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Memories of a schoolgirl in Ceylon, 1960



125th year celebrations of SACRED HEART CONVENT, Galle (1896 – 2020)

by Savitri de Alwis

(Vice Captain, Queen’s Own, 1970)

The echo of frenzied cheering ebbing and flowing like a wave from the open pavilion of the Galle esplanade fill my ears as if it were only yesterday. I can hear Rev. Sister Rosina, Mistress of Queens Own House. spurring me on fitfully on the loudspeaker in the open event cycle race. My spindly legs pedal furiously, perfectly navigate the tracks and breeze through the touch line to victory on an old rackety Men’s Raleigh bicycle, borrowed on the spot for the race from the school watcher! As I cross the winning line I look back at my competitors, way behind me like specks on the track doing a balancing act with their bikes! Indeed, not many girls cycled then nearly 50 years ago, with the exception of tomboys and the posh girls from Colombo who were sent to our boarding school for strict discipline under firm but kind Irish and Belgian nuns.

Yet oddly we were in awe of these posh girls from Colombo with their ‘mod’ hairstyles, a far cry from our tightly plaited hair doused in coconut oil! But moreover they spoke the Queen’s English like they owned it. This was 1970 and the unforgettable events of a sports meet indelibly etched in my memory as a school girl at Sacred Heart Convent in Galle, a leading private girls’ day/boarding school. Established in 1896, by the Sisters of Charity in Belgium, it was for the education of young girls in Galle. The school is entering its 125th anniversary this year, a great milestone in its unbroken record of unblemished service and duty for charity (love). My three sisters, my little brother at nursery and I were privileged to walk through the hallowed hallways of Sacred Heart Convent from its nursery and on to secondary school half a century ago.

The decade beginning 1960 was thrifty era in Ceylon yet carefree and laid back. It was the decade of Beatles, Elvis, flower power and bell bottoms! We were school girls embracing an unhurried lifestyle, footloose and fancy free. Our precious parents paid for our education with their hard-earned money. At the helm of the school as Principal was the much adored and celebrated Rev. Sister Adrian, a bespectacled young Irish nun with rimmed glasses which framed her porcelain countenance. Always immaculately dressed in a crisp white habit, with an angelic face, she was soft spoken but firm and her presence ubiquitous! The sprawling magnificent Victorian buildings of the school which spread extensively, exuded charm and grandeur. Their impressive long and open corridors decorated with imposing Roman arches harmoniously arranged around a quadrangle is where we hung out and had our daily ‘fix’. Yes, a daily fix of ‘achcharu’ bought for five cents from Mura-aiya’s kade below the staff room.

The solid stone wall chapel with ornate stained glass windows on the premises was an integral part of the school and the Catholic girls looked ever so sanctimonious therein with their dainty little face veils, twirling their Rosary beads. We wished we could be like them! The ‘Parlour’ adjacent the Chapel where the nuns took refuge was also sacrosanct with strictly no entry except during music exams when Trinity College Music Examiners arrived from England on a BOAC jet. I recall as a 10-year old, with much trepidation and awe, entering the sanctuary of the Parlour for the very first time ever for my music exam. The dark brown floors were pristine and shining; I could almost eat off the floor I thought! The slender white Ionic Roman columns decorated the verandah around an open courtyard with its brilliant flowers interspersed with clipped shrubbery were stunning. It was surreal and I, for a fleeting moment, felt like Alice in Wonderland falling through a rabbit-hole!

English drama and poetry were fundamental to our education. We loved the annual English Day celebrations enjoying Shakespeare drama, poetry, oratory etc. under the keen eye of Miss Orlene de Silva a doyen of English teaching. It was the skillful Senior School production of Robert Browning’s mythical Pied Piper of Hamlin that clinched us the first prize in the Galle District Inter School English Day celebrations in 1969. A bevy of charming teens narrated the poem animatedly as the mystical Pied Piper, the writer, stormed the stage for her pound of flesh; a thousand guilders! And as we played out the story with aplomb our parents watched us with pride at the Galle Town Hall. There were other triumphant productions we took on in our stride – Oliver Twist, Twelth Night and Pride and Predjudice. To to this day the thought of Ranmalie de Zilva’s perfect fit as a proper little Mrs. Bennet on and off stage evoke fond memories.

