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UNIQUE SRI LANKA LIBRARY

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by S. Skandakumar

A unique library on Sri Lanka, perhaps the only one of its kind overseas, exists in Melbourne, Australia. This library was begun by Victor Melder in 1968, when he migrated to Australia. Victor, who had only one book with him then, has today accumulated over 5,000 books, 2,000 magazines and journals and a collection of video and audio tapes all on Sri Lanka.

Victor, who grew up in a village in Peradeniya, states he has savoured village life to its fullest and attributes this to be the cause of his unpretentious love for his motherland. This love, admiration and respect for this beautiful island is something he wishes to share with everyone alike in Australia. This is what gave birth to the ‘Victor Melder Sri Lanka Library’, which today is used by many Australiawide, as a primary source of reference on Sri Lanka.

In 1968, Victor states many Australians were ignorant of Sri Lanka, most thought it to be a town in India, this annoyed him so much, that he knew he had to do something to set the record straight. He also wanted to make known its rich and diverse history, culture and social standing dating back over 2,500 years. He states, “I now knew why I was here, I had to get the message of Sri Lanka across”.

He was pleased when those around him at work and the neighbourhood began asking questions on Sri Lanka, and Victor states, “I could not answer them all, and so decided to get a book or two down from Sri Lanka which would assist me in this quest, and soon like an argument, where one word leads to another, one book led to another, which today is a unique library.

Over the last 48 years its popularity has grown, so much so, that queries on Sri Lanka come from every State in Australia. Victor proudly states that the Sri Lanka High Commission in Canberra often refers people to the library, for there among its collection lies an answer to every question. He describes it as a learning process, for he states, “I learn something new on Sri Lanka everyday whilst researching material for others”.

This large collection has been amassed with the help of friends both in Sri Lanka and Australia, for Victor has not been back to the land of his birth, since he arrived in Australia. With a trace of a smile on his face he states, “I cannot go back to a place I haven’t left”. I am here only physically, I’m there in spirit and still traverse those beaten tracks”. Like his father, Victor was an Engine Driver on the CGR and has traveled to most places around the island.

A number of friends in Sri Lanka would send me books etc, and those going back on holiday would contact me prior to going to check what books were needed to be brought back, and with the help of a few individuals in Sri Lanka who have donated books from time to time, the library has grown to what it is. Since Victor retired from the workforce 23 years ago, his ‘buying power’ has since dropped and he now relies on donations from individuals and organizations.

The library has its books classified into many headings, some of them being: History, Geography, Tourism, Politics, Religion, Culture, Language/Literature/Writing, Law, Sports, Poetry, Portugues/Dutch/British Periods, Economics, Art/Architecture, Dictionaries, Year Books/Commemmoratives, Agriculture, Education, Anthropology, Wildlife, Flora/Fauna, Cookery, Ethnic Conflict etc.

Students from Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Institutions use the library frequently. With Primary students, the ‘lesson’ begins with a giant map of Sri Lanka, which adorns the wall. Currently there are four Tertiary students using the library for research purposes for their dissertations and writings. A point in reference, 18 students accompanied by three teachers from Peninsula Grammar College, Mount Eliza, visited the library and spent the morning looking up references on Sri Lanka for a joint project on Sri Lanka they were working on.

Expatriate Sri Lankans too use the library, to keep in touch and also read the Sri Lanka Sunday newspapers

which are available in the library by noon on Monday. A number of NGO’s and quasi government departments also use the library services. Victor spends most of his day in the library, researching material on requests or preparing news summaries etc on Sri Lanka for the various Sri Lankan Organization newsletter’s Australiawide.

A number of authors writing books on Sri Lanka also keep Victor busy. He helped Paul Croucher, an Australian Buddhist who wrote “A History of Buddhism in Australia 1848-1988”. Currently two Australians are using the library for novels they are writing with a Sri Lankan background. A number of schools invite Victor to display Sri Lankan artifacts at their ‘open days’, he also visits schools, groups, clubs and organizations giving talks on Sri Lanka and also arranges video and slide displays.

Victor’s proudest possession is a copy of ‘Twentieth Century Impressions of Ceylon’, which was donated to the library by the Rev Galaboda Sri Gnanissara Thero of the Gangaramaya Temple, Colombo. Another is the entire lot of the Dutch Burgher Union journals issued since 1908 to date, in bound volumes. These journals, along with the indexes to the Wolvendaal Church, Baptism and Marriage records (which the library has), help those doing genealogical research into their family history. The library also has copies of two volumes of the Dutch Company Servants in Ceylon.

The services of the library are entirely free, the only charge levied on those writing a thesis or dissertation etc, is that a copy of their writings be lodged with the library, so that it would be of help to someone in the future.

This library, in its entirety, has been left by Victor in his Will to Melbourne’s Monash University, where it will not only be preserved for posterity but used by those seeking material and information on Sri Lanka.

In 1993, the Government of Sri Lanka bestowed on Victor the National Title ‘Sri Lanka Ranjana’, in recognition of his then 25 years meritorious service to Sri Lanka in Australia. This is something which Victor cherishes very much, for he states “to be honoured by one’s Motherland is the highest accolade a man can receive”.

Victor welcomes donations of book etc on Sri Lanka by any individual, organization or government departments. He assures everyone they are being put to good use and helping Sri Lanka in being better known. Sri Lanka seems to be in the news today for the wrong reason – the ethnic conflict that raged in the island. Sri Lanka is much more than that, he states and one has to get this message across. Sri Lanka has enough of knockers, she needs all those who are willing to support her and support her we must.

The library has its own website, which is easily accessible to those connected to the internet. The titles of the entire collection of books (5,000) in the library, have been catalogued online. Currently, the many articles contained in the many journals and magazines housed in the library are being catalogued, to make their contents easily accessible to all (almost 3,500 articles already catalogued). An up to date listing of all Sri Lankan Associations, Groups etc in Australia is also maintained on the website and is an easy point of reference to many.

For those wishing to contact Victor, his address: The Victor Melder Sri Lanka Library, 7 Benambra Street, Broadmeadows, Victoria 3047, Australia.

E-mail address: < melder.rjvm1935@bigpond.com > >Library Web site < www.vmsl-library.com >

(The writer served as Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner in Canberra from Aug. 2015 to Apr. 2019)

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Features

Hair Growth and Thickness

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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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Features

Fun-loving, but… sensitive

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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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Features

Snail-napping sets the stage for CGI road trip

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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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