Dearest Mummy (A letter from a new born baby)

Thank you for bringing me into this world. It must have been hard for you as it was for me. I remember lying peacefully inside you when suddenly things started to go very wrong.  Something hard began to compress me from all directions. At first it didn’t last very long and occurred every 5-30 minutes then it started lasting for longer and occurring more frequently. It was beginning to become more and more difficult for me to stay but I had nowhere else to go.

Just when I felt like I was about to die I noticed a light in the distance. My gut feeling was to go towards the light; that everything would be alright once I reached the light. But it was becoming increasingly difficult for me to move. Then as if things couldn’t get any worse I started feeling a propelling force. It seemed like all the forces were against me and I wouldn’t reach that light. Turns out the propelling force was moving me forwards and bringing me closer and closer to the light.

I was getting squashed in all directions but it didn’t matter to me as I was getting closer to the light and just like that it was all over. I was free of all that pushing and squashing and here I was in a new place. Yes, this new place is much brighter and louder than my previous home but at least I was rid of all that pushing and squeezing. 

I felt a breath of air enter my lungs through my nostrils it was a new sensation and quite painful that I started to cry. Someone lifted me and placed me on your stomach.  At once all the pain I was feeling and felt evaporated and the world felt right again. I started to feel the love and protection I felt while inside your stomach and instantly I knew I had nothing to worry as long as you were there.

This new world is filled with trials and tribulations I get hungry, cold and lonely but I have realized there is a light at the end of every tunnel , just like there was a light at the end of the tunnel when I came into this world.

Love ,

Your new born baby

All things Lankan

Celebrating women trailblazers of Sri Lanka

Happy women’s Day to all you beautiful and strong women reading this blog post. For a self-proclaimed feminist like myself not posting an article celebrating women’s day would be absolutely unacceptable and hence here we are.

Growing up I was extremely fortunate to have parents who never made my sister and me feel like ‘being a woman’ should limit our dreams. In fact they encouraged us to have big ambitions, to reach for the stars and shatter glass ceilings.

So here are 6 inspiring and extremely talented women who are trail blazers in their respective field in Sri Lanka, because of whom young girls all over the country can aspire to be whatever they like to be; a doctor, lawyer, politician or a homemaker.

1.Sirimavo Ratwatte Bandaranaike – First female prime minister in the world

No article about women pioneers would be complete without the mention of this grand old lady. Not only is she the first female prime minister in Sri Lanka but she is also the world’s first non-hereditary female head of state or government in modern history. She entered the political arena as a candidate at a time when women were viewed merely as wives of the candidates and is credited for putting Sri Lanka on the global map.

2. Dr. May Ratnayake – First female doctor in Sri Lanka
Born in 1892, Dr. May graduated from the Ceylon medical college and went on to become a surgeon. A fellow at the University of Edinburgh medical school her articles regarding gynecological issues were published in many international journals.

3. Ezlynn Deraniyagala – First female barrister in Sri Lanka

After completing her primary and secondary studies in Hillwood College and St. Bridget’s convent respectively she attended St. Anne’s College Oxford. In 1935 she was appointed as an advocate in the Supreme Court of Ceylon becoming the first female barrister in the country. She also served as the 5th president of the international alliance of women from 1958-1964. Oh and did I mention that she was also a feminist?

4. Minnette De Silva – First female architect in Sri Lanka

Minnette De Silva is a woman of many firsts. In addition to being the first female architect in Sri Lanka she is the first Asian woman to be elected an associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects, first Asian representative of CIAM and considered as the pioneer of modern architectural style in Sri Lanka.

5.Deshabandu Susanthika Jayasinghe – First female Olympic Medalist in Sri Lanka

I was all of 4 years when Susanthika Jayasinghe won the silver medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney and I remember even at that tiny age understanding the enormity of her achievement. Susanthika who is also known as the Asian Black Mare is also the first and only Asian to win an Olympic or world championship medal in a sprinting event and the only other Olympic medalist from Sri Lanka.

6.Jayanthi Kuru Utumpala- First Sri Lankan to summit Mount Everest

A past pupil of Bishop’s College she is not only the first female but also the first Sri Lankan to conquer Mount Everest. I must say she is my personal favourite as her achievement required great physical strength, courage and perseverance.

