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.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Oh Bailas, Verses, and Boundary Line Heroes

Oh! Bailas, verses and boundary line heroes

(Dedicated to David, Royal’s respected ground boy of yore; Noor, his onetime able assistant, who later took over from him; the legendary ‘Kadalay’,who was eternally flitting about the Royal Boundary Line like a benevolent spirit and the many others ,who have so ungrudgingly served the cause of Royal Cricket from the Boundary Line)
From the boundary we always cheered our heroes. (Pic by Saman Kariyawasam)
That joy and glory has been most heart-warming for us, watching cricket, especially Royal cricket, from the boundary line.
Apart from pretending to wield the willow and polish the cherry, once in a while, in the dim, distant past, our life, had been well spent, we should say, indulging in that pleasant pastime of watching Royal cricket for well over 50 years-watching not only the Royal-Thomian but the other games as well played by the Royal First eleven.Indeed, if colours were to be awarded for watching -consistency, then quite a few of us like Devaka Rodrigo, Rohan Hapugalle, Ranjit Jayasekera, Chrysantha Perera, Jeiya Ranasinghe, R.J.(one time known as Rakshana Janashakthi) de Silva, Dr. J.C. Fernando, Nimal Dias Jayasinghe, to name a few, along with yours truly, would surely be deserving contenders!Those days the Royal Primary School (RPS), now known as the Royal Junior, though very much Royal in spirit, was a separate entity ably led by that great Headmaster, A. F. de Saa Bandaranayake. RPS was never given the Friday half-holiday enjoyed by the students of the College proper, whenever matches were played at Reid Avenue. Both entities were in double session during our time.

Consequently, we, at RPS, had to adopt surreptitious means to sneak through the RPS Tuck Shop, situated then adjoining the old, College Hostel, during the afternoon 2.10 interval, highly motivated as we were to get a glimpse of our cricketing heroes. (They were our only heroes then!)- the Van Twest brothers Desmond and Brian, looking crisp-white and elegant; Nirmalalingam , the immaculately stylish opening batsmen, the diminutive Lalith Hewavitarane; ‘Frecko’ Kreltsheim, with his magical wicket-keeping gloves; Ubhaya and Ranjit de Silva, two fine allrounders ;Turnour Wickremasinghe, the left arm spin artist, perhaps so named at birth by his progenitor, sensing a future spinning prospect; the wily Wignarajah, another left arm spinner, quite elastic just before and at the point of delivery; the two Seneviratnes, mysteriously (for us) known as ‘Ata Gemba’ and ‘Gadaya’. ‘Ata Gemba’, in particular, will be well remembered for his peculiar stance at the crease, which both interested the observer and confused the bowler. He gave the impression of a rather tallish soldier, crouching in question mark fashion, marching on the same spot, in this instance the batting crease, waiting to hammer the enemy out of sight! It was a peculiar form of footwork which began even before the bowler commenced his run up. Little as we were, it was not difficult to recognize him not only because of his idiosyncratic stance but also because the enterprising cheering squads announced his arrival with well-orchestrated strains of “‘Ata Gemba’………………. croak, croak!’”

Regular rejoicing 

Apart from the cricket at the centre, one couldn’t help being moved by the regular rejoicing on the boundary-line ,mostly with innovative ‘Bailas’ (each season churning out a new one ) sung by the many Royalists, senior and junior, who thronged the boundary , push bikes, flags and all, to hail their cricketing heroes, with the juniors proudly joining in chorus (quite unlike the dull mortuary lull one experiences at Reid Avenue these days- hardly a bike, a flag or any cheering –only vacant spaces policed by College prefects in tie!)

Among those innovative, enterprising groups were the “Bucaneers”, a rollicking cluster of Royalists, living up to their self-proclaimed label, one of whose gang was one time a prominent and industrious member of the Sri Lankan Cabinet. He may or may not have had a premonition then of things to come, when he lustily joined the rest to sing about – 

“Lakmavage ekama putha,
Kothalawala mahatha....”
along with, Summa Amarasinghe (father of the 1983 winning Royal captain and current Royal coach), ‘Honker Nana, Jehan Raheem, Ponnasamy, Jayantha Jayaratne,’Kapoor’, Magha-lingam,’Pibba’ Perera, Abey-singho to name a few, intermittently asking the inviting question,
“Oh, what will you give me….if I show…you the….?”
or the more serious one ,
“How are you Baldsing dear, how are you…….?”
or the unmistakable assertion,
“We are boys of Royal College, Kollupitiya South,………..
followed by an important and rhyming bit of information,

Have you heard of Bundi Belleth, fat, short and stout” rather accurately describing one of our dear, respected masters of yore; or the ‘Abeyratne Anthem’, so fondly dedicated to the female cadres of the ‘domestics’ fraternity,
“Abeyratne kivvama than kauda nodanne,
Visheshayen ilandari soyala balanne…..”

None of these bailas was ever written down as such. It was simply the oral tradition –or better still an oral-aural-oral tradition. And it was very much on the job training: standing, listening, imbibing (ever so readily!), singing. We also knew that sooner or later we had to be very much a part of that tradition and contribute our share, which we did more surely no sooner than we hit the Third Form at College. 

