බණ්ඩාරනායිකෙලා, ඇටපට්ටුලා සහ වන්නිනායකලා


රනිල් වික්‍රමසිංහ අගමැති, ජනපති නොව ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ අධිරාජයා වුවද මට ඉවසිය හැක. ඉවසිය නොහැක්කේ විදේශීය මාධ්‍යවේදීන් ඔහුගේ නම උසුරුවන විදියයි. පහත දැක්වෙන සාකච්ඡාවේ NDTV මාධ්‍යවේදියා ඔහුව හඳුන්වන්නේ “රනිල් වික්‍රෙමෙසිංගෙ” කියාය. එය කොහෙත්ම මාධ්‍යවේදියාගේ වරදක් නොවේ. රනිල් සහ තවත් බොහෝ ශ්‍රී ලාංකිකයන් තවමත් ඔවුන්ගේ නම් ඉංග්‍රිසි අකුරින් ලියන්නේ බ්‍රිතාන්‍ය යටත් විජිතවාදීන් ඔවුන්ගේ පහසුවට අපේ අයගේ නම් ඉංග්‍රිසි අකුරින් ලියූ ආකාරයටය. සේනානායකෙලා, බණ්ඩාරනායිකෙලා, කොටෙලාවලලා මෙන්ම ජයෙවර්ඩෙනෙලා අප රට පාලනය කළේ මේ නිසාය.

වරක් මට මෙරට සුකුමාර ගණයේ පෞද්ගලික බැංකුවක ගිණුමක් ඇරඹීමට ඇවැසි විය. සුරතල් පෙනුමක් තිබූ බැංකු සේවිකාව මගේ ගිණුම් අයදුම්පත්‍රයේ සහ වාහන බලපත්‍රයේ නිවැරදි ලෙස ඉංග්‍රිසි අකුරින් මගේ නම සහ වාසගම (NANDA WANNINAYAKA) සඳහන්වී තිබියදීත් උඩඟු ලෙස උඩදාගෙන වැරදි ලෙස (WANNINAYAKE) ඉංග්‍රිසි අකුරින් මගේ වාසගම බැංකු පාස්පොතේ මුද්‍රණය කළාය. මගේ වාසගමට ඇය හිතාමතාම කළ අපහාසය නිසා මම ඇයට ඉතාමත්ව කාරුණිකව කියා සිටියේ මෙවැනි බරපතල වැරදි නැවතත් සිදුනොවන ලෙසට තහවුරු කිරීම සඳහා මම ඉදිරිපිටදීම මගේ වාසගම සිය වතාවක් ලියන ලෙසය. ඇය එයට විරෝධය පෑ නිසා මම බැංකු කළමනාකරු හමුවී කිව්වේ ඔබේ බැංකුවට වැදගත් වන්නේ සහ නිවැරදිව සඳහන් කළ හැක්කේ මගේ මුදල් මිස මගේ නම සහ වාසගම නොවේනම් මට ඔබේ බැංකුව සමග කිසිම ගනුදෙනුවක් ඇවැසි නැති බවයි. මම වෙනත් පුද්ගලික බැංකුවකට ගොස් මගේ ඇවැසිතාවය ඉටු කර ගතිමි. මම ඒ බැංකුවේ ගිණුමක් ආරම්භ නොකළ නිසා ඔවුනට ඒ බැංකුව වසා දමන්නට සිදුනොවූ බව මම දනිමි. නමුත් සෑම ගනුදෙනුකරුවකුම වටින ආයතනයකටනම් මේ පණිවිඩය වැදගත් වනු ඇත. 

අඩුම තරමින් මගේ එකම එක ශිෂ්‍යාවක්වත් මම වාසගම් ප්‍රශ්නය කතාකළ පසු ඇයගේ වාසගම නිවරදිව ලියනු දැකීම මට සතුටකි. නිමන්දිතා තත්සරණී දිසානායක වන ඇය ඇගේ වාසගම ඉංග්‍රිසි අකුරින් ලියන්නේ දිස්සානායකෙ (DISSANAYAKE) ලෙස නොව දිසානායක (DISANAYAKA) ලෙසිනි

මම හිතන්නේ අපේ නම් ගම් නිවැරදිව ලිවිය හැකි පිළිගත් පොදු ක්‍රමයකට අපි යාවත්කාලීන වියයුතු බවය. මහාචාර්‍ය නලින් ද සිල්වා සහ ප්‍රකට බ්ලොග්කරු අජිත් පැරකුම් ජයසිංගෙද (Ajith Perakum Jayasinghe) මේ නම්වල අලකලංචිය ගැන මට කලින් ලියා ඇත.

