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Bandu – tall, handsome, gentleman cricketer



By Air Chief Marshal Gagan Bulathsinghala

RWP, RSP, VSV, USP, MPhil, MSc, FIM(SL), ndc, psc

(Former Commander of the Sri Lanka Air Force and Sri Lankan Ambassador to Afghanistan)

The month of September was a very significant one to “Bandu” (Deva Bandula de Silva) our classmate. He stepped into this world on the 20th as a bundle of joy to his parents and the significance added on with bliss when he knotted in matrimony and walked down the isle, with Namalie, on 15th September, 35 years ago. Further, this September adds another significance but, unfortunately, it is on a sombre note. We remember Bandu on the 14th of September 2020 as three months have lapsed since he departed. He was known as “Bandu” to us at Nalanda College, and “Deva” to some others.

Bandu hailed from Galle and had his primary education at Richmond College. He excelled in track and field events and under-12 cricket at Richmond. After his family shifted to Colombo he joined us at Nalanda, in 1974, in Grade 8. To be more precise, Bandu joined us in Grade 8E, where we had 50 students. It was a record at that time, being a big class and the last guy who joined our class was Deshapriya Kandekumbura, who got “Fifty” as his nick name.

Bandu was a team player loved and admired by his teammates. He chose the biology stream for his GCE A/L after excelling at the NCGE examination, but could not achieve his academic goals owing to his devotion to cricket.

Bandu, was a devastating pace bowler who was instrumental in steering Nalanda to victory. As a paceman, his height was an advantage which made him an asset to his team. Many cricket fans of yesteryear still fondly remember how Bandu, who was the vice-captain, under the leadership of Shammi Silva, challenged Arjuna Ranatunga and Brendon Kuruppu at the 51st Battle of the Maroons. He was one of the highest wicket takers with 80+ wickets in a season and won the Best Bowler Award in the 1980 Exide Trophy 50-Over School Cricket Tournament.

Our classmate, the late Chandana Godamunne, and Nihal Pitigala, another cricketer, who hailed from Galle currently domicile in the US were his close buddies and partners in crime. Upul Gamage, who was his skipper in 1979, of the Golden Jubilee Battle of the Maroons encounter, continues to maintain their friendship even though Bandu settled down in Australia.

Upon leaving school, Bandu joined the Maharaja Group, which was an elite business entity at that time. Maharaja Group had a trend to headhunt young talented cricketers with high potential to represent the company.

Later, Bandu joined the cabin crew of our national carrier Air Lanka. At both these institutions he played a prominent role in the mercantile group cricket and, in addition, he represented BRC at Sara Trophy level.

In 1988, Bandu chose to migrate to Australia. He had a successful management career and retired early 2020 due to health-related challenges. He had a proven track record for being a diligent, sharp-minded and uniquely talented personality who was highly respected.

Bandu always helped Sri Lankans who migrated to Australia. In Sydney, he played an active role in many community-based social activities, and was a founding member of the Old Nalandians’ Association in NSW. In addition, he was also the President of the Sri Lankan Cricket NSW. Further, he had continued to play cricket for Sri Lankan Lions and local clubs until a nagging knee injury compelled him to give up playing and switched on to a mentoring role. He took pride in inspiring the young cricketers and engaged in cricket coaching and mentoring the future Sri Lankan generation in Sydney. He always used to take his prized copy of the book – “Imran Khan’s Cricket Skills”.

When the tsunami struck the Indo Pacific region, on Boxing Day, in 2004, Bandu actively organised a fund-raiser to build houses for the tsunami victims. He also raised funds for the cancer hospital in Sri Lanka. Bandu won accolades for being a social worker.

Bandu continued to uphold the rich traditions of Sri Lankan culture. He always encouraged children to respect Sinhala and Buddhist customs and traditions.

Bandu loved music, especially Sinhala and Hindi songs. As a talented singer, he would often sing or he play the tabla. He had always enjoyed listening to his youngest daughter, Tiara, singing. Further, the duo often listened to and sang Hindi songs together.

After Bandu’s demise in Sydney, the gathering that was present to pay their last respects, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, at the funeral ceremony, showed how popular he had been. Although, we could not be present physically at the funeral, but we watched it on the Internet.

Bandu was a gentleman par excellence and his family, his school and his friends were always proud of him.

Namali, Bandu’s partner for 35 years and their three daughters Ranga, Lehana and Tiara, son-in-law Dasantha, and much adored granddaughters Azalea Beatrice “Zelie” and Arabella Rose “Bella”, loved his company. Let me also acknowledge the inputs from them, especially by Ranga Bandu’s daughter and his wife Namali, for this appreciation.

