Shaw could never play a musical instrument, but in his sleep which he does most of the time, he is one of the most accomplished musicians, with musical notes emanating from every orifice in his body, especially the sound of the wind instruments from the rear orifice. Mikey, was now accustomed to this music and could sleep soundly with this background noise. Around 3.00 am Shaw wakes up ,excited in anticipation of the long awaited trip. Poor Mikey,(who tries to catch every bit of the 40 winks, before he embarks on his arduous task of distributing the goody bags with Jeiyya’s Ranfer teas and other curry stuff , Mudalali has squeezed out of his classmates, and also explaining how to tag the bags, which if not done according to his instructions would not arrive in Jaffna.) is now disturbed and is in a morose mood as he has had hardly any sleep after returning from Manoj’s dinner past midnight.
I see Mudalali powdering his face and walking out to greet the guests around 5.30 am in a bush shirt and trousers and the white buck skin shoes. People are walking in with bag and baggage, some relishing the Kola Kanda whilst some were sipping coffee. Chapel Lane, Nugegoda that morning of March 19th was a hive of activity , with a 40 seater tourist bus decked with blue and gold balloons and the odd flag tucked in between the curtains, parked outside Mudalali’s house. Traffic is heavy down the road with cars and three wheelers stopping at his gate , bags being loaded into the bus and then the grandson drives in , in his vintage morris minor and steps out wearing similar white buck skin shoes.(Kota Mune)
Finally around 6.30 am , the bus is in motion, yes we are heading to Jaffna. Before we could get out of Colombo Moiz S wraps a Bulath Vita with puwak and lime and shoves it into his mouth. Ghazi khaka is seated behind him and is quiet, which is not good, he is upto something. Padman is behind khaka . On the left side of the bus is Gamini , Mudalali’s younger brother. Further down Darrel is buisy with camera in hand ready to snap anything interesting, while Ronnie R also with camera in hand clicks at anything and everything.
On the right side is Edda the wild life expert and flanking him is the Commissioner Weights and Measures, Suraweera always thirsty for the spirits. Sande , the scorer is waiting for Mudalali to utter anything , which he is ready to contradict . Cheesecake Saranapala ,is not so carefree as he was in the previous Bandarawela trips, he is ever protective of his wife, and is guarding her " from the evil eyes".
Seated by himself is tired , worn out cocky….awake from 3.00 am. He undergoes a name change on arrival in Jaffna. The ‘56 wives feel queasy to call him Cocky and so christen him " Mikey". However, the husbands prefer to call him Mikey the Rosey Cock.
Seated in the last row bare bodied , exposing his triple X bosom is Shaw , now an
eloquent public speaker, still displaying beautiful strokes to the boundary. Every time he opens his mouth, the Queen must be writhing in pain. Mudalali, flits around from seat to seat , in his white buck skin shoes with the microphone in hand.
The bus arrives at Gnanam Hotel, Jaffna at 6.30 pm, and is on schedule despite the numerous fag breaks, and Moiz’s several bulath vitas chewed between these fag breaks.
A traditional welcome is given to us by the hotel staff , with the lighting of the
oil lamp and a pottu on each ones forehead. The evening kicks off with Kota Mune’s , one man band and cock talk in between sips of the cup that cheers, Ronnie R is ecstatic.
The girls are wrapping books and stationary to be distributed to the 325 students at one of the schools in Delft island ,which we are to visit the following day.
Tuesday morning, everyone is dressed in Royal shirts and blue & gold caps, with the college crest proudly displayed. There is a roar of applause, this time by the Royalists when Ronnie R, wearing the Royal shirt puts on the blue & gold cap. The last time he was applauded was about 56 years ago by the Thomians , when he broke Norman Siebel’s record.
3 navy gun boats transported us to Nagadeepa , and from there to the Delft Isalnds. The highlight of the day was the visit to a school. A special assembly was held and the Royal Class of 56, gave a donation to the school of Rs 56,000 ( a hat collection was made at the hotel that morning), and 3 students were also given scholarships Rs 5000 each for 3 years. The 325 students were also gifted the books , along with sports equipment and a water filter for the teachers.
The Navy Commander of the Delft, then hosted us to a sumptuous meal, and fresh toddy which refreshed the thirsty palates of Ronnie R, Shaw W, Edda the wild life man, Suray the weights and measures man, to name a few.
Wednesday, was a tour of Jaffna and some were trying to locate their ancestral homes but were not successful. Finally, we ended up at the Casuarina Beach, for a sea bath. The boys and girls were all in the water, which was up to Kota Mune’s shoulder, however, Nage , only knee deep in water was clutching his Bees and hesitating to move any further, till someone yelled out to him to let go of the Bees and wade in that they would float in the water. And so he waded in courageously like Moses, although the sea did’nt split, his Bees ended up floating. Walking up and down the shore was Cocq, who was true to his word. Rumour has it, that he had promised his better half that he would’nt dip anything anywhere, and so refused to even take a dip in the sea.
About 6 months back when the 3 Musketeers, Mudalali, Padiri & Kota Mune, went for a dip to this same beach, others who were bathing had commented " God, look at this the grandfather, father & son" are all here for a bath.
