“BALI BELLY” by Desmond Kelly “the star of eLanka”

Posted on 28 June 2017 by admin

By: Desmond Kelly

The memories keep flooding back. The year, 1950, St.Peter’s College, Bambalapitiya, Form 1, so many good friends, such fabulous “natural talents”, my buddies, all now “gone to their rest”, & in a much better place, friends like Denis Roberts, the gentle, light-eyed “crooner” who, if you closed your eyes, WAS Frank Sinatra or the lead-singer of the fabulous “Inkspots”, depending on the song he wanted to sing at that moment. I still remember his own favourites of “Frankie boy”, as we called him, were “From here to Eternity” or “Learnin the Blues”& “To each his own” sung by Bill Kenny Jnr., the lead-singer (tenor) of the Inkspots. Then there was Patrick Nelson, another fine musician and pianist who could “tickle the ivories” with the best of them and was also a “Peterite”, another “musician friend” by the name of Elmo Mullholland, who loved to play the guitar and invited “yours truly” to his home in Dehiwala to teach him a few chords and went on to be able to teach ME some, plus become one of the very BEST “Bass” players in all of Ceylon. These fine musicians were just examples of personal pals of mine, who will never be forgotten.

Then, of course, there were the guys like Ray Forbes & Basil Ambrose, “top” students in class & also one Mohan Lalvani, from the very well known “Lalvani Bros” family in Colombo Fort, & Carl Jansz, son of the well-known Jansz family of the latter end of Lorensz Road, who would do ANYTHING to create mischief & get a laugh. Carl is now “gone”, but I do believe that only “the good die young” & Mohan, who used to tease me with the saying ” Kelly, belly, beans on my belly” & “this bean” are still alive & kicking.

From this period, I will also never forget my pal David Swan, son of the Ceylon Judge St.Clair Swan, who used to “pinch” his dad’s “Black& White” cigarettes for US to smoke at the little thosai-joint at the top of Lorensz Road, after a feed of thosai, string-hoppers & sambal, finishing off with a “kiri-kopi”(milk-coffee), after which we would go across the “Galle-Road” to the “Swan-residence” , a superb, large home (became “Studio-Lekha”, later), for me to listen to all the latest “Long-playing” recordings that the Judge would buy for his only son, after which I would resolutely “cap” (0gle) another six or seven beautiful daughters, who Mrs.Swan had presented her husband with, and as such, were David’s sisters. At this stage, I have not been able to contact David. Someone told me that he has “passed away” in England. If so, R.I.P. my friend.

Again, my dear readers, these are just a few memories from literally thousands I am so very proud to recall.

These are just the “tip of the iceberg” , but I feel certain that, as they read these “memories” in brief, EVERY Sri-Lankan/Aussie,Englishman, Canadian, American, in fact, every Lankan/reluctant migrant, wherever you are, will have your own happy memories to sustain you through life. If my “articles” do this for you, then, I have done my job. Please take your time and read my stories thoroughly. If there happens to be an error or three, please excuse me.They are simply mosquito-net “TYPHO-ERRORS”. Also PLEASE make some brief, honest comments of your own . We are all “students to the grave” and I am happy to keep learning something new, every day, for the rest of my life & remember this, my friends. We are ALL just a “Blink of an eye”, in the context of time. The way “things” are going, at the moment, I am afraid that even that “BLINK” may not now be possible. Happy to tell you folks that these bloody terrorists are now losing the war down at Mosul & North Korea’s nuclear-type missiles are being (digitally) shot down & done-away with before they go anywhere. Mr.Trump will “bump” them off.

My dear readers, I will take my chance to “explain” my frequent use of the word “bloody” in my articles. You see, while I spent my formative 26 years in Ceylon, I was really a “holier than thou” young lad, Altar Server at School, went to Church in Moratuwa every day, learn’t all the Prayers, Hymns etc., in Latin, even, and everyone thought that I was heading into the “Brother Desmond” bit, , BUT, that “title” didn’t even sound right. I really enjoyed those “young years”, never studied much but had a “retentive memory”, passed all those younger “exams” and DID READ everything I could lay my hands on. My primary education at the time came from READING. My mid- years ( 12-15 ) were spent at Lorensz Road, Bambalapitiya, at St.Peter’s College, ending when I was fifteen & a half years old, as the MONITOR OF THE MOST NOTORIOUS “FORM” IN THE COLLEGE (Junior D.) with my pal DENIS ROBERTS as Prayer/Assistant Monitor. Whenever WE wanted to skip a certain period to go out & rehearse a comedy-skit or song, both Denis and Desmond “played-up” & were “kicked out” of class, usually by the Sinhalese Master, who was so thin, we used to call him “Hoona”(or lizard, in English). A fine Priest, I would have made! I left College, couldn’t get a job, for obvious reasons, joined Mr.Donavan Andree who always had some part-time work for me, plus, he gave me the “order” that whenever he was around at any “concert” that I took part in ( was around three, every week ) I HAD TO SING “Ain’t Misbehavin” for him. I dutifully sang it, even though I knew that he DID misbehave at times like we all did. Denis Roberts also sang for Donavan & I still remember that he HAD to sing “I’ll make up for everything”(the World has done to you), Also, being about three years older than me, & also jobless, Denis joined the Royal Ceylon Navy as a “Signalman”. He was “drafted” straight onto H.M.Cy.S “Vijaya”, went to England, took part in a talent contest there, and was dubbed as the “carbon-copy” of Frank Sinatra.

Then, the “Circus” came to town. On the way to Ceylon, the Jenkins’ family who came to the Island in order to “tour” around, under contract to Donavan, for 6 mths., lost their eldest son to typhoid ( in India ) & this was the reason that, with Donavan’s help, I joined the show called “Continental Nonstop Revue”, a “Circus Special” stage show, 7 days a week, doing 3 daily, 2 hour shows, playing a broken down 6 string guitar & singing Hawaiian Songs for the Hula dancers on stage. 6 months of this & I can truthfully say that I enjoyed every minute of it. “CIRCUS” is truly the EPITOME of “Showbiz”.

Back home to Lorensz Rd, still no proper employment, so I then decided to Join the Navy too & see the World.

