I visited the headquarters of the Ceylon Electricity Board at Sir Chittampalam A. Gardiner Mawatha to meet an official there. This was my first visit to the institution and after the affairs at the reception I was asked to go to the 6th floor.
I went searching for the elevator but I found a strange elevator-like thing there instead of an easy to use elevator. (Later I heard from Mr. K. K. S. Dasanayake, the Deputy General Manager of CEB that this thing is called a “paternoster.” The paternoster had two rooms – one going up and one going down. One has to get into it while it is still moving. I am a guy who is very reluctant to get into an escalator. So, imagine the excitement I had while getting into a moving paternoster. Before getting into this, I studied how few people managed to get into it and asked a person how to go about it. He made me relaxed and said even small kids get into this easily (though it is not advisable for kids to use this.)
I got into it and the next problem was getting off of it in the 6th floor. I was more excited and someone in the paternoster told me to hold the handle well while getting off. Only two people can go in one cubicle at once and the paternoster has a chain of about 20 cubicles travelling one after the other. The same cubicles return to the downward travel once they go above the top-most floor (7th). Similarly they return to the upward travel once the come below the first floor.
With all the excitement I managed to go to the desired floor and met Mr. Bandula S. Tilakasena, the Additional General Manager of the CEB and the first thing I asked him was not about what I visited him for. I asked about the paternoster and both he and Mr. Dasanayake gave me a lot of information about it. According to them this is the only paternoster available in Sri Lanka and there are a few left in the whole world. You can read more about them in the Wikipedia page about paternoster by clicking this link. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paternoster. According to Wikipedia, a few people have died while using paternosters. (Few people have died while using elevators too.)
Since my phone batter was almost dead I could not take few pictures of the paternoster and when I asked the polite telephone operator Ms. Dilini Kariyawasam to get me a photograph or two, she promised to send me some pictures. She had emailed me the pictures you see in this page within few minutes. (Who did ever say that government servants are not efficient?)
I could get down after the meeting with no limbs broken and my problem now is that I have to go there once again to collect some videos from Mr. Tilakasena. I keep postponing this due to fear on using the paternoster but I have to do it within next couple of days.