Mother Lanka has been producing strong, inspiring and powerful women not just since the beginning of the turn of the 19th century but since pre-colonial times as well like Queen Vihara Maha Devi. As Michelle Obama says there is no limit to what we as women can accomplish.

Med Student Diaries

Water bag, dilated cervix and episiotomy: First time in the Labour Room

Childbirth, delivery, labour whatever you like to call it, we all know about it and how it happens. Of course this is long after we are old enough to realize that babies are not simply delivered by storks to expectant couples. Some of us have heard our own birthing story from our mothers while some have seen enough of it on TV to get a general idea. With celebrities like the Duchess of Cambridge and Victoria Beckham giving birth to more than 1 child and at the same time making it look so elegant and effortless you start to wonder if child birth is actually overrated.

At least that’s what I thought until I went in to the labour room one fine Saturday morning during my Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinical rotation. There were three mothers in the labour room. 1 mother had already given birth to a baby girl and was nursing her while the other two were waiting to give birth. Their water bag had broken, cervix had begun to dilate and contractions had started. We were told by the nurses and midwives that a delivery was imminent and I was super excited as I had never witnessed a baby being delivered.

Finally after what felt like eons later, one of the mother’s cervix had fully dilated and the nurses and midwives were preparing for the delivery. For about 1 hour we watched as the mother tried her level best to push the baby out, as it seemed like the baby was not coming out the senior house officer was called to deliver the baby and they performed a vacuum extraction.

Unfortunately for us we were not able to witness the moment when the baby was delivered as we were called by the consultant in charge of us for a class. Although I wasn’t able to witness the actual birthing I saw enough to realize that child birth is not overrated in fact it is underrated. From the first contraction to pushing the baby out childbirth is painful. Unlike in other surgical procedures where the patient gains a benefit from the procedure being performed, mothers don’t get any benefit from childbirth they do it simply to bring to this word another life.

It’s beyond my comprehension how someone can go through so much pain for another human being, at the same time be so brave and willingly go through it again and again. Mothers are indeed superheroes in disguise. I guess no one can love you as much as your mother and it’s the only love that you’re guaranteed of never losing for they have already proved their love for you when they brought you to this world.

All things Lankan

Celebrating all things Lankan

On the fourth of February 71 years ago Sri Lanka gained independence from British rule. Since then mother Lanka has come a long way, completely reinventing herself starting from her name in the hopes of removing all traces of colonial rule. From producing the first female head of state to winning the cricket World Cup in 1996 and surviving a civil war of more than 25 years, Sri Lanka has indeed made her mark in the world. But today the heydays of mother Lanka are long forgotten and all you can hear from all parts of the country from the tuk tuk drivers to those driving BMW’s is cribbing about the state of the country.

Of course with the depreciating Lankan rupee, constitutional crisis and political instability none of them are wrong. But it still doesn’t take away all the things that make living in Sri Lanka or being Sri Lankan special. Those things that make those living overseas homesick.

So here’s a list of things that are truly Lankan, that make me thank my lucky stars for being fortunate enough to call Sri Lanka my home.

Every full moon is a holiday.

By far my favourite part about living in Sri Lanka has to be the fact that every full moon poya day is a holiday. It’s like having a bonus holiday every month.

Sandy beaches or picturesque mountains? How about both?

Can’t decide whether you want to spend your vacation at the beach or among the picturesque mountains? If you live in Sri Lanka you don’t have to pick between the two because you can visit both places in one day since Sri Lanka is such a tiny country.

Getting a cold? Samahan to the rescue

Most Sri Lankans swear by Samahan (ayurvedic cure) for colds and flu and I cannot count the number of times I have avoided catching a cold by merely drinking Samahan.

Everyone is an Aunty or an Uncle

Since it is not customary in Sri Lanka to call elders by their names everyone older and not related is addressed as aunty or uncle. As a result we feel like we are actually related to our parent’s friends and share a close bond with them.

Looking for everything and anything? Pettah Market got you covered

You can be sure to find everything and when I say everything I mean EVERYTHING at the Pettah market in Sri Lanka and the best part? You can get them cheap.

Baila is played at every function or event

No Sri Lankan function is complete without some Baila being played. Baila brings the older and younger generation together on the dance floor with some of the aunties and uncles having some killer moves to rival that of the younger generation.

A secret language for ourselves

The official language of Sri Lanka is Sinhalese and it is only spoken by Sri Lankans making most of us feel like we have a secret language when travelling abroad. Pretty neat right?