A quick, string hopper, ‘pol sambol’ and beef curry lunch, all for Rs1/25, a la Saranapala, at the Tuck Shop, situated then next to the Old Lab and off we crossed to the happy plains of Reid Avenue. We used to occupy one of the wings of the Old Pavilion – that magnificent edifice of character, sadly no more, demolished by insensitivity and insensibility. We had our place reserved there every Friday and Saturday, whenever Royal played at Reid Avenue-Kalu and the Merry Band – (so the papers of the day reported it), with Anura Rajapakse and self on button accordions, the late Anwer Thassim (‘Thassa’) on bongos, Thosai Para (now known as Dr Waran), Gane Weeravagu, the two Fernandos, ‘Ura’ and ‘MRS’, ‘Chester’ Ratnatunge, ‘Gamit’ Ameresekere, P.B. Madurapperuma, (Madhu), the late ‘Rana Betta’ (B.N. Ranasinghe), Rudolph ‘Rowdy’ Wiiliams, ‘Ombi’ Sivalingam, ‘Mahasona’ de Silva, O.K. (Omar Khayyam) Raheem, to name a few, all joining in unison in between overs and muting their efforts before each delivery, so as not to disturb any batsman of either team. Omar and ‘Rowdy’ in particular were real assets, well -versed in the oral tradition handed down by their elder brothers Jehan and ‘Alfy’ respectively. It was from them that we really got the yen and feel for the seniors. Omar, in particular, was a real treat. At times he led the way and reproduced in his own inimitable style what he had picked up aurally from his elder brother! 

So for Omar it was,

“Hona iting (for Onna Ithing)
Pata…gatha( for Patang gaththa)
Bahila selema( for baila sellama!)”
or “kusi hama Sehera (for you know what!)
Such perennial favourites as ‘Thanakola Peththo’, with the intriguing prologue,
“…..Pasyale cadju kalaa,
Beire wewe wathura beela,
Wheel-barrow eken yanawa vel balanta….” or “..Kalamediriyo –o, mokoda kapothi…” were very much up in our list.
We had our own share of innovations as well, such as, “….Aney ‘Navva’ mehata warenko, Mage langing waadi weyanko…” sung to the tune of a famous Hindi favourite of the day ‘Le Mama le Manamali’, ‘Navva’ being a tender reference to a dear class-mate of ours.

At that time, watching our cricketing heroes, little did we realize that our own classmates would in turn take on that mantle. In fact , seven of the RC ‘54 Group went onto play in the Royal-Thomian between 1961 and 1963 and win their cricket colours, to wit, Darrel Lieversz and late S.S. Kumar, who captained in 1962 and 1963 respectively, S. Thyagarajah, Padde Withane,’Kota’ Jayaratne (who still holds the Royal-Thomian wicket-keeping record for most number of dismissals in an innings ), Neil Crozier and ‘Cuckoo’ Rajaratnam, the latter being the progeny of one our respected masters, who himself played for Royal in his time and continued the good work while on the staff by assisting Royal cricket on the field ,and ‘thrashing’ resounding ‘sixers’ off it, as any of his students would readily assert. ’Kota’ and Kumar were almost inseparable on and off the field. When at the wicket the two were an absolute delight to watch: polish and perfect understanding.

But there were others in our time, also classmates, who should have played for Royal, if not for unfortunate circumstances. Of these the late Sarath Kodagoda and Geoffry Assauw were notable certainties. Sarath, that scion of a famous catering clan, who, but for a nasty injury sustained in the revived Royal-Zahira rugby encounter of 1959 (a fearful suicide expedition from Zahira’s perspective) would most certainly have adorned any Royal side. In fact, Sarath was a brilliant cricketer, a batting marvel moulded in the shadow of such cricketing greats as Mahesa Rodrigo (literally and figuratively in the shadow, so to speak, for they were neighbours then). Sarath was cited by a former Royal College master, with cricketing insight, Elmo de Bruin, “as an outstanding example of a complete cricketer.” Sarath lived, thought and loved his cricket.

Real treat 

Watching from the boundary line it was a real treat to listen to Sarath regaling us with a ball by ball ‘Test’ commentary, very much in the manner of a Rex Alston and then giving us a resume of the day’s play with the crisp likeness of a Johnny Moyes. One had only to close ones eyes to be immediately transported to the ‘Test’ atmosphere at Lords or the ‘MCG’. Sarath captained every Royal team at every age group and was well on his way……until that unfortunate injury which put paid to what would surely have been a rewarding career for him and for us. Geoffry Assauw, a brilliant batsman in the classical mould also would have adorned the Royal team if indiscretions had not got the better of him, which placed him at cross purposes with the establishment! Reliable information has it that later on he had been selected to play in a trial for Victoria and thence, perhaps, to achieve greater glory, but for his own carelessness. Geoff never turned up for that trial for Victoria for reasons best known to him!

Watching Royal cricket may or may not have made us as fanatical as that electrician, who, when asked what ‘DC’ stands for at an interview for promotion to the position of Foreman, promptly, confidently and loyally responded that ‘DC’ stands for Denis Compton, of course!