 

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Wasim and I – The Two Most Aggressive Cricketers on Earth


Aggressive Wasim Akram

Aggressive Wasim Akram

These are two angry men in the cricket field. First one is the legendary Pakistani cricketer Wasim Akram who ripped through the opposition batting line with his destructive reverse swing bowling attack, displayed unbelievable fielding talents by holding onto spectacular catches and went on to power hitting down the order while batting on his day. (Not to mention that epic 257 test runs not out from 363 balls against Zimbabwe at Sheikhupura in 1996.) Wasim was the most aggressive cricketer on the field I have seen in my entire life. Not even Saleem Malik, who was both fortunate and unfortunate enough to be Wasim´s captain during most of his career would be spared of the latter´s verbal assault if the former displayed any poor fielding off the latter´s bowling. The latter would ask something to the effect of “Do you need the ball to be size of a pumpkin for you to catch it?” which was even heard through the on-field microphones. That was Wasim. That was his commitment to the game. Wasim is my favorite cricketer of all-time.

An Angry Nanda Wanninayaka

An Angry Nanda Wanninayaka

The second one, me, nowhere close to Wasim, the legend but, is a hugely brushed-off cricketer in my own small village cricket club. I must probably have been the bowler who took the most number of wickets for my team but was never considered as a bowler because I didn’t bowl fast (enough.) I used my head than the body when bowling and captured an average of 5 wickets in two 10-over per side match an evening. Fast bowlers like my own younger brother Aruna, Samantha, Donald, Sanath were considered as the best bowlers but all of them except Donald conceded a lot of runs as they delivered more no-balls and wides than legitimate balls. My brother was the undisputed “No-ball King” those days. But all these bowlers were good bowlers given the reason that they had to bowl with a tennis ball on an uneven grassy pitch, not even on a mat. But I was sidelined during the inter-club matches as I did not bowl fast (enough.) Taking wickets constantly during practice matches was never considered as a qualification to bowl during inter-club matches. I was a bad fielder at the beginning and dropped many a catch but later improved myself a lot and hardly dropped a catch after I learnt the techniques of holding onto a catch while watching cricket commentaries on TV. When it comes to batting, I was a bad batsman and hardly scored 10+ in an innings. Then again, I learnt batting techniques on TV and then improved myself. Despite the strong protest of my own younger brother, I promoted myself to the prestigious position of the opening batsman and lasted almost all 10 overs while the batsmen from other end collapsed like cards of dominoes. I didn’t go to big hits unless it was very needed towards the latter part of the innings and all I did was trying to last the full quota of 10 overs allocated for a team. All I knew was that the team that batted all 10 overs always won, mainly thanks to no-balls and wides that came as bonuses. This was why I opened batting and went on to bat all 10 overs on more often than not. This doesn’t mean that I occasionally got out for a duck, perhaps on the first ball.

Keeping that all self-promoting nonsense aside, all I wanted to say is that even though I cannot compare myself with my favorite cricketing hero, legendary Wasim Akram, we both were equally aggressive players, if not more, on the field. We both fought till the last ball to win a match, not to save a match.

Now both Wasim and I are retired and I still enjoy him as a commentator, He might not be as lively as Ravi Sastri, as eloquent as Rameez Raja, as crazily fast as Harsha Boghle or as technical as Sunil Gavaskar as in the commentary box, but the soft-spoken Wasim has a great sense of humor and a stylish language in commentating. But all I want to see great Wasim is as a player for the eternity. Such pace, such strength, such talent, such commitment, such perfection, such anger, such aggression, such glamour, you will never see from anyone but Wasim.

Well, last but not least, Wasim Akram’s career was constantly tainted with controversies on and off the field and err … … … so was (and is) mine. 

Wasim Akram Celebrating a Wicket

Wasim Akram Celebrating a Wicket

Wasim Akram Batting

Wasim Akram Batting

Wasim Akram

Wasim Akram

Wasim Akram

Wasim Akram

Wasim Akram

Wasim Akram

Wasim Akram  Celebrating After Taking a Wicket

Wasim Akram Celebrating After Taking a Wicket

Wasim in Action

Wasim in Action

Wasim Akram  Bowling

Wasim Akram Bowling

Wasim Akram  Bowling

Wasim Akram Bowling

Wasim Akram  Bowling

Wasim Akram Bowling

Wasim Akram

Wasim Akram

Wasim Akram Roaring After Taking a Wicket

Wasim Akram Roaring After Taking a Wicket

Wasim Akram

Wasim Akram

Wasim Akram Batting

Wasim Akram Batting

Wasim Akram Batting

Wasim Akram Batting

Wasim Akram Batting

Wasim Akram Batting

Wasim Akram

Wasim Akram

Wasim Akram Encouraging Shoaib Akhtar

Wasim Akram Encouraging Shoaib Akhtar

Wasim Akram Celebrating a Wicket

Wasim Akram Celebrating a Wicket

A Resting Wasim Akram

A Resting Wasim Akram

Nanda Wanninayaka Batting

Nanda Wanninayaka Batting

Nanda Wanninayaka Going for a Big Shot

Nanda Wanninayaka Going for a Big Shot

Nanda Wanninayaka Making Field Changes of the Opposition While Batting :-)

