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Two Sundays ago I wrote in this column about the beheading of French history teacher Samuel Paty, 47, by a Chechen Muslim terrorist. President Emmanuel Macron’s stand is appreciated. He paid sincere tribute to the murdered teacher and vowed to take action against dissidents. At a private ceremony in the Sorbonne University on October 21, President Macron bestowed the country’s highest honour on the family of Samuel Paty. “Paty was a quiet hero,” a visibly moved Macron said in a 15-minute speech. “He was the victim of stupidity, of lies, of confusion, of a hatred of what, in our deepest essence, we are … On Friday, he became the face of the Republic.”

Teachers of long ago

The murder of Paty left indelible marks in my mind though so far removed from France and having no connection nor having seen the Hebdo cartoons that provoked the brutal killing. Pity for Paty brought up mental pictures of some teachers down the years.

I had my entire schooling in a Methodist Missionary school in Kandy. I had the good fortune of having the Irish principal of the school even visit our home. She conducted assembly for the entire school on one day of the week. Remembered clearly is the huge cake she cut when the school celebrated its 60th year – Diamond Jubilee – in the presence of all classes and teachers. She was excellent as a disciplinarian but was more a woman with heart when families suffered deaths like when my father died when I was five years old, having just entered school.

Our teachers, without exception, were excellent. Ethel Wijewardena of the Baby Class was all soft heart, while Miss Sim of Std 2 was stern, strict and feared. Each of the teachers in the higher classes, we recognized had foibles but they were all dedicated; very fair to all students. Some of them stressed more good behaviour than studies. Miss Eva Perera did not go beyond Chapter 2 of a bio of Tagore when I was in Form II since she invariably diverted to the importance of home upbringing, so much so that I wondered whether poor widowed Mother was giving me a good home background! Little did I appreciate her struggle to bring up three older sisters (target of censure by evil conservative aunts) and continue our paid-for education.

Those were the days of modesty. Thus our Sinhala teacher, Miss Paranagama, avoided two stanzas in our text guttila kavya in Form II. Girls more fluent in Sinhala asked her why and we joined the chorus; anything for diversion. We were asked to do the stanzas ourselves and found they described graphically the female body. Miss Olga Wijewardena, so attractive, so upright, so innovative in being a class teacher that she had us form a ‘Help Others’ club in Form IV. During an English Lit class when we were going through Shakespeare’s great tragedy Macbeth, she once got me to take the part of Lady Macbeth while she read Macbeth’s part. I ballooned myself with pride as the best reader until I came to the line: “Come to my woman’s breasts and take my milk for gall”. It dawned on me why the choosing of a co-reader for that particular lesson. Inadequate and inappropriate since the reader, still a surf board was in the envious stage of being confined to vests while some in class had advanced to Maidenform.

Unfortunately teachers who taught the subject Sinhala were generally not liked much. They were forced to be stricter since we miserably lacked interest. Our opinion was justified as regards our SSC Sinhala teacher. Twice a week we had to read Sinhala newspapers while she did her home accounts and then read a British woman’s magazine. What we did behind the raised newspapers I leave you to imagine. She had a standard mark for each child’s essay which came back after correction with not a single red mark, except the expected mark on 10. Mine was 2 ½. Taking up a challenge, I wrote her first name, which we laughed at, twice within the week’s essay. When returning the exercise books she called me to the front of the class. Shivered violently. I was given one mark more – 3 ½. Not a single red mark on the essay. She chased an extra obstreperous girl around the class room with the girl hoisting a chair in defense!


Teachers of yesteryear

I know what I am writing about first hand as I was a teacher a while ago. Our teachers, on the whole, tread carefully in their often multiracial and multi religious schools. If they err it is through personal aberrations or plain unfairness and greed. The last two traits are exhibited when they can benefit by giving a student special attention or when some gain is to be made, even a year-end gift. I knew a teacher in a prestigious Colombo school where gifts to teachers were forbidden and only flowers allowed, who used to announce to her class her birthday was approaching and closer to the date would with her “Good morning, children” mention the date. What else could the scared fifth graders do but coax surreptitious gifts from parents?

