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Leela de Mel- a woman of high attainment and humility

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By Zanita Careem

When I heard the news of Dr. Leela de Mel’s demise in Perth Australia many thoughts and memories passed my mind. We first met each other when I entered Ramanathan Hall, at the Peradeniya Campus, as a fresher. Leela was then a third-year Political Science Honours student at the time I entered the campus as a fresher.

The last time I met her was a few years back when she was here for her niece’s wedding. I invited her for a cup of coffee at the Taj Samudra Hotel, when unforgettable memories of the good times replayed in my mind. Her mischievous laugh and anecdotes are now just happy memories.

These nostalgic thoughts of the university life we shared against the picturesque setting at the Peradeniya University speak volumes for our happy times together. Our senior lecturer Dr K. H. Jayasinghe, Head of the Department of Political Science and later President of the Peradeniya Campus, who was also our mentor, thought very highly of Leela.

Leela, Indra Panditharatne who was also offering political science and I were named the ‘three musketeers’ by the then warden Mrs. Cooke, a strict disciplinarian with a tough exterior.

Leela, the daughter of Rear Admiral Royce de Mel and one time Head Girl of St. Bridget’s Convent was bullying or ‘ragging’ the freshers. However, unlike today, ragging then was a form of familiarization between the seniors and the freshers. Leela’s way of ragging, unlike now, was innocent and without malice. She would ask the freshers to wear the slippers on the wrong foot, switch off the light in the room plunging the place in darkness and such. After the two weeks of ragging she always showed her concern, warmth and took all the freshers under her wing. Almost every adventure with Leela, be it visiting friends, dinner parties, trips to Sigiriya, holidaying with her two older sisters in Tangalle and visits to tea estates, meant fun. Leela loved Saraschandra’s drama and during the week for dramas at the famous Peradeniya ‘Wala’we would stand in long queues to get our tickets and had So much funfighting for seats under the moonlight.

Not only was she full of humour and repartee, Leela also had a large heart. She would help students at a time of need. Two incidents in particular come to my mind. She would often take Indra and I to afternoon tea at Elephant House in Kandy. The waiters looked forward to her visits as she always tipped them very generously. Leela also took time off her busy teaching schedule at Peradeniya to teach English to primary school students in a village called Barigama near Nugawela once a week. Often Indra and I would accompany her on this journey. The smiles on young students’ faces when they saw her said it all.

Her close friend, the amiable undergrad reading for a degree in Sociology, Padmini Bandaranaike enjoyed Leela’s company and sometimes we would end up listening to Leela’s anecdotes until the wee hours of the morning. She was well versed in world affairs and international relations and we would often have hot debates and at times indulge in social gossip too.

Leela’s academic achievements and accomplishments were many. An avid reader and a traveller, her achievements at school and university earned many accolades. But none of that got into her head. She was immune to false airs and always chose a lifestyle of simplicity.

After Leela completed her BA in Political Science, she was appointed as an Asst. Lecturer at the Peradeniya’s Department of Political Science. She went to Australia National University in Canberra on a Ford Foundation scholarship, and completed her Master’s degree in International Relations and later read for a doctorate in the School of Social Inquiry at Murdoch University in Perth, Western Australia. She was an outstanding lecturer, who was not only erudite but caring, independent and unbowing.

After we graduated and were on the staff of the university Leela, Padmini, Indra and I shared an apartment at Ramanthan Hall. It was such a fun time in our young lives. Leela was an excellent cook and she wanted to make sure that her three friends would be able to put some palatable dishes on the table! She drew up an afternoon tea roster and once a week one of us, under her guidance, had to cook a suitable dish. She would then comment on it and most often I was never up to her high standards.

Dr Jayasinghe would occasionally invite a group of Political Science Honours students to his home for dinner. This was a much looked forward to event as Dr Jayasinghe would always say he made the ‘best chicken curry this side of the Suez’! Leela however, never agreed with that.

The two lecturers in Political Science, KC Perera and Ranjith Amarasinghe who had recently returned to the university after completing postgraduate studies in the UK. Leela made sure that they were welcomed back into the Political Science family. Birthdays were a case in point and Leela made sure they were celebrated in style.

Indra’s father was based in Nuwara Eliya, so taking advantage of this we did a trip to Nuwara Eliya with KC as his brother was working there too. The jokes and pranks Leela played on them are still very vivid in my memory.