Joy and pleasure

At least as far as he was concerned he had not got his circuits crossed! Yet , it was from the Royal boundary line that we derived so much joy and pleasure-the type of pleasure only a series of scintillating centuries and a 99 in the ’56 season from the enchanting willow of wicket-keeper batsman Selvi Perimpanayagam could provide; or the sheer joy only the crafty fingers of an artiste like ‘Mynah’ Wijesinghe could offer. Who could forget that memorable effort, when the artiste grabbed four wickets in four balls, (in rapid succession, of course!) in the Royal-Ananda game of 1957 at Campbell Place, thereby earning for himself a warm niche in our hearts, (which has not lost its warmth to this day) and a cricketing memento from that great scribe S.P. Foenander- a gift of a set of books on cricket presented by Foenander himself at the College General Assembly amidst resounding cheers. Who knows the donor may have intended the young recipient to join his tribe in time to come! Who could forget the instance, also at Campbell Place, in 1959, against Nalanda, when Daya Sahabandu, sent in as the night-watchman ducked, on sweet advice proffered by skipper Sarath Samarasinghe, batting at the other end, that the next ball was going to be a bouncer, only to be hit on his neck and thereabouts by a pretty ordinary delivery, nearly getting himself declared neck b.w! Who could forget ‘Kota’ Jayaratne being carried away, horizontal, with his private parts in total disarray, after being hit by a snorter from Brian Perumal at Reid Avenue in the 1961 Josephian game. This was reminiscent of the Wesley game at Campbell Park in 1954, when A. Rabindran had to be carried off after getting his nose cracked trying to hook a bouncer off Adihetty. Who could forget the many refreshing innings played by Jagath Fernando (the one at Campbell Park in 1969, being particularly so,) culminating in that devastatingly delightful century in the 1971 Royal-Thomian, which broke Ronnie Reid’s series record for the highest score or the polished elegance of Sumithra Warnakulasuriya, who, after many a hundred for Royal, lived up to his promise in the Royal-Thomian of 1980 by scoring the highest in the series -197 runs so immaculately compiled. Decisions based on personal acrimony rather than merit prevented a promising star from representing his country with distinction.

From the boundary line one could recall at random other memorable performances by Royalists- performances that spelt character, courage and assertiveness. For instance, in the 1963 Royal-Thomian, Vijaya Malalasekera sent us literally reeling with joy on the Oval Green with a cracker jack innings of 112 not out, his hundred coming off a power packed drive, so powerful that it deflected off the hand of a writhing Roger D’ Silva to the boundary (As a former sub-continental commentator might have said: the ball went scoo-rr-sching mothe-rrr ea-rrr-th to the rr-a-a-a-ps!). It seems that Malale was seeing the red cherry like a football after lunch. What he did at lunch to improve his vision is anybody’s guess! He literally pulverized that ball and was rumoured to have been admonished by his ascetic father, a respected and avid proponent of ‘ahimsa’, for causing undue harm to both the ball and to ‘outstation’ sensibilities!

Indelible mark 

More recently in the 1992 Royal-Thomian, Gamini Perera made an indelible mark with a remarkably brilliant, match saving hundred. Given the circumstances, it was sweeter and far more rewarding than winning any match. By that innings, not only did Gamini bring honour upon his school, his team and himself, he also prevented an unique bit of history from being made. For, had the Thomians under Suresh Gunasekera, won that year, (which they most surely would have, if not for that century, Harin Samarasekera’s breath-taking half-century and Nalliah Rajan’s dogged innings), it would have been the first time (perhaps the only time ever) in the series, when a father and son would have led either side to victory, Suresh’s father the late Premalal having led the Thomian’s to victory in 1964. The wonder of Gamini’s memorable innings was that the night before, when it was all panic in the Royal Camp, he had promised his coach that he would get a century!

Whirlwind partnership 

What of Jothilingam’s hundred in the 1956 Royal-Thomian under high-fever conditions or Royal skipper Michael Wille’s identical score of 121 in 1957.What of Skipper Nirmalalingam’s scintillating sixty-nine runs in the 1954 Royal -Thomian, who, but for an unfortunate run out, would surely have got a brilliant hundred. What of the whirlwind partnership of 106 in 40 minutes by tail-enders Vidda (Vidanage) and Harsha (Samarajeewa), better known for their bowling prowess (the latter affectionately identified by a similar sounding nomme de plume then) in the Peterite game of 1960 at Reid Avenue, mostly against the attack of the firey Anton Perera and the wily Le Mercier; or Darrell Lieversz’s and R.C. de Silva’s glorious effort in routing the Peterites, comprising, inter alia, the famous Heyn brothers, Richard and David, at Reid Avenue in 1962.The two panthers, Darrell and ‘CD’, the one breathing fire and the other smoke, shared between them the twenty wickets,12 and 8 respectively, running through the Peterites by early Saturday, thereby enabling us to make it to the matinee show quite comfortably; or Ajit Devasurendra’s patient hundred against the Peterites also at Reid Avenue in 1980,in a valiant, yet futile , bid to save the game for Royal; or Ranjith De Silva’s mighty six in 1954 over covers at Campbell Park onto the ‘Mara’ tree, which was on a higher elevation on the main road, a truly ‘Mara’ six ,so to speak; or Sarath Samarasinghe, irrepressibly and dangerously slashing outside the off-stump to send the ball sizzling to the boundary; or his acrobatic wicket-keeping accompanied by that resounding ‘howzaaat!’ with or without the ball in hand; or young Chandana Jayakody’s back to the wall innings (thank Heaven that his back was to the wall!!!) with eleven hungry Thomians literally breathing down his neck and legs, to save Royal from certain defeat in the Royal-Thomian of 1984; or Thotuwilage’s two delightful innings (95 and 108) at the Royal-Thomian of 2001, where he missed creating a record of scoring twin hundreds – these were only a part of the salacious menu dished out over the years for us on the boundary line.