Nanda Wanninayaka Making Field Changes of the Opposition While Batting 🙂

Nanda Wanninayaka Hooking

Nanda Wanninayaka Hooking

Nanda Wanninayaka Taking the Guard

Nanda Wanninayaka Taking the Guard

Nanda Wanninayaka Waiting to Hammer a Short Ball

Nanda Wanninayaka Waiting to Hammer a Short Ball

Nanda Wanninayaka Teaching this American Guy Colin Himes to Bat

Nanda Wanninayaka Teaching this American Guy Colin Himes to Bat

Nanda Wanninayaka Cricket (7)

Nanda Wanninayaka Installing the Dismantled Wicket

Nanda Wanninayaka Teaching Miss Bára Molnárová from the Czech Republic to Bowl

Nanda Wanninayaka Teaching Miss Bára Molnárová from the Czech Republic to Bowl

Nanda Wanninayaka Coaching the Cricketers in Maniyanthoddam, Jaffna, Sri Lanka

Nanda Wanninayaka Coaching the Cricketers in Maniyanthoddam, Jaffna, Sri Lanka

Nanda-Wanninayaka-Cricket-Coaching-2

Nanda Wanninayaka Coaching the Cricketers in Maniyanthoddam, Jaffna, Sri Lanka

Nanda-Wanninayaka-Cricket-Coaching-3

Nanda Wanninayaka Coaching the Cricketers in Maniyanthoddam, Jaffna, Sri Lanka

Nanda-Wanninayaka-Cricket-Coaching-4

Nanda Wanninayaka Coaching the Cricketers in Maniyanthoddam, Jaffna, Sri Lanka

Nanda-Wanninayaka-Cricket-Coaching-5

Nanda Wanninayaka Coaching the Cricketers in Maniyanthoddam, Jaffna, Sri Lanka

 

Day 2 – From Naula to Nuwara Eliya via Katugasthota bypassing Kandy (129 km)


Meer Ali and Nanda Wanninayaka in Nuwara Eliya

Meer Ali and Nanda Wanninayaka in Nuwara Eliya

We started from Naula and bypassed Kandy as it is an utter waist of time to go through the city. So, we went via Katugasthota to Peradeniya, then to Nuwara Eliya via Gampola. The road was amazing and the vegetation was so green and beautiful. It was colder when we reached Nuwara Eliya, the paradise in Sri Lanka due to lapse rate. We spent the night at a small guest house opposite famous Lake Gregory in Nuwara Eliya. We also walked around the lake at night which was a beautiful experience.

At Gampola town

At Gampola town

Nanda-Wanninayaka in Nuwara Eliya

Nanda-Wanninayaka in Nuwara Eliya

Nuwara Eliya

Nuwara Eliya

A waterfall in Nuwara Eliya

A waterfall in Nuwara Eliya

Meer Ali from India with the waterfall in the background

Meer Ali from India with the waterfall in the background

Nanda-Wanninayaka-waterfall-0

Nanda Wanninayaka with the waterfall in the background

Meer Ali at Lake Gregory, Nuwara Eliya

Meer Ali at Lake Gregory, Nuwara Eliya

Nanda Wanninayaka at Lake Gregory, Nuwara Eliya

Nanda Wanninayaka at Lake Gregory, Nuwara Eliya

Night at Lake Gregory, Nuwara Eliya

Night at Lake Gregory, Nuwara Eliya

Day 1 – From Mahawilachchiya to Naula via Dambulla (117.1 km – August 7, 2016)


Nanda and Meer at Basawakkulama Reservoir, Anuradhapura

Nanda and Meer at Basawakkulama Reservoir, Anuradhapura

Day one was not that difficult as we mostly rode on flat terrain. Both Meet and I took turns while riding. Meer did not have an Indian bike license with a Sri Lankan attestation by the Department of Motor Traffic in Sri Lanka but the police never stopped the bike while he was riding. They thought Meer was Sri Lankan.

We met a girl in Dambulla who could do nice painting and we took a few pictures of her paintings too. I thought I would write about her painting in my blog but she did not want it. We stopped at a guest house in Naula for the first night.

My Longest Motor Cycle Journey in Sri Lanka with Meer Ali from India


Meer Ali and Nanda Wanninayaka at Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka

Meer Ali and Nanda Wanninayaka at Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka

In August, 2016 I finished a 5-day-long motorcycle journey with Meer Ali, the first volunteer for Horizon Lanka from India. This was the longest sojourn I embarked on a bike so far. It was high fun riding the bike through all those cities, towns and villages with Meer Ali, my friend from India. We took turns while riding and after the long ride with Benjamin Pages from France who was an excellent rider, Meer was the next one to win my admiration for safe riding. It was very comfortable to be at the pillion of the bike when his turn came. I have never been comfortable like with Ben and Meer so far in the pillion of a bike.

We took the following routes.

Tour Map

Tour Map

Day 1 – From Mahawilachchiya to Naula via Dambulla (117.1 km)

Day 2 – From Naula to Nuwara Eliya via Katugasthota bypassing Kandy (129 km)

Day 3 – From Nuwara Eliya to Tissamaharama via Bandarawela, Ella, Wellawaya, Thanamalvila. (143)

Day 4 – From Tissamaharama to Yala National Park and back and to Thissamaharama. Then to Mount Lavinia through Hambanthota, Matara and Galle. (310 Km) – The longest distance I rode by bike within a single day.

