ANCIENT GRANDEUR – By Bernard VanCuylenburg


Present day Xian in China is more famous today for the Terra Cotta Warriors. But in ancient times this grand city was once the capital of China and was known as Chang An. This is the city which saw the genesis of the Silk Road which ultimately led to ancient Rome.


The  Muslim Quarter in Xian deserves special mention due to its cultural diversity. As the name indicates, the Muslim Quarter has been home to the cities Hui community (Chinese Muslims) for centuries. Although Muslims have lived here since the 7th century, the community today did not take root until the time of the Ming dynasty. It is a fascinating place  – full of shops of every description  – books shops with copies of ancient maps and other historical trivia, coffee shops, tea shops, spice shops, shops with the best silks and items of clothing, shoe shops, shops with mountains of raisins, walnuts, almonds, pistacchios, plus the usual gauntlet of souvenir stands… name it, it is here.

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Sri Lanka in search of riches in oil rich Dubai



Sri Lanka travel to the oil rich Emirates searching for their worth against Asia’s best and in Dubai lies the answers about their recent success and where it sits outside of their haven on home turf advantage. 

Beating South Africa in the Tests and T20 while conceding the one dayers has shown that the Lankans have lifted a few notches after repeated drubbings from powerhouses India and Pakistan.

But against Asia’s best there is no respite for the maturing Lankans who will have to be on the money to overcome fast emerging and highly talented Bangladesh and Afghanistan who are certainly no easy beats to anyone in world cricket.

With the Asian region stepping up and the format reverting to the 50-over format once more, the Sri Lankans who last won the Asia Cup under this format will reflect on the composition of the team sans the stars who took the honours for them in 2010 and wonder if they have enough fight and consistency to topple their more fancied opponents.

Thankfully they have been spared the embarrassment of playing India and Pakistan in their group considerably increasing their chances of making the top four while the organizers plot a marketing bonanza for themselves by pitting the Indians and Pakistanis in the same group.

For the Sri Lankans it will be an acid test against the high riding Indians and Pakistanis if they are pitted against them. And in many ways, it will be a searching experience for them to find out how much they have developed as a team since their last forgettable meetings.

The return of suspended former skipper Dinesh Chandimal will add needed experience to the Sri Lankan batting lineup and re-appointed Captain Angelo Matthews will be hoping that the young brigade will fire consistently if they are to set up match winning totals.

Kusal Mendis in particular need to find some form after a quiet series against South Africa and the rest of the batting will rest on the shoulders of skipper Matthews, Dhananjaya De Silva,DanushkaGunathilaka,ThisaraPerera, and Dasun Shanaka and hard hitting Kusal Perera.

Lasith Malinga who has been overlooked for a period of time until he met the expectations of the selectors is a welcome addition to the bowling attack and his role will be to support currently in-form Suranga Lakmal, Akila Dhananjaya and Dilruwan Perera giving some bite to a formerly toothless attack which went for many against the Indians and Pakistanis. 

The current lineup under the watchful eye of coach Chandika Hathurusinghe will be a force to be reckoned with as the Lankans shift into gear against the feisty Bangladeshis in their opening encounter in what has now developed into a fierce rivalry after some spiteful recent encounters. Hathurusinghe took the Bangladesh team to a respectable level before departing to his home country after a dispute with the administration in that country.

India and Pakistan are hot favourites to wrest this year’s tournament.

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Dominant All Blacks remain unbeaten but feel the heat of the challengers


The All Blacks were shaken and woken to the reality that the pack is closing on them despite their dominance and unbeaten run in the Rugby Championships.

Yes, they were convincing winners against a determined but lackluster Wallabies in the Bledisloe showdown but their win against a vastly improved Pumas was only on the scoreboard as they battled to contain the foraging South Americans throughout a tense game over the weekend. 

Against the Wallabies in game two, the All Blacks rallied to make my prediction of a possible upset or a boilover at Eden Park so far off the mark, it was embarrassing.

I certainly did not anticipate the individual brilliance of Fly half Beauden Barrett whose silky skills wrecked any hopes the Wallabies entertained of springing a surprise leading the way for an All Blacks riot as they sealed the fate of the Bledisloe for a 16th consecutive year. Barratt’s effort saw him blitz the Wallaby defense on four occasions and underlined coach Steve Hansen’s faith in his uncanny ability to produce the unexpected despite his mediocre performance in the domestic tournament preceding. His individual contribution of 30 points makes him the most lethal weapon in the All Blacks arsenal and signals another year as the most outstanding player in world rugby.