Hovering patiently on the Royal Boundary Line all these years has been a very pleasant and rewarding experience, indeed!

Friday, May 23, 2014


A Man for All Reasons ....

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Dr. L A W Sirisena

Friday, December 27, 2013

Bogoda Premaratne is laid to rest


It is with a deep sense of regret that I inform you of the demise of Mr Bogoda Premaratne, former Principal of Royal College. His remains will lie at his residence, 31, Jayasinghe Road, Colombo 06 tillSaturday, 28th of December. The Cortege will leave residence at 12:30 pm on Saturday to Royal College (College Hall from 1pm to 3 pm) and thereafter for cremation at the Kirulapone Cemetery at4:00 pm

Members are requested to gather in College tie at the College hall at 1:00 pm and thereafter at the Kirulapone Cemetery at 4.00 pm on 28th of December 2013 to pay their last respects to this distinguished Gentleman

Chandana L Aluthgama


Sunday, December 01, 2013

RITA moves on

Educationist and the Founder principal of D.S Senanayake College R.I. T. Alles passed away a few hours ago at a private hospital in Colombo at the age of 81 following a brief illness, the government information Department said.

Mr. Alles served as the State Secretary for Ministry of Education from 1989 to 1993 and was the Chairman of the Gateway Group till his death and he is the beloved husband of Rohini Alles, and father of Tiran and Harsha Alles.

responses from the old boys:
I am saddened to note a the passing of a doyen of education in Sri Lanka. Do forward  my sincerest  sympathies  to his loved ones.
Warm regards.
Lakshman Samaranayake

In school he was a very strict disciplinarian,and we all thought he was a monster. But inside him he was a kind,loving,gentleman of the highest caliber
May he rest in peace.
Edward Hapuarachchi

Please convey my deepest condolences to condolences to the family.  I have always remembered him as a tough disciplinarian.  I was taken by Mr R I T Alles to the Metal-work Room to be punished as I had carved my name on a very new shiny Satinwood desk in his classroom.  I had to bend and hold the desk as he was swishing the long cane.  As I glanced back, the cane went up but never came down.  He said 'You can go now' and I learnt my lesson.
 Later in life, he was very helpful when my younger brother and nephews sought admission to DSS MV.
 May he rest in peace
M J M Peroos

Dear All,
        Like Peroos my first experience was nasty.In my case the sharp end of the metal ruler did come down on my bottom at the mechanical drawing/metal work class. However as a junior and a senior cadet I came to know him as a stern man with determination to achieve.Once I believe He had fallen far behind with preparation of his year end class reports etc. he asked myself and another to help out on a Saturday .He must have thought that we were good in maths! As it involved lots of additions and standardisation of marks etc.,It was then that I realised what a devout Catholic he was.He grew up as a youngster in Akmeemana ,in very modest circumstances.Anyway his wife -with a little tot-treated us with delicious food.His passion for excellence saw him "head hunted" for the post of principal,at the then fledgling DSSenanayake school  -which prospered so much under his stewardship.His subsequent achievements at a national level in education is well known.From humble beginnings he managed to contribute so much to national education -a unique person with purpose and fortitude.
May he R.I.P

Nihal. (NPR Gunasekera)

It is nice to here from so-many guys!
Alles was someone whom I was very close to,thru' cadeting. When he left college I was the Sgt and we made a meagre collection and had a farewell dinner for him,at the dinner he requested us cadets to help him clear the plot where DS MV is and we did indeed do that,it was snake infested luckily none of us got bitten.At that time he did tell us that he will make DS as good a school as Royal and I think he has done that. 
He was someone who made an impression on me as a student both in the classroom and in the field.
I lost contact with him after i entered med sch.I did however hear rumours abt him and i am unable chk the truthfulness of the rumours!
I will always remember him as someone who was a great educationalist and someone who help mold me as a person and I am grateful to him.
My condolences go out to his family.
Deva (Manikkarasa Devakumar)

Monday, September 23, 2013

From Booruwa to Billiards

From booruwa to billiards: Those were the days!

Reminiscing his Law College days, senior lawyer Hemantha Warnakulasuriya recounts why a witty Lalith Athulathmudali called him a ‘criminal’ and shares other memorable anecdotes
View(s): 39

