Monday, February 26, 2007

BURGHERS, BREUDHERS AND BOLO FIADO

WILLIAM WOUTERSZ

I have Pages 43, 44, 45 & 46 extracted from a souvenir or magazine of probably the DBU. But there is no indication of from where these have been extracted. These 4 Pages comprise two articles – one by Wilhelm Woutersz and the other by Mrs. Christobelle Oorloff who was a Past Principal of Lindsay Girls School, Colombo (wife of the late Mr. Cedric Oorloff CCS, Past Principal Wesley College, Colombo and Trinity College Kandy). Mrs Oorloff indicates in her article, a copy of which I will give to Fazli when I meet him so that he can post it in the genealogy website he hosts, her age as 91. She passed away in 2004 just after her 97th birthday. Hence, both articles would have been published around 1998. I am reproducing the Woutersz article which I believe may be of interest to many.

Mr. Wilhelm Woutersz was a career Foreign Service official in Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry having served as Ambassador in Italy and as Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the tail end of his career. He crossed the great divide sometime ago.

BURGHERS, BREUDHERS AND BOLO FIADO ---- MAKING A LAST DUTCH STAND!!

The DBU, the spiritual home to the last bastion of the “beleagured” Burgher community, soldiers on in a last Dutch stand. But the weaponry for survival is culinary, not military, a legacy of the old Dutch East India Company, the VOC - Breudhers and their lesser floury satellites of Fuggetti, Koekjes and Poffertjes. In this formidable arsenal the Breudher stood supreme.

“When good Burghers make Brueudhers the raisins don’t sink to the bottom”, my maiden aunt observed with some asperity. It was a recipe that defied description and you looked for it in vain in any cookery book. A good Breudher must rise and the secret of the “resurrected” Breudher was not a matter of virtue but the virtuosity of the Burgher Grand Dames who got off their rocking chairs each Christmas, rolled up their raglan sleeves and got down to their seasonal trade of “making Breudhers”. They did not bake or steam them. They simply made them, pure miracles with dough and yeast, a perennial part of the Sri Lankan X’mas Board, enduring and endearing.

This lasting legacy is a Burgher birthright invested with its own innocent snobbery in a genealogical culinary line stretching from Altendorff to Zieglaar with stops along the way to accommodate the lineage of Bartholomeusz, Holdenbottle, Keegal, Vander Straaten and perhaps a Woutersz or two - the line is unending.

The respectful company of breudher maker grows smaller, passing away or “passed” to Australia or surviving to rejoice in a Christmas Cantata at the DRC. But the passage from Mount Lavinia to Melbourne and Bambalapitiya to Brisbane is half-hearted and temporary. The heart lies closer home in the corner of a not so foreign field that is forever Sri Lanka with its magnetic pull at Christmastime and here the home spun philosophy abides - by their breudhers ye shall know!

article submitted by
Branu Rahim
brahim@eureka.lk
Colombo, Sri Lanka
February 2007

Email response to the above article on Lankan Friends Forum on Googlegroups by Elisabeth Leembruggen-Kallberg on Feb 26 2007:-

Thanks, Branu, Caryll, for sharing the article and the comments about my cousin, Wilhelm. He was wonderful, warm, witty and all those other lovely compliments you showered on him...a bit of cheeky rascal as well ;-)

He was several years my senior; I still see him in my mind's eye puffing away on his pipe, telling a joke or two, charming those around him. You would have loved his wife, Des, as well. There was something quintessential 'Sri Lankan' about both of them. Yes, they were Burghers, but they were more than that--I think he/she embodied the essence of Lankans, our warmth, our hospitality. I know I'm biased.

We spent far too many years apart, but his last posting to Italy meant my favourite 'coz' was closer than he'd been geographically in a long time. He is still sorely missed. And this article--which I had lost in my travels, Branu so thanks--is so 'Wilhelm'.

I can only second Branu's suggestion, Faz. (And maybe you see that this sort of story telling runs in the family ;-)

Thanks again and best regards,

Beth Leembruggen-Kallberg
(aka Liz)
-- Dr. Elisabeth Leembruggen-KallbergDocent,
ATHVrije Universiteit
Amsterdam
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Fri Feb 23, 2007

Hi Everyone,

My name is Branu Rahim. Although a Malay (and Muslim) my friends have
christened me a "Burgher Muslim" because of my unorthodox lifestyle.

Pls find as an attachment an article which I believe would be of interest to

Machang Fazli --- Why don't you post this on the genealogy website?

Cheers!!

Branu Rahim
brahim@eureka.lk
Colombo
Sri Lanka
----------

From the Ceylon Daily News, June 22nd 1937

A Sinhalese writes of

OUR GOOD FRIENDS, the BURGHERS

We cannot think of Ceylon without them

By T. Max Perera

I have a great predilection towards Burghers. Not only because I have many bosom cronies in that community, but because I have spent some of the happiest years of my boyhood in their homes.

The finest lady that I ever knew was a Burgher. The most select gentleman of my acquaintance is a Burgher; and if some unfortunate Sinhalese girl fails to discover me, I could still discover both intelligence and beauty in a Burgher girl and - marry her.

This is merely a personal outburst, because a fair face seldom fails to floor me. But the Burghers are not only fair of face � in truth, along with an attractive complexion they have, in addition, such a broad sense of fair play and fair dealing that they are the easiest to get on with in the world.

We have been brothers and sisters in blood for we have tasted more things than salt together, and I never set eyes on a Burgher but I take an instant liking to him or her.

THEY GIVE ZEST

They are a Western graft upon an Eastern tree, but so well have they acclimatized and endeared themselves to the native soil that we cannot think of a Ceylon without Burghers.

Wellawatte would be a dull strip of sand; Bambalapitiya a barren wilderness of wind; Colpetty and Dehiwala gloomy haunts of melancholy, if there were no Burgher girls to scatter radiance on the way.

With their good looks and musical voices they give a definite zest to social life, dancing with hips of rhythm and crooning melodies that are filled with moonlit dreams. The sparkle of life is in their eyes and the tremor of love is on their lips.

They have captured all the romance in the world and shut it all to themselves, that no Matchmakers can enter into their lives with deceitful talk of daughters and of dowries; and so they believe in marrying for love and believe also in all the sacrifices involved in the one great adventure of Love.

EYES SO FRANK

They wear their hearts on their sleeves and in the frank lustre of their eyes one can read their very souls. Faithful as friends and forgiving as enemies, they are always too good-natured to be obstinately malicious and too easy-going to bear any rancour.

They are the descendants of all those Portuguese who came along with Lorenzo d'Almeida or of the Dutch who arrived with Joris Van Spilbergen. The former held the land for 134 years and the Hollanders for over 156, and although their governments have disappeared, the two nations remain with us as - Burghers.

INTELLECTS

Theirs have been some of the greatest intellects of the land. The past has given us Dornhorst and Lorenz; the present has Blaze and Schneider.

The only Ceylonese Bishop in the island was a Burgher. Maartensz and Wille are men of the age we live in; and in the field of sport as in the realm of music, Kelaart, Foenander, Arndt and Zilwa are names of high repute, while the Van Langenbergs are men of wide renown.

Remains also with them the blessed light of Christianity that they brought into the Island; the Roman-Dutch Law ; the forts that they built and the canals they constructed. Those forts may crumble and the canals run dry but Portuguese or Dutch we have always in our midst our tried friends the Burghers.

"The Government officers", explains the well-known Dutch Burgher historian of Ceylon, "were known as Company's Servants and the non-officials as Burghers or Viyburgers (free Burghers)". From these Burghers were appointed officers for the Burgery, an armed force composed of Tupasses, (people of mixed Portuguese descent). When the rule of the Company ceased in 1796 there could be no Company's Servants any longer and all the Dutch people in Ceylon became Burghers.

They are the sponsors of western art and fashion in our midst. They are a vivacious Occidental group in a sedate Eastern land. Cocktails and Fox Trots will not join the Dodo as long as there are Burghers in the country. Besides, is not music the greatest passion of their lives and beauty their common heritage ? Great Race, this, the Burghers.

HAPPY BONDS

Politics do not flutter them; they like the men of the land and the men of the land are fond of them and these happy bonds of love are often drawn closer together with a ring of beaten gold and a vow before the Altar.

They are certainly not an effeminate people: The heroic spirit of Constantine de Sa and the martial spirit of Azevedo still linger in the hearts of their descendants, so, in every branch and walk of life have proved themselves to be an honour to their country and community.

Whether in the learned professions or in the Government service or lower down in the humbler crafts which the poorer ones follow for the sake of their living, they have singularly distinguished themselves by their honesty and integrity, just as wherever they go they must have, in their own characteristic manner and according to their lot in life, their feasts and musical festivals.

They fill a very big place in the social life of the country and if we Sinhalese have not quarreled with them and have found them to be the pleasantest of friends, it is mainly because of their savoir faire and good breeding and of the winning ways of their men as of the smiling charm of their ladies.
------------

Daily News Features Page, Thursday July 19 2007

Is it extinction of the Sri Lanka Burgher community?
A commentary on the Burgher birthrate:

J. B. Muller

Burgher Population: The Burgher Community in Sri Lanka faces extinction. In less than another 50 years the Burghers of Sri Lanka would be found only on the Internet and perhaps in a few books and in the archives of newspapers. Surprised? Shocked to learn that you are on the endangered species list? You may well be.

The net birthrate of the Burghers is abysmally low on the one hand and both the net emigration rate and death, on the other hand, is working against Burgher numbers. Whilst the population of Sri Lanka has been growing since the first census in 1871, the numbers of the Burghers has always been below 50,000 souls.

Burgher numbers have not been growing with the rest of the population. Further, Burgher girls have been constantly marrying outside the Community and their offspring have been quietly assimilated into other, non-Burgher ethnic communities. Burgher boys, too, have been marrying outside the Community and the process of assimilation (and eventual extinction) goes on apace.
The leadership of the Burgher Community must take concrete steps to encourage Burghers to marry members of their own community in increasing numbers to ensure that their numbers do not dwindle to the point of extinction!

Indeed, economic factors impinge heavily on this suggestion; however, there is a way out through focused and concentrated education and training to enhance the economic status of the Burghers. It is quite apparent that the Burgher population is ageing rapidly and that few younger Burghers are to be seen in any significant numbers at any gathering.

Economic uplift and development mean that economic status would improve raising living standards to the level that Burghers could afford to have larger families. In my own family, there was a member of the Ceylon Civil Service who had 24 children out of two marriages, 16 + 8. My father was the eldest son out of 15 children. This is not to say that Burghers go for such large families but that they should have at least five children to replace the ageing and those who die every year.

Burgher leaders have also come to an impasse over which to count as part of the Burgher population — a question necessitated by the increasingly porous nature of Sri Lankan society and the Community’s generally high rates of intermarriage.

Are those counted as Burghers only those whose male parent is a Burgher of original European ancestry or whose female parent was of original European ancestry also? For example, should an individual raised in a cultural milieu that is non-Burgher be considered a Burgher if he or she had one Burgher parent?

What if one born with one Burgher parent and raised in a non-Burgher cultural milieu asserts identification with the Burgher Community? What about the increasingly common situation of a non-Burgher not married to but living in the same household with a Burgher man or woman?
What about the children and the grandchildren of intermarried Burghers? If they were not raised as Burghers, should they nevertheless be considered part of the Burgher Community?
If there is any debate within the Burgher Community over absolute numbers, there is far wider agreement on the patterns of behaviour within the Burgher population. Two trends are particularly telling. First, in terms of median age, Burghers are older than other Sri Lankans. Second, even by the most cautious figures, at least half of all marriages involving a Burgher are to non-Burghers. Neither trend suggests demographic vitality.

There is considerable evidence pointing to the relatively advanced age of the Sri Lanka Burgher population. Among Sri Lankans of all kinds Burghers have the fewest number of siblings, the smallest household size, and the lowest number of children under eighteen at home.
Burghers marry later than other Sri Lankans with the greatest disparities occurring in the age group between twenty-five and thirty-four. For Burgher women in particular, late marriage means lower rates of fertility compared with other Sri Lankan women.

The fertility gap is especially enormous among Burgher under the age of thirty-five; even though the gap narrows considerably over the course of the next ten years, at no point do Burgher women attain the fertility levels of their non-Burgher peers or bear children in numbers sufficient to offset population losses from natural causes.

It is true that low fertility rates among Burgher women are not a new phenomenon. Economic advancement, the availability of birth control, and rising educational achievement caused Burgher fertility to start dropping as long ago as the middle of the 20th Century.
Nor, as is well known, is the phenomenon limited to Burghers, or to Sri Lanka. In the U.S.; in contemporary Europe and Japan, it has reached proportions that threaten catastrophe to those nations.

Still, Burgher women in Sri Lanka are significantly less fertile than their other Sri Lankan counterparts. This fact is attested to by the significantly better rates of educational achievement among Burgher women, who spend significantly more time than their non-Burgher peers in learning employable skills. For many of them, still more childless years follow as they work to advance their careers.

Add to all this the losses sustained through the high rate of intermarriage. Once upon a time, it was thought by at least some sociologists that intermarriage could prove to be a demographic boon. In the aggregate, said the optimists, it would take fewer intermarried Burghers producing children identifying themselves as Burghers to result in a net gain. But nothing of the sort has happened.

Not only does the birth rate among intermarried Burghers tend to be even lower than among those who marry within the Community. Nearly all of the children raised within intermarried families go on to marry non-Burghers themselves, and only a small percentage of these raise their own children as Burghers.

As for their links with Burgher life, only a minority of children raised by dual-religion parents identify themselves with Christianity or with the institutions of the Burgher Community.
In two generations, the process of assimilation would be complete, erasing the unique ethnic, social and cultural character of the Burghers. Although a number of adult children of intermarriage do express “somewhat” of a connection with the Burgher component of their identity, such feelings are rarely translated into behavior.

Like their parents, most tend not to affiliate with a church, contribute to Burgher causes, or participate in a Burgher event nearly as much as do the adult children of those who have married within the Community.

Advocating larger families would certainly beg the question of how to support a larger family when Burghers are (like everyone else) battling with an ever rising cost-of-living? The answer to that lies in better training for better-paid employment and in being competitive in the sense of doing better things with the resources we already possess.

As mentioned earlier, the key to increasing Burgher numbers is first, education and training. Every support should be given to Burghers to have larger families. The other part lies in the hands of the leaders who should motivate the Burghers to do what needs be done and to pursue education and training with single-minded purpose.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Bamba we knew

The Bamba we knew



Late morning Train going north from Wellawatte Railway Station at Bamba. Pier at far end is visible. Pic sent in by George S Pereira in Toronto, Canada.

Street map of Galle Road, Bambalapitiya




Beginnings

Bambalapitiya, affectionately known to all its residents, and even those living within the other zones of Colombo, as “Bamba” is a small town located on both sides of the Galle Road between Colpetty (Colombo 3) on the North and Wellawatte (Colombo 6) on the South, spanning about one and a half kilometers of the Galle Road.The West is ringed by the big beautiful waters of the Indian Ocean while the East borders Havelock Town on the North and Kirulaponne on the South, connected by Havelock Road. Bamba is also classified as Colombo 00400 on the zonal map of Colombo and lies within the Municipality of Colombo.

Bambalapity in the early 19th century was a thick jungle infested with venomous snakes. Kadju Pulang trees were common to this area and it was the belief that outlaws hiding in this dense jungle would hijack and plunder bullock carts carrying produce between Galle and Colombo, It appears that these bandits would murder these traders and hang the bodies on the Kadju Pulung trees, The song sung at school matches, “we will hang all the Thomians on the Kadju Pulang trees … “ is said to have had derived from this legend.

Vast tracts of Bambalapitiya were owned by the Senanayake family, relicts of our first PM, D.S.Senanayake.The descendants of this family, Haig, Brian and Shelah still live in their ancestral home down Mary’s Road.

Herbert Bartholomeusz J.P and retired Engineer PWD bought 10 acres of land for Rs 6.00 per acre in 1896. Today land in Bamba is worth about Rs One million per perch (one acre = 160 perches).


Galle Road




Galle Road begins at Galle Face, at the roundabout in front of the old Parliament building, now serving as the Presidential Secretariat,  near the entrance to the Fort, and stretches its tired asphalt tracks all the way to the town of Galle, almost 100 Km south, hugging the coastline like a leech all the way through. It comprises two ways of traffic, one south and one north, usually cramped to capacity during the morning and evening rush hour. In recent times the traffic police has regulated the flow by introducing new one-way laws at certain points on its path. 

The section of Galle Road within the District of Colombo has been divided in the center by an island, thereby, preventing those crazy over-taking drivers from displaying their antics on the middle of the highway.

At Bamba, similar to many of the other towns along Galle Road in Colombo, parallel streets, commonly referred to as lanes interspaced by a few blocks of land and residential houses, ran down westwards, towards the beach bordering the Indian Ocean, from the Galle Road. Here they met the southern railway tracks that veered its way towards Galle and Matara, and around it a myriad spread of coconut trees that ringed the white sands of the beautiful beach that curved all the way south like a Mermaid’s bottom. On the sea front, right at the end of Station Road, located at the northern end of Bamba, was the Bamba Railway Station constructed in identical fashion to the several other stations that ringed the southern tracks from Colombo Fort all the way down to Matara. Two sets of tracks, parallel to each other took the perspiring rail commuters to the big bustling bazaar city of Fort, The Pettah and back home to roost on a daily basis.The southern coastline railway is a way of life for a large number of traders, businessmen, office workers and commuters who ply the route on a daily basis in order to eke out their daily bread. 

On the land side, similar parallel lanes take off from the Galle Road, some running all the way to meet Havelock Road in Colombo 00500, while others ending up in dead ends or curving across to meet the network of inland roadways at some point along the way. From a bird's eye view the roads would have looked more like the upper skeleton of a human body with the spine representing Galle Road and the ribs reflecting the parallel lanes on either side. Galle Road is the main link between Colombo and the south, and is always heavily loaded with trucks, petrol bowsers, cars, buses, motorbikes, scooters, bicycles, carts, three-wheeler taxis, and, in the old days, the manually driven rickshaws and bullock carts. On some festive and religious occasions one can also see elephants joining in a parade or traditional festive arts, decked in all their finery, being dragged from temple to temple, celebrating some ritualistic occasion, a significant part of the multi-cultural society which live within the city.

Rush hour on Galle Road, mainly during the morning, evening, and school hours, can be traumatic. Traffic slows down to a crawl and horns blow out in chorus intermingling with engine noises and fumes that turns the town into a melting pot of absolute pollution. Three-wheeler taxis work their way in between the snarling vehicles causing enough mayhem to an already chaotic tangled web of men, machines, and noise. Traffic policemen and police women, nattily dressed in their khaki uniforms, wave their arms and legs to try and bring some order and sanity to the hodgepodge life of a messy, yet normal working day in the city. 


In recent times even the halcyon atmosphere of the by lanes have become a hive of activity with many commercial businesses sprouting up in the heavenly old homes of yore, and traffic screaming up and down in order to use the newly opened Marine Drive, now named as the Colombo Plan Road, along the beachfront. Tourist guest houses, posh restaurants, high-rise condominium apartment blocks, telephone communication services and internet café’s have all emerged out of a sleepy old town of middle class men and women who lived there only a few decades ago. The town itself has developed into a very lucrative and popular location for all communities. 


The sprawling foliage of old is slowly disappearing with the clearing, blocking, and decentralizing of the huge mansions that once stood tall and proud, all in the name of development, overcrowding and the demand for more housing and business premises in a fast developing city that is bursting its seams.

The town of Bamba begins, in the north, a little before the intersection of Buller’s Road (now known as Bauddhaloka Mawatha) and Galle Road. Here, stands the massive FOAMTREADS advertising banner (now converted to ELASTO) with its shiny flickering pieces of aluminum clicking away in the sunshine and the lights of the night in its own swishy-swashy way, a landmark that was unmistakable to all and sundry in days gone by. On the seaside, facing Galle Road and also facing the entrance to Buller’s Road (now renamed as Bauddhaloka Mawatha), stands the respected IC Drug Stores patronized by the residents from time immemorial, serving its customers in all its glory and splendor. This was no ordinary down-the-street pharmacy as it had its aura of professionalism, respect, and honor by way of its design and interior and also its white coated salespersons, who looked more like the members of a hospital staff in attendance rather than salesmen delivering drugs and medicines.




The town extends, all the way along Galle Road, to end at the Wellawatte Canal (Hamilton Canal) which separates it from the next town of Wellawatte (Colombo 00600) on the South. To the east it is bordered by Havelock Road, which begins at the roundabout located at Thunmulla (three cornered junction) and extends all the way down southwards to the old Wellawatte Spinning & Weaving Mills located at the bridge that crosses the same Canal, which winds it way across a large extent of Colombo. The Textile Mill, once a bustling industry, managed by Solih Captain, that employed hundreds of workers, is now closed and dysfunctional. A massive housing complex project with international participation has emerged as Havelock City within which nine towers are being constructed, ranging from 22 to 29 floors, two of such towers being named as Park Towers and Elibank Towers, catering to the massive demand for residency by the upper brow within the big city.


The Streets of Bamba


Barefoot

This establishment was originally started by that erstwhile gem merchant from the south, Ahamed Salih where he carried on his lucrative gem business catering to both tourists and locals up to the early seventies.

The store has since changed ownership and has been transformed into a general tourist store offering a variety of Sri Lankan produce and also a wonderful collection of valuable books and publications by Barbara Sansoni, who is an artist, writer and designer who has exhibited her drawings and woven panels across Asia, Europe and North America. She founded Barefoot in the mid Seventies and has been the designer of rural fabrics and handwoven products of Sri Lanka. Her work is characterized by its colors and simple rectilinear forms.

The Gallery, within Barefoot, is an extension of the company that is popularly patronized for its music, drama, poetry and visual art.




Some may claim that Barefoot resides in Kollupitiya since it stands smack bang on the border between the two towns. However, it is included here for all what its worth as an insrinsic part of the Bamba heritage. http://www.barefoot.lk/home.htm


Menezes

50th Wedding Anniversary celebrations of Papa Menezes 


left to right, Miki, Helen, Papa, Ralph, Mama Menezes, Lucila and Tom. They were the pioneers of jazz music in Sri Lanka. [sent in by Helen Menzes in Australia]

Helen Menezes & Ron Lucas

Helen Menezes and Ron Lucas






Everyone in Bamba will remember the quaint little Menezes music shop located on the seaside on the border between Colpetty and Bamba. One may still debate which of the two towns it really belonged to. It was located on the basement floor, where the instruments were displayed for sale, visible to the Galle Road, and the rear section of the basement was used for the maintenance and tinkering of musical instruments, which was carried out by the famous musical Menezes family in Colombo.

The family is said to have originated from Goa in India and claim Portuguese descent from the old colonial era. The shop was first famous for its 78 rpm gramophone records, later 45 rpm’s, and then even later EP’s and LP’s of the latest music in the industry. They also specialized in the import and distribution of acoustic pianos, guitars, wind and percussion instruments and music notes. In addition they also taught music.

The family members, comprising, old man “Papa” Menezes, and sons, Mickey, Tom and Ralph, and daughter, Helen, were all very talented musicians, each specializing in his own instrument yet having the ability to play any instrument he or she was called upon to. Helen was a famous crooner.

They also formed a band called “The Papa Menezes Combo” and played jazz, blues and oldies at parties, dances, weddings, concerts and other musical galas in town. With the passing away of Papa and Tom the rest migrated abroad to Australia and the business was closed, much to the sadness of many faithful patrons and musicians who used to visit the shop like a prayer almost every day.

Ralph Menezes, was the only son of Papa Menezes who sought academic excelence and qualified himself professionally at Medical school in Colombo, and passed out as a doctor. The rest of the family were all professional musicians right to the end. Dr. Ralph now lives in Chicago as informed by his sister Helen by e-mail after having seen the Bamba story online on the internet



Cathy Menezes, daughter of he late Tom Menezes is billed to perform with her band at the Galadari Meridian Hotel in Colombo on Dec 31 2010. She will also appear at the Pub and at a jam session organized by Jazz Unlimited on Jan 2 2011. Cathy and her brother, Peter, perform in Australia s professionals musicians carrying forward the graet Menezes name across the globe.

It was, indeed, interesting to read in the Sunday Observer of Dec 11 2005 that Helen and hubby, Ron Lucas, are in Colombo for the festive season to play and entertain all their fans at the Mount Lavinia Hotel. Here is the news item:-

quote

Musically elegant

Back in the land of her roots and overjoyed to perform here is pianist keyboardist, Helen Lucas who with her husband Ron vocalist / percussionist will be featured at the Mount Lavinia Hotel for the entire festive season.

Ron and Helen

They will commence their gigs on Tuesday December 20 and will be a star attraction for New Year's Eve as well.

Helen Lucas a famous band leader in Sri Lanka in the early years headlined her highly successful dance band the Helen Lucas Combo and held centre- stage for many years before she and Ron decided to move over to Australia.

Daughter of the famous Papa Menezes whose name was synonymous with music in Sri Lanka, she was and still is deeply invovlved in teaching music and a constant friend to other musicians-young and old. What is her major plus in her music artistry is her elegance and sophistication in expression be it Pop, Latin or Jazz and that is hard to beat.

Ron an exciting vocalist and percussionist sings a wide repetoire of Michael Buble the current rage, Frank Sinatra's songs as well as songs by the time honoured greats like Elvis Presley and Nat King Cole. Now performing at some of the leading hotels in Sydney, Ron and Helen's music has taken them overseas for performances in Germany, England, Malaysia, Goa and recently a successful tour of Los Angeles, Chicago and Vancouver.

Catch their gig at Mount Lavinia Hotel, you are bound to make returns. - (MP)
unquote

Music of Ron Lucas & Helen Menezes may be viewed on Youtube at these links:-

at the Colombo Swimming Club 2012: -

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=3mOks3NOGck&NR=1

on board the "Ruby Princess" Caribbean Cruise -

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=7It_hNa73ts

Peter & Cathy Menezes (children of the late Tom)




Peter and Cathy Menezes, children of the late Tom Menezes, now performing in Australia

Lucilla Menezes
Who created the classic been music in Man Dole, Mera Tan Dole? 
Shyamanuja Das Article in Nothingtodeclare.in


Man dole mera tan dole from the 1954 film Nagin remains one of the most popular songs in Hindi cinema. What adds to the charm of the song is thebeen music played in the song. This caught the imagination of people so much that there were so many myths that got created around this—the most popular being that snakes “were attracted” by it and entered the film theatres when the song was playing! 


Myths apart, the popularity of the song is proven by the fact that it ranked at No 2 in annual Binaca Geetmala Hit Parade in 1954, the ultimate barometer of popularity of Hindi film songs at that time. In fact, when HMV (now Saregama) released a special album on the occasion of 25 years of the program, Ameen Sayani, who presented the program actually included this song as the top ranked song of 1954, albeit by mistake. But that shows how much Man dole was etched in memory that even someone like Sayani could get confused! 
Much of the long-term popularity of the song was, of course, because of the beautiful sound of been. There has been a lot of discussion on who created that piece. The cover of the record released by HMV gives credit to Ravi and Kalyanji, who were part of Hemant Kumar’s team but later went on to became successful music composers themselves. Nagin, in fact, was one of the last films Ravi did as an assistant to Hemantda, for he started scoring music independently soon afterwards, tasting success early. A few tunes of his first film Vachan (O babu babu, jaanewale babu and Chanda mama door ke) went on to become all-ime hits. Kalyanji, of course, paired with his brother Anandji to emerge as a popular duo, and they were active right upto the 80s 


There has been a lot of debate on who between Ravi and Kalyanji should get more credit for the piece? Kalyanji fans believe that he created the been sound on Clavioline, an electronic keyboard instrument, a predecessor to today’s synthesizers, which he introduced to the Indian audience in that film, though now, it is known that the sound was actually created on Harmonium by Ravi, while Kalyanji indeed supported on the Clavoline. 
Nevertheless, I could not resist asking the question to the maestro himself when I met him in November 2011, just a few months before his death. (I actually did a post, Ravi: The Master of Situational Songs, based on some interesting perspective that I got from that interview). He, of course, vehemently denied any major contribution from Kalyanji and reiterated that the music was played on Harmonium by him, while acknowledging that Kalyanji did accompany on Clavoline. 


But then he added something that caught my attention. “Actually, it was created by Lucila. But it sounded a little Western, so I changed it like this,” he said demonstrating it immediately on the Harmonium which accompanied him right through the entire interview, “to make it sound more Indian.” 


Lucila? I had never heard that name. While I do not consider myself to be an authority on Hindi film music, I do follow it and can say with some pride that my knowledge is better than average. But this name was completely new to me. I did not even dare to ask him who she was, because of the way he was moving from one topic to another with a lot of zeal and I thought this would have been an interruption. I, however, ensured that I got the name right: Lucila. I was pretty sure that I would find it out on Google. 


But that was a miscalculation—probably a little over-confidence—on my part. I started googling on my phone the moment I came out and followed it up with vigorous search on Google using all my techniques. Without success. I must have tried at least 20-30 times over a period of 3-4 months to find the elusive Lucila. 
I could guess, though, that she could have been one of the Goan musicians. I knew that a lot of Goan musicians worked with composers but beyond Chic Chocolate and Anthony Gonsalves, I did not know anyone’s name. 


And finally, I found this name, Lucila Pacheco, a Goa born Pianist, who played with different bands and worked for many composers in Hindi film industry at that time, in the book, Taj Mahal Foxtrot: The Story of Bombay’s Jazz Age, a very informative and engaging book about the story of Bombay’s Jazz culture, written by Naresh Fernandes. In fact, I found quite a bit of info spread across the book, with 3-4 nice pictures, one in which she was seen playing Saxophone, though she was primarily a Pianist. 
But the question was: was this the same Lucila that Ravi was referring to? 


While the book carried quite some information about her, it was still not enough to ascertain whether she was the same person. What helped me finally is this post on her—A Woman in a Man’s World—in author Fernandes’ blog, also called Taj Mahal Foxtrot. From there, I gathered that she came to Bombay in 1948 and by 1955 she was quite popular. Nagin was released in 1954. And the music must have been composed by 1953-54. So, there was every possibility of her working with Hemant Kumar. Just to clarify, I had a quick conversation with Fernandes on Twitter, reconfirming that she was active during that time. That removed any doubt that I had. 


And there you are. It was Lucila Pacheco, the Pianist, who according to the assistant music director of the movie, Nagin, first created the been music piece—one of the all time hits in Hindi film music history. 


The very fact that the assistant music director of the movie—and someone actually credited with creation of the piece—mentioned her name, without being prompted, after close to seven decades means her contribution was important enough. 


Who was she? Here I reproduce from the above-mentioned post. 


Lucilla Pacheco moved to Bombay in 1948, the year after she married George Pacheco, who hailed from the village of Piedade, on the other side of Divar island. He’d been sent to Colombo to apprentice at her father’s shop. In their early years, the couple lived in Sargent House in Colaba. She had passed the classical examinations conducted by both the Trinity College of London and the Royal College of Music and started her professional life in Bombay giving piano lessons. Soon, she was accompanying films at the Metro theatre and, between shows, worked as a music demonstrator at the Furtado’s music store opposite. In an era when many people bought sheet music to play at home, Pacheco would perform the scores they contemplated purchasing, to show them how good the tunes could sound. 


It wasn’t long before she was invited to join Mickey Correa’s band, a legendary dance band that proved to be the nursery of the city’s best swing musicians over the next two decades. She then worked under the baton of such top-flight leaders as Ken Mac and Chic Chocolate. 


Fernandes’ book may have been hailed by critics as the first well-researched book on Jazz scenario in Bombay of 40s and 50s. But in a way, this label also restricts its potential audience. For example, I myself am not a keen follower of Jazz. But I found the book extremely engaging. The book is equally informative for those seriously interested in Hindi film music as a genre, as it covers one of the most important and less discussed conponents of Hindi film music, as it has evolved. [I am contemplating adding it to the list of Hindi film music books in my post on the topic: Not Well Recorded, but Now Well Recognized] 
The role played by Goan musicians is more than just bringing in yet another regional flavor to the melting pot called Hindustani Cine Sangeet. While the Hindi film music has been richer by the regional contributions brought in by many composers (an interesting topic by itself), the contribution of Goan musicians is much more than that. They gave the Indian film music harmony, which by and large, is not there in Indian music. As Fernandes’ book reveals there were many like Chic Chocolate and Frank Fernand, designated as assistant music directors, who helped music directors “arrange” musicians’ roles. 


Ravi’s referrence to Lucila Pacheco just shows that many of them may have actually composed/heavily influenced creation of tunes, for which they never got the credit. 
Returning to Man Dole Mera Tan Dole, the song, for the record, also included, among others, Laxmikant (of Laxmikant-Pyarelal duo) as part of the ensemble. 


How many songs can claim the involvement of so many star composers? Hemant Kumar as music director, Ravi as assistant music director playing Harmonium, Kalyanji as the Clavoline player, Laxmikant as the Tabla player (though I am not too sure about his role) and Lucila Pacheco as the Pianist, who actually created the tune first. But while all others are household names, Hindi film music lovers would not even recognize Pacheco’s name today. That is a pity. 


[sent by Roger Menezes, son of the late Mickey Menezes, and forwarded to me by Dallas Achilles, in Australia]

Gift Boutique


The Gift Boutique, a glamorous gift shop was located right next to Menezes and run by that erstwhile and lovely young Malay lady, Shinir Amit, from Barnes Place in Colombo 7, who married Emran. Shineer, sadly, passed away a few years back. The shop catered to both middle and upper class hoi polloi who flocked in to buy their trinkets and gifts for all occasions. Shineer kept the business running in great spirit and success during her tenure at the shop. Gift Boutique was previously called Alice in wonderland.


Kala Niketan

Another wonderful gift store that has now ceased to exist stood on the Galle Road and served its many customers in all its splendor and glamor. The place catered, mainly for women, offering gifts, cosmetics, perfumes and many other necessities for the feminine pallet.


Lindsay Girls’ School



Lindsay Girls School is located next and is of the many old buildings that blot the seaside of the town. A tall and stone bell tower stands in front of the school facing Galle Road threatening to ring out the ears of anyone who passes by. Many a young lady who grew up in Bamba attended this school which was managed by the members of the Dutch Reformed Church which also stood within the school premises. Most families descendent from Dutch Burgher ancestry sent their daughters to this school to learn of books and of a resplendent life.


Adamaly Place



Adamaly Place is the first lane, adjoining the drug store, that runs down towards the beach. The name is reflective of its inhabitants who belonged mainly to the Dawoodi Borah community, a small clan of people from Gujarat and Punjab in India who had migrated to Ceylon in the early days and were involved lucratively in trade, industry, and business, in a very successful manner.


Glen Aber Place


The Borah community has now built their own Mosque down this street where they congregate for their prayers and other religious-social events. On weekend evenings one can see the many ladies of the community, clad in their purdah overcoats, walking along Galle Road towards this place of worship.The Fowzie's and his brothers and family, owned a joint property down this street and Fowzi ‘s wife and son moved to Wellawate and his brother, wife, son and grandchildren are still resident here.


Temple Lane


On the opposite face of the Galle Road is Temple Lane which is a narrow street that moves down to meet Duplication Road. The FazleAli’s live down this road and Mansoor & Mazher attended Royal in the early forties/fifties. Mansoor, who is no more, holds the record for the highest number of wickets taken at cricket against Trinity College, Kandy, to date. Their father, Dr. FazleAli served the community with honor and respect and was much loved by one and all. The FazleAli’s also owned and ran a printing business in Colombo called “Captain House”.


Edward Lane

Edward Lane is situated on the land side of Galle road, opposite Lindsay girl’s school.  The  landmark was on the left the Old  Great Wall Hotel, on the right was Tolarams Sari shop which was demolished in 2011. The Cycle Shop still exists. Behind the shop was the "Dhara Maduwa"  which  provided fire-wood to all the people in the neighborhood who cooked on open fire.

In this premises,  the famous and tasty "Godambara Rotti" cart was parked, which catered to the residents  down the lane towards Thummulla junction  and further. Everyone in the vicinity have tasted the rotties.



No. 25 was owned by Menezes’s daughter, Helen, who, before moving to Austrailia,  sold it to Mrs Seyed Ahamed and her family in 1975 after her husaband Advocate Seyed Ahamed’s demise at Gregory’s Road in Colombo-7: the children comprised of  Mahaz, Shameema, Moin, Nizam and Zooni. Mahaz and Moin established a garment export industry, with Mahaz handling the head office at Horton Place in Colombo-7, and Moin managing the factory at Ibbagamuwa in the Kurunegala District, wherein he settled. Zooni married Dr MFO Lafeer and shifted to Maryland in the U.S.  Nizam continues to live with his family at No. 25. Moin was an ex–Royalist of the ’61-Group, joining from St Thomas’ College.

Don Charles Weerasekera who stayed at No 35 “Mildred House” , a Station Master and after retirement was appointed  Shroff at Mercantile Bank, presently know as Hatton National Bank Ltd. He contested the Bambalapitiya Municipal Elections in 1940 and lost to Gilbert Perera. Charles was married to Alice Wijeyagunawardena from Kandy. They had a son Willie Weerasekera who married Dulcie Jayasinghe  and two daughters, Felice  married to QC Siri Perera (Ambassador in New Delhi) and  President of the YMBA, Borella and Olive married to Victor Ratnayake, a proprietary planter from Deniyaya who was once attached to the Rubber Research Instiute, Agalawatta. He was  Junior Minister of Lands and first Sri Lankan Chairman of the Planters Association of Ceylon. Victor Ratnayake owned No 42 at School Lane and the Garainde’s were occupying the house until the Ratnayake’s moved there in 1970.  Garainde worked as Manager at the Galle Face Hotel and had three sons named Desmond, Pinkey and Sonny.
Asoka Weerasekera,(known as Geevaka among the neighborhood) son of Willie Weerasekera and grandson of D C Weerasekera lived at No 31 Edward Lane since 1942. Asoka worked for Lever Brothers for well-over 37 years. His wife Pat runs a Hair Dressing Salon. He has 3 sons – Dinesh, an IT specialist who lives at No 31 with his family, Nishan, a Product Manager, now settled down in Sydney with his family & the youngest son Padmesh is a Marketing Specialist in Sri Lanka and lives with his wife Kishani who gave up her job as  a Senior Business  Analyst and floated a company styled Wall Art (Pvt) Ltd along with 4 other directors dealing with the importation  and installation of  Wall Paper and 3D Wall Tiles. She is the Managing Director and the family resides at No 31-1/1.




The Weerasekera's: Chaminda Lirain Dinesh Asoka Padmesh& Kishani Paba Ushanthi & Nishan with little Tehara (sent in by Asoka Weerasekera)

Gamit Ameresekere
Presidency: 1983/84, 1984/85 and 1985/86 
Gamit was the inaugural President of the ORAUK and was instrumental in forming of the Old Royalists Association in the UK under the patronage of Messrs E L Bradby and J C A COREA both former Principals of Royal College.