The Wallabies were given a rugby lesson at Eden Park and the expectation of a close contest after Sydney evaporated early as the marauding All Blacks stamped their class all around the park looking ominous every time their penetrating outsides were set in motion during the rout.

Testing their bench strength against the Argentinians, Steve Hansen will be satisfied that the replacements especially surprise discard Richie Mo’unga who turned in a superb performance in the pivotal role replacing Barrett giving Hansen a headache that he will be happy to wear with his rotations in the ensuing games.

What would be a worry for Hansen in the coming weeks will be the defensive errors of the half strength All Blacks who let the Argentinians breach their defense on numerous occasions and only scrambling cover defense saved them a few blushes.

The Wallabies picked themselves off the canvas and notched their first win of the championships with a narrow win over the Springboks in a fiercely contested game. Two penalties in the second half helped seal their win after scores were 18-17 at the short break.

The Rugby Championships this year has certainly narrowed the gap between the competing nations as the All Blacks continue to innovate to stay ahead of the pack.

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A fairly common marsupial of Australia, which has no less than 9 different species. Cute, clever, cuddley little creatures that cannot be kept as pets, still exist quite well in the wild, will not attack man or beast unless threatened themselves, but will encroach into human habitat sometimes in order to feed themselves and their families when the going gets tough in the forests that are being “eaten-into” by humans, hungry, not for food, but, for WOOD.

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olivia-newton-johnPhoto Source: Biography

She has everything that it takes to be the Super-Star that she truly is. Born in Cambridge England, on the 26th of September 1948, this typical “English-beauty-rose” migrated with her family to Australia in 1953. She was just five years old and immediately made Australia her home. Right from the very start, this young lady typified a natural beauty that, together with the musical talent she possessed from a very early age, made her stand out as a potential “show-biz Star” in the making.


     Olivia Newton John, the Star, began to “shine” in old Melbourne Town, a beautiful City that unfortunately, was always classified as 2nd to Sydney, Australia, in the “show-biz-scene”, of that particular era, anyway. She attended

School in Melbourne, becoming very popular among her schoolmates.This was simply because she could already sing those popular old hits, heard, at the time, on Radio, and, already, was a most caring “friend” in typical Aussie style. To put it in a nutshell, Olivia Newton John was, even then, so many years ago, a “good to be around” gal. 


     Then, in the 60’s, Olivia did, as many other show business personalities still do, went abroad,(she actually returned to her birthplace, England), to further her career, met, and played “Sandy” to John Travolta’s “Danny”, in the award-winning film “Grease”, showing everyone that she could also dance & act, with the best of them. Olivia was now a Singer/Songwriter, having written songs like “Don’t stop believin”, & “Landslide” among others, & also co-writing many songs with Cliff Richard & Barry Gibb, both, presently “Knights of the Crown”& referred to as “Sir Richard and Sir Barry. This being the case, I would have thought that this Aussie lass should have held the title of “Lady Olivia” cos she fitted the bill, perfectly. In addition, in America, Olivia became an Actress, playing her roles as one, admirably. John Travolta, for one, would tell you that the big screen literally “lit-up”whenever Olivia appeared on it. She sang, she danced and she “acted” so naturally, it was a pleasure to millions of movie-goers around the World.

     As life moves on, like everyone else, whether in show-biz or not, Olivia had her “ups & downs” both in her personal life and her professional one. She was diagnosed with breast cancer, had what was termed a “partial- mastectomy”, recovered, “parted ways” with husband Matt Lattanzi, “lost” another partner, in Patrick McDermott, when he failed to return from a “fishing-trip” in California, was told by her medical Specialist that her cancer had returned, etc., these “downs” that would certainly have “downed” a much stronger person, but NOT Olivia Newton John. She picked herself up, now had a beautiful daughter, Chloe Rose, started her own businesses, “Koala-Blue” & “Wellness Products”(for women), still took part in many various enterprises to prove to the World that cancer CAN be beaten, carried on with her life of making music, and MOST importantly, as far as this writer is concerned, was featured over twenty times on the “Country Music Charts” in America, her very first hit on these Charts “Let me be there”, scoring her a grammy-award as the best Country “hit” in the mid 70’s. She was also featured on the “Pop-Charts” once!, in comparison to twenty two more times, on the Country-Charts, proof that she was indeed an Aussie Country Singer that we should all be very proud of. 