When I entered Law College, my class mates at Royal College, who had entered Medical College, as their parents had dreamt, said, at our batch get-together, that they were happy that the most notorious thug that Royal College had produced had entered Law College, as the Law College was deemed to be the refuge of scoundrels, who had failed to enter Medical College.
I said “you are calling me a thug because I saved your life when that man Dole ran after you to hit you with his knuckle dusters and I saved the day by giving him the thrashing of his life time”. They replied, “You did not assault him alone, your lorry drivers did that for you.” 
Group photograph of the most exclusive and permanent members of the 'cut table'.
At Law College, we had a galaxy of teachers, including the late great Lalith Athulathmudali, Harihara Aiyar and J.A.L. Cooray.
Mr. Athulathmudali made it a point to intersperse anecdotes to his lectures to make it interesting and thereby prevented us from spending time in the canteen while others were engaged in a more lucrative pastime of participating in the ‘national past time’ or at playing ‘booruwa’, at the cut table. Once Mr. Authulathmudali said in a more jovial manner, “you know, like this word ‘Grundnorm’ I was interested in the word ‘midwife’. The whole class laughed and the girls giggled.
Who wants to be a civilian?
Then, I raised my hand and asked him, “Sir, when did you get interested in mid wife, before or after you got married?” He could not help but laugh, but was not to be outwitted by some student, who had come from a village. He immediately asked the students, ‘Please raise your hands, those of you who wish to become civilians after you leave College. ‘Civilian’ meant those who wished to practise civil law. The majority of the students raised their hands. He then looked at me said, ‘Warnakulasuriya, I always knew that you’re not a civilian but a criminal’. The whole class laughed at me.
At Law College, we had long intervals between lectures and some of the lectures were so boring that quite a few of the students did not attend them, including some of the girls. They were in the Ladies’ Room, whilst some of us were in the Canteen and some others, in different places. 
We spent most of our free time in the canteen, not drinking plain tea and smoking a cigarette, but playing ‘booruwa’ for stakes. That was where 15 or 20 lawyers, who got together and carried out the noble traditions of our forefathers, who had played the game before us. It was said that it was nothing but fair not to let the old boys of Law College down, so we upheld their tradition and played ‘booruwa’. It was the most lucrative pastime for a few of us but not for some others who had a disastrous time, even gambling with their college fees.
There were some card sharpers who knew how to produce the correct card in their favour. They were hounded out from the exalted congregation. There was no magic in this game and there was no complexity. It was called ‘booruwa’ because I believe even Homosapiens, with donkey’s intelligence, could play the game and understand it. Sometimes, it went on till 11 or 12 in the night and we used to even have visions of winning and losing.
When we came to Law College, we had heard about Mr. Pulle, the Principal, who was a stern disciplinarian. Students used to tremble to go into his room. He was aware that the students played ‘booruwa’ in the canteen. However, as some of the students were sons of Supreme Court judges and sons of other well connected people, he turned a blind eye and never walked out of his office into the canteen.
One day, we found a man with a goatee walk into college. We decided to rag him, when he returned, only to be warned by a peon that he was the new principal. Old Mr. Pulle had retired and the new person looked like a rebel with a cause. He therefore also looked much more tolerant and kind. When he became our new principal, I was told that he was a cousin of one of my great friends, Hemal. 
Praisoothy was the oldest student at college. He had been a student from time immemorial and never seemed to sit or pass exams or follow lectures, but was always in the canteen. He was skipping exams and using this as his excuse to stay at Law College. He was living with a watcher of Law College, in his small apartment, inside the college premises. He never played the card game, but always supported us and brought in new students, inveigling them to participate in the noble game.
There was a student just out of school who had entered Law College, but was frightened or shy to participate, but was hovering around the table enjoying the spectacle of his friends winning or losing, sometimes losing a grand sum nearly 100 rupees. Remember, these were days when a gallon of petrol was only Rs. 1.10.
Justice Oliver Wendell
Praisoothy turned towards the student and asked him, “Have you heard of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes?” Our young friend said, “No Mr. Praisoothy, I have only heard of Sherlock Holmes”.
“He was a great American judge. He had once said ‘before you know your case you must know your judge’. How do you come to know your judge otherwise, by intensely studying him? So before you study your law books and study the facts and become a master of fact, you must first intensely study human nature and how human beings act in a given situation. 
“The study of human nature will help you to study the judge. So, the forefather of Law College had thought about this and had introduced our national pastime to Law College, though it is not a part of the curriculum. If you want to be a successful lawyer, you must play our national Game of Booruwa”.
“But what has booruwa got to do with being a great student of a judge”? 
Praisoothy replied, “My dear brother, only the most observant people can play ‘booruwa’ and win. You must carefully observe the cards. You must carefully observe the dealer. One must carefully observe the person who holds the pack and who cuts it and his reactions, closely and intensely, you must observe how the dealer deals with his sleight of hands. You must carefully place your bets and you must carefully watch everyone else who places their bets.
You must have 100 % concentration when you play ‘booruwa’. Similarly, when you go to Courts, before you master the facts and the law, you must first have a knowledge of the Judge and observe the manner in which he smiles, the manner in which he talks, the manner in which looks at you, the manner in which he pounces on the police, the litigants and the lawyers and the dry jokes he cracks and you have to laugh obsequiously.
Even if you have obtained a ‘class ‘ from Law College, you must go through this game and undoubtedly only then you will be a successful lawyer. All those who cram and get 1st classes, without playing the game, end up being Legal executives at banks or they may become judges or join some firm. But you will see the truth of what I say in another 30 years or so. Most, of those who play the game will become great lawyers. Everybody laughed and I saw my friend immediately placing a bet and winning it!
One day, around 4 in the evening, when there were about 25 students around the table, lo and behold, who walked in — R. K. W. Goonasekera, the principal. He made a straight line towards me, who was then supposed to be the biggest veteran at the Cut Table. He said, “Mr. Warnakulasuriya and Mr. Devapura, both of you come to my office.”
I reminisced of what happened to me at Royal College when Mr. Bogoda Premaratne was the Acting Principal. When Bogoda Premaratna wanted to cane me, I said “Sir wait there is a huge bug on your coat” and tried to remove a nonexistent bug from his pure white coat while rubbing all the dirt on to his coat. Then what happened was history. 
I walked behind Mr. Goonasekera to the office room. In the room I could see the photographs of the past principal and judges. They seemed to be frowning upon us, virtually requesting the principal to kick these two ruffians out of Law College. But, instead Mr. Goonasekera spoke patiently and said, “You know I don’t object to you playing cards in the canteen. These games are played amongst the elite and in very exclusive clubs and manors. But my only objections is that my two watchers, who get a paltry salary, also play cards with you and their wives have complained to me that they do not give any money towards the upkeep of their children as they have no money left after gambling.”
This was the only time we knew that he was aware that we were playing booruwa in the canteen. “Surely”, he asked, “you should have something better to do with your time?”
I was speechless, but my friend Devapura had no such problems. He said, “Sir, sometimes our lectures start at 8 in the morning and by 10, lectures are over. Then we have to wait till 1 o’ clock doing nothing in the canteen until the next lecture starts. We have no other recreation other than to play cards. Not even a chess or carom board Sir, but if we have a billiards table we will assure that we will not touch a pack of card even at a funeral Sir.”
‘The question is funds’ the principal said. Then Ranjit intervened, “surely Sir Law College is the educational institution in the country, the board of management could easily sell some stocks or shares they have invested in South African Diamond mines sir”. 
The Principal smiled, “I don’t know about the South African Diamond Mines but find out the price of a Billiards Table and let me know’. Devapura and I quickly got into my Karmanghia and ran round Colombo in search of a Billiards table. In the shortest possible time we found one. No sooner had we found the table, it was installed in the boys common room and Ranjith proudly opened it by playing the first game. As promised we gave up playing ‘booruwa’.
Then, I reminisced what the oldest student Mr. Praisoothy had told us about our future in the profession. Therefore, I suggested that we all should walk to Jonathans Studio and take a Group photograph of the most exclusive and permanent members of the ‘cut table’. This photograph was taken in 1970. The photograph is reproduced here though, I promised the members not to name them I believe most lawyers and clients and readers would be able recognise them. 
For your information, Parisoothy’s prophecy was correct. We have two ambassadors. Four President’s Counsel , an owner of international corporate law firm in Melbourne, another jet setting corporate lawyer, attached to a prestigious law firm in Hong Kong, another having a lucrative practice in Britain, another one, who was in the working committee of a world federation of sports, two former secretaries and a former president of the Bar Association. Some of them have migrated back to their hometowns and have established themselves in their respective Bars, as leaders of their Bars, and have contributed immensely to make Sri Lanka a better place.
Only three joined the Attorney General’s Department, but as Praisoothy prophesied two of them resigned from the department and established their own practice and excelled at it, except one who is unfortunately no longer with us but ended as the Deputy Solicitor General. Then my best friend Hemal migrated to Australia and was with the legal aid in Australia. Now retired and practicing in Sydney.
Those were the days we had one of the best principles Law College ever had, who eventually became the foremost human rights lawyer in Sri Lanka. Praisoothy, long after, graduated and donned the black coat