It was here that this other special “adjective” was put into place, not only by myself, but everyone else around me. I will not print the four-letter word here, but it begins with the letter “F”, ends with the letter “K” & I’ll leave YOU to fill in the blanks. Incidentally, the word is quite common now, as is the meaning of the word, in language, on films, everywhere one copulates.

To make a long story short? ?!!, I started working & earning my own money from the age of 15, had a gloriously busy 26 years in Ceylon, Served my Country in the Royal Ceylon Navy for nearly 9 years, taught myself EVERYTHING I do, came to bloody Australia in 1962, started regular work here WITHIN a week, worked
until I was 70, did “every-bloody-thing” as the Aussies say, paid my taxes, NEVER took a cent of the DOLE, actually, hardly took any “leave”, annual or otherwise because I do ENJOY everything I do, but sometimes, I get SOOO BLOODY ANGRY, I purposely left the REASON for this “article” to finish on a very important message to all Lankan*Aussies, via eLanka, to which I am indebted for giving me the chance to vent some of this bloody anger,

WE HAVE ALREADY KNOWN IT FOR MANY YEARS NOW & STILL, SOME OF US SPEND MONEY GOING TO BLOODY BALI ON HOLIDAYS. LANKANS & AUSSIES, PLEASE NOTE. IF YOU HAVE NEVER SUFFERED “BALI-BELLY”, DO NOT PUSH YOUR LUCK. Some of these “Balians” or whatever they call themselves, have been serving you “DOG-MEAT”, calling it Chicken. Yesterday, on T.V., I could hardly watch it, but I did, I saw a mother-dog trying desperately to nudge her baby-puppies into hiding (yes, they have motherly feelings too), but had to leave them to try to escape the bastards who “got her” anyway, to drag her out, choking on a rope around her neck, to brutally kill her & later “serve” her to you “khebab-style”, lying to you for the sake of a few bucks. Dog-meat is what you tourists ate, when you consumed that poor faithful animal. She was a white labrador-type dog. poor thing.

I consider myself to be a tough, hardened, ex-Navy man, but friends, wild emotions took over as I had to sit, helpless, angry & frustrated & watch animals who ARE man’s best friend, slaughtered so inhumanely.

Yes, we do have to eat “meats” for the protein they afford, BUT, as long as the Cattle, Pigs, Chickens etc., are HUMANELY disposed of, there is no argument, but, speaking for myself, as I usually do, I will make EVERY EFFORT POSSIBLE to SHOW-UP “SCUM” FOR WHO THEY ARE. YOU WANT TOURISTS? , then, do the right thing and don’t serve them with DOG-MEAT. THIS MIGHT TASTE LIKE CHICKEN FOLKS, BUT BELIEVE ME, YOU WILL END UP WITH THE WORST BALI-BELLY SYNDROME IF YOU DON’T HEED MY WARNING.

Desmond Kelly
Star of eLanka."BALI BELLY" 


By: Desmond Kelly

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Great Thoughts from Great Men

Posted on 10 August 2016 by admin

In 2005, almost fifty years after he left Oxford , Mr. Lakshman Kadirgamar's portrait was unveiled at the Oxford Union. This was a great honour bestowed by the Oxford Union on only 15 others in its 183 year history.

Mr Kadirgamar had this to say about that event:

'……I would like to, if I may, to assume that I could share the honour with the people of my country, Sri Lanka . I had my schooling there, my first university was there, I went to Law College there and by the time I came to Oxford as a postgraduate student, well, I was relatively a matured person. Oxford was the icing on the cake … but the cake was baked at home ……(applause) .'

He made history in Oxford getting elected as President of the Oxford Union. Four Sri Lankans have been Presidents. They are Kadirgamar (Trinity) Lalith Athulathmudali (Royal) Noordeen (STC) and Jeyasundharie Wilson (Methodist). Jeya Wilson the only woman President from Sri Lanka is a niece of the late Prof. AJ Wilson. In later years Kadirgamar divorced his first wife. He married again in 1996. He married Suganthi Wijeysuriya a lawyer and senior partner at the law firm FJ and G de Saram. Their wedding was a private one with Chandrika Kumaratunga and Gamani Corea
being the attesting witnesses.


Lakshman Kadirgamar

Sri Lankabhimanya Lakshman Kadirgamar PC ((April 12, 1932 – August 12, 2005) was a Sri Lankan diplomat, politician and a lawyer. He served as Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka from 1994 to 2001 and again from April 2004 until his assassination in August 2005. He achieved international prominence in this position due to his wide ranging condemnation of the LTTE (Tamil Tigers) and his efforts to have them banned internationally. A distinguished lawyer and international humanitarian, he was assassinated by an LTTE sniper in August 2005.

Lakshman Kadirgamar was born in Manipay, Jaffna. He hailed from a distinguished Tamil family; his father was Sam J.C.Kadirgamar Sr, JP, UM a Proctor, who was the President of the Colombo Proctor's Association and the founder President of the Law Society of Ceylon. He had three elder brothers; S.J.C.Kadirgamar Jr., QC was a eminent lawyer in commercial law, Rear Admiral Rajan Kadiragamar former head of the Royal Ceylon Navy and Selvanathan "Bai" Kadirgamar was a Major in the Ceylon Army.

Educated at the Trinity College, Kandy, he captained the college first eleven cricket team in 1950 while also competing in the college athletic and rugby teams. He played in the annual Bradby Shield Encounter. He was the winner of the Senior Batting Prize in 1948, a Rugger Coloursman in 1948 and 1949, Athletics Lion in 1949, and winner of the first Duncan White Challenge Cup for Athletics in 1948. In recognition of his all round performance in academic and extra-curricular spheres, he was awarded the prestigious Ryde Gold medal for the best all round student of 1950. He was also the Senior Prefect of Trinity College.

Kadirgamar went on to study law at the University of Ceylon, from which he graduated with a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) (Honors) degree in 1953. Kadirgamar was the holder of the All India Inter University Hurdles Record both at Ahmedabad and Allahabad. He was the top student in the First Class at the Advocates Intermediate Examination in 1953 of the Ceylon Law College. In 1954 he won the scholarship for the candidate placed first in the First Class at the Advocates Final Examination of the Ceylon Law College and was awarded prizes for the Law of Evidence and the Law of Persons and Property. In 1955 he took oaths as Advocate of the Supreme Court of Ceylon.

