Six Job Offers Within Two Weeks
CONFESSIONS OF A GLOBAL GYPSY
Dr. Chandana (Chandi) Jayawardena DPhil
President – Chandi J. Associates Inc. Consulting, Canada
Founder & Administrator – Global Hospitality Forum
Job Hunting in Sri Lanka
At the beginning of 1985 spring season, I moved from the United Kingdom to Sri Lanka to launch the second stage of my career in hospitality management. I was 31-years old and had gained versatile experiences over 14 years. Also, a variety of qualifications, including a master’s degree in International Hotel Management from the University of Surrey. I was ambitious and optimistic.
However, I was somewhat disappointed that I could not find a suitable management position with an international hotel chain in another country. Having worked and researched in over 16 five-star British hotels focusing on food and beverage management and operations for my master’s dissertation, I decided that my ideal next job should be as the Food & Beverage Manager of a large, five-star international hotel. I also dreamt of becoming the General Manager of such a hotel by the age 34.
Having considered the advice by a senior hotelier who interviewed me in London, I decided to go back to Sri Lanka and attempt to join a five-star international hotel in my own contry prior to launching my international hotel management career. My previous job positions in Sri Lanka were as a part-time trainee in 10 organizations during my college years, then as an Executive Chef of two well-known resorts, as the Manager of a couple of small hotels, as the Manager-Operations of John Keells/Walker Tours hotels, as well as a Senior Lecturer of the Ceylon Hotel School.
In addition, I had gained short work and training experiences in England, Scotland, Italy, Switzerland, Hong Kong and Singapore. In terms of international hotel chains, I was briefly exposed to hotels managed by Trust House Forte, Hyatt, InterContinential, Holiday Inn, Taj, Hilton, Savoy Group, etc. I assumed that my efforts to build an interesting resume would impress my prospective employers.
On my first morning in Sri Lanka after two years, I embarked on an early morning two-hour walk in Colombo. That was nostalgic as well as energizing. While walking, I was thinking of my next steps in finding a suitable management position. I decided to write to all five internationally branded five-star hotels in Colombo (Le Meridien, Ramada Renaissance, InterContinental, Oberoi and Taj) that afternoon and then follow up with telephone calls.
As I returned home in time for breakfast with the family, my father-in-law, Captain Wicks told me, “Good news, Chandi. Some people have already heard that you are back in Sri Lanka. Three of the best known Sri Lankan hoteliers called and wanted to meet you as soon as possible to discuss job opportunities.” Two of them – Malin Hapugoda (Hapu) and Bobby Adams were my former bosses and the third, Prasanna Jayawardene (PJ) was equally respected in Sri Lanka as an innovative hotelier. I was naturally impressed and proud to feel that I was already in demand. Before calling three of them, I sent my resume to the five five-star hotels in Colombo.
Vice Principal – Ceylon Hotel School
I was then saddened to hear that my last boss in Sri Lanka, before leaving for England, Pearl Heenatigala, was seriously ill and in hospital. She was the Director/Principal of the Ceylon Hotel School (CHS) and always treated me like the son she never had. She was my favourite boss. I rushed to the hospital and quickly realized that Mrs. Heenatigala was terminally ill.
Seated by her bedside, I was surprised that the focus of her conersation was not about her condition, but about my future career. While I was struggling to hold my tears, she said with some difficulty, “Dear Chandi, as you know, I identified you as a potential Vice Principal for CHS after your Master’s. That position is yours if you are still interested. However, consider all other offers first. I personally think that you would do well in a dynamic international hotel chain.” That was our last meeting.
Food & Beverage Analyst – Galadari Meridien
Stefan Pfeiffer, the German national who was the first General Manager of the Galadari Meridien Hotel contacted me, before my departure from Sri Lanka in 1983. I knew him when he was the General Manager of Hotel Lanka Oberoi in the late 1970s. He returned to Sri Lanka during the pre-opening year of the Galadari, the only hotel in Sri Lanka to open with 500 five-star rooms. Although I never worked with him, he was keen that after my studies in England I join the Galadari.