Western music and singing were also high on the school’s agenda. The very first school percussion band was formed very modestly by our gracious Miss Malini Senanayake around 1969 with half a dozen melodicas and two accordions. One accordion was played by the musically gifted Priyadarshani Keerthisinghe and the other, attempting to emulate her wizardry sheepishly, was the writer. Helene Dias Abeysinghe had the shoulders to carry the huge bass drum and keep the beat stylishly like her effortless Shot Putt throws she did with a twirl! The excitement and novelty of being in the school band made us unconsciously audacious. loving to parade in our tartan skirts and berets and march the length and breadth of the Galle esplanade blowing our horns!

It was Miss Malini who trained and entered us to compete in the All Island Schools’ Singing Competition at Royal College, Colombo having won the first place in Galle Inter Schools’ Singing competition. The choir classic ‘Happy Wanderer’ in four part harmony was sung exquisitely by the school choir. Sports too were an integral part of the curriculum. We were gluttonous for a 20 cents Aleric’s Popsicle that the tuck shop sold, and Nandanie Rajapakse, my beloved Games Captain, smothered us with Aleric’s’ ice cream when we played like Trojans and brought the netball trophies home. It was fascinating too, to watch our fine athletes. Consy Rodrigo, Beatrice Bandara and Deidre Senanayake were like flying machines dominating the track and field events near the grotto of Jesus, Mary and Sacred Heart at the rear of the school.

The boarders had a habit of climbing the grotto to a vantage point to peek at the road beyond Kandewatte canal to check if the boys from our brother school. St. Aloysius College, were hovering around like helicopters. But the nuns were too sharp for their little theatrics! Life was uncomplicated. There were no mobile phones, social media or TV, period! We played outdoors avidly and immersed ourselves in hand me down books. It was ‘Robin Blue’ that made our uniforms dazzling white and a heavy charcoal fired smoothening iron pressed our uniforms. These were turned out at home on a hand sewing machine and oh so frugally using the material bought after queuing at the Co-op due to rationing. There were no fancy trainers then, only canvas shoes cleaned with pipeclay dripping like fresh cream! We learned to be creative and innovative and if a shoe gave way with the endless walking, jumping and running, we’d pretend to have an injury on that foot, slapping a plaster on it and slip on a flip flop as we walked to school unabashedly with one shoe and a flip flop. A bandage was sometimes used for effect! We almost always got away with it, dodging the hawk eyed Miss Padmini de Silva.

School days were happy and hauntingly memorable as are our beloved teachers who made all the difference. This is dedicated to them and to all my schoolmates scattered throughout the globe, remembering the good times we shared in the spirit of unity in that once in a lifetime incredible journey with, as our motto reminds us, ‘Cor Unum, Anima Una’ – One heart, One soul. May it be always so!

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Dr. Sarah Fazy wins Outstanding Business Woman Award 2022



Recognition of self-made success and dedication

Sri Lanka’s leading Cosmetic and Aesthetic Physician Dr. Sarah Fazy, also fondly known as Dr. Cherry was awarded the Outstanding Business Woman Award 2022 by CEO Magazine’s CEO Awards.

Dedicated to honouring leadership in the business world, the CEO Magazine provides a platform for all genres of corporate icons. At the recently held awards night, Dr. Fazy was honoured for her dedication and for being a self-made woman of success. Her clinic, 360 Wellness, was founded on the principle that the technology reshaping skincare today must be available to all people aiming to improve and maintain their skin and well-being.

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King Charles’s Coronation guest list: who’s who of everyone expected to attend



The Royal family last appeared on the balcony of Buckingham Palace for Queen Elizabeth's Platinum Jubilee in June. They are expected to appear again for a fly-past following the Coronation ceremony in May

From foreign royals to charity leaders, the invitees are expected to reflect a modern and multicultural Britain

Save-the-date emails have been sent and preparations are underway as the countdown to King Charles’s Coronation in May begins. The final guest list is yet to be confirmed, but the attendees are certain to include an array of foreign royals, heads of state and politicians.