Thereafter he won a scholarship to Balliol College, Oxford, where he received his BLitt degree from the University of Oxford. Kadirgamar, like several other Sri Lankans, was elected to serve as President of the Oxford Union. He was an Oxford University Cricket Blue.

Going on to become a international civil servant, Kadiragamar held many positions in numerous international organizations including the International Labour Organisation (ILO), World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC) and South Asia Foundation (SAF). In 1963, he was the Special Commissioner of Amnesty International to investigate Buddhist-Catholic clashes in Vietnam. He was the founder Director of the United Nations Intellectual Property Organisation where he acted as advisor to 36 Governments. He was made a President's Counsel in the 1980's. Kadirgamar was the author of a number of scholarly articles published in international legal journals such as the Modern Law Review, The South African Law Journal and The Conveyancer and Property Lawyer.

Although he had never been actively involved in politics before, and had never even addressed a political rally, he was selected as national list MP in 1994 on the People's Alliance (PA) list for the General Elections. Following the victory of the PA, he was appointed Foreign Minister in the PA government of President Chandrika Kumaratunga. he held the post till 2001, playing a significant role in having the LTTE banned internationally. The United States and the United Kingdom banned the LTTE in the late 1990's depriving them of their primary source of funding.

After the defeat of the government in 2001, he became special adviser on Foreign Affairs to the President. Despite being a Tamil, he strongly supported the Bandaranaike government's policy of not negotiating with the Tamil Tigers insurgents in northern Sri Lanka after failed peace talks in 1995. He has also been critical of the Norwegian mediators in the period 2001 to 2004, claiming they have been biased toward the Tamil Tigers.

On 20 November 2003, Kadirgamar declared his candidacy for the position of Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations. He stood with the support of South Africa, which was critical of incumbent Don McKinnon's opposition to Zimbabwean involvement in the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2003, at which Zimbabwe withdrew from the organisation. In doing so, Kadirgamar broke the convention of not challenging incumbents for the position, which is usually appointed by consensus.[5] However, at the vote, held in early December, he was defeated by the New Zealander, with 11 members voting for him against 40 for McKinnon.

Following the victory of the United People's Freedom Alliance in the April 2, 2004 Sri Lankan legislative elections, he was mentioned as a possible candidate for Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, but on April 6 President Kumaratunga appointed Mahinda Rajapaksa to the post. Four days later, however, he was appointed foreign minister again in the new cabinet.

Kadirgamar was born to a Christian family but he brought a proposal to the UN to make the Buddhist holy day, Vesak Day an international celebration day.

During a BBC interview he was asked if he thought he was a traitor to the Tamil people since he was a minister in a Sinhalese-dominated government.

He said "People who live in Sri Lanka are first and foremost Sri Lankans, then we have our race and religion, which is something given to us at birth". "We have to live in Sri Lanka as Sri Lankans tolerating all races and religion".

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Remember Anura Ranasinghe the great all-round cricketer: REMINISCING WITH TILAK

Posted on 11 July 2016 by admin

Daily News


Standing: L.R.D. Mendis, L.V. Kaluperuma, S.R. de S. Wettimuny, A.R.M. Opatha, H.S.M. Pieris, G.R.A. de Silva, D.S. de Silva, D.R. Chanmugan, A.N. Ranasinghe, Bandula Warnapura. Seated: R.D. Heyn, A.P.B. Tennekoon (Captain), Mr. K. Perera (Manager), M.H. Tissera, E.R. Fernando. Note: There are five Anandians and Nalandians in the above team. The schoolboy cricketer in the Sri Lankan team is Anura Ranasinghe.


Anura Ranasinghe was a fearless fighter to the core. His never say die attitude is what drew so many cricketers and friends around him.

Those who have seen and played with him did not describe him without doubt or hesitation, as the most talented batsmen to come out of the Nalanda Stables at the time. It was a tragic loss to cricket when he and a host of other highly talented cricketers including Bandula Warnapura were banned from all forms of cricket. This ban was for a considerable time for taking part in the “rebel tour of South Africa.” Anura passed away at a young age. He played 2 Tests and 9 ODI’s and was a five-star all-rounder at the time. If the IPL was in existence then, he would easily have been hot property.

I saw Anura Ranasinghe only three or four times, when I came down on vacation from UK. He was a born cricketer and a leader. As a youngster at the tender age of 14, Anura was capable of walking into the Nalanda First Eleven team. On his debut he sparkled with an unbeaten innings of 115 against Maliyadeva College. He followed this up by leading the Nalanda College team, Sri Lanka under 19 team and Sri Lanka under 25 teams with success.

Anura Ranasinghe

In 1975 Anura leading Nalanda broke the Ananda-Nalanda bowling record of P.W. Perera which stood for over 30 years. Anura scored a swashbuckling 77 n.o. against India and lusty half centuries against England and Australia. These three gems of batting are still etched in the memories of his fans.

The turning point of Anura”s life was axing him from the inaugural Test against England. This was even after scoring a fifty against the same opposition a few days earlier. A cricketer who put country before self, Anura was lost to Sri Lanka cricket due to the action administered behind the curtain.

Anura was the most feared all-rounder in school, club and international cricket. He gained everything from cricket and also lost everything because of cricket. Once Anura mentioned that, “The first Test is over, but the scar in my heart can never be cured, and once a heart is broken it is shattered forever.”

My observation of him was that he played late like all great batsmen, timed his strokes to perfection and picked the gaps with pin point accuracy. His left-arm medium pace bowling was sharp and he could swing the ball late both ways. He was also lithe and wiry which made him a brilliant fielder. The total package was devastating to the opposition.

Anura was 26 years old at his prime when the curtain came down on his career drastically. The Sri Lanka Cricket Board’s 25-year ban imposed was too harsh. Cricket was his life. He was devastated and he passed away at the age of only 42. In my book, Anura Ranasinghe was the best All-Rounder produced by Sri Lanka up to thus far. ”They say the good die young.”

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The St. Peter’s College I knew and loved – Dr. Nihal Abeyesundere

Posted on 28 June 2016 by admin


Realization has gradually dawned on me that I am old, very old. Now, that I am 84 years, keeping young is problematic. It is fortunate that I am still restless, still anxious to learn and a voracious reader. Recollections of my early childhood bring back memories of attending the kindergarten standards one and two at Holy Family Convent Bambalapitiya. I remember mother Cazima, an awesome and burly nun, who maintained strict discipline amongst us.   