     Finally, Olivia Newton John met this guy by the name of John Easterling. It was a very long “engagement”, as they met 15 years prior to becoming romantically involved in 2007. She was featured on a superb documentary on Channel 7’s Sunday-Night, still as beautiful as ever, but looking frail, still fighting this dreaded disease, something that comes and goes like a thief in the night.

One thing is certain. Olivia Newton John will NEVER give up the fight. She, and her caring husband now live on their beautiful ranch in California and, on behalf of every Lankan/Aussie, plus every Australian, in fact, I would like to wish Olivia all the very best with what I would term a “permanant-remission” of this cancer that has been plaguing her for many years now. Typical of this brave-“sweetheart of show-biz” is a statement she recently made on another “today”.  “I think you can live with cancer like you live with other things—if you look after yourself”. Spoken like a true fighter. Look after her, John, and God bless both of you.


Desmond Kelly

   Desmond Kelly


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Sons & daughters of the “Stars”. Fascinating subject about the “apples that fall closest to the tree”. Recently, in a series of articles I have written about this very subject, I chose to feature not one, but THREE sons of the late, great Merle Haggard, Marty, Noel, & young Ben, who, not only resemble “The Hag” as he was called, but also sing & play guitar (as Ben does), with a talent born & bred, naturally, in them. Strangely, as the story goes, Merle did not have too much time to spend with these talented boys, as they grew up. He was too busy “on the road” & when, not touring, he was too busy “getting married” & “producing” his “Haggard Hierarchy”.


Merle Haggard married FIVE times. His first marriage was to Leona Hobbs, had 4 children, Dana, Marty, Kelli & Noel, then divorced Leona in 1965, and later, the same year, married Bonnie Owens, past wife of Buck Owens (another great Country Singer), for 13 years, claiming that it was indeed Bonnie who helped him in his meteoric rise to fame. She also looked after his four “other children” and, when he finally divorced Bonnie in 1978 to marry another Leona(this time, Leona Williams), which lasted a further stormy 5 years, believe it or not, was the Maid of Honour when he married Debbie Parret in 1985, only to divorce her in 1991, marry Thersa Ann Lane in 1993, to produce his final two children, Janessa & Ben. From all this, it seems to me that Merle Haggard was restless soul, striving for greatness that, according to America, he ALREADY HAD.!!


     This has been a look at the personal story of one of the greatest Stars of Country Music in America. A star that still shines in the talent of his 3 sons, Marty, Noel & Ben. I do try to feature the very best in music of ALL tastes, for readers of eLanka, and will continue to do so, God willing. Please enjoy more songs (ex you-tube), & treat this as a “series” in the same vein, especially for you. Please enjoy my “Stories-in-Song”, folks. Music like this will certainly take your mind off this Mad World we live in, at the moment. 


Desmond Kelly

   Desmond Kelly

   Star of eLanka


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THE SILK ROAD – By Bernard VanCuylenburg

Bernard Van CuyenburgThis is the ‘Travelogue’ which I wrote, following my tour along the Silk Road. . I returned from China after what must surely rank as one of the best trips I ever made to this empire within empires, of which the travels along the old Silk Road and all the historical sites along its route are what enriched and nourished my spirit. Although I returned extremely tired and somewhat battered after the intense travel involved, what I saw in terms of a rich cultural heritage will forever live in memory, and a rich memory at that.



                                                                  THE SILK ROAD

When I embarked on a visit to sections of The Silk Road on one of four visits to China, I never dreamed that it would be a journey which has no end ! My tour began in Beijing and then went to Xian (ancient Chang An) a former capital of ancient China, from where the Silk Road started over 1600 years ago on its long way to Europe and ultimately to ancient Rome. The very term “Silk Road” conjures up romantic notions of a fabled highway from a fairy tale leading to distant lands and dreamlike far horizons abounding in riches in lands unknown…..that image is true, but a “fabled highway” it was not !  The Silk Road at that time was a tortuous track fraught with danger which went through half a dozen Asian kingdoms for more than 11,000 kilometers, and finally ended in imperial Rome. It was in the legendary city of Xian that the Silk Road had its genesis. This may take longer than I expect, but  there is no other way, as it is impossible to skip detail on a journey of this nature.

