I'm from Kilinochchi, I Know the Pain

Note: This was an article originally done by Fazeena Saleem and it was published in The Colombo Post on Tuesday, 27 November 2007.

Thamilselvan should have been tried for multiple murders and hung at the Galle Face Green - Ananda Sangaree

Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) president V. Anandasangaree says he can't understand why the culprits couldn't be brought to book. In Jaffna, three or four people were getting killed in broad daylight every day. If a person comes on a motorbike, shoots another and vanishes, he can't vanish into thin air. He has to travel a distance to hide. So what happens in-between, he asks. However, he says he can't blame the police in Jaffna as they are not allowed to do their duty and adds that an Inspector much loved by the people was hacked to death by the LTTE when he went to hold an inquiry. He was asked to come unarmed and without security and was hacked to death, says Anandasangaree. But, what is happening in the South, he queries.

The following are excerpts from V. anandasangaree's interview with THE COLOMBO POST.

Q: Are you happy with the prevailing situation in the country?

A: Not at all. First of all, I'm greatly disappointment with the government on one matter, the ethnic issue. I have been repeatedly saying over a period of time that if this country is not going to find a solution for the problem within three months of the President coming to power, then we will never find a solution.

Soon after the President was elected, I told him to solve the problem within three or six months the latest. It is two years since he came to power. The more you delay, more problems will crop up, like the de-merger and issues like the JVP demanding the abrogation of the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA). All these problems are new ones because of the delay in finding a solution. This is not the first time a government has made such mistakes.

When Chandrika Bandaranaike came to power, she was the only one who got the largest majority in the history of Sri Lankan Presidential election. She got over 65% of the votes. She came to power with the promise of solving the problem. She delayed it or was made to delay. It ultimately went for six years and then another six years and that was the end of it. The same thing happened when J.R. Jayewardene was President. He was mandated by the people to solve the problem any way he wanted, but he didn't do it. It has been repeated over and over, as far as the ethnic issue is concerned. For the last fifty years this has been the situation.

Q: How do you see the escalation of hostilities?

A: That is very sickening. I can't understand why the culprits can't be brought to book. In Jaffna, three or four people are getting killed in broad day light every day. If a person comes on a motorbike, shoots another and vanishes, he can't vanish into thin air. He has to travel a limited distance to hide. So what happens in-between? Lots of people would have seen him. However, in Jaffna I can't blame the police for one reason because they are not allowed to do their duty.

Once an Inspector very much loved by the people was hacked to death by the LTTE when he went to hold an inquiry. He was asked to come unarmed and without security and was hacked to death. I will not blame a single policeman in Jaffna. In the North and East I can understand the situation. But what is happening in the South? In the South it is even possible for the people to get together and arrest the offenders. I don't know what is wrong.

Q: Have you lost faith in the political leadership and the opposition in Sri Lanka?

A: I can't say that because political leadership is up to the respective leaders. I only find fault for the delay in finding a solution.

Q: Do you think the Southern parties will come to a consensus to resolve the ethnic conflict?

A: This is a challenge. Forget about the Southern parties opposed to a solution. The people want a solution. I have told the President to go ahead with a reasonable solution and the people would be with him. He is the President elected for the entire country. It is wrong to say that it is the Southern people who elected the President. There is nothing called a government in the North and another in the South.

That is what we want to prevent. He is the President of the whole country and therefore has a duty to satisfy everybody. There is a wrong interpretation of democracy. Democracy is not the rule of the majority. It is the rule of the majority with the consent of the minority.

Q: Do you think the present government is genuinely committed to a political solution?

A: Yes. I think the President is very serious about it. I have discussed it several times with him. The President is very much interested in finding a solution. The main opposition United National Party is also committed to finding a solution. During the last election they faired well in the Tamil areas.

Q: Is there a collective leadership for the Tamil community?

A: I think there is. Forget about the Tamil National Alliance (TNA). Take the 22 TNA members as one member saying yes to everything the LTTE says. Forget about the number, whether it is 22, 23, 30 or even 100. They are yes men of the LTTE. They don't have guts to tell the LTTE what is wrong and what is right. For example, TNA members go around complaining of Human Rights violations. I'm telling the TNA there are more Human Rights violations in the LTTE held area than outside. They, including the LTTE leadership and Thamilselvan have sent their children to foreign countries for higher education. What about other children?

I'm from Kilinochchi and I know the pain of the people. People weep over the telephone. Children have been forcibly taken by the LTTE. Girls from the upper class have been given compulsory training. At one stage, every family must give one member to the LTTE, but now every member has to go.

When you say collective leadership, take the TNA as one. The others like the TULF, PLOTE, EPRLF and the EPDP are committed to a solution. So there is a collective leadership. If there is violation by government forces or by the LTTE, we condemn them. The TNA doesn't do that.

Q: How progressive is your alliance with the People's Liberation Organization of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE) and Eelam People's Liberation Front (EPRLF- Padmanabha wing)?

A: We are committed to finding a solution. We have agreed to continue to fight to get a federal solution for the ethnic problem. I have seen highly educated people writing rubbish. We shouldn't forget the fact that this is a country belonging to the Tamils, the Sinhalese, the Muslims and everybody. Who came first and who came last is not the point. As educated people we shouldn't condemn others. This is a country where the Tamils, Sinhalese and Muslims have lived for generations. Sixty million Tamils are living across the Palk Strait. How radical is it to say that somebody came first?

Who came when is utterly irrelevant to the Sri Lankan problem, even if the Sinhalese claim their mothers had been Tamils. According to the Mahawamsa the two hundred followers of Vijeya, who came and formed the Sinhala community, as some radical Sinhalese claim, their mothers have been Tamils from Madurai. Let us take for granted that we all have equal rights in this country. Forget about the past. As the Buddhists are the majority, we consider that Buddhism can be the state religion. We are not talking about it. But other rights like the right to live, the right to move about, the right to do whatever democratically, we all must be entitled to do.

Q: What is the most acceptable solution in resolving the conflict?

A: We know what the problem is. It is fifty years old. The whole world knows what the problem is. The All Party Representative Committee (APRC) is sitting and they are the block. How can the APRC come to a consensus when people have radical views? So we know what the problem is. As committed at the Oslo declaration, which the LTTE too has agreed on, they must come out with a federal solution. That is what the international community also expects.

The whole world is expecting the country to come out with a federal solution. Use an alternative because some are allergic to the term 'federal' and unitary. So avoid those words. Just call it