Charles is also understood to want a diverse congregation to reflect modern, multicultural society and ensure that his ceremony is inclusive.Representatives from his many charity affiliations and a large cross section from the voluntary sector will consequently be in attendance.

In contrast, only a small minority of politicians and peers are expected to be invited and far fewer members of the aristocracy than the vast numbers that attended Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953.While 8,000 guests crammed into Westminster Abbey for the late Queen’s investiture, the guest list this year has reportedly been cut to around 2,000.

Here, we detail all the guests who are likely to attend the May 6 ceremony.
British Royal family

While King Charles’s Coronation will be a slimmed-down event in comparison to 1953, nearly the entire Royal family will be out in force.Members from across the family, including extended cousins and grandchildren, are expected to attend the ceremony at Westminster Abbey.

Even the youngest members of the family – including Prince Louis – are expected to be involved, posing a challenge for their parents about how to rein them in.The big question that remains is whether the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will attend.

While the couple have stated that they have been in correspondence with the King’s office regarding the Coronation, they have not confirmed for certain whether they will attend.A spokesman said: “An immediate decision on whether the Duke and Duchess will attend will not be disclosed by us at this time.”

If either of them does attend, it is understood the visit will be brief. It is not thought that either Archie or his sister, one-year-old Lilibet, will travel to London for the ceremony.Meanwhile, the Duchess of York also revealed at an event in New York earlier this month that she had not yet received an invitation.

“I’m travelling at the moment, so maybe it [invitation] has gone to another place,” she said.

While many members of the family will attend the ceremony, just senior royals are expected to appear on the balcony of Buckingham Palace for a fly-past, in line with King Charles’s wish for a more streamlined monarchy.

Queen Consort’s family and friends

Camilla’s family is set to get equal billing at the Coronation, with her five teenage grandchildren expected to be thrust into the limelight for the first time with official duties. It has not yet been confirmed what roles they will carry out, but The Sunday Times reported that the Queen wanted her grandchildren to hold the canopy over her while she is anointed with holy oil. But Palace sources suggested that no such role would be given.

Meanwhile, it is likely that the Queen Consort’s six companions – her replacement to the former ladies-in-waiting – will also attend the event. They were appointed to support and accompany Her Majesty on key occasions.

Foreign royals 

Members of foreign royal families are also expected to be invited to the ceremony in an historic break with tradition. Convention dating back centuries stated that a coronation should be a sacred ceremony between a monarch and their people in the presence of God.

But King Charles is set to do away with the tradition and invite his counterparts from around the world. A source told The Mail on Sunday: “I believe the rule began because a Coronation is meant to be a monarch’s private event with God.

“At the Queen’s Coronation there were no crowned monarchs, only the protectorate rulers like the Queen of Tonga. It’s been a tradition for centuries.”

The source added: “Inviting the King of Jordan, the Sultan of Brunei, the Sultan of Oman and the Scandinavian royals – who are all friends of Charles – will be a good bit of soft power and diplomacy.”

Some international royals have already indicated that they will attend the ceremony, including Prince Albert of Monaco.Speaking to People magazine, the monegasque head of state said: “I’m certain that it’s going to be an incredible ceremony and a very moving one. We’ve maintained contact since His Majesty became King, but I haven’t talked to him personally since the Queen’s funeral.

“I’m certain His Majesty will add his own personal touches to the ceremonies, but what those will be, I’m sure I don’t know.”

British MPs and peers 

Parliamentarians have been in uproar after learning that only a minority will be invited to the ceremony itself. Members have been lobbying the Cabinet Office to argue their case, convinced that they have a right to attend.It was initially planned that just 20 MPs and 20 peers would get a ticket for Westminster Abbey.

These numbers have now been more than doubled, according to those with knowledge of the event. On top of this, there will be extra places reserved for former prime ministers, Cabinet ministers and some members of the Privy Council.An extra event for MPs and peers has also been added to the Coronation line-up – a special reception in Westminster Hall which will take place on the Tuesday before the Coronation and will be attended by the King.

The final decision about which peers and MPs will make the cut will be made by the Cabinet Office, which is keen to ensure that attendees are representative of all parties, geographical locations, ages and backgrounds.