As we agreed to keep in touch, I called him. He immediately offered me a middle management position as the Food & Beverage Analyst at the Galadari which I did not accept. I told him that my aim was to become the Food & Beverage Manager of a five-star internationally branded hotel. This was a position held only by Europeans in such hotels in Sri Lanka, up to that point.
Mr. Pfeiffer said, “Chandi, my Executive Assistant Manager (deputy to the General Manager), Mr. Garoute also works as the Food & Beverage Manager. When he finishes his three-year contract next year, he may return to France. After that, let’s talk again and look at possibilities. As the Meridien hotel chain is owned by Air France, they prefer a Frenchman for this top post.” We decided to keep the options open. In later years I joined Le Meridien twice, in Sri Lanka as the Food & Beverage Manager/Director and in Jamaica as the General Manager. If there is a will, the way can be found.
Training Manager / Operations Analyst – Hotel Lanka Oberoi
The new Indian General Manager of Lanka Oberoi was impressed with my resume. “Our Training Manager, is about to go on 12 months special leave to work at Dubai International Hotel. You will be ideal for that post” he said. When I asked him what would happen if their training manager returns in 12 months, he said that, “at that point we may consider you for a new senior management position we are planning to create – Operations Analyst.” I did not like the uncertainty of that offer, and did not accept it in 1985. Four years later, Oberoi hired me as an expatriate Food and Beverage Manager in Iraq.
Hotel Opening Manager – Coral Gardens Hotel
When I returned the call of Malin Hapugoda (Hapu), then the General Manager/Director for Ceylon Holiday Resorts Limited, and a former boss of mine, he reminded me of an offer he made to me the day before I left Sri Lanka two years ago. “The new Coral Gardens Hotel will be opened in a few months with 156 rooms. I would like you to open this four-star hotel as the Manager. The job is yours.”
I was most grateful to Hapu for such an offer, and told him that I will get back to him with a final decision in a week. Eventually, while considering another offer with a better designation and salary and benefit package, I reluctantly decided not to accept this offer. Hapu kept in touch with me, and 21 years later offered me the post of Chief Executive Officer of Aitken Spence Hotels in Oman. He was the Managing Director of that company then. I eventually did a short consulting assignment for that great company.
Deputy General Manager – Mount Lavinia Hotel
When I called Prasanna Jayawardena (PJ) then General Manager of Mount Lavinia Hotel (MLH), he was very convincing. “Chandana, I want you as my deputy. The sky is the limit for you at MLH. Can you come to meet the owner tomorrow?” he said and confirmed an appointment, with the Chairman of the company – Mr. U. K. Edmond and his second son, Sanath Ukwatte who was understudying his legendary father.
Built in 1806 initially as the British Governor’s residence, Mount Lavinia Hotel is the most historic and significant resort hotel in Sri Lanka. From the time I as a small kid attended a wedding there, I fell in love with this iconic hotel. My third trainee job and the first internship in the hospitality industry was there during the 1972/1973 tourist season. I was a trainee waiter there when It was Mount Lavinia Hyatt.
Mr. U. K. Edmond was one of those humble Southerners who came to Colombo and built significant businesses in the mid-20th century Ceylon. He was a great visionary business icon who ventured into railway catering, brewing and then the hotel business. Meeting him was a great pleasure. He was very observant and a good listener, but did not ask any questions from me during the interview. His son, Sanath, who had just returned after his business education in USA, asked me a few questions.
PJ then gave a glowing recommendation about me in Sinhala. PJ said, “This is the Sri Lankan with the highest academic qualification in hotel management. He is also a hands-on practical person. Chandana will be undoubtedly a big asset to our hotel.” That was enough for Mr. Edmond, who then asked his first question, “When can you begin work at my hotel?”