Day 5 – From Mount Lavinia to Mahawilachchiya via Colombo, Ja Ela, Minuwangoda, Narammala, Kobeygane, Padeniya, Thambuththegama and Anuradhapura (263 km)

Total is 962 km within 5 days. It cost Meer only 2500 (LKR) worth petrol for the bike for the whole distance. It was close to 20 liters of petrol. Still half of the last 500 LKR remained in the tank after we returned home. This is a good advertisement for my Bajaj Pulsar 150.

Thanks to the Mahinda Rajapaksa government, all the main roads are completely renovated wherever we went. I think almost all roads are like this everywhere in Sri Lanka. Hope the Maithripala government also continue the good work of Mr. Rajapaksa and renovate the remaining by roads.

We never had any life-threatening moments while riding a distance close to 1000 km. Well, except for the scary moment when Meer lost the balance when he went over a pot hole which we traveled in Kobeygane – away from the main road to see a sick child. But Meer took the bike back in control before we fell and I don’t think it was his fault. Meer is an excellent, fast and mindful rider. In fact, if one has ridden a motorbike in a country like India where drivers’ discipline is hardly heard of, one can ride a bike even in Mars too.

I was surprised about the cleanliness of all the cities, towns and villages during this epic ride. I didn’t see much difference in the places of the developed world and in Sri Lanka. Drivers were also fairly disciplined despite the cliché of bad Sri Lankan drivers. Only problem was that some buses and trucks never dimmed the headlights when they saw we were coming from the front.

During all these 5 days my friend Meer had to tolerate my singing of Hindi, Sinhala, Tamil and English songs while riding. According to my son Abhilash, my voice is too deep that it comes close only to Fred Flintstone, supposed to be the world’s second worst voice. (Well, the worst voice is supposed to be Cacofonix. Meer must have been surprised of the huge number of Hindi songs I sang. I remember more than 500 song lyrics since my elder brother Nayanasena bought us a high-quality Akai cassette recorder in 1980s. With my deep voice, the only singer I can come anywhere close to must be Kishore Kumar. But I can never compare myself with the legend.

Recounting the Five Lucky Misadventures in My Two-Score-and-Ten Years of Bike Hikes in Sri Lanka


Nanda Wanninayaka on Bajaj Pulsar 200 (A file photo)

Nanda Wanninayaka on Bajaj Pulsar 200 (A file photo)

I have been riding motorbikes for over 30 years now. It is the most fascinating pastime for me, maybe next to horse-riding. (It is too early to take horse-riding a pastime because I don’t own one, not yet.) I started motorbike riding with a Honda C70 model motorbike my eldest brother bought for the family and then went into riding other models the friends use too. I bought my first motorbike, a stunning Bajaj Pulsar 200, made in India, the talk of the town those days and then kind of downshifted it to Bajaj Pulsar 150 in a folly without a valid reason. That unlucky Bajaj Pulsar 150 is now rusting away in a garage after it faced its second terrible accident. (First one happened by my brother-in-law.) I am hoping to salvage it by spending another 30,000 (195 USD) to 40,000 LKR (260 USD.) Let’s see how it goes.

What follows is the narrative of the five major bike accidents I met with still lived to tell the five successive stories.

First Misadventure

The first mishap took place when I was still in my teens and had not even been licensed to ride a motorbike. I was riding my eldest brother’s Honda C70 with my younger brother, Aruna as pillion. We were riding on the Suriyadamana Road.  I was as thrilled and free as a bird as this was a time I could enjoy daredevil things away from the watchful eyes of my other elder brother (Upali Aiya) who was hot-tempered and would be mad if he saw how fast I rode. With both Aruna and I frenzied with the new-found freedom, I was on the top speed and was singing “Zindagi Ek Safar” (the famous Bollywood song superstar Rajesh Khanna sang while riding the bike with his screen sweetheart on the pillion in the movie Andaz) as this was the song that surrounded my mind whenever I sped on a motorbike. The Sinhala language song of the same tune was also popular with charismatic Sri Lankan superstar Vijaya Kumaranatunga as the lead role.

The frenzy did not last that long. There was a sharp bend when you passed the public cemetery and I had no control at all when I tried to negotiate the corner and the bike got almost airborne and the rider and his pillion unceremoniously landed up on a heap of coconut leave decorations that had been used for decorations in a cemetery ceremony a few days earlier. I knew I was unharmed and was not sure if my younger brother was. He was not to be seen. It was then he, too, emerged from the heap of coconut thatches decorations and found to be unhurt. Maybe we both were saved because the heap of coconut thatches absorbed the impact and cushioned us. The bike’s front was damaged a lot and we could still manage to ride home the disfigured bike. I was waiting to see my elder brother going into a rage and barge at me but au de contraire, a calm elder brother told us just to be careful next time. This was the first big accident I had with a motorbike.

