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, January 23, 2008

Sixties Stories from RC

The Colombo Oval, 13th & 14th March 1963, Randy Morrell wins the toss and elects to bat. With the score at 254 for 9, the Thomians declare and S.S. Kumar’s boys are in trouble, Cosby is out for 2 and Hamza follows suite, Royal are 17 for 2, Skipper SS scores a single and he’s out for 1, Shaw hangs on batting cautiously with Malale, and then Shaw is caught at 27, Royal are now 42 for 4, Cedric joins Malale and the fireworks start. Those whose heads are heavy, after too much spirits and are in a horizontal state, start to rise like Zombies, staggering yet watch the magic unleashed by Malale.

There aren't many old crocks on the roads after the match, light house too is quiet, everyone is at the Race course, at the Blue and Gold Fair. The popular requests on the public address system, are Elvis Presley’s “Suspicions” and Cliff Richards “ The Young Ones”. Yes, we were the young uns at that time.

After 4 hectic days, Thursday to Sunday, our first carnival and the Royal Thomian, Dudley has decreed that the term exams would start on Monday.

Representations and objections, fell on deaf ears and so we decided to take the law into our own hands, Monday morning the entire class [ lower VI ] met at the Dehiwela zoo, Tapare Jayasekera brought along his guitar. Our first stop was the monkeys cage, where we taught the monkeys to smoke and also other intimate stuff which they learnt so well, that when groups of schoolgirls came, they proudly did what they were taught, which made the girls blush and run away in embarrassment, much to our amusement.

The next stop was the rhinoceros pit, after being chased away from the monkeys, before long we were chased away from here too as we were trying to coax the rhino to jump out of the pit. Next morning, the whole lot were called to the Conference Room with Dudley threatening to suspend anyone without a valid excuse letter. Luckily, all had letters of excuse . We did regret our action of the previous day, as Thayaparan, our botany teacher, an old Royalist himself took our boycott as something personal. However much we tried to explain that it was not his paper that we boycotted, but the first exam he would not listen to us. A few months later he left college, which made us feel guilty. However, he was in for another rude shock, for one Saturday morning he took us to the Negombo Lagoon, on a botany expedition. As we got off from the cars Kaiyyum KKB, got a bright idea of jumping into the lagoon and committing suicide. At first we were all worried, then we realized this was just a hoax, poor Thayaparan was sweating and in a panic and it took him about half an hour to persuade Kaiyyum not to end his life .The moment Kaiyyum agreed to abandon his threat we were all bundled into the cars and back we returned to College, end of the botany expedition. The following year,we coaxed Cos Dias to take us on this trip and he took us to the Bamba beach to study sea plants. The moment he bent down to examine a plant, most of us took off, for the Holy Family back wall was right behind us. We climbed the back wall, and started screaming for the girls to come out. It was a thrill for us to approach the girls from the back door. At that time we were unaware that to our friends in Mt Lavinia, an approach from the rear was a done thing. Cos Diaz, was so mad when he caught us, the trip was abandoned and back we were in college.

Around this time, EC Kataya was trying to emerge as the disciplinarian of the upper school a self appointed role he was trying to take on supported by a few losers in the staff like Thillainadarasa ( aka Sonny Liston) AK Sharma, and a few others. Lower sixth second term exam, Thilla comes to class to supervise and immediately walks upto Lloyd P, who was buisy answering his paper lifts him up and gives him an upper cut. Lloyd is dazed and falls back onto the seat, about 5 of us with KKB in the forefront escorted Lloyd out of the class and walked him over to the Cinnamon Gardens police station. While escorting Lloyd to the cop station we could see the whole gang ( Kataya and his stooges) looking out from

a classroom noting down the guys accompanying Lloyd. At the cop station,while Lloyd sat dazed we made a statement which was more descriptive than a Muhammed Ali, knock out fight and Lloyd signed the statement. The inquiry by the cops went on for about 6 months till Thilla had to finally apologize to Lloyd, and this brought an abrupt end to Thilla’s boxing career at Royal, but started the fight between Kataya Gunasekera and us.

Unfortunately, Kataya was our zoo master and just after this incident he was able to get his revenge. While the rest were dissecting the rat, according to the priciples laid out in the text book, I cut the scrotal sac and had the testes in my forceps scouting for a suitable person to put it on. There was NR Fernando, trying to emulate his father who was an anesthetist, very busy dissecting, removing his hanky from his pocket every 5 mts to wipe the sweat off his face. So I walked up to NR, and managed to lodge the testes in his hanky, little did I realize that Kataya was watching my every move. A few minutes later

NR took the hanky out and wiped his face unaware that he was rubbing the rats testes all over his face and when he realized that he had the testicles stuck to his face, there was pandemonium. Kataya threw me out from class, for the rest of the year and unfortunately he was the zoo teacher in the upper VI th, first and second year as well, so I was out of his class from mid ’63 to the end of December ’65.