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

PolToks moves on

SAMARARATNE - LIONEL (Retired English Education Officer, former Lecturer - Gateway Int. School). Beloved husband of the late Barbara, loving father of Dr Asha (M.O.H. - Dehiwela), Manoji (Schneider Electric) and Sanjaya (Global Rubber Industries), father-in-law of Dr Pujith (General Hospital - Kalutara), Madhuka (GAC Shipping), fond grandfather of Devin & Tehanee. Cortege leaves residence 15L, Ekanayaka Avenue, Nugegoda at 4.00 p.m. Cremation at 5.00 p.m. on Wednesday 1st May, at General Cemetery, Kohuwela. 

May he Rest in Peace!

Pic: Coutesy-Palitha Manchanayake

Sentiments that were expressed many old boys of the '59 Group,
and some from '56 & '57 Groups, compiled by PM

Recollecting memoirs about Mr. Samararatne: He took our Form 2 English in
1960. One particular day at the English class he happened to mention that he
would not be coming to school tomorrow as he would be going to Hulftsdorp
Courts to listen to Mr. G.G. Ponnambalam's English and his oratory skills,
as GG was to appear to defend a certain party in a Court Case. That was the
interest he had on the subject!

Attached are some photos that were taken when I met him last in 2010 while I
was in Sri Lanka. I presented him a Book on Buddhist Meditation written by
Mr. Bogoda Premaratne.

May I wish our respected beloved teacher the Supreme Bliss of Nibbana.

From: Kusum Perera    - Kusum Perera lives in USA
Sent: Tuesday, 30 April 2013 4:04 PM
Dear Palitha,
I am not surprised but in a way it is a strange that you remember the Third
Form Geography. I believe I was in Form IIIA and he used to teach that class
on the second floor east wing and to the left of the class was a view of the
I remember the recommended book for the class was authored by S F de Silva
titled "Europe and the two Americas". I do not remember much of his
reference to the book. However, I was quite enthralled by his teaching
method and the interest he generated in the subject. He taught about the
cotton, corn, and maize belts for Agriculture in North America as one
proceeds from south to north. On the industrial side he talked about the
Iron ores around lake Superior. The proximity of automotive industrial
capital at Detroit. He stressed the importance of the lakes for easy
transportation of raw material and manufactured goods across the great lakes
to the St Lawrence seaway and then on to the wider world. He sure had my
attention and I remember these facts even to this day. I also remember with
some contentment I received the top mark of 79 in one term test, a rare
achievement for me at the time!
May he attain final emancipation.