At that point, I told him that I have a few offers and a few more interviews. His response was decisive and quick, “No problem. Go to all those interviews and check the best offers they make. We will pay you more.” With that open offer, the interview ended. I did not accept their offer in 1985, but after considering two more offers, I eventually joined MLH to succeed PJ as the General Manager five years later.
General Manager – The Lodge and The Village
When I called my former boss at the John Keells corporate office, Bobby Adams told me of a position the largest group of companies in Sri Lanka had created six months previously. Bobby was the Director, Operations of this largest hotel chain in Sri Lanka. They were looking for a General Manager to manage their two largest hotels – The Lodge and the Village in Habarana in North Central Sri Lanka. Although he did not serve on the selection committee, I suspected that the Group Chairman, Mark Bostock, had strongly favoured my appointment. He was very fond of me and had arranged my first overseas training in England, his homeland, when I was a young 25-year old hotel manager in 1979.
I was determined to earn a five-figure monthly salary which was very high in Sri Lanka in the mid-1980s. After the final interview, I had to meet a main board member and the group’s Head of Finance, Mr. V. Kailasapillai. In an annoyed voice he asked me, “Chandana, why do you ask for such a high salary? What you are demanding is three times more than what we paid you in 1981.” After a little negotiation, he laughed and said, “OK, Chandana, let’s settle for Rs. 10,000 a month. Final offer”. We shook hands. Next day, I packed my bags and was chauffeur-driven 111 miles from Colombo to reach my new home in Habarana.
Habarana Resort Complex
The Lodge (now branded five-star Cinnamon Lodge Habarana) and The Village (now branded four-star Habarana Village by Cinnamon), are two of the best hotels in Sri Lanka. The 40-acre landscaped resort complex is surrounded by nature, water, forest, and wild life (with elephants, serpent eagles, kingfishers and monkeys etc.). Over 2,000 trees, the lake front and a fully-operational farm enhance a totally unique guest experience.
On a day when all 260 rooms in both hotels were full, my team provided hospitality and meals to 1,000 people – 520 guests, 120 tourist drivers, 360 employees and the family members of senior managers, who also lived in the resort complex. We worked hard, played hard, and looked after our guests, always aiming to exceed their expectations. We had very happy domestic customers as well – free accommodation and free meals to 90% of the employees, and lots of sports and recreational facilities for employees (football, volleyball, cricket, indoor games etc.). In Habarana, I felt like a mayor of a small town.
Having worked at the John Keells corporate office for a year in the early 1980s I was familiar with the Habarana Resort Complex. As the General Manager, I did a lot of public relations — with guests, tour leaders, drivers, associates and local communities. On my first day in the new job, I hosted a group of 12 British travel agents who were on a seven-day familiarisation tour of Sri Lanka.Over dinner, we became very friendly. One of them said, “You seem to know a lot about Habarana. How long have you lived in this beautiful place?” When I answered accurately as “One day” they refused to believe me.
After some laughter and wine, a female tour leader challenged me: “OK, if you started this job just today, what was your last job?” She was winking at her colleagues and giggling. I thought for a few seconds, and said truthfully, “my previous job was a part-time banquet waiter at the Dorchester in London.” The whole group laughed loud and shouted in unison, “Chandi, you are a bloody liar!”
What JVP-NPP needs to do to win
By Dr. DAYAN JAYATILLEKA
A young academic at the Open University writing on a popular website has recently defined the NPP project as ‘Left populist’, a term which is very familiar to us at least from the writings of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe. He also mentions several parallels and precursors internationally.
As one who has been advocating a ‘left populist’ project for years, I am disinclined to nit-pick about whether or not the JVP-NPP fits the bill. At the moment and in its current incarnation, it is indeed the closest we have to a ‘left populist’ project. Its competitor the SJB, which its founder-leader identifies as social democratic, would be as approximate –and as loose– a fit for the labels ‘progressive populist’, ‘moderate populist’ or ‘populist centrist’, as the JVP-NPP is for ‘left populist’. But that’s the deck of cards we have.
The points I seek to make are different, and may be said to boil down to a single theme or problematique.