I also take this opportunity to thank all our classmates and other friends of Bandu who shared their personal experiences with Bandu.

Let me conclude with a post written by Bandu on 20 September 2015, on his 55th birthday, with a family photo shared by his daughter Ranga that encapsulated him and his devotion to family.

The caption read:

“I often wonder where time has gone. Then I see all these faces and realise that I have spent my time well and wisely.”

Bandu, was a wonderful husband, father, grandfather and super friend to all. We lost a dear buddy forever but, our fond memories of him will linger endlessly, Adiós, amigo.

May Bandu attain the supreme bliss of Nibbana!

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Mindset changes and the dangerous ‘Religious War’ rhetoric



Israeli border police on patrol at the Damascus Gate in occupied East Jerusalem (Pic courtesy Al Jazeera)

Nothing could be more vital at present in the conflict and war zones of the world than positive mindset changes and the wish of the humanist is likely to be that such momentous developments would quickly come to pass in particularly the Middle East. Because in the latter theatre almost every passing hour surfaces problems that call for more than average peace-making capabilities for their resolution.

For instance, the Islamic Supreme Fatwa Council in Palestine has reportedly warned of a ‘Religious War’ in the wake of recent allegations that Israel is planning to prevent the Muslim community from having access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem in the month of Ramadan. If true, this development is likely to further compound the Gaza violence and take it along an even more treacherous track. This is on account of the fact that religious passions, if not managed effectively, could prove most volatile and destructive.

As pointed out in this column previously, peace movements on both sides of the main divide in the region would need to quickly activate themselves, link-up and work as one towards the de-escalation of the conflict. What the Middle East and the world’s other war zones urgently need are persons and groups who are endowed with a pro-peace mind set who could work towards an elimination of the destructive attitudes that are instrumental in keeping the conflicts concerned raging.

This could prove an uphill task in the Middle East in particular. For, every passing minute in the region is seeing a hardening of attitudes on both sides in the wake of issues growing out of the violence. Accordingly, if peace-making is to be contemplated by the more moderate sections in the conflict, first, we need to see a lull in the violence. Achieving such a de-escalation in the violence has emerged as a foremost need for the region.

Right now, the Israeli state is showing no signs of climbing down from its position of seeing a decisive end to the Hamas militants and their support bases and going forward this policy stance could get in the way of de-escalating the violence even to a degree.

On the other hand, it would not be realistic on the part of the world community to expect a mindset change among Israeli government quarters and their supporters unless and until the security of the Israeli state is ensured on a permanent basis. Ideally, the world should be united on the position that Israel’s security is non-negotiable; this could be considered a veritable cornerstone of Middle East peace.

Interestingly, the Sri Lankan state seems to have come round to the above view on a Middle East peace settlement. Prior to the Ranil Wickremesinghe regime taking this stance, this columnist called repeatedly over the past few months in this commentary, in fact since October 7th last year, for the adoption of such a policy. That is, a peace settlement that accords priority to also the security needs of the Israelis. It was indicated that ensuring the security and stability of the Palestinians only would fall short of a comprehensive settlement of the Middle East imbroglio.

However, in the case of the Ranil Wickremesinghe regime, the above change in policy seems to be dictated almost wholly by economic survival considerations rather than by any well thought out principle or a sense of fairness to all relevant stakeholders.

For example, close on the heels of the regime playing host to the Israeli Transport Minister recently, it accorded a reverential welcome to the Iranian Foreign Minister as well. From the viewpoint of a small country struggling to survive, this is the way to go, since it needs every morsel of economic assistance and succour.

However, if permanent peace is to have a chance in the Middle East it would need to be based on the principle of justice to all the main parties to the conflict. Seen from this point of view, justice and fairness should be accorded to the Palestinians as well as the Israelis. Both parties, that is, should live within stable states.

The immediate need, though, is to at least bring a lull to the fighting. This will enable the Palestinian population in the Gaza to access humanitarian assistance and other essential needs. Besides, it could have the all-important effect of tempering hostile attitudes on both sides of the divide.

The US is currently calling for a ‘temporary ceasefire’ to the conflict, but the challenge before Washington is to get the Israeli side to agree to it. If the Israeli Prime Minister’s recent pronouncements are anything to go by, the US proposal is unlikely to make any impression on Tel Aviv. In other words, the Israeli Right is remaining an obstacle to a ceasefire or even some form of temporary relief for the affected populations, leave alone a political solution. However, changing their government is entirely a matter for the Israeli people.