Second Misadventure

Nanda and Gayani

Nanda and Gayani (A file photo)

I was newly married and the nuptial couple were proceeding from the hilly and cool Badulla, or in other words, my better-half, a small-time beauty if I may classify her so, and I were on my younger brother Aruna’s Bajaj Pulsar 180 bike. Road from Badulla via Mahiyanganaya and Polonnaruwa was not in an acceptable state of repair those days but we so far had no problem even though I rode at top speed. We stopped several times on the way for snacks and meals and it was a beautiful sunny day with a gentle breeze – ideal condition for biking. Road was long yet I wasn’t tired and my better-half, too, enjoyed the ride in the pillion. I had been advised by several people not to take such long bike rides and instead use the public transport which was less expensive and less risky. But I was (and am) not the one who pays heed to others, especially in things related to my favorite hobbies. We started early from Badulla’s salubrious hills and it was around afternoon when we reached Habarana, the lush monsoon jungles. From Habarana to Anuradhapura, the marvel of ancient civilizations besides being my native territory, we came even faster because the desired destination, Mahawilachchiya, my native village, was closing in. We thought of taking the road passing Anuradhapura Air Force Camp (aka Northern Camp) and there was a bend of which no notice was taken by me as the corner materializing ahead seemed insignificant compared to the large number of bends we had just been negotiating all along the winding stretches I took from the mountainous Badulla to Loggal Oya on the plains. So, I misjudged that this was something very simple and too small to be treated as a noteworthy bend but the bend thought otherwise. It gave such a resistance and bike took its own control as gravity dictated, and not my frantic anti-gravity inputs to control the machine. It somewhat veered and a kind of careened and dragged itself on the tarmac and my precious cargo, the pillion passenger was thrown asunder from the bike first and me next. When I collected my senses in a rather dizzy way, I first looked at my wife to see if she were unharmed and beheld she was sedentary on the middle of the road and laughing out loud as she used to be. We both were all right saving some bruises in me and the bike was only slightly damaged. One has to be really in the good books of the providence above, to be able to walk away unharmed from such a grave mishap caused by sheer disrespect for Sir Isaak Newton’s laws of gravity.

Third Misadventure

Abhilash Wanninayaka

Abhilash Wanninayaka (A file photo)

The other day, in 2010 I was riding my own Bajaj Pulsar 200 Rocket and I was impatient as I was to see our one and only son, Abhilash after some time. My being emotionally overly eager to be with the child eclipsed my thoughts focusing solely on the bike’s controls and the traffic on the road from Isurupaya, Battaramulla in the metropolis to sub-urban Ja -Ela where my son lived with his mother. I was day-dreaming how to take the child in my arms, take him on the bike, tell him bedside stories at night, and so on. But I was still riding between Borella Junction, a principal roundabout in Colombo city, and the Welikada signal lights. All of a sudden, the bike back-ended a car and it was all my fault as I was behind the car and lucky for the car, nothing much happened as it had a strong buffer. I fell off the bike and could not get up till the driver in the car stopped it and came and gave me a helping hand. I explained to the driver my reason to speed and he being a, considerate man let me go without making a big fuzz out of it. It was a drizzly evening and I should have known better how to ride in such a wet weather condition. Besides, roads in Colombo are perennially greasy due to constantly leaking fuel from vehicles and one should be extremely cautious when riding or driving on Colombo’s metropolitan roads.

Fourth Misadventure

Real Michael Jackson, till I find a photograph of my friend "Local Jackson" I will use this for this post.

Real Michael Jackson, till I find a photograph of my friend “Local Jackson” I will use this for this post.