Distorted Left Populism
My argument is that the JVP-NPP is as distant from ‘left populism’ globally as it was from ‘left revolutionism’ globally in an earlier incarnation. In both avatars, it is unique in its leftism but not in a positive or helpful way for its cause at any given time.
Mine is not intended as a damning indictment of the JVP-NPP. It is intended as a constructive criticism of a rectifiable error, the rectification of which is utterly urgent given the deadly threat posed by the Wickremesinghe administration and its project of dependent dictatorship.
The JVP-NPP has a structural absence that no ‘left populist’ enterprise, especially in Latin America, has ever had. It is an absence that has marked the JVP from its inception and has been carried over into the present NPP project.
It is not an absence unique to the JVP but figures more in Sri Lanka than it has almost anywhere else. I say this because the same ‘absence’ characterised the LTTE as well. In short, that factor or its radical absence has marred the anti-systemic forces of South and North on the island.
The homeland of left populism has been Latin America while its second home has been Southern Europe. With the exception of Greece, it may be said that ‘left populism’ has an Ibero-American or culturally Hispanic character, which some might trace to the ‘romanticism’ of that culture. But such considerations need not detain us here.
‘Left populism’ has had several identifiable sources and points of departure: the former guerrilla movements of the 1960s and 1970s; the non-guerrilla movements of resistance to dictatorships; parties and split-offs from parties of the Marxist left; left-oriented split-offs or the leftwing of broad flexible even centrist populist formations; leftwing experiments from within the militaries etc.
Populism, Pluralism & Unity
Despite this diversity, all experiments of a Left populist character in Latin America and Europe, have had one thing in common: various forms of unity – e.g., united fronts, blocs etc.—of political parties. I would take up far too much space if I were to list them, starting with the Frente Amplio (which means precisely ‘Broad Front’) initiated by the Tupamaros-MLN of Uruguay and containing the Uruguayan Communist party and headed by a military man, General Liber Seregni, in 1970. The Frente Amplio lasted through the decades of the darkest civil-military dictatorship up to the presidential electoral victories of Tabaré Vasquez and Mujica respectively. Another example would be El Salvador’s FMLN, which brought together several Marxist guerrilla movements into a single front under the stern insistence of Fidel Castro.
Though the roots of unity were back in the 1970s, the formula has only been strengthened in the 1990s and 21st century projects of Left populism. There is a theoretical-strategic logic for this. The polarisation of ‘us vs them’, the 99% vs. the 1%, the many not the few—in socioeconomic terms—is of course a hallmark of populism. But pro-NPP academics and ideologues are unaware of or omit its corollary everywhere from Uruguay to Greece and Spain. Namely, that socioeconomic ‘majoritarianism’ is not possible with a single party as agency.
When the JVP and the NPP have the same leader, and the JVP leader was the founder of the NPP, I cannot regard it as a truly autonomous project, but a party project. Left populism globally, from its inception right up to Lula last year, is predicated on the admission of political, not just social plurality, and the fact that socioeconomic, i.e., popular majoritarianism is possible only as a pluri-party united front, platform or bloc.
This recognition of the imperative of unity as necessitating a convergence of political fractions and currents; that unity is impossible as a function of a single political party; that authentic majoritarianism i.e., “us” is possible only if “we” converge and combine as an ensemble of our organic political agencies, is a structural feature of Left Populism.
It is radically absent in the JVP-NPP and has been so from the JVP’s founding in 1965. It was also true of the LTTE.
It is this insistence on political unipolarity (to put it diplomatically) or political monopoly (to put it bluntly) is a genetic defect of the JVP which has been carried over into the NPP project.
I do not say this to contest the leading role and the main role that the JVP has earned in any left populist project. I say it to draw the Gramscian distinction between ‘leadership’ and ‘domination’. Only ‘leadership’ can create consensus and popular consent; domination through monopoly cannot.