This is seen as a common thread that runs through all tributes paid to her. She had a passion for working for the underprivileged and was always warm, helpful, refined and dignified. She touched the lives of many with her kindness, empathy, generosity and her readiness to help.

Now as I look back on her loss I notice that she was a high achiever which was reflected in many messages of condolence. All of them spoke of her great endurance, humility, grace, cheer and her positive attitude and achievements.

Our conversations in person, on rare occasions we met in Sri Lanka were mostly on family affairs. Her sparkling eyes and vibrant personality were her highlights. A Parliamentary tribute made by Dr. Anne Aly for Cowan (WA) aptly sums up Leela’s contribution to Social Justice and Multicultural community work. Her Alma Mater, St. Bridget’s Convent’s Old Girl Association also made a fitting tribute to her.

Her boundless energy, loyalty, generosity and capacity for fun and mischief made the lives of her husband Michael and son Janek, friends and colleagues happy. Her light hearted outlook was her forte. My thoughts are with her two loving sisters Nimmi (Loku), Priyani (Podi), and brother Manil, sister-in-law Radha, nieces and nephews whom she adored and who will dearly miss Leela.

Leela, I salute you not only your illustrious career, but also your innate goodness. You are gone yet never forgotten.



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Life style

Durian prevent cancer and improve digestion

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Durian is the fruit of several tree species belonging to the genus Durio. There are about 30 recognised Durio species, however, at least nine of which produce edible fruits. Durio zibethinus is the only species available in the international market: other species are sold in their local regions. Durio zibethinus or locally known as durian is belongs to the family of Bombacaceae, or by others in a broadly defined Malvaceae or by others in a smaller family of just seven genera Durionaceae. Durian is native to Southeast Asia. It is found wild or semi-wild in South Tenasserim, lower Burma and around villages in peninsular Malaysia. In addition, wild durian widely planted in Borneo and Sumatra. Borneo is the centre for diversity of Durio species. Durian is commonly cultivated along roads or in commercial orchards in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and Philippines. Apart from durian, this species also well-known with other common names such as Civet-Cat Fruit Tree, Civet fruit, Kampung Durian as called in English, Dian, Durian Puteh and Jatu called in Borneo, Liu Lian as called in Chinese, Dereyan called by Indonesian and etc .

Durian thrives in a hot, humid and wet climate

Durian grows best in a well-drained and fertile soil rich in organic matters that have a pH range from 5-6.5. Durian is intolerant of water logging which will cause destructive fungal root and trunk rot diseases. Furthermore, durian cannot withstand more than 0.02 % of salinity in the soil.

The durian tree can reach up to 27-40 m in height in tropical forests. Durian tree usually erect with short, straight, rough, peeling trunk to 1.2 m in diameter and have an umbrella-shaped canopy of rough branches and thin branchlets coated with coppery or gray scales when young. The evergreen, alternate leaves are oblong, elliptic or rounded at the base, abruptly pointed at the apex; leathery, dark-green and glossy above, silvery or pale-yellow, and densely covered with gray or reddish-brown, hairy scales on the underside. The fruits are ovoid or ovoid-oblong to nearly round and up to 8 kg in weight. The yellow or yellowish-green rind is thick, tough, semi-woody, and densely set with stout, sharply pointed spines, 3- to 7-sided at the base. Inside there are 5 compartments containing the creamy-white, yellowish, pinkish or orange-coloured flesh and 1 to 7 chestnut-like seeds .

Durian as a source of foods

Generally, durian is consumed fresh as fruit or food products such as candy, ice cream and durian puffs after certain cooking procedures. Traditionally, durian flesh is added into dishes such as “sayur” which is the Indonesian soup made from fresh water fish as an ingredient . Moreover, durian-based sauce is used to cook “Ikan brengkes“, a tradition dish in Sumatran islands, Indonesia. Overripe durian pulps are processed to become durian paste in Thailand while unripe durian may be cooked as a vegetable Beside the flesh, durian seeds are also valuable as they can be eaten after boiling or roasting and made into durian flour and chips (Agus, 2014). Furthermore, the young leaves and shoots of durian plant can be cooked as green vegetables.