It was time to move. The obvious choice was St. Peter’s College Colombo 4. In the late 1930s, St. Peter’s had no kindergarten hence the necessity to attend Holy Family. Boys I remember were Tony Don Michael, Ralph Forbes, Daffy Ingleton, Jeff Gamier and Jimmy Barucha.   

On the first day, my mother handed me over to the Principal of the Primary School, Father Arthur Fernando. He was a great organiser and disciplinarian but he also had that uncanny knack of knowing what young boys liked.   

I remember the Horlicks drink, we had at 10 a.m. Standard three was entry point to St. Peter’s. My class teacher was Mrs. Fernando. She was able to get the best out of some pretty distracted young boys. Then I settled down to work and discovered a penchant for English Language, Literature, History, Geography and Arithmetic. To my amazement, I found myself amongst the first three in the class. I moved the following year to Standard four.   

Mr. V.B.M. de Silva was our class master. I found I was studious. However, do not run away with the idea that we were bookworms. We liked sports – cricket fascinated us. I remember adulating those cricket stalwarts – Tiger Ephraims, R.A. Stork, A. Kuthdoos and Eric Schokman. They were our Greek Gods. We ourselves played cricket, ran races and played marbles.    Like my sisters, I was musical. I started playing the violin at the age of six under the tutelage of Mr. Oscar Wagn. At school, I played in concerts organised by Ms. Lalitha Savundaranayagam. I had a fairly good singing voice and sang in the choir. I also discovered I could act and took part in plays.   

Days rolled by, 1939 and 1940 came and went. World War II started in 1939. The Japanese entered the World War in 1941 and then conquered most of the countries in South-East Asia and South Asia. The Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore had fallen. There was bitter fighting in Burma. Sri Lanka was exposed.   

Lo and Behold! We were informed towards the middle of 1941 that St. Peter’s College amongst other schools would be taken over by the British Armed Forces. I still remember that last day in school, where we bade farewell to our teachers and class friends. I remember walking back disconsolately to my home down Skelton road. This was something our young minds could not comprehend.   

My father was in 1941, the District Medical Officer in Tangalle. Our family was evacuated there. This was a double blow. No familiar school and classrooms and no familiar house and garden. Having got used to the school routine in Colombo it was difficult to adjust. I had Sinhala language classes from the Sinhala Vidyalaya close to our house in Tangalle.   

English and Arithmetic were taught by my mother and two elder sisters. My sisters on the piano and myself on the violin also helped us to relax and enjoy. My Father had an extensive library from which I read a number of books and magazines thus enhancing my knowledge.   

To my relief, we went back to Colombo at the beginning of 1943. St. Peter’s had two branches — one at St. Mary’s Church Dehiwala and the other, a smaller branch at the Bambalapitiya Seminary, which now houses the Bambalapitiya Flats and a shopping complex. As Bambalapitiya was closer to us, I was sent to this branch in 1943. The classrooms were rather rudimentary and had thatched roofs and half walls of cadjan. When it rained hard, we would get wet. I entered Form 1. Mano Chanmugam, joined us in Form 1 and became a great friend of ours.   

Our class teacher was Mr. Cyril Ekanayake, probably one of the most distinctive teachers we were destined to get. It was Cyril who introduced us to the Classics at an early age. He taught us English Language and Literature, Latin, History, Geography, Arithmetic and even Elementary Science. I have still to meet such a versatile teacher as Cyril. He introduced us to the brilliance of Shakespearian plays, the sheer beauty of the poetry of Milton, Wordsworth, Shelly and Keats. He had that rare ability of transforming something dull into an interesting topic. He hand-picked seven of us and we became his “Glory Boys”. He also got us to read great humourists like Steven Leacock and P.G. Wodehouse. He provided us with novels and plays of James Hilton, Bernard Shaw, G.K. Chesterton, Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie and Ngaio Marsh. Cyril followed us right upto 1945. There were other great teachers such as Mr. W.B. de Alwis, A.P. de Mel and two priests whose names I have momentarily forgotten.   

It wasn’t always work with Cyril.   
He even coached us in Cricket, though he never played the game. Some of those who started cricket under him were Herby (H.I.K.) Fernando, Phil Kelly, Denzil Abeysekera, Ago Paiva and Tony Don Michael.   
In 1946, we left Bambalapitiya for the Dehiwala branch and another set of class teachers. I remember Foster Stave, Herbert Wittachchi (Cricket Coach as well), Ambrose ‘better known as Apple’, Priests like Father Basil Wiratunga (Vice-Rector), Father Alex Ranasinghe and our great Founder Rector Father Nicholas Perera also taught us. Foster Stave was always immaculately dressed.   
He had a distinctive accent. An answer given by one of my classmates was a downright lie. But Foster gently said “My dear Chap, that’s a terminological inexactitude”. Tony Pieris and Anselm Abeyeratne left St. Peter’s for St. Joseph’s about this time.   

1946, 1947 and 1948 were the years when the St. Peter’s College Cricket Team were undisputed champions in school cricket. Prior to this, my first cousins Anton and Maurice Perera were players in the college cricket team. Anton was a fantastic batsman and Maurice a genuine all-rounder.   Dion Walles led St. Peter’s to victory in almost every match we played. If Dion had stayed back in Sri Lanka, I’m sure he would have become an outstanding Sri Lankan Cricketer.   

The next event of note was the end of World War II and the Armed Services leaving our schools. St. Peter’s was quickly reconstructed and refurbished. It was good to be back in familiar surroundings. Another set of teachers Sueter Pieris, Granville Senanayake, Herbert Wittachchi were there to teach us. Priests like Fathers Noel Crusz, Dharmaratne, Mervyn Weerakody, and Theodore Peiris were there to guide us. Father Nicholas Perera had passed away and Father Basil Wiratunga was the new Rector. The inimitable George de Niese was our Art and Music teacher.   

