Yet another special “tidbit” for all eLanka readers everywhere. With the C,V.P. almost over, people all over the World are looking forward to going back to life as it was.
The talented couple featured below are no exception to the rule, and decided to go out and have some fun.
Obviously, they have been dancing with each other for many years, as a matter of fact, they might even be married to each other. Their dancing is something to behold, the reason being that she is 91 years old, and he is 94. …
Someone whose name is unknown to me, playing an acoustic guitar in a Club previously unheard of, and yet, in my own opinion, one of the very best instrumentalists that I have had the privilege of seeing, bringing in a superb “lead”
plus a “strum” that has to be seen, to be believed, and doing it all with the natural ease of a top Professional at his game.…
Explains why English is such a strange but fascinating language. Certain Phrases, Prose, Quotes, and sometimes, even Words that are “coined” by Wordsmiths such as some Authors are prone to do at times, appear at random during our lives, only to disappear, as time goes by.
Once again, while the actual author of this “piece” is unknown, eLanka thanks both Keith Bennett & Maxwell Gerlach for sending this article in. I am sure that our readers will remember some of these nostalgic writings, because if they do not, I shall be lost for words.
It would be difficult enough to get past the security of the White House, leave alone obtaining secret information on Presidents’ past, but obviously Ronald Kessler, an American Senior Journalist, now possibly retired, had access to enough information for no less than 21 superb BOOKS on this subject.
For all eLanka readers everywhere, I am certain that unless you have been an extra-avid reader, there is no possible way that you would have known the lurks & perks, plus the downright quirks of all these Leaders & their wives.…
Very few tourists who have visited Sri Lanka over the past many years have missed seeing this Monolith. Quite a few have climbed Sigiriya as well, marvelling at the wall of ancient frescoes along the way to the apex, then fascinated by the beautiful views from atop this giant rock, which could well have been, in my opinion anyway, the eighth wonder of the ancient World, a fortress built by a former King of the little Island that we called Ceylon, although this teardrop of India did possess several other names in bygone eras before finally arriving at the name of Sri Lanka.
To make a long story short, this King, mentioned above, whose name was Kasyappa was actually a King by default, in that he had “stolen” the throne from his Father, the King, at the time, who he had killed, while his older brother, Moggalana (the real heir to the throne) was away in India, attending to some Princely business at the time.…
It started for me, at home. My Dad, Carlo, God bless his Soul, always believed that his shoes had to be polished, looked after, and well worn. He was a past Senior Cadet at his Alma Mater, which was Royal College, in Colombo, & was always recognised for his very smart uniform, down to his boots which always had a mirror finish. Later on, after he married Mum (R.I.P. Lyn.), & we started to come along,
he carried on the tradition, did not want to go out to parties, movies, or anywhere, for that matter, in his spare time. …
“Summer, oh you Indian Summer”. What a song, what a Season ?, how many of our readers would be aware of all this information ?. Well, I am happy to say, that via a good friend named Max, I am able to furnish you all with these most interesting facts. My Lovely Island Home was once a part of this huge Motherland, India, and this is indeed a tribute to that great Country.
Named after Sir Arthur Havelock, this famous City of Colombo and the Road mentioned was well known to me, more than fifty years ago. Next to Colombo Fort, our Capital City, this was undoubtedly the best known City/Town, with a wide area of Suburbia holding many people I knew personally, beautiful modern houses of that particular era, shops, restaurants, & hotels as well.
I would like to thank my friend Max Gerreyn & the others involved in the production of this great article that does bring back many memories of the wonderful 26 years of my life spent there. Although I did not reside in Havelock
Town, this area is still very important to many folk, and I also believe that the famous SOORIYA Village is now part of the area. For those who do not know it, this Village is run by the grandson of the Gentleman, Gerald Wicramasooriya & his lovely wife Dulcie, (R.I.P. both of you), who sold the very first copy of the recording of my original composition Dreamworld, from their Children’s Bookshop, in Fort.
You will know a good number of those mentioned below including very close relatives HAVELOCK ROAD FIFTY YEARS AGO by The Rambler
From The Ceylankan, aof the Ceylon Society of Australia, No.8 (Vol.II No.4) November 1999
[kind courtesy of Hugh Karunanayake – President, Ceylon Society of Australia, Australia]
Changes to Colombo’s landscape in recent years have been so rapid and comprehensive that anyone visiting after a period of time will hardly recognise parts of the city where its homes have virtually grown out of sight. Where beautiful homes and gardens once stood gladdening the eye of passers by, there now stands a compacted structure enclosed by high walls. The beautiful garden city that Colombo was, up until the nineteen sixties, and which enraptured visitors over the years, seem to have been lost forever. On a recent visit to Sri Lanka, visiting old haunts, I tried to recapture some of the imagery of the past, particularly in relation to Havelock Road, which was a regular route to me in the days of my youth. I met only with limited success. Lots of old memories and images did however return, and I thought I should retrieve some of it and place them on record partly as an exercise in memory recall, and also to jog the memories of readers. The descriptions are of people and homes along Havelock Road and beyond around fifty years ago.