This was the most bizarre accident I met with. It happened in 2016. To begin with this episode, I could safely say that the great greedy Greek divine, Bacchus has failed to impose a bacchanalian lifestyle upon me. I partake in intoxicating spirits very rarely, and only if a good company is found at that, and I possess enough courage to say no to any drinking party if I am not in the right mood or if I think the company incompatible with me as far as imbibing is concerned. But on this particular day I was silly enough to drink with Sampath (aka Michael Jackson, due to his Jackson mania and Jackson imitations in his youth) during the bright day light, and that is a thing I never do. He brought some strong alcohol and I am a person who hardly get drunk even with the toughest stuff. I hear this is not something to brag about when it comes to drinking and the ones who do not get intoxicated easily have stronger livers and kidneys to filter away the toxic material that is alcohol various denominations of which were apparently invented and made use of among warring peoples. Despite its somniferous medicinal quality of inducing sleep, its misuse can make imbibers go berserk with its narcotic characteristic anesthetizing the drinker to commit inhuman acts, and it is what the wise say and I, am one such. (Once, at my nephew’s wedding I drank a little more than half of a bottle of hard liquor at Ranorawa, a small hamlet in Anuradhapura, and had a lavish meal and followed by a good shower to cool down the stuff running in my circulation and rode my Bajaj Pulsar 200 up to Kahathuduwa, Piliyandala via Puttalam road, some 220 kilometers and did not have any hiccup on the long ride since I was as fit as a fiddle even after gulping down such a big amount of tough stuff.) However, after the drinking session with ‘Jackson’ he implored me to have lunch with him but I declined and started to ride back home, Mahawilachchiya. It is said that one should not drive without having a meal and get exposed to the wind after a drink as both the acts catalyze the intoxicating process. I brushed off such talks and continued riding. I started feeling sleepy while riding but was okay till Oyamaduwa Junction and took the roundabout properly and all I could remember from there was that the speedometer marked a lot more than 100 kmph and I was on a daze. Bang! I heard I was hitting something big and hard and I was thrown off onto the right side of the road and the bike was on the left side of the road. To make things a comedy of errors, I fell asleep soundly just after the accident. Then I could remember a Buddhist monk coming and helping me to stand up and asking if I needed any medical attention. I said no and thanked the monk for helping. In fact, what had happened was that there was a used-up barrel of tar, filled with soil and placed on the middle of the road to prevent vehicles getting into trouble by falling into the big pot hole created in the middle of the road, during floods. It had been marked with yellow stripes but I was in a differently luminous world by that time and did not have the sobriety sense to see it. I broke my collarbone (which had already been fractured by another silly fall while riding inside a garden at a speed less than 5 kmph) and still I am deprived of playing cricket, my favorite game, for two consecutive years due to this fracture.) After this, I decided never to drive drunk even if I feel totally comfortable. It is putting others’ lives in danger than that of mine. Moreover, I decided not to drink alcohol except Wild Apple beer, which was introduced to me by a foreign friend of mine which is quite harmless and not bitter like other brands of beer. Thus, I have said goodbye all other alcoholic beverages.

Fifth Misadventure

Nanda Wanninayaka on Bajaj Pulsar 150 (A file photo)

Nanda Wanninayaka on Bajaj Pulsar 150 (A file photo)

The fifth and the most recent accident was inevitable and it happened on October 22, 2017. I knew it even before I mounted the iron horse that fateful day. I wanted to go to Colombo to submit my visa application for the then impending trip to Ecuador. But I was never ready for this as I did not feel fit enough for such a ride. You could say that I should have taken public transport if I was not comfortable with it but even if I did, I would still have knocked down by a vehicle even while walking that day as I was never fit or ready for this day. I wanted a good night’s sleep but my elder sister, who worries about me much more than I or anyone else on earth does, kept nagging me that I should come back from Ranorawa the previous evening and go to Colombo the next day. I was annoyed as I wanted to rest at Ranorawa with my other sister and her children and the cute grandchild but it was not to be due to constant coaxing from my sister. So, I had to forget everything and retrun to Anuradhapura the same evening and without a good rest or sleep had to ride to Colombo, 200 km far down, early morning the next day. I passed Dambulla (64 km), Kurunegala (110 km), Alawwa (132 km), and I was surprised why I didn’t still have the inevitable accident! Because I knew it would happen and it was inevitable. Passed Warakapola (147 km,) Weweldeniya (148 km) and Nittambuwa (157 km), still I was riding but knew it was imminent. Opposite Imbulgoda (168 km) fuel station, I saw a small sign board on the road side saying that they sell Katu Anoda (Prickly Custard Apple) juice and I went ahead, turned to the other side of the road and came back to the fruit juice stall by turning the bike the proper way. Bang!!! That was all what I heard and the thud was so strong it made me deaf for a while and I felt I was rolling with the bike several times round by round and then it stopped right on my chest. (While I was rolling, all that came to my mind was if I died or got crippled, what would happen to my son?) I could not move a muscle as the whole weight of the iron horse was on my body. People around later said that they thought I was done for! Anyway, I gathered the strength and tried to move the bike off my chest and then a few people who gathered there helped me. They were furious about the school bus driver who hit me from behind for the simple reason that he could not control his speeding and they were trying to harass him. I told the people to see if the kids in the school bus were hurt first. Luckily, they had survived the jerk and were unhurt. Having heard the news, the owner of the bus also came to the spot and asked if I should be taken to a hospital. I told him that I was not that hurt at that moment and there was less pain but the pains would increase by the evening for sure. Scruples notwithstanding, I rather let them leave the scene of accident or rather a traffic crime (where in fact both parties were guilty) because if this case were to be reported to the police the poor bus driver (his wife had just delivered a baby a few days back according to the driver) would have to lose work for a few days. Besides, I was to go to Ecuador and the last thing we both wanted was a court case dragging sine die. Therefore, we settled the case amicably and the bus owner gave me 20,000 LKR as damage – that was all what he could muster and I accepted it even though I knew already this would cost me a little fortune when I go to the repairer. A real gentleman, a Grama Sewaka (a village headman) called Mr. Wipula Jayawardhana who was extra helpful in assisting me after the accident took me to his home and gave me food and accommodation for the night. This is the typical Sri Lankan hospitality that is displayed anywhere in Sri Lanka. My condition worsened by the evening and I had to return home the next day and the bills of medical checkups alone cost me around 15,000 LKR (97 USD.) And the cost of replacing the digital meter of the bike alone costs 15,000 LKR (97 USD) and I am not sure when I would be able to afford to repair the bike.