Health benefits

Durian is widely celebrated for its long list of health benefits, which include the ability to boost immune system, prevent cancer and inhibit free radical activity, improve digestion, strengthen bones, improve signs of anaemia, prevent premature aging, lower blood pressure, and protect against cardiovascular diseases. Some of the more minor benefits of durian are to reduce inflammation of the joints, help thyroid health, reduce headaches, and lower symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress. Most of the health benefits come from durian’s impressive vitamin and mineral content. Durian contains vitamins such as vitamin-C, folic acid, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B6 and vitamin A. Important minerals such as potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, sodium, zinc, phosphorus are also found in durian. It also contains nutrients such as phytonutrients, water, protein and beneficial dietary fibre.

Relieves anaemia and promotes healthy pregnancy

Anaemia is a medical condition that reduces the level of haemoglobin on blood. Deficiency in haemoglobin can lead to fatigue, headache, insomnia and etc. In pregnant woman, anaemia can lead to abnormality and fatality of the foetus. Durian contains high amount of folate or folic acid which is essential in the production of haemoglobin. Besides that, low content of iron in durian aids in haemoglobin production alleviating condition of anaemia (Kevat, 2013). Furthermore, presence of folate in durian is important for pregnant woman as it promote regular tissue growth as well as protects the brain and spine in developing baby (Health benefits of durians, 2015).

Helps to maintain healthy bones

Durian contains a number of trace metals including calcium and potassium. Even calcium is present in low level in durian, but amount of potassium present in durian fulfils about 9 % of our body’s daily requirement. Potassium is required for the development of healthy bones. Even though the most abundant mineral of our bone is calcium, but potassium is crucial to regulate the distribution and deposition of the calcium in bones so that it is not dissolved or released into the blood excessively (Kevat, 2013).

Helps to alleviate depression and improves sleep

Durian contains amino acids known as tryptophan – a natural sleep inducing compounds. Tryptophan is required to increase the level of serotonin and melatonin. These two neuro-chemicals are required to manage our emotions. Serotonin is essential to relieve stress, sleeplessness, anxiousness, appetite as well as depression. In addition, these types of hormones help to manage sleeping function and could be utilized in the epilepsy cure (Kevat, 2013).

Fight cancer

Durian has a wealth of vitamins, nutrients, and organic chemicals that function as antioxidants. In the battle against cancer, free radicals are vitally important, because during cell metabolism, there are by-products created, called free radicals. These free radicals can destroy the DNA of regular cells and convert them into cancer cells, which can then metastasize or form fatal, tumorous growths. All of the antioxidants which reduce oxidative stress on the organs of the body are bonuses to the immune system, and durian is packed with them, including vitamin-C, vitamin-B complex, and vitamin E, as well as phytonutrients that battle cancerous cells (Health benefits of Durian, 2015).

Aids in digestion

Durian contains high levels of dietary fibre, which are important for the normal function of the digestive system. Fibre causes bowel movement to increase in bulk, which makes it easier for them to move through the intestinal tract. Fibre also stimulates peristaltic motion and the secretion of digestive and gastric juices, further easing the entire process. By reducing conditions like constipation and blockage in the intestines, conditions like bloating, excess flatulence, heartburn, cramps, and indigestion as well as colorectal cancer can be minimized. Much of the fibre in durian is insoluble fibre, which also lowers the frequency of diarrhea for people with loose stool. Fibre also helps to reduce the amount of cholesterol in the blood by scraping LDL cholesterol out of the body and quickly removing it before it can do any damage to the cardiovascular system (Health benefits of Durian, 2015).

 

1. Anti-aging

Durian has a wide variety of antioxidant properties stemming from its vitamin and organic chemical makeup that actively reduce the amount of free radicals in the body. Eating an excessive amount of durian can seriously boost your body’s ability to eliminate those free radicals, thereby reducing the chances of premature aging and delaying the appearance of symptoms such as wrinkles, age spots, macular degeneration, hair loss, tooth loosening, arthritis, cancer, and heart disease (Health benefits of Durian, 2015). In addition, the high water content of Durian is an added advantage along with its antioxidant content. Water keeps the skin hydrated, reduces dryness and alleviates the appearance of fine lines. It also nourishes skin for clear and smooth skin .

Increase and encourage fertility

Estrogen is a hormone which helps in conceiving. Most of the women who suffer from fertility usually have a low estrogen level in their body which is increased with pills, injections and supplements. Studies have shown that durian contains a high level of this hormone and can act as an herbal medicine (Kevat, 2013). Besides that, durian can produce intensified sexual libido and stamina, and also reduce the chances of infertility in men and women, and increase sperm motility .