Havelock Road begins at the Bullers Road intersection or what is popularly known as the Thunmulla Junction, and ends at the Pamankade Bridge on the road to Kohuwala. Close to its southern end, at the intersection of Havelock Road with Maya Avenue was a popular Shell Service Station opposite to which there was the City Hospital for Animals which opened in 1947 by the then Prime Minister Mr D.S.Senanayake. Adjoining the hospital was a roadway leading to the Boys Industrial School providing vocational education to young people. Next-door was the home of Dr Thomasz whose daughter was a well-known sporting figure of the time. A fine specimen of the Traveller’s Palm- Ravenela Madagascaris grew on its front lawn. Next door, No 498 Havelock Road was “Kamala”the home of Dr air named after his daughter. For a few years it was tenanted by B.J.Lalyett a Director of Darley Butler and Co. The house was later purchased by the then Director of Education H.S.Perera who named it “Shalimar”. Mr Perera died not long after he moved in to the house. His British wife continued to live in the house till she passed away a few years ago. In the house opposite lived Horace van Twest who served with the Ceylon Garrison Artillery during World War II. On the opposite side next door to Shalimar at No 500, a battleaxe block stood the home of Alfred West Toussaint a former Engine Driver of the Railway whose legs were severed below the knee after accidently slipping off the engine on to the railway track. His father Alfred West Toussaint (Snr) was one of the first Burghers to be appointed as a Railway Engine Driver. Toussaint worked for several years in an administrative capacity in the railway office at McCallum Road. He used to travel to work each day by rickshaw, pulled by his faithful rickshaw puller Muttiah. Each morning Muttiah would climb up the steps of the house, lift Alfred from his wheelchair, carry him and place him on the rickshaw. He would then pull the rickshaw all the way to McCallum Road in the city; spend his time around the office until his master was ready to go back home after work. Muttiah and his wife were quartered in the garage of the Toussaint home, and the couple worked exclusively for the Toussaints. The Toussaint home was one of a duplex, the other occupied by the Rowalnds. Alfred’s wife Alice (nee Drieberg) aged over 90 years, was living alone in this house in 1997, her son Maurice having migrated to Canada several decades earlier. At 502 stood the rambling old Caroline House in which Mrs Caroline de Silva lived for many years in the house built by her husband. The house was demolished in 1955. Mrs de Silva owned the adjoining row of houses in which lived the Fryer and Reimers families for several years. These houses have also been demolished. On the opposite side was ‘Beth-Holme’ the home of B.J.Pompeus, and earlier R.A.Honter. In the adjoining garden were several homes in one of which lived V.W.Halpe a teacher at the Royal Primary School for several years. His son Ashley who attended St Peters College was later Professor of English at the University of Peradeniya. Maya Avenue was previously called Link Road. It linked Havelock Road with the new road to Nugegoda. At its intersection with Havelock Road was the famous Oasis Nurseries owned by John Cosmas a Greek who was Colombo’s leading horticulturist. He had a well-stocked nursery standing on several acres of land, and was the source of the plants that beautified the gardens around homes of Colombo at the time. Most houses would have a resident gardener or “thota karaya” as he was called. The Oasis Nurseries sold packets of Zinnia, Balsam, Dahlia, and Chrysanthemum seeds, which were all perennial favourites with the housewives of Colombo together with canna tubers, rose grafts, and a beautiful range of orchids, all very popular with garden conscious Colombo. Oasis was bounded by Felsinger Town, a conglomeration of houses owned by the Felsinger family, on the northern side. Oasis closed down in the nineteen fifties and its former site is now obliterated with houses, and shops. Adjoining its southern border was Ÿamuna”the home of H Sri Nissanka, Q.C. It was at this house that the historic Yamuna Conference was held by Mr S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, the first meeting of his parliamentary supporters following his resignation from the U.N.P. in 1951. It was this meeting that led to the founding of the Sri Lankan Freedom Party. The house and its garden stands exactly as it was fifty years ago, one of the few that has withstood pressures from the soaring land values in Colombo. Across the road was the Wellawatte Spinning and Weaving Mils, the largest industrial enterprise in Colombo South. It was established by Darley Butler and Co and at one time was owned by Goculdas the Maharajah of Gwalior. The Mills employed thousands of workers most of whom lived in tenement housing around the Havelock Town, Thimbirigasyaya, Pamankade and Wellawatte areas. Its towering smokestack was a landmark in Colombo South. Its siren, which sounded at regular intervals, could be heard for miles around, and served as a signal to the end of a work shift and as a wake up call for workers due for the following shift. The siren sounded exactly on time, so much so that people set their clocks and watches to synchronise with it. The Mills which were associated with the social history of the area was also significant in the political development of modern Sri Lanka. The origins of the trade union movement in Sri Lanka could be traced to the work force of the Mills. The Mills and its massive complex of buildings, today stands in crumbling ruins ready for demolition. The Wellawatte canal or “Layrds Folly” or the “Moda Ela”in Singhalese, into which the industrial wastes of the Mills freely flowed, passed under an old iron bridge on Havelock Road, replaced in 1938 by the bridge, which stands today. It was constructed during the tenure of office of the Mayor of Colombo Dr V.R.Schokman in 1938.