Gamit was a student of the College from 1954 to 1962 and has been the winner of Governor General’s Prize for General Classics in 1960 and English Literature in 1961. He was the Editor of the College Magazine from 1961 to 1962. Gamit was a member of his College House team in 1961, and has played Hockey for College from 1960-1962. He was awarded College Hockey Colours in 1962. Gamit has represented College in Table Tennis from 1959 to 1962 and was awarded Table Tennis Colours. In 1961 Gamit was made the Royal College Table Tennis Captain.

Gamit then joined Unilever London Financial Group from 1966 to 1974 upon his arrival in the UK in 1965. He was in the travel Industry in 1974 before establishing Taprobane Travel - Sri Lanka Tours in 1971. Taprobane Travel -Sri Lanka Tours is the longest established Sri Lanka Travel Company in the UK and the Number 1 Travel Agent for Sri Lanka.

Abeysekera’s were the immediate neighbor’s of the Weerasekera’s. Buddhi Abeysekera, an Accountant is in USA and his late brother Dayal a famous hurdler at Royal College passed away
in Australia.

The Hoffman’s family also lived down Edward Lane. Mr Hoffman was an engine driver and the eldest son was Wilhelm, followed by David, Larraine (now in Canberra) and Everard, the youngest. Wilhelm played cricket for St Peter’s College and was a bowler and had an unauthordox action.

Donovan Andree, the star of the show business, his sister Mrs. Ferdinand's lived  at No 35 next to the Weerasekera’s.  They used to have lavish garden parties where the cream of the show biz, singers and musicians attended.  Eren de Selfa too came to their place and sang there. A good part of the garden is now the Duplication Road. Rosemary and Bunny Ferdinands are settled down in Australia.  Bunny worked at National Bank and in the evenings he helped his uncle Donovan Andree at the Stadium. Rosemary visited the Edward Lane neighbours in 2010. Incidentally this house was the ancestral house of D C Weerasekera until his grandson Thilak Perera occupied same in 1970. The premises was sold and Pership Company has put up a building. 

Lawyer Thuraisingam, his wife Leela and their children lived down Edward Lane. He had 4 daughters – Sharrada - in Perth, Australia and Shankari , Thango (Meena) & son Siva in Toronto. Siva is working as a Sales Executive in Sears - a leading Departmental store in Canada. Chutti (Sivakami)  the youngest is in Essex – UK.
 Siva Sivapragasam,who was the Marketing Manager for Express Newspapers in Sri Lanka lived at 32A with his wife Rani & daughter Premilla . Since 1993,the family moved to Canada where Siva continued with his Media work as a Consultant for an English Newspaper in Toronto.

The Pandita-Gunewardane's lived at 36 Edward Lane, Bambalapitiya, Mohini Gunasekera and her brother Harsha, a Civil Servant who passed away in 1967, also lived there. Mohini qualified as a Barrister at law Lincoln's Inn UK and is now retired from practice as a lawyer in Australia and is residing in Melbourne and a great Buddhist worker. Her sister, Indra, is a Paediatrician in Baton Rouge USA, and another sister, Praneetha is in private practice as a medical practitioner in Australia.

Amarasekara- Ranjith, Jayalath and Gamini (Gamit) all attended  Royal, now living in UK.  Gamit owns Taprobane Travels in UK. Also their cousin Margo married to Noel Senarathna, reporter at Times, now lives  in the UK.

The Perera family had , 2 boys and 4 girls - Sarath (Royal, now practicing as a doctor and living in a posh area in Bloomfield Hills in Detroit),  Ranjith (known as Massi) (in Aussie), the family left Edward Lane in the 1960’s  and the Atha’s family moved in..

Lenny Wijesinghe lived at No 45. He was the General Secretary of the Colombo YMCA. His son Geoffrey was a journalist at Lake House, daughter Gita (Methodist College), left to the U.S. for studies and married and settled in the State of Florida.  I. Hugh Wijesinghe, Lennie’s brother, was Charity Commissioner and later, a teacher at Royal College, Colombo. His sister Constance (Connie) was a teacher at Lindsay Girls’ School, also lived down the lane. 

Margot Wijesinghe, Hugh's daughter, is married to Noel Senaratne who was a journalist at the Times of Ceylon. Their son Lalith Senaratne is married to Indi Ranasinghe (who has been kind enough to provide this update through her husband, Lalith Senaratne] 

Mr Friar was a retired pensioner who's wife Maureen had 10 cats and didnt enjoy the boys ... especially Hansie singing Xmas Carols at her gate. Also the Gonsal Korale family lived opposite Jeeva Wijesekera's house. [Information provided by Lalith Senaratna]

Mrs Mayfoo Mohammed lived in the first house on Edward Lane and her son Razik is back in Colombo after spending many years in Zambia. Opposite her house was Dadibidi Silva. He was a politician. His house is now occupied by his son Sobitha. [Information provided by Lalith Senaratna]

District Judge DQM Sirimanne (an ex-Royalist and classmate of MT Sameer of No. 300 Bamba), whose son, Dulamba, who attended Royal College, Colombo (planter, Dambatenne Group), migrated with his family to the U.S. after the estates were taken over. He passed away a few years ago. The second son, Lal (Thurstan College), travelled to the UK for higher studies and qualified as an accountant, and, on his return to SL, was employed at Ceylon Toboacco Company Ltd. He passed away in May 2011.  His daughter Manori  (Ladies College, Colombo) is resident in Melbourne, Australia. The youngest daughter Dilrukshi also attended Ladies College, a lawyer by profession and musician, resides in SL.

Opposite  Sirimanne’s lived the Wickremaratne family at No 52. Mr Wickremaratne worked as an Accountant  at Central Transport Board.  After they left  Mrs. Aruna  Bala and family moved in. Husband was an Accountant and she is a soprano, who took part in many concerts and stage performances at Lionel Wendt. The two sons Ganesh (known as Gundo  and Hansi went to St. Thomas College.  Ganesh is now in Denmark and  Hansi in UK.

Next to Sirimanne’s, lived  the Peiris family.  Mr Peiris  was a master at Thurstan College and his wife Charlotte  was a teacher  at St. Bridget's Convent. 
Their daughter Chaturani attended St Bridget’s Convent, and, son Gamini (more popularly known as Gabo) attended Royal College, Colombo. Gabo worked as a steward at Air Lanka (now SriLankan Airlines) and continued his music career, as a top class drummer and percussionist, starting by playing for the Royal College Swingtette, a jazz band, and then formed his own band "Gabo and the Breakaways" which blossomed into a very famous dance band in the 60s and the 70s. He ran his own Travel Company known as “Gabo Travels” with his charming wife Savithri who manages the business after Gabo’s illness. Gabo passed away in 2012. The Peiris family are engaged in many social activities to uplift the lives of the poor and needy.


No. 59 was the home of the Walpola family. Mr Walpola, a tennis player was a government servant attached to the Meteorological Department. He travelled in a Morris Car. All three daughters attended Methodist College. Myrle the eldest obtained her degree from the Univesity of Peradeniya and joined Radio Ceylon in 1961. She married Raja Wiliams, a Trinitian, also a member of the CR & FC, and who represented Sri Lanka in Rugger. In 1986 Myrle became Director of the Training Institute of Broadcasting at the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC), now in retirement. Her daughter Nedra Wiliams, known as TV and radio broadcaster as well as director of many theatre productions, married Jehan Bastians. Manel Walpola, married Dominik Fernandez and now lives in Toronto with her family. The youngest Jeanette Walpola studied at Collage of Fine Arts and left to Germany for further studies, where she met Norbert Edelmann, who is an audit accountant. She lives with her charming daughter Samantha. Jeanette visits SL very often and is still in close contact with a lot of old friends in the neighborhood and is a very hospitable personality. Many neighbors have lived in her lovely house in Nurenberg.

No. 61 was the home of Mrs Amybelle Corea and her son, Vijaya, who continued to live here after the demise of his mother. Vijaya attended S. Thomas' College, Mt Lavinia. He abandoned his career as a student of Chartered Accountancy, having been lured by his success in front of the microphone and joined the Commercial Service of Radio Ceylon. He has been recognized as being among the most outstanding media personalities in the country and was presented the National Gold Award by the State for his contribution to the enhancement of radio broadcasting. Subsequently, the Voice of Lanka Foundation too presented him with an Award for his pioneering endeavors. He is by far the most renowned Broadcaster and Show Biz Compere in Sri Lanka and, in addition, is on record as being Sri Lanka's first ever TV Compere, appearing on global television. He reached the top end of his career when he was appointed Director General of the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation and, simultaneously, served on the Board of both the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation and the National Film Corporation. After his marriage to Ranjini (nee Wickremasinghe) he had a son and daughter, namely, Viran and Sashika. Viran, after his secondary education at S. Thomas' College, Mount Lavinia entered the University of Colombo and obtained the LL.B and LL.M Degrees and is today a leading Lawyer whilst Sashika,   after her secondary education at Ladies' College entered the Kelaniya University. She qualified in English and Psychology and was both a counsellor and teacher at Bishop's College and then served on the staff of Stafford International School.  The entire family has had a rich spiritual experience of the power of God's love and reaches out to others with a view to allowing them too to know the same love, joy, peace and healing that they have known. Vijaya and Ranjini Corea were both afflicted with the deadly disease, cancer, but were each healed by the touch and divine intervention of their Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Nagamuthu’s, Wijeyasekera’s, Jayasekera’s,, Atha’s family  & Ramanathan’s came later to Edward Lane.  The Burger families who lived down Edward Lane were the Hoffman’s Fryers, John’s,Thiedamen’s, Paternott’s, Vanhouten’s, to name a few. Ivan John qualified as a Chartered Accountant worked for Unilever (known as Lever Brothers at that time).

H. Wijesighe, a Vice Principal at Royal College,used to live down Edward Lane and he conducted tuition classes at his residence. It was a reputed place where lots of intellectuals got their grounding. He had two children Lucien and Maud.

Also in the 4o's lived K.B.Renganathan, brother of "riot" Ramanaden and SP in the police force. K.A.Veeravagu lived there and his son V.Thirunavkarasu Civil Engineer attached to the Public Works Dept. Veervagus other son Dr.V.Ramanathan a distinguished old Royalist and a Civil Servant who won many prizes at Royal. Dr.Ramanathan finally ended up as a nucler scientist and was domiciled  abroad for a long period before coming back to Sri Lanka.

There use to be a chummery where one Mr.Sabaratnam and Dr. Mylvaganam lived. 


School Lane

Ermin Jayawardena lived at No. 27 from 1942 and had a son by the name of Arthur Jayawardena who continued to live in the same house. Ermin had two daughters, namely Daisy who married Stanley Jayasekera. His grandson Rohan Jayasekera, a Thomian, played cricket for the College as wicket keeper/batsman and represented Sri Lanka too. Wimala married SD Gunaratne and resided in Gampaha.

Kenneth Rodey and family lived at No. 29. Mr & Mrs Stork, Lempehers, the Cook brothers, George and Erick and their sister Brighty who married former Army Commander, General Sepala Attygala, who also lived down this street. Frank David who taught at St Thomas’ College, Mt Lavinia, was nicknamed “Bambu David” as he wore short trousers most of the time.

Albert Edirisinghe and family lived at No. 36. He founded the Albert Edirisinghe Opticians Ltd bsiness, and presently his son Gamini Edirisinghe is the current Chairman/Managing Director. Albert Edirisinghe retired from active corporate life at a certain point in his life and turned towards pursuing on the spiritual side of life.

Mrs Mulgirigama lived at No. 17 and her daughter Chitra married a Jayawardena in the ArmyAnanada Tissa de Alwis, former Minister of State under the JR Jayawardene government, lived at No. 34. His sister, Dodo de Alwis, married Noel Gunatilake and continued to reside in the same house. They have two sons, Elmo and Frank, who attended St Peter’s College, and a daughter, Helen. 

Arthur Samarasinghe, a Thomian, who married ex-DIG Police CC (Jungle) Dissanayake’s daughter also lived here. Professor KKYDS Perera, former Chariman of the Ceylon Electricity Board and President (as it was known then) of the Moratuwa University resided further down the street.

In 1942, a Royal Air Force plane which took off from the race course on a training mission crashed into the rear garden of the Cook’s house after hitting a coconut tree. It was a miracle that the family survived, but all of the crew died. This incident was related by Mrs Margo Senaratne (nee Wijesinghe), the daughter of the Charity Commissioner who witnessed the incident as a child.

The original school down School Lane, which was functioning for many years, has been demolished and a new house constructed there.

Mahendran and family lived closer to the Peiris’s.

An article which appeared in the Times on  Sunday, 05 February, 2012, written by S. Sivendran (a Peterite), retired senior superintendent of Police.


quote
”Former Deputy Inspector General of Police P Mahendran passed away on February 2 in Sydney after a brief illness. He was a giant of a man with a massive physique who excelled in athletics, boxing and rugby football. He had the unique distinction of participating in the National Athletics Championship and winning the Putt Shot championship in the afternoon and in the same evening he represented the champion CR&FC team in a rugby Clifford Cup match and went on to win the National Heavy Weight boxing championship later in the evening, all in one day. Thus he earned the title “Brute”.

Though in appearance he appeared to be huge, he was very soft hearted and an amiable person.  He joined the Police as an Assistant Superintendent of Police in 1958 after obtaining a Degree with Honours in Chemistry, having had his primary education at Trinity College and Royal College excelling in studies and sports.  

The same year I too joined the Police as Sub Inspector, and during our Police training days at the Katukurunda Training School  we became good friends and traveled to Colombo every week to represent the Police at rugby in the car of the Superintendent of Police Fred Brohier who was the Assistant Director of Training and Coach of the Police rugby team. We played together for the Police rugby team from 1958 to 1963 in the illustrious company of Mike Schockman, Quintus Jayasinghe, S S Bambaradeniya, Franklyn Jacob, Rodney Aluvihare, ony Mahath all from Trinity College, James Senarathna, Sumith Silva, and Raja Pothuhera from Royal College and from St Peter’s College, Letcho Ephreamus, Terry Willimas and Muni Gomes.

Brute captained the Police rugby team in 1962 and I captained the team in 1963 after which he  hung up his rugby boots, even though he continued to contribute to rugby as a Referee and coach of the Police team. He also played cricket in the Police Inter Division Tournament. He always sorted a sense of honor on and off the field with his wit and wisdom. In 1961 the Police were permitted to play against the leading Clubs and in the match against the star studded CH&FC which then comprised of all foreigners in the likes of Peter Sawdy, John Banks, John Burrows, Mike James, mike Birch, Keith Andersen and Neville Leafe to name a few  who were huge and some who had played international games. The police team played ferociously and drew the match 3-3 to shock the local rugby world.  In this match “Brute" played a brilliant game tackling the burly Britishers for them to shout “ET TU BRUTE” for which Mahendran will shout “LONG LIVE CEASER” to the amusement of the spectators and continued with

Before joining the Police he was a regular member of the champion CR& FC rugby team from 1955  to 1958 which had some of the brilliant local rugby players such as sprint champion Summa Navaratnam, Tevor Anghie, Ana Gunawardena, Mahes Rodrigo, Ago Pavia, A K Doray, Brian Vantwest, N Numan,  Ashy Cader, Geof Weinman, R Edwards, S S Babaradeniya, John Weiman, Kavan Rambukwella Malcolm Wright, Rajah Williams, R C Pathmanathan, Norman Gunawardena and “Puggy” Gunaratna.

Brute was saddened by the turmoil that was taking place in the country during the eighties and found it too much to bear and decided to call of his Police career prematurely and migrated to Australia with his wife Dr Lalitha, daughters Vishanthr and Rathy and son Neelan.  There too he was gainfully employed in the Motor Traffic Department till recently. I visited him in Sydney recently with my wife and found him in a happy mood as usual even though his health was not as vibrant as before.  He leaves behind his loving wife and three adoring children.  His funeral took place in Sydney on the 4th of February, 2012.
“MAY HE ATTAIN MOKSHAM”
unquote

Theva, of Royal College fame, also lived down the street with his folks. Theva married Olwyn and moved to Australia sometime in the eighties. Olwyn was formerly married to Sriyan de Silva, ex-production manager at Usha and Singer factories at Ratmalana.

An appreciation for Gabo Pieris appeared in The Sunday Leader of Feb 26, 2012 as follows:-


quote
Gabo Makes his farewell "Breakaway"
It was in the late sixties and seventies that Gabo dominated the music scene in Sri Lanka. The then stages were always packed with stellar performers, Jet liners, Sam, Spitfires, Los Caballeros,  Moonstones, CT and Harold Seneviratne; but it was Gabo who led them all, by the charisma he carried as the leader of ‘The Breakaways’ playing fascinating music that took entertainment to its zenith and beyond.

Anyone young strumming a guitar or scratching the keyboards or blowing horns and drumming or having voices searching for recognition wanted to be with Gabo. That is a statement I make without any hesitation as it was simply the accepted truth when Gabo ruled the band music. No, it wasn’t the Breakaways, it was Gabo, finding talent and doing the arrangements and creating his own brand of music in his childhood home down School Lane in Bambalapitiya. He and his ‘chuda manikke’ resonated to be remembered for life.

The man had the magic and the looks to match and the personality was spell-binding. That is to say a lot about somebody and my sentiment is sincere. Those who clapped hands and shouted ‘encore’ and jingled and jived on Gabo music would know what I am talking about. The memories may have faded, but recollections would be instant, not just simple remembrances, but with a glint in the eye. That was Gabo the Band Leader at his mercurial best.

Then came the airline part; that’s when I met him and his lovable wife Savi and forged a friendship that lasted a lifetime. They were young years and our days sure were wild and winsome resulting in many a little fairytale in memory circuits. Such is always recalled when the bell tolls and someone has to go, like now. From flying, Gabo went to the travel trade. He did have a Midas touch, not by luck, but by constructive imagination and a personality that made him the ‘total people’s man.’ He took ‘Gabo Travels’ way beyond anyone’s imagination. Gabo had the ‘Band Leader’ name, and the vision and the drive to lift his infant travel company to its present success, right up to the top shelf. Of course the guardian angel was always there, Savi, the one who stood by him for all flavours and all seasons and gave the anchor to the man and trimmed the sails when the winds howled and the seas got rough.

Gabo’s beginnings were humble, his father was a respected teacher, his mother a housewife and a loving sister completed the family, the norms of the multitude. He would have ridden his bicycle and eaten his celebrations at Sarasvathi and watched movies in the first front rows of the Majestic Theatre. Somewhere in that ‘run of the mill’ life Gabo picked a pair of drum sticks and that changed it all. His was certainly a self made story, an architect of his own fate who took the blows as ‘Old Blue Eyes’ sang and made his life a script of strictly ‘my way’.
No one can go from where he began to where he ended without having a fall or two, we all do that. Gabo conquered himself and along with Savi raised three lovely children, Sasha, Natasha and Dania, who in turn added their own offsprings to the ‘Gabo Band Wagon.’

We always kept in touch, sometime back met and shared a meal and had a great time speaking of bygones and laughed loud like fools, in the warmth and happiness of ancient camaraderie. That was great.  Then came the health problems, sad and unfortunate and demanding in every way. Savi’s strength held and she combined multi-roles and kept the ship afloat.  The last I saw Gabo was a few months ago. The warmth was all there, the voice was soft and the words were chosen and scrimp, mostly a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ from a face dressed with a ghost of a smile. It seemed that he was having a silent last laugh to ‘what it was all about’ in his carnival of a life. I was in many ways happy for him.
Gabo had found peace. That much I was certain.

I said ‘so long’ and took my leave. Sadly his final words are haunting me now.
“Come and see me,” that’s what he said, waving a feeble hand that had once ruled music with a drum stick.

Capt Elmo Jayawardena
unquote

Theva of old Royal lived here with his folks. Theva married Olwyn and moved to Australia sometime in the eighties. Olwyn was formerly married to Sriyan de Silva, ex Production Manager at Usha and Singer factories at Ratmalana.



Bullers Road


Bullers Road, is now renamed to Baudhdhaloka Mawatha, is a very broad street that runs all the way from Galle Road to meet the roundabout at Thunmulla, which crosses Havelock Road on its right and Reid Avenue on its left, and goes further down staright towards Jawatte where Radio Ceylon, now the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation, is located.

At the top of the road where the Great Wall Hotel stands now, was previously occupied by the Sherrif Hadijar family, who have since moved to Davidson Road, having rented it out to a Hotelier.


The Mosque attended by Muslims of Bamba stands on this street on the left. Since of late the buildings of this place of worship have been renovated and built up into a three floored structure meeting the many demands of the increasing number of Muslims in the area. Eliyas master and his sister Ms Ahadiya, who tutored children and her mother lived close to the Mosque.


The Bamba central bus station is also housed at the beginning of Bullers Road. Many a bus that comes from the south along Galle Road take the Bullers Road turn to the right in order to take their many passengers to various locations inland, viz; Korteboam (Route No. 105), Layards Broadway (106), & Wattala (104). Since recent times the destinations have been changed to Mattakkuliya (Route No. 155), Grandpass (Route No. 156), & Wattala (Route No. 134).

Other modes of transport at Bamba were, the Bullock Carts, Buggy Carts, Hackeries, and the old London Transport Red Double deck Buses operated by the Southern Western Bus Company. Traffic Police on Motor Bikes, the Tar barrel’s lining the road, effectively dividing the road into two traffic lanes, ugly yet very practical.



Many large residential bungalows stood tall down Bullers Road in the old days. They have now been converted into office complexes fetching very attractive rents and the whole complexion of the street has changed from a very cosy, quiet and calm residential location to a bustling business environment.“Kos” Dias a teacher at Royal used to live down Bullers Road and every student who passed by in the school bus never failed to miss his home while the bus passed this way. Mr Dias used to stand in front of his gate to board the school bus in the mornings. And then there was “Rupperty”, Mr Rupesinghe, who lived down Adams Avenue who also used to stand on the sidewalk waiting for the Royal School Bus every morning.

Bullers Road intersects the newly constructed Duplication Road, renamed to RA de Mel Mawatha, at right angles and now houses branches of many international banks and corporations.



HongKong & Shanghai Banking Corporation has a notable presence, while Precision Tech, the local representatives of HP, also has its premises alongside.
The Kariapper family, originally from the Eastern Province town of Batticaloa, lived on one of the side streets on the right of Bullers Road. Daughter, Dr. Nazli married Dr. Shahnaz Ozeer, a reputed dental surgeon, and moved to Australia since recent times. Shahnaz is the son of Khaneema Saleem and MSM Ozeer, formerly of Mary’s Road, Bamba.
The Dutch Burgher Union is also located on the left, further down, opposite to the roundabout. In recent times the CBA Copy Center and bookshop has also started a successful business adjoining the DBU.


Lion House and Mayfair Hotel



On the landside of Galle Road, starting from where Buller’s Road begins, are a row of restaurants, shops and business enterprises, some having been in business for more than five decades. The most famous of these used to be Lion House and Mayfair Hotel, two restaurants abutting each other, where schoolboys, referred to as the “bambalawatte boys,” meaning the boys from the gardens of bamba, playing truant gathered together to light up a quick ciggy before hitting the matinee movie at the Majestic Cinema across the street. Lion House, the "Sinhala Kade" which dished out the most savory dishes of Sinhalese tradition from the spicy and tasty “lunumiris,” "katta sambol," “pol sambol,” and steaming hoppers, just off the pan, not to forget the mouth-watering kavun and kokis, especially during the Sinhala-Tamil New Year and festive season.

Lunumiris, Kattas Sambol and Pol Sambol
Incidentally, the “lunumiris” is prepared by smashing up small red onions with dried chilli pieces, salt and lime, while it is upgraded to “kata sambol” by the addition of maldive fish pieces, which in turn gets upgraded by the addition of coconut scrapings to “pol sambol.” The pol sambol is sometimes made tastier with a dash of ground curry leaf (Karapincha) and garlic. In order to cut on costs, sometimes a little tamarind replaces the lime!

The "bithara appa" (egg hoppers) laced the red hot chillie “katta sambol,” soaked with a good cuppa, steaming hot, plain (black) tea, accompanied by an unfiltered, strong Three Roses cigarette (the filter-tipped Four Aces for the guys who wanted it cheap, and the more costlier filter-tipped Bristol for those who could afford it) was the "diet" of the hundreds who patronized the "Lion" in all its glory and splendor. 


The Lion House cuppa tea was something truly special to all young smokers. Every schoolboy in Bamba knew Lion House almost as second home.

Lion House was patronized by a cross-section of guys. Royalists, of the Bamba and Wellawatte breed, Peterites from the "bamba" homeland, Thomians too, from far off down south as Mt.Lavinia. The Mount boys “jumped” a South-Western bus to be at Bamba in a short span of time as traffic was sparse on the Galle Road in those days, unlike at present where a run from Mount to Bamba junction would take about an hour. This was also the hide-out for the schoolboys (it did not serve much as the showcase at Lion was there for all and sundry to see) for a "punt"(a cigarette) as the next one will have to be in the toilet at home where chances of being detected by "pater" (father) are sixty to one in the possibility. "Lion" apart from the schoolboys also had their lion share of press reporters, hangers on, Majestic theatre patrons, (a somewhat downtown branch of the YMCA of Fort patronized by such breed) and of course the "Bambalawatte boys".



The Bambalawatte boys being many drop-outs from who live in the Bamba and Wellawatte area, jobless, and strumming a guitar and sporting an "Elvis Presley" hair bump and sideburns to adorn their pimply face,and whoe past time was passing remarks at the gals who walk by. Once the "Lion" patrons glue themselves to their seats around the rectangular tables it was "finitos" for the waiters and management. The ones who come in first wouldn’t leave in a hurry, but spend hours chatting in groups, while only totting up a bill for a few rupees to the dismay of the "Lion" management and the poor waiters who longed for a five cent tip to keep their hoke fires burning. Sadly the "Lion" exists today at its original site, the showcase outside the restaurant remains but the floor space has been halved and rented out and the other half is no longer an eating house.


From the "Lion", just next door, stood another famous eating place ofthe 50/60 era, the "Mayfair Hotel" a renowned place run by Indian Muslims. A place synonymous with Moghul dishes and Watalappam. The aroma and mouth-watering taste that came out from Mayfair's delicious buriyanis is still etched in the memories of the 'gluttonous" of that by-gone era. The roast chicken could not be matched by any other eating "joint" in town except, maybe, by the original "Pilawoos" restaurant in the Pettah owned by the Palandis of South Indian roots. Mayfair too had their fair share of Hoppers, which, soaked in mutton kurma (meat curry) with all the masala (spices) added gave a good run to their competitors next door although patrons still favored hoppers with chillie hot sambol served by the Lion.


If its "Buriyani" its Mayfair, and they did a splendid job with it and their take-away specials of chicken and mutton is something still spoken of by the old timers, a taste that has never been matched even to this day. "Mayfair" was also a boozers favorite.


Although the place did not serve liquor many a patron came there soaked and swinging, to wind up their long and thirsty day with a good buriyani feed as their "old ladies" (wives) would not be awake when they would eventually get back home in the wee hours of the morning.


Mayfair sales used to sky rocket during the end of the month when pay-day came around as a good buriyani was sold for around Rs 3/50, a fairly expensive commodity in the days when a bus ride from Fort to Bamba costed only 15 cts. The name "Mayfair" exists even now at the same location with "new" added to it but it is a far cry from the good old "Mayfair" of old.It was here, within these two premises, that many of the ideas that emanated from the youth of Bamba were discussed and plans hatched to carry out whatever mischief they had in mind, whether it was scaling the walls of St. Pauls’ Milagiriya or raiding the echelons of Holy family Convent girl schools.


These two restaurants along with many more that have now sprouted up along the Galle Road, extending all the way to the Bamba Market and even beyond, also served as eating joints for those driving past after midnight.
Some significant characters of Lion House/Mayfair fame were the Guneratnes, local toughs, Douglas Roberts, Tough Kum and Rutman. The one and only Gerd Von Dinclage of Kinross fame, and his Harley Davidson, Tissa Ariyarate “Saigon” Hilmi Khalid, and Turab Jafferjee,. This area became known as the domain of the Bambalawatte Boys, of whom much was written by internationally renowned journalist Tarzie Vittachi, author of the book, Emergency ’58, which referred to the Sinhala-Tamil riots of 1958, and famous newspaper cartoonist Colette. 




“Once again to those days”, written by Geoff Wijesinghe – in the Daily News paper of Sat, Mar 2, 2002, gives a very interesting and illustrative account of some of the happenings in Bamba around Lion House in those times as follows:-quote George Siegertsz, who passed away in London last week at the age of 82, was one of the last of a generation of post-World War Two musicians.

George was a regular at Lion House at the Bambalapitiya Junction. He was one of the motley group of young men who visited the popular eatery, which served more as a "cup tea punt" (a cup of tea and a fag) club where these youth chatted for long hours of this, that and the other.

Although the group comprised many toughs who walked around like pocket editions of Humphrey Bogart, George Raft and Spencer Tracy, the tough guys at the time of the silver screen, George Siergertsz was more interested in chatting and in music. He was the country's number one whistler, a fine art and often his friends at Lion House, would gather round a table and listen to him whistling the popular tunes at the time.
About one in two months or so, George Siergertsz had a 15-minute program over Radio Ceylon and would whistle the popular tunes of the day, haunting melodies, many of them World War Two favourites such as "Time Goes By", "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square", "A Long Way to Tipperary" and "The White Cliffs of Dover".

Many of us younger one who kept in touch with the Lion House crowd knew well in advance when George Siergertsz, a lean, tall, gangling figure was going to whistle over Radio Ceylon.

Incidentally, although some of his pals operated in grey areas, George never blew the whistle on them to the cops. He was only interested in whistling fine musical tunes. The Lion House group, I would not like to describe them as a mob, although some of them were men of violence looking out for a fight.

One morning we read the sensational news in the "Daily News" of two of the Lion House boys having stowed away successfully on board a ship from Colombo to Southampton. If my memory serves me right they were Hula Mortier and Kingsley Rodrigo who, according to their buddies, have gone to the UK to become coal miners.

When I last heard of them many years ago they had in fact made their way to London and were domiciled there. The years following World War Two produced musicians of fine vintage in this country. Foremost of them was Erin de Selfa who was discovered by the doyen of Sri Lankan showmen Donovan Andre, a former racing correspondent attached to the Times of Ceylon, which was published in the evenings and on Sundays.

She was recruited to sing in the group which was known as Red Tail Minstrels and grew up to be dark and dusky, and her voice was very much like the posh Shirley Bassey. Once she grew up, Erin was a regular over a Radio Ceylon. She then left for London under contract to the famous "Talk of the Town" nightclub in London, which was patronized by celebrities.

I had the privilege of listening to Erin over the BBC one night. This was the first time that a Sri Lankan musician had been honoured by BBC, at the time the premier broadcasting station in the world, a highly prestigious achievement.

Her renditions of "Blue Moon", "As Time Goes By", "I can't help Falling in Love with You" and several other sentimental songs, were of the highest international standards.

Several years later, another Sri Lankan Yolande Wolfe, an old girl of Holy Family Convent of Bambalapitiya and whose father owned a building at the top of Retreat Road, followed in Erin's footsteps and became popular in the US.

That was in the early 1950s, the George and Gerry Crake brother were the seniors in the local music scene and they too were regulars over Radio Ceylon. They had a band known as the Crake Brothers, Gerry had a rich, deep tenor. There was also the Millionaires' dance band who practised in a house at Edward Lane.

They had the big band sound and their rendition of the Glenn Miller favourite "Take the A-train", which is a perennial, was superb.

The biggest end-of-the-year dance in the late 1940s was at the Town Hall where several bands played and there was one hectic rush for tickets.

Some of the Lion House "boys" got involved in a brawl at one of those New Year's Eve dances, which ended tragically in the death of a young man, who fell out of an upstair window when taking a punch.

The pint-sized Carl Cooke, the former Thomian wicket-keeper, had a ballroom dancing school opposite Lion House directly behind the petrol shed at the Bambalapitiya Junction. In this sprawling old house he also established the 20th Century Club, no doubt getting the inspiration from the name 20th Century Fox, the international film producer.

One night, some of the boys who had the habit of dropping in for drinks at the 20th Century Club, imbibed more than they should have had and inspired by Bacchus, took all the club's flower pots and placed them on Carl Cooke's billiard table. Being a mild mannered man, all Carl could say was "what have you fellows done? You have damaged my billiard table. And I will have to replace it with new clothes."

Carl, of course, being a peace-loving man, paid for the repairs. But the neighbourhood was very angry with the Lion House crowd for having abused Carl Cooke's hospitality, for he was very popular. Carl's brother Percy who has played for S. Thomas' was my headmaster for long years
unquote


Lauries Road/Majestic Avenue

In between these shops are the lanes of Lauries Road and Majestic Avenue, and, at the end of this row the Bambalapitiya Market stands like a monument from the past, for several decades.

A notable corner store, that was gutted to cinders during the ’83 Sinhala-Tamil riots that erupted, is the banana shop displaying its variety of fruit in all shapes and colors and sizes. Navavi, a textile shop run by a member of the Tamil community and Samarasinghe Brothers a utility store were also located along this row.

Received by email from Mr John Henry de Saram, ex teacher at Royal College Colombo in the 60's:-

quote
Many thanks for your warm response & the links to your blogspot. I am ploughing through the material in instalments and find it all fascinating. Not much on Lauries Road regretfully (perhaps with good reason!) It is one of the oldest thoroughfares in the area, being the link between Galle Road & Havelock Road at a time when 'New' Bullers Road was populated by coconut trees, shrubbery & small game (hunted by my uncle) and Vajira Road was not much more than a footpath which our rickshawman had difficulty negotiating en route to the Visakha kindergarten.


Incidentally it was my grandfather who purchased Clock House & an acre or so of land surrounding it in the early 1900s when it was 'abandoned' by the fledgling HFC.

Good bye for & look forward to seeing you in December.

JH de S.
unquote


The Bamba Municipal Market

The Market square at Bamba is, to this day, managed by the Colombo Municipal Council and provides stalls and booths for the sale of fresh vegetable, fruits, fish, poultry, and meat. Built many moons ago the building used to be in such a dilapidated state that one used to wonder when it would come tumbling down. One could even see small Bo plants growing on its roof. In recent times, however, some renovations have been carried out and a fresh coat of gray paint has given the market some semblance of sanity that didn’t exist for decades.

Once inside the market one sees an arrogant display of groceries, meats, vegetables and fruits ready for the picking.The many Bamba ladies who haunt this environ with their hefty baskets, some more affluent ones with their housemaids tagging along behind them, do use this place as a meeting venue to discuss the daily dose of town gossip and exchange tidbits before trucking back home with their goodies. In modern times the crowds are most during the evenings what with many of the modern day middle class ladies choosing to work in order to keep the home fires burning.Dogs, cats and crows outnumber the number of humanity that haunts this place, picking up the bits and pieces of meats and fish that are disposed of by the vendors.

Streams of water run down along the side streets originating from the many stalls where the washing of the meats, fish, vege’s and fruits take place. The place reeks with a mixed smell of uncooked food, fishy smelling and sometimes a bit difficult to stomach to those with weak dispositions.

A Municipal Inspector has his own room within the premises and is expected to ensure that all produce sold within are in conformity to local government food sales and hygiene laws. To live in Bamba and not have visited the market would be equivalent to blasphemy.

Years later, a brand new building was constructed by the Colombo Municipal Council, and the market now stands proud. 

Private Road

Adjoining the market, to the south, is a private road wherein the Aziz family lived. The head of the household, MHA Aziz was an Advocate belonging to the Poothan Haji Family from Galle, who founded the Ahadiyya Movement in Sri Lanka which trained young Muslim children to read Qur’an and study Islam.


His children are Shibly (married to Fathima Waffarn, daughter of the late Dr Waffarn), who is now a Presidents Counsel and also served as an attorney-general, Imthiaz, who spent long years in Saudi Arabia, working with the Saudi Arabian Airlines, and Ifthikhar (RC’-’61-Group), who is involved in business in Colombo, all of whom were fervent Royalists. The daughters, Minna married Proctor Iliyas of Galle, and Ryhan, married Mazhar Ghouse (RC-’61-Group), son of A. Matheen Ghouse of Lever Brothers (Ceylon) Ltd., who was also an ex-Royalist.

Shibly is married to Fathima Waffarn, daughter of Dr ARM Waffarn, from Wellawatte, while Imthiaz married Yasmin Mahamoor the late ASP’s daughter of Pieris Road Kalubowila, and Ifthikhar married Fathima Rezani Marikkar, daughter of Zain & Rifka Marikkar.

The Aziz family tree is available at http://www.rootsweb.com/~lkawgw/gen069.html

Then came Joseph Lane, Pepin Lane, Daisy Villa Avenue and De Vos Avenue. On the land side facing the old Stadium location ringed a row of business enterprises all the way up to the massive Bambalapitiya Hindu Kovil that still stands, and ends at Vajira Road, and is venerated by many of the Hindu’s from all parts of Colombo.


The Bambalapitiya Hindu Kovil (Temple)



The Rajagopuram of Sammankodu Sri Kathiravelaiyutha Swamy Temple in Bambalapitiya has been in existence since many decades and has served the many Hindus living in the town with their religious needs.


An annual procession, marking the Hindu Vel Festival, was carried out at this premises with the arrival of the traditional Vel Cart all the way from the Gintupitiya Hindu Temple, driven by white skinned bulls and carrying symbols of the Hindu gods. This cart also proceeded to the next temple in Bamba usually referred to as the Wellawatte Kovil, about a Kilometer away to the south. 


The occasion was a massive gala that provided sweet meats, traditional goods, clothes, toys and trinkets with lots of amusements for the children in an event that lasted almost a week during August in every year. 

Sugarcane was the most abundant delicacy at this event and one would see the cane trees piled up against every wall and pillar waiting to be cut, cleaned and sold to people who would relish the cane with glee.

Row of Shops

Mohans, a large textile retail outlet, was one of the big businesses that occupied the long row of shops, traders and businesses that ran along the front of the Hindu temple. The nature of these trading stores is innumerable from temple flowers, camphor, joss sticks for the devoted to heavily decked gold and jewellery for the rich and famous.



Annamali Navaratnam, born in 1957, is one of them. He comes to his small garland shop, early, each morning to make the garlands with his two assistants, by hand. He is also known as "Nava" amongst his fellow garland makers, neighboring businesses and customers.

Nava has been making garlands at this location since 1982. He recalls his memories with a smile, "I had the privilege of making cash garland ("Kaasu Maalai"), made from currency notes and coins for Kasiananthan. I made flower garlands for Kirupaanathavaariyar when he visited Sri Lanka, and also for Kambavaarithy Jeyaraj and several other politicians and well known celebrities whenever they visited the Temple."

His two assistants help him to make the garlands and deliver them to his numerous customers on time. "I get many orders during wedding seasons and temple festive occasions," he said.