February 1963, NR & Dr. Kanda are suspended from college, as they were caught by the Principal cutting college. They were standing for a bus right opposite the Principal’s bungalow in Reid Ave. That afternoon NR decides to run away from home and he comes to my place in a morris minor taxi, he sits in the backseat refuses to get down and he says “ machan, I am running away from home, pay the taxi fare”, which was about 3 bucks, big money in those days. So I went down the lane collecting money and finally

paid the fare. We now go over to Gamini Edirisinghe’s ( Kalu Albert), which is a few yards away from my back door . NR relates his story and asks for Albert’s bike to which Gamini responds “ you run machan, but leave my bike and run”. In 1984, I go to the UDA head office in Colombo, to meet Dr.NR, he was the legal advisor to the prime minister and also Deputy Chairman UDA, over a property in Kandy damaged during the 83 riots.

I was called in immediately and over a phone call to the Kandy branch, the matter was resolved. I thanked him and when I was leaving he says “ ado, thank you wont do, what about my fee”. I then reminded him that I paid a retainer 21 years ago, he looked puzzled about my fee”. I then reminded him that I paid a retainer 21 years ago, he looked puzzled and when I reminded him that I paid his taxi fare, I was chased out with Fs and Bs.

1964, encouraged by his goons, Kataya without Cos Dias’s permission forcibly puts an additional desk and chair in Cos’s room for himself. Cos was then head master upper school . Kaiyyum and I walk into see Cos, usually we are full of smiles when we go to see Cos, but this day we had glum looks on our face, and when Cos inquired why, we told him we were disappointed with him, that he was scared of Kataya and that before long Kataya would take his seat and throw him out. We dared Cos to throw Kataya’s desk and

chair out of his office and not to tolerate him. Next morning, we noticed the desk and chair were thrown out of the office and we congratulated Cos, that ended Kataya’s pranks for a while.

1962, lower V Kota Silva’s Latin exam. Two and a half rows are copying from Mung Ataya’s paper. I am next to Mung and Kadalay Janz copies from me and it goes down to the rest on kadalay’s right and from there to the last 2 rows. Mung, suddenly hits his hand on his forehead to attract our attention and inserts a word, we follow suite . The next day Kota slaps the entire 2 1/2 rows for writing filth in the Latin exam. The last two in the last row were Hans Kinch and Rukoniva, the Dutch and Polish ambassadors sons,

twice the height of Kota, he stands on his toes and slaps them too. Mung inserted “Clitoria”, he Latinized the clitoris and before handing over his answer script scratched it off, while we thought it was a latin word and paid the price for it. This made me change over to Madam’s English lit class the next year. In the 60s, trousers had no zips, but buttons . Kobbe’s trousers had no buttons and he didn't wear any underwear either. He sat right in front of Madam, and when the class was engrossed in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, Kobbe’s trio would venture out from the buttonless trouser to listen to the antics of Portia and Bassanio trying to save Antonio’s pound of flesh from Shylock. Then madam notices the 3 who should not be in the class and says ‘Umagiliya sit properly”, Kobbe just slips them in and before long madam repeats the 3 words again, this interruption occurs at least 3 or 4 times in class.

Like in the movie The Great Escape, where the allied POWs discover they have a master forger in their midst, we too discovered one in the college hostel. Unlike the POWs who were forging travel documents, we only needed new report cards. So before the end of term we bribed Dudley’s peon Kulatunge, and he in turn gave us the reports in their recycled brown paper envelopes with the Raja Sevaya Pinisa seal on it

and in addition blank report cards. We met at no: 27 Bagatelle Rd, which was Jega’s residence and our club house and the original reports were read out loud, amidst jeers and cheers at the marks and comments. Then the blank report cards were filled out and every subject was in the 90s, Dudley’s comments “Unsatisfactory” in the original report now read “Excellent” in the forged version and the signature looked more authentic than Dudley’s . These were now replaced in the envelopes and mailed out and the originals were kept safely with the parent or guardian’s signature being signed by the master forger. Everybody was happy, parents were happy with the reports and the teachers with the original reports that were turned in with the “parents signature” at the beginning of the new term. Only, I missed the little fun I had at the expense of a friend who lives in Alfred Place. Before we discovered the master forger, the original reports were mailed home, and I used to visit this guy on the day the reports arrive at

home. He used to get 3 and 4 for chemistry and physics and when I get there in the evenings, his father used to bat to me for about half an hour till our friend finishes his bathroom session. So on the day the report arrives, the topic of discussion is studies and marks. When I am asked for my marks I say 97 and 96 for chemistry and physics, and start batting about how easy these subjects are if one devotes at least 2 to 3 hours each day to study at home. I avoid him the next day at school knowing fully well that he would have got the works at home, and he comes looking for me and I get a work out full of Fs and Bs, for he is gated.