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Debonair Desmond De Silva continues to command the stage in his own inimitable style – BY TREVINE RODRIGO IN MELBOURNE
Desmond De Silva

Desmond De Silva

  Desmond De Silva

Desmond De Silva

Desmond De Silva


Desmond De Silva



“Yanna rata wate” is one of Desmond De Silva’s favorite Sinhala hits that has plucked at the heartstrings of his numerous fans and endeared him over the decades, and although the rest of the lyrics has a decidedly different message, this could not be more profound in describing this tireless travelling globe trotter whose performances around the world continues unabated.

 For many years Desmond De Silva has personified an image like no other and the magnetism of his performances has seen him conquer frontiers that many others of his vintage fear to tread. His passion as a singer/ entertainer in this respect finds few parallels in versatility and continuity at a high level as consistently as he does.

 Possessing a down-to-earth demeanor is one of the weapons he has in his multi-faceted amoury for success. Capturing the audience with his clever choice of music and delivering it to perfection to fit the occasion is the other.

 Just this year he would complete nearly 30 gigs not just in Australia but around the world, shuttling from Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary in Canada to Melbourne, on to London, several cities in USA, Sri Lanka, Sydney, Canberra and on it goes in a program that would give most mere mortals a dizzy head spin.

 What takes his audiences by surprise is the fact that he has been around the traps for a considerable length of time and you would expect that most would have tired of him. Not so in his case because every Desmond De Silva performance is laced with the unknown and an energy that is mind boggling. Such is the versatility and creative genius of this aging icon of Sri Lankan music. His repertoire, which is unlimited, is a case in point as he continually challenges himself to stay abreast with the changing trends in music and appreciates it.

 His uncanny ability to just step in and perform with any band is a characteristic that stumps most, mainly if it is a young band unnerved by the chance to back an icon of his nature. He breaks down barriers by encouraging the new breed using his vast experience to blend in seamlessly.

 From Ballads, to Rock -and- roll he can transcend to Raggae, Mowtown and Country making him one outstanding performer in any category. His prowess in Sri Lanka’s favourite Bailas is legendary and although dropping off the pace in his own new compositions at present, has produced enough culturally meaningful Sinhala hits that has and will live through Sri Lankan culture for many more decades to come.

 Just recently he was in Sri Lanka taking the hill country capital Kandy, by storm in what was described by producer Damayantha Kuruppu as one of the best events he has witnessed in his many years of productions. He had the Kandyans in a frenzy as he reeled out most of his Sinhala hits which has been etched in the minds of many generations.

 Evidence of his impact through Sinhala music could not have been demonstrated better than a recent incident at our residence when a young CCTV installer recognized him and was all agog revealing that he was a big fan who listened to his old hits at home every day. The young man then added to his story by saying that his three-year-old daughter was also a big follower of his hits going on to bring her back and getting her to perform in front of her idol, much to Desmond’s delight.

 Though the years roll on there is no sign of the popular singer’s demand waning and he says that he is blessed by the almighty to have been able to command the stage for as long as he has.

 Already indications are that he has a full calendar for 2019 as his limitless musical journey continues on its merry way.

 A summary of the hectic year was compiled and sent to me on request from wife Phyllis and it gives ample indication of Desmond De Silva’s brilliance as one of Sri Lanka’s best ever singer/entertainers and his continuing demand from adoring fans.

 > Year in Review for Desmond De Silva 2018.
> 12th January – in Vennuppuwe dance singalong for approx 650 pax

> 14th January – Concert at BMICH  to celebrate 100 concert events  produced by Damayantha Kuruppu

> 3rd March – Ananda/Nalanda big match SSC Cricket grounds in Sri Lanka – specially invited to perform at the Ananda College stand – had the crowd especially the younger crowd singing and dancing.

> March – 17th March St Paul’s Millagiriya dinner/dance in Sydney was a great success and tickets were sold out.  It was viewed as the best dance that SPM have ever had and Des was invited to perform for SPM Melbourne & London both engagements he could not accept due to clashes in his diary.
> April – 8th – Sinhala/Tamil New Year celebrations – Open Air Concert in Dandenong, Melbourne.  Amazing attendance and audience participation and appreciation.
> 21st April. – Joy Club inaugural Dance & Singalong at the Dutch Club Sydney.