Father Mervyn and he had an on-going rivalry. Mano and I were Bases and Tony was Tenor in the senior choir. Unfortunately we had two conductors Father Mervyn and George de Niese. We managed to sing our solo parts, but for the rest the two conductors were a source of confusion and amusement.    Besides our studies, we had a very interesting and busy schedule. Mano and I became joint secretaries of the Music, Drama & Art society. Father Noel Crusz was dynamic and a go-getter. I recollect the play “Pontine Marshes” and the fabulous concert titled “Musical Cavalcade”.    Father Basil took our religious knowledge class and I was a thoroughly distracted student. I vaguely remembered Father Basil asking me what the 7 steps to priesthood were? Pat! came my answer “Brother, Deacon, Archdeacon, Priest, Monsignor, Cardinal and Pope. Then an eerie silence followed and to my amazement, I heard a chuckle which became a roar of laughter from Father Basil. He responded “If that is so, I would have been Pope by now”.   

Father Basil besides being a deeply religious and devout priest also had a subtle sense of humour. He was an all-round sportsman. I remember playing tennis with him when I was in the University Entrance forms. After the Senior School Certificate, Tony and I sat for the last London Matriculation held in Sri Lanka in 1948 and we were two out of three students who passed from a quota of 76 students. To enter University, we had to complete the Higher School Certificate Examination in two years. If you did well it was the passport to enter university and the medical college. We had Mr. A.P. Gomes for Chemistry and Physics and Mr. John and Mr. Morrel for Botany and Zoology respectively.   

Ashley Halpe joined St. Peter’s in the University Entrance form. He entered University doing science subjects. However, he convinced the selection board that he should join the Arts Faculty and do English as his Major. What an amazing career he had; Straight As at every exam he sat for. He got his PhD in English and was the first in the batch. He joined University as a lecturer in English at the Faculty of Arts, Peradeniya.   
He became a Professor of English at a very young age. Ashley’s varied and diverse interests included Art, Poetry and Plays.   
Ashley became a cornerstone at Peradeniya University. He was loved by his students. He also rose to be Dean of the Faculty of Arts. Unfortunately Ashley has left us after a brief illness leaving a deep void in our lives.   
As for Tony and me, medical careers loomed ahead. Mano entered the Ampitiya Seminary but later re-entered civilian life and became a highly qualified Construction Engineer. He is even now a much sort after consultant. Mano, Tony, Ashley and I remained excellent friends and we moved in a coterie where our interests included Art, Music, Literature, Poetry and even Sports.   
I wish I could go back to St. Peter’s, one still moon-lit night and sit in the middle quadrangle. I’m sure that if I close my eyes, the classrooms and corridors will come alive with the school boys and teachers of yester-year. We can momentarily relive those glorious days, we shared together

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Golden Wedding Anniversary – Gamini & Annette Cooray

Posted on 06 May 2016 by admin


“The best thing to hold onto in life is each other".

By Upali Obeyesekere – Special to The SriLankan Anchorman 













Life is a journey, and love is what makes that journey worthwhile! Gamini and Annette Cooray made this journey fifty years ago and enjoying the warmth of a life together in their adopted land.

They were married in Sri Lanka on March 26, 1966, and a few months later immigrated to Canada on June 19, 1966. The life’s journey had taken a dramatic turn for the young couple but as the troopers say, “when the going gets tough, the tough gets going”. This is exactly what Gamini and Annette did and today they are truly blessed to be surrounded by a large extended family with whom they share their life after fifty golden years of marriage. A coterie of family and friends were present at the Novotel Hotel in Mississauga to help celebrate Gamini and Annette’s milestone anniversary. It was a simple but momentous celebration enjoyed by all.

Gamini had his education at St. Sebastian’s College, Moratuwa and left school in 1959 after the SSC. Just out of their teens, Gamini met Annette in 1963 and the romance blossomed over the years. In time, they decided to get married and immigrate to Canada where Annette’s sister lived.

They initiated the immigration process in January 1966, and were soon married on March 26th of the same year in a simple ceremony attended only by the two families. It did not take long for the Canadian High Commission to give the green light and the young couple, now married took wings and arrived in Canada on June 19, 1966.

Their married life in Canada started in East York, then to Etobicoke and finally to Mississauga in 1983, and today after fifty years Gamini and Annette have absolutely no regrets. Both have much to thank Canada for and have contributed in large measure towards the enrichment of the socio-cultural aspect of the Sri Lankan community specially in the Peel Region. Along with a few Canadians of Sri Lankan Origin, Gamini helped form the Sri Lanka Club – Peel in the early eighties.

This was a vibrant community organization that produced the first exclusive Sri Lanka Cricket team that played many friendly games in and around Toronto. The Club also conducted the only Sri Lankan Tennis Tournament that was a huge success. Their dances were well organized and well attended. Gamini and Annette along with others were the catalysts that kept the Sri Lanka Club – Peel ticking. Both Gamini and Annette were awarded a 15-year volunteer service award by the Ontario Government.

Golden Wedding Anniversary – G & A COORAY 

Download the document in red  for story in pdf format

Gamini had little difficulty securing employment and this is worth placing on record. It took him only 2-days upon arrival in Canada to be hired by CN Railways (CNR) and underwent training in “Go Transit” locomotives that were maintained and operated by CNR. He passed out top of the group of 19 in the 6-month training class and rest is history. From CNR he was transferred to Via Rail and retired after 30 years of service in 1996.

During this period, Gamini enjoyed a rewarding career and held a number of middle-management to senior executive positions at both CNR and Via Rail. He was a valued employee. Soon after retirement from railway — he was hired by SKD Company an American auto parts manufacturer for their plant in Mississauga as the Plant Manager. He retired in 2005.

Gamini and Annette are blessed with two lovely and accomplished daughters Manel (married to Priyantha Misersky) and Shiromi (married to Harsha Perera), both of whom earned their honours degree from the University of Toronto and four grand-children Ravini (U of T student planning to do Law), Johann, Sareena and Natalie who are in high school.

Gamini really enjoys his retirement. His primary role now is to care for the grand children – taking them to school, swimming, ballet, hockey, music, etc.

Congratulations and best wishes to a lovely couple – Gamini and Annette. We wish you well!

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In Memoriam – Vincent Charles De Zilva Adhihetty (Vincy)

Posted on 10 October 2015 by admin


In Memoriam – Vincent Charles De Zilva Adhihetty (Vincy).


By Louis Adhihetty.

