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.

Monday, January 29, 2007

A Doctor Remembers - 3


In the early days, the acting Principal was H.J. Wijesinghe, who was nicknamed "Paraya", would take a few shots and come staggering into the study section. He was a small man, with thick glasses and trousers ankle length.

One day the boys got some of their friends to come on bicycles to the proch when "HJ" was walking in a tipsy manner in our study and shout "Paraya, how many shots have you taken?" - whereupon old "HJ" charged downstairs to find no one - much to our amusement and his amazement.

Whoopie Cushion "Poo-ee-ee"

Wheneer there was a latecomer to thge study one of us would blow up a "whoopie cushion" and put it under his seat - the unsuspecting chap would come dashing into the study and sit down without being noticedd by the Master - only t be highly embarassed by the "pooo-ee-ee" noise emitted by cushion - there would be peels of laughter all around much to the annoyance of the supervising Master - who would bellow out, "who made that horrible noise?"

Needless to say everyone was silent and concentrating on their books.

Fishy Story

Upen and myself had a fish tank at the back of the study by a large window. We would trek all the way to Wellawatte to the famous fish vendor - Atukorale - on Sundays and purchase Gouramies, Swordtails, Platies, Angel Fish, Gold Fish, Guppies etc. This was from pocket money saved and kind gifts from my grandfather, who lived in a "Mansion" (Clare) next to Ladies College.

We noticed that the fish tank was gradually getting filled turning an orange color. We would rise early morning empty half the tank and refill it with fresh water. The next day too the same problem occured and this went on for one week. Then, we decided to keep awake when the lights went out. To our great surprise we found a very senior boarder using the tank as his urinal.

The next day we laid an ambush with two catapults and sharp stones. When the culprit came and started his performance he was greeted with shots from the catapults and a shower of stones aimed to perfection by our friends. From that day on the fish tank had clear water and no dead fish.

Raining at the Board Meeting

There were two bathrooms for us juniors upstairs with one shower in each bathroom. Soon after games some of nthe guys would come before us, get into the bathrooms and lock the doors. The only access was out of the windows and on to the 10" ledge which led to the other window.

On one occasion one of the chaps climbed out of the window and started edging himself towards the other window. Half way, the urge for a call of nature overcame him and he decided to pass water like a fountain. It so happened that the zBoard of Governors were having a meeting downstairs and one of the Governors was heard to say, "I say, lets go inside its started to rain"

Sunday, January 28, 2007

A Doctor Remembers - 2

Life in the boarding for over two years was great fun and full of incidents. Rising time was 6 am and we had to go down for physical training at 6:30. Our teacher was Dharmasena - a huge man bustling with muscles - he was nicknamed "Kaakka" - Crow - as he was so black! Fifteen minutes of brisk exercise, followed by a wash and breakfast between 7:00 to 7:30 am. All of us had to drink a glass of milk which I disliked. Often my friend late Nissanka - called with affection "Jelly" - would come early have his breakfast and drink his milk. I would exchange the glasses - my full glass for his empty one. Mr fernando would send for "Jelly" and get him to drink the second glass in spite of his protesting vehemently! "Jelly" in later life became a lawyer but died very young.

We had morning study from 7:30 am to 8:30 am. School began at 9:00 am, lunch interval was between 12 Noon and 1:00 pm. School closed at 3:00 pm. Our evening studies were from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm., followed by dinner and bedtime at 9:00 pm.

There was a colleague - Vohra Indra - who could not keep his eyes open during night studies and would fall asleep. The Master on duty who paraded up and down would see (Indra asleep and give him a tyhundering knock which would send all of us into fits of laughter. We called Indra "Bassa" - A Night Owl.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

A Doctor Remembers - 1

Extracted from the book "The Life Story of Dr Nihal Karunaratna", by Dr Nihal Karunaratne of Kandy, Sri Lanka"

In January 1940 my father, (Dr George Wilfred Karunaratna), took me to the Royal College Boarding in his black Mercedes Benz. The Hostel was the large mansion of Sir James Obeysekera called "The Maligawa", situated on 10 acres of land opposite Royal College on Reid Avenue. It had an enormous drawing room, library and dining room downstairs with expensive antique furniture. Upstairs was the dormitories, Forms I-II on the left side, Forms III-V on the right side, and the sweniors in the middle. The Masters in Charge had two rooms on either side. Downstairs was Matron Albrecht's Dormitory for those in Royal Prep.

My father told the Master who was at the front entrance, "this is my son Nihal - I'm giving him in your charge! If there is any problem let me know." He got into his car, turned around and said, "Make me proud of you, son" and drove away. Baffled, terror stricken and sad I watched the car drive away - Mr Mendis politely said, "Boy! Take your suitcase, go upstairs, turn right, and your dormitory is there, find yourself a bed and locker." My suitcase consisted of three white shorts and shirts, two khaki shorts, two blue shorts, and three colored shirts, three sarongs, three pairs of socks and tennis shoes, three towels, four sheets and three pillow cases. At the age of 10 carrying that weight was like carrying Sigiriya Rock on my back!

Having struggled upstairs I found a vacant bed by the wall and with difficulty I got the suitcase on the bed. On the adjoining bed was a slim dark lad. I greeted him by saying, "I am Nihal from Kandy and Trinity." to which he replied, "I'm Zylva, Maliyadeva and Kurunegala." and so began my life long friendship with Dr. Upendra de Zylva, my cousin and closest friend. We made a formidable combination that ruled the Junior Dormitory!

pp 18 & 19 - Royal College Boarding Days

Dr. Nihal Karunaratna has been practicing as a family physician for the past 46 years since joining his father, the late Dr. G W Karunaratna in 1959. Like his father and six uncles before him, he was educated at Royal College, Colombo, and Clare College, Cambridge. Thereafter, he followed in his father's footsteps toi Middlesex Hospital London.

He is the author of "Udawattakale - The Forbidden Forest of the Kings of Kandy", "from Governors' Pavillion to Presidents Pavillion", "Forest Conservation in Sri Lanka from British Colonial Times" and "Kandy Past and Present".

He served the University of Peradeniya as a member of the Council from 1982 to 1989. In appreciation of his service of over 35 years to inculcate a sense of environment awareness and to take the idea of environmental conservation to the youth, the public and government officials, and for the preservation of the unique forest of Udawattakale, he was awarded the Degree of Master of Science, Honoris Causa, by the University of Peradeniya.

His unique record of service to the general public was recognized by the award of the National Titular Honor, "Deshabandu", in 1991.

For the valuable service rendered to the Kandy Society of Medicine, the general public at large, and the contribution in environmental and wild life conservation, he was awarded the Fellowship of the Kandy Society of Medicine. In appreciation of his services to the people of Kandy in chairing the Kandy Hospital Committee for 28 years and collecting public donations of over 150 Million Rupees for the expansion and improvement of the services of the General Hospital, the Kandy Municipal Council named Hantana Road as Deshabandu Dr. Nihal Karunaratna Mawatha.