From: Michael Kreltszheim    -   Michael Kreltszheim lives in Melbourne
Sent: Tuesday, 30 April 2013 5:26 PM
Thank you very much for this email - I remember this gentleman with the
greatest of affection.  He was a peerless teacher and a kind and humane man
.  I never ever saw him discipline a student- .  He was my class master in
Form 1C in 1959 and also class master for my elder brother in 1958.  We were
all so lucky to have encountered him in our lifetime and we are forever
indebted to his skills as a teacher.
Michael Kreltszheim

From: Firoz        -             Firoz Nilam lives in USA
Sent: Tuesday, 30 April 2013 4:27 PM
Dear Palitha
Thank you for your info.  I was in his class 1C.  He was tough but very
knowledgeable and an excellent teacher.

From: Ranjan Dandeniya      -         Ranjan Dandeniya lives in UK
Sent: Tuesday, 30 April 2013 5:25 PM
Dear Palitha,
Thank you for the intimation. Though Mr.Samararatna never taught me, I
remember him well and can picture him even now as he was, an imposing figure
who commanded respect from us youngsters.
May he attain nibbana!
Warm regards,
Ranjan Dandeniya

From: Indra Loku         -           Indra Lokubalasuriya lives in Sydney
Sent: Tuesday, 30 April 2013 5:31 PM
Hi Palitha,
Thanks for keeping in the circulation list for your e-mails.
I am also very saddened to hear about the passing away of Mr Samararatne who
was not only a wonderful teacher but also a great human being.  I  was in
his class in Form2 and he taught us English and I can still remember how
eloquent he was especially when he taught poetry - Rama Sellamutthu was in
the same class !  (in lighter vein Rama always had an axe to grind because
Mr Samararatne used give me higher marks for poetry recital than to him and
Rama could not understand why boy who came to Royal from a Gampaha school
should be marked higher for English Poetry than him - Colombo born and
May Mr Samararatne attain Nibbana.
Kind regards,

From: J.L.Daya de Silva       -        Daya de Silva lives in Sri Lanka
Sent: Tuesday, 30 April 2013 5:53 PM
Dear Palitha,
You are back as usual  to pen down a short appreciation of our beloved Guru
Lionel Samararatne, my Sinhala, Geography master of form I (Ranarala-
G.B.Senanayake, S F de Silva's Geography etc.) and (Rohini- Martin
Wickremasinghe, Sudo Sudu - Sagara Palansuriya) Cadetting of form II and
many more...
The family has purposely omitted the school he served so long in the
obituary notice obviously for a very good reason. That needs some
investigation at least to find out why the family fell apart, if not our
master himself?
I am copying this to two of our beloved great teachers Mr. Henri de Saram
and Wickramasena as I write to them quite often about art photography or
Also Sande our former editor of RC Magazine Sinhala section before I took

From: G Goonetilleka       -         Gamani Goonetilleka lives in Sydney
Sent: Wednesday, 1 May 2013 12:10 AM
Thanks for that Palitha.  I remember him too.  He was such a humble and
dedicated Teacher.  At the time he taught us unfortunately many in our class
did not allow him to teach. I used to feel so sorry for him as he took it
all in an extremely compassionate manner, just being himself.
May he attain Nibbana...

Sent: Wednesday, 1 May 2013 12:57 AM
Dear Mancha,
I learnt my Sinhala grammar including Sandi and Thadditha, properly for the
first time in his class. I learnt my first lesson in First Aid and orienting
the direction of movement of our cadet platoon from him as a Senior Cadet. I
had an indefinable respect for him as an unusually wonderful teacher and
He was undoubtedly a "Bodhisathwa"in my opinion.
I am being selfish here.
But my wish is that he would be my teacher again in a future Bhawa before he
attains Nibbana.

From: Siri Wijesekera         -      Siri Wijesekera lives in Sri Lanka

Sent: Wednesday, 1 May 2013 4:25 AM
Dear Palitha
Thanks.  I quite agree with you.  Mr Samararatne took our history when we
were in the 3rd form and he made it (a boring subject) so interesting, as
you have said practically everyone in the class was looking forward to the
next class.
Warm Regards

From: ShanthaKumar     -                ShanthaKumar  lives in Auckland
Sent: Wednesday, 1 May 2013 6:28 AM
Thank you Mancha for your email.
Yes, I agree with you.  Mr Samararatne was a respected gentleman.  I knew
him only as my cadet master.
Kind regards
New Zealand

From: Thilla Kirubaithilakan     -     Thilla Kirubaithilakan lives in
Sent: Wednesday, 1 May 2013 7:29 AM
Palitha, I did see the obituary notice, and did think it was our Pol Tokka,
but because it missed a good portion of his career ie his time at Royal. I
wondered Why?.