The simple truth is that however ‘left populist’ you think you are; no single party can be said to represent the people or even a majority – as distinct from a mere plurality– of the people. Furthermore, the people are not a unitary subject, and therefore cannot have a unitary leadership. This is the importance of Fidel Castro’s insistence to the Latin American Left of a ‘united command’ which brings together the diverse segments of the left by reflecting plurality.
Anyone who knows the history of Syriza and Podemos knows that they are not outcrops of some single party of long-standing but the result of an organic process of convergences of factions.
Had the JVP had a policy of united fronts – within the Southern left and with the Northern left– it would not have been as decisively defeated as it was in its two insurrections, and might have even succeeded in its second attempt. Though it has formed the NPP which has brought some significant success, it is still POLITICALLY sectarian in that it has no political alliances, partnerships, i.e., NO POLITICAL RELATIONSHIPS outside of itself.
I must emphasize that here I am not speaking of a bloc with the SJB, though it is most desirable, to be recommended, and if this were Latin America would definitely be on the agenda of discussion.
Let us speak frankly. The most important phenomenon of recent times (since the victorious end of the war) was the Aragalaya of last year. The JVP, especially its student front the SYU, participated in that massive uprising which dislodged President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, but it played a less decisive role in the Aragalaya than did the FSP and the IUSF which is close to it. This is by no means to say that the FSP led the Aragalaya, but to point out that it played a more decisive role – which included some mistakes– than did the JVP.
How then does one remain blind to the fact that the JVP-NPP’s ‘left populism’ does not include the FSP and by extension the IUSF? How can there be a ‘popular bloc’ – a key element of left populism—without the IUSF?
Given that Pubudu Jayagoda, Duminda Nagamuwa, Lahiru Weerasekara and Wasantha Mudalige are among the most successful public communicators today (especially on the left), what kind of ‘left’ is a ‘left populism’ devoid of their presence, participation and contribution?
What does it take to recognise that unity of some sort of these two streams of the Left could result in a most useful division of labour and a quantum leap in the hopes and morale of the increasingly left-oriented post-Aragalaya populace, especially the youth?
Surely the very sight of a platform with the leaders of the JVP-NPP and the FSP-IUSF (AKD and Kumar Gunaratnam, Eranga Gunasekara and Wasantha Mudalige, Wasantha Samarasinghe and Duminda Nagamuwa, Bimal Ratnayake and Pubudu Jayagoda) will take the Left populist project to the next level?
As a party the JVP from its birth, and by extension, the NPP today, have set aside one of the main weapons of leftist theory, strategy and political practice: the United Front. Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Dimitrov, Gramsci, Togliatti, Ho Chi Minh, Mao Zedong and Fidel Castro have founded and enriched this strategic concept.
It is difficult to accept that Rohana Wijeweera and Anura Kumara Dissanayake knew/know better than these giants, and that the JVP-NPP can dispense with this political sword and shield and yet prevail–or even survive the coming storm.
The JVP must present a LEFT option in the leadership of which is the major shareholder; not merely a JVP option or para-JVP option, which is what the NPP is. A credible, viable Left alternative cannot be reduced to a single party and its front/auxiliary; it cannot but be a United Left – a Left Front– alternative.
[Dr Dayan Jayatilleka is author of The Great Gramsci: Imagining an Alt-Left Project, in ‘On Public Imagination: A Political & Ethical Imperative’ eds Richard Falk et al, Routledge, New York, 2019.]
Obtaining fresh mandate unavoidable requirement
by Jehan Perera
The government’s plans for reviving the economy show signs of working out for the time being. The long-awaited IMF loan is about to be granted. This would enable the government to access other loans to tide over the current economic difficulties. The challenge will be to ensure that both the old loans and new ones will be repayable. To this end the government has begun to implement its new tax policy which increases the tax burden significantly on income earners who can barely make ends meet, even without the taxes, in the aftermath of the rise in price levels. The government is also giving signals that it plans to downsize the government bureaucracy and loss-making state enterprises. These are reforms that may be necessary to balance the budget, but they are not likely to gain the government the favour of the affected people. The World Bank has warned that many are at risk of falling back into poverty, with 40 percent of the population living on less than 225 rupees per person per day.