Dr Schokman lived in this house called “Valerest” opposite the Havelock Park. Stewart Orr of the Municipal Council lived in this house previously and it was called ‘Dilkusha’. In its front yard was a beautiful circular sunken garden. In later years the house was converted into a restaurant. Adjoining the northern bund of the canal was the Government Senior School, which later transferred to Maharagama. During World War II it housed the Royal Primary School when the entire Royal College complex was used as a military hospital. Today the buildings are the home to Lumbini Maha Vidyalaya. Opposite the school was a row of small shops and houses including a bicycle repair service, which was popular with students and adults alike, as many adults cycled to work in the city and would stop by to pump up their tyres. In one of these houses lived Mr M.E.Piyasena teacher at the Royal Primary School and a great organiser in the Boy Scout movement. Lawrence Tudawe of the building firm Tudawe Brothers lived in the freestanding house next door. A few houses further on lived S.B.Lekamge, a lawyer, whose wife was a teacher at the Royal Primary School. In the adjoining lane was the home of Dr C.O.Perera, then Superintendent of the Mental Hospital. Beside the school was Skelton Gardens, with much of its land yet not built upon. At Dawson Road where it abuts Havelock Road was the home of Dr Francis Silva, Orthopaedic Surgeon. Havelock Place consisted of around ten homes mainly occupied by British and Burgher families like that of Edwin Ludovici a partner of a leading firm of lawyers, C.H.White of Walker & Sons, R.M.Lawson whose home later owned by T.M.Soysa, and de Kretser who migrated to Australia in 1946. His son who was in school with me was a tall gangly youth nicknamed “pol gus maama” for his extraordinary height. He wrote a letter from Australia stating much to our envy that he was earning a lot of pocket money during weekends by pasting labels on IXL jam tins! Next to Havelock Place stood ‘Park View’ an old house demolished about thirty years ago, which belonged to R.A.de Mel former Mayor of Colombo. This house figured prominently in an election petition that eventually unseated de Mel from his election as M.P. for Colombo South. Dunstan Martin the Accountant built his home on part of this property, but passed away not long after of a heart attack. In the house next door lived Dr C.H.Gunasekera the Chief Medical Officer of the Municipal Council and well-known sportsman. The sports triangle on the opposite side of the road included the Colts, the Burgher Recreation Club, and the Havelock Sports Club. The land was a rubber plantation at the turn of the century. South of the perk area was Park Road, which was, then a gravel road that extended to Nawala. The land between Park Road and the Wellawatte Canal was low lying and was planted with “keerai: the source of most of Colombo’s green vegetables. It belonged to Ramasamy Reddiar who sold most of it for redevelopment. Today it is one of the more desirable residential areas of Colombo. Next to Dr Schokman’s house referred to earlier, stood a cluster of large, mainly two story bungalows built in the nineteen forties by E.P.A.Fernando (later Sir Ernest) owner of the Bogala mines. His own residence Údayasiri’ was away from the main road. One that faced Havelock Road was named “Siripasiri” and was leased to W.B.Mackay then Manager of the Bank of Ceylon, and later to the Sun Life Assurance Co at the time a leading insurance firm in Colombo. Its Managing Director F.M.Mc Bain lived in this house for several years. His neighbour next door was Mrs Walteer Peiris whose well-manicured lawns were always a pleasing sight. In a corner of her garden were two tombstones to the memory of deceased family members. Dr J.T.Amarasingham a medical practitioner, also involved in politics lived next door. In the adjoining house was the Ayurvedic Medical practice of Rev Malewana Gnanissara who was also a politician of sorts. At the Havelock Road/Dickmans Road intersection stood an old cottage named ‘Didi Vila’ belonging to a Maldivian. For some years it was unoccupied and rumour had it that it was haunted. Sir Ernest Fernando constructed Bogala Court on this land in the late 1940s and it