> 24th April – Dinner Dance in Canberra on the eve of ANZAC Day was also another SOLD OUT event that had the Deputy High Commissioner  for Sri Lanka as Chief Guest.
> 5th May –  St Thomas College dance celebrating 150 years in Toronto Canada.  Tickets were sold out well in advance and the dance exceeded all expectations.  Reviews after the dance declared the entertainment provided by Desmond to be simply the best…..he gets better with age was the comment made by a guest.
> 12th May – Museaus College Dance in Melbourne
> 2nd June – Issipatana Dinner Dance in Melbourne.
> 13th July – recorded Ma Nowana Mame – a celebration of old Desmond’s favourites of songs by CT Fernando, Mohideen Baig, Dharmadasa Walpola and & Eddie Jayamana which went to air on 10th August on Derana TV and can been viewed on uTube.  Desmond received many accolades for giving these songs a new lease in life and introducing them to the younger generation.
> 14th July – Sing-along & Dance at Pegasus Hotel Sri Lanka
> >
> 21st July –  ‘Those were the days “Concert at BMICH.  Bringing back the music of the 60/70’s era with Mignonne Fernando, Noelene Honter, Conrad de Silva, Mariazelle Goonetilleke, Annesley Malawana, Maxi Rosairo, Priya Pieris and Desmond that had the audience entertained and asking for more.  By popular demand there will be part 2 of the concert lined up in 2019.
> 28th July – St Peter’s College dinner dance in Sydney – EVENT WAS SOLD OUT 3 MONTHS AHEAD.
> 4th August – EX- SERVICE & POLICE ASSOCIATION Dinner dance in Melbourne.
> 2nd Sept – ‘Yesterday Once More’ Singalong & Dance at the Golden Crown Hotel Kandy, Sri Lanka


> 7th Sept – Retro party at the Restaurant BMICH


> 8th sept – MAS Concert BMICH – backed by Mahesh Dennipitiya Orchestra


> 22nd Sept – Mahanama Dinner Dance Melbourne
> 6th Oct – Hantana Night – Desmond & his band the Impressions.
> 13th Oct – Invited to perform at Coyles Dinner Dance  (Chamber of Young Lankan Entrepreneurs)an exclusive event at the new 7 star Shangri La Hotel Colombo.
> 14th Oct – Fantasia Concert – Ave Maria Auditorium Negombo backed by Mahesh Dennipitiya Orchestra
> 20th October – Vancouver Canada

> 27th October – Calgary, Canada
> 3rd November – St Sylvester College Dance in Melbourne
> 24th November – St Peter’s College Dance in London
> 13th December – Clarence Wijewardene Commemoration Concert at Nelum Pokuna Sri Lanka
> 29th December – Dinner Dance in Sydney.
> 31st December – New Year’s Eve in Brisbane.
> >
> That’s year 2018 in in a nutshell  for Desmond De Silva!!!
> 2019 is shaping up to be an excitingly busy year too!  Des’s wife Phyllis has a full programme schedule in celebration of Desmond’s significant milestone birthday. Named DESMOND DE SILVA…..HIS JOURNEY is scheduled in July, followed by an Free Open Air concert in his hometown Matara.  A Gala concert at the BMICH will follow and an After Party Singalong Dance Meet, Greet & Celebrate with Desmond De Silva also planned for next year.  Celebrations will continue at venues around the world during the second half of 2019.

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Visakhians of NSW Welcome Spring with a Rhapsody of Colour By Sharmila J Niriella – Photos by Thanuja Wijesekara of Eye & the Beauty Photography

It was indeed a glorious night when Visakhians, their families and friends gathered together for a night of fun, laughter, dancing and a whole lot of catching up.

The family night aptly named “”Spring Time Rhapsody” to welcome the season was organized by the newly registered association: Visakhians of NSW.

Undoubtedly the hues of spring colours chosen to adorn the Cherrybrook community Centre pumped up the party vibe of the night.

Neil, DJ extraordinaire, spun a variety of popular music to keep the guests gyrating on the dance floor through the night permitting them to break away  only to savour the delicacies served by Golden Lion Caterers.

The MC of the night Dasni kept the crowd engaged and entertained while Thanuja of Eye & the Beauty Photography captured special moments of the night.

Spring Time Rhapsody, the night dedicated for families turned out to be a beautiful night of prizes, surprises, delicious food and mystifying sounds.

Click Here or on the photos below to view the full photo album on eLanka Facebook page

Visakhians of NSW Visakhians of NSW Visakhians of NSW Visakhians of NSW Visakhians of NSW Visakhians of NSW Visakhians of NSW Visakhians of NSW Visakhians of NSW Visakhians of NSW Visakhians of NSW Visakhians of NSW


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