The Sixth Misadventure –  hopefully the final … … … 

This is yet to happen and let’s hope that I would stay alive at least till I report it. Anyway, I am extra careful in riding motorbikes mainly because I either borrow or hire bikes now. I had to sell my last bike for a song and waiting to buy the next iron-horse, this magnificent Bajaj Pulsar 200 NS. I am not too sure if I would have the same patience once I mount my own bike though.

Bajaj Pulsar 200 NS

Bajaj Pulsar 200 NS

A selection of motorcycle safety URLs (Thanks Sunil Rutnayake for these links and editing my post.)

http://www.americanmotorcyclist.com

https://www.msf-usa.org

http://www.smf.org

msf-usa.org/downloads/mom_v16_GS_low_res.pdf

https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2013/04/10-motorcycle-safety-tips-for-new-riders/index.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motorcycle_safety

https://www.motorcyclecruiser.com/maids-motorcycle-accident-study-lessons-921-crashes

https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812148

https://one.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/pedbimot/motorcycle/safebike/anatomy.html

https://rideapart.com/articles/10-common-motorcycle-accidents-and-how-to-avoid-them

http://www.mcrider.com

https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/pdf/mc/motorcyclesafetyguide-a.pdf

https://dmv.ny.gov/driver-training/motorcycle-manual-motorcycle-safety-program

www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/publications/road…/helmet_manual.pdf

http://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/road_safety_status/report/en/

http://ridermagazine.com/tag/motorcycle-safety/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motorcycle_training

http://motorcyclesafetynews.com

https://www.msgroup.org/articles.aspx

A guide to byte – A LAcNet project brings the world to remote Lankan classrooms


Two

This appeared in the Sunday Times Plus Section on September 10, 2000. By this time I was the computer instructor of this project launched by LAcNet.

By Kesara Ratnatunga (10th September 2000)

The computer screen was their window to the rest of the world and they were having a field day. Exploring with wide-eyed wonder what lay beyond their horizons, were the grade seven and eight students of Nivaththaka Chethiya Maha Vidyalaya, Anuradhapura, the first beneficiaries of the Lanka Academic Network’s (LAcNet) ‘Computers for Sri Lankan Schools’ project.

LAcNet, a virtual network of Sri Lankan academic professionals living here and abroad, implemented and funded this pilot project by which a computer lab with five computers as well as Internet facilities was set up at the school. The objective is “to provide an opportunity for rural children to gain competency in computer and Internet, proficiency that will enhance and broaden their academic and entrepreneur skills.”

“Nivaththaka Chethiya was selected because its principal and teachers were very keen and also because a tremendous amount of support was given by Sena Gonapinuwala, a businessman of the area,” says LAcNet’s vice-president Chulie de Silva who is also the coordinator for this project.

Since the lab became functional in January this year, the students of all classes have had the opportunity to become familiar with the computers and the Internet.

“We were scared at first that we might break the computers,” said one eighth grade student who was busily typing out an essay with a group of his friends, “but now we are quite comfortable with them,” said all of them grinning from ear to ear.

There are no periods specially dedicated to computer education due to administrative problems. However, the computers are used to supplement the other subjects such as science and environmental studies. Many of the teaching sessions are conducted with the kids seated on the floor around the teacher who uses electronic encyclopedias such as Encarta to teach them.

The students themselves get hands-on time on the PCs and are already capable of using word processors and graphics software with ease – very encouraging progress considering many of them had never seen or touched a computer before. The idea seems to be to expose the children to the technology and make it part and parcel of their thinking rather than teaching computers as a science. “I like to give the smaller children a chance because they are very keen and learn fast,” says Mr. Nandasiri Wanninayaka, an English teacher cum computer instructor at the school, who has worked tirelessly to make this project a success.

“Using the computers has helped the students improve their English as well,” says the Principal, Mr. Piyasena Ratnamalala.

The students have also been exposed to the Internet and email, which they have been using under the guidance of Mr. Wanninayaka. They have even made friends via email, with their contemporaries in Australia. Nuwan Prasad Wanninayaka, a year 13 student having taught himself by reading books on web programming, has designed the school webpage as his Advanced level project. He says that the school having received these computers was indeed a great help and incentive for him to learn. It has inspired him to go into an Information Technology related career.

Having access to computers seems to have sparked an interest in many of the younger students as well, who are very keen to pursue computer studies outside school. Many of them troop to school an hour early as well as during the holidays, to spend some extra time playing around with the computers. The students’ enthusiasm is further highlighted by the fact that they have pooled and bought several CD-ROMs for the school.

“Parents are also very keen that their children should learn how to use computers,” says Mr. Ratnamalala.”They even accompany their children when they come during the holidays.” An enthusiasm no doubt fueled by the knowledge that in this day and age, computer literacy is as vital as being able to read.