From: Ranjit Rupesinghe
Sent: Wednesday, 1 May 2013 9:17 AM
To: FARID Abdelcader
Many thanks Farid (and Palitha)- sad to learn of the passing of another
great teacher.
Regards all round.
Ranjit Rupesinghe (Kota)

From: Nihal Kodituwakku       -          Nihal Kodituwakku lives in Perth
Sent: Wednesday, 1 May 2013 11:11 AM
Dear Palitha
Tokka was my first form master and English  at 1-D in 1957. His first
assignment was write an Essay on 'How to fly a kite'. In fact I find it
difficult even now to describe the intricacies and complexities associated.
He was our cadet master as well. I see from his obituary that his cadetting
colleague, Alles employed him during the latter stages.
A good man, life well lived.
Nihal Kodituwakku

From: Ranjit Sirimanne        -         Ranjit Sirimanne lives in Sydney
Sent: Wednesday, 1 May 2013 10:52 AM
Hi Guys,
Very sad to hear about this "passing away". He was my cadet master & we won
the Herman Loos Cup under him for the first time. I met him last during the
"JVP" uprising when I was working for Ceylon Tobacco at Walapane( below
Ragala - on the way to Nildandahinna) He was a volunteer officer & was in a
4 wheel drive vehicle & I was on my Mo'bike. He stopped me on the road & I
could not recognize him as he was with other army personnel who were
investigating alleged JVP camps in the area. I WAS SHIT SCARED!! As the army
then was arresting & killing any suspect innocent or not. He then started to
laugh & we had a chat by the roadside.
We all thought that "small tokka" was his brother. I must say that I too did
not see any "brotherly love" between them even at the Hostel. In any case
small tokka was also a character. Does anyone know where he is. Last I heard
was that he was "planting" under Rex Perera.( who is now in Sydney) He was a
good scrum half & played after Necker??
Ranjit( Tony)

From: Sumane Rathnasuriya         -       Sumane Rathnasuriya  lives in Sri
Sent: Wednesday, May 1, 2013 1:14 AM
Didn't go into it. In class, it was said he was 'not own brother'. Never
seen the two 'act' close as brothers.
Just to say what I've seen/heard. May be others ('56 Group) know better.
(Copying Sande & Chicky for possible help)

From: Lasantha Talagala          -       Lasantha Talagala lives in Sri
Sent: Wednesday, 1 May 2013 5:18 PM
Paid my last respects to our beloved teacher of Form 1C this morning. Hope
to go to the cemetery later.
I still remember this verse from the Bells of Youth -The village Blacksmith.
These verses and other phrases are entrenched in our memory.
    "Under the spreading Chestnut tree
     The village smithy stands
     The smith a mighty man is he
     With large and sinewy hands" '

From: Ranjith Sandanayake        -       Ranjith Sandanayake lives in Sri
Sent: Wednesday, 1 May 2013 6:08 PM
Dear Ranjit (Tony) :
I suppose you remember me.  Sande (Ranjith Sandanayake).  In my email to The
Class of '56, I added a few to Mancha's eulogy on Tokka Samararatne.  It is
Here's what I received from Palitha Manchanayake (from down-under) who was
two years my junior.  This is a tribute / eulogy to this great teacher.
However, there is no mention of his military ranking as he was an officer of
the Ceylon Cadet Corp (CCC) and during our time a Lieutenant.  Although
Royal  had Cadeting with two senior platoon and two junior platoons from the
inception of the CCC and the Herman Loos Champion Trophy in existence from
1917, it was only under Lt Lionel Samararatne that Royal managed to achieve
the long cherished-ambition to bring the Herman Loos Trophy to College in
1963.  Lt. Samaratne as the Commanding Officer and Manik Jayakumar as
Sergeant inspired Platoon I to make this possible.  L/Sgt Susantha
Gunawardene, and L/Cpl HSR Goonewardene were NCO's of Platoon I, and Cpl. JK
Fernando, Cpl. HN Perera and Cpl. Watty Fernando were NCO's of Platoon II.
There were many others from my group (including self) who participated this
annual camp / competition which was a Regimental Camp (of 45 Platoons
Island-wide) that year (normally they used to have separate Battalion camps)
at Diyatalawa in April 1963.  The Platoon of Samararatne came Ist of the Ist
Battalion of 15 platoons and Ist in the Regiment of 45 platoons Island-wide.
(The Platoon II under Lt. Alles came 4th in the Battalion competition and
8th in the Regimental competition.)
May he attain Nibbana!!!
What made me write to you is because of the doubt created by some whether
Podi Tottka was a brother of Pol Tokka or not.  Podi Tokka (Kingsley) got
the nickname because he was Pol Tokka's brother.  However Podi Tokka was a
somewhat violent character, a rebel and I suppose Pol Tokka did not have
much care or concern about the brother for that reason.  So there would not
have been any "brotherly love," even after leaving College.  I am going for
the funeral this afternoon/evening and I will not be surprised if Podi Tokka
is not there. If he is not there I will call him tonight.  Podi Tokka now
lives in Atabage in Gampola.  He is somewhat in contact with me.  He does
not have email but he has provided his phone number and daughter's email
address for any contact. I suppose this information will clear the doubt
that you people had.

From: Prasanna Mendis          -        Prasanna Mendis lives in Melbourne
Sent: Wednesday, 1 May 2013 9:10 PM
Lovely note on our greatest master - the one who made the deepest impression
in lower school mainly, but that lasted thru and after college....
That picture is so valuable; and will be added to the ones I have in my RC
folder here.
A sun has set machang.

They gave their best for us. We will always remember them. may he Rest in Peace!
Fazli in Riyadh