We can be fanatics when it comes to cricket

Sri Lankans are huge cricket fans but at the same time the people of the nation are good sports at accepting defeat. We will cheer our players with great furore but at the same time when they lose a world Cup final we will welcome them as winners of the World Cup.

Over feeding hosts.

Guests are considered as gods in Sri Lanka. Hence whenever you go to someone’s house despite the time you can be sure of being over fed. This is why most Sri Lankans stay clear of having a heavy meal before going visiting.

Need to hurry? Take a tuk tuk

Sri Lankan traffic can be pretty heavy luckily we have tuk tuks that whizz through traffic and get you to your destination in time.

Sri Lanka may not be having a well-organized public transport system or the strongest economy but that doesn’t take away all the good things that mother Lanka has to offer. Sri Lanka truly, a land like no other.

Med Student Diaries

Our words matter

Have you ever experienced a moment when someone of authority makes an allegation with full conviction and confidence, resulting in you believing him only to find out later that his allegation was false and baseless? I experienced this, couple of weeks ago when my house officer made an allegation about a national issue in my country. Of course as dutiful medical students we believed him, only to find out later that his allegation was false.

In that moment it never occurred to any of us to check the credibility of his statement. We believed him simply because he was senior and more experienced than us and because he said it with much authority and confidence. To us his words were akin to the text in our Bailey and Love Surgery books.

This made me realize how powerful words can be and how careless one is when using words. Words are powerful; and even more powerful coming from somebody with a white collar job. For as Uncle Ben says “with great power comes great responsibility”. As children we are taught to be responsible for our actions and to take our responsibilities seriously. But are we taught to take responsibility for our words?

At the age of 6 I learnt the meaning of the word RESPONSIBILITY,  at 9 I learnt what it meant to be responsible when I was made group leader for my school exhibition and at 22 I learnt that responsibility is not only limited to one’s actions but to one’s words as well.

All things Lankan

My Dolphin Tail

Wind whipping through your hair, the crisp sea breeze kissing your skin, cute dolphins swimming in the deep blue ocean and leaping out of the water in a glorious display. Dolphin watching sure is every bit exciting and thrilling as it sounds and I was fortunate enough to experience it in Kalpitiya last December.

The boat safari in the choppy waters of the Kalpitiya peninsula to the dolphin line which is home to these marine mammals in itself is exhilarating. It makes you feel like you’re on a roller coaster ride. Once we approached the dolphin line the whole atmosphere around us changed everyone on our boat as well as those on the boats around us were waiting with bated breath for the dolphins to emerge from the depths of the deep blue ocean.

Finally after waiting in the scorching heat for what felt like eons we saw a pod of dolphins swimming in the distance. For the protection of the dolphins a minimum distance from where the boats should watch the dolphins is enforced, this ensures that direct injury to the dolphins caused by contact with the boat, separation of pods and changes in the behavioral pattern of the dolphins doesn’t take place.

Usually all the boats adhere to these regulations but unfortunately for us a few boats decided to break the rule and move closer to the dolphins which obviously frightened the dolphins resulting in them diving deep into the deep blue sea never to emerge again. This was extremely frustrating for the rest of us because our dolphin experience was also ruined because of them. They not only ruined the experience for the others but they were also endangering the dolphins.

Sure everyone wants a good view of the dolphins but it’s important not to get caught up in the heat of the moment and forget that we are intruding into the natural habitat of these dolphins. With boats competing for closer views and ignoring the regulations laid down very soon dolphin watching will become extinct. Dolphins should feel safe and protected and not hunted and pursued in their own water.


2018; Like a Larva Cake

Dear 2018,

I was all excited to meet you, alas you disappointed me, just like a larva cake at first sight does; not eye candy like traditional chocolate cake and a little burnt on the top.

Nevertheless I braced myself for the cards you had dealt me and surprisingly enough it wasn’t that bad, just like a larva cake is on the initial few bites; not delicious as brownies yet not entirely unpleasant.

As the year progressed I was starting to like you. You seemed not so bad after all, and then suddenly without warning you hit me with some absolutely amazing surprises, just like the delicious gooey chocolate you find at the centre of a larva cake; unexpected yet amazing.

2018,you have tested my patience, given me the courage to pursue my dreams and step out of my comfort zone, taught me life lessons and given me memories and friends to last a lifetime. Thank you. You will always be remembered.