This venture owes much of its success to the commitment of Mr. Wanninayaka who spares no effort in facilitating the children’s learning. He has big plans for the computer lab and the students, including a magazine to be published by the students. “We need more computers, even old ones,” says Mr. Wanninayaka citing the primary problem they face. Niwaththaka Chethiya MV has around 4000 students on its roll, and many of the classes which use the lab comprise around 70 students making both teaching and learning on just five computers very difficult.

students1

The paintings of two of the school’s students, Nadeeka Wijesingha and Anusha Nilminimala Ariyarathna which were taken abroad by Mr. Wanninayaka have been offered to be sold in the U.S. Any earnings from their sale would be used to buy PCs for the school. Everybody at Nivaththaka Chethiya anxiously awaits a favourable response from those in the United States who have volunteered to sell the paintings for them.

“We would be more than happy to do more paintings,” say Nadeeka and Anusha, anxious to do their part for the school.

In Sri Lanka, Information Technology is restricted to a select urban community. Considering that much of the population reside in rural areas it seems grossly unfair that this should be the case. LAcNet’s project and any others to be initiated in the future by government or non-government organizations would be a key in linking these areas to the modern world. They will also have a major positive impact on the way future Sri Lankan generations think, the standard of their education and their global awareness. However, it is important that all attempts are made to ensure every child – regardless of economic standing or geographic location – gets this opportunity.

The enthusiasm of the staff and most of all of the students has been remarkable. LAcNet’s pilot project aimed at “creating a computer savvy student population in a rural school” seems to be in good hands and well on its way to achieving its goal. Hopefully it will lead to more people recognising the importance of educating children in Information Technology and coming forward to help and initiate forward-looking projects such as this. If the progress of the bright-eyed students of Nivaththaka Chethiya Maha Vidyalaya is anything to go by, the potential for the future is heartening indeed

You can read the original article at http://www.sundaytimes.lk/000910/plusm.html

A Close Encounter with a Wild Elephant at Minneriya Today


20171105_104057.jpg

Melissa Schmitt and I at Gnanikkulama, Anuradhapura at the beginning of the tour to Dambana

Melissa Schmitt, a girl from France and I were on course on rusty old Bajaj Boxer motorcycle to Anuradhapura by the evening today. It was around 6.00 pm but it was pitch-dark due to rainy weather. All vehicles were moving with lights on. We were close to Minneriya National Park and our speed was around 50 kmph as the road was not clear enough due to weak headlights of our bike. I was riding close to the middle of the road as it was dangerous to ride close to the edge of the road for fear that wild animals could cross the road and I wouldn’t have enough reaction time to control the bike. Alas! It was then we saw we were riding parallel to a huge wild elephant who was walking majestically towards the same direction we were on. He was less than five feet away from us. I had no time to stop the bike or turn it back and the only option wide open was to continue riding ahead. And we did exactly that. We couldn’t even speed up as the bike’s engine was not good enough to speed up all of a sudden. So, we just managed to pass the majestically walking jumbo without hitting him or getting hit by him. Luckily, Melissa is a brave girl did not panic and just kept her cool. Any other girl would have panicked and screamed but not Melissa. In fact, it was that factor saved both of us from being crushed by the jumbo.

If we panicked and made any sound, the big beast would have reacted and it would have been curtains for both of us. I have no intention of dying, at least not till I reach 55. I am 45 now and I need at least 10 more years to live to complete my mission on this planet. I don’t want to go old and bald and annoy people pretending I am deaf. 55 is a good age to kick the bucket. If Achilles, Hector or Robin Hood lived through their old ages they wouldn’t have been legends today.

A majestic grey elephant

 

Motorcycle Journeys – From Anuradhapura to Padaviya


Nanda Wanninayaka with Gamini Akmeemana

Nanda Wanninayaka with Gamini Akmeemana

I am a motorbike lover. I like to ride long distances. The longest distance I have ridden is from Mahawilachchiya to Kahathuduwa, Piliyandala via Colombo. I have ridden between Colombo and Mahawilachchiya many a time. Road is very good via Puttalam and it is fun to speed up along the road. The other long trip I made was to Gomarankadawala, Trincomalee with my nephew and it was unforgettable because we were drenched in the torrential rain on our way back. Most exciting tour was the one I went to Talawakele from Badulla with my newly married wife in 2006. My most recent long trip was to Padavi – Sri Pura from Anuradhapura for a meeting. I often ride to Kanagarayankulam in Vavunia too. The bike trip I went to Welioya with the journalist Gamini AKmeemana was memorable because he rode a very old Honda CB 200 (6 Sri 7517) and I rode a brand new Bajaj Pulsar 180 and still Gamini was way ahead of me with his old machine. I think more than the bike model, he knows right techniques in bike riding. That night we stayed in a hut in a small farm just below the Padaviya wewa with a farmer friend of Gamini. That was in 2005. It was fun riding with Gamini but I never got a second chance with him.

If


Read below Rudyard Kipling‘s great poem “If.” This is the only thing that keeps me going during worst times I pass. If not for this, I would have given up long time ago.

You can listen to the audio version of this poem if you click this link. http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/175772

Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling

If— BY RUDYARD KIPLING

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!