Used as traditional medicine

According to traditional use, durian may have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and vasoconstrictor properties. Traditionally, durian leaves and roots are in Malaysia used to treat fever. The juice of fresh leaves is used as an ingredient in a lotion for fevers, and the juice from the bark is used as an antimalarial in Sumatra.

Other Uses

On the other hand, durian can be used for purposes other than foods and medicines. Durian husks which are usually thrown as wastes after the durian pulps are consumed can be dried to be used as fuel or fertilizers for tree (Utilization of durian, n.d.). It can also be used as an ingredient for making handmade paper like artistic paper with certain pattern (Agus, 2014). Due to the strong smell, durian husks can be used as the natural mosquitoes repellent.         Dr. S. Kathiresan from AIMST University discovered that durian peel can be used as a mean to recover the oil spill at coastal areas (Lim, 2011). In this case, the durian peel powder is chemically modified and acts as the efficient oil absorbent to remove the oil from the water, solving the problem of oil spills which have caused adverse effects to living sea organisms and human economic activities.

REVIEW ON DURIAN CONSUMPTION

Durians are abundant in Asia during their season as Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand are the world’s main durian producers. In this case, numerous surveys and reviews have been done on the nutritional values and health benefits of durian. Undeniably, durian has offered unlimited benefits to human health such as relieving anemia, alleviating depression and enhancing fertility (Health benefits of durian, 2015; Kevat, 2013). The Swiss Society of Food Science and Technology also discovered that the levels of antioxidants content in durian are higher as compared with other Asian fruits like mango, lychee and mangosteen of similar ripeness (Durians-‘Heaty’ or healthy, n.d.). However, overconsumption of durian can bring adverse effects to consumer especially pregnant women, diabetic patients as well as obese people. As mentioned by Dr. Patrick Chia, a fetal medicine specialist in Malaysia, it is safe for woman to consume durian during pregnancy but pregnant woman with gestational diabetes must avoid eating durian due to the high sugar content . Besides, consumption of durian during last trimester of pregnancy may result in overweight fetus with greater risk of childhood obesity as durian is high-glycaemic food . Apart from that, durian contains high amount of fat and triple amount of calories as compared to other fruits where obese people should avoid (Durians-‘Heaty’ or healthy, n.d.). From traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) perspective by Mr. Chew Hong Gian, a TCM physician at Raffles Chinese Medicine, durian is said to possess “warming” property whereby overindulgence in durians can induce sore throat, phlegmy cough and constipation of Raffles Medical reported that one’s body temperature may be increased slightly from eating durians but that does not lead to fever, coughs or respiratory infections.

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Life style

Dilani’s styling journey

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By Zanita Careem

When you walk into Elan Salon on Thalawathugoda Road, Kotte, the sleek and simplistic design of it tells that Dilani Pereira is serious about hair and beauty. The stylist is passionate about her hair journey and, before booking any appointment, you’re asked to come along to the salon for a consultation, where she will help shape your ‘dream style’, giving you the chance to consider it first. Once you meet Dilani however, you know you’re in good hands with her professional understanding and realistic advice on your new style.

Regular clients of Elan Salon will know that one of the best things about it is the hair washing station, where you can lay right back and relax as you enjoy an incredible head massage. It is not the price at the end of the scale that matters but it’s definitely worth it for the complete salon experience.

They do a range of other beauty treatments. Whether it’s a bouncy blow dry, beachy blonde highlights, a total revamp or just a chic cut, this young hair stylist knows her art well. This is your one-stop shop for hair and beauty, from a simple cut and colour to nails, makeup or skin care. Dilani will make you feel at home. Her team is all trained and there’s a distinct family feel at Elan Salon.

Following are the excerpts from an interview with Dilani:

Tell us about yourself and your professional background

I studied at Bishop’s College, I have four siblings and none of them are hairdressers. I never dreamt of being a hairdresser. I tried different professions before becoming a hairdresser 15 years ago.

What do you like best about your job and what is your inspiration?

This is an industry involving people, it’s an industry that is always evolving and it is about making people feel and look good. I love being able to build relationships with clients and celebrate all their life’s milestones with them.

What are your greatest strengths and who is your greatest strength?

I’m a good listener. Many of my clients love sharing ups and downs of their lives with me when they visit the salon. It’s important to clarify exactly what they want from their service to avoid miscommunication. Before you pick up the shears or mix the colour, it is imperative that you and your clients are on the same page. My God, my family and friends are my greatest strength. I thank God for blessings and I’m ever grateful to my brother and sister-in-law and my uncles as well for always standing by my side.