Recently, I kept coaxing a hardworking, decent three wheeler driver to report to the Child Protection Society his six-year old boy’s class teacher who was obviously sadistic. She once caned the boy for talking to the next child in class while she was teaching, on his face and drew a bloody welt just below his eye. The next time she injured his ear. Complaints to the principal had him saying the matter would be looked into but the eye of supervision was always blind when it came to this teacher with some political influence. Before I took it upon myself to save the kid further psychological damage, he was transferred to another class and became a good student.


Teachers in government schools

They range in commitment and concern, both superficial and psychological, like the colours of the visible spectrum from red to violet and all shades between. Before I go to the bad I will mention one co-teacher in a Maha Vidyalaya beyond Galle in which I taught soon after marriage, He was in immaculate white cloth and shervani shirt; knew only a smattering of English but as both a gentleman and dedicated teacher he was excellent. I still cite him as the most genteel, polite and cultured man it was my good fortune to know.

In contrast were teachers who concentrated more on the leave they were entitled to and taking it than teaching or concern for their class children. One teacher teaching English to Grade four kids would get them to stand in a circle outside the staff room and recite ‘Row row row your boat gently down the stream/Merrily merrily merrily, life is but a dream’ which they did in diverse styles of pronunciation until the end of the period with her inside the staff room, chatting and munching tidbits! I too got infected with a small bug of laziness, completely obliterated when I joined a private Christian school in Colombo.

In schools, like in government, there is a trickle-down effect, of the bad mostly. Often the good has to be instilled by a strict Principal. Then it is conscientious preparation of lessons with notes written; helping the school in its main aim of encouraging the children and helping them develop all-round personalities. Casual leave taking was completely frowned on and justified since teachers are usually off early and weekends and long holidays punctuate the school year. In such disciplined schools, commitment to the job is inevitable, and more significantly, the teaching and supervising co-curricular activities enjoyed.

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Hair Growth and Thickness



LOOK GOOD – with Disna


* Oil:

Oiling is an old home remedy for hair growth and thickness. Oiling is also used for the strength, shine, and length of hair, from ancient times. The use of coconut oil, especially, is very effective when it comes to the amplification of hair health. Additionally, there are many essential oils for faster hair growth which you can use, too.

* How to Use: Generally, hair oiling works best when applied overnight. You could use this therapy every night, or after each night, then wash your hair, in the morning, before heading for studies, or work.


* Aloe Vera:

Aloe vera has long been used as a home remedy for hair growth, thickness, and treating hair loss problems It contains vitamins A, C, and E. All three of these vitamins are known to contribute to cell turnover, supporting healthy cell growth and shiny hair. Plus, vitamin B-12 and folic acid are also included in aloe vera gel. Both of these elements can keep your hair from falling out. Aloe vera plants can be easily grown indoors. A leaf can be plucked, occasionally, and cut open to reveal its gel. This gel needs to be applied on the scalp, basically, to provide nourishment to the roots.

*  How to Use:

Rub this gel on your head properly, leaving no area dry; wash after half an hour or so. Keeping this massage as a part of your weekly routine will eventually make your hair thick and long.


*  Green Tea:

Green tea is often consumed as a home remedy for weight loss. Surprisingly, it has many other benefits, including hair-related benefits.

* How to Use:

Consuming green tea once every day can add to the strength and length of your hair. If your body is extremely comfortable with green tea, then you may even consume it twice every day.


* Onion Juice:

A bi-weekly application of onion juice can relieve you of your tension, regarding hair health. The smell can really torture you, but divert your attention in doing something else for a while, like making a puzzle or washing the dishes. From an early age, onion juice has been used as a home remedy to control hair fall. Research has shown that onion juice has been successful in treating patchy alopecia areata (non-scarring hair loss condition) by promoting hair growth .

* How to Use:

Take half onion and blend it. Apply the mixture on every nook and corner of your scalp and let it sit for some 60 minutes, or so. Shampoo it off when it’s time for the hair-wash.