Obituary December 2000 Aged 63 Years.

f2Vincent (familiarly known as Vincy and, popularly, much to his fury, nicknamed' Galthoppi ') was born on the 31 st of July 1937. He was the youngest in the family of 4 children -a girl and 2 other boys. The entire family (father, mother and children) was Sports crazy!. At least 3 members of the family represented a Sri Lankan National Team in Sports (Cricket, Athletics and Hockey). Of course, this was no surprise to friends and relatives because Monday to Friday the entire family woke up at 5.30 am and joined the trainee Prison Officers' to Physical Training on the Welikada Prisons Cricket Field. What discipline and regimentation!
Vincy started his schooling (Kindergarten) at St. Bridget's Convent at the age of 4 years. He continued there until he was 8. In 1945, he was admitted to Wesley College -thanks, to Mr.Weragoda, who was the Head of the Junior School. Then, as a result of ruthless / unsympathetic Government Officers' Transfer Policies, Vincy and his brother Lou, had a nomadic spell in schooling for (thank God) only 3 years. Their father was transferred from Welikada Prisons, Borella to Mahara Prisons, Ragama. As a result, since financially it was not feasible to board all 4 children in Schools, the younger two were admitted to De Mazenod College, Kandana in July. 1945. Then, in Jan. 1946, both boys were admitted to Richmond College, Galle. Vincy detested Boarding School life, especially the discipline, rigid rules and regulations. In addition, he was very 'homesick' and threatened to jump into the Richmond College Boarding House well of course, naturally a 'pity party' to win the sympathy of Mum and Dad!! So, in July 1946, Vincy was re-admitted to Wesley College, where he continued his schooling until he left in 1955.

Vincy excelled as a Sportsman at Wesley .He represented Wesley in no less than 5 games and won College Colours in Cricket, Football, Hockey and Athletics. He was an exceptional sportsman.In 1953 he skippered Wesley Under 16 Cricket Team. In 1954 he was Full-back in the 1st XI Soccer Team. He was feared by the many opponents because of his truly aggressive and rough tactics. He played in the same position in the 1st XI Hockey Team -often, if he could not get the ball he, at least, got the feet of the opponent! In the same year, Vincy won the Javelin, Putt Shot and Discus Throw events in the College Sports Meet. He also represented Wesley in the Public Schools' Sports Meet and. also, the Public Schools' Tennis Tournament. Also in 1954, Vincy is down in Wesley 1st XI Cricket Records as 'saviour' -Herman Claessenand he helped the School to beat St Thomas' by I wicket and 2 runs. A memorable feat! In 1955, he was top scorer in the Thomian match, which Wesley lost by 8 wickets.

Academically, Vincy achieved something which not one of his family member's were ever able to do! He passed the Senior School Certificate in his first and only attempt. After passing his SSC he underwent training as a planter but, obviously, it was not his cup of tea! Soon he was able to apply for a position in the army as a Trainee Cadet. Then, in 1956 he was sent as Cadet to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in Camberly, England. He passed out as a Second Lieutenant in 1958. In the same year, he married Hannelora Hoffmann (of German descent), who was learning English in Camberly. They returned in 1958 and Vincy was then attached to the Army Camp in Diyatalawa. In 1960, as Lieutenant, he joined the Army Ordinance Corps. Later, in 1962, Vincy was appointed Captain.
After the birth of their two children Karl and Merlyn, Vincy had a desire to quit the Army and pursue further studies. In 1963, he and his family left first for Germany Lauenburg on the river Elbe .-not far from Hamburg) and, eventually, emigrated to Canada in 1964. While working for Canadian Gypsum in' Toronto, he studied and qualified as an Industrial Accountant. Around 1980 Vincy joined the Canadian Development Co-operation -a semi -government organization.
Vincy continued participating in sports, especially Tennis. In fact, he was President of the Thorold Tennis Club. However, unfortunately, he was a heavy cigarette smoker. In 1992 (or thereabouts) the first signs of cancer surfaced. Soon a kidney was removed. Then, he experienced restrictive movement of his right shoulder. Once more, a tumour was detected. His condition was too advanced and not responding to medication. Then, in December 2000 Vincy died. It was a sad end of an excellent Wesley College Sportsman!



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Winds of change in Jaffna

Posted on 23 April 2014 by admin


The war radicalized Jaffna and it was inevitable that we could never again return to the good old Jaffna we knew. There were signs of a new Jaffna emerging imperceptibly even during the war years. I have visited Jaffna 13 times in the last five years. But nothing signified the change better than the international symbol I saw in Jaffna when I visited the place last in January 2014. For the first time ever I saw one of the best international symbols in the heart of Jaffna. It was the face of the bearded Colonel of Kentucky Fried Chicken. It was a giant leap for Jaffna to abandon the traditional “porichci koli” and go for KFC. To me it was like our people abandoning betel and opting for chewing gum. This to me is the ultimate symbol of Jaffna breaking away from the feudal past and arriving at last in the 21st century.

Talking of climate change one cannot feel it better than in Sri Lanka. We travelled from north to south and east to west. There is a palpable change that you can feel and see. Just not the roads but the attitude and the new spirit that is visible in the faces.

By Dr Noel Nadesan – courtesy of Ceylon Telegraph

One bright evening, as I was walking with my wife on a narrow street in Wellawatta, Colombo, — a predominantly Tamil suburb – I received a mobile call from a young widow in Kilinochchi. I have sponsored her for last three years. I was to meet her on the way to Jaffna. She rang to regret that she would not able to meet us at Kilinochchi as she had begun teaching voluntarily at a local school. She thanked me profusely for the financial help given to raise her family. She informed me that her children were doing well at school. I was happy to learn of her progress which I took as a general indicator of the progress made by the twelve other widows who had lost their husbands during the war. I have been helping them for the last three years.

The widow who spoke to me was Lakshmi. She has two children below the age of ten. Just a year after the war I saw her in a rebuilt house, which was built with government assistance, but did not have any door. She did not have any money to install a door. Nor was any financial support forthcoming. With the backing of a local friend I was able to organize some help to her family and I was happy to learn that the domestic situation had improved.

