Friday, August 18, 2017

Seeing 'Wattusi'

email from Dr.Freddo Benjamin

 Clarence Perera was head & shoulder above everyone in College house. Once there was a movie at Savoy- called 'Wattusi' referring to a tribe in Africa where every one was above six feet tall.. It was advertised  that all 6 footers would be admitted free. So Claro & I went along. I  was asked to stand against a wall which had a mark at 6 ft. I just  cleared it by half an inch. Next in line was Claro- the manager just waved him through  without question!. We both saw the movie free of charge

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


When I was quite young, my father had one of the first telephones in our
neighborhood. I remember the polished, old case fastened to the wall. The> shiny receiver hung on the side of the box. I was too little to reach the telephone, but used to listen with fascination when my mother talked to it.> Then I discovered that somewhere inside the wonderful device lived an> amazing person. Her name was 'Information Please' and there was nothing> she did not know. Information Please could supply anyone's number and the> correct time.
> My personal experience with the genie-in-a-bottle came one day while my> mother was visiting a neighbor. Amusing myself at the tool bench in the> basement, I whacked my finger with a hammer, the pain was terrible, but> there seemed no point in crying because there was no one home to give> sympathy.> I walked around the house sucking my throbbing finger, finally arriving at> the stairway. The telephone! Quickly, I ran for the footstool in the> parlor and dragged it to the landing. Climbing up, I unhooked the receiver> in the parlor and held it to my ear. 'Information, please' I said into the> mouthpiece just above my head.
> A click or two and a small clear voice spoke into my ear.
> 'Information.'
> 'I hurt my finger...' I wailed into the phone, the tears came readily
> enough now that I had an audience.
> 'Isn't your mother home?' came the question.
> 'Nobody's home but me,' I blubbered.
> 'Are you bleeding?' the voice asked.
> 'No,' I replied. 'I hit my finger with the hammer and it hurts.'
> 'Can you open the icebox?' she asked.
> I said I could.
> 'Then chip off a little bit of ice and hold it to your finger,' said the
> voice.
> After that, I called 'Information Please' for everything. I asked her for
> help with my geography, and she told me where Philadelphia was. She helped> me with my math.> She told me my pet chipmunk that I had caught in the park just the day> before, would eat fruit and nuts.
> Then, there was the time Petey, our pet canary, died. I called,
> Information Please,' and told her the sad story. She listened, and then
> said things grown-ups say to soothe a child. But I was not consoled. I
> asked her, 'Why is it that birds should sing so beautifully and bring joy
> to all families, only to end up as a heap of feathers on the bottom of a
> cage?'> She must have sensed my deep concern, for she said quietly, 'Wayne always> remember that there are other worlds to sing in.'
> Somehow I felt better.
> Another day I was on the telephone, 'Information Please.'
> 'Information,' said in the now familiar voice. 'How do I spell fix?' I asked.
> All this took place in a small town in the Pacific Northwest. When I was
> nine years old, we moved across the country to Boston. I missed my friend> very much. 'Information Please' belonged in that old wooden box back home> and I somehow never thought of trying the shiny new phone that sat on the> table in the hall. As I grew into my teens, the memories of those> childhood conversations never really left me.
> Often, in moments of doubt and perplexity I would recall the serene sense> of security I had then. I appreciated now how patient, understanding, and> kind she was to have spent her time on a little boy.
>> A few years later, on my way west to college, my plane put down in
> Seattle. I had about a half-hour or so between planes. I spent 15 minutes
> or so on the phone with my sister, who lived there now. Then without
> thinking what I was doing, I dialed my home town operator and said,
> 'Information Please.'
> Miraculously, I heard the small, clear voice I knew so well.
> 'Information.'
> I hadn't planned this, but I heard myself saying, 'Could you please tell
> me how to spell fix?'
> There was a long pause. Then came the soft spoken answer, 'I guess your> finger must have healed by now.'
> I laughed, 'So it's really you,' I said. 'I wonder if you have any idea
> how much you meant to me during that time?'
> I wonder,' she said, 'if you know how much your call meant to me.
> I never had any children and I used to look forward to your calls.'
> I told her how often I had thought of her over the years and I asked if I
> could call her again when I came back to visit my sister.
> 'Please do', she said. 'Just ask for Sally.'
> Three months later I was back in Seattle. A different voice answered,
> 'Information.' I asked for Sally.
> 'Are you a friend?' she said.
> 'Yes, a very old friend,' I answered.
> 'I'm sorry to have to tell you this,' she said. 'Sally had been working
> part-time the last few years because she was sick. She died five weeks ago.'
> Before I could hang up she said, 'Wait a minute, did you say your name was> Wayne?'
'Yes.' I answered.
> 'Well, Sally left a message for you. She wrote it down in case you called.
> Let me read it to you.'
> The note said, 'Tell him there are other worlds to sing in.
> He'll know what I mean.'
> I thanked her and hung up. I knew what Sally meant.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Tales of yester-year

Sent by Premalatha Balasuriya (Ranasinghe)- 1959 batch

1. New students had entered the Faculty and it was ragging time. I am relating one incident that I can recall. The fresher boys had to come in white trousers and during the interval they had to come to the lawn in front of the Physiology block. They had to roll up one trouser leg, wear jingle bells on the leg, wear the tie front to back (I can recall only this much). The so called ‘honourable seniors’ got them to march round and round the lawn saying ‘left, right, left, right’ The Dean – Prof Abeyratne, fondly referred to as ‘pachaya’- announced his arrival by a small cough and the seniors ran away. The boys continued to march. He came and asked ‘Are you a pack of lunatics from Angoda?’ No answer came. The boys continued to march saying ‘left, right, left, right’ for a time until they got chased away by the Dean. I am sure they enjoyed the fun.

2. There used to be an annual cricket match- staff vs block students in the 1960s. Sheriff Deen happened to be the compere.  Dr Watson had just started neurophysiology lectures and it was like Greek to most of us. When he started to bat, the compere announced ‘Dr Watson is receiving an afferent input from  ???? and he is sending an efferent discharge’ and so on..

3. When we were doing Prof C C de Silva’s appointment at LRH, Malkanthi (Dr Channa Wijesinghe’s wife) was the intern house officer. Prof used to sit at the table and teach with the students around him. The intern house officers had to be there. He carried a long knee hammer with which he used to hit anyone missing an answer to his question. Malkanthi happened to answer a question put to a student. He said ‘next time you do that, I will put you under the table’ and he did just that. Whenever a student missed answering a question he used to hit Malkanthi under the table with the knee hammer. She was shouting ‘Please don’t sir’. She had to wait there until the end of the class

Dr.D.F.De.S. Gunawardena was a Consultant Surgeon at the GH Colombo in the 1960s. He had a problem with his larynx and could not talk loud. The medical students had a joke circulating that they went to do his surgical appointment, to learn ‘The secrets of Surgery’. It was a New Years day and a new batch of twelve medical students, went to see Dr.D.F.De.S. Gunawardena in his ward, to start their surgical ‘clerking’ of two months surgical training. They were timid and got late by ten minutes. They went up to the Surgeon and wished him a ‘Good Morning. The Surgeon mumbled something in reply, with a dead-pan face. The students thought that the Surgeon was wishing them a Happy New Year. They replied in unison ‘Wish you the same Sir’. This time the Surgeon talked a bit louder and they heard him repeating ‘Get out’. It was punishment for getting late for the appointment.