Foreign heads of state

The heads of state and representatives from a number of key British allies and Commonwealth nations are expected to attend the ceremony.Andrzej Duda, the Polish president, is the first head of state to be confirmed as attending the event.

Meanwhile, the most noticeable abscence may be US President Joe Biden, whose attendance is reportedly in doubt. One official suggested it was “unlikely” Mr Biden would be present, while another senior administration official only said the United States would be “represented”. However, they could not yet say whether Mr Biden would go personally, or send a delegation.

Members of the public

Representatives from many of the King’s charity affiliations and a large cross section from the voluntary sector are set to be present at the ceremony. It has already been revealed that refugees and the NHS will be at the heart of the star-studded concert taking place at Windsor Castle on May 8, the day after the Coronation.

One of the highlights will be the performance of the Coronation Choir, a diverse group drawing together singers from the nation’s community choirs, including refugee choirs, NHS choirs, LGBTQ+ singing groups and deaf signing choirs.

Daily Telegtaph

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Butterflies and dinosaurs, spaceships and girl-power this avurudu



Hold onto your hats, kiddos! The much-anticipated 2023 Avurudu Collection for kids by Tropic Of Linen has finally arrived – and it’s packed to the brim with quirky prints and playful detail.With its reputation for unique and adorable festive outfits that are a cut above the rest, Tropic Of Linen has earned a name as the go-to destination for Avurudu kids wear – outdoing themselves year after year. This year is no exception, for the 2023 Avurudu edit features not just one-of-a-kind designs, but also incorporates a ‘play’ element in all of its exclusive, two-piece sets.

For the little ladies, Tropic Of Linen has taken the classic redde and hatte designs of vintage Ceylonese tradition and spun them in to something truly unique. The result is a stunning collection of outfits that pay homage to the beauty and charm of traditional Sri Lankan fashion, while still being perfectly on-trend for today’s festivities.

The auspicious ‘multi-colour’ theme for this year was what influenced designer Minha Akram to seek inspiration from the vibrant butterfly, with its beautiful myriad of colour. “We wanted to create something different, while also bringing a sense of play to our outfits,” she said. “Butterflies are spirited, light, fun, and filled with beauty in every combination of colour. So, we created very wearable, play-centred outfits by building in beautiful 3D butterfly wings on to the backs of the tops, resulting in a cross between costume and everyday clothing.”

Girls aged 2 to 9 are in for a treat with five exciting designs to choose from. Little mermaid fans can go pretty in pastels with a seashell motif that will make them feel like a true sea princess. For the bright and bold personality types, ‘Fly High Butterfly’ is the perfect fit, with its 90s girl-power and retro pop art-inspired prints.

Heralding a changing of seasons and the essence of springtime, the lovely ‘Birds and Blossoms’ beige ensemble is for the true flower child, dancing and twirling through the festivities in style.The serene island girl, amidst sunny lemons and the blue ocean will be fresh, bright, and beaming in the Santorini-inspired vintage style set.

Tropic Of Linen has also crafted a delicate and whimsical outfit filled with old world charm and a more elegant quality -the ‘Avurudu Rose’-, featuring exquisite red roses and flowers on a dreamy soft blue background.Avurudu may only come once a year, but all girls’ tops have been designed to be worn over and over again, when paired with other shorts, skirts, or trousers.

Tropic Of Linen has not forgotten the little gents of course, with sarong-shirt sets featuring lively and contemporary prints and designs. For the toddler age group the sarongs come in fun and cutesy prints, while the older ‘big boys’ can rock more modern and edgy motifs. Blast off into unknown galaxies or astro surf to the stars with out of this world space-inspired sets. Even unleash their inner dinosaur with some rock n’ roaring outfits. Easy-to-wear expandable hidden belts come built in to each sarong, so both kids and parents feel secure in knowing the sarong will hold up to all play!

With Tropic of Linen’s attention to detail and unwavering commitment to bringing only the best and most stylish designs to the fore, it’s no wonder parents and kids alike flock to the store at #1 Wijerama Mawatha, Colombo 7 every April. Kids will love Tropic of Linen’s play centred designs and its characteristically comfortable cotton and linen wear, with also a strong chance to be the best dressed kid on the block this Avurudu season.


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