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Fun-loving, but… sensitive



This week, my chat is with Nilu Vithanage. She is quite active, as a teledrama actress – having done four, already; her first was ‘Pavela Will Come In The Cloud, Mom’ (playing the role of a nurse). Then Came ‘Heavenly Palaces’ (student), ‘Black Town’ (a village character Kenkaiya), and ‘Wings Of Fire,’ currently being shown, with Nilu as a policewoman. You could checkout ‘Wings Of Fire,’ weekdays, on Swarnavahini, at 7.30 pm. Nilu is also active as a stage drama artiste, dancer…and has also been featured in musical videos.

And, this is how our chit-chat went…

1. How would you describe yourself?

Let’s say, I’m a bit on the playful side, and I like to have a lot of fun. But, I do find the time to relax, and, at home, it’s dancing to music! Yeah, I love dancing. Oh, I need to add that I’m a bit sensitive.

2. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I get angry quickly. Fortunately, that anger doesn’t last long – just five to 10 minutes. But I wish I could get rid of anger, totally from my system!

3. If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?

Nope, can’t think of anything, in particular. Everything is fine with us, and I’m proud of my only brother, and I feel safe when he is around. Or, come to think of it, if I did have another brother, I would feel doubly safe…when going out, in particular!

4. School?

I did my studies at two schools – C.W.W. Kannangara Central College, and Panadura Sumangala Girls’ School for my higher studies. Representing my school, I won first place in a speech competition and dance competition, as well.

5. Happiest moment?

When my husband comes home, or talks to me on the phone. He is stationed in Hatton and those calls and home visits are my happiest moments

6. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

I really find a lot of happiness feeding the fish, in ponds. I love to see them rush to pick up the tidbits I throw into the pond. That’s my kind of happiness – being close to nature.

7. Are you religious?

I would say ‘yes’ to that question. I like to go to the temple, listen to sermons, participate in meditation programmes, and I do not miss out on observing sil, whenever possible. I also find solace in visiting churches.

8. Are you superstitious?

A big ‘no.’ Not bothered about all those superstitious things that generally affect a lot of people.

9. Your ideal guy?

My husband, of course, and that’s the reason I’m married to him! He has been a great support to me, in my acting career, as well in all other activities. He understands me and he loves me. And, I love him, too.

10. Which living person do you most admire?

I would say my Dad. I truly appreciate the mentorship he gave me, from a young age, and the things we received from him

11. Which is your most treasured possession?

My family.

12. If you were marooned on a desert island, who would you like as your companion?

A camel would be ideal as that would make it easier for me to find a way out from a desert island!

13. Your most embarrassing moment?

One day, recently, with the greatest of difficulty, I managed to join a one meter distance queue, to withdraw money from an ATM. And, then I realised I didn’t bring the card along!

14. Done anything daring?

I would say…yes, when I ventured out to get involved in teledramas. It was a kind of a daring decision and I’m glad it’s now working out for me – beautifully.

15. Your ideal vacation?

I would say Thailand, after reading your articles, and talking to you about Amazing Thailand – the shopping, things to see and do, etc. When the scene improves, it will be…Thailand here I come!

16. What kind of music are you into?

The fast, rhythmic stuff because I have a kind of rhythm in my body, and I love to dance…to music.

17. Favourite radio station:

I don’t fancy any particular station. It all depends on the music they play. If it’s my kind of music, then I’m locked-on to that particular station.

18. Favourtie TV station:

Whenever I have some free time, I search the TV channels for a good programme. So it’s the programme that attracts me.

19. What would you like to be born as in your next life?

Maybe a bird so that I would be free to fly anywhere I want to.

20. Any major plans for the future?

I’m currently giving lessons to schoolchildren, in dancing, and I plan to have my own dancing institute in the future.

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Snail-napping sets the stage for CGI road trip



The SpongeBob Movie:Sponge on the Run

By Tharishi hewaviThanagamage

Based on the famous and one of the longest-running American animated series that made its debut on Nickelodeon in 1999, created by marine science educator and animator Stephen Hillenburg, ‘The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run’ is the latest addition to the SpongeBob movie franchise, coming in as the third installment after ‘The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie’ (2004) and ‘The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water’ (2015).

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