The highlight of the day was the Navy commanders dinner, at the Naval Holiday Bungalow in Killinochi. A beautiful bungalow set in a picturesque setting, with huge spacious gardens overlooking the Indian Ocean. The Commander of the Northern Province is an old Royalist himself, 20 years our younger. The 3 musketeers, on their several trips to Jaffna became acquainted with the commander and the 5 magic letters ROYAL, brought them closer together and became the supplier of Thal Raa for the trio.
Mudalali had managed to keep WMS (weights & measures Suraweera) sober upto this point. With liquor freely flowing , constantly being served by the navy personnel along with fried prawns and fish, young WMS got cocked. The fabulous dinner was followed by speeches.
Churchill, above all will be remembered for his great wartime speech " We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets….." Kennedy , will be remembered for in inaugural speech " ask not what the country can do for you ……" and so Shaw W, will be remembered by the naval forces in the North , when he stepped onto the podium in a batik sarong and batik shirt and looked around at his scholarly classmates like " Mudalali , Kota Mune, Moiz S, Ghazi C, Mikey the Rosey C, Bawa A " and Darrel Lieverz and bellowed out " We are all educated people here, and we must ensure that the northern youth too have this great opportunity…." I shall not go further into the speech, finally everybody thanked the commander and the rest of the officers for their hospitality and left. However, weights & measures went one better, he hugged and kissed the commander in his spiritual state.
Thursday, morning after breakfast we set out for Mullaitivu, where we were able to
see first hand the devastation of war. We visited Susay’s house, he was the leader of the sea tigers, and then we visited the swimming pool where the sea tigers trained, the deep end of this pool is 23 feet deep. We had the opportunity of exploring Prabhakaran’s house, which has 4 stories underground, simply incredible.
After lunch at the SPs house, we set off for Anuradhapura . A flat tire and bad roads delayed us and finally we arrived at the hotel past midnight. Quick thinking by Ronnie R, prompted Mudalali to call the hotel before the bar closed to make sure that a dozen bottles of beer were put in the fridge to be chilled. While we had dinner, Ronnie and the rest had their beer , and the remaining 4 bottles were put back in the fridge for the journey back to Colombo. By the time the group went to bed it was past 2.00 am, immediately after a gang of thieves jumped into the bar and stole the liquor.
Friday morning was our journey back to Colombo, after a city tour of Anuradhapura with Mudalali acting as the tour guide, in addition to the many historic places that we saw , our guide also showed us the only twisted coconut tree in the world. He has become a good batsmen better than Shaw, even Darrel who got the Peterites out for 40 & 60 in 1962 could’nt get Mudalali’s wicket. Nearing Colombo, many tributes were paid to our efficient organizer, but a Thomian’s words sums it all.
Ronnie Reid who was a guest of Shaw, thanked Ana for this wonderful opportunity and enjoyable 5 days, and said he was proud to be able to share this camaraderie amongst classmates who had left college more than 50 years ago, now in their late 60s, being transformed once again into schoolboys, schoolboys into scalliwags, still bonded together, despite the separation for over half a century.
Thank you, once again Ana & Nirmala , and of course Shaw & Mune, the grandfather, father and son, for making this once again a trip Back to Royal.
Bawa May 2012
Response to Bawa's email received from Michael Roosmale-Cocq on May 10, 2012
I can't believe that you were going to print this account of our Jaffna trip you bloody Thumby. It has glaring inaccuracies/omissions - just as well that I was present, so I can set the record straight !!!
I believe that these corrections will be appropriate.
Shaw was so excited that he was up at 2 am, and not 3 am !!! At that ungodly hour, he wanted a cup of tea, but the Mudalali hadn't left any milk in our room - only a flask of hot water and tea bags. This upset Shaw, who was grumbling/mumbling around the room !!!.
Despite being morose due to a lack of sleep, I was still able to distribute ( without any assistance ) 36 goody bags, including Mudalali's instructions of what to do with them !!!
Sande was eager to offer an opinion/contradict anything that ANYBODY (not only Mudalali) said !!! I was awake from 4am !!!
Shaw kept nodding off in the back seat, due to a lack of sleep, mouth open and all !!!
The school we visited was the largest on Delft !!!
There were 5 scholarships of Rs. 5000 !!!
The scholarships were for ONE year !!!
Padre not Padiri !!!
The Naval Holiday Bungalow was at Kankesanturai (KKS ) !!!. You must have been cocked if you thought that we drove inland, back to Kilinochchi !!! - NO INDIAN OCEAN there.
After being in my company for a couple of days, it was only after he got cocked that Suray remembered Cocky !!! (I don't know who he thought I was before that !!!).
Remember the Commander had gone to Colombo to meet Gota., but you can leave him in for the story !!! It was his 2 I C who was the host.
I thought that Mano Sellamuttu, DID find her ancestral home !!!
Soosai was head of the sea tigers.
The flat tyre and bad roads were BEFORE we got to Prabhakaran's jungle headquarters !!!
Lunch at the SP's house was at 4pm.
PERHAPS an inclusion about....
1. The small farming in Jaffna - someone called out "any cabbages Shaw "? - as he replied " No ", we drove past some !!!.
2. 90% Jaffna women are prostitutes !!!
3. Proselytes !!!
....but I will leave that up to you.
Other than that, it is a great account of our memorable trip.
Mikey - the one with the rosey cock.