Nava buys his flowers and garland strings, in bulk, from the town of Matale in the central province. "Flowers are very delicate, like human hearts, and I have to take extra care in having them shipped and delivered without damage", he says.


The Festival of Light


"Karthigai" is a month of purity and devotion for Hindu devotees in Sri Lanka, who celebrate the festival in temples and within their homes.

There is a story linked between "Karthigai" and lamps according to religious beliefs and references. Brahma, the Creator, and Vishnu, The Preserver, had a dispute between them as to who was greater and supreme. Lord Shiva wanted to teach them the truth, and appeared before them in the form of a huge column of fire.

Both referred their quarrel to Lord Shiva, and he told them that whoever who could discover the crown of the light or its foot would be considered as the superior. Accordingly, Brahma took the form of a swan and flew up in an attempt to find the crown of the light while Vishnu took the form of a boar and began to dig the ground to find the foot of the light. Neither of them succeeded. Finally knowledge dawned upon them that light was superior to both of them.

Karthigai Deepam is celebrated to espouse this great truth that the supreme God is far beyond the Creator and Preserver.

The Seaside


The Bamba Junction Gas Station: Bill Forbes


On the seaside bordering Adamaly place, along Galle Road, is a gas station that dispenses, petrol, diesel, cooking gas, vehicle servicing and washing, very popular with local residents.

It was here where the famous Sri Lankan crooner Bill Forbes once worked as an attendant. The pump still stands and serves its citizens valiantly until today.

Bill Forbes was born on 17th December 1938 in Sri Lanka. He came to Britain in 1955 at the age of 17 doing menial clerical work by day and renting a flat in Victoria, Central London. During 1958 Bill lived out his dreams of being a famous singer by appearing regularly at the “Bread Basket” coffee bar in Tottenham Court Road.


It was while he was performing one night in September 1958 that two talent scouts representing Jack Good approached him and asked if he wanted to audition for the “Oh Boy!” show. The series had just blasted onto the nation's television screens a few weeks earlier and Bill was already a big fan of the show.

The show was a groundbreaking British pop music event from 1958-1959, in London with Cliff Richard, Marty Wilde, Bill Fury and others. He released 12 hits for EMI Columbia among them 'Too Young/It's Not the End of the World,' Sri Lankans still sing his baila hit: 'Aacha England,' recorded under the name of Kal Khan. 'Oh to be in England!' is still a favorite of many vintage Sri Lankans. Bill Forbes also appeared on Donovan Andree's musical shows in Colombo in the early 1960s and he was interviewed over Radio Ceylon by the late Vernon Corea.

“I was one of 30 artists who were invited to perform before Jack Good,” recalls Bill. “I turned up for the audition which was held at the actual venue for the live show itself - the Empire Theatre in Hackney- and I was absolutely petrified.”

On entering the theatre he saw for the first time many of the series regular stars, such as the Lord Rockingham XI, the Dallas Boys, Don Lang and the Vernons Girls.
From the 30 artists who auditioned that autumn morning Jack Good personally picked just two to appear in his “Oh Boy!” series - Emile Ford (who appeared just once on the 29th November 1958 edition) and Bill himself.

“I was over the moon,” Bill said, “but the audition didn't exactly get off to a great start!” Bill chose to sing Marty Wilde's current hit “Endless Sleep” as his audition piece. But at the end of the song Jack Good told him his performance was “OK” but he sounded a bit too much like Marty.

“We don't want two Marty's in the show do we?” said Jack, and he got Bill to sing another song. Bill's second audition piece was the Johnny Ray classic “Just Walking In The Rain” which was enough to convince Jack to put him in the series.

“In those days Jack told YOU what songs you will sing, and nobody answered back. None of the artistes dared argue and being young and a novice I did as I was told.”

Bill continues “Jack gave me an American record of the upbeat spiritual song `God's Little Acre' (from the film of the same name,based on the book by Erskine Caldwell)

Bill attended the painstaking rehearsals both at the Empire Theatre and the Four Provinces of Ireland Club in Islington during the latter part of October in preparation for his “Oh Boy!” television debut, which was due to be on Saturday 1st November 1958. (Show Number 8)

However a few days prior to the live broadcast Jack called Bill with some crushing news. Tommy Steele had agreed to come on the show at short notice and so Bill's spot was cancelled.

“I was devastated by the news. I didn't hear anything from Jack for several weeks after that. I was in limbo at that time. I began to think he didn't want me at all and the call was just a polite way of letting me down.”

Then at the beginning of December Bill was finally given his big chance- and a date for his debut show… Saturday 13th December 1958 (Show Number 14)

Bill sang the spiritual number backed by the Lord Rockingham XI with the Dallas Boys and the Vernons Girls providing the vocal backing and choreography.

Shortly after the show Bill signed a recording contract with Columbia Records and between 1959 and 1962 released eight singles, the biggest of which “Too Young” reached the number 29 position in UK Charts during December 1959.

His biggest success however was in his homeland of Sri Lanka, where his 3rd Columbia release “Too Young” backed with “Its Not The End of the World” became a double-sided number one hit at the beginning of 1960.

Bill was regarded as something of a hero in Sri Lanka, because although they had never seen the “Oh Boy” show over there, its reputation had spread worldwide and it was big news that one of its homegrown talents was starring in it.

Today, Bill is still regarded as the first Sri Lankan solo artist ever to secure a recording contract and a hit recording outside his native country.

When he returned there for a 10-day whistle stop tour in early 1960 - topping the charts with his version of the evergreen ballad “Too Young”- he was mobbed in the streets and even invited to lunch with the Prime Minister at his official residence.
“The biggest kick for me was that “Too Young” knocked Cliff Richard's “Living Doll” off the top of the Sri Lanka charts. I really felt I'd made it! It all happened so fast it's just a blur when I think about it now. All the detail gets lost when so many good things happen at once,” Bill said.

On 17th January 1959 Bill Forbes made his 2nd of 11 appearances on the series. He sang another song chosen for him by Jack called “Woman From Liberia” which would prove a big hit with the viewers. “She gave me water but it was not from the well” are the songs most memorable if not politically correct lyrics, which warns against accepting suspect liquid refreshment from dodgy African women!

Despite its popularity here in Britain the song was never released as a single.
Bill sang the song again the following week 24th January (as well as “God's Little Acre”) and for the very final show on 30th May - at Jack's request. Fortunately this final show has survived so at least one Bill Forbes performance has been preserved on film for posterity.

Bill's unscheduled 4th appearance on the 7th February 1959 show came out of the blue and proved to be a highlight in his career.

Bill recalls; “On the Friday - the day before the live broadcast- Jack called me suddenly to say that Cliff was sick with laryngitis and was unable to appear. And he wanted me to stand in as Cliff's replacement.”

Cliff was due to sing 3 solo songs as well as a duet with Marty, and I had to learn all five numbers with just 24 hours notice.

“I sang “Hot Dog”, and “Love Me Tender”. Fortunately I was an Elvis fan so most of the lyrics were no real obstacle. “For the finale Marty Wilde and I closed with a duet singing “Rip It Up”, “Keep On Knockin' (But You Cant Come In)” and “Bird Dog”.
“That was my biggest moment! Normally I would only get to sing just one song but because Cliff was such a big star by this time he would always get about four or five numbers to sing. The show went very well and was my chance to shine as the big star for the week.”

Bill's 5th appearance on “Oh Boy!” was on 28th February singing “Bim-Bom-Bey”- a country hit in 1959 for Jimmy Rodgers in the USA.


Did Kal Kahn come up with this phrase, asks Mathures Paul

"English people sleeping in the sun to get a tan,
Pouring oil upon their faces like a frying pan,
Funny thing about it is they all go rosy red,
Next day when the peeling starts they're crying in their beds..."

A person by the name Kal Kahn murdered the English language, thought the British, when he sang Oh to be in England and Ladies of Calcutta. That 45 rpm brings back loads of memories, especially of those unforgettable music sessions that preceded Sunday brunches, followed by Musical Bandbox on All India Radio. Every week there would be one request for either of these Kal Kahn numbers. Whether he gave birth to the phrase "ladies of Calcutta" remains a mystery but he surely made it famous. 

Making the album an endearing one is its sleeve, completely white. Water logging over the years has robbed many vinyls of their sleeves. Thus it became somewhat of a quest to find out who this Kal Kahn was. Why did he write Kahn? Didn't his pronunciation make him appear to be a singer of the sub-continent? Is he alive? Answers remain elusive to many of these questions, except one ~ Who is Kal Kahn? 


Meet Bill Forbes. An Englishman helped me to Kahn's whereabouts. Out of the blue he responded to an e-mail that I had sent out many months back. He said Kahn lives in Huddersfield and provided a telephone number. Sadly, the telephone call did not mature. Yet, he provided me enough information to satisfy a childhood curiosity. 
Forbes was born in Sri Lanka in 1938 and left for Britain in 1955. He always wanted to be a singing sensation, a dream that matured in the form of appearances at Bread Basket coffee bar.

At this juncture, it's important to introduce another famous singer into the article ~ Cliff Richard. Some of you may be aware that Richard was once a part of Oh Boy! show, which provided competition to BBC's 6.5 Special Teen Show. On the show singers like Sir Cliff Richard, Shirley Bassey, Marty Wilde and Billy Fury made appearances. On Oh Boy! Forbes was a regular.

He was to make his debut on 1 November 1958 after a string of rehearsals at Empire Theatre and Four Provinces of Ireland Club. But Tommy Steele's appearance postponed his entry to 13 December.

Between 1959 and 1962 he released tracks regularly on Columbia Records. His biggest hit was Too Young, a song that made him a hero in Sri Lanka.
Besides his 11 appearances on Oh Boy!, Forbes was seen in Cool For Cats (1959, BBC) and Thank Your Lucky Stars (1961, ABC). For a few years since 1963 he did the rounds of nightclubs and formed his band ~ The Contrasts. He settled for a life outside showbiz in 1975.

Bill Forbes is an example of how a couple of songs can make a singer achieve immortality. And he wasn't incorrect when he called the "ladies of Calcutta" "bherry bherry pretty"!

Casino

A modern casino, catering to foreigners only, now stands right next to the gas station where in days of yore a very popular wine and grocery store, owned and managed by the famous food people, the Corera family, used to stand.

Then comes Arthur’s place, a narrow lane that winds its way down to the beach.The next block was previously occupied by the old Majestic Theatre and car park which was famous for showing MGM movies from Hollywood, three times daily on weekdays and four on weekends.

Today, the block has been converted, by the same management of Ceylon Theatres Ltd., into a sprawling metropolis called Majestic City which houses a massive department store, famous fast food restaurants, KFC, and also multi cinema facilities showing the latest movies from Hollywood to the Sinhala screen. Near the Majestic City behind the Gas Station resides Hameed Ariff and family and SithyMa married to Mohideen Textiles son. A daughter of theirs is married to Minister Fouzie’s son.


Station Road


The block ends with Station Road which is located right opposite to where the market begins. Station Road is so named, in several towns in Colombo, representing the fact that the railway station is located at its sea-front end. Bambalapitiya is no different.

The family of MHM Muhseen, married to Khadeeja Ghouse, live down Station Road. Their son Imtiaz worked for Ceylon Tobacco Company Ltd and then moved to Uzebekistan and is presently employed and living in the UK. Imthiaz is married to Tirmizi Naina-Marikar. The daughter is married to Nawaz Vilcassimfrom Galle and lives in Singhapore where Nawaz is employed and they have now migrated to Australia. The youngest, son Fazal, is married to Naizar Cader’s daughter, also from Galle is also now is Australia.

At the end of Station Road a perpendicular right turn would take one to meet the bottom of Arthurs Place thus making it an easier way to move round in a rectangle back to Galle Road from either street. Station Road and Majestic Avenue stand face to face and in recent times a very necessary set of traffic lights have been set up at this junction in order to bring some sanity to the chaotic flow of men and machines on this busy highway.


“El Patio Yveony”

The beautiful home and mansion,”El Patio Yveony”, owned and lived in by Onally Gulamhussein and his celebrity wife Yvonne Toussaint starts off the next block of land adjoining Station Road. Onally, nicknamed “Jutehessian” and his wife the socialite Yvonne Gulamhussian, nee Toussaint, was refereed to as Mrs. Ooh La Jute Hessian.

Yvonne, the fashion icon no more

DN Thu July 15 2010

Yvonne Gulamhusein (nee Toussaint), a name reverberated in the local and international fashion circles bid adieu to her life’s ramp Monday. Yvonne was in the lead in the fashion designing line and has made spectacular designs that have kept wearers want more. She has always been a sensation and news wherever she went.

In England she walked barefoot and made headlines. The sophisticated woman mixed with the biggest socialites in the country.

She began her career as a cabaret dancer and everything she wore was nothing compared to the ‘in’ style. It was a mix of everything. She met her husband Onally at her dancing classes and what she told her friends laughing was, “See what you did, I went for dancing classes and he asked me to dance and this is where I am today”. She will be remembered fondly by her husband, family, friends and fashion fans world around.

obit:
GULAMHUSEIN - YVONNE - Precious wife of Onally Gulamhusein, loving daughter of the late Royston and Mavourneen Toussaint, passed away on 12th July, 2010. Remains will lie at 20, Bambalapitiya, (Galle Road), Colombo 04. Service will be held at The Cathedral of Christ the living Saviour, Bauddhaloka Mawatha, at 3.00 p.m. on 14th July 2010. Cremation will take place thereafter at 4.00 p.m. at Jawatte General Cemetery. DN Wed July 14 2010

The area facing the Galle Road which used to be the front yard of the villa has now been blocked, sold, and built up into another mall, now called Unity Plaza, the unofficial IT shoppintg centre, where many other lucrative and flourishing businesses have sprung up alongside, including Perera & Sons bakers, Vijitha Yapa Book Store and several other new and old enterprises. Along this same row was located the famous Stadium that hosted many scintillating entertainment performances organized by the famous Donovan Andree during his hey days of the entertainment business.


Yvonne weds Onally
Extracted from HI Magazine Online - http://www.hi.lk
When Yvonne Gulamhusein passed away on the 12th of July, 2010, it marked an end of era. She was a legend in her lifetime – as a very young delicate and petite beauty, who started life as a cabaret dancer, married her handsome young prince and lived her fairytale life! It was a life well lived, as Yvonne was much loved by her devoted husband, Onally Gulamhusien, the scion of a wealthy Borah family.

Yvonne Gulamhusein was the most paparazzied young fashion plate in her day – and as one gets an exclusive peek at her Scrap Book from 1945, with paper clippings from various newspapers and magazines which reported her many accomplishments as a dancer, her triumphs as a beauty queen, cover girl and then later on , as a much admired fashion icon, we begin to realize that she was way ahead of the times in her understanding of the power of the press! Certainly, for a teenager way back in the ‘40s! It is when browsing through this scrap book, that it strikes one that Yvonne’s life as documented in these pages provide an enchanting and fascinating insight into an era long gone…an era in which our country was called Ceylon under the British, then Independence in 1948. And as the decades roll on post-Independence to the present, when old black and white photographs change to colour, in these pages of Yvonne’s rich life, we catch glimpses of the history of our country - how British Ceylon to came to be the Socialist Democratic Republic of Sri Lanka.


Back to the Beginning – a Bathing Beauty

“Yvonne Toussaint’s costume was an overnight job,” reported The Times of Ceylon reported on May 27, 1946, headlining the article “Colombo Dancer Wins Beauty Title”. This was when she won the first ever “Queen of the Bathing Belles” at the all-day picnic arranged by Ceylon Tours at Bentota.

“The five lovelies who posed before the judges first paraded to the edge of the sea, then turned and posed again. But the onlookers had already made their choice, with one yell they wanted Yvonne and screamed, number five, number five. Yvonne, we want Yvonne!” Fortunately the judges agreed and told that she was the winner.

A man swooned in the midst of the crowd which swept forward to congratulate her! Then the spectators broke through the circle and mobbed the new Beauty Queen. They swept her along the beach up to a mount where the cameras were waiting for her to pose. There were still cameras and movie cameras all clicking away. Yvonne was wearing an exotic, scanty two piece costume in red and black. She said she had made it herself overnight. “ Exotic and scanty two piece –indeed! No wonder the pictures of Yvonne in that costume still can make cover page news. We at Hi!! Magazine, had no hesitation in selecting that picture of her as our Cover girl in this issue.

For after all, Yvonne was our second ever Cover Girl , back in 2003, the year we started the Hi Magazine.

Herald Cover Girl

In 1946, Yvonne applied for an advertisement by the Herald, for the Cover Girl Competition, and the picture she forwarded was selected as one of the joint winners of the competition; and hence on 15th of September, 1946 Yvonne graced the cover of Herald Vol No 12, and was described in it as “ a Ceylon born girl, educated at St Clare’s College, Wellawatte. Expert ballroom dancer and swimmer and an experienced cabaret entertainer. At present a well reputed dancing instructor.”

Flair for style, THE filly at the Races!

As mentioned earlier, Yvonne was already in the public eye as a dancer who did demonstration dances at Service dances and other gala events. Quoting one of the many clippings in her scrap book, “Miss Yvonne Toussaint whose new dance number ‘Viennese Waltz’ was a highlight of the gala opening night at the Silver Fawn, Colombo.

It is said that Onally Gulamhusein came to learn dancing from her and fell in love. For we find the gorgeous Ms Toussaint and the handsome Onally Gulamhusein strolling elegantly at the Races in August, 1948. Dressed exquisitely, she made it as the Cover Girl of The Ceylon Causerie in August, 1948. The magazine states, “Miss Yvonne Toussaint had her exquisite off-shoulder white lace picture frock partnered by a large white lace crownless picture hat and an elegant frilly white parasol. Nesting amongst the folds of her frock were posies of purple flowers – the whole a most striking ensemble.”

No wonder that she was a living legend for her iconic flair for style! Chic to the core, with an inborn elegance, she was the cynosure of all eyes in her heyday – and no wonder that the Cartoon of the Times of Ceylon, on August 10, 1948 had Yvonne among the celebrities - “ Incidentally, some women too went to great lengths to look ‘new’ but in one case at least, what was added to the bottom was taken from the top!”

On Friday, August 27th, 1948, Yvonne wed Onally Gulamhusein at a reception at the Galle Face Hotel. Yvonne was a very demure bride, clad in “ a fragile net saree worked in an all over design of stars. Her blouse was in silver. She wore no veil, but a beautiful headdress of flowers.

In the morning, Yvonne went through rites of a Muslim wedding. In the evening she entertained a gay crowd of friends as the Galle Face Hotel. In her scrap book, the Wedding Invite and the accompanying Thank You notes, the Menu of the Wedding Buffet are well preserved for posterity.


Racing Cars

In February, 1949 the Ceylon Observer reports that “ Mrs. Onally Gulamhusein , wearing a striking costume of green, white and black and white rimmed sun-glasses, had little difficultly in winning the even for ‘Open Cars with Extra Equipment’ driving a grey Triumph Roadster upholstered in blue.”

High Flyer!

Yvonne’s many new talents did not stop there. The new Mrs. Gulamhusein next conquered the skies. The Ceylon Observer of December 29, 1948 reports that Mrs. Onally Gulamhusein went on her first solo flight the week before, becoming only the third Ceylonese girl to do so. And at just 21, she was also the youngest of the three.

Differed Honeymoon

The Gulamhuseins' had a differed honeymoon, and sailed on the RMS Queen Elizabeth to London. Yvonne attended races at Ascot, and In her dainty sarees and striking hair-dos where even with many beauties vying for the honours, the petite Mrs. G, was the cynosure of all eyes. Yvonne was presented to the Queen in 1954, (who first visited Ceylon as Princess Elizabeth and then returned as the Queen after the death of her father) at the Queen’s House, where she reminisced in the first interview I did with her way back in 2003, “As I was being presented to her, my fan fell down. And the next day, the papers were full of the incident and the million dollar question was “WHO picked up my fan- was it Prince Philip?”

Jet Set

Yvonne and Onally were part of the jet set in the post-Independent Ceylon. They were great friends of Sir John Kotelawala, who later became Prime Minister after Dudley Senanayake. She was part of the smart set of women who formed a fan club around Sir John, and were dubbed the ‘Purple Brigade’. They partied with the likes of Viscount Soul bury, the then Governor General of Ceylon. Aga Khan was a dear friend of the couple, and visited them twice in Ceylon.

They lived in a ranch style house, with sprawling gardens in the heart of the city; the mansion was called ‘El Patio Yveony’ and many were the memorable parties hosted there to the jet set of the day.

Fashion Columnist

Yvonne in her later years was a fashion columnist for the Sunday Times, a job which she enjoyed very much. Read one of her fashion articles below, where she reported on the first ever Yves Saint Laurent fashion show in Sri Lanka,




The Last Years

Yvonne and Onally had recently celebrated their 61st wedding anniversary in August 2009. They were soul mates. Even during her last years, Yvonne remained the eternally elegant woman she always was. Always perfectly turned out, we will remember her not only as a striking beauty with an incomparable sense of style, but also for her kindness and her warm, caring and generous personality.

Yvonne Gulamhusein – the passing of an icon
July 17, 2010, 1:56 pm

The passing last week of Mrs. Yvonne Gulamhusein took away from our midst a fashion icon of yesteryear who was a household name in Sri Lanka from as early as the middle of 1940s.

Tarzie Vittachi used to write frequently about her calling her ooh…la…la Jutehessian and Collette used to lampoon her. She attracted attention wherever she went both for the often outrageous fashions she would carry off with great élan as well as for her striking beauty.

Yvonne then Toussaint married On’ally Gulamhusein, then one of the most eligible young men in Colombo in August 1948 and their wedding was the talk of the town for many days that followed.

"Bathing Beauty, now Muslim bride" reported in the Sunday morning edition of the Ceylon Observer on August 29, 1948, saying that Yvonne (nee Toussaint) "who usually wear frocks looked lovely in a fragile net saree worked a overall design of stars."

"Her silver gloves had a star-shaped necklace. She wore no veil but instead a beautiful head dress of flowers. Round her neck she wore matching garland."

The dashing and debonair On’ally Gulamhusein who won Yvonne was also able to convince the wealthy Borah community to which he belonged to accept what at that time would have surely been considered an unconventional marriage. Gulamhusein recalled that it was the head of his family, who was also the then head of the community, who gave her away at the wedding.

Yvonne and On’ally Gulamhusein had a rock solid marriage which lasted more than 60 years and Gulamhusein, during the last lap of his elegant wife’s life accepted no invitations or social engagements after 6 p.m. as he wanted to be with her after the domestics were gone.

Despite her age, Yvonne looked as elegant as always as like in repose and many old friends gathered to reminisce about the remarkable life of the dancing teacher who became the country’s best known and most photographed fashion icon of her day.

Her warm and generous personality and acts of kindness to many were never publicized. Few remember that she was also a qualified flyer who first attracted public attention when she was crowned the Bathing Beauty at a contest at Bentota on May 27, 1946.

"Yvonne Toussaint’s costume was an overnight job," The Times of Ceylon reported on May 27, 1946. She won the title "Queen of the Bathing Belles" at what the Times said was an "all-day picnic arranged by Ceylon Tours."

"A man swooned in the midst of the crowd which swept forward to congratulate her," the Times reported naming the three judges as Mrs. J. C. Kelly, Mr. R. F. S. de Mel and Mr. J. D. A. Perera, the Colombo painter.

"The five lovelies who posed before the judges first paraded to the edge of the sea, then turned and posed again. But the onlookers had already made their choice, with one yell they wanted Yvonne and screamed, number five, number five. Yvonne, we want Yvonne!" Fortunately the judges agreed and told that she was the winner.

Yvonne had kept a scrap book from 1945 repeat with clips reporting her many achievements as a dancer, beauty queen, cover girl and fashion icon.

It provides a fascinating insight to an age now gone – with old black and white photographs of herself and others at the races and social events. Few people will now remember that Yvonne was the third Ceylonese girl to fly an aircraft solo – being preceded in that feat by Miss Croning and Miss Jennet Vairakiam.
"Yvonne who was just 21 is the youngest of them," reported the Ceylon Observer on the evening of December 29, 1948. "I was thrilled," said Yvonne. "It was so unexpected too. For several weeks I was expecting to do my solo and every time either the plane was out of order or the weather was unsuitable so that I had given up anticipating."
- Spectator – The Island July 18 2010

The stadium which belonged to Donavan Andree and Mubarak Thaha where there was a lot of water circus and many overseas performance that took place and was later managed by Donavan’s son Malcolm Andree who was famous for various broadcating and musical shows along with Chris Greet as his compere.Along a row of businesses, which included Silk Paradise owned and managed by a Sindhi family, was a two storeyed building which was used for residential purposes one of which was occupied by the Jansz family. Linda Jansz attended St. Paul’s Milagiriya at Bamba.

LAXMI's

Laxmi's Bambalapitiya

If the In Places for Sundown dances (60's & 70's) were Ceylinco, Coconut Grove, Little Hut to name a few, the In Place for getting dolled up for the occasion was Laxmi's at Bambalapitiya.

The birth of Laxmi’s was in 1948 at 113, Chatham Street, Fort, when I was only 5 years old, then just a young boy attending Kindergarten at St. Peter’s College, Bambalapitiya. 

Laxmi’s at that era of time catered for White Collar Workers, mainly Bankers, Insurance, Office workers, Planters, Diplomats and some Politicians. The time when readymade garments were not available and clothes had to be tailored to personal measurements. Textiles imported and Laxmi’s employed the best tailors in the country.

At a very young age I was forced to go to the shop during the holidays and was asked to learn the tricks of the trade. This helped in getting experience at a very young age.

1966 was the birth of the branch of Laxmi’s at Galle Road, Bambalapitiya (Next to the Bambalapitiya Police Station). This was the beginning of my real working life as I was asked to take charge of this wonderful shop.

The Mid Sixty’s and Seventy’s were the years of Rock ‘N’ Roll, The Beatles and the beginning of Rock Music. Thus Laxmi’s had to change according to times and cater for the Beat groups that started looking for clothes to suit their style. Bombay was the In Place for Beat Groups in India and I had to travel to Bombay to look at the styles that would suit our Beat Groups. Remember, the trend for readymade garments was still not in vogue. Special Materials were imported for Suits, Trousers and Shirts; Jeans were not yet in fashion In Ceylon. Thus the birth of the then Modern day tailoring outfit, to cater for the Beat Groups, Actors, Diplomats and the Hip Hop Guys who flocked Laxmi’s Bambalapitiya

The meeting place for the Jetliners, Spitfires, X-periments, and other popular beat groups was on Saturday Afternoon at Laxmi’s. The fans too gathered to meet their favourite groups and know what they wear and then followed the trend of their favourite groups. Saturday Afternoon was the busiest day of the week for the boys at Laxmi’s headed by yours truly, Late Donald Seneviratne (Bass guitarist X-periments), Late Anton Cowley, Maurice, Farook, Zarook and not forgetting the young Perera sisters Rio and Eva. Together we worked round the clock to satisfy our customers, fitting them with tight lace or flowery shirts, bell-bottoms or Drainpipes. Working was fun with these groups of customers

Bottom line would like to get back to Colombo and re-estabish Laxmi's.

Thaku Chugani (posted on FB)


Responses on FB to Thaku's story


  • Clarantha Perera This Interesting Post by Thaku Chugani -the Vocalist/ Band leader of X-Periments - was posted nearly Two Years ago on this page. I used to get all my way out gear tailored by him !!!- Trust it'll be of interest to all new members including Kenneth HonterKumar MolligodaJude Goonewardane & others ...
    Monday at 7:32pm ·  · 1

  • Kumar Molligoda It is exactly as THAKU SAID .As a member of Spitfires I would walk in to Laxmis to collect my shirt ,or HAT.[.yes we wore hats long before GYPSIES ] that had been ordered for me in the same matching colour and style as the rest of the others I still have the black silk handkerchief I bought from Laxmis in 1966.Recently I went to the so called leader in mens fashion to get a similar one but for all their bragging they didn't have anything like it.I still have the gold plated guitar shaped tie pin and several cuff links bought from Laxmis . Mens dress accessories today is just rubbish compared to what we got from Laxmis in the 60's .Iam still in business just as in the 60's ,so it would be great to have Thaku back in business in Colombo.We are in touch with Thaku and though he promised to be here in June he has not turned up yet.THAKU, WE ARE WAITING FOR YOU.
    Monday at 8:15pm via  ·  · 2

  • Jude Goonewardane As a teenager living in Ja-Ela at the time didn't allow me all the luxuries that you folks from Colombo used to enjoy those days. However, I had the good fortune to have a few shirts tailored by Laxmis (Of course with large stiff collars!) during the late 70s! There were only a handful of tailors who had the facility to do the 'overlock' stich, and Laxmis was one of them. Still remember their black label with Laxmis embroidered on it!

  • Jeanette Edelmann Can remember Laxmi's Bambalapitiya very well, have gone there many times,not far from my home in Edward Lane.
    Yesterday at 1:53am ·  · 1

  • Kumar Molligoda When Thaku's family left ,Laxmis Bamba shop opened as Silk Paradise which later became a shop selling Motor cycle helmets .
    Yesterday at 5:23am via  ·  · 2

  • Thaku Chugani Hi guys thanks for the wonderful comments. To be honest miss Sri Lanka. Promise will try to be there hppefully this year and will be a great pleasure meeting all of you.
    6 hours ago via mobile ·  · 2

  • Jayraj Singham Hi Thaku, I remember coming to your place with Indra (Jetliners) to practice "heart beat" which u sang at the contest. I live in Switzerland, see Indra often. By the way, the Jetliners with mignonne are playing in Sri Lanka end of February 2013.
    5 hours ago ·  · 1

  • Thaku Chugani Jayraj, yes I do remember you. Loved the song Heartbeat. Stay in touch and say Hi to Indra, did speak to him once in Switzerland.

  • Joey Lewis Remember it well Thaku! Even though I was much younger than you guys...Spent all my pocket money there...Brilliant shop, it was the place to be seen at, and you were extremely generous with your discounts for young guys like me. Much appreciated with fond memories. Cheers!


Fashion Outlets in the '60's 


With the Advent of The Beatles & the Swinging '60's came a new generation of teeny boppers eagerly following the fashion trends of the day. Much to the horror of the older generation it became a fad to wear drain pipe trousers, stiff broad collars, collar less coats and the trade mark pointed shiny (Beatle) Boots.

Some of the renowned shops at that time to buy your gear were : Selections (later Attractions- in Fort ) - who specialized in the 'Beatle Trousers",- a must wear trade mark trouser... and LAXMIS -' in Bambalapitiya owned by The X- Periments ' original vocalist - the ever affable -THAKU CHUGANI.... Donald Seneviratne (of The Spitfires) too worked in this fashionable shop. They catered to the fancy & whimps of anyone who dared to be (then) outrages in dress !. Psychedelic shirts, Lace Shirts, Pyjama stripped trousers- you named it - they made it. 

This writer had the privilege of winning " The Most Smartly Dressed Guy'' in a Pop concert in Moratuwa in '67 or '68 thanks to the gear tailored by Laxmis '. 

As for shoes or 'The Beatle Boots' - as they were then called. There was Art Shoes & Majestic Shoe shop in Bambalapitiya. But most guys in the know then went to 'WiJESEKARA' - the poor old cobbler at The Wellawatte Market. He turned out the best pair of Pointed Beatle Boots that money can buy made out of Shining German leather. 
Oh yeah, there were saloons & barber shops too !. But I ain't writing about them. 'cos WHO THE HELL WANTED TO CUT HIS HAIR then !! - well I didn't !!!

The agony & frustration of the youth in the '70's - due to restrictions placed in the manufacture and import of textiles, clothing & all fashionable accessories by the then government is another Topic that will be discussed soon on this Board.

Cheers,

Clarantha Perera (extracted, with permission, from his FB Page)

Ladies fashion from those times 
by Jeanette Edelmann on FB - Mar 11 2012


Well well, it's time for me to say something about the girls. Sari's were JJ Brothers "Butter Nylon". The hoola-hoop days, miniskirt bell bottems and hot pants ( not so hot like in the west no permit from moms) Evernings HipsterSari, Hipster Lungi ( Batik boon) worn with cutwork bell sleeve mini blouse.

(mod hip version of cloth & jacket)That was the start of the "Hipster" fashion,sari worn on the hip and not at the waist like our moms. Hair-style Pony-tail, donkey-fringe or Sandra Dee look (from A Summer Place).We too did look very glam :)


The Police Station

St Alban’s Place comes next, followed by Emilda Lane (now renamed to Ransivi Lane) and Buchanan Street, which is located opposite Daisy Villa Avenue on the landside, between which stands the Bamba Police Station that occupies almost all the land up to the beach front.

The Police quarters are located at the rear of the station.Ransivi Lane follows next and Haig Road, rather broad in contrast to many of the other streets on either side of Galle Road, comes after, located right opposite to De Vos Avenue on the landside.


St Albans Place

A unique establishment called "Colombo Hatcheries" was owned by Durham & Yvonne Saldin. It was situated at no: 7 St. Alban's PLace and was in existence from 1958 - 1973. They had one Incubator to do the custom hatching of eggs brought by customers. As business was booming, they moved to the Studio Lekha premises which housed three Incubators. They also delivered their own poultry food called Mitsui Poultry Foods to homes in Colombo.


No. 7, St Alban’s Place also had a sinister history. It was the residence of Mr and Mrs Mahadevan Sathasivam. M. Sathasivam was renowned for his All-Ceylon cricketing career. On October 09, 1951, at 3.15pm Mrs Yvonne Foenander, who lived at No. 2, came to No. 7 to use the downstair telephone, and, while observing the two children playing in the garden, came across a dreadful sight in the garage: the dead body of Mrs Sathasivam, who was later found to have been gruesomely murdered. She telephone the Bambalapitiya Police, and Inspector Thiedeman arrived at the scene at 3.25pm, and commenced investigations.


The Sathasivam Murder Case has been recounted by former Supreme Court Judge AC Alles in his Volume-4 of Famous Criminal Cases of Sri Lanka; by Professor Sir Sydney Smith, CBE, in his book, Mostly Murder; and in recent times by Prof. Ravindra Fernando in his book, A Muder in Ceylon: The Sathasivam Case.   

It was also at the top of St Albans Place that a small "coffee cup" sized cafe called Supernova thrived and was patronized by many who passed along Galle Road. It is said that their Chinese (Spring) Rolls were the best ever in the whole city.


Emilda Lane (Ransivi Lane)


Emilda Lane, a very narrow and winding lane that had homes bordering the edge of the street where two cars would not be able to pass each other comes next abutted by the Police Station. Buchanan Street followed by Ransivi Lane , and then Haig Road, a rather wide street in contrast to many of the other streets on either side of Galle Road in that area, located right opposite to De Vos Avenue on the landside.

Right down Emilda Lane at No. 36/5, lived A. Matheen Ghouse and family from 1970:

Mr Ghouse was the younger brother of Uzair Ghouse, who held a managerial post at Tuckers Ltd. Mr Matheen Ghouse was area sales manager at Lever Brothers (Ceylon) Ltd, and his first two sons, Shahul Hameed and Mazhar joined that organization on his retirement; he had two more sons, Miqdam and Miswar. Shahul Hameed married Omar Kamil’s sister and moved to Horton Place, while Mazhar presently serves as managing director at Intissel Lanka (Pvt) Ltd in Dehiwala, a subsidiary of Intissel, SA, France, moved over to Elibank Road, Colombo-5. Shahul has one son and three daughters, Mazhar with four sons, and Miswar with two daughters, while Miqdam remains a bachelor.


Haig Road

The Issadeen family moved from Melbourne Avenue to Haig Road, and have been residents there for decades. SS Issadeen, ex Government Agent at Matara moved in to Colombo on completion of his assignment in the south. His sons, Ismeth, Kabeer, Fazal and Imthiaz schooled at St Thomas’ and were well known citizens of Bambalapitiya during the 1960s/70s. SS Issadeen’s daughter is Yasmin, who attended Holy Family Convent, Bambalapitiya, married, “Birdie,” Yousoof Mohideen, the son of Sharker Mohideen of Dawson Road, Colombo 5.


Asoka Gardens

Then, on the seaside again, came Beltona Lane, Janaki Lane and Indra Lane, followed by Asoka Gardens, where the Dias Abeygunawardena’s occupied the first house on the left whose gate was slanted at a 45 degree angle to the Galle Road.

The famous Abdeen and Ahamed families lived down this street. Of them Adil Abdeen was most noted for his antics with Tony Sitlani and his mini Mafiosi at Bamba. Shums, Noor Thaha, were the Ahamed boys who were no second to Adil in their mischief making and antics in town.Kotelawala Gardens, Uptaissa Road, where the Nilams lived, Firoz Nilam who attended Royal College and went on to becoming a national Table Tennis Champion, and Ramya Road came next. The Dhahaln family lived here with MHM Dhahlan being s senior citizen of the Muslim community and who was a very active social worker involved with the Moors’ Islamic Cultural Home in the Fort.


Kotelawala Gardens and Upatissa Road


Kotelawala Gardens where the Nilams lived followed next. Firoz Nilam attended Royal College, Colombo, went on to become a national Table Tennis Champion. He now lives in the USA and works as a Chemical Engineer for the pharma industry. A manual dhoby-washing-industry flourished down Kotelawala Gardens where the wet linen could be seen drying under the sun. Next came Upatissa Road. 

Ramya Road

Ramya Road came next. The Dhahlan family lived here with MHM Dhahlan being a senior citizen of the Muslim community, and who was a very active social worker involved with the Moors’ Islamic Cultural Home, Inc., in the Fort, Colombo-1.

Shrubbery Gardens

Shrubbery Gardens was next, where the most famous vegetarian restaurant in Colombo, Greenlands Hotel, was located. A very wide street, it ran straight down to the rail tracks enveloped by big villas on each side.


Retreat Road

Retreat Road followed adjacent to which the Holy Family Convent Girls School stood tall with its Church facing the Galle Road in all its splendor and grey. Harris and Damayanthi Wijesinghe lived here. They subsequently moved to Kawdana and then to Peterson Lane at Wellawatte where Harris now runs his lucrative hair dressing salon and beauty culture shop, assisted by his active sister. Damayanthi has since moved to Mount Lavinia with her family.


HOLY FAMILY CONVENT (HFC)
In the year 1903, the parish of Bambalapitiya felt that it needed an English school for girls. Archbishop Melizan invited the Sisters of the Holy Family, who had worked strenuously for many years in different parts of the Island, to start an English School for Girls in the Parish of Bambalapitiya.

The Directress of Provincial Superior, Mother Celeste Marchall responded with great enthusiasm, and at her bidding came Sister Agnes Stouter to start a small school at “ Clock House ”, Lauries Road, Bambalapitiya. The number on the role was 28. Sr. Agnes was joined shortly after by the Superior of the House – Mother St. Paul. Thus was laid the Foundation for this beautiful mission-oriented edifice of Holy Family Convent, Bambalapitiya 100 years ago, on February 3rd 1903.

After 5 years of its humble beginnings, they were able to purchase a permanent residence “ Retreat Bungalow” extended over the years to situate the present building of Holy Family Convent, Bambalapitiya.