In March 2009, I went to Colombo with likeminded 25 expatriate Tamils from Europe and North America on the invitation of the government. It was a critical time when the war had reached a climactic moment. The goal was to engage the Lankan government to help the Tamil people who were taken by LTTE as human shields for the protection of LTTE leaders. We were in discussions for two days with some of the key government officials, though our mission was a failure due to LTTE obstructions and obstinacy. We were not involved in the politics of the time. We were continuously engaged with the government in rehabilitation of post-war situation such us regularly visiting refugee camps and submitting our observations to the government for improvement.

There are many important facts that need to be put on record.

Thirty years of terror and violence perpetrated by LTTE were brought to an end by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Whether we like him or not we have to concede to this hard fact.The ending of a war is a defining moment which opens up new possibilities. This is not a small achievement. Ending a war proved to be as difficult as waging a war. The frustrated Tamil Diaspora who financed Prabhakaran’s futile war decided to pursue the war through other means. They went on the war path from abroad. They decided to fight from the safe shores.

After financing all the violations of international humanitarian law committed by LTTE , they became human rights champions overnight. It was the war in which more Tamils were killed by our “liberators” than all others put together.

Considering the suffering, the deaths and destruction caused by the futile war of Prabhaharan and his “liberators” the attempt of Diaspora to carry on as if nothing has changed is as futile as the war. We have to recognise the gains of peace if we are to move forward. Politics can cloud the issues and make us easily forget the bloody past.

LTTE was not a small outfit. It claimed that it had defeated the world’s fourth largest army when it forced the IPKF out of Sri Lanka. LTTE claimed that it had a state with an army, navy and air force not only to threaten the Government of Sri Lanka but even to kill Indian prime minister as well. But in the end they lost everything. During the last days of war, knowing the inevitable military defeat, the LTTE took cover behind 400, 000 Tamil civilians hoping to raise an international cry. Taking cover behind unarmed civilians is a shameful act not worthy of our so-called heroes. It was a cowardly act. The “liberators” gave cyanide pills to the brain-washed youth and they took cover behind the civilians. They shot the Tamil civilians running away from them. In addition, they killed all the captured army personnel. The Sri Lankan army not only defeated LTTE but also rescued all these captured people. Of the displaced people 95% were able to resettle within three years and infrastructures were rebuilt in the Northern Province. Almost 95 % of active LTTE cadres were rehabilitated and released in the society.

I agree there are a few areas that still need remedial measures that could speed up the process of reconciliation among the communities. But our political Tamil leadership is bankrupt. For this the entire blame is to borne by LTTE for eliminating not only political leaders but also potential social leaders in last thirty years.

What we need is a new leadership that can read the sign of KFC in Jaffna and move with the times. Going back to confrontational politics can only lead us tortuously to political turmoil again. What we need is a pragmatic leadership that brings relief to the war-weary people of the north and east. Our people cannot live on a diet of politics forever. We need economics to raise our heads from the depths of misery. We have to postpone politics for the time being. With politics we will be forced to spill only blood. With economics we can move forward to regain what we lost during the past 30 years in useless politics.

The choice before us is simple: it’s either politics or economics. If we opt for politics we are going back to Eelam which we lost. If we opt for economics we have a chance of regaining the future we lost in May 2009 Historical examples justify this. Take, for instance, the case of the Germans. If after losing the war, had they returned Hitler’s fascist politics where would Germany be today? It was because the pragmatic Germans opted for economics and buried their politics for good they were able to rise from the ashes of defeat.

The Germans and the Japanese won all what they lost in their futile wars. We can do better than them if we can get our politics right.

























































































































































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Sir Christopher Ondaatje’s ‘Visions of an Island’ posted on our site

Posted on 14 January 2014 by admin

Visions of an Island is a documentary depicting Sir Christopher Ondaatje's romance with Sri Lanka. The video is posted on The Times of Sri Lanka under its title name – Visions of the Island. The video is slightly over 50 minutes but worth every second of viewing pleasure. Please click on the image – Visions of the Island on our website and watch this remarkable narration of Sir Christopher Ondaatje's Vision of an Island – Sri Lanka.

Sir Christopher Ondaatje is one of the greatest Sri Lankans of our times. His life story has been told and retold in volumes of books, articles in Canada, U.K., and Sri Lanka and a few other countries. A self made millionaire, he left Ceylon in 1947 at the age of 12 to the U.K. for studies. He left school at 17, and started working in London learning the complex world of finance. Five years later, he decided to move to Toronto, Canada and plunged into the financial jungle and became one of the most successful stock brokers in this great city. 47 years after leaving Ceylon, Sir Christopher returned to Sri Lanka in search of his roots and re-connected with his country of birth.

Sir Philip Christopher Ondaatje OC, CBE (born February 22, 1933) is a Sri Lankan born Canadian-English businessman, philanthropist, adventurer, writer and bob-sledding Olympian for Canada. Ondaatje is the older brother of author Michael Ondaatje and lives between Chester, Nova Scotia and the United Kingdom.He moved to Britain and began a career as a philanthropist and adventurer. Travelling through India and Africa, he also became an author, following in the footsteps of his younger brother Michael Ondaatje, a world-renowned novelist. His books describe his travels and adventures.His recent book Hemingway in Africa details his thesis regarding the life and motivations of Ernest Hemingway. Ondaatje was made a Knight Bachelor by the Queen in 2003 for his philanthropic work. He was also made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2000, and is an Officer of the Order of Canada and a Senior Fellow of Massey College. In 2011, he was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. He was elected an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2003. He is also an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.

The brothers Michael Ondaatje and Christopher Ondaatje are two of Sri Lanka’s famous sons. They are related to the Radio Ceylon/SLBC broadcaster Vernon Corea through marriage. Michael and Christopher’s sister Gillian was at one time married to Vernon’s cousin Nihal Corea who is the brother of Former Deputy Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka and MP for Chilaw, Harindra Corea.

