produced something that looked like a ring. I will never forget the look on the priest’s face, when Rupert handed him that strange contraption.

Finally, a very personal and painful confession. I need to say this for Rosanna and for the sake of her children. I have lived with this guilt, this pain, this enormous hurt that I had caused her some 40 years ago. It has tormented me from time to time.

It arose when I left to further my education in the UK. Rosanna and Robin were left behind. We didn’t see each other for almost 3 years. Whilst I was living an indulgent lifestyle, Rosanna and Robin struggled through life, more or less on their own, on a very limited budget. Last Wednesday, 2 days before Rosanna passed away; we had a quiet moment to ourselves. I began to apologise for the enormous hurt I had caused her and Robin. She cut me short, kept smiling, shrugged her shoulders and ever so gently whispered, “its ok”.

That was typical of Rosanna, - no grudges, no malice, no hatred. I then asked her, why she had waited so long for me. There was no hesitation in her reply. She said “Because I loved you very much and because I wanted Robin to grow up with his dad”. Such magnificent touching words that will echo in me for a lifetime.

Rosanna, my eternal gratitude to you for your unmeasurable contribution in every possible way to our lives, and for the legacy that you have left me in Robin, Anneliese and Marc –my dearest and best pals.

By the way, just a quick reminder about sorting out my bills.

With Much Love - Your Ex

26th October 2006

"May she rest in Peace"