Accordingly, if a stable peace is to be arrived at, hostile, dogmatic attitudes on both sides may need to be eased out permanently. Ideally, both sides should see themselves as having a common future in a peacefully shared territory.

Peace groups and moderate opinion should be at centre stage on both sides of the divide in the region for the facilitation of such envisaged positive changes. The UN and democratic opinion worldwide should take it upon themselves to raise awareness among both communities on the need for a political solution. They should consider it incumbent upon themselves to work proactively with peace groups in the region.

The world is a vast distance from the stage when both parties to the conflict could even toy with the idea of reconciliation. Because reconciliation anywhere requires the relevant antagonists to begin by saying, ‘I am sorry for harming you.’ This is unthinkable currently, considering the enmity and acrimony that have built up over the years among the volatile sections of both communities.

However, relevant UN agencies and global democratic opinion could begin by convincing the warring sections that unless they cooperate and coexist, mutual annihilation could be their lot. Mindset changes of this kind are the only guarantors of lasting peace and mindset changes need to be worked on untiringly.

As this is being written, the ICJ is hearing representations from numerous countries on the Middle East situation. The opinions aired thus far are lopsided in that they do not present the Israeli viewpoint on the conflict. If a fair solution is to be arrived at to the conflict Israel’s concerns too would need to be taken into account expeditiously.

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Dubai scene brightening up for SL fashion designers



Sri Lankans are lighting up the scene in Dubai, not only as musicians, but in other fields, as well.

At the recently held Ceylon Food Festival, in Dubai, a fashion show was held, with Sri Lankan designers doing the needful.

The fashion show highlighted the creations of Pubudu Jayasinghe, Tehani Rukshika and Peshala Rasanganee Wickramasuriya, in three different segments, with each designer assigned 10 models.

The fashion show was choreographed by Shashi Kaluarachchi, who won the Miss Supermodel Globe International 2020, held in India, and was 1st runner-up at the Mr., Miss and Mrs. Sri Lanka, in Dubai.

Shashi says she was trained by Brian Karkoven and his know-how gave her a good start to her modelling career.

She has done many fashions shows in Sri Lanka, as well as in Dubai, and has worked with many pioneers in the fashion designing field.

The designers involved in the fashion show, in Dubai, were:

Pubudu Jayasinghe,

a 22-year-old creative and skilled makeup artist and nail technician. With a wealth of experience gained from working in various salons and participating in makeup and fashion projects in both Dubai and Sri Lanka, he has honed his talents in the beauty industry. Passionate about fashion, Pubudu has also acquired knowledge and experience in fashion designing, modelling, and choreography, showcasing his multifaceted expertise in the dynamic world of fashion.

Tehani Rukshika,

who studied at St Joseph’s Girls School, Nugegoda, says she went to Dubai, where her mom works, and joined the Westford University in fashion designing faculty for her Masters. Her very first fashion show was a Sri Lankan cultural event, called ‘Batik’. “This was my first event, and a special one, too, as my mom was modelling an Arabic Batik dress.”

Shashi Kaluarachchi

Peshala Rasanganee Wickramasuriya

has been living in Dubai for the past 21 years and has a batik shop in Dubai, called 20Step.

According to Shashi, who is on vacation in Sri Lanka, at the moment, there will be more Sri Lankan fashion shows in Dubai, highlighting the creations of Sri Lankan designers.

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A mask of DATES…



Yes, another one of my favourites…dates, and they are freely available here, so you don’t need to go searching for this item. And they are reasonably priced, too.

Okay, readers, let’s do it…with dates, of course – making a mask that will leave your skin feeling refreshed, and glowing

To make this mask, you will need 03-04 dates, and 02 tablespoons of milk.

Remove the seeds and soak the dates, in warm milk, for about 20 minutes. This method will soften the dates and make them easier to blend.

After the 20 minutes is up, put the dates in a blender and blend until you have a smooth paste. Check to make sure there are no lumps, or chunks, left.

Add the 02 tablespoons of milk to the blended date paste and mix well.

Okay, now gently apply this mixture to your face, avoiding the eye area. Use your fingertips, or a clean brush, to evenly distribute the mask all over your face.

Once the mask is applied, find a comfortable place to sit, or lie down. Relax for about 15-20 minutes, allowing the mask to work its magic on your skin.

After the mentioned time has passed, rinse off the mask with lukewarm water. Gently massage your face while rinsing to exfoliate any dead skin cells.

After rinsing off the mask, pat dry your face with a soft towel, and then follow up with your favourite moisturizer to lock in the hydration and keep your skin moisturized.

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