These first years from Feb. 3rd. 1903 to 1st. February 1908 serve as the most important period in the history of H.F.C Bambalapitiya …. It was the period when the seed was sown- to grow, bloom and bear fruit in the years to come-rooted firmly in the Spirit of God Alone following closely in the foot steps traced out by our Founder the Ven. P. B. Noailles

The date chosen for the foundation was not a mere coincidence. Rev. Mother Celeste Marchall spent her life laboriously to establish Holy Family Convent from Anuradhapura to Puttalam in the North, right down to Galkissa in the South. She thus founded more than 40 Convents specifically for the poor, the neglected among the lower strata of society. Starting at Bambalapitiya made a difference…. It was an urban area – more developed than the other Convents she founded.

The memory of the Miraculous Benediction given to the Holy Family Sisters in Bordeaux – France 3rd February 1822, almost at the birth of our Religious Family, is a tremendous source of vitality and missionary dynamism. Let us recall the experience of the first Holy Family Community who witnessed the Miraculous Apparition of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. This Venerable ecclesiastic went there at 4.30p.m., and scarcely had he exposed that Blessed Sacrament on the alter when the Sacred Species moved slightly and the bust and head of Our Lord, surrounded by a brilliant halo clearly seen.

Amongst the people present, some were absorbed in deep contemplation, others wept tears of joy, love and gratitude: several could not contain their sentiments of fervour.

It was Rev. Mother Leonide – “who having spent 27 years as a Missionary in South Africa came to Ceylon full of enthusiasm to cultivate this portion of the Lord’s vineyard.” It was she who designed and planned the chapel – the centrepiece of the whole edifice – with such artistic taste. It was completed in 1933, and the round stained glass right at the centre top, bears the image of Jesus as he appeared on that glorious day on Feb. 3rd. 1822.

Milestones at HFC

1903.Clock House first School House in Lauries Road.Mother St.Paul arrives to take over the work.

1905.Rest at last!The House Called”The Retreat” was rented for the community who taught in the Park House School.

1906.Mother St.Suzanne appointed Superior.

1907.Retreat House was bought and school conducted there in three stables!

1908.mother Mary of Jesus arrived from England to be the Headmistress.

1909.The first building-four classrooms built for the school and blessed by Archbishop Coudert,O.M.I.

1912.Mother Gonzaga arrived to take charge of Music lessons,Singing and Kindergarten School.Rev.Mother Sebastian appointed Superior.

1913.First pupils passed the Senior Cambridge Examination.

1918.Science now forms a regular part of the school Curriculum.A special Science Room built.

1920.Building of a new wing for Kindergarten School.Anew Dormitory for Boarders added.

1924.”Refreshing Breezes” our first school Magazine .

1925.Opening of the new Refectory for the Boarders and purchase of a house popularly known as Moorman’s House, for classes.Tennis court opened and a club formed for play.Rev.Mother Rose De Lima appointed superior.

1927.The first public Prize Distribution.Lady Clifford wife of the then Governor presided and gave away the prizes.She was an old pupil of Holy Family Convent in south Africa.Pat pupils’ association meets June 1st to discuss the ways and means of celebrating the Silver Jubilee of Foundation.

1928.Silver Jubilee Celebrations February 15th ,16th and 17th.A block of classrooms built over the first school building to house 5 classes.

1934.The Past Pupils’ Association formally reorganised-a Constitution formulated.Mother Mary of Jesus,retires as Principal.

1939.Approval for school to start Intermediate classes and prepare for Entrance to the University.

1942.War conditions.School taken for use as a Militiary Hospital.Children evacuated to Burulapitiya. ‘Homesdale” and “Cherrydale” house the Lower School in Bambalapitiya.

1946.School returns to the old buildings.The Military Hospital closed.Urgent demand for Higher Science Facilities.Rev.Mother Gonzaga appointed superior.

1948. ‘City of Laughter’Carnival in Aid of Science Laboratories.

1953.The Golden Jubilee.Grand Fair and Fete.

1955.School changes to three language groups up to 9th Grade.First visit of the Superioress General to Ceylon,Very Reverend Mother Claire de Jesus.

1958.A Lourdes Centenary Festival presented by the school in the Lionel Wendt Theatre.

1960.Our first Sinhalese full length Drama “Ramayana’.
An interesting anecdote submitted by Ifthikhar Aziz who lived near the Bamba market in the 60's goes as follows:-

"On April 01st 1970, three Bamba boys from De Fonseka Place. Graham Koch, Norfel Zanoon (Attorney at Law,now deceased), and myself -all three old Royalists- played an April Fool's that was the talking point of the day then.At 5.30am that morning, we hung a board outside the main gate of Holy Family Convent,Bamba saying" Mother Superior expired. No school today". We were back on Galle Road at 6.30am that morning and sheepishly watched innocent Familians walking up to the gate and looking shocked and slowly walk away!They were going back in their numbers,believe me. At 8.30am, the Mother Superior hurriedly called up the few girls who had stayed back,more out of curiosity and a fewer number of angry teachers and announced that " I am still alive. This is the work of some hooligans.Wait till I get my hands on them"!The good lady had no option but to close school that dayThe following day's newspapers carried this as a news item on its first pages.Imagine closing down a school for a day!!"


Nimal Road


The Huzair family lived at the far end of Nimal Road where a mosque lay, and a Muslim teaching center was in operation for the benefit of the community in the locality. Zuhair, an active social worker involved with the MICH, Inc., in Colombo, and his sister, Shaharaza Huzair, now migrated to the UK, lived there.

Issam Salih and his family also live down Nimal Road where his family operates a bookshop.
The Le Mottes lived down Nimal Road; they migrated to the UK in 1964. Rosemary stayed back in Sri Lanka while Sybil moved to the USA.

Jaya Road

Jaya Road, a very narrow and winding street that went all the way down to the rail tracks, came next.


A Memon family named Eliyas owners of a property and were also residents of the massive house facing the Galle Road between these two lanes.

The Le Mottes lived down Nimal Road and migrated to the UK in 1964. Rosemary stayed back in Sri Lanka while Sybil moved to the USA


Milagiriya Avenue

The famous Chinese restaurant on Galle Road, Chinese Dragon Café, managed and run by the late Roger Solomons, is housed here, facing Galle Road. The place was and is still being run very successfully and attracted a large clientele, especially for evening dining. During the war a rumor was spread that crow and cat meat were served instead of meat and chicken. Papa Chou, the owner vehemently denied these allegations. Rumor has it that Papa Chou had a reputation for being a bit of a ladies man.

Another well-known Doctor G R Muttumani, who practiced down Station Road at Wellawatte hailed from Milagriya Avenue. Patrick and David Muttumani, who both played cricket for St Peter’s, were his sons. Andrew worked for Air Lanka as a Flight Engineer for some period. At the bottom of Milagiriya Ave lived the Thiagalingam family, Sons Parathalingam & Jothi Lingam played for Royal, Jayalingam played for St Thomas.

Chinese Dragon Cafe has since moved to Milagiriya Avenue from its original Galle Road location.


One Way Traffic


For traffic travelling from Wellawatte towards Kollupitiya, the point from Dickman’s Road, now Dr Lester James Peries Mawatha, turns into a one-way street on Galle Road right upto Kollupitiya junction near Kollupitiya Station Road. Similarly, R. A. De Mel Mawatha (Duplication Road) is a one-way street from Liberty Plaza opposite Liberty cinema right upto Dickman’s Road junction.

Melbourne Avenue

Civil Servant AI Mohideen lived, with his family, down Melbourne Avenue. His children are Mohammed Jesmy and Sithy Shireen, married to Shahul Hameed Aslam of Pendennis Avenue (Abdul Caffoor Mawatha), in Colpetty.

The Maldivian Embassy was also located down Melbourne Avenue. Since recently a splashy Thai restaurant has sprung up catering to the rich and famous and also tourists in town.

A massive condominium apartment complex, a new icon commonly seen in Colombo in recent times, is also raising its head right next door to the Mohideen residence.

Ms Grace Selvarajah lived at the far left end of Melbourne Avenue and subsequently established the reputed Tiny Tots Nursery school where many a young lad and lady of Bamba attended.

District Judge Ameen and his family, comprising son Isfahan and two daughters, lived there. One of the daughters Azmiya has since moved to USA with her family. The son Isfahan moved to Skeleton Road, in Colombo 5, with his family. Isfahan spent several years working as an expatriate Accountant in Jeddah, in Saudi Arabia in the mid seventies, before moving back home to Colombo.

Mr. R.C.C. Randeniya and wife Florri built their house down at No 30, Melbourne Avenue in 1930's (supposed to be the second house built down Melbourne Ave)and they had 4 children, Mohan, Tulsi (born :1933), Asoka (1937) and Chandrika (1940). The 3 boys attended St. Peter's College. There house 'No. 30' was next to Mr. Ameens House, (which you have mentioned under residents of Melbourne Avenue). Eldest son Mohan died tragically falling from the 1st floor of a friend's house, while dancing at a party. Tulsi and Wife Rohini still lives down Melbourne Avenue and Asoka and Wife Grisilda was residing there until 2010. Chandrika lives down Anderson Road (Off Dickman's Road). [submitted by Premitha Randeniya on Mar 24 2012, by email]


The Cooray Mansion

The stretch of land between Melbourne Avenue and Frankfort Place housed the massive mansion that belonged to the Cooray Family now converted to Belvoir International School. Many a story is told about this abode which has been even claimed to be haunted in many a folk tale that has been woven around its magnificent history.


Frankfurt Place

The Canagasabeys live down Frankfort Place of whom Nihal attended Royal College and then went on to work with the Hemas Group of Companies in the Fort. Nihal is also a very active member of the Royal College ’59 Group Alumni who meet in gay camaraderie and celebration, during the cricket and rugby seasons each year.The Le-af family lived in a massive house down the street and they have transformed it into a massive condominium apartment complex.

Sent in by "Ifthikhar Sheriff" as an update to Frankfurt Place on Sep 27 2011:

"I lived down Frankfort Place from 1964 - 1972 until my parents left for Zambia.

You have rightly mentioned the Canagasabeys and the Leaffs (of Mode Jewellers fame) but I think you missed out a few other important families who stayed down Frankfort Place - the Cherubims (lawyer whose boys went to St Peters), the Ismails (lawyer and doctor whose boys were Thomians), the Gomezs who had two girls, the Vallipuram sisters and were others whose names fail me. Our neighbours at 21 Frankfort Place were the Pereras - son Michael was my pal, is an Accountant settled in Perth, Australia.
My dad was a Surveyor who worked 14 years in Zambia before passing away. Mum was a teacher and now lives at Kalubowila whilst my brother is settled in Botswana with his family.
I am reading this blog in far off Abidjan, Ivory Coast and guess I must be the second Bamba boy who has set foot in Abidjan. The other being Gamini de Alwis who used to live down Haig Road who worked in Abidjan for a few years earlier. Guess there must be one or two more Bamba boys in Abidjan working for the UN and the likes." 



On the morn of July 16, 1989, the ex-Surveyor cum PLOTE chief Uma Maheshwaran, who was resident at Siripa Lane off Thimbirigasyaya Road in Colombo-5, while walking down Frankfort Place, was shot dead by an alleged renegade member of his group, though many still suspect Indian Intelligence RAW involvement. Three days prior to this murder, TULF chief  and the Leader of the Opposition  A. Amirthalingam, MP, and  Yogeswaran, MP, were suddenly shot dead by three LTTE representatives while at a discussion with them on the first floor of Yogeswaran’s residence in Buller’s Road, Colombo, while M. Sivasithamparam, MP, escaped with a shoulder injury. The three assasins were shot dead by the security guards.  

The Bamba Flats

The Bambalapitiya Flats Website

And then came the famous, or should I say more infamous, Bamba Flats, a vast acreage of land containing several three storeyed apartment blocks spanning from the Galle Road all the way down to the beach. The Bamba Flats land was the Seminarywatte (Seminary Garden), in which novice priests were trained to the order of SJ. The Seminarywatte was also a favorite cricket ground of the Bamba lads - mainly Peterites, who started nurturing their cricketing talents here - names H. I. K. Fernando, Pat Kelly, Dion Walles, Jayantha Fernano, Bin Mohammed, The de Silva Brothers, Conrad Ephraims, Tony Fernando. M.S.M.Ghouse are some of the names that come to mind of great cricketers of that era who distinguished themselves at Cricket at various levels.

The Abhayasinghes, of whom the father was the Editor of a Sinhala Daily published by the Lake House Group, and his son Kumar, who attended Royal and daughter Kumudini, who attended Visakha Vidyalaya, lived in the first block on the left viewed from the Galle Road. Old man Abhayasinghe used to drive around in his white DKW which was usually seen parked outside the flat. He passed away in 1999. His son, Sunil Kumar, and daughter, Kumudini, have both migrated to LA in the USA.

The Amarasinghams comprising “papa” who was Director at Lever Brother Ceylon Ltd and sons Anton, Mano who went on to become a lawyer before migrating to Australia, and Gnanakumar, and daughters Evelyn & Edna, both migrating to and settling in the UK after the 83 riots.The Miskin family headed by Papa Miskin of the “Latiff Miskin Combo” fame and sons Farook who played drums and Ahmed a great crooner who died early in life. A row of shops sprouted up on the ground floor of the building parallel to and facing the Galle Road.

They comprised, from left to right, The Milk Board, Koffee House, a coffee shop where the Latiff Miskin Combo played nights, Woolworth, a department store, Anoma’s Hair Dressing Saloon, Femina, another department store, and a Cooperative Store managed and run by the people of the area.

Then there were the de Kretsers, on the third block on the left viewed from the Galle Road, of whom Nigel attended Royal and Rozanne & Rochelle attended St. Pauls Milagiriya. All of them have migrated to Australia.

In the same block lived the famous piano teacher, Ms Mignonne Kelaart, who used to shuttle between Rajasinghe Road at Wellawatte and the Bamba flats She too migrated to Australia where she died of old age. Many a young lady at bamba were her students who excelled in music in their latter years.

Further down towards the beach lived Loranjan Dias Abeygunawardena, who attended Royal, and his sister, Shiromi, who attended Visakha Vidyalaya. They both migrated to LA in the USA. Shiromi married Rifky Mackeen, also an ex Royalist, who excelled in the banking profession at Citibank in Colombo and later on in the USA.

Lakshman Kiriella, who also attended Royal and then went on to politics to become the Minister of Plantation Industries in the UNP Government, was boarded at the flat occupied by Ms Jayatilleke.

Raja Rajapakse, uncle of Prasanna Mendis of Melbourne, Australia, ran the tyre dept of Rowlands, and his wife, aunty Violet, was a well-liked matron at the General Hospital, in Colombo, were prominent dwellers at the flats. Their boys -Lalith a medical representative, passed away early in life; Sriyantha Rajapakse played cricket for St. Thomas' College, Mt Lavinia and also for the Sri Lanka national team and was employed at The Maharajah Organization in Colombo. The other son is Ranil.


Shireen Deen, who married Furqan of Royal also lived at the flats in probably Block  K. Her sister, Dilhara, has since migrated to New Zealand with her family. 

Khazeena Cassim and her Mum also lived at the Flats. Susan Redlich, a beaut of sorts, was popular amongst the young lads in the vicinity.

Thahir Fuard, who married Mueeza Sheriff of Davidson Road, also lived with his parents and siblings in "M" Block. Ms Coomaraswamy, nee Sinnathurai, ex-teacher at St Pauls Milagiriya and Muslim Ladies’ College, also lived at the flats. In her latter years, after retirement, she spent most of her time giving private tuition, sometimes to children of her own past pupils.

The Solomons family, of whom Joan, Pamela and Kathy were very popular amongst the young lads of the area, also lived at the front section of the Flats parallel to and facing Galle Road. Their brother is David Solomons who married Zohara Uduman, who also lived in the Flats. The fair Dawn Martyn and family lived next door on their right.

The very popular Ms Misso, whose sons attended St. Peters College also lived in the same block as the Solomons’ family, right behind the front block facing and parallel to the Galle Road. Aunty Misso's hubby was Donny. They have a son and a daughter both migrated to Australia now. The daughter married Ralph D'Silva, a Thomian (cousin of Lorensz and Roger D'Silva, Thomian cricketers) and presently a leading car dealer in Melbourne.

The fun part of living within the flats or nearby was the daily morning meeting at the bus stop, waiting for the various school buses to take the young lads and lassies to their destinies. Life was a bustle at the flats where everything that could ever happen, happened, and life still moved on harmlessly.

The intrigues, relationships, events and other sinister going-on’s are voluminous in number and would make delicious reading if they could only be collected and compiled into a dossier.And then there was the Bamba Flats Welfare Society, housed in the far block by the seaside, which catered to the entertainment, amusement and general welfare of all its residents on special occasions, festivals, and holidays.

Another glamorous inhabitant of the Bambalapitiys flats was Gillian Thorne. She attended Vivil Ludowyk's Academy for the Backward down 8th Lane, with the other students lounging around at the head of the lane, cigarettes dangling from their lips trying to make her acquaintance. Carl Fernando, last heard of in Switzerland, is another name that pops up at the Bamba Flats.

Penny White, who married Ravi Jayawardena, son of President JR Jayawardena, and her sister Melanie White, also lived at the flats. Elmo, Herman & Frank Gunasekera and their sister Helen who married the famous Rugby player Gamini Fernando also were flatters of great fame. 

Mr AHA Samad, rugby coach of Zahira which won the Schools Rugby Champiosnhip under his guidance, was another resident known and loved by all who lived at the flats. The Samads in Block J, the Udumans and the Hoffmans in Block F, all of which were located closer to and perpendicular to the sea. Delano Uduman is now chairman of Ssurvey Research Lanka Ltd at Skelton Road in Colombo-5; Lee Samad migrated with family to Toronto in Canada long years ago; Everard Hoffman and sisters too emigrated probably to Australia. 

Jan Vanden Driesen (the famous swimmer and Accountant) and his family also lived at the flats. His dad was in the Police. The Patternots were also another famous family in the Flats.

Roy Clogstoun and his family also lived at Block M. Roy migrated to Australia in 1969 and has taken up residence in Melbourbe. He joined the Australian Government Service. He has, recently, in June 2007, taken up an assignment as First Secretary at he Austraian Embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He is married to Joan and has two lovely daughters, Isobella & Sophie.

Upali Obeysekera, reading the Bamba blog in Toronto, in Canada, states that many names came back to his mind as people from the 59 & 60s era. He states, "I lived at the Bamba Flats from 1956 - 1962, E Block. There are many other names of people worth mentioning. Starting with Maurice Wanigaratne who lived in the same E Block, ground floor. Maurice was a prolific opening batsman for St. Joseph's College and later played for SSC. He became a diplomat and passed away a couple of years back. Maurice's nephew Nihal Kodituwakka also stayed with him. Dimunitive Nihal 'Kodda' played for Royal in the 60s and also won his national cap in Cricket playing against a strong West Indies XI. Then there was the Ranchigoda family from I Block - Winston (now in LA), Nihal (Australia), Lucky (still at Bamba Flats), Maurice (Toronto) and a whole bunch of others. I believe Nimal Ranchigoda played Cricket for St. Joseph's and NCC.


OBITUARIES:
12/Aug/2009
MANULAL - BANDARA SALUWADANA (Manu) Son of late R.B. Saluwadana, beloved son of Shanti and brother of Chandu, Chandika and Dhanushka (Luxembourg), passed away on the 9th August 2009 in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Funeral took place on the 12th August 2009 in Rotterdam.
31/Aug/2009
Ubey lived in block A and was the son of Mr kavidasa wickrematunga.His brother Abey lives in Aussie
10/Oct/2009
Siromani Dias Abeygunawardene - 0n the 2nd. May 2009 - after a long battle with cancer.
First lived in H3 2nd floor then G1 ground floor.
14/Dec/2009
CHINNAKONE - Mr. CHELLIAH DAVID CHINNAKONE. Beloved husband of Gnanasoundari Chinnakone, loving father of David Jeyaseelan Chinnakone & Sarah Jeyarathy Mohan, grandfather of Dhivya Mohan, Harin Mohan & Jonah Chinnakone, father-in-law of Kandiah Mohan & Raji Chinnakone, brother of late Mrs. Jesupathy Kandiah, late Mrs. Radha Venayagam & Thirupathy Kanapathipillai, brother-in-law of Mr. Sangarapillai Balasubramaniam, late Mr. Sangarapillai Kandiah & Sangarapillai Yogarajah was called to be with Jesus on Saturday 12 December 2009. Funeral arrangements will be notified later.
27/Dec/2009
CASSIM MOHAMED NIYAZ SHUMS Beloved husband of Sithy Ferial, father of Fazna, Faziya, Rizna, father-in-law of Ziyan and Rishard, all of Canada, son of the late Senator Mohamed Shums Cassim and Sithy Shums Cassim, brother of Nizar Fawzia, Khazeena all of Canada and Ismeth. Janaza took place on 23rd Dec. in Toronto, Canada. 601-821, Kennedy Rd, Toronto, Ontario MIK-2E5.
09/Apr/2010
NAGESWARI NADARAJAH (MALAR) Born: 24 April 1923 - Died : 30 March 2010 of 20/24, Edensor St, Epping, NSW 2121, Australia formerly of J/6, Govt Flats, Bambalapitiya passed away peacefully aged 86 years. Was born in Taiping , Malaysia to late Arumugasami & late Rasamani. Dearly loved and loving wife of late W W Nadarajah(Ananthan), devoted and loved mother of Wijekumar(Ravi) and Rajkumar(Rajan) of Sydney, Shevanthi(UK), Rajanthi and Neelanthi(Baba) of Sydney and Dushyanthi(Dushy) of Brisbane and caring mother-in-law of Thuvaraha and Vasuki(Elili) of Sydney, K.Shanmuganathan(UK), V.Ravindra and M.Panchalingam of Sydney and K.Vaheesan (Brisbane).
10/May/2010
FERNANDO – Margie (nee Cramer), wife of late D.W.Shelton Fernando, mother of late Stanley and of Marlene, Carl and Wendy, on April 1, 2010.
27/Jul/2010
SAMAD - HAJIANI SITHIE AMEERA Wife of late Al Haj A.H.A. Samad, daughter of late P.R.M.S. Abdul Cader and Dane Ayou, mother of Ashra (Australia), Sithie Faira (Rosie), Bari (Canada), Dr Shanaz (Shan) (Sri Lanka), Liaquat (Lee) Samad (Canada) and Dr Imtiaz Renza (New York), mother-in-law of Deva, late Al Haj Z.A.M. Bari and of Behan, Edith and Aziza Hiyam, grandmother of Ashan, Tasha, Dr Basel, Shahryaz, Minousha, Dinesha, Chamithra, Reza, Tameez, Arin and Hana, great-grandmother of Kieran, Tahren, Keisha, Haneke, Aneesah, Amaan, Sulaiman, Anah, Alaia and Romrick, sister of late Sithi Baseera and Shafi Hassan. Janaza was conducted at the Islamic Foundation of Toronto on Sunday July 25, after Zhuhr Prayers Insha-Allah. 0011-9054753037 (Canada)


Dear Fazli

It is with much sadness that I send this message of sad news to you.

Wilma Dorothy Wickremaratne, wife of Claude, lived in the Bambalapitiya flats - Block H No. 5   2nd floor  
mother of Shirani, (USA)  Ewin (UK)  Vinitha (Dec)  Malintha (USA)  Hugho (Saucy  - AUST)  & Angelo  ( SRI L) 
migrated to the US in 1980's 
Grandmother of 10 and great grandmother of 6 
Sister of Adeline Chandrasena  of Block K  No. 2, 2nd Floor

Please send your condolence and sympathy messages to me at kumar@bambalapitiyaflats.com 
I will collate the messages and pass it on to the family.

Kumar Bhagwandas - Oct 31 2011

'Re-connecting Flatters & Friends from the 4 corners of the world
blogspot.com

A Family colored with Tie and Dye
The Sunday Leader July 22 2007 - By Ranee Mohamed

She discovered the art as if by accident and it became the craze of the '60s. The fashion world put a name to it, they called it `tie and dye.' And it raged on splashing colour all over the country. So bright was this riot of colour that the whole world stopped to gaze.

But what the reality that the vibrant colours of 'tie and dye' overshadowed was the fact that this art was discovered by a frail young mother of three in a warm corner in her home at the Bambalapitiya Flats, Colombo 4.

"At that time the Bambalapitiya flats were painted in pretty colours. The blue seas and the orange sunset gave me so much inspiration," said Swanee Jayawardene, the pioneer of tie and dye in Sri Lanka. Initially inspired by a famous designer of that era - Ena de Silva's creation of pebbles tied in fabric and coloured, Swanee's creative mind was immediately set off into a differently hued journey.


'No idea'
"I tied the fabric and put in the colour and had no idea what it would become. Then I discovered that there was 'no end to it.' With batik you know what to expect; with my new creation, I had no idea what to expect," recalled Swanee Jayawardene.

Jayawardene's new creation did not come as a surprise to those who knew her. Her artistic touch came from her heart and mind, and came in the form of not only tie and dye, but paintings and the way her rose garden at home bloomed.

The colours of her creation spilled on to her entire family. "My son was just five years old and he would help me with my tie and dye. He would abandon his friends who played various games with him on the staircase of the Bambalapitiya flats and join me to hold a saree or a piece of fabric for me," said Jayawardene fondly of her son Rohan who is now the 'man behind this colourful show.'

Jayawardene's tie and dye enraptured the world of fashion of that era so much so that several ladies involved their domestic aides in the tie and dye experiments they were doing at home on their not-so-new clothes.
It was a time when pioneers as Soma Udabage and Lena De Silva reigned supreme with their own unique creations. The tie and dye discovered by this celebrated art teacher of Bishop's College, also began to rage on. The high society ladies, the professionals and the politicians too were drawn to the colours as they were to the comfortable silks and cottons on which the colour seemed to have had their own way.


All over the world
Swanee Jayawardene's tie and dye crossed the blue seas and reached different parts of the world. It became particularly popular with the 'Hippies' of that era who basked in the comfort and simplicity that the art offered.
Jayawardene who taught art at the Bishop's College for 19 years soon found that she had to leave her job because she could not cope with the demand for her tie and dye. Swanee's Boutique then situated at Haig Road became the Odel of the 1960s.

As the years went by her son who held the edges of Swanee's fabric, shouldered the whole business. He became her representative, manager and the man who stood by her.

"We went to over 10 international trade fairs. My mother's creations took us to Italy, Germany, France, Japan, Egypt and several other countries. Her fashion show held in the early 1960s called Vilasitha, was the most talked about event in that era," recalled Rohan Jayawardene.


"Once we received an order for tie and dye from the Mitsui Company in Japan. When they received the fabric, they decided to pay more than double the sum quoted by us because they insisted that the creation was worth much more," recalled the Jayawardenes.


Many items
The things that Swanee could do with her hands were limitless - from tie and dye outfits of exquisite colour to appliqu‚ dresses, sarees, sarongs and carry bags; she created with her hands, mind and heart. As if all that were not enough she later discovered another technique called 'explosion' in which she combined her tie and dye colour splashes with batik designs, thereby creating a wholly new and striking look in Sri Lankan women.
Tie and dye, discovered by Swanee Jayewardene is still sought after in India and Thailand.


And her three children Rohan, Manel and Menik who lived amidst all the colour, happiness and creativity grew up to be just that. Swanee Jayewardene's daughters recall their happy days in the Bambalapitiya flats. They speak of the their happy life with their mother and father. Their father Harry Jayawardene had been the sports editor of the then Daily Mirror and had also been a medal winner in sports and a great singer.

Happily going back in time, they speak not only of the happy family life but went on to give vivid details of the delectable, home-cooked shorteats that they relished as children at the Milk Bar situated on the ground floor of the Bambalapitiya flats in the 1960s.

"Everything I have done in my life, I have done well. I have known only success. I have no regrets and look back on life very happily. I still remember my students at Bishop's College. Though hundreds of children have learnt art from me I remember a few students for their talent, ability and creativity. "I remember Shiranthani Gunasekera and Vinu Hemachandra and Einlal. There were several more whom I cannot remember now," said the 77 year old Swanee Jayewardene, going back in time.


Students still in touch
"I particularly remember Sicille Kotelawala, a very beautiful child. Not only was she beautiful, she was very talented too. She could do a multitude of things remarkably well," recalled Jayawardene. Sicille Kotelawala too has not forgotten. She is still in touch with her old teacher. Though several decades have passed, she finds the time to telephone this teacher and take her down memory lane. The passing years have switched the roles - Kotelawala now guides the teacher, with love, care and gentleness, through her senior years now.

It is amazing how a mother's creativity can extend to her children. Swanee Jayawardene is undoubtedly proud of her children. Her son Rohan brings her great happiness and confidence for Swanee's Boutique, an approximately 40-year old concern is still in existence. The business involves a special line of batik t-shirts and batik infused fibre glass tables, exotic umbrellas made of tie and dye and waterproof fabric attached to wooden framework.

Their products are sought after by not only the tourists but also the tourist industry in Sri Lanka.
Her creativity reached top hotels as the Tangerine Hotel in the south and The Citadel in Kandy. "We have been the creative link to several hotels and in these instances we work with the architects and decide on how best we can blend the colour with our own creations," explained Rohan.


Daughters to the fore
Swanee's daughters Menik and Manel are described as 'fine designers.' While Menik takes the art form from her family a step ahead by making a name as a teacher of jazz ballet; her other daughter Manel creates exquisite tapestries and paints on porcelain. "I also work with young people in theatre," said Manel and went on to say that her work gives her great job satisfaction while giving her the freedom to improve her artistic talent.

The way a mother lives her life can touch the lives of her children in the most unexpected ways. Swanee Jayewardene is the happy person who can look back to her youth and see only colour. "I am old and tired now. The past seems to have disappeared. I can only look back and admire the beautiful things around me," says Jayawardene. There is a tinge of sadness as she looks back at her happy life.

Decades ago, she was the designer, the creator and the celebrity whose name instilled awe. Her's was a name that was linked with the great artistes of our times as Harry Peiris, Ivan Peiris, Richard Gabriel, Lionel Wendt, Collete, Beiling and Manjusri. Today, she lives in solitude at her beachside residence in Dehiwala. There are no coloured roses in her garden now, only the coloured memories, and the fragrance remains.


People of the Bamba Flats - by Kamy Lye
Why was the Bamba Flats so Famous ??

You may want to talk about Politics, Sports, Entertainment , Talent or even Fashion you will end up at the Bamba Flats. From the mid 60`s to the mid 80`s , “it was theee place everybody kept en eye on”. (I mean the good eye !!)

Starting off with the Blocks in alphabatical order.

A: --“Abey”- from the Abeywickrame family who was famous for his Mode & Fashion Designing from the famous Duo “ Chandu and Abey”.

B: --“Johan Cook” - & Family who had the one & only Floral shop in Bamba- next to the Starline Pharmacy.

--“Hemish Paternot”- an amazing Ruggerite who went places with the Havelocks.

C: -- “Ravi Emmanuel”- another great Rugger player ,played for St.Peters College and then for CH&FC.

D: --“Desmond de Silva” - The famous King of baila who needs no introduction.

--“The Outschoorns” -a family of musicians who grabbed the scene in the 60`s & 70`s.
--“Rodney Rabo”- another Talented Guitarist and musician still in action & touring the night spots in Colombo.

--“Sonia Tucker” -Runners-upMiss Sri Lanka 1981

E: --“Christine Tambimuttu”- who needs no introduction in the Music & Showbusiness. Was execellent in Language Training.

--“Joe Tambimuttu” – an amazing Musician , The youngest Musician to Tour Mid-East with Ice & Fire. Performed with various bands. Was involved with many major projects such as “Jesus Christ Superstar” with Amazing Grace. Toured Europe with “Fame The Band”. Perfect Pitch was his gift!
F: --“Ranjith Ameresekara” a Ruggerite who kept the Peterite Flag flying. An amazing allrounder.

--“Iqbal Uduman”- Played Rugger for Wesley Collage.Had a very successful career at Havelocks Sports Club.

G: --“The Speldewinde Brothers Timothy & Kevin”- who really don’t need any introduction.

--“Mr.Balasuriya”-Secretary to the late President Premedasa.

H: --“Michael (Lal) De Silva”-, a member of the best “ Soft Rock” Band “STILL” Sri Lanka has ever produced. And a Member of the Famous “ Purple Rain “ touring Europe since 1980.

--“Sandy Hamid”- , a Sportsman who needs no introduction. Played for Isipathana College and then for “Havelocks Sports Club” and CH & FC. Represented the Sri lanka Rugby XV as well.

--“Chummy Pereira”-, former President of the Flatters Welfare association. The first in Sri Lanka to organize a Road Dance. The first to invite the former President of Sri Lanka Mr.J.R.Jayawardene for the Flatters Christmas Party at the Flats Sports Grounds.

--“Angelo Wickramaratne”-, his popularity says a thousand words. A peterite who just created an amazing name in the Cricket scene as well as in the Rugby. Played for St.Peters College and Havelocks and represented the Sri Lankan Rugby Squad.

--“Toni Amith”- Sri Lankas best Full Back ever. Represented CH&FC & the Sri Lankan XV. Now a great Refree with a great reputation.

--“Evans Cooray”- Press Secretary to the late President Premedasa.

I: --“Chandu” - from the Saluwadane family who was famous for his Mode & Fashion Designing from the famous Duo “ Chandu and Abey”.

K: --“Michael Muller”- another great Rugby player. Known as the Gentleman of Rugby.Great reputation as a sportsman. First with Royal Collage and then with CR&FC.

--“Noel Muller”- created a big name in the sports scene playing Rugger for Royal Collage and then for CR&FC.

--“Asith ( Kito ) Chandrasene”- , a guy who really went places in his method of drumming and entertainment ,performed with “Blue Saphires”

--“Noel Guneratne”- another amazing Ruggerite. Played for St.Peters.Was known as one of Sri Lanka`s best when it came to Skin & Deep water Sea Diving.

--“Ronnie Guneratne”- another good Ruggerite. Played for St.Peters & CH&FC.A great diver like his brother Noel.

L: --“Russel Kern”- Cricket was his major sport. Played for Wesley College & county cricket in Holland.An excellent alrounder

--“Dwight van Langenberg”- A Musician who really brought up the scene at the Flats. Played for the Very First Boyz Band that sri Lanka produced “ The Junior Rhythmiers”

--“Duncan Clyde”- an amazing Drummer. Still to be sopken about.

M: --“Faiz Ismail”-, ( Mr. Speedy ) an Isipathanien with colours. Played for Isipathana College and Represented the Colombo Schools.Proudly held many school as well as all island records in athletics.

--“Ray Perera”-, A name still spoken in the Cricket Scene.A gentleman and example to follow.

--“Raj Usoof”-, Zahira College and CR&FC – a Ruggerite with special colours.Continued Rugby at the CR & FC Club.

--“Shriyantha Rajakaruna”- Isipathana College and Cap. Sri Lankan Schools Rugby XV.

--“Papa Miskin”- The Famous papa Miskin Combo.Papa when it came to horns.

N: --“Shanaz Cassim”- A Member of the First Sri Lankan All Girl Band, played Keyboards for “ The Planets”

P: --“The LYE Brothers- Sherry & Kamy”- who represented Isipathana College Rugby XV. Ended up doing Music for their band “SKAR”, which was the first Sri Lankan band to be taken on Tour to Switzerland in 1980 through the Swiss Music Agency “Bugra Productions”. The first Band to Produce an Album in English, “Still in Love with you” which was released in Europe in 1986.

--“Najo LYE”-Represented Isipathana M.V in the U.15-U.17 Rugger teams and then played rugby at D.S.Senanayake College representing the senior team.A passion for music..Plays with Arpeggio Trio & 3.Dimension in Switzerland.

The Bamba flats produced some of the most outsanding men as well as women in the sports arena. History was made when the Bamba Flatters Rugby Team (BSC) beat the veteran team the “Pink Elephants” which was made of all National Rugby Players. Some other fantastic ruggerites beside those already listed here are Anwer Jaya,The Cassim brothers, namely Dilshan & Renza, Malla Selliah, Ralston Kern, Ruwan Rajapakse, Rohan Frugtneit, Rohitha Gamage, Hiran Salgadoe, Nimal Silva.………..

--“Bharatha Mendis”- (Mr-Speedy ) Represented Isipathana College and Trinity College and then Havleocks Sports Club.

--“Priyantha Devapriya Benedict”- A Ruggerite with a special image.
Represented St.Peters and Havelocks.

--“Rezano Rajap”- A Stylish and Stunning Ruggerite. Played for Isipathana College, Colombo Schools & Sri Lankan Schools XV. Created a big scene after scoring the winning try against The British Schools.

--“Wadham Dole”- one of the very first Jazz Percussionists Sri Lanka has Produced.

--“Chris Greet”- the guy who needs no introduction.The best in animation when it came to compering!!


School Days at the Flats

Every morning, like a prayer, the boys would get ready, ship shape with Brylcream shining along the sideburns, in immaculate white shirt and long pants, stroll along to the Bamba Flats bus stand by 7:45 am for school. There was Sunil Kumar Abeysinghe and Lakshman Kiriella (now a UNP MP from Kandy in parliament) from the flats, Nihal Canagasabey from Frankfort Place, and me, from the top of Sagara Road. Books in hand and wild thoughts in our minds we used to come together in soft whispers and great intrigue of what was in store for us this new day. And then the lovely lasses strode out in their nicely pleated and ironed uniforms. Everyone went quiet for a moment. The late Siromani Dias Abeygunawardena of Visakha (may she rest in Peace), Tanya Wanigasekera of Bishops from Hildon Place, the Pieris Sisters of HFC from Mary’s Road, Susan Bartels of Lindsay all the way from Dharamarana Road opposite the Savoy, Kurra and Aynul of HFC from Sagara Road, and the lovely Solomons sisters from the flats, who simply walked past all of us, making signs and gestures, on their way towards HFC on the seaside of Galle Road and SPM on the other side of the street.

It was never a case of waiting for a bus. We just whiled away our time there in order to catch a glimpse of the best gals from the area before we hopped into a 134, 155 or 106 to take us to Royal just in time for the first period at 8:40. The school bus was always given a skip since it was much too early to take that and miss out on all the fun.

The feeling of ownership of the area and all its inmates was hard grown inside all of us. We were the boys who ruled the roost and everything in the locality belonged to us. Amidst a few intimate connections and relationships between the whole gang life went on as smooth as ever and this was the place to be in the 60’s.

Novels, comic books and even LP records were the main medium of communication for discussion, exchange and sharing between the guys and the gals. We had to use something to break the ice and make the connection. Thank heavens for Gramophone. Elvis, Cliff, Ricky, Jim, Bing, Frank, Engelbert, Tom and the many great old crooners of the time were the topics of discussion most of the times. Everyone listened to Commercial Radio of the CBC, with Jimmy Bharucha, Vernon &Vijay Corea, Leon Belleth, at the mic and loved it very much. It was the only media of music that was available in the nation at that time.