1964, Kalu Albert makes the mistake of announcing that his 18th B’day was the following week. When we asked him for a party, his reply was, you beggars will eat and go and will not bring any presents. We promised to bring presents, still he said no till Lionel Peiris assured him that we would bring gifts. So on that day, about 35 guys were at Gamini’s all with gifts, shirt boxes well wrapped in brown paper, as in the

sixties there was no gift wrapping paper. I had no shirt box and found a box for the “Morning Pride” shaving cream tube. So I filled it with pebbles and put some old cloth on both ends so that it would not rattle if shaken. Wrapped this in brown paper and walked over for the party, 18 year old Gamini was beaming he had received 35 gifts and when he took mine, his first question was “Is it a wristlet or a moth organ”, to which I replied it was a surprise. This was the first time that Gamini played such a perfect host forcing us to eat and eat, and we did so knowing that this was the last party at his place. The gifts were stacked in the office room, 35 shirt boxes all wrapped in identical brown paper and one box containing either a wrist watch or mouth organ. When his relations came in they were taken to the office room, a proud B’day boy displaying the generosity of his friends. Finally when it was time to say goodbye, he called me aside and says “machan since you organized the party, take at least 10 shirts I don't need all”. Knowing what was inside the boxes, I refused his generosity and got the hell out of there. A few minutes later I get a call, when I answered, he says “g, gyg the hell out of there". A few minutes later I get a call, when I answered, he says “bloody bastard’ and hangs up. The whole family had got together in the office room and opened gift after gift, each box had old knickers wrapped in newspaper, or old jock straps wrapped in newspapers, finally he had opened the last box thinking at least that had a shirt, unfortunately that too had the same stuff. That was Albert’s last B’day party.

In 1962, NR was unanimously elected chairman of the Buddhist Brotherhood. Later, the election was annulled and fresh elections were held, as there was enough evidence to prove that Kaiyyum had led a group of about 30 members of the Hindu Students Society to vote enbloc for NR. So much for the racial violence in the country today. Maybe the tree climbers in parliament need to learn a lesson from this.

And finally, this is Atu’s favourite opening stroke, when he comes to the states each year, a trip he wangles annually as head of the AIDS & VD dept. When Atu’s pater passed away, the hostellers went to Ratnapura for the funeral. When it was time for the boys to return,Atu had inquired from each one whether they had enough cash for bus fare. Everyone said yes machan don't worry. Carl Thambirajah had 10 cts, Dr Peter Suba 10 cts,Ganga Ismail 5 cts etc. So Atu arranged for them to return with Barney

Raymond who was coming back alone in the hearse. Barney made the mistake in stopping on the way to buy a bottle of arrack, which he offered the boys in the back after taking a few sips. The bottle was never returned to the owner. Finally when they returned to Colombo, he had gone to the hostel to drop them off, however one could not get down, and the boys had pleaded with Barney to drop him off at his brother’s place in Unity Place, behind Ladies back wall, opposite end of Balu Amme’s. So when

Barney reached his destination, he had rung the door bell and opened the hearse back door and slid the stretcher down ( where the coffin is placed) and rolled out Dr Peter Suba, who lay on the stretcher comatose. On seeing this Suba’s poor mater has screamed “kadavuley, kadavuley”, thinking the son’s dead body was being brought home.

I am sure if the genie gives us 3 wishes, every Royalist would wish as follows.

1. To go BACK TO ROYAL ( Happy land, Happy land) from the 1st form onwards.

2. To have the same masters.

3. To have the same classmates, as we have become one big family.


Saturday, January 19, 2008

Pat McCarthy moves on

Former Royal skipper Pat McCarthy passes away in Australia

Sunday Times Dec 30 2007
Pat McCarthy (89) who captained the Royal College cricket team in 1938, passed away in Australia recently.

Pat, a contempory of former Ceylon skipper C.I. Gunasekera, turned out for Royal from 1935 to 1938. In 1938 he led Royal to victory over S. Thomas in the annual big match. In 1935 Royal was skippered by A.N. Dharmaratne while S. Thomas’was skippered by Donald Fairweather who went on to play for All Ceylon.

S. Thomas’ won the game that year by 153. Pat’s contribution for Royal was 54 and 3. That year Royal had some distinguished cricketers such as Ryle de Silva, Lucien de Silva, A.H. F. Porritt and M.F. De Saram (F.C. De Saram’s brother).

Pat’s second year for Royal was in 1936 where the game ended in a high scoring draw. Batting first S. Thomas’ scored 286 and in reply Royal made 134 for no loss with Pat McCarthy making 98. In 1937 S. Thomas’ led by M. Sivanathan won the ‘Battle of the Blues’ by three wickets with Pat making insignificant scores of zero and nine for Royal.

In 1938 Pat, a left hander, captained Royal and he led the side to an innings and 87 runs win over S. Thomas. Batting first Royal made 351 for 7 and declared with Pat making a valuable 81. S. Thomas’ were skittled out for 112 and 152.

In later years Pat went on to represent All Ceylon as a schoolboy and NCC and toured Australia with the Royal team in 1936.

Migrating to Australia Pat turned out for Western Australia with distinction under the leadership of Ken Meulman (who played one Test for Australia). A significant feature was how he hit Ray Lindwall, the mighty Australian bowler, for a huge six in the game against New South Wales just when Queen Elizabeth the 2nd and Prince Phillip had just sat down to watch the game. The Royal couple was on a world tour and visited Australia in 1954.

Pat was also a scratch golfer and a fine pole vaulter and athlete. Whilst at Royal he was at Hartley House.

Pat represented All Ceylon in 1938 against the Australian team led by Don Bradman.