was then considered the ultimate in residential flat design. At the junction was installed the first set of traffic lights in Sri Lanka. In the first house past the Dickmans Road intersection on the left was “White Lea” the home of Dr Serasinghe and of Winston Serasinghe well known in DRAMSOC circles and rugger player for the C.R. and F.C. He is also remembered in later years for his stentorian voice often heard encouraging the C.R. and F.C. team from sidelines. Next door lived Steuart de Silva who for many years was a member of a trio that played each evening at the “Pigalle”a nightspot on Galle Rad Colpetty. Further on was “Chistlehurst” the home of W.S.Fernando. The adjoining house was that of Dr Seneviratne whose sons Dr K.N.(Bull) and Nihal the former Secretary General of Parliament rose to eminence in their respective fields of professional activity. Two doors away lived B.P.(Percy)Peiris who served as Secretary to the Cabinet of successive Prime Ministers. Percy was a favourite at the Havelocks Club where his talents as a pianist and penchant for singing were much appreciated. Former Chief Justice Hema Basnayake, then a Crown Counsel previously occupied this house. The Agalawattes lived two doors away. The last house on this stretch before reaching the Thimbirigasyaya bazaar area was that of Samasamjist Bernard Soysa, later to become a Minister.
On the opposite side of Havelock Road adjoining the intersection with Dickmans Road was ‘Mona’ the home of Proctor Nicol Samarasinghe, which was demolished in the nineteen fifties to give way to the modern homes that stand there now. Next door lived Dr L.C.Gunasekera. A couple of houses away stood “Som Wasa” the home of the Weerasinghe family that nurtured the well known fraternity of sportsmen including Oliver (Chief Town Planner), Lionel (Auditor General), Bertie (Fire Chief), Winnie (Police Officer). The last house on this stretch adjoining Spathodea Building was “Sukhasthan”the home of R.R.Undugodage. Beyond the Thimbirigasyaya bazaar area was T.F.(Freddie) Jayawardena’s property on which a motor garage and a Shell Petrol Station stood. Part of the land was built on during the nineteen sixties. Ad joining the petrol station lived the Gunawardena family, whose daughter Kusuma was a well known netball player. A few yards away lived Dr J.R.Wilson specialist in Chest diseases. Vajira Road led into Havelock Road at this point where “Lileena” the residence of Sir Ukwatte Jayasundera the Secretary of the United National Party in the fifties, stands. His Chevrolet with registration CY1 was quite an attraction in the area. The house was originally owned by Colonel Stanley Fernando who designed it with its façade of Corinthian pillars. The building now houses the popular restaurant Jade Gardens. Next-door was the home of lawyer “Spotty” Sunderampillai. Former Supreme Court Judge F.H.B.Koch Q.C. lived in the adjoining house “Bramble Court” set in a beautifully maintained garden. In one corner was a splendid conifer Araucaria Cookii, and just at the entrance to the driveway was a striking clump of Agave Americana Variegata or the Century plant. The walls of the house were covered with ivy, neatly clipped in a line about a metre lower from roof level. F.H.B.Koch also owned a countryseat in Talahena called Blue Lagoon, which was later to become a tourist hotel. H.T.Roslyn Koch Managing Director of Colombo Apothecaries Co lived in “Glenrose” next door. He had a beautifully tended garden mainly of colourful perennials thriving luxuriantly off the cattle manure that his plump Cape Cows generated. His daughter Kathleen La Brooy ran a school for dressmakers in later years. Both these homes are no longer visible from the road, as modern flats stand on the beautiful gardens that once existed there. On Gower Street abutting Havelock Road was Dr Lance Fernando’s house, which was next to “St Clair” the home of Dr Rex de Costa the war veteran who was tragically gunned down in Deniyaya during the 1971 insurrection. Further on at 106 lived Dr G.R.Handy eminent cardiologist, whose neighbour at No 100 was lawyer C.R.Gunaratne in a residence of more recent vintage. The University Hostel “Aquinas Hall” was a few yards away. It was earlier the home of lawyer J.A.P.Cherubim.…