Mr AHA Samad, rugby coach of Zahira which won the Schools Rugby Champiosnhip under his guidance, was another resident known and loved by all who lived at the flats. The Samads in Block J, the Udumans and the Hoffmans in Block F, all of which were located closer to and perpendicular to the sea. Delano Uduman is now chairman of Ssurvey Research Lanka Ltd at Skelton Road in Colombo-5; Lee Samad migrated with family to Toronto in Canada long years ago; Everard Hoffman and sisters too emigrated probably to Australia.

I used to get Rs 1.00 per day, from Dad, as pocket money. 40 cents was spent for the bus ride to and from Royal.

Another 30 cents was spent on food and drink at the College tuck. The remaining 30 cents was gold dust in our hands. Of course Mum and Grandma were always willing to dole out a quick fire Rs 5.00 on a weekend in the event something successful was lined up at the Savoy. Balcony tickets cost Rs 3.60 then. And what about Icy‐Chocs, Cadju packets and Coke, during the intermission? You can’t invite a lovely lassie to a movie and send her home hungry, can you? That was against the rules.  

Sunday mornings on the beach at Kinross was another exciting event we all looked forward to. Easy and relaxed, in our shorts and t‐shirts, we used to pass a rugger ball across and run along the sands, impressing the fairer ones with gusto and rhythm.

The community was one heck of a group where all races and ethnic groups came together in harmony as one. It is so sad that the same spirit of unity, love, and fraternity cannot be enjoyed by the modern generation of the people who live there now.


Mafiosi
The Bamba Flats also harboured an alleged “mafia” group of well attired young lads who endeavoured to impress the gals around, and, by alleged coercion, to “sideline” those who came over from “outside” to “cap” the gals.  Apart from a guy called “MB,”; slick-haired, dark, gaunt, hunched and feeble looking, who was supposed to be the best fighter, Jeffrey Zarin from Colpetty was considered topdog, amidst the short, fair and fat Joey Orloff; tall, dark and lanky Logasingham (who died in Germany), a small-sized torpedo called “Chiththa,”and a gang, which used to hang about the vicinity. The infamous Dole used to make some visits; there was a time when one Gerald Peiris, from Kandana or Jaela, happened to hop in to the Bamba Flats one morn, when he was confronted with Dole who thought he could trounce him. Peiris floored Dole with a couple of right and left hooks flattening Dole onto the tarmac, and left unobstrusively to the amazement of the gang which watched dazedly. Dole was later involved in a shootout with the Police and is thought to have died in the process.

There was also Milinda Caldera with his sidekick RA Perera, both slim individuals from Thimbirigasyaya, Colombo-5, who were generally feared.  Sometime in the 1960s, a dramatic instance occurred when ex-Royalist Hemantha Warnakulasuriya, PC, attorney-at-law & NP  (onetime SL ambassador to Italy), while watching a First XI cricket match at the Royal grounds, seated in the side pavilion besides his driver, was suddenly confronted by these two torpedoes. Hemantha’s devoted driver went into classic action swinging himself on the steel rail above and kicking out with his legs to floor both attackers to the ground!  The ubiquitous “one-cent (pineapple) toffee” seller and other spectators around watched in glee!


Alan Shelton Anderson, fair and tough-looking, who had his body and both arms upto his wrists tattooed, sporting a handlebar moustache, was another toughie who served as an unofficial chuck-out, sitting on the wall of the Polytechnic Ltd in Wellawatte.   



Lekha Studio

The Lekha Studio, facing Galle Road was a sprawling and massive old cottage style structure that offered high quality photography and development for the public. Equipped with modern technology it was manned by a very professional photography expert who also lived, with his family, at the back of the studio. The well moved lawn and foliage in the front yard was the envy of all who passed by.


Clifford Place

Clifford Place followed where the Zacky & Kuthdoos family lived. Rizvi and Ifthikhar Kuthdoos were the sons, who were part of the great cricket team down the street, while Fakhriya, Azhara, Mumtaz & Farahana Kuthdoos were the girls. Rizvi migrated to Vancouver BC in Canada with his family where he passed away in 2000. Ifthikar too passed away some years back.At the top of the street was the de Pinto family of which Claude used to be one of the lads who played cricket with the rest of the gang. Claude was a Peterite. Tony, who lived opposite Claudes place was also a Peterite and later went on to become a missionary preaching Christianity.

The Jesuit Missionary office is located down Clifford Place and extends backwards to Sagara Road.


The Lalvani's

The Lalvani Brothers famous for their import and distribution of “GOYA” beauty products, owned the last property down that road which stretched onto Sagara Road. It had a massive garden and house that accommodated Thaku Lalvani, wife and daughter, Dina, and his siblings. When the family was expanded and the children were growing up Thaku purchased a house at Thimbirigasaya in Colombo 5 and moved over.
The Lalvani Family was a large one, comprising four boys & seven girls). Of the boys, Thaku Lalvani passed away in 1979, Vishin Lalvani passed away in 1982. Mohan Lalvani who married Mohini Sitlani still lives in Colombo with his family. Of the girls, Ganga, who married Susil Moonesinghe, lives in Colombo as well. Of the remaining six sisters, three, Devi, Sundri, & Sheila have passed away. The others, Kala, Chandri & Mohini, one lives in India and the other two live in the U.S.

Ram Lalvani, husband of Sheila, passed away in Colombo on Mar 8 2006. His remains were cremated on Friday Mar 10 2006 at the General Cemetery Kanatte in Colombo 8. He leaves behind his children, Vinod (TVS Lanka (Pvt) Ltd.), Dhinesh (USA) and Vinitha (Australia), daughter in law, Veena (St. Thomas' Preparatory School) son in law Rufus (Australia), and his grandchildren Heeran and Nithin.

Tony Sitlani, Mohan Lalvani's Brother-in-law, of the Sitlani fame passed away in 2003. Tony's Mum, Brenda, also passed away in 2006.

The Hebtulabhoy family lived down Clifford Place, sons Abbas, Abid and Inayet. Abbas is the Chairman of M. A. Akbar & Co Ltd. (Akbar Brothers), one of the largest tea exporters in Sri Lanka today. Inayat is the Managing Director.

Abbas is a great sportsman. He swam the two miles swim from Bamba to Mount Lavinia on several occasions, He encourages all types of sport. Abbas Akbarally is now semi-retired but still interested in sport and maintains contact with his friends throughout the world.
A post received from Taju Akbarally reads as follows:-
UNQUOTE

Hi fazli and everyone else. This has indeed been one of the most nostaligic reads I have ever had. Wonderful recollection of the old times and many congratulations on an excellent job done.
Many may remember me as "Taju" from

Clifford Place
, where the Akbarally family lived and my uncle Inayet lives there till today. My father Abid and Uncle Abbas live now on
Layards Rd.
My grandfather Mr Akbarally and grandmother Shireen passed away some years back.

Warm regards
Mohammed
UNQUOTE

The Fernando’s lived at No 32 of whom Tilak and Angelo are the sons. Angelo is currently living and working in Arizona in the USA while Tilak presently lives in Negombo in Sri Lanka. Daughter Marinez has also migrated to the USA and lives in Arizona. Mr Joe Fernando passed away on Oct 16, 2005. He was a an old Peterite and served as a government school teacher, who taught at St. Aloysius College, Galle and Thurstan College, Colombo. He also served as the Vice Principal of St. Aloysius. Pics of the fernando family may be viewed at http://www.angelofernando.com/album/joe.htm

Manivannan is another name that comes to mind, yet whose whereabouts are unknown.

Jan Vanden Driesen (the famous swimmer and Accountant) and his family also lived at the flats. His dad was in the Police. Guy Thiedeman, who actually was the only Swimming coach for St. Joseph's College and coached all the swimmers such as Tony Williams, Randy Gray, to name a few, and who also coached Mark Spitz who later won an Olympic Medal, lived here too. He was the only person in the whole of Sri Lanka to have gone to the UK and trained and studied to become the only Athletic and Swimming coach from Sri Lanka. He was also a founder member of the Kinross Swimming & Aquatic Club, Most of his children now live in the U.K. and one in the U.S.A He and his family of 10 lived at Clifford place near the Kuthdoos's. He passed away in 1973.

Sagara Road

Sagara Road followed, where the famous Gomez family and the Maliban Mudalali, AG Hinniappuhamy had their homes. Christie, Blaine & Minzie Gomez were the three sons of Mr Gomez who owned and managed MP Gomez & Company in Colombo. The Gomez's had entrances on both Sagara Road and Clifford Place although the Sagara Road entrance became the main gateway to the Nirmala Jesuit Chapel when it was established by them within their premises.

The Weeratunge’s also lived down Sagara Road. Asoka Weeratunge’s wife worked for UNICEF in Colombo.

Following further down lived the Noor Mohideens, whose sons were Noor Hameem, Ramiz, Rizwi, & Reza, and the daughters, Kurrath Nissa (married to Azeez) and Aynul Rifaya (married to Ahmed).

The Farouks, whose wife, Sirreeya was the sister of Noor Mohideens wife, Azhara, who belionged to the family of Ahmed Lebbe Marikar, referred to as the “Shothian” family amongst the Ceylon Moors, lived next door. Their sons are Fazal (married to Farahana), Shiraz (married to Sarah), Feiroze (married to Jazeela), Rumi (married to Ifaza), Ifthikhar (married to Sabeera), and Thabriz, and the daughter, Fazneena who was married to Muhammad Badurdeen. M M Farouk was the son of Avoo Lebbe Marikkar Mahmoud and Zumrath Umma and served with M/S E B Creasy & Company Limited in the Colombo Fort for many long years before retirement. He passed away in 2003. His sons are all employed and living with their families as expatriate workers in the Middle East, mainly in Saudi Arabia, except for the youngest, Thabriz who is located in Bahrain.Two brothers of Azhara and Sireeya, Hussain Ramiz and Zuhair Ramiz also lived at the same location, since their family owned several houses down Sagara Road. They were the children of Ummu Zofi Shamsi Lebbe Marikar and Muhammad Ismail Ramiz who belonged to the “Jemmi” family amongst the Ceylon Moors.

Another famous and popular young man of the street was Nimal Jayatilleke, whose mother was a Burgher, who also was a keen member of the cricket team. Nimal took up employment on a ship and was away from the island for a considerable period of time sailing the seven seas. He has since migrated to Australia and lives in Melbourne now.

Mr George M Barrow was a noteworthy resident of Sagara Road. A significant feature of his large house was that it had a bell connected to the gate which the boys down the street loved to ring and run away much to his annoyance and yelling.

The Casiechitty's lived at No 39 and owned the last four houses on Sagara Road as well as on Castle Lane, south of it. All the cricketing gear used by the boys down the street was stored at No 39, their residence.

All the young lads down the street were part of the cricket team which usually played on the lawn of the last house on the right that belonged to the Lalvani family after they moved out.

The Casiechitty's lived at No 39 and owned the last four houses on Sagara Road as well as on Castle Lane, south of it. All the cricketing gear used by the boys down the street were stored at No 39, their residence.

Oswin and Romello Anandappa lived on the last house on the left by the railtracks at No 43. Their family lived there since 1940.

The following story has been received from Michael Kreltszheim, ex Sagara Road resident, now living in Australia, on Apr 14 2011:

quote

I have finally realised that FazliS is Fazli Sameer! I do not recall seeing you after I left Royal in 1965. I hope to be in Colombo in October this year for a Medical College get-together to celebrate our 40yrs since graduation. As is par for the course, the majority of the batch are domiciled overseas in either the UK or the USA. and many hope to make the trek back. There are only 5 in Australia. Rizwi Sherriff is one the stalwarts left in Colombo. Peroos who lives in Brighton UK, hopes to make it too. In our year group at Medical College Colombo, of a total of 165, I think there were close to 45 from Royal College, many of whom got in on their first attempt.

I have read and re-read F's place and have bookmarked the article which talks about the people who lived down the streets in Bambalapitiya. I was born when our family lived at 21 Sagara Rd, which was then the first house on the left, after the big garden behind your family home!,
We had eight children in the family, all of whom migrated to Australia starting around 1955. I was the youngest and last to migrate in 1973.

My eldest sister Anne,who as the first to migrate lived all her adult life in Brisbane and died there several years ago. My second sister Betty who was 80 last year still lives in Brisbane. My eldest brother Duncan died several years ago in Melbourne. He was a Stubbs Shield boxer at Royal and a tea planter prior to migration. Next was my brother Fred who played cricket and rugby for Royal and later rugby for Ceylon. He was a tea planter too prior to migration and now lives in Melbourne. Next another sister, Shirley and a brother Robin who both live in Brisbane, and finally Malcolm who was one year senior to me at Royal and is an architect in Melbourne.

My opposithe house neighbours in Sagara Road were the Anghie's.

Mr Anghie was the Hostel head at Royal before our time - Belleth followed him. Son, Tony Anghie, who was involved in the first ever [1962] coup [d’etat], was in the Army. [11th Defendant, Captain Anthony John Bernard Anghie, 3rd Field Regiment, was acquitted on 01.10.1964 at the close of the prosecution.] He lived in Melbourne but in now back in Colombo. Trevor Anghie is a doctor in Melbourne and Maurice the youngest lives in Perth. Another neighbour were the Hepponstalls who also migrated to Melbourne. Lal Gunawardena whose father was a doctor who lived down Sagara Rd, now lives in Canberra. I remember other neighbours faintly as I was about 7 years old when we left Sagara Rd., to live in Fife Rd.,- such as Belle Weerakoon the TT player who was my sister's friend., Mr Jacob in the next house and Mr Fretz further down the road. The Muttiahs who lived in the house just past the Hindu Kovil are also familiar. Tyrell Muttiah died in Ceylon, while the eldest bother Clarence Muttiah who was a doctor at Negombo Hospital also migrated and practised in Melbourne. What fantastic memories of good friends and neighbours and safe living in Colombo with walks to the beach, and the Bambalapitiya railway bridge to watch the anglers, and around to Rupee stores via Kinross Avenue to buy a chocolate! This would have been between 1948 to 1955

Kind regards, Michael
unquote


298 Galle Road

At the top of Sagara Road, facing Galle Road, smack bang in front of Lorenz Road, stood the famous Number 298, occupied by Muhammad Sameer, formerly of the CMC and also ex Managing Trustee of the Maradana Mosque. He was the son of Haji Ismail Effendi, a respected religious teacher and an Islamic scholar (Alim), and senior citizen within the Muslim community in Colombo. 

His mother hailed from the famous Cappodear family of Colombo, who trace their genealogy back to a place called Konya in Central Turkey in Europe. His maternal ancestors are reported to have arrived in Ceylon as physicians to the Sinhalese King way back in 800 AD.Sameer and his wife Raliya Noordeen, lived at 298 with some of their ten children who were yet to be married. Raliya was the oldest daughter of AC Noordeen and OLMALM Ummu Habeeba.


He was employed as chief clerk in the Veterinary Department at the Colombo Municipal Council, under an Englishman named Orr, and won acclaim and affection from civil servants such as H.E. Newnham, CMG, VD, H.P. Kaufmann, and W.L. Murphy.  Chief Clerk under an Englishman named Orr and won acclaim and affection from Civil Servants such as, H.E.


He was also a very active social worker involved with the Moors’ Islamic Cultural Home, Inc. in the Fort, Colombo. His research into the origins and heritage of the Ceylon Moors has been deeply appreciated by the community and his many writings on these cultural issues and topics are widely read and valued. He also contributed magnanimously to the first book on Sri Lanka Muslim Genealogy published by the MICH in 1968. He passed away peacefully at 298 on 21.11.1972 at the age of 82. His beloved wife, Raliya, passed away on 14.09.1968, and since her demise Sameer was a broken man. They had enjoyed more than five decades of happy married life and produced eleven children of whom one, Honey, had died in infancy.



An interesting episode in the life of Sameer, after his retirement, is the monthly trek he made by bus, accompanied by one or two of his many grandchildren, to the Colombo Municipality to collect his pension. The trip was gladly looked forward to by those who accompanied him as it was a delightful event filled with the many goodies of sweetmeats and delicacies he would purchase on the way back home. Almost all of his male grandchildren have made the trip at least once in their lives. The most frequent of them were Fazli & Firoze Sameer, sons of his oldest son, Thahir, who lived next door at No. 300.

Two of Sameer’s married daughters, Rameela, (married to AWM Ghouse), and Saleema, (married to MM Sheriff), had already moved out from 298, after their marriages, to Slave Island and Wellawatte, respectively, while the rest, together with three of the unmarried boys remained with them.Subsequently Noor Jazeela married Ibrahim Naina Marikar, Ameena married Ibrahims younger brother, Zain Naina Marikar, Sithy Rahma married Fareed Zaheed, son of Proctor NM Zaheed of Kotahena, and Farooq married Mazeena Junaid of Wellawatte, and continued to live at 298 until Farooq decided to move to a separate home of his own at Elibank Road in Colombo 5. Later, the youngest daughter, Khalisa married Faleel Sherriffdeen, of Mary’s Road two blocks away, and lived at 298 with her family until Faleel passed away. Sadiq, the youngest of the boys attended St. Peters’ College at Bamba and set off to the UK seeking greener pastures in 1958. He remained a bachelor and returned to Sri Lanka more than 40 years later to reside at Lily Avenue with his sister Noor Jazeela where he passed away after a brief illness.Eventually the families moved out of the grand old mansion at 298 to Colombo 6 leaving the old couple with Sithy Rahma and Khalisa’s family behind. Sithy Rahma has two boys, Rizvi Zaheed, presently an Exective Directorat Hayleys and Riaz Zaheed, who manages his own travel and IT training businesses in Colombo. Both Rizvi and Riaz attended Royal College, Colombo. Khalisa and Faleel have a daughter, Azra (married to Rizwan, formerly of Thomas Cook, now manages a travel agency in Colombo-4), who now runs his own travel company called Scenic Ventures Pvt Ltd, and a son, Falih, who works for a bank in Colombo. Faleel Sheriffdeen, a fun loving and much loved in law to the Sameer’s passed away some years back.

The family atmosphere that prevailed at 298, in those halcyon days, is unparalleled today. All the children, together with their individual families, converged at 298 on weekends and what a grand time they enjoyed. A softball cricket match was the order of the day, played on the side garden bordering Sagara Road. A sumptuous and steaming lunch, prepared by the womenfolk, served on long green banana leaves spread out on the floor was relished by all after a tiring outing on the playing field. Elephant House Ice Cream served in Family Blocks was the favorite for dessert.


#300 (Sukhastan)

Muhammad Sameer’s oldest son, Muhammad Thahir, moved into the adjacent twin house to the south of 298, at No. 300, soon after he married Ryhan Rasheed in 1943. Ryhan’s parents, Muhammad Rasheed & Ummu Thahira, and siblings, Zubair, Faiz & Ummu Naseeha, also lived with them at Number 300. Ummu Thahira’s mother, Zulaiha Umma Ahmed Lebbe Marikar used to visit and also stay over at 300 on many occasions, cycling her stay with her four lovely daughters.

Zubair Rasheed married Zuhry Razeen, daughter of MCM Razeen, step brother of Muhammad Rasheed, and moved to Canal Lane, and later on to Omlyn Place, in Wellawatte. They have three children, Roazna (married Naleer, onetime resident in the Seychelles, and now back in Colombo), Zulaiha (married Munzeer Zowhar, and Ejaz (married Hamziya, onetime employed and resident in Madinah, Saudi Arabia, and now back in Colombo). Zubair worked for EB Creasy & Company Ltd in the Fort, Colombo. He passed away sometime in 2011.

Ummu Naseeha married MIM Sahill from Matara and also moved to Canal Lane in Wellawatte, next door to Zubairs, and then later on to their own home at the Kiribathgoda Housing Scheme. Sahill worked as a shroff at the CTB after having served the Ceylon Government Railways for many successful years. He hailed from the famous Ibrahim family of Kotuwegoda, in Matara. They have four children, Rhusdia (married AMM Suhail of Station Road Wellawatte and now resident in the UK), Yasmin (married Faizal of Colombo), Azlaff and Zinnoon (married to Ajmal Muhammad), both currently live with their mom resident in LA in the USA.



Faiz Rasheed worked at the Port Cargo Corporation, and, after retirement, took to dealing in real estate. He passed away after a long illness some years ago long before his elder brother Zubair’s demise. Muhammad Rasheed passed away at 300 on 19.07.1968 and Ummu Thahira was deceased sometime in July/Aug-1979. 

Thahir and Ryhan had a daughter, Mumtaz, born in 1945 and attended St. Pauls’ Milagiriya, and two sons Fazli, born in 1948, and Firoze, born in 1950, who both attended Royal.Mumtaz married Zuhair Mohamed butwas divorced subsequently and sired a son, Nisthar Ali. She was subsequently divorced and remains single to this day.

Fazli, proceeded to University in Colombo and embarked on a career of Computingbefore moving out to Colombo 6 in 1974 after his marriage to Shirani Ibrahim, daughter of the late Customs Appraiser, Husain Ibrahim and Hibshi Mazaya Saleem, formerly of No 15, Mary’s Road in Bambalapitiya. They have two daughters, Melina and Nadia. The family left for greener pastures to the Middle East and have been living and working there as expatriate workers since 1979. Melina was married to Yousry Sheriff, son of Aamir Sheriff and Zehra Dastakeer, and is now divorced since 2004. 

He also was employed at The Chartered Bank in Colombo Fort from 1969 to 1979, Metro;politan Agencies Computer Division from Feb 1979 to Nov 1979 and then later on at Citibank, Colombo 3 from 1990 to 1991. The couple lived at Vihara Lane, Wellawatte, after their marriage in 1974, and since recent times have moved to Pieris Mawatha at Kalubowila, in Dehiwela, with their two grown up married daughters Melina a 2nd year external University Student in Sociology and Nadia a 1st year student external University of London in English Language. Melina and Nadia are also the pioneers of one of the fast growing schools namely, Horzion International school in Saudi Arabia, which has almost 800 students and are catering to the IGCSE and SAT.

Fazli and Shirani have two grand children, Maria who writes poems found her poetry in the first page of the World of Poetry dot com and Abdullah is a great sportsman having won trophies in his horse riding. They both attend a prominent school in Riyadh Manarat Al Riyadh. Nadia is married to the the son of Mr and Mrs Ashroff Husain of Rosmead Place (Batcha and Co. ) and nephew of M H Mohamed. 

Firoze Sameer pursued a career in accounting and finance, and married Qureisha, daughter of MYM Nizar, JP, attorney-at-law & NP, of Wattala. He too spent two years in Saudi Arabia, in 1980-82, prior to his marriage. Since then he was attached to STC General Trading Co., Ltd, a government-owned company, at Nawam Mawatha in Wekanda, Colombo-2, under the purview of the Ministry of Trade and the General Treasury, and, after over two decades, retired as company secretary/DGM in Jan-2005; he is now company secretary at the American Premium Group of Companies in Colombo-3. 
They have a daughter, Nabila, a graduate of the University of Monash, and a son, Yazdhan, midway through reading for his University of London degree in Law, and they presently live in Wellawatte. Nabila married Dr Azhar Munas, and she moved with Azhar to Australia in April, 2010.

298 and 300, which was named “Sukhasthan”, on Galle Road, were sprawling old houses that had gardens that stretched back down to almost half way towards the sea. They were twin and identical houses side to side like a mirror image to one another, in an L shaped design.

The two massive gardens were filled with lanky coconut trees and various other fruit trees comprising mango, guava, custard apple, lemon, banana, papaya, jam, jumbo, passion fruit, beli, tamarind, and almond (kottang). Each house occupied almost 65 to 70 perches of land in extent.

The two backyards were always filled with chickens, geese, muscovy ducks, goats and even a cow, that lived there.

It is said that both houses were built by the notable Muslim philanthropist, Wapchi Marikar Baas, grandfather of Sir Razik Fareed. He used the rubble from the existing old building at the Colombo Fort GPO premises, when he was commissioned and awarded the building contract to construct the GPO, which stands immaculate to this day, to build both 298 & 300 Galle Road. He also built the Colombo Museum at Colombo 7.

The houses were built in the early twentieth century and still stand tall and proud as significant monuments of the past. 300, has since been sold, sometime in the nineties, and now a car dealership operates within its premises.

An interesting memory of the fifties was when Thahir Sameer used to drive his sons Fazli & Firoze to school in his black Hillman Minx car, registration plate EL 1468, and picked up Philip Stork from De Fonseka Place and sometimes the Aziz boys from the Bamba Market area where they lived. Thahir owned a green Skoda, number CN 7522, prior to buying the Hillman. Before that he owned a maroon Ford 8 which was the pride of his possessions.Thahir passed away at #300 in 1989, at the age of 75, after suffering a stroke.


Castle Lane








The "Rook" at No 17 Castle Lane & Mrs Spillers Garden at Castle Lane seen over the wall of No 12
Castle Lane came next where the famous Ms Spillers (nee Ebert) and her ladies tailoring establishment thrived. Her business was a very famous and elite one patronized by all walks of society. She specialized in tailoring wedding dresses, mainly for ostentatious Muslim Weddings in Colombo. Her sister, Clementine, who was a spinster throughout her life, lived with her in the house. Mrs. Sipllers did not have children and left a major share of her property to the Church after her death. Her husband was an Englishman who worked at Millers Ltd, and they had a/c room for their numerous Scottish Terrier dogs.


The vast coterie of young ladies who worked for Ms Spillers were managed by a male supervisor and master cutter named Siriwardene. Siriwardene eventually married one of the girls called Hema and lived at the rear end of the house where they were provided with living quarters.

Siriwardena was killed in a tragic train-taxicab crash one night, with three others which included the driver, leaving one young survivor, at an unprotected railway crossing on his way back home from an excursion. It was a black Morris Minor taxicab which model used to be the typical taxi in those days.  They have a daughter who inherited part of the Spillers home by way of a will that was left behind by the lady. 

The house was a large one with lots of garden space at the rear abutting a large section of No. 300. The white and red Jumbo trees that bore fruit abundantly in the garden were relished by all the neighbors around.

The portion at the top adjoining Galle Road on the right side of the street was originally occupied by Mrs Spillers’ brother, Ebert, who had a son, Roger, and a daughter, Carol, who married a gentleman from the Caterpillar Company and migrated to Pocatello, Idaho in the USA. Roger followed in 1962, completed his national service in the USAF, and served in the UK in the Medical unit. They had a dog named Jock whom the family loved very much.

The property was later blocked off and sold to Dr Peter Fernando whose family lived in the house for several years before selling it to Chandra Senanayake Holdings, an automotive business enterprise managing the Volvo agency.

Dr. Peter Fernando conducted his private medical clinic at the top of Frankfort Place for a long period of time before he passed away. His widow and children migrated to the UK.

Abdul Hameed, who was a leading building contractor by profession, came to live down Castle Lane with his family in latter years. Haseeb, his son followed in his fathers footsteps and continued the building contracts that his late father established successfully.

Stanley Lumanauw lived at #12 Castle Lane right next to Ms Spillers residence. His backyard fence bordered the back garden of No 300 Galle Road. The house was owned by Mrs. Mignnone Jansen nee Ebert (her husband was Harbour Pilot then) who is also the sister of Mrs. Spillers nee Ebert. Stanley’s mother's was a Ms Walles connected to the race horse people who lived at Thimbirigasaya road, while his father Willem is an Indonesian national. After 1963, Stanley and family lived at #29 Charlemont (named after Charlemont Gauder) road Wellawatte till 1971, which was the one before the last house by Marikar Bawa's # 5 Station Road. At #12 lived Stanley’s mum's relative Mona Walles relict of Denzil, founder director of Rowlands Ltd. The Gauder family owned land from Frances road to Charlemont, at Wellawatte, in the early 19 hundreds.

Opposite #12 lived Dr. Nalliah.
Dr Nalliah’s nephew Ananda Chittampalam, who was a onetime vice president of the Capri Club in Colpetty, Colombo-3, lived in the same house. 

The neighbors towards the seaside viz # 14 & #16, twin houses, were the quarters of the US. Marine Corp. At #18 lived the Balasubramaniam's.

At #20 was "The Castle," occupied by the Shaideen family whose father was a medical practitioner at Wattala (Wattala Dispensary) and who moved in from Forbes road Maradana. The sons are Mohideen, Faizal, Zuhair, Shibly, Shualy. The daughters were, Noor Suhuda (married Faiz), Noor Muwaffika (married Khalid and moved to Canada), Fauzul Haniya (married Mackeen Sherriffdeen [brother of Faleel at No. 298] of Mary’s Road, Bambalapitiya), Riyaaya (married Rizwi Hafeel), and Mumtaz (married Mubarak).

On the opposite side lived the Shums family. Further down on the left in the one before
the last house lived elected Senator S. Nadesan, QC, (brother in law of the Maharajas) and the last house was occupied by a bachelor, Mr Rankine, a writer.

At the last house on the right lived the Muthubalasuriyam (Tamil family), of whom Rajan and Nirmalendran (now
an ascetic in the Himalayas) were brothers.

An interesting house down Castle Lane was named “The Rook,” where the Vilcassims from Galle used to live. An open garden area provided a small cricket ground for the boys to wield the willow. Faizal Quassim, brother in law of the Shums
family lived here.

At #22 lived the Amunugamas and at #24 the Somasunderams whose sons Sathikumar, Sivakumar and Skandakumar, retired Chairman of George Steuarts & Co Ltd, were all Royalists. Sathi was a very famous pace bowler for the Royal College Colombo Cricket XI. Sivakumar passed away early in life having met with a hit-and-run road accident one night on Galle Road opposite Castle Lane. Skanda also played cricket for Royal and moved to his own home at Frankfort Place in Bambalapitiya and now resides in retirement with his mom in the cool climes of the hill station at Haputale.

Right at the end of the street bordering the rail tracks was a very popular dancing school patronized by many who wanted to learn the rudiments of swinging their feet on the floor. The school was run by a Burgher family of Dutch origin.

Jiffry Careem and his family also lived down on the left side of this street in a mansion that he built since he moved in from Galle. One of his daughters is married to Faiz Mustapha,
PC, and onetime Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner in London; one of his sons married Farahana Mohideen from Pendennis Avenue, now Abdul Caffoor Mawatha in Colombo-3. Jiffry Careem died on his eldest daughters wedding night soon after the Nikah ceremony. His son, Hussain Jiffry, is a very famous bass guitarist, having played with Sergio Mendez band in the USA. Hussain lives in LA.
A summary list of the families who lived down

Right Side of the street:
2 Dr. Peter Fernando
4 & 6 The Spillers Family
8 & 10 Mrs. Jansen (later the Lumanauw’s and even later Mr Chanaka Amarasinghe, Leader of the Liberal Party)
12 & 14 The Nallasekeram's
16 Mr. Theivendran
18 & 20 Dr. Shaideen
22 Mr. Dunbar de Zylva
24 Mr. Latiff / Mr. Weerasinghe
26 Mr. Somasundaram (Sathi, Sivaku & Skanda)
28 Mr. Thambyrajah
30 Mr. Mervyn Casiechetty
32 Mrs. Perera
34 Mr. Muthubalasuriyar
36 Mr. Bandaranayake

Left Side of the street:
3 Perinpanayagam
5 & 7 Hamid
9 Nallainathan
17 Wickremanayake / Nair
25 Thiagarajah
27 Nadarajah
29 Shanmugarajah
31 Ms. Perumal
33 Menon
35 Nadesan
37 Rodriguez

Facing the Galle Road on the seaside, immediately after, was a sprawling old mansion with a large grass filled garden in front, owned and occupied by a Bohra family. The son popular known as Bata was killed by his own worker late one night over some financial dispute I believe. They have their shop called “AMSONS” dealers of sanitary ware etc.Right next to it was a small illegally constructed shack that served as a convenience store that offered small knick-knacks to its passer by customers.


Thereafter, lived the Wikramanayake family who were lawyers. Appointed Senator in 1953, EB Wickramanayake, QC, he was appointed minister of Justice on the resignation of Sir Lalitha Rajapakse on 07.11.1953 in the Sir John Kotelawala government). 

Sons, Elanga (ED) Devapriya, (solicitor-general in 1977), and Rakhitha were ex-St Thomas College students, good at cricket. Elanga  excelled in rifle-shooting winning the Governor-General’s Cup at the age of nineteen. Rakita was Chairman of Air Ceylon,and recently one of the sons, Nimal, was appointed as Crown Counsel in Australia, The first Sri Lankan to achieve this honor,The Wickremanayakes had a large property where cricket matches were played on Saturdays & Sundays.The other family was the Caders. Mr Cader was a strict disciplinarian. He had two extremely beautiful daughters, who had many admirers who were kept in check by son Latiff and another well known toughie.


Another family was the Caders. Mr Cader was a strict disciplinarian. He had two extremely beautiful daughters, who had many admirers who were kept in check by son Latiff and another well known toughie in the locality.

Herman Armstrong, married to one of the Rasanayagam girls, lived with the Rasanayagam family; a brother and two other sisters, Indira and Ansela, with their parents, resided in Castle Lane.

The ILM Zahir family lived at No. 21…

Next door, and on the corner at the top of Mary’s Road, was an Auction Room run by the Coomaravel family, which later was converted to a fast-food restaurant called Chariot, started by Ms Shiraz Thaha. Shiraz was married to a Sellamuttu lad and later divorced. The establishment was successfully managed by her ex-husband, Sellamuttu; Chariot has now shifted to the ground floor of a building – the former Europa house – which is located between Castle Lane and Sagara road on the seaside. 

Next door, and on the corner at the top of Mary’s Road, was an Auction Room run by the Coomaravel family, which later was converted to a fast food restaurant started by Shiraz Thaha, who was married to a Sellamuttu and later divorced. Currently the establishment is successfully managed by her ex husband, Sellamuttu.


Mary’s Road













Pics of Shelah Karunaratne's house down Mary's Road and a Birthday Bash at the Ibrahim's residence at No 15 and Hana Saleems wedding to Zackie Salih
Mary’s Road is a narrow street that starts at the Galle Road, almost opposite to Kensigtopn Gardens , and ends at the railway tracks.

The Senanayake family, descended from Canon Senanayake of St Paul's Milagiriya, and Christ Church Dehiwela and Thimbirigasyaya, owned all the real estate from the Galle Road end of Castle Lane to the beach front at Kinross Avenue. The Canon was married to a lady from the Obeysekera family and his children comprised a daughter who inherited all the property on Kinross Avenue, Brook, a son, who inherited the Mary's Road homes, another son who inherited all the property down Castle Lane, and the youngest, a daughter, who was married to Lady Molamure's (D R Wijewardene's wife, Ruby's sisters) son.

Brook was first married to a Ms Gooneratne and had two daughters from this union, the older of whom was Dora who inherited two acres of the Mary's Road property at the beach front end. The second daughter was killed in a fire.

On the death of his first wife, Brook married Laura Senanayake of Botale, who hailed from the Don Stephen Senanayake (first PM of independent Ceylon in 1948) family. The second union brought forth Griselda, who passed away early in life at the age of 29 and was married to Roland Seneviratne. Griselda and Roland had seven children of whom two passed away early at birth. They have two children, Lucien and Rowena. Rowena has a son Christopher and a daughter Sriyani.

Brook's second child was a son who also passed away early in life at the age of 19. He also had another son and his youngest daughter was named Phoebe who married a Karunaratne. Phoebe had three children of whom Shelah was the oldest and remains unmarried to date (2006). The second child is a son Haig who is also unmarried. The last child is Brian married to Thilaka and who have one daughter and four sons.

All of Brook's children and grandchildren live down Marys Road at No 8, 10 & 12 on the right side of the street when entering from the Galle Road. Brook was a Government Servant and passed away when his daughter Shelah was only 14 years of age.
Brian Coomerawel passes away in Colombo in July 2007:

COOMERAWEL - BRIAN CEDRIC COOMERAWEL Son of the late Kingsley Frank Coomerawel and Lorna Coomerawel (Australia), brother of late Zoe, Maureen (SL), Frankie, Caryel, Kevin, Christine and Jeromy (All in Australia), brother-in-law of Kumar, Zorena, Mohan and Tish, father of Natasha (Aust.), passed away on Saturday 6th July. Remains lie at Barney Raymond's Funeral Parlour from 9.00 a.m. on 09.07.2007 and thereafter cortege leaves the Parlour same day (9/7.2007) at 3.30 p.m. for Burial at the General Cemetery, Borella (Anglican Section) at 4.00 p.m. Daily News July 9 2007

Right behind to Coomerawels Auction Room on the right was a plot of land with a large Kottang (Almond) tree and opposite to it stood the large building facing the Galle Road which was occupied by a few families. One of the families had a daughter named Sriyani and a son, Christopher and they were, both, students at St Pauls Milagiriya. Christopher and Shirani Ibrahim, who lived at No 15, were in the same class at SPM. Their Mum was dumb. The Claessan family also lived in this building. Adrian Jansz, sister of Linda, also lived here with her husband until they left for Australia.

Behind their house was a small place where a Tamil family lived and the lady was referred to as 'Sinnamma'. They used to prepare Pittu and Stringhoppers together with Babath (tripe) curry and their daughter used to deliver the food to the homes down Mary's road.

Here, on the left, lived the Bartholomeusz family at No 9, “St Bee’s”, the head of whom were Francis Carlisle Bartholomeusz & Esmee Bertha Susannah Maynert Herft. Francis used to be the Santa Claus at the annual XMas parties that were held at the Motha residence in Wellawatte.

Their children are Carol (married Frederic Renshaw Clarke), and moved over to a small flat down St. Peters Place. Allister (who was born on April 30, 1934, married Christobel Ebert), Myrna, Ioni (married Jerry Carroll )and Heidy (married Laurie Munding).

Allister was a keen supporter and member of the Kinross Swimming and Aquatic Club on the beach at Wellawatte. He was also a champion swimmer at the Kinross Club and tied for third place in the two Mile sea swim from Mount Lavinia to Wellawatte held in 1954. he held the posts of Club Captain, and was a Bronze Medal Holder of the Sri Lanka Swimming Association (SLSA) in and around 1959. He was the youngest ever Hony. Secretary of the CASA & Kinross Club, and a delegate. to the CO &CGA.

He Capped for Ceylon in 1956.

The family migrated to Australia and live there now with their respective families.
At No 15, “Trevine”, 17 & 19, Mary’s Road lived WM Saleem and three of his sisters, Safiya Umma Wapu Marikar, (wife of Uduma Lebbe Marikar A.L.M), Ummu Saeeda Wapu Marikar, (wife of Shahul Hameed Abu Bakr), and Zainambu Wapu Marikar, (wife of ACA Hamid) and their respective families. All three properties were owned by Safiya Umma, who had no children, and who, thereby, bequeathed No 15 to her brother WM Saleem, and Nos 17 & 19, jointly to Ummu Saeeda and Zainambu as undivided co-owners.The Wapu Marikar (WM) siblings were the children of the late Wapu Marikar Sheikh Marikar & Mariam alias Puwachi Umma (sister of Shekadi Marikar Cassim Lebbe Marikar’s wife).