Describe a work situation and how you handle it?

There have been many times where clients comes up with unreasonable complaints where I would just listen to them, apologize and make them calm down.

What inspired the name of your salon?

‘Elan’ means style/energy and enthusiasm in French. This inspired me as I’m known for it.

How do you see yourself in five years?

I would like to open up two or three salons in Colombo suburbs and one in a popular mall in five years.

Tell us about your staff and how you train them

I admire and respect my team for commitment and dedication towards work and give them best training which I got from the previous salons that I have worked for.

How do you ensure optimum client satisfaction?

By offering a pleasant experience, a comfortable and a clean environment, personal treatment, knowing my clients and being confident and knowledgeable.

How do you respond to client dissatisfaction?

Hear them out, understand the issue, use initiatives, find a solution, apologize to the client, will not give excuses and make sure that it will not repeat in future.

How do you build relationships with your clients?

When clients arrive, I make sure to acknowledge and greet them with a smile. Every client that visits my salon is made to feel special.

As a stylist I also believe in establishing free flowing lines of communication with them. In order to establish a successful customer relationship, it is also important to be able to take any criticism on board, act on it and turn it around to find a solution. So I make sure that I don’t take criticism personally, instead, I use it to my advantage and leave these channels of communication wide open.

In the new normalcy how have you adapted your work adhering to strict health guidelines?

I make sure to keep myself updated about ever changing health guidelines and encourage clients to call and make appointments, so that I can issue time slots accordingly without overcrowding the salon. As for ‘walk-in customers’, if the salon is not occupied, I will take them in. If not, we have to turn them away with a heavy heart and encourage them to call and make an appointment.

What is your message to a potential new client who is yet to experience your salon and what are the advantages of the location of your salon?

I would be humbled by their presence and be proud to provide them with best service by the Elan team. It has a homely atmosphere and there is ample parking space as well.

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LOVI’S Fashion Story walks the ‘Olympic Ramp’

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The sarong is a traditional piece of clothing worn by Sri Lankans young and old. Asanka de Mel CEO of Lovi sarong has turned the sarong into a fashion stayement. This ubiquitous wrap around the hip called the sarong, was associated with India, and South East Asia for cenanturies,, Now it has become a trendy garment won by islanders in a relaxed or stylish ways. Lovi sarongs come in handlooms, cotton with all the trapping of modern tailoring. His label ‘Lovi’ is very popular and he has push the sarong revolution creating a benchmark in the fashion industry

by Zanita Careem

With the onset of the Tokyo Summer Olympics, and all the associated hype of Olympic fever as well as an outpouring of relief that despite the pandemic life is beginning to show signs of some semblance of normalcy, This is a proud moment for Sri Lanka and LOVI our fashion brand is making history !!!

‘With Sri Lanka sending her largest ever delegation to the games, despite the pandemic, we are making history; as for the first time ever, our team will wear our National Dress as they parade the Olympic stadium” said Assanka De Mel. This is due entirely to the brain child of Asanka de Mel, the founder and CEO of LOVI Ceylon whose farsighted thinking and initiative have resulted in our boys and girls proudly marching in our National Dress

“Like many kids, I loved watching the Olympic games on TV and dreamt of somehow representing Sri Lanka one day,” says de Mel. “Even if not as an athlete, I am so thrilled to be part of this global event by supporting these extraordinary players as well as the dedicated coaches and officials leading the effort. The fact that LOVI is responsible for showcasing our National Dress on the Olympic stage is indeed one of the proudest moments of my entire career”.

Inspired by the notion of Olympic harmony, LOVI designed the Team Sri Lanka outfits based on its Unity collection for the global stage. The maroon, orange and green colouSrs of the Sri Lankan flag are reflected with handwoven gold lines signifying diversity and strength. LOVI’s trademarked gold crown represents sovereignty and the ambition of our new generation to be world class. A special label reads “

スリランカ“, meaning Sri Lanka in Japanese in honor of the host country, Japan. “A limited-edition collection will soon be available for LOVI fans, thus enabling them to get into the spirit of the Olympics”.

De Mel went on to say that, “the Olympics represent the best of the human spirit in action. Our athletes are inspiring future athletes to be the best they can be, because we can! It’s our mission to support all Sri Lankans striving for that level of excellence and LOVI wishes all the Olympic athletes the very best at the games this year – we are proud of you and honoured that LOVI can play a part alongside you at the Olympics.he quipped.

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