Retired businessman, author, explorer, philanthropist, sportsman and art collector, Sir Christopher has followed his many passions and made some unexpected but fascinating discoveries.Ondaatje is a man who has periodically “reinvented himself”. Born in Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, and educated in England, Sir Christopher moved to Canada in 1956 and made his fortune in corporate finance and publishing. In the early 1970s, a chance reading of Victorian explorer Sir Richard Burton’s biography changed his life, for he realized “this was the life I would like to have led”.In 1988, he sold his business, moved to England and began pursuing his obsession with finding the source of the Nile. Following in the footsteps of Burton and other explorers whose theories on the Nile he questioned, Sir Christopher embarked in 1996 on a three-month, 10,000km expedition to Africa and ultimately revised the long-held belief that the Nile originated in Lake Victoria.Sir Christopher’s passion for geography and adventure is described in his seven books, including The Journey to the Source of the Nile and, most recently, Hemingway in Africa, in which he recounts how he set out to follow Hemingway’s route through Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.A member of Canada’s victorious bob-sled team at the 1964 Olympics, Sir Christopher is today a keen cricketer and an enthusiastic supporter of the arts, contributing millions of pounds through the Ondaatje English Foundation and other trusts. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2003, and is a council member and benefactor of the Royal Geographical Society.



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FLASHBACK: C.R. de Silva was sworn in as the Attorney General in April 2007 by President Mahinda Rajapaksa

Posted on 09 November 2013 by admin

The Sunday Times – April 08, 2007

C.R De Silva becomes new AG

Solicitor General C.R. De Silva was yesterday sworn in as the new Attorney General by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Mr. De Silva had been Solicitor General since 1999.

The new Attorney General C.R. De Silva is pictured here with his immediate family and President Mahinda Rajapaksa after being sworn in yesterday. Pic. by Ranjith Perera

A product of Royal College, Colombo where he captained the rugby football team in 1968, and the Ceylon Schools rugby football team the same year, Mr. De Silva joined the Sri Lanka Law College and was called to the Bar in 1974. He devilled in the chambers of the late Mr. A.C. 'Bunty' De Zoysa PC, and later worked in the chambers of Mr. Daya Perera PC before joining the Attorney General's Department in 1975.

The new Attorney General took 'silk' as a President's Counsel in 1997, and has been a member of the Sri Lanka delegation to various international bodies including the Afro-Asian Legal Consultative Committee, UN Human Rights Council, UN Human Rights Committee, UN Convention Against Torture Committee and the UN Committee for the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

He has been an Examiner at the Sri Lanka Defence Academy and at Sri Lanka Law College, and appeared in some leading cases among which were the senior Customs Officer Amarapala murder case, Tony Martin murder trial, the Rita Manoharan trial-at-bar; and the Justice Sarath Ambepitiya murder case.

Mr. De Silva has been a member of the Child Protection Authority and the Drug Control Board. He hails from an illustrious legal family where his father Justice K.D. De Silva was a Judge of the Supreme Court. His two elder brothers are active practioners in the civil courts in the country.

Senior Additional Solicitor General Priyasad Dep is to succeed Mr. De Silva as Solicitor General.

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Down Memory Lane: Remember Arden Nelson?

Posted on 07 November 2013 by admin

ARDEN NELSON COMBO OF THE SIXTIES BY UPALI OBEYESEKERE Courtesy: The SriLankan Anchorman (Toronto, Canada)

Arden Nelson was a name synonymous with music in the sixties in Colombo. Many from this era would recall the Arden Nelson Combo with familiarity for having played for your engagement, wedding or other social functions you attended. Many old Peterites here in Canada would ofcourse remember the galaxy of musicians that walked the same hallways as us and later became stars in the music field in Sri Lanka and overseas. Arden was one such star. He was a quieter person, not the typical hyped up musician but a talented musician who had a passion to contribute to the evolving music scene in Colombo at the time. He formed the Arden Nelson Combo in the early 60s and played the Saxophone. The combo comprised of Arden on Sax, Lester Weinman on Piano, Tissa Jayatileke on Trumpet, Geoff Labrooy on Drums and another who dabbled with a skiffle base. The initial influence that fashioned the Arden Nelson Combo was music made famous by the Dutch Swing College Band who had big hits like ‘Ice Cream’, ‘Marina’, and ‘Tennessee Waltz Rock’. The overall characteristic sound of the Dutch Swing College Band required a string instrument such as a ‘Banjo’ and after searching around Arden found an unknown banjo player by the name of Raddy Ferreira who brought his talent into the group.

The Combo had gigs at most night clubs and dances in those days. It did not take long for Raddy to make it ‘big’ on his own. As time went by, the Arden Nelson Combo scame to be known as ‘The Musical Comets’ and later to ‘Raddy Ferreira Combo’. Raddy switched to Piano after Lester Weinman won a Dufferin Scholarship and left the band to go to India for Marine Engineering studies. Travis Koch joined the band and did well with his Double Bass and Stanley Ranasinghe replaced Tissa Jayatileke playing the alto saxophone. With Arden Nelson playing the wind saxophone the band soon developed its trademark sound – the twin saxophone sound of Billy Vaughan Orchestra. Another Peterite Darrell de Silva, joined the band later on bass guitar. Stanley Ranasinghe was replaced by another Peterite Anton de Mel. The band’s popularity increased and it was booked for weddings and dances at the Taprobane Hotel, Ceylinco House and Rugby Clubs such as Havelocks and CR & FC.

The band had a good run till mid-sixties and split when Arden, Raddy and Darrell left for greener pastures and emigrated to Australia. In Melbourne, Arden focused more on his studies (Accounting) and played occasionally with his buddy Darrell de Silva’s band ‘Good Vibrations’ and a few other bands. Now he gets together with other musicians of the sixties era and plays Jazz Music, according to news from our classmate at St. Peter’s College – Darrell de Silva. Arden is married to Marcia and the couple has four children – son Graham and three daughters and a few grandchildren. Recently, Arden (shown with his sax) celebrated his 70th birthday with family and friends. From what this writer learns, guests were enthralled to hear the golden sounds coming from the Saxophone played by Arden who had assembled a few of his old musical buddies and entertained the crowd to pretty good dance music. At this impromptu get together, his cousin Geoff Labrooy was on Drums, France Smith on rhythm guitar, Dallas Achilles on Trumpet, Rodney Jansz on lead guitar and Darrell de Silva on bass guitar. Birthday boy Arden Nelson had thrilled the guests with his Saxophone and the band had blended excellently.

Arden and Marcia visited Toronto about five years back and this writer had the pleasure of taking the couple to the Connections-55 dance organized by Archie and Wendy Keil. The Sri Lankan Anchorman takes this opportunity to extend our belated wishes to Arden for his October milestone birthday just passed. We wish him well.

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