The rest of the siblings who were not resident at the Mary’s Road were, WM Abdul Jabbar, (father of AJM Jameel, AJM Anver and AJM Sadiq), Habeebathuz Zohra, (wife of Sahib Thamby, and mother of STA Wahid, STM Samsudeen, & Noor Nasiya Kurhdoos), WM Thaha, (father of Saleema, Sithy Rahma, Mubarak, Noor Musafer, Mymoon Ghouzul Ameer, Noordeen, Mahmood, Zafrullah, Moomin Zubair, Ni’amathullah, Fathima Honeya Sherrif Nizar, Abdul Jabbar, and Usman), WM Hassim, born 26-Jan-1880, died, 6-Jul-1960, (married to ALM Ummu Nafeesa - daughter of OLMALM Alim - and father of Thaifoor, Kamil, Ahamed Jameel, Sithy Latheefa Jameel, Mohideen, Noor Na’eema Sadiq, Ameen &Sulaiman), Mahmooda Umma, (wife of Ahmed Lebbe Marikar O.L.M. and mother of Shahabdeen, Razeen, Na’eem, Nazim, & Zubaida Umma Hassan), and Zavahira, (wife of OLM Zainudeen and mother of Noor Saneena & Moinudeen).

WM Saleem had three wives. His children by his first wife, Noor Naleefa, were Ahamed Shaharan (married Iynul Huzaima Abdul Basheer of Kandy), Hibshi Mazaya (married Husain Jiffry Ibrahim of HM Customs, Colombo) and Hibshul Hana (married to Zacky Salih of Flower Road, Colombo 3).

His second marriage to Sithy Lareefa from Galle had no offspring. His third to Sithy Shareefa Ahmed Lebbe Marikar, produced Khaneema (married to MSM Ozeer of Dematagoda), Zackiya (married to M Mansoor Hassan), Fareeda (married to M Nuhman Noordeen, son of Sithy Saleema Thaha, brother of Mubarak Thaha) and Hamza (married to Ummu Saliha Ansari of Bandaranaike Mawatha Colombo 12). The children moved to different locations within Colombo subsequent to their marriages and Fareeda and her daughter, Dina & family, still live at No. 15 having inherited part of the estate of her father after it was sold and disbursed subsequent to the heirs after his death.

Shaharan Saleem and Iynul Huzaima Abdul Basheer had three children, Thasneen, Ummu Zuhard and Imran Fekhrishta. Thasneen married Rafi Ismail bin-Hassan from Negombo, and have now moved to Vajira Road at Bamba, while Ummu married Nawaz Saleem of Bagatalle Road in Colpetty and has moved in there. Imran married Dina Bari of High Street (WASilva Mawatha) in Wellawatte and divorced her subsequently. He then married Sharmila Farook of Pennycuick Road at Wellawatte and is also divorced from her. His third wife Zeeniya Mujahid is also from Nelson Place in Wellawatte. Imran lives and runs his own tourist guest house, called Maple Inn, down WA Silva Mawatha at Wellawatte.

Husain Jiffry Ibrahim & Hibshi Mazaya Saleem had four children, Firoze, Shirani, Jasminah & Fairuf.

Firoze married Bisreeya Ahamed, formerly of Asoka Gardens in Bamba, and embarked on a career of Draftsmanship and Architecture, venturing into building construction. Subsequently he moved to Dhahran in Saudi Arabia and then to Hafar Al Batin in the north where he spent many years with the Ministry of Defence project there. He, subsequently returned to Colombo and spent a few years with his family before embarking to Dhahran once again to work with the Royal Saudi Air Force where he is attached to now. He now specializes in fresh water treatment.

Shirani married Fazli Sameer of No. 300 and Jasminah married Faizer Zahir of Castle Lane. Fairuf married Zaheena Subair from Mount Lavinia and was killed under tragic circumstances in a car crash in Riyadh on Dec 31, 1996. He worked, initially, at Jafferjee Brothers in Colombo and then moved to Dhahran and Riyadh in Saudi Arabia where he was employed by GAMA, a hospital management project attached to the Sports Medicine Hospital, and served them until his demise. The Ibrahims moved to St. Peter’s Place at Bamba, and, on the early death of Husain moved, once, again to Vihara Lane at Wellawatte. Hussain died suddenly of heart attack in 1963 at the age of 44 while delivering a speech as the Presdient of the Customs Officers’ Union at the Galle Face Hotel in Colombo. Hibshi passed away at Vihare Lane in 1996.

Zacky Salih & Hinshul Hana Saleem had seven children. The last one died at child birth. Fidha, Shiraz, Moreena, Faris, Fahmy, and Shahul Hameed were the others. Fidha married Razana and passed away after a sudden illness after the pilgrimage of Hajj in Makkah. Shiraz married Faizeen Haniffa from Kandy. Faizeen used to work with Sifani Jewellers in Kandy and Colombo and then moved to Jeddah, where he served with the Intercontinental Hotel for several years before returning home to Colombo to roost. Moreena married Faizeen Hassim of Alexandra Road in Wellawatte and has eben working with UNICEF for the ast three decades. She and her family moved to Kazakhastan and served the UNICEF there for several years and have since recently moved to Bangkon on a new assignment. Faris married Fazna Mowjood Nafi of Habib Bank and Shahul married Fazmina Alavi Muhammad. Fazmina passed away after an illness in 2003 after having lived in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia where her husband, Shahul Hameed, is employed. The Salih’s moved to Swarna Road at Havelock Town and then again to Kalyani Road in Kirulaponne where Hana passed away in 2002.

Khanima Saleem married MSM Ozeer, who passed away in 2003, and now lives with her children at Model Town Road, Ratmalana. Her children are Mafooza Samsudeem Dr. Shahnaz Ozeer (married to Dr. Nazli Zainab and migrated to Australia), & Shanooz Ozeer (married to his first cousin Minna Saleem, daughter of Hamza Saleem. During a recent visit, in August 2006 to Khanima's place in her quiet home at Ratmalana, she narrated an interesting story of how a burglar was caught down Mary's Road during the old times a few days after her fathers demise.

The crook had been stealing from many homes down the street and the people and Police were vigilant and making every attempt to catch him. On one occasion the thief was hiding under a table at the Saleem's residence and Khanima and her step sister Hana spotted him. Hana got cold feet and ran away but Khanima was bold enough to start the screaming and shouting to alert the neighbors and the Police who came rushing to her aid. The rogue jumped across to the Bartholomeusz's at No 13 but was finally apprehended and marched away to the police station. The next morning newspaper carried the story relating the brave attempt of a 14 year old conservative Muslim girl who helped to catch the elusive thief down Mary's Road.

Zackiya Saleem, who married Muhammad Mansoor Hassan passed away in 1981 now lives down Fredericka Road at Wellawatte. Her children are Imthiaz (married to Mueeza also of Fredericka Road), and Rizvi (married to Aynfa Haleem of Nawalapitiya). Both sons were bankers in Colombo and subsequently moved to take up employment with banks in Saudi Arabia where they are resident now. Imthiaz has moved out of the banking sector to take up employment with a large private sector corporation in Jeddah, while Rizvi and his family live in Riyadh.

Fareeda Saleem & Nuhuman Noordeen (son of Saleema Thaha and grandson of WM Thaha) lived at 15 Mary’s Road where Nuhuman passed away suddenly in 1979. Her daughter Dinazad, son in law Malik Ashraf Ali and their son Nuhuman now live on the upper floor of the same residence at No 15. Her other children are Yousoof (married to Farah Salih), Asgar Ali (married to Amana Sufi Ismail ) & Mohammed Ali (married to Farwin Muhammad) and now in the USA.

Hamza Saleem and his wife Ummu Saliha Ansari, of Bandaranaike Mawatha, Colombo 12, now live at Ratmalana. Their children are Muhammad Shezmin (USA), Fathima Minna (married to her first cousin Shahnaz Ozeer), and Muhammad Shazleen.

At No 16 on the opposite side of Mary's Road is now occupied by Ms Ghaneema Muhular, daughter of Thoplaan Sheriff Hajiar of Davidson Road. Her son in law is Jazeem Hajiar of Iqra Travels

The Sherriffdeens who lived next of whom Faleel married Sithy Khalisa Sameer of No 298, Galle Road, mentioned above, and Mackeen married one of the daughters of Dr Shaideen, Fauzul Haniya, of Castle Lane, at Bamba. Mackeen passed away in May 2005.

Alavi Sherriffdeen married and moved to Dickmans Road at Bambalapitiya. Sulaiman married Khairi and the youngest Yehiya was attached to the Sri Lanka Air Force.

Of the daughters, Sithy Fathima married Ajward, Saliha married a doctor and moved out of Colombo, Noor married Mubarak and moved to Wellawatte while Badri married Zachraff Azeez and moved to Mount Lavinia.A Japanese fishing crew moved into No 19 after the Sherrifdeens moved out. They were there for a short time and when their business didn’t succeed they moved out.

The Lye family, members of whom were Xirach, Okley, Sydney, Patricia, & Amy, lived next door at No 19. Okley passed away in Canada in 2005. Amy is married to Asad Amath (old Pete) and left Sri Lanka for Montreal, Canada where Sydney and Okley were already established. She has two daughters, Anika, born in 1981 and Amara, born in 1986. Anika graduated with a BA in Criminology. Amara is a second-year student at McGill University majoring in Political Science.Amy worked as an Executive Assistant in an insurance brokerage company until she took early retirement in 2005 and is now into handicrafts and sells her work to clients and friends, a hobby which she is very happy with.

Then came the Bilimorias, Sattars and the Pieris families in succession. Fricky Khan, the well known racing driver belonged to the Sattar family with his brother Azeez Iqbal and Yousoof and sister Abida. Indrani and Chitra Pieris, who attended Holy family Convent at Bamba, are members of the Pieris family. The Wimalaratne’s and also the Billimorias, together with their twin daughters, Shereen and Sonia, also lived here.


Mr. Abbamia and a partner of A. A. Sattar & Co.having their shop at 2nd Cross St. in Pettah and were whole sale cloth merchants.  Actually, his partner lived in our apartments at Schofield Place. They were Pakistanis and the boys of the 2 partners were good friends and we played hell those days.

Mr. Abamia had 4 sons and one daughter the youngest. Aziz, Farook ( Fricky Khan ) the bike racer, Bachoo ( Who commited suicide by drowning in the sea when he heard that Farook passed away ), Yusuf and Farida Banu, the only daughter.

All the boys were Thomians. Fricky Khan was a great bike racer and was unbeatable in India too. He was riding a Yamaha 350cc in the late sixties.  Of course, that is nothing nowadays. 

The right side of Mary’s Road began with the Coomaravel Auction House whose entrance was titlted at a 45 degree angle to the Galle Road. Right behind it lived Sriyani and Chrsitopher followed by a large open and spacious garden which was famous for its Kottang (Almond) tree where all the youth of the neighborhood used to haunt.

A family lived in a small house within this garden and used to eke out a living by preparing String Hoppers and Pittu which were quickly snapped up by the rest of the residents for their evening meals.Brian Karunaratne and his family lived next door, followed by the Goonerwardena’, Navaratnams who sold thehouse to a Muslim shipping owner and at 18 was the Saverimuttu namely Dharman, Patricia and Sushila.

The Serasinhes, Ebels Pereira (Dutch Burgher), Livy Wijemanne Radio Ceylon announcer and Walcart show organizer and Noor (Borah) familes followed. Mrs. Constance Serasinhe was the Medical Officer in Charge of the O.P.D. at the Lady RidgewayHospital, the leading Paediatric Hospital in Sri Lanka. She had one son, Preman who is now a lay preacher.

The Vallipurams, a Tamil family, lived in the last house.


Opposite the Vallipurams lived Fr. Christian Thambimuttu and his family. Fr Thambimuttu was associated with St Paul's Milagiriya. His son Cuthbert (Tubby) Thambimuttu is an entomologist/rare book collector in America. Both homes have now been torn down to make way for the Marine Drive, now called the Colombo Plan Road. 

Mr Malcolm Nicolle, a renowned auctioneer and broker in Colombo, also lived down the street during its latter years, and spent his last days there, living alone, in an annexe of the Saverimuttu residence.

A very straightforward, no-nonsense type of an individual who epitomized the classic Burgher gentleman of yesteryear, Mr Nicolle, well-dressed and seen sporting a hat, had a typical cut-and-dried, upright manner in dealing with those with whom he interacted. A man full of integrity, enthusiasm and humor, with the sun in his eyes. He was a great friend of MT Sameer, Licensed Surveyor and Leveller, who lived at No. 300 Bamba. An able chess player, he used to win all his games with Sameer’s younger son, Firoze, in the late 1970s, when he used to frequent No. 300. When MT Sameer died on November 03, 1989 at age 75, Mr Nicolle lost a great friend, and he visibly wept at the funeral.

Mr Nicolle died at a ripe age sometime in March 1993. The Daily News report on Tue., August 17, 1993, read thus:

“Malcolm Nicolle dies
“Malcolm Nicolle, who was a landmark figurein Hulftsdorp for long years, known to generations of the legal fraternity, had passed away this March, unknowen even to his daughter, Yvette, son-in-law, Godfrey J. Andriesa, and grandchildren in London.
“Nicollle had lived all by himself in Colombo corresponding with his daughter and grandchildren.
“When communications stopped, Yvette and Godfrey came here to find out the reason.
“They came to the Daily News office last Friday, to say that following inquiries made to friends and relatives, it was revealed that Nicolle had died.
“Yvette said:- ‘Despite Nicolle being such a well-known figure as a court auctioneer and broker, even his close relatives and friends did not know of his death.’
“Nicolle’s expertise as a chess player was legendary in the Central YMCA. One of his closest associates was Dr Alan Rutnam.
“He was also a keen sportsman and cricketer, a member of the Colts Sports Club, and the Turf Club.”  - ABM

In the 1950-1960 years, Marys Road residents considered themselves as one large happy and united family where everything was done collectively by the neighborhood with unity and strength.

The Goonewardene family also lived here prior to moving to Vajira Road, Bambalapitiya.
Another significant family down Mary's Road at No 24 were the Pereira's who comprised of Dolart, Deloraine, Macky, Roger, Yvette and "Small Boy" who was tragically killed in a bicycle accident. Jerry Pieris and "Small Boy" were rushing home to beat the curfew when they met with an accident which killed "Small Boy" Jerry broke his leg in the incident. Jerry has since passed away and his brother Frank is now married to his widow.

The Fernando's lived at No 17. Mr & Mrs Fernando were referred to as Aiya and Amma and were the head of the family. The children were Matilda, currently resident in South Africa, Rani, Jerry (UK), Rose (last heard of as a Nun), Guy, Jean, Antoinette (South Africa), and Sherine. They, subsequently, moved to Charlemont Road at Wellawatte.

Mr & Mrs Carwallio also lived down the street. Their family comprised Jennifer, Stanley Benny & Wife. They moved to Kensington Gardens, in Bamba, in 1962 and then on to Arethusa Lane at Wellawatte.
Mrs Serasinghe was a widow and worked at the Lady Ridgeway Hospital. Her son, Preman, is now a Priest. The Vallipurams, a Tamil family, lived in the last house.

Many residents still reminisce of the old days they spent there in excellent peace, tranquility and harmony.


The Free Town Boys
PLEASE MEET MY COUSIN OF FREE TOWN BOYS

Francis lived in a big house down a narrow road, between Kinross Ave and Castle Lane in Bambalapitiya. He was always my favourite cousin, friend, mentor, and guiding light during those early days of my childhood. I always looked up to him for guidance and knowledge. He taught me both the good and bad things in life, and still earned my respect, as he would radiate a great feeling of love and kindness whenever I was around him, that made him more like a brother to me than a cousin.

Francis had many skills, one of which was being Secretary of the Free Town Boys Cricket and Athletics Club of that narrow road he lived in. He was a third generation member of a well known family, and so enjoyed the privilege of this office. As the club name suggested membership was free and the only qualification was that you had to be a resident of this road.In my case, the requirements were ignored, for after all, I was the cousin-brother of the Secretary. He ran this club successfully with no financial backing, and the Club did not even seek a donation from anyone. May be this was a good thing in a way, as the only beneficiary could have been “ Saraswathie Lodge”.

Some one had to only come up with a cricket ball, and out when a host of written letters inviting other clubs to participate in a game of cricket. Some of the names of these clubs that come to mind are “Dead End Kids C.C.”, “The Golden Eagles C.C.”, “ Silver Arrow Sports Club” and “ Royden Cricket Club”.
I remember very well the opening paragraph of this letter ……Quote “ We the members of the above mentioned C.C. challenge you to a game of cricket on this day the…….in month of…….. in the year of our Lord 19……., notwithstanding, the terms and conditions herein stated.” Unquote.

This document sounded more like something coming out of the Attorney Generals Department than from a club of meagre means.On the morning of the match, Francis would be up with the birds for there was work to be done, firstly the venue had to be booked, by this I mean stumps put in place and someone of authority (in other words a toughie) left at the grounds to ensure all went well when we arrived ,by then other clubs too would have arrived and there were more stumps planted, more than even crosses found in Kanatte.
At times you really did not know whether you were batting against or bowling to the right opponents. ".
Some of the grounds we played at were St. Peters, the Golf Links down Greenlands Rd., the park next to the BRC, Kotalawella Gardens, Shruberry Gardens and the Seminary grounds with all but five hundred coconut trees.

Francis had still more work to do…... like visiting the homes of all the players confirming availability, as at times some would be grounded for domestic reasons, then there was cricket gear to look for, this was easly solved by picking a rich kid with plenty of gear and no cricketing skills.

Makeen S was captain, and our opening bowler was a demon called Johnny R., he had a slinging action, and every ball he bowled was a thunder bolt, but sadly accuracy was not part of his repertoire. The first ball could be aimed at the batsman’s throat, the next would sail over the wicket keepers head, and the next would have third slip running for cover, but whenever he got it right, he either broke the stumps or the batsman leg, for we wore only one pad. It was regimental, that after every over J.R. would reach for his comb and rearrange the “ Yankee Puff “ that fell half way down his forehead.

John M. was wicket keeper, and got the job as he owned one and a half wicket keeping gloves. We shared equipment with the other teams and vice-versa,and in days gone by “Helmets “ were not even worn in Toobruk..

Raju was our umpire , and the very sight of him was enough for the opposition to summon the ICC. However with a promise of fair play he was allowed to take his place.

If in anyone today thinks Darrell Hair is biased and controversial, then Raju set the bench mark.
Faleel, was a important player in the side and whenever we could not get a batsman out he was sent to the position of short leg to taunt and frustrate the batsman into loosing his wicket. The plan always worked.Some of the other members of this honourable side were, Allister B. (Francis), Hamza S., Haig K., Guy M., Farooze, and Ian H.

At the end of the day the game of cricket was played as only gentleman will , and maybe the time has come for of our international sides to learn how the game should be played from our humble beginnings.Finally, it is with great sadness that I have learnt that some are no longer with us, and although some of us have moved to alien climes, I hope that when the time comes for us to abide, our souls will return home to rest in better places in better times.

Ian Hepponstal


Kinross Avenue

Kinross Avenue boasted of a very wide and short street with many luxurious mansions. The Affans, brother of ARM Mukthar, and his family lived there in a large house whose roof wasl painted green.


It was rumored that Mukthar, who was a top sporting mandarin, had won a house in Kinross Avenue over a bet taken with Cyril Gardiner, and had subsequently transferred it to his brother, ARM Affan, who occupied the green-roofed house with his family. Such were the high stakes in betting by the magnates of yore!


After Kinross Avenue, a row of shops faced the Galle Road and also St Peter’s College on the landside.

Sun Dial, a watchmaker, owned and managed by a very illustrious personality in Mr Felix Fernando, who offered watch-making and maintenance services. Fernando was also a great philosopher and wrote many interesting books and poetry on his thoughts and discourses, which included not only on Buddhism but also on Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. He had a pleasing personality, and spoke lucidly in English.

Several other shops lined the rest of the Galle Road to Ridgeway Place. The famous Rupee store.

Kinross Ave was noted for its large homes. Down this road lived the family of Sir Chittamplan Gardiner, The Williams family, son Rajah of Trinity/CR&FC and Ceylon fame, Irene Williams champion female athelete of that era.

The Garnier family – son Geoff of Rugby fame – St Peters/Havelocks/Ceylon and later a planter.

The Samuel Family – owners of Samuel Bros, who helped by donating material to the Kinross Swimming and Life Saving Club.

Another name that comes to mind down the street is Jit Pereira.

The last home was occupied by Mr Jansz, Municipal Magistrate who supported the KS&LSC with encouragement and assistance in the Clubs activities, knowing the contribution made by this Club to the public.

Between Kinross Avenue and Ridgeway Place was situated the Rupee Stores where you could buy every type of merchandise under the sun. This store served the need of the local community adequately.


Incidentally, it was at the tail end of Kinross Avenue by the rail tracks that some of the alleged key conspirators of the 1962 coup d’etat met that fateful night of 27 January, 1962, before the signal for action was given.


The Kinross Swimming & Life Saving Club

The Kinross Swimming & Life Saving Club was originally locatd on the beach at the end of Kinross Avenue and was subsequently moved furher away to Wellawatte at the end of Alexandra Road, where it still stands. An interesting account of the club sent in by Allister Bartholomeusz from Australia is given below.
On the Beach stood the Original KS&LSC – established in 1940 . This great Club produced several Champions in Swimming & Aquatics. The Club produced several outstanding spear fishermen and introduced the sport of spear fishing to Ceylon. To name a few, the legendary Gerd Von Dincklage, Ralph Forbes, Tissa “Saigon “ Ariyaratne, Rodney Jonklaas, Hilmi Khalid, Turab Jafferjee, Langston Pereira, Ron Bartholomeusz, Hildon Bevan were all world class spear fishermen. Rodney Jonklaas was an authority on marine life. Rodney invited Sir Arthur C Clarke and his companions Mike Smith and Tony Buxton to explore the wrecks off the coast of Ceylon and film the magic of the sea and glorious reefs of this magic Isle. Rodney Jonklass was the Assistant Superintendent of the Colombo Zoo in the days when the Dehiwela Zoo was one of the best in the world, The Superintendent of the Zoo, the legendary Aubrey Weinman also had a close Bamba connection.

The Kinross bathing enclosure was situated opposite the site of the original KS&LSC. The enclosure was located in the sea. It consisted of two rafts and several orange barrels placed in a semi circle, a relatively safe bathing area for both bathers and swimmers. This was the idea of Mr. Guy Thiedeman, a champion athlete – Municipal Playground instructor and Lifesaver who resided in the area. However, several incidents of drowning did occur which prompted Mike Sirimanne, who was a regular swimmer, to decide that it was necessary for the presence of Life Guards. Mike with the help of his close friends, Herbert Pathiwela, Elmo and Lou Spittel, Anton Selvam, Ron Kellar, Basil Misso, Hugh Stewart were the first life savers, who received their training from Guy Thiedeman and later on Harry Nightingale, an Australian who introduced the Australian method of Surf Life Saving. This gave birth to the Kinross Life Saving Club in 1941. The club sought and obtained affiliation to the Royal Life Saving Society of U.K. and the Surf Life Saving Association of Australia. In the course of time the club ventured into competitive swimming and other aquatic sports and was named the Kinross Swimming and Life Saving Club with Guy Thiedeman the first President and Mike Sirimanne, the Legend of Kinross Club, General Secretary.

The original HQ of the Club was a shack build by the founders on the beach opposite Kinross Avenue. The K.S & LSC soon became a byword in swimming and dominated the Two-Mile Sea Swims. Swim Champions Gerd Von Dincklage, Ralph Forbes, Hugh Stewart. Hilmi Khalid.Carlislie Chalon, Allister Bartholomeusz, Ian Kelly, Tony Williams (1960 Olympics ) Desmond Templar, Rattan Mangharam, Randy Gray, Henry Perera, are names that come to mind. Other names who made significant contribution to the Club, were Tissa Ariyaratne, Gunaseelam Kanakratnam. Aubrey Van Cuylenberg (Water Polo, Ceylon Soccer goalkeeper), Langston and Fred Pereira.
.
In 1955, the an improved clubhouse was built on the beach just opposite the Station. The club was built on the proceeds from the carnival, sponsored by Mr Thaha, which ran for about two months on vacant property owned by the William Pedris Family, free of Lease.. The Club was moderately damaged by the recent Tsunami and the present committee of management is hoping to restore the Club and improve the facilities for members. Unfortunately due to changing situations the Club is not in the forefront of aquatics any more. The fierce competition and the “Spirit of Kinross” for which the Club was renowned in the period 1941 – 75, no longer exists, sadly.

Ridgeway Place

Ridgeway Place started off with the popular departrment “Rupee Store”, run by the Paiva family, at the helm with one side of the store facing the Galle Road and its entrance at a 45 degree angle from it.

The Hashim family, comprising Azeem, Zeeniya and siblings lived on the far right.

The Maharoof family, comprising Jaufer Sadiq, Nowfel, Ashroff, Ismail, Ramziya (married to Hamid Ariff) and Firodusi (married to Fairoze Hassan, son of Dr. Mohideen Hassan of 5th Lane, Colombo 3), lived down the street.

The old ramshackle Home on the Galle Road between St Peters Place and Ridgeway Place was the abode of the Vantwest family. Old Man Vantwest was a cricket umpire. His eldest son, Ivor Vantwest retired as DIG Police. The other son, Robin Vantwest, was Wesley College Colombo opening batsmen in the 1950s.

St. Peters’ Place

Finally St Peters’ Place, followed by The Canal View Stores, a grocery store that provided the customer with everything under one roof, and then the Dutch Canal at Wellawatte, spewing itself into the sea culminated the boundary of Bamba on the seaside.

At the top left was a laundry that served well for the residents living in that area.

The twin flats down St. Peters’ Place were built by the Wimalaratna brothers. They were also the owners of Alerics a famous ice cream joint in Wellawate Galle Road.

No 13 was occupied by a British Family called Mr. Bell and they had a daughter.
No 15 was occupied by Husain Ibrahim and family, formerly of No 15 Mary’s Road, and No 17 was occupied by the Gnanpanditha family.

At the end of the street was the Abdeen flats where Naufal Jabir and his sister Jasmine, children of SM Jabir of Beruwela lived. Yasmin marred Hassan Mohamed, son of MH Mohamed, MP for Borella, ex Speaker and Minister in the UNP Government for several decades.

The Nizar Sherrif’s, whose wife Fathima Khani Thaha, sister of Mubarak Thaha, and hailing frm the WM family, lived in a house facing the sea. They had two sons Jizvy, who married Ramona and presently (2006) living and working in Saudi Arabia with their children studying in Australia, and Azmi who married Amira who used to be employed in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and have since migrated to Toronto, in Canada.

Canal View Stores & Restaurant


The Canal View Store and Restaurant was owned by the Ratnapala Family. Danny Ratnapala hailed from deep down South of Ceylon and was an extremely good businessman, and noted for his generosity. He knew the area very well and was famous for his Sugar Buns and Seeni Sambol Sandwiches and regularly kept the impossible appetites of the boys and girls in the locality very much in trim, with these delicacies, He was very proud of the Bamba scene and encouraged sports and other activities for the Bamba youth.


The Stone Monument

Past Canal View Stores and Restaurant, one crosses the bridge towards the Savoy cinema into Wellawatte. One the seaside, at the point where the bridge ends, and Wellawatte begins is seen a stone monument standing high with etchings on it. This monument was erected, probably during British times, in remembrance of a lady who used to supply water from a clay pot to wayfarers who used to pass that way when the place used to be almost a jungle.   

Landside

The Bamba Hindu Temple

Moving back to the landside to trace the motley of streets that crisscrossed from the Galle Road towards the innards of Colombo, we return to the Bamba market and the Hindu Kovil, once again where we left off in an earlier chapter.Mohans, a large textile retail outlet, was one of the big businesses that occupied the long row of shops, traders and businesses that ran along the front of the Hindu temple. The nature of these trading stores are innumerable from temple flowers, camphor, joss sticks for the devoted to heavily decked Gold and Jewellery for the rich and famous.

Joseph Lane


Like other streets and by-lanes in Bambalapitiya, Joseph Lane produced its share of prominent citizens.

The Fonseka family was perhaps pre-eminent of all its residents. The street was named after Joseph Fonseka, and several pockets were known as "Fonsekawatte."

Ben Fonseka was an outstanding student at the University, and he joined the Foreign Service ending up as Sri Lanka's Ambassador to several First World capitals and to the United Nations. His brother, Michael, was well known for his social work and the owner of a prominent construction company, Messrs DD Fonseka and Sons. Francis, another brother, was also in construction, and was among the kindest people I knew. There were many branches of the Fonseka family dispersed throughout the Lane.

The Paiva family was also from and of Joseph Lane. Mr J N Paiva, the Patriach had a feel for small business and real estate and made money in both.

During the war years he catered to the British soldiers in town with the "Paivas Corner Houses" two small fast food stops at intersections at Bambalapitiya and Wellawatte mimicking the 'Lyons corner houses" of London.

One of his sons was Augo Paiva who captained CR&FC rugby team in the '50"s.

One of the most distinct Landmarks on Joseph lane was the "Dhoby House" a local Laundry for the area and beyond. You could pickup your clothes neatly pressed and starched on the due date provided it did not rain- as all drying was in the outdoors- we were using solar energy ahead of the curve. Also on this street were Norshir and Homi Rustomjee both Parsis and well known Attorneys.The Redlich s and the da Silva's too lived here prior to their departure to Australia . The Vaz family, The Lovells, The Abeysinghes, were all long time residents who may have also cracked the 50 year barrier.
When you add it up you will find that the ethnic diversity that was so typical of Colombo was celebrated down Joseph Lane.


Pepin Lane/Daisy Villa Avenue/Silva Lane/De Vos Avenue

Pepin Lane and Silva Lane are dead ended streets, while Daily Villa Avenue and De Vos Avenue fall onto R. A. De Mel Mawatha.

The Pep Inn Bar


The Pep Inn Bar a local watering hole was situated between St Joseph’s Lane and Vajira road, It was pleasant place to visit for a tot of arrack and some devilled beef/prawn etc, Pep inn was the meeting place of journalist and others who thought they were a special breed of intellectuals, Close to Pep Inn was the surgery of Dr E.M.V. Naganathan who gave up a lucrative practice to represent the Tamils in parliament.


Dr Naganathan was elected a Member of Parliament for the Nallur seat under the Federal Party in the General Elections held in March 1960, July 1960 and 1965, and was placed second securing 12,508-votes against C. Arulampalam of the Tamil Congress, who scored 13,110 votes in the 1970 General Elections.


In the 1977 General Elections, Arulampalam contesting under the SLFP ticket was trounced to third place receiving 1,041 votes where M. Sivasihtamparam of the TULF won with 29,858 votes leaving second place to an Independent candidate K. Ramanathan with 1,721 votes.  

Vajira Road


Vajira Road begins at the end of this Hindu Temple at Bambalapitiya on the landside. The famous Buddhist Girls’ School, Visakha Vidyalaya, is located down this street and borders a Buddhist Temple which is patronized by the many devout Buddhists in the area and beyond. 

The Road extends all the way down to meet Havelock Road where the Field Force Headquaters of the Police and Police Grounds are located. The Goonewardenas, of whom the head was BRP, lived in a large mansion opposite Visakha Vidyalaya on Vajira Road.
 
The Mack School of dancing (British) was also located on the same side as Visakha but towards the end of the street closer to Havelock Road. 

The Goodacres, all of them from the UK also lived there but in separate buildings. 

A short distance before the intersection, on the right side is De Fonseka Road which falls on to Dickman’s Road. Along De Fonseka Road on the right is the connecting road called De Fonseka Place which cuts through R. A. De Mel Mawatha upto Galle Road.


The Stork Family, of whom Philip attended Royal, used to live in De Fonseka Road in a massive house with a large garden in front. Current owners have converted it into a residence cum ornamental fist aquarium where tropical fish are sold locally and also exported.




VISAKHA VIDYALAYA


Arthur V. Dias alias Kos Mama’s indefatigable mother, Celestina Dias, a widow of Jeremias Dias  since 1902, founded Visakha Vidylaya, then called Buddhist Girls’ College, on 16.01.1917, in a house called Firs at Turret Road in Colpetty.

The first Board of Governors of the school, comprised of DB (later Sir Baron) Jayatileka, DS Senanayake, Arthur V. Dias, Sir Susantha de Fonseka, CM Dias and Lady Evadne de Silva, wife to Sir Ernest de Silva.

Celestina also established the Sirikandula Buddhist Educational Trust, and the Jeremias Dias Educational and Charitable Fund. She was later conferred an MBE in the King’s honours list.

Arthur V. Dias was the grandfather of Ajith (Ando) Dias (RC-’59-Group) and Naomal Dias (RC-’61-Group).

The school was moved to its present premises at Vajira Road on the  21 November, 1927, and named "Visakha College" by Lady Herbert Stanley, the wife of the then Governor of Ceylon, Sir Herbert James Stanley, GCMG (1927-1931). From humble beginnings, Visakha Vidyalaya has risen to the position of the most sought after school for girls in Sri Lanka. Furthermore, it is the only girls' school identified amongst the first National Schools in the Island. Events since 1917 to date.
Events since 1917 to date are as follows:-

1917 Jan 16th • Buddhist Girls' College opened at Turret road, Colombo. 20 students enrolled with Dr. Banning as Principal and Mr. W. A. De Silva as Trustee.

1921 - First head girl - Ida Gunawardena , First Prize Giving, First Sports Meet

1923 - Enrollment of Girl Guides

1927 - Renaming of the school to Visakha Vidyalaya at new premises at Vajira Road

1929 - Old Girls' Day Celebration

1933 - Passing away of Mrs. Jeremias Dias (11 July
             1858-26 March 1933).


1934 - Founding of the Old Girls' Association

1946 - Science introduced into the curriculum

1947 - The First Visakha Jayanthi celebrations at the school premises, Conferred Grade 1 status, Naming of the Houses - Dias, Dawes, Jayatilleka & Motwani

1952 - Becomes a non fee levying School

1952 - The 2nd Visakha Jayanthi at the school premises , Staging of the "Visakha Geetha Natakaya" , Gifting of the Geethanjali Amarasuriya Memorial Library

1961- Management taken over by the State.

1967 - Visakha Swarna Jayanthi celebrations at the Race Course, Colombo

1971 - Obtains new sports grounds, Pulimood House is begun

1982 - Visakha Jayanthi Carnival

1983 - Opening of the Jeremias Dias Memorial Hall by the President of Sri Lanka, The "Bo maluwa" & its surrounding hall completed & gifted by Mr. U.N.G. Gunasekera

1987 - Sports pavilion gifted by the OGA, "Avurudu Pola" organised by the OGA

1992 - 75th anniversary celebrations - School Exhibition, Re-staging of "Visakha Geetha Natakaya", Trade & Fun fair at The Sathutu Uyana, Colombo.

Sitlani’s

Sitlani’s laundry, owned and managed by the Sitlani family came next. Tony Sitlani, the son, was a well known figure at Bamba. Fair complexioned, tall and well-built, he sported a strong body. He was allegedly involved in almost every single brawl or fracas that took place within the town. He is now married to an Indain lady and has a daughter Christina. Tony has three sisters, Rani, who married and moved abroad, Mohini who married Mohan Lalvani, and Sonia, who attended St Pauls' Milagiriya and now lives in Kuwait with her Kuwaiti husband Fuard and family. Tony and his Mum, Brenda, both passed away in 2006.

Tony Sitlani had a close encounter with death sometime in the 1970s. At the High Court in Hulftsdorp, Colombo-12, by a unanimous verdict of the jury, Alan Shelton Anderson (the onetime chuck-out outside The Polytechnic Ltd in Wellawatte, Colombo-6) and Elmo Rodrigo were found guilty of murder, and sentenced to death, and two others: George Michael E Jansen and I Yasa Abeykoon were found guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder by a unanimous verdict of the jury, and sentenced to 7-years’ rigorous imprisonment by High Court Judge Percy Colin-Thome, on Tue., 26 February, 1974.

This case referred to the murder of AM Mohamed in the Chatham Street L’Etoile Jewellery & Gem Merchants, murder trial, where Mohamed, father of three children, in his mid-sixties, was murdered during business hours, in the heart of Chatham Street in Fort on Wed., 23 Sep.-1970.

Earlier on, Anderson had approached Tony Sitlani and allegedly made a proposal which Tony had declined. After the heist and murder, it was thought that Tony had tipped off the cops, which led to the arrest of Anderson and his gang.

Sometime in 1973-74, during a recess at one of the court sessions, Anderson and Rodrigo made a dash, and escaped from the courthouse. During their period of freedom, Anderson suddenly appeared one day at Tony Sitlani’s doorstep threartening to kill him, since he suspected Tony had ratted on him. According to Anderson, he spared Tony on account of his profound pleading not to harm him, and he left.


Anderson and Rodrigo were later apprehended once again on a tipoff made to the police by a “friend.” They served 22-years (2-additional years for escaping) in Death Row and were released, with Anderson sporting a broken leg, allegedly caused by the prison guards; the “unofficial” punishment for attempted escape!  

“Saras” Lodge


Saraswathi Lodge, popularly known as “Saras,” another Saiva restaurant serving vegetarian food followed Sitlani’s. This was the haunt of many a young schoolboy playing truant or wanting to smoke a fag and enjoy a cuppa tea before proceeding to the Majestic or Savoy Cinema for a matinee movie at 3:30 pm. Saras was the in "Thosai joint" in Bamba for more than half a century, and the quality of the South Indian styled thosai, vadai, idli, accompanied by a spicy hot gravy, referred to as the “Sambhar,” was relished by many young and old. A thosai cost only 5 cents and a vadai 3 cents served with spicy hot sambols, in the 1950s.

Schoolboys used to revel in visiting "Saras" for a Thosai feed, as it is well within their measly pocket monies to wash it down with a steaming hot cup of plain (black) tea and a "punt." 

The "Saras" meal also helps them to save some of their pocket money for a measly 50 cents gallery ticket to the movies at the Majestic or Savoy. “Saras” is a small eating area littered with rectangular tables side by side that one has to knock over others to seat oneself. It is mainly patronized by men, and one rarely sees a female face inside the place. 

Food used to be served on a piece of a banana leaf before, but now they use stainless steel dishes and mugs. “Saras” has an added attraction when the school big matches such as the Royal-Thomian and the Joe-Pete are on, as this is the place where many a school boy heads during the lunch break at these cricket encounters. It’s an absolutely chaotic mess on these occasions with hundreds of flag-waving and sabre-rattling boys standing outside on the sidewalk waiting for their turn at the tables inside.


The waiters have to play it cool and so do the management, in view of the match fervor and hyper nature of the boys during this event, as any provocation of even a minor nature could easily spark a massive brawl. Such events usually end up with fisticuffs, blood, sweat and tears, and eventually the cop shop, parents, teachers and maybe, even lawyers eventually getting involved. 