The problem for the government is that the economic policies, required to stabilize the economy, are not popular ones. They are also politically difficult ones. The failure to analyse the past does not help us to ascertain reasons for our failures and also avoids taking action against those who had misused, or damaged, the system unfairly. The costs of this economic restructuring, to make the country financially viable, is falling heavily, if not disproportionately, on those who are middle class and below. Fixed income earners are particularly affected as they bear a double burden in being taxed at higher levels, at a time when the cost of living has soared. Unlike those in the business sector, and independent professionals, who can pass on cost increases to their clients, those in fixed incomes find it impossible to make ends meet. Emigration statistics show that over 1.2 million people, or five percent of the population, left the country, for foreign employment, last year.
The economic hardships, experienced by the people, has led to the mobilization of traditional trade unions and professionals’ organisations. They are all up in arms against the government’s income generation, at their expense. Last week’s strike, described as a token strike, was successful in that it evoked a conciliatory response from the government. Many workers did not keep away from work, perhaps due to the apprehension that they might not only lose their jobs, but also their properties, as threatened by one government member, who is close to the President. There was a precedent for this in 1981 when the government warned striking workers that they would be sacked. The government carried out its threat and over 40,000 government officials lost their jobs. They and their families were condemned to a long time in penury. The rest of society went along with the repression as the government was one with an overwhelming mandate from the people.
The striking unions have explained their decision to temporarily discontinue their strike action due to President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s willingness to reconsider their economic grievances. More than 40 trade unions, in several sectors, joined the strike. They explained they had been compelled to resort to strike action as there was no positive response from the government to their demands. Due to the strike, services such as health, posts, and railways were affected. Workers in other sectors, including education, port, power, water supply, petroleum, road development, and banking services, also joined the strike. The striking unions have said they would take up the President’s offer to discuss their concerns with the government and temporarily called a halt to their strike action. This would give the government an opportunity to rethink its strategy. Unlike the government in 1981 this one has no popular mandate. In the aftermath of the protest movement, it has only a legal mandate.
So far, the government has been unyielding in the face of public discontent. Public protests have been suppressed. Protest leaders have been arrested and price and tax hikes have gone ahead as planned. The government has been justifying the rigid positions it has been taking on the basis of its prioritization of economic recovery for which both political stability and financial resources are necessary. However, by refusing to heed public opinion the government has been putting itself on a course of confrontation with organized forces, be they trade unions or political parties. The severity of the economic burden, placed on the larger section of society, even as other sectors of society appear to be relatively unaffected, creates a perception of injustice that needs to be mitigated. Engaging in discussion with the trade unions and reconsidering its approach to those who have been involved in public protests could be peace making gestures in the current situation.
On the other hand, exacerbating the political crisis is the government’s continuing refusal to hold the local government elections, as scheduled, on two occasions now by the Elections Commission and demanded by law. The government’s stance is even in contradiction to the Supreme Court’s directives that the government should release the financial resources necessary for the purpose leading to an ever-widening opposition to it. The government’s determination to thwart the local government elections stems from its pragmatic concerns regarding its ability to fare well at them. Public opinion polls show the government parties obtaining much lower support than the opposition parties. Except for the President, the rest of the government consists of the same political parties and government members that faced the wrath of the people’s movement a year ago and had to resign in ignominy.
The government’s response to the pressures it is under has been to repress the protest movement through police action that is especially intolerant of street protests. It has also put pressure on state institutions to conform to its will, regardless of the law. The decisions of the Election Commission to set dates for the local government elections have been disregarded once, and the elections now appear to have to be postponed yet again. The government is also defying summons upon its ministers by the Human Rights Commission which has been acting independently to hold the government to account to the best extent it can. The government’s refusal to abide by the judicial decision not to block financial resources for election purposes is a blow to the rule of law that will be to the longer-term detriment of the country. These are all negative trends that are recipes for future strife and lawlessness. These would have long term and unexpected implications not to the best for the development of the country or its values.