And then there’s the lot who eat and scoot without paying the bill amidst the mayhem and madness that prevails within and outside the premises. Oh! What an annual picnic this is that one must see to believe! The boys are usually clad in various forms of fancy dress, and travel in an old “croc,” specially hired for the occasion, accomopanied by one of the funeral (Fonseka’s) bands (a four-piece outfit with two trumpeters, a snare drum and a bass drum) from Wattala who dish out spicy baila rockers that keep the youngsters swinging to the quantity of “liquid protein,” a pseudonym for alcohol content, in their bellies. Flags and rattles and whistles are the order of the day and noise is something out of this world.



Visakha Road/Dharmadhasa Bookshop


Dharmadasa Bookshop is located at the top of Visakha Road that came next in line. The bookstore was well stocked and the most famous place for school books for almost every grade.The massive oriental castle styled mansion that belonged to the famous Bohra merchant, Carimjee Jafferjee, stood tall facing the Galle Road. It was located almost bwteen Shrubbery gardens and Holy Family Convent Girls School on the seaside.


The brothers split their business and, while the one at Visakha Road continued in business under the name of “Dharmadasa & Sons,” one brother moved out to continue the bookshop business on the landside just past Kensington Gardens and operated a bookshop called “Rohana Bookshop.”

The massive oriental castle styled mansion that belonged to the famous Bohra merchant, Carimjee Jafferjee, stood tall facing the Galle Road. It was located almost bewteen Shrubbery gardens and Holy Family Convent Girls School on the seaside. 

De Fonseka Place


De Fonseka Place came next where the Zanoon family lived at the first house on the left. Much is spoken about the python they reared, in their garden, for a pet. Naufal, attorney-at-law, married Mumtaz Ahamed, daughter of MLM Ahmed of Ahmed Brothers at 3rd Cross Street in the Pettah, and moved to Horton Place, where he died of an illness some years back. Rizvi went on to pass out as a medical doctor and is practicing in Colombo. Shehara married Muiz Marikar, spent some years in Saudi Arabia and is now back with her family to live at the family residence at De Fonseka Place.

De Fonseka Place crosses R. A. De Mel Mawatha and meets De Fonseka Road in a T instersection, in which De Fonseka Road connects Vajira Road with Dickman’s Road.

During 1966, former All-Ceylon Cricketer CI Gunasekera, who was an executive officer at Messrs Walker & Sons, lived at No. 6/2, De Fonseka Road. He used to drive an orchid and Farina grey Austin Cambridge car bearing registration number 3 Sri 3801, which belonged to the company. This car was stolen from his residence in the early hours of 27th July, 1966 from his residence, after he had rertired to bed at 11pm the previous night. The car was stolen by a gang of thieves who belonged to the infamous Godfather in crime, “Dr” Eliyadura Alfred de Zoysa. The number plate of the car was truncated to read as 3 Sri 380. It was used to conduct two robberies, one at Divulapitiya and another at Dompe.

The number plate was once again changed by truncating another number plate with the number 3 Sri 2612 to read as 3 Sri 612.  The car was used was used to conduct a highway robbery at Medawachchiya between the 102nd and 103rd mileposts, where a combine of five Tamil arrack renters, carrying Rs 60,000, had visited Anurdhapura to secure a berth by way of a bid for the tavern in theirPeugeot 403. Eventually, the car was buried deep inside the jungle at Kalattawa, and recoved by the police in February 1967. Apart from disappearances of some forty persons in the Anuradhapura area, Alfred de Zoysa was convicted of the murder of one of his employees, PKD Perera, and sentenced to death along with his henchman Kalu Albert, while Willie Mama owing to his ripe age of 76 received a lifer. Alfred de Zoysa was hanged at Welikada prison on 20.01.1972 followed by Kalu Albert on the next day. The Famous Criminal Cases of Sri Lanka: Vol- 5: Alfred De Zoysa and the Kalattawa Murders,  by AC Alles gives a fair account of this Godfather in crime.

Passing De Fonseka Place on the Galle road, one comes to Cycle Bazaar was a massive hoarding on the landside that displayed and sold bicycles, both, imported and locally made in Sri Lanka. It was located on the building facing the Galle Road immediately after De Fonseka Place.

Sittams Pharmacy & Chemists, a well stocked drug store, came next attached to the same building. Immediately after, Elfindale Avenue, which led down to many residential homes. 

Elfindale Avenue/Bambalapitiya Terrace

Elfindale Avenue and Bambalaptiya Terrace, which abuts the fuel filling station, are dead ended streets.

Sandwiched between Bambalapitiya Terrace and Bambalapitiya Drive came the two gasoline stations, Shell and Caltex, side by side that offered various auto servicing facilities in addition to gasoline. At the end of this stretch began Dickman’s Road.



Dickman’s Road


One of the most famous residences down Dickman’s road was the Eastern Aquaria which exported and sold locally sold ornamental fish. Owned and managed by a Heptulla Abdulally, a Bohra family resident in Sri Lanka for many decades. This place was a favorite with kids who enjoyed keeping fish as pets. Sri Lanka’s well known and sought after ENT Specialist, Dr. FazleAbbas, a member of the Bohra Community, also lived and practiced down Dickmans Road.

Murtaza Yoosufali writes on the Bambalapitiya page on FB, "Hi Fazli, loved yr article re Bamba in the 60s, I lived at No 231 Galle Road (now called CASA), between 1969-1989. Your article mentions that this was owned by the Carimjee Jafferjee family. Not sure if thats accurate. My Dad bought this house in 1969from the Hema's family who had lived there since the 40s. As a kid growing up in Bamba, the haunts were Semiramis, Zellers, WTTC (only place someone underage could get a beer), Ramsons, and of course the Thosai joints, and who could forget BU at Sirisanda? Me and my pals used to bowwor comics from Perpetuals and never return them. When the owner came over to our place to my Grandpa we usd to run and hide. In the 70s we had a softball game every evening in the garden, sometimes 20 guys from the neighborhood joined in, especially the Visakha Road gang. Some of my classmates at St. Peters used to hang out at my place after school just to cap the HFC girls. Lovely memories of Bamba "

Murtaza also says, "Eastern Aquaria is closed down but belonged to my uncle Heptula Abdulally (my Mums bro). The house still stands and is the oldest house down Dickmans Road. My Mum, who is 88 years old, was born in that house."

Fazal, Qurban and Heptula were the three brothers who owned and lived at Eastern Aquaria. Fareeda, now married to Inayat Akbarally, is the daughter of Fazal. Heptulla and his sister still livevat "Donegal" at No 12 Dickmans Road.

No 231 Galle Road, Mohamedaly Manzil, now CASA, was built by E G Adamalyin 1916 and the entrire Adamaly family lived there until 1969. They worked for the Carimjee Jafferjee family business who were the first Borahs to come to Ceylon in the 1850's. (also from Murtaza's FB post)

Dr. HSR Goonewardene, whose son Ramlal attended Royal and excelled in Rugby and Athletics and later joined the CID and was a member of the War Crimes Tribunal for Bosnia in the Hague, also lived down this street. Dr HSR was also an old Royalist who was a batch mate of Thahir Sameer who lived at No 300 Galle Road.


The Mathany Ismail Family, comprising of Mathany Ismail, his wife, and their children, Salih, Sadiq, and Nazeera, lived right opposite the side section of St Paul’s Milagiriya. Mathany Ismail was onetime chairman of a company called Taylor & Mackay, shipchandlers. His close friend Thahir Sameer at No. 300, too was associated with him for a brief period in this lucrative business in the 1960s.
Mathany Ismail’s nephew, Sheik Ismail, whose eloquence in the English language was admirable, was also associated in his uncle’s business during this period.

Very much earlier, in 1947, when the company was run by an American as a Ceylon-based English trading company, Emil Savundranayagam, alias Dr Emil Savundra, signed in as broker, obtaining large quantities of NAAFI stores from which the company made a killing, and later he became a director. He resigned from the company, and went on to establish his own companies, after his marriage on 08 June, 1949, to Pushpam Aloysius, a rich aristocratic beauty hailing from a family from the north of Ceylon and descended from the old kings of Jaffna.  

Senator Sir Chitamapalam A. Gardiner was married to Angeline Casie Chetty, daughter of Aloysius Mount Casie Chetty. Pushpam was the brother of Cyril Gardiner (whose parents were Santhiapillai Aloysius and Anne Gardiner, sister of Sir Chittampalam) who had adopted his maternal uncle, Sir Chittampalam A. Gardiner’s surname. Business magnate Albert Page, later owner of Cargills (Ceylon) Ltd, Millers Ltd and Majestic City, married Pushpam’s sister, Lucy. The book titled Fraud: The Amazing Career of Dr Savundra by Jon Connell and Dounglas Sutherland (NY/USA: Stein and Day, 1979: ISBN 0-8128-2602-7) gives a fair account on Dr Emil Savundra’s colorful life.

Bethesda Place

Next came Bethesda Place on the right connecting onto De Fonseka Place. The famous paedriatrician, Dr (Mrs) Manel Panditharatne, operated her dispensary at No. 4; a grand lady who was a firm but a caring and communicative doctor who passed away in recent months. 

Advocate Nazim and his family lived further down the road towards the Havelock Town section. Ms Nash, who belongs to Mack School of dancing was also a teacher at St Pauls Milagiriya, lived here. Her neice Jennifer Batholomeusz too lived with her.

Travelling down Dickman’s Road from Galle Road past the R. A. De Mel Mawatha Junction on the righthand side one sees Stubbs Place followed by Ebert Place which branches off Dickmans Road, opposite the gate of St Paul's Milagiriya, and meets De Fonseka Place. Many palatial homes, engulfed with foliage, used to be located there. 

Presently (April-2012), it’s a one-way street up Dickman’s Road from R. A. De Mel Mawatha junction, where traffic coming in from Bambalapitiya towards Wellawatte may go straight through or turn right or left at Dickman’s Road junction.  

Ebert Place branches off Dickmans Road, opposite the gate of St Paul's Milagiriya, and meets De Fonseka Place. Many palatial homes, engulfed with foliage, used to be located there.


MILAGIRIYA


The Portuguese, during their reign of Ceylon from 1505 to 1640, built a church to Nossa Senhora Dos Milagros – “Our Lady of Miracles” – on the landside bordering Galle Road in Bambalapitiya.
The Dutch, during their subsequent rule, tore it down and raised a “Reformed” church on the same location. When the British overruled the Dutch and took possession of Ceylon, in 1815, they converted the church to a Presbyter of some sorts and giving it the name of St. Pauls.

Eventually a girls school sprouted up within the church premises and to this day is called, St. Pauls Milagiriya. Since then, even the locality around the church is referred to as Milagiriya and an electoral Ward named Milagiriya also exists to date. St. Pauls Milagiriya Girls’ School is located right at the top of Dickman’s Road and stretches all the way along Galle Road to de Kretser Place.

It also borders Dickmans Road all the way down to the first cross road on the right which meets de Kretser place at right angles.

The school, which was founded on the 14th of January 1887 as a Parish school attached to the St. Paul's Church of Milagiriya with just 24 students and 4 teachers, it is worthy of special mention that it has a student population of approximately 4000+ students, a tutorial staff of 140+ members and a non-academic staff of 25+ members.

The Rev. Canon Ivan Corea, Vicar of St Paul’s Milagiriya Church, also lived at Milagiriya. He is the father of the late Vernon Corea, broadcaster and Ernest Corea, former editor of the Ceylon Daily News, now Daily News,  and also Ambassador to the U.S. (who lived with his family down Sagara Road, Bamba, on the seaside.) Ivan Corea is the grandson who now resides in the UK.


de Kretser Place


St Anne’s Maternity & Nursing Home was located down de Kretser Place. A very famous location at Bamba where many interesting people were born in latter days. Vijaya Corea, also a famous boradcaster of Radio Ceylon vintage, s a cousin of Vernon and Ernest.

The Nayar family whose daughters went to SPM lived there and so did the Moosin family the then famous glassmaker lived in a large house down this street.

Rama Ratnam and his family lived at No 23 De Kretser Place in the early 1970's when he was barely 10 years old then. The Ratnam's were from India and his father was serving in the Indian High Commission Office in Colombo.

There is a little dead-end lane that branches off De Kretser Place, on the left, to one side of SPM. The Ratnam bungalow was across the little lane facing the SPM wall. On the same side and down the lane was a retired judge named Weerasuriya. The one-storeyed bungalow was owned by a Tamil lady who had migrated to England and she had, in turn, rented it out to the Indian High Commission. It was a charming bungalow, across the street from St. Anne's Maternity Hospital & Nursing Home. Actually the hospital was to one side across the street. There were two elderly Burgher sisters, who lived in a house by the side of the hospital, and they were right across the street from us. They would have the Ratnam siblings over for tea now and then. Their verandah was filled with variegated plants and they served these lovely little cakes and things. They were kind and gentle people and so affectionate to the neighborhood kids.

Rama states that he liked the write-up on this blog because it mentioned two families that he and his siblings knew very well. There were the Moosins (a wonderful, happy, large sprawling family living in this wonderful sprawling house that looked more like a hotel than anything) and the Nayars. They hung out a lot with some of Mr. Moosin's younger children (Nazeera and Mumtaz who were roughly Rama's age at that time). And then there were the Nayar's daughters who went to SPM and were somewhat older (they were perhaps in their teens at that time). Their names were Urmila and Sharmila and they would ply Rama and his sister with tons of books. They were ever so nice people and the whole gang had lots of fun. It was so laid back then.

Leaving sunny Lanka and returning to India was a wrench, as Rama writes. "I was barely in my teens when we returned to India, and it was big, chaotic and so very noisy. My heart was in Sri Lanka, and there is a part of me that still lives in Bambalapitiya (after so many years). I still consider myself a Royalist and keep in touch with the old boys. May all of this live long and prosper. I loved it all." [Received from Rama Ratnam, currently in India, by email on May 20, 2006]

Between de Kretser Place and Nandana Gardens stands the beautiful home of Newton Wijeratne and his family at No 321, facing the Galle Road where he lived with his wife Freda and children, Shalini, Kusum, Kumar, and Naushad. Newton, brother of Donald, owned and managed his own photography studio at Maradana but died under very tragic circumstances in the sixties. Freda and the rest of the children have since migrated to Australia.

It was here that David de Kretser, now Professor and also recently elected Governor of Melbourne, Australia, lived. The street took its name from this famous Burgher family in Ceylon at that time. David and his family left Ceylon and migrated to Australia in 1949. Other significant members of the family, in recent times, are Nigel de Kretser, Barrister, (a good schoolboy cricketer at Royal College Colombo)


Nandana Gardens & Hildon Place

Next came Nandana Gardens and Hildon Place. Starline Pharmacy was a household name at Bamba for drugs and groceries. Located at the beginning of Hildon Place, facing the Galle Road, its clientele were far from few and the business was run very successfully.


Next came Hildon Place, where the Mihlars lived. 

The Weinman family at #28 Hildon Place were also famous for many significant contributions to Bamba’s way of life. Darrell, the oldest went on to become a very sought after and famour Neuro Surgeon and migrated to Australia. Lester was oje of the founding partners of East-West, a premier computer company in Colombo. Rosaine studied at HFC and was a batchmate of Pauline Ratnayake (married to Nazeer Rasheed and living in New York now) and is supposed to have married Maurice Anghie of Sagara Road and St Peters’ College Rugby fame.


Between Hildon Place and Nandana Gardens stands the beautiful home, painted in soft pink, of Newton Wijeratne and his family at No. 321, facing the Galle Road where he lived with his wife, Freda and children, Shalini, Kusum, Kumar, and Naushad. Newton owned and managed his own photography studio, Newton Studio, at Panchikawatte Road in Maradana, which was far more famous then than the one established by his brothers Donald as Donald’s Studio, in Maradana, Colombo-10, and Jonathans in Havelock Road, Colombo-5 and in Maradana in Colombo-10.   

Newton and family were great friends of Thahir Sameer (at No. 300 Bamba).   Newton died under very tragic circumstances in the early 1960s. Freda and the rest of the children have since migrated to Australia. WA Newton Kumar Wijeratne (Wonky), now an engineer in Australia, was in the RC-’61 Group with Thahir Sameer’s (at No. 300 Bamba) younger son, Firoze Sameer. The house has since been sold and a new building has emerged.

Francis Mahadeva Avenue


Francis Mahadeva Avenue is a dead end street.


Jayanthi Stores/Jayanthi Hotel


Between de Kretser Place and Hildon Place on the Galle Road sttod Jayanthi Stores, a grocery oufit which was patronized by the Bamba Flatters, and Jayanthi Hotel, wherein mostly the Bamba Flat hangers-on used to visit for a tea and a punt. 

McLeod Road

McLeod Road came next with the Paiva family right at the helm. Tyronne Paiva, an old Peterite, worked for Citibank in Colombo in the Treasury before moving on to join Union Bank as a branch manager where he is still attached to.

The Marikkars from Mawanella also built their mansions down McLeod Road. Yassin Marikkar, his wife, Dr. Nafeesa and the two girls lived there. Yassins father was referred to as SP Appa in Mawanella , as he was the unofficial SP of the area, and everyone knew him by that name. The girls spent most of their time studying in the UK while Yassin and Nafeesa spent many a year as expatriate workers in Saudi Arabia where Yassin was the Chief Engineer at the Intercontinental Hotel in Riyadh and Nafeesa worked as a doctor at the Shemeesy Hospital. Yassin suffered from kidney failure towards his latter days and passed away in 2003. He is the brother of Mukthar Marikkar, ex Vice Chairman Rupavahini Corporation who is married to Farahana Lathiff, granddaughter of the late Badiuddin Mahmud. Zarook Marikkar, another brother is married to Neela Candappa, Director of Grants Advertising, and daughter of the late Reggie Candappa.


At No. 10, the Asgerally family lived: daughters Gulshan, Roshen and Rukshana are now in the U.S., while the son Navroze (a member of the RC-’61 Group) is based in Sri Lanka, his two sons, Yusuf and Abbas, being resident in the U.S. The Asgerallys shifted to Elibank Road in Colombo-5 some years ago and continue to be resident over there.

No. 14 presently live Kumar Sandirasegaram, alias Ferdie, (a member of the RC-’61 Group) and his family, shuttling between England and Sri Lanka.


A massive, tall, glass building was erected on the landside, facing the Galle Road immediately after McLeod Road. It was owned and managed by the proprietors of Alerics Ice Cream and Piccadilly Café, the Wickremaratne’s at Wellawatte.


The Wellawatte Hindu Kathiresan Kovil (Temple)

The Wellawatte Hindu Kathiresan Kovil came next, similar to the one at Bambalapitiya described above.
A row of businesses and shops marched all along Galle Road on its front face. The temple would throng with worshippers in the evenings of Fridays when devotees would attend to their rituals accompanied by the beating of drums and the blowing of long flutes and pipes. Jasmine was the flower that devotees usually carried to the temple or females wore on their hair. The businesses that thronged the front of the temple ranged from skin clinics to laundry’s.


The famous Mr Pillai’s Skin Clinic was the first in the row. It was here that the much attended Sai Baba Bhajans were held on a weekly basis. Several vegetarian restaurants, Asoka Lodge and Ramjee Lodge, were also famous for their special south Indian culinary of Vadais, Thosays, Idlis and Sambaar, not forgetting the Murukkus and Pakkodas. The banana shop abutted Asoka Lodge and the entrance to the temple. The banana shop served the public with a variety of bananas, beetle leaves, jasmine flowers and other temple ritual accessories for the devotees who visited the temple. It also sold several magazimes of Indian publications, which included the popular song books of South Indian Tamil movies.

Ramjee Lodge came next. Asoka Lodge and Ramjee Lodge were the  two sought after South Indian cafes in the locality. They served delicious thosay, vadai, idli, idiyappam, and other delicacies, purely in vegetarian formats.

Next came Podi Singho’s Motor Cycle and Bicycle Workshop which was, and still is, the oldest establishment in the row. After the death of the father, Podi Singho, his sons took over and ran the business successfully extending their services to maintain cars and heavy vehicles too.


Next door was the largest grocery store in the area owned and managed by AMS Nadar & Company, affectionately known as “Nadar’s shop.” Later on this business was bought over by a young lad from Galle, who renamed it to Piyasena Stores by which name it still runs successfully. 

The main entrance to the temple came next. Podi Singho’s Motor Cycle and bicycle workshop was, and still is, the oldest establishment in the rwo. After the death of the father, Podi Singho, his sons took over and ran the business successfully extending their services to maintain cars and heavy vehicles too. Right next door was the largest grocery store in the area owned and managed by AMS Nadar & Company, affectionately known as “Nadar’s shop”. Later on this business was bought over by a young lad from Galle who renamed it to Piyasena Stores by which name it still runs successfully.


Finally, an extension which was built by the temple authorities accommodated one more shop at the end abutting Lorensz Road. This was the first shop opened by Mrs Aban Pestonjee, with a name board “Abans.” It was a shop dealing in electronic and allied products. Although, at present, Abans has now become a household word and transacts exdtensive business amidst a group of companies which includes the McDonalds franchise in operation at Colpetty abutting Abans’ multi-storied headquarters building, this small shop is still maintained by Ms Pestonjee as a sentimental reminder of her beginnings in the corporate field.


Lorensz Road


Lorensz Road comes after, leading all the way down to the entrance of Saraswathi Hall and Hindu College on the left. The road ended at the Layards Road/Dawson Road intersection. Dawson Road is now renamed as Amamarasekara Mawatha in honour of the doyen of Fine Arts Gate Mudaliyar ACGS Amarasekara, MBE) who used to live there. Dawson Road ran further down to meet Havelock Road at the point where the Colombo Colts Cricket Club is located in Colombo 5. 

The beautiful Ms Maureen Hingert, Miss Ceylon, who went on to become the second runner-up at the Miss Universe Contest 1955 lived, with her parents, down Lorensz Road. The final results at the beauty pageant was as follows:-

Miss Universe 1955: HILLEVI ROMBIN Sweden
1st Runner Up: MARIBEL ARIOLA - El Salvador
2nd Runner Up: MAUREEN HINGERT - Ceylon
3rd Runner Up: MARGUT NUNKE - Germany
4th Runner Up: KEIKO TAKAHASHI - Japan

Maureen was born in Ceylon, the daughter of Lionel Hingert and Lorna Mabel de Run. She won the Miss Ceylon contest in 1955 and also in 1955 she becomes second runner-up to Hillevi Rombin, Miss Sweden, in the Miss Universe contest.

In 1956-57, under her real name she stars opposite Maxwell Reed as Anura, a beautiful South Seas native girl, in the British TV series Captain David Grief, shot on location in Mexico.

Revealing photographs of her appear in the September 1957 edition of Playboy in scenes from the film Gun Fever. In 1958 she acts in the film Fort Bowie on location at the Kanab Movie Fort at Kanab, Utah in the USA.

She had a daughter, Gina. More information on Maureen can be seen at the following link:
http://www.glamourgirlsofthesil
verscreen.com/show/132/Maureen+Hingert/index.ht
Many other small houses with adjacent common walls lined the right side of the street all the way down to the end. Proctor NM Zaheed of Kotahena bought one of the houses opposite the Saraswathi Hall where one of his sons, Huzair Zaheed, lived with his family. Huzair was married to Zulaiha, the eldest daughter of Rameela Sameer, grand-daughter of Muhammad Sameer of 298 Galle Road fame. Rameela and family lived at No 43 Lily Avenue Wellawatte. Lorensz Road was located right opposite to Sagara Road. Mr and Mrs Fernando with their one and only daughter lved there before they moved to AustraliaMiss Rene and Miss Alvis lived down Skeleton Road and so did Mr. and Mrs Colin from Mack School of dancing (Britisher). Presently Ruzna and her husband Mohamed Saheedullah and children reside in these premises. 


From Adrew Sinnathamby in Hamburg:

Ronald Gray and his brothers Adrian, Carlyle, and the Pouliers too lived in the small row of houses on the right side of Lorensz Road. The left side was the Hindu Temple boundary wall going right down towards Saraswathie Hall and Elibank Road. There is a deep slope 75 meters down this road. On Saturdays we used to play cricket with Derek de Kretzer who lived at the cross roads, and Ashok who lived on the sea side at Sagara Road. The slope was one parallel to the Dickmens road too. Most of the roads around Lorenz road were quite broad, therefore cricket was quite easy to play. It was a Burger dominated place. Old Memories
Sinna


Barber Shop/Laundry

Next door was a barber shop operated by a man called Velu.  Next came a laundry, Brilliant Cleaners, which was serviced by the Ranasingha family, who also lived within the business premises.

Adjacent to this ran a small line of tenement houses, westwards, where many of the towns' shanty dwellers lived. The narrow cul-de-sac housed many poor families and also housed a billiards and bar club next door where bookmakers flourished, taking bets on horses for races run in the UK.

Godfather Richard Perera

Richard “Aiyar” Perera was the most famous of the leaders of this mafia type gangland that lived, worked, and thrived in this small slum within the town. His body was tattooed on his back with a spread-eagled eagle flying into his body! His son, Richard Piyadasa, alias Richard Piya, a dreamy-eyed individual, continued with the mantle of his father. However, Richard Piya too was one of the victims in the black Morris Minor taxicab, in which the renowned tailor, Siriwardena, who lived behind the Spiller’s home on the opposite side, which met with a train crash at an unguarded railway crossing in which accident four persons, which included the driver, an albino, met with their death, while one young lad escaped.

Taxicab-Train Tragedy

His son, Richard Piyadasa, alias Richard Piya, continued with the mantle of his father. However, Richard Piya too was one of the victims in the black Morris Minor taxicab, in which the renowned tailor, Siriwardena, who lived behind the Spillers on the opposite side, which met with a train crash at an unguarded railway crossing one night with four persons, which included the driver, an albino, met with their death, while one young lad escaped.

The fourth guy who died, whose name is not known, was a tall, curly-haired, broad-shouldered individual who sported a spring-walk in a braggadocio display of toughness. This tragedy occurred sometime between May and July 1975, after the term of the United Front government’s 5-year term really expired but which the government of that day had extended by two years owing to have established the new constitution of 1972 which empowered it to run for 5-years from that year.

JRJ Pays his respects

Opposition Leader JR Jayewardene of the UNP had voluntarily resigned in May 1975 from the National State Assembly (Parliament) in protest and had was preparing to recontest his Colombo South seat at a by-election held on 16.07.1975 which he later won with a resounding majority of 25,801 votes: it was the largest majority obtained by any member in any Parliament at that point of time.  It was after JRJ’s resignation and before the by-election that this tragedy occurred.


One afternoon, the public in the vicinity of the shanties, witnessed the chauffeur-driven white Mazda saloon traversing from the southern section of Bambalapitiya halt opposite these slums on the seaside. JR Jayewardene alighted from the rear seat and crossed over to the slums and walked through the narrow passage to pay his respects to this deceased. 

The New Wellington Sports Club

Situated between Lorensz Road and Davidsdon Road on a block of land housing slums stood the New Wellington Sports Club.This club catered to the leisure and recreational needs of the local community. The President of this Club was Richard “Aiyar” Perera who was the chandiya (thugman) of the whole of Bamba, Wellawate region right up to Vihare Lane in Wellawate. He had a huge Eagle with wings spread tattooed on his back.

Richards other brothers were Albert and Wilson, Albert the eldest was the original owner of the Giant Wheel, Ocean Ride, Merry ground and carnival amusement equipment which he used to lease for carnivals and fun-fairs. These were in frequent use at Vel festivals, local funfairs and carnivals. The local kids were always treated to free rides. Wilson Aiyar ran a bucket shop, under the cover of a “Te Kade” (tea boutique) which was the meeting place of people hoping for a win on the horse races held in the UK and many horse racing venues in India,

The members of this Club were very protective and respectful to the people of the neighborhood, but woe is unto those who crossed their paths. The Bamba Police kept a sharp eye on some of the activities of this Club but seldom was there any major trouble. As the children of this neighborhood frequented the Kinross bathing enclosure, and many were rescued by the K.S. & L.S squad, there was a deep bond and respect for the Kinross S, & L.S C. members. The grandson of Herbert Bartholomeusz, a pioneer resident was accorded special privileges. In fact, he learnt the game of Billiards from none other than Richard Aiyar.

The descendents of the Perera Family, Henry and Edwin still live in Bamba and are still friends of the writer.

Davidson Road

Another row of shops lined the Galle Road all the way up to Davidson Road which also ends up at Layards Road and turns left towards the beginning of Dawson Road and the end of Lorensz Road. Rajah Jewellers occupies the first business enterprise at the top of Lorensz Road facing No 298 Galle Road on the seaside. The famous barber salon with its western style swing doors came next followed by the laundry. It was located right opposte to No. 300 Galle Road on the seaside.A narrow cul-de-sac housing tenements and shanties came next with a billiards and bar club next door where bookmakers flourished taking bets on horses for races run in the UK. Richard was the most famous of the leaders of this mafia type gangland that lived, worked, and thrived in this small slum within the town.

Bottle Shop/Raja Electricals

Then came a “bottle shop”, so called because his business was the collection of old used bottles, scrap iron, clothes, and throw-away stuff for collection and resale. 


Later on, the “bottle shop” put up shutters, and an electrical contractor, Raja, started the business and delivered all kinds of electrical works to the public. Hameed (Abu), Sheriff and Deen, who hailed from the villlage of Rakwana. Hameed and Deen lived at No. 300 Galle Road, also worked here and learned the basics of the electrical trade. Later Hameed started his own electrical contracting business with a shop named "Island Electricals" at the top end of Vaverset Place in Wellawatte, and Deen embarked on an electrical contracting career by himself in Panadura. Sheriff lived in a house at Kiribathgoda, and from there moved on to become a great chef at a renowned hotel in Anuradhapura. Hameed and Sheriff have passed away, leaving their families who are doing well. 

Night Kadey

A night kadey run by a Moor businessman flourished next door. Here they served all types of Ceylon Moor delicacies and catered to the late night revelers who dropped by for a meal. A radio positioned on top of the entranced blared out popular Tamil and Islamic songs by famous South Indian singer EM (Nagoor) Haniffa in the evenings through the late night hours.

Gintota Stores

At the rail end of this building , another grocery store called Gintota Stores, run by a Sinhala businessman, propped up here, competing with Piyasena Stores, and served the community on the southern side of the town.

Corner cafe

A small corner café popped up at the top of Davidson Road. Spicy hot food was served here, in keeping with typical non-vegetarian Indian cuisine.

Davidson Road

Davidson Road, during the fifties, was considered a kind of dangerous place where dangerous elements roamed. The Shareef Hajiar family (known as “Pulla Kutty” Sheriff on account of the large number of children he had) owned property on the left side of the street and lived there.
Old man Shareef Hajiar, impeccably dressed with a white pointed cap on his head, was often seen driving his polished limousine up the street many a times. Shareef Hajiars second spouse, Mazaya, lived down the street with her many children, Jabir, Shafi, Mazeena (Shuhaib Ghouse), Lareefa, Ummu Zohra (Izzet Packir Saibo), Noor Mueeza (Fuard Thahir) & Nazly (Wahid), Hussain, Hassan, Muhsin, Ali Reza, & Imthiaz.The Sanoon Caders lived there before they left to Frazer Avenue Dehiwela and on the opposite side lived Mr. & Mrs Sulaiman and Mr & Mrs Fowzie who later sold the house and the Sulaimans went to Malwatte road Dehiwela and Fowzie went to Wellawatte.A thriving entertainment business that provided carousels for carnivals was also located on the right side of the street.

The whole block from the billiard club to Davidson Road housed many a slum at its rear which was referred to as the “Watta” meaning “garden”. The place was famous for illicitly brewed alcohol and other shady going-ons, especially after dark. Many a fight or quarrel would ensue within the locality and would be sorted out by the Mafiosi in their own special way. During some nights, on occasion, one could hear a woman or two screaming their lungs out at one another in an argumnet which lasts
a long time.    

A plot of bare land facing Galle Road follows. Later on, a tourist guest house called “Elephant Walk” was built there but also closed down on account of the many Police raids that were conducted for many shady activities that were taking place within the premises. There was a time when the Police raided the place in broad daylight and got a stream of damsles to march into a Police van, probably to be charged for prostitution.

Padmani's and Beauty Silk Store

Next door was a textile store called “Padmini’s,” owned and managed by a Sindhi businessman, his son and daughter. The old man was much loved by the neighborhood. Adjacent to Padmani’s was a pharmacy followed by another Sindhi owned Textile Store called “Beauty Silk Store,” which was managed by three brothers; they later diversified into lending video cassettes

KVG’s Bookshop


The famous Bambalapitiya branch of KVG de Silva Book store came next at the beginning of a large two storey building that reached up to Kensington Gardens. Just before the bookshop, at a lower level from the Galle Road slightly to the rear, was a small illegally erected stall referred to as the “Lottara Kadey” meaning “lottery shop”. Here a young Sinhalese lad ran a small store that sold comic books, fruit, and other knick-knacks. He also had a lottery offering several juicy prizes of sweets, comic books and other stuff, that attracted the young.

The place was demolished after many years of existence and many a youth in Bamba used to patronize the place for their weekly stock of comic reading or spicy mango preserve. KVG’s as the bookstore was referred to had a wide array of imported books and novels that were the attraction of many residents who spent long hours in literary pursuit during those halcyon days of English learning and acquisition of general knowledge.Next door was a textile store called “Padmini’s”, owned and managed by a Sindhi businessman, his son and daughter. The old man was much loved by the neighborhood. Adjacent to Padmini’s was a pharmacy followed by another Sindhi owned Textile Store called “Beauty’s”.

Kensington Gardens


Kensington Gardens came next. The first house on the right was owned and occupied by the Rizan family where Shiraz Sharker (later a medical doctor, and now deceased, Rizvi Bishrul-Hafi and their families lived. An old smashing Cadillac used to stand parked under their porch, very visible to the traffic on Galle Road. The family was very wealthy, owning and managing a very lucrative textile store in the Pettah which was built and run successfully by their ancestors. Mr and Mrs Jayah and family too lived there with their one and only daughter, Shanaz, and with them were the orphans Dhilma and Yasmin Sally and another cousin of theirs. In the annexe was Mr and Mrs Carawalio with their son and daughter Jennifer who married and went to India, and Stanley who married one of the Suby girls. All of them moved over to Arethusa Lane in Wellawatte, Colombo-6.

The Muslim Ladies’ College was located on the right further down Kensington Gardens, built on land that was donated to the school by Sir Razik Fareed, Kt,
OBE, JPUM,  whose house abutted the school at the back down Fareed Place, two lanes next. Another bookstore, “Rohana Bookshop,” facing the Galle Road, stood next. Its owner was an ex-partner of Dharmadasa & Bros bookshop at the top of Visakha Road at Bamba, who had ventured out into his own business.



Razeendale Gardens


Razeendale Gardens, a private dead end path that also led up a garden path on a short cut to Muslim Ladies’ College was situated next.

The name was derived from its tenant Ms Razeena Abdul Rahman, sister of Sir Razik Fareed, who married Ghouse Mohideen and lived there with her family. She was also the first ever Muslim female Justice of the Peace, appointed by the British Government before Independence in 1948, in Ceylon.

MUSLIM LADIES COLLEGE


Muslim Ladies College is known and recognized in Sri Lanka as the premier state educational institution for Muslim Girls. It is located at No 22, Kensington Gardens, Colombo 04 and was started in 1946 by the Ceylon Moor Ladies' Union on land and buildings donated by Sir Razik Fareed.

A school that started with 26 students, today has a student population of 2800 and a tutorial staff of 109. It has a student hostel. The school has completed almost 60 years of dedicated service to the cause of Muslim girls' education.

The school follows the educational ideals of a good citizen and upholds a life of purity, discipline and service exemplified by the highest and the noblest in Muslim Womanhood. Students are given the opportunity to participate in planning sharing and managing school activities which would give them the experience to perform to the best of thier ability and to develop the confidence and self understanding so necessary for a full and satisfying life.

Fareed Place


Fareed Place, a dead end street, came next where the famous Sir Razik Fareed, Kt, OBE, JPUM, (29.12.1893-23.08.1984) had his sprawling mansion, with his orchid gardens in full bloom throughout the year, at the bottom end of the street. 

Sir Razik, as he was affectionately known, was a very prominent Ceylon Moor leader who served the nation as a nominated member of the 2nd State Council (1936-1947);
(In July 1942, Dr MCM Kaleel succeeded AE Goonesinghe at a by-election for Colombo Central.); senator, deputy speaker and chairman of committees, minister of Trade, and also high commissioner for Ceylon in Pakistan. He was the founder President of the Moors’ Islamic Cultural Home, Inc., (MICH), a premier Ceylon Moor Social Service Organization.

Origins
The Moors’ Islamic Cultural Home, Inc., popularly referred by the public as the Home, was founded on 02 August, 1944, in the offices of AIL Marikar, a founder joint-secretary, at No. 5, Second Cross Street in Colombo-11, to promote and preserve the history and traditions of Ceylon Moors, and, inter alia, to research the Ceylon Moor community’s customs, culture and traditions.


Founders
The founding fathers of this premier Muslim institution were ARA Razik, MSC (later  Sir Razik Fareed, Kt, OBE, JPUM, WM Hassim, JP, AH Macan Markar, AIL Marikar and ALM Lafir, JP, ably supported by Messrs Razeen Abdul Cader, MLM Ghouse, Rasheed Bin Hassen, MMC, AM Hamid, SM Ismail, MFA Jaward, MHM Kamil, MB Mohamed, SL Mohamed, HASM. Rafiudeen, MBM Thassim and ARM Zarook, all devoted and dedicated Muslims of that era.

Headquarters
The headquarters of the Home is presently located at Bristol Street (Now Sir Razik Fareed Mawatha) in the Fort at Colombo-1. Its service arms are in operation at the Pasha Villa at No. 115, Dematagoda Road, Colombo 9, and the Home for the Elders, inaugurated in 1957 and named after Lady Fareed, at Makola. This Elders Home was in recent years grandly reconstructed and refurbished by a philanthropist, Haji Eliyas Abdul Kareem, costing millions of rupees, to meet the demand by destitute elders seeking for a comfortable recluse.

State Recognition 
On 02 Aug-2004, the Philatelic Bureau of the Department of Posts issued a first-day cover to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Home in recognition of its services to the community and the nation. Its founder president, Sir Razik Fareed, was earlier honoured by an issue of a postage stamp on National Heroes’ Day on 22 May-1988.

Sir Razik’s father, the Hon. WM Abdul Rahman, MLC, (1868-06.04.1933) was the one of the unofficial ten members of the First Legislative Council of Ceylon (1908-1911); one of the six nominated members of the Second Legislative Council of Ceylon (1912); and one of the seven nominated members of the Third Legislative Council of Ceylon (1916).