There are indications that President Wickremesinghe is cognizant of the precariousness of the situation. The accumulation of pressures needs to be avoided, be it for gas at homes or issues in the country. As an experienced political leader, student of international politics, he would be aware of the dangers posed by precipitating a clash involving the three branches of government. A confrontation with the judiciary, or a negation of its decisions, would erode the confidence in the entire legal system. It would damage the confidence of investors and the international community alike in the stability of the polity and its commitment to the rule of law. The public exhortations of the US ambassador with regard to the need to conduct the local government elections would have driven this point home.
It is also likely that the US position on the importance of holding elections on time is also held by the other Western countries and Japan. Sri Lanka is dependent on these countries, still the wealthiest in the world, for its economic sustenance, trade and aid, in the form of concessional financing and benefits, such as the GSP Plus tariff concession. Therefore, the pressures coming from both the ground level in the country and the international community, may push the government in the direction of elections and seeking a mandate from the people. Strengthening the legitimacy of the government to govern effectively and engage in problem solving in the national interest requires an electoral mandate. The mandate sought may not be at the local government level, where public opinion polls show the government at its weakest, but at the national level which the President can exercise at his discretion.
Sing-along… Down Memory Lane
Sing-alongs have turned out to be hugely popular, in the local showbiz scene, and, I would say, it’s mainly because they are family events, and also the opportunity given to guests to shine, in the vocal spotlight, for a minute, or two!
I first experienced a sing-along when I was invited to check out the famous Rhythm World Dance School sing-along evening.
It was, indeed, something different, with Sohan & The X-Periments doing the needful, and, today, Sohan and his outfit are considered the No.1 band for sing-along events.
I’m told that the first ever sing-along concert, in Sri Lanka, was held on 27th April, 1997, and it was called Down Memory Lane (DML), presented by the Moratuwa Arts Forum (MAF),
The year 2023 is a landmark year for the MAF and, I’m informed, they will be celebrating their Silver Jubilee with a memorable concert, on 29th April, 2023, at the Grand Bolgoda Resort, Moratuwa.
Due to the Covid pandemic, their sing-along series had to be cancelled, as well as their planned concert for 2019. However, the organisers say the delayed 25th Jubilee Celebration concert is poised to be a thriller, scheduled to be held on 29th April, 2023.
During the past 25 years, 18 DML concerts had been held, and the 25th Jubilee Celebration concert will be the 19th in the series.
Famous, and much-loved, ‘golden oldies’, will be sung by the audience of music lovers, at this two and a half hours programme.
Down Memory Lane was the brainchild of musician Priya Peiris, (of ‘Cock-a-Doodle-Do’ fame) and the MAF became the pioneers of sing-along concerts in Sri Lanka.
The repertoire of songs for the 25th Jubilee Celebration concert will include a vast selection of international favourites, Cowboy and old American Plantation hits, Calypsos, Negro Spirituals, everybody’s favourites, from the ’60s and ’70s era, Sinhala evergreens, etc.
Singers from the Moratuwa Arts Forum will be on stage to urge the audience to sing. The band Echo Steel will provide the musical accompaniment for the audience to join in the singing, supported by Brian Coorey, the left handed electric bass guitarist, and Ramany Soysa on grand piano.
The organisers say that every participant will get a free songbook. There would also be a raffle draw, with several prizes to be won,
Arun Dias Bandaranaike will be the master of ceremonies.
President of the Moratuwa Arts Forum, Melantha Perera, back from Australia, after a successful tour, says: “All music lovers, especially Golden Oldies enthusiasts, are cordially invited to come with their families, and friends, to have an enjoyable evening, and to experience heartwarming fellowship and bonhomie.”
Further details could be obtained from MAF Treasurer, Laksiri Fernando (077 376 22 75).
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