Sir Razik’s grandfather, Arasy Marikar Wapchi Marikar (1829-14.05.1925), was the owner and builder of the houses at Nos 298 and 300 Galle Road, Bambalapitiya, in addition to having been given the honor of building the General Post Office (GPO), the Colombo Museum, Colombo Customs, Colombo Town Hall in Pettah, the Galle Face Hotel, Victoria Arcade, Finlay Moir Building, the Clock Tower, the Maligakande Reservoir, Battenburgh Battery, etc. Wapchi Marikar was also one of the founder members of Zahira College, Colombo in Maradana, Colombo-10.

Incidentally, in January, 1877, the completed building of the Colombo Museum was declared open by the governor, The Rt Hon. Sir William Henry Gregory, KCMG, For having completed the construction well before the deadline, the governor publicly requested Wapchi Marikar what honour he desired. Wapchi Marikar requested the museum be kept closed on Fridays to enable his brethren to attend the Friday Jumu’ah prayers. To this day, 01 May, 2012, that request has been honored.

The Imamdeens also lived down Fareed Place, whose sons are Shamil and Shiham. Shiham married the granddaughter of Rameela Sameer and AWM Ghouse, of Lily Avenue Wellawatte, great-granddaughter of Muhammad Sameer of No. 298, Galle Road, Bambalapitiya. Mr and Mrs Rashid Bin Hassan lived there with their one and only daughter, Zeena, who married Shibly Mohideen from Pendennis Avenue (now Abdul Caffoor Mawatha), Colombo 3. Presently Shibly and his wife Zeena live there with their children and grandchildren.



ST. PETERS' COLLEGE

SPC 1960: http://www.flickr.com/photos/91036099@N00/146157453/
SPC Band 1960: http://www.flickr.com/photos/91036099@N00/146157454/
SPC cadets 1960: http://www.flickr.com/photos/91036099@N00/146157456/

And then, finally at the end of the eastern Galle Road section of the town of Bamba, came St. Peters College. A massive area of land bordering Galle Road in the West and the Wellawatte Canal on the South, stretching far down into the landside into the East.

The school building and chapel graced the front while the cricket and rugby grounds bordered the rear. A pavilion was built sometime later on and even later a swimming pool was added for the benefit of the students attending. With the road development of Duplication Road extending into the school, the grounds had to be separated with the school as the road passed right in between spilling on to a newly constructed bridge over the Wellawatte Canal.

The school has a very colorful and old history dating back to old times when the children of Burgher railroad workers, engineers, engine drivers and policemen graced its halls of fame and went on to become me of honor and stature.

The eighty one year period of St. Peters’ College, beginning 1922, could conveniently be divided into six distinct eras. Firstly, The beginnings dominated by that great French missionary Very Rev. Fr. Maurice LeGoc; Secondly the era of the First Rector Very Rev. Fr. D. J. Nicholas Perera 1922 to 1943 who laid a solid foundation, a period which saw St. Peter’s making a big impact on the local educational scene in next to no time; Thirdly, the aftermath of World War 11 and the Rectorship of Very Rev. Fr. Basil A. Wiratunge O.M.I. from 1943 to 1955; Fourthly, an era spanning 21 years which take in the Rectorships of five Rectors all of whom had to grapple with financial constraints brought about by the daring and bold decision not to be vested with the State, but to function as a ‘Non fee levying private school’ - Rev. Fr. Arthur Nicholas Fernando (1956 to 1963), Rev. Fr. Mervyn Weerakkody (1963 to 1971), Rev. Fr. Theodore E. Peiris O.M.I. (1971 to 1975), Rev. Fr. Claver Perera (1975 to 1976), and Rev. Fr. Francis Madiwela (1976 to 1977); Fifthly, the enlightening and brilliant Rectorship of Rev. Fr. Joe E. Wickramasinghe (1978 to 1994) an era which could well be called ‘The Renaissance in Peterite History’; and last but not least the nine year old Rectorship of Rev. Fr. Felician Perera (1994 to date) on whose young shoulders has fallen the responsibility of guiding St.. Peter’s into and during the early 21st Century.

VERY REV. FR.MAURICE J.LEGOC AND THE “JOSEPHIAN” CONNECTION
St. Joseph’s College was founded in March 1896 and by 1921 St.. Joseph’s was 25 years old and the founding of St.. Peter’s College under the name “St. Joseph’s College South’ could well be considered as a silver Jubilee gift of St. Joseph’s to the nation. The land was purchased from E.C. de Fonseka for a sum of Rs, 75,000/- and on the broad shoulders of Fr. LeGoc fell the responsibility of bringing St.. Joseph’s College South into being. Building operations began on this neglected cinnamon land bordering the Galle Road and alongside the Wellawatte Canal, on the 7th July 1921.


On the 18th January 1922, Fr. LeGoc with a large number of Josephian students and Staff arrived by special train and alighted near Kinross Avenue at 2 p.m. and marched to St. Peter’s College for the opening. The Josephian Magazine of 1922 described it thus, “Great St. joseph’s by the lake was setting out this bright January day to open and inaugurate the little St. Joseph’s by the sea. “His Grace the Archbishop Dr. Anthony Coudert blessed the building and premises and Hon. Mr. Edwin Evans Director of Education formerly opened the new school.”

Thus was St. Joseph’s College South born on 18th January 1922. Rev. Fr. D. J. Nicholas Perera was appointed President of the College, with classes from Grade 1 to Grade VII, while the number on roll was 204.

FIRST RECTOR VERY REV. FR. D. J. NICHOLAS PERERA, OMI : 1922-1943
Events moved fast under the direction of Fr. Nicholas Perera and on 16th, June 1926 it was sanctioned by His Grace the Archbishop and the Department of Education that St. Joseph’s College South be renamed St. Peter’s College with Fr. Nicholas Perera appointed as Rector. On the Feast of St. Peter 29th June 1927 the new College flag with the colours - Blue, White and Gold was blessed and hoisted by Rev. Fr. LeGoc, who in his speech that day mentioned that Blue signifies heaven, White Purity of Heart, and Gold Achievement and High Resolve and added that St. Peter’s would, at no distant date, be one of the greatest Educational Institutions in the island.

Under Fr. Nicholas Perera’s dynamic leadership St. Peter’s made great leaps forward. In 1930 Dr. P. R. Anthonis world famous Surgeon and Leslie J. D. Fernando entered the Medical College and the Science Faculty of the University College respectively. Messrs. A. O. Wirasinghe, A. M. S. Perera and A. L. Perera followed suit and later joined the prestigious Ceylon Civil Service. In 1933 St. Peter’s challenged the mother institution, St. Joseph’s at cricket the first Big Match which Fr. LeGoc who was still Rector of St. Joseph’s insisted should be played on the Peterite grounds which had been opened in 1930. The magnificent Hall was completed in 1931. The extension of the classrooms, a Science Block, Physics Theatre, the Fathers’ Quarters followed in quick succession.

As early as 1934, St. Peter’s under the captaincy of Shirley Illesinghe won the Tarbat and Jeafferson Cups at the Public Schools Athlectic Meet, ably coached by Herbert Wittahatchy. In 1935, again under Shirley Illesinghe, St. Peter’s were Rugby Champions repeating it in 1936 under Archibald Perera. In a matter of a decade St. Peter’s had arrived.

From 1922 to 1943 Fr. D. J. NIcholas Perera had laid a solid foundation at St. Peter’s, and he brought lustre to the College with his genialty, experience and scholarship. On 9th November 1943 Fr. Nicholas Perera handed over the reins of Rector to Rev. Fr. Basil Wiratunge.

THE SECOND RECTOR REV. FR. BASIL A. WIRATUNGE, OMI : 1943 – 1955
Fr. Basil Wiratunge took a tight control of the main administration branches of the school and helped produce the successes in studies and games which quickly brought St. Peter’s to the forefront of Public Schools of this period.


Fr. Basil assumed duties as Rector at a time when he not merely had to follow a policy of consolidation and expansion, but first he had to re-build, resuscitate, and reorganise the College after the travails of World War 2.

His first task was to convert a war time military hospital that the College had become during the evacuation period of 1942 to 1946 into the school that had been St. Peter’s. Nothing could unruffle Fr. Basil. At times of stress and difficulty there was Fr. Basil with his calmness and his implicit trust in Providence. Whatever the magnitude of his problems he radiated that calmness amongst all.

No wonder then that St. Peter’s College reached its zenith during the Rectorship of Rev. Fr. Basil Wiratunga from 1943 to 1955. Admissions to the University increased. In Sports, St. Peter’s excelled during his Rectorship. For two successive years St. Peter’s were invincible schools cricket champions in 1946 and 1947. The Primary School block and the College Pavilion bear testimony to his efforts to provide better facilities for the students.

THE DIFFICULT YEARS : 1956 – 1977
The period 1956 to 1977 covers the Rectorships of Five Rectors, all of whom were dogged by the problem of the Schools Take over bid, with severe financial constraints consequent to the decision by St. Peter’s not to be vested with the State but to function as a ‘Non Fee Levying Private School’. Nevertheless and notwithstanding each of the five Rectors of this difficult era made their individual contribution to the progress of St. Peter’s never succumbing to problems of the times.

Rev. Fr. Arthur Nicholas Fernando who succeeded Rev. Fr. Basil Wiratunge as the Third Rector of St. Peter’s from 1956 to 1963 will be remembered for the encouragement and support he gave to the development of Aesthetic Studies. He it was who started the first schools Fife and Drum band on June 30th 1956. Tyronne Misso, now migrated to and living in ustralia, was one of the Wellawatte boys who was a founder member of the band and contributed to its success from 1959-62
A Cultural Centre to promote Music, Drama, Dancing and Art was started in November 1956 with the help of Rev. Fr. Mervyn Weerakkody and Rev. Fr. Marcelline Jayakody. Kandyan Dancing, Oriental Singing and the formation of Western and Oriental Orchestras came about. Rowing was introduced to St. Peter’s in 1959, as also a unit of the St. John’s Ambulance Brigade. Rev. Fr. Arthur Nicholas it was who first had to beat the direct impact of the Schools take over from December 1st 1960 when St. Peter’s decided to remain as a Private Non Fee Levying institution. The Welfare Society came into being under his astute leadership. A fine organiser and administrator he installed a modern Canteen to supplement the much needed finances. He also set up the College Boarding.

Rev. Fr. Mervyn Weerakkody succeeded Fr. Arthur Nicholas Fernando and was the Fourth Rector from 1963 to 1971. Fr. Weerakkody took office at a most turbulent period but his genial qualities helped him to attract benefactors to help the College. He encouraged the Old Boys’ Union and the Old Peterites Sports Club to invite more members. Perhaps his greatest contribution to St. Peter’s was the formation of the Parent Teacher Association which brought both parents and teachers together in the interests of the students. More authority and responsibility was passed on to the lay teaching staff with the formation of Boards of Discipline, Studies and Sports. He established the Employees Provident Fund for the Teaching Staff. On the 24th, July 1971 he left St. Peter’s to take up the Rectorship of St. Joseph’s. He will be best remembered for his efforts to inculcate the appreciation of Music both as Teacher and Rector. Many have been the Peterites who chose Music as a career as result.

Rev. Fr. Theodore E. Peiris O.M.I. who had been on the Tutorial Staff of St. Peter’s in the 1940s succeeded Rev. Fr. Mervyn Weerakkody and was Rector from 1971 to 1975. To him fell the honour of presiding at the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of the College on 18th January 1972. Even though the College still had a struggle on its hands where fiances were concerned Fr. Theodore was able to muster support for the celebrations, which continued throughout the year.
The Sixth Rector of St. Peter’s Rev. Fr. Claver Perera was welcomed with much jubilation being the first fully fledged Peterite to adorn the Rectorial Chair. His stay lasted two years from 1975 to 1976. However within that short period he decentralised the administration with the appointment of Sectional Heads from Grade 6 to the Advanced Level. Under his guidance and training the Peterite Choir reached great heights a trend which exists up to today. Fr. Claver was instrumental in enlarging and renovating the College Chapel for the first time in 50 years.

Rev. Fr. Francis Madiwela took over the reins of office from Fr. Claver Perera and his stay also lasted two years from 1976 to 1977. Yet in the short time he was Rector he organised a number of Seminars for the Teachers to help them refresh their minds in all aspects of teaching. Fr. Francis Madiwela will best be remembered by the Old Boys’ Union because of his conviction that the Old Boys should have their own President, with the Rector who was President since 1927 being Patron. This change came into effect on 4th December 1977, shortly before his transfer to St. Thomas, Kotte as Principal.

THE RECTORSHIP OF REV. FR. JOE WICKRAMASINGHE : 1978 TO 1994
THE RENAISSANCE PERIOD IN PETERITE HISTORY

When the history of St. Peter’s College, now in its eighty first year, comes to be written, the Rectorship of Rev. Fr. Joe Wickramasinghe will loom large. Indeed his life and work at St. Peter’s College, bids fair to be ranked as one of the best performances of any Rector of St. Peter’s since its inception. Father Joe’s crowning efforts as an educationist par excellence reached its peak as Rector of St. Peter’s College from 1978 to 1994. From the doldrums in 1978, Father Joe steered St. Peter’s College to great heights of excellence in studies, sports and discipline.

Father Joe’s greatest strength lay in his ability to harness the human resources at his disposal - in particular his students, teachers, old boys, parents and well-wishers - in all his endeavours. He made St. Peter’s financially viable very early in his rectorship A master builder, he was able to generate nearly Rs. 20 million within 16 years to bring the College infrastructure to what it is today - the new 3 storeyed Science Block and Laboratory; the new Canteen and Vocational Centre; the 3 storeyed Primary School Extension; the elegant and tasteful Swimming Pool, a dream come true for Peterites; the 3 storeyed Block at St. Peter’s College, Gampaha, the new Dental Clinic; the Badminton and Basketball Courts; the TV Room the Computer Room; the Junior Science Room and the new Office Block. To cap it all, in readiness for the 75th Anniversary of St. Peter’s in 1997, Fr. Joe has collected enough funds to get started with yet another 4 storeyed Block of classrooms, Library and Auditorium, atop the Canal Side block of classrooms.

9TH RECTOR REV. FR. FELICIAN R. PERERA : 1994 TO DATE

With the retirement of Rev. Fr. Joe Wickremasinghe the mantle of office of Rector was passed on to the youthful 9th Rector of St. Peter’s Rev. Fr. Felician R. Perera M. A. in Education (Lond.) He has guided St. Peter’s in the near nine years with acceptance from Old Boys, Parents the Tutorial Staff and the Present Boys and has helped to maintain the high standards achieved during the term of Rev. Fr. Joe Wickremasinghe.

On his shoulders fell the responsibility of organising the Celebration programme for the 75th Anniversary of St. Peter’s, and the completion of the new 4 storey Middle School Block. He has also built a new library and a very tasteful reading pavilion for the students and a gymnasium. The primary school has also got a new look with class rooms being done up and the garden turfed & paved, plus a new play area. The boarding which was closed has been re opened and with the assistance of the OBU a very modern computer laboratory has been set up.

A Peterite Icon from those glorious days


Russel Harmer had the uncanny ability of making things happen
By Maxie Kariyawasam - Daily Mirror Mon Sep 17 2007


Whenever Russel Harmer walked into the field, one could sense an aura of excitement among the spectators. Be it with the bat or behind the wickets, Russel had the uncanny ability of simply making things happen. Aggressive batting and slick work behind the he stumps, changed the course of many a game much to the delight of the onlookers and often brought sheer despair to the opposing sides.


Russel learnt the basics of his trade while still a tiny tot at Wesley College when under the guidance of his first coach Mr. Lionel Jayasuriya. Russel was to have a meteoric rise from the under 12 sector stretching up to the first XI via both the U-14 and the U-16 segments. Representing the College Senior team during the last two years of schooling, Russel playing under Everad Schoorman and Donald Thurairatnam, set the school cricket scene alight with some superlative displays both with the bat and behind the sticks. His innings for Wesley against Ananda where he treated the opposing bowlers with utter disdain to score a magnificent 117 will long be remembered by those who were fortunate to witness this gem of an innings. Russsel’s extraordinary talents was to earn him a place in the 1964 and 1965 combined Colleges teams that included Sunil Fernando, Sarath Seneviratne, A.G. Perera, B.Reid, David Heyn and Anura Tennakoon, all outstanding schoolboy stars of yesteryear. While still in college, Russel turned out for Bloomfield C.C. and in his first outing, playing in a Daily News Trophy Match against Colts C.C. scored a scintillating century, which saw him being immediately drafted into the Sara Trophy side.


On leaving School Russel joined Rajendrams Ltd, later to be known as Maharaja’s Ltd and soon realized that he made the correct choice as far as employment was concerned due to the patronage he received form Mr. Rajamahenderan who also went on to recruit a galaxy of cricketing stars which made Maharajah’s a force to be reckoned with in Mercantile Cricket. Russel captained the Maharajah’s team in 1970/71 and had under him such renowned cricketers as Niel Chanmugam, Mervyn Peiris, Ralston Burke, Everard Schoorman, Srinath Silva, K.M. Nelson and his own brother Mervyn. Touring India and Malaysia with the Maharaja’s team Russel showed his calibre with a divesting knock of 100 runs against Malaysia out of a total of 195 for two wickets. Continuing to turn out for Bloomfield in heir first class matches, Russel was once involved in a mammoth stand of 297 runs for the second wicket with A.G.Perera against the B.R.C. Russell’s contribution was a blistering 174 and Perera’s a grand 104 not out. He then went on to captain Bloomfield with distinction.


National duty
In 1972, the Pakistan team led by Intikab Alam toured Sri Lanka and Russel was called upon for National Duty on the merit of his outstanding performances at club level. This writer distinctly remembers Russel coming for the match using the poor man’s conveyance the bus, while his more affluent team mates made it to the grounds in their own vehicles or were driven there by friends. Incidentally, another Sri Lankan great Duleep Mendis made his debut together with Russel in this match. In 1973 the M.C.C. team captained by R. Lewis took on Sri Lanka skippered by Michael Tissera and Russel was once again called up to don the Sri Lanka Cap.

Cold storage
After this encounter, Russel was for some strange reason confined to ‘Cold Storage’ by the National Selectors, although he continued to represent the C.C.A president’s XI in Gopalan Trophy matches against Madras. However, Russel literally fought himself back into the Sri Lankan team with a forceful knock of 132 for Mercantile Cricket Association against government services in the Robert Senanayake Trophy in 1975 and booked a berth for the Indian tour for three unofficial tests that followed.


Final appearance
This preceded Russell’s final International appearance against Tony Greg’s Englishmen in 1977, which side included Mike Brearley, Bob Woolmer, Bob Willis, Derek Underwood, Derek Randal, Allan Knott and Dennis Amiss, to name a few. In 1978, Russel turning out for the SSC in the premier Division match against Moratuwa CC claimed seven victims behind the stumps and followed this up in 1980 by repeating this very same feat against Saracens SC, thus joining a select band of 18 wicket-keepers who have performed likewise at club, Sheffield Shield and county levels, including the legendary Australian Wally Grout. Russel also set a record in the very first six a side tournament held by the B.R.C. when he clobbered an electrifying 24 runs in a single over.


Highly productive
Russel’s highly productive cricket career could be attributed to the fact that he hailed form a cricketing family. His father, the late Granville was a formidable opening bowler who represented Govt. Services for many years and his brothers Mervyn and Granville Jnr. were gifted cricketers who shone at both college and club levels.


Russels’s cricketing genes appear to have passed on to his son Peter who was himself a crack wicket-keeper/batsman and past Josephian captain now domiciled in Australia. Perhaps the most emotional incident in Russell’s cricketing life would have come when he and his son Peter opened batting for the SSC in a Daily News Trophy encounter. Apart from being emotional this father and son opening combination is perhaps a unique occurrence in Sri Lankan Cricket.


Russel is currently in charge of the Ketharama School of Cricket and is extremely grateful to the former Minister of Sports Jeevan Kumaranatunge, Commander H.W. Silva, Director, Mr. Sooriyaarachchi, Manager, Mr. Jayantha Dharmadasa and Mr Duleep Mendis for the invaluable assistance and advice given to run this venture successfully.


He also expresses his deep gratitude to Mr.R. Rajamahendran of Maharajah’s for being his benefactor and guiding both his official and cricketing careers. This then is the saga of Russel Harmer who adorned the cricketing fields of Sri Lanka and abroad, generating a brand of excitement that very few others could emulate.


Extracted from the Pre 70s SPC blog
http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001760812739

Down Memory lane at St. Peters





Work Enduring, Play Alluring......




As I sit down to write about my memories at SPC at the invitation of the Old Peterites Batch of Pre ‘70s, memories do come flooding so thick and fast, I’m afraid I might even miss the recording of some.

Pre ’70s would make this the batch to which the oldest Petes belong but I am from the youngest class of the lot having done my O’ Levels in 1969. The reason that this needed clarification was because I might not be privy to some of the stories of the older generation of Peterites who also belong to this group but I hope that I will be able to capture some of their stories too, more importantly about some of the teachers and personalities that adorned
that era prior to mine.

My first day at school was not the day school opened that dim, distant year of 1959, but about a month later. My delayed entry is another story in itself but that will have to be told in another place, another time.

Two things that I recall vividly from my first day at school was the vastness of the play ground and the noise in the canteen during the interval. What lay beyond the far boundary of the ground was a mystery soon to be solved when we were taken to visit the farm.

It was much later that we learnt the names and personalities behind the running of these facilities not available to many schools in that era. Personalities such as Nomis the ground boy and Andiris from the canteen, and as I recall the ground was better kept those days by a team of Tamil ladies and of course Nomis with his mechanical grass cutter which later gave
way to a tractor driven one.

Celestina the one who was most needed when one or two of the little ones soiled their clothes, Mr. Cooray the Primary Office Clerk and Martin who has come a long way since he was a helper in the office were some of the others helping to run the show in the Primary section.

Much later we got to know the saintly Emmanuel the Sacristan of the chapel, Juse the van driver of that beloved Volks Wagon, Hitler (so known because of his Hitlerian moustache – Pemsiri to give his actual name) and Kajetan (there is a St. Kajetan’s Church at Ekala in Ja-Ela), better known as Kaithan and Silva and Lesley of the Lab. Rumour was that Silva who won the grand 1st prize of Rs.50,000/- in the National Lottery (worth about Rs.5 million now)
and left St. Peter’s to run his own business in his native village.

Coming back to the days in the primary section, the turf pitch came in the early 60s and how proud Fr. Arthur Nicholas Fernando (Billa was not a very complementary nick name that he was given), was at giving St. Peter’s cricketers a turf pitch and a dire warning for the likes of us who played fun cricket that it was out of bounds. The “sight screens” made of white
canvas and put up only on match days billowed in the wind as if setting sail to carry SPC Cricket to greater heights.

The canteen was famous for Andiris’ “seeni sambol paan” and at only 10 cts. Sponge cake, a cup of tea or 2 toffees also cost only 10 cts. While a bigger piece of cake was 15 cts. How Andiris and 1 or 2 assistants managed to feed that hungry lot during that short period of 15 minutes (short interval) with no calculators but without missing anyone and without being cheated out of cent, is a mystery.

In fact I read somewhere in an old magazine that when St. Peter’s was established it was meant to be a “garden school”. Not to be understood as one having classes under trees, but rather having large and airy class rooms. This was reality then with all classes having large openings and no windows with ventilation unobstructed by other buildings, but sadly now all classrooms have lockable windows with fans to circulate stale and humid air and the little available ventilation is also obstructed by other buildings, in most instances.

It was also said that the founding fathers believed that it should be as self sufficient as possible and hence in those days St. Peter’s baked the best bread, produced popsicles, ran a farm for eggs and chicken. In fact the bread and popsicles were supplied to surrounding Catholic schools like the Holy Family Convents at Bambalapitiya and Dehiwela, St. Lawrance’s, Wellawatte and St. Mary’s College in Dehiwela.

School hours, except for the LKG and UKG (Lower and Upper Kindergarten) were from 8.45 to 3.15 with a short interval of 15 minutes and a long interval or lunch interval of 1 hour. This one hour’s lunch interval, I’m sure not only helped the students to exercise their limbs and not be solely bookworms but also help build the long lasting relationships in school that stood the test of time for many of us.

Coming back to the personalities that helped shape St. Peter’s and us, I cannot forget Fr. George Jayasuriya, Principle of the primary section at the time I joined and Fr. Rufus Benedict later and the kind lady teachers we had in the lower classes. Some I recall are Mrs. Ida Samaranayake and Misses. Ekanayake and Noreen who were institutions at College in those good old days. Mrs. Fernando in the LKG and Mrs. Martino in the UKG, Mrs
Nanayakkara, Lalitha Perera, Irene Fernando (hand work), Rita Fernando (singing), Barbra (Piano), Trilby Fernando, Mrs. Arthur Fernando are some of those lady teachers whose names I recall. Among the masters that taught us in the Primary section were Benjamin Herath, Van Hoyson (who unfortunately committed suicide), H D Perera (the tall one) and Almeida, Peiris and Pius all in the Sinhala stream and M/s. Salvador and Barry and Mrs. De Mel are some I remember from the English stream.


Let me also try to recall some of the classmates I had in the 1 st year in College. My cousin Michael Rodrigo (later called doctor not because he qualified as one but because at one Big Match, carrying a stethoscope, he famously checked the 2 umpires chests in the middle of the pitch at the Oval) Achintha Thilakawardena (a real doctor practising in Wales), Anil Perera, Priyan Wijeratne, Sunimal Herath, Dilukshan Seneviratne (now doing well in
Australia) Nimal Jayamaha and his cousin George Jayasuriya (RIP), Andrew Liyanage (in UK), Nandaratne Perera (of merry-go-round fame and sadly now departed), Gamini Goonasena (who created a record of sorts by being President of the Colts Cricket Club for 25 years or more), Sriyan Wijeratne, Nalin Dias (of Hilarian’s Dehiwela),
Going into “College”, from Standard 6, was a special thing. It was a kind of special promotion or a bigger step in one’s school career. The dread of having no female teachers in “College” was real until in ‘67 or ’68 female teachers were introduced. But that was after 3 Familians entered SPC to do their A’ Levels in 1966, a very special event at College and amusing to the younger ones but welcome to the older students. That was truly a novelty and while I can understand what it was for the boys, I still don’t know how the 3 girls felt about being only 3 female students in an all boys’ school.


Some of the most loved and respected masters I recall are (although nick names are given there is no malice intended), M/s. Balasuriya (Bala), Soysa (Soyya), Arthur Fernando (Pippiya), Abeygoonawardena (Nas Polla), Jayasekeras - Primson and Heracles (Polar Bear), Basil Perera (Bassa), I M Weerasinghe (Charlie), Andrew Pathirana, Cooray, Austin Fernando (Austiya), Sathurukulasingham (Half Soda), Ratnasabapathy, George Jayaweera, Ranasinghe (who taught us Pali). There were also the Rev. Sisters from the Holy Angels Convent and our own priests Frs. Mervin Weerakkody (better known as cheese ball), the then Rector, Christy Abeyratne, Prefect of Games, Joe Wickremasinghe, Prefect of Studies
(later Rector of what we now call the golden era of St. Peter’s), Bernard Costa, Bursar (Aba Costa who was cruelly murdered by suspected drug mudalalis). Of the masters from the older generation of whom I was told by my committee colleagues, the unforgettable ones had been M/s. Ambrose (Apple John), Sueter Peiris (the main organiser of the famous Fun O Rama a carnival unparalleled in those days), W B de Alwis (known as Thaiyya) who had taught history, K O P Jayawardena, Art Master (Bola Puka) and Cyril Ekanayake who was not only a master but also the Cricket Coach in that era.

Talking of coaches the great Archibald Perera our rugby coach for many years can never be forgotten and neither can we forget a long time coach of cricket, that great All Ceylon cricketer and old Pete, Dr. H I K Fernando.
Recalling some of their doings or their nick names will bring fond memories to many I’m sure. Merril Balasuriya in trying to din the rudiments of maths to the not so bright among us used to say “denawa tokkak peni londa eli bahinda”. Or trying to make calculations simple he would ask if 10 wadais cost 50 cts. how much would one cost and the obvious answer would come from even the so called backward ones and he would say “kana bane’ nam hondata therenawa neda”.

Arthur Fernando, dressed always in white and never without his spectacles fancied himself as the Sherlock Holms at College and tried to be involved whenever a boy complained of some misdemeanour by another unknown boy. His detective skills however did not bring results as the students got older and wiser in the ways of the world.

Andrew Pathirana who later was the Personnel Manager at the now defunct Asian Cotton Mills was our Sinhala Master in grade 8 and was promptly nick named Kewattaya (from the character of the Kewatta Bamuna in the Ummagga Jathaka story we had to study).

Paliya was the obvious nick name earned by Ranasinghe the ex-monk who taught us Pali I also recall the art master in our grade 8 class, Mr. B P S Perera who in his anxiety to keep the students silent and engaged in Art, once said “lamai nishabbdha wenna, Mr. Rector enawa”, much to our amusement and louder guffaws.

Mr. Ratnasabapathy from the Bambalapitiya Parish was a devout Catholic who would come round every first Thursday saying “Catholic boys go to Chapel for confession”. This was because there was always Mass on first Friday. While there was no compulsion, some of us did attend Mass on first Fridays.

Austin Fernando was the Master-in-charge of Cricket for as long as I recall and his popularity obviously fluctuated depending on the level of success achieved by our 1 st XI team. I seem to still hear Stanley Jayasinghe, a die-hard Peterite, shouting “Austin, pad up” whenever SPC was losing a match in the 70s.

Chandra Fernando, our Chemistry master in grade 9 was baptized “Modaya” for his penchant of calling anyone who did not behave in class as “modaya”, while U R Fernando our Physics master was called Kalu Albert after the infamous convict in the Kalaththewa murder case, not because of any involvement with the real Kalu Albert, but because he was dark and not very tall.

Miss. Velupillai was a dear lady who lived next door to the then famous Polytechnic who taught us English and she endeared herself to us so much that she was the only teacher who received a valuable gift of a sari when we forced an invitation from her to visit her at the end of the year.

Half Soda (and I don’t know how many would know him by his real name of Sathurukulasingham) was famous because of his lack of height and there was a master whom we nick named Veddha, but for the life of me I cannot recall his name nor do I know of anyone who can. On one occasion when “Vedda” was acting for an absent master, our monitor, now too famous for his identity to be revealed, was asked to keep the boys under control kept urging the boys to make more noise while gesturing with his hands to be silent.

Poor “Vedda” who knew no Sinhala was at a loss to understand why the boys would not be silent.

The stories and nick names are mentioned here with no malice towards anyone and as any old boy from any school would testify, these teachers and masters are recalled with fondness and gratitude for moulding our lives in the best of traditions. Whatever anyone says about the effectiveness of modern methods of teaching I don’t think many can match the dedication and love these old teachers had for their profession and their charges. In fact I don’t think any of them considered teaching a profession but rather treated it as a vocation.

There will be many who will recall many more stories from the times they were at College, memories so precious that they are etched in their minds and I wish more would contribute to recalling these memories and penning them for posterity.

We spent 6 1⁄2 hours a day at College and it is no wonder then that we who had that privilege of “full days’ of school” feel that they were good old days.
It has given me immense pleasure to put down these memories and I hope it will bring back pleasant memories of your own at College.

And before I conclude I found among our committee members a master forger who I think, has missed his vocation. His imitation of Fr. Arthur Fernando’s and Mr. Sueter Peiris’ signatures, are perfect as you can see below. Thankfully they are not alive today to challenge him and more importantly our colleague is not willing to use his skill to forge the
signatures of existing Rectors or masters.

To St. Peter’s I say “Ad multos annos” and to all the dear Old Petes, “Keep the flag unfurled”.

Algi Wijewickrema
(from the O/L Science Class of 1969)


Old Peterites Pix - Extracted from the Pre Seveties Old Peterites Group Page on Facebook


Camillus Abeygunewardena, Chandra Fernando & Dr. Lloyd Fernando


David Joachim, Stanley Lumanauw, & Cecil Ferdinands


Trevor Georgesz, Nihal Wijeratne, Rodney Martenstyn, & Cyril Wijesena

Posted on FB by Mario Misso on Aug 8 2012



Adrian sent the following email and photo to Mario,

From Mario Misso "I had been trying to get in touch with him for many years, & I had the impression that he was in Australia."

I have a photo of him from a trip we did with class mates to Batticola, with memories that are still very vivid in my mind (attached).He is just behind the priest.Next to me is Vashi Thanvadas, & on the left is Mindze
nty Gomez.There was SelvaKumar Fernando too on that trip, who passed away too, when I was still in SL.
Best,

Mario




The Dutch Canal at Wellawatte

A Milk Board milk booth stood at the end of the school wall adjoining the canal that served nutritious refreshment to the students and passers by. The Wellawatte Canal was the dividing line between Bambalapitiya and the next town to the south, Wellawatte. The waters of the canal brought forth waste and other waste matter from the innards of Colombo and its suburbs to deposit the waste into the vast open waters of the Indian Ocean.

The Boys of Bamba

George Siegerts took part in the film the Bridge on the River Kwaii, and is credited for whistling the theme music of the film the Colonel Bogey March. Several of the Bambalawatte Boys, mainly from the Burgher community, featured in the film as Extras and were paid as much as Rs 100 a day, which was a tidy sum in those times. Turab jafferjee, Ian Kelly, Stanford Chapman, and Allister Bartholomeusz were stuntmen hired for the many river scene takes in the Kitulgala river,

In fact, the famous film producer and director David Lean apologized to the aforementioned stuntmen, for perceived racial discrimination during filming at Kitulgalla. This made headline News by the Journalist Gamini Seniviratne of the Times of Ceylon now a Journalist based in UK.

Another Big band of that era was the The Harold Seniviratne Combo, a dance band of great repute for standards and oldies. The band comprised of Harold on Sax, his brother Tissa on drums, Chandra Seniviratne, Ralph Maas, Ronald Bartholomeusz, and Raife Jansz. A great band that was in very popular demand at many gala’s. The Seniviratne Bros. lived down Lorenz Road Bambalapitiya. Bunny Ashbourne, and Anita Arndt of singing fame.

The Burgher Community and Bamba

The spicy episodes described by ex-Royalist Carl Muller in his Gratiaen Prize winning book, The Jam Fruit Tree, Carl Muller, in his absorbing series of books on the von Bloss family vividly depicts the lives and times of the varied classes of Burghers and their culture, especially in the Bambalapitiya and Wellawatte areas, where they were mostly confined.

The Burgher community, who made a significant contribution to Ceylon, in the areas of Law, The Judiciary, Medicine, Administration - the Ceylon Civil Service, lived mainly in the belt of Bamba and the adjacent Havelock Town area in Colombo 5. It is a known fact that the Colombo Municipal Council and the then Mayor of Colombo encouraged Burghers to settle in this middle class belt, where there were great schools – SPC, HFC, SPM, Lindsay, St Claires School, and later on Vishaka, & Muslim Ladies College.

The Colombo Colts Cricket Club (CCC), Havelocks and Burgher Recreation Club (BRC) were cricket clubs which served as the breeding ground of champion athletes, cricketers and rugby Union Players. The Burghers lived in harmony, and quite easily integrated with the Muslims, Bohras, and Sindhi communities.  Mary’s Road Colombo was indeed a good example of the successful blend of multi culturalism. In this street lived seven Burgher families, five Ceylon Moors, four Tamils, one Sindhi and six Sinhalese, who lived in closeness, friendship and amity. Children referred to the elders as Uncles and Aunts. It was truly an example of respect, tolerance and unity of a kind unseen and unheard today, sadly - That was the way of the true Ceylonese of that era.

Champions - representing the aforementioned Clubs - The fabulous Aldons Brothers of Havelocks Fame, Ernie Kelart, Bob Bartels & Russell Bartels of Cricket/Rugby/Hock4ey fame. The Schokmans, Michael, David and Patrick of rugby./cricket/boxing fame. Frederick and Duncan Kreltzhiem, the De Kretser’s, who represented Ceylon in Hockey/Cricket. Larry Foenander and many more who represented the BRC/Havelocks/Colts – Ceylon Champions - Sara Trophy/ The Andriez Shield. Female athletes Myrna Kelaart. June de Kretser, Carmen Joachim, Irene Williams, Irene de Silva and many more were of Bamba origin

Distinguished Lawyers – The Anthonisz Brotherss. Wickremanayakes, Loos, Drieberg. Pusine Court Justices – St Clair Swan, FHB Koch, EFN Gratien, The doyen of Sports Journalisim SP Foenander lived down De Kretser Place. Australian Prime Minister Menzies. whilst on a visit to Ceylon called on SPF, such was his fame. His daughters Ruth & Carmen Herft were concert pianists who featured on Radio Ceylon classical music programs.

Duck Duetrom was a hot tempered and cantankerous old man. He received the nickname “Duck” after having been seen walking with a duck under his arm, a prize from a local church raffle.

Jumping J was the nickname give to a slightly mentally deranged and middle aged Burgher lady who hopped rather than walk. She was noted for her foul language.

Cap Silva the noted “Homo” used to hang around De Kretser Lane. He attempted to intimidate and molest young boys. However, on a compliant being made by a youngster, well known to the local toughs who used to hang out outside a local club,”Caps” activities were quickly put to an end.

Sports and Games

Every single lane and street at Bamba boasted a sports club. Names that come to mind are, The Freetown Boys of Mary’s Road, The Dead End Kids of Clifford Place. The Golden Orioles, Kotelawala Gardens, Devos Lane Boys.

Inter lane Cricket, Soccer, Athelitics, and even Boxing was fiercely contested but sportsmanship ruled the day. Champion Athletes like Guy & John Motha, Cricketer/Athlete Ian Hepponsrtall of St St Josephs College, Haigh Karunartne. the Chandraratne brothers, V John St Peters/ SL Cricket, Tyrell Gauder (STC Cricket), Jayantha Fernando, SPC Rugby /Cricket, Hamza Saleem (Zahira ) wrestling, Mackeen & Faleel Sheriffden Cricket, Fredrick, Malcolm & Michael Kretlshiem (Royal), Trevor Anghie Royal – Boxing /Rugby and his brother Maurice, “Botam James” De Slva SPC/Ceylon Champ High Jump are some of the many boys born and bred in Bamba - the town like no other.
***
Many thanks to Allister Bartholomeusz, formerly of Mary's Road, Bambalapitiya, now resident in Australia, for his erstwhile support and contributions towards collecting material for the above story. Appreciation also go out to all those who are sending continuous updates and comments to the blog through which I am able to update its contents profusely with valuable information. Regret, it is not convenient to mention them individually here.
***
[This blog was started by attempting to identify all those homes and families who lived down Sagara Road, Castle Lane and the Bamba Flats around the house that I was born and raised as a child. It has grown into what it is now cos people responded and started contributing their own memories and others who lived in the many streets of Bamba requested that their streets, homes, and families also be included. Everything here is from the memories of those who have chosen to be a part of this blog and contributed to its contents. All are welcome to send in their own memories either as a comment or even as an add on to the post and it will be included. There is no intent whatsoever to confine the content to any groups, parties, races or religions. I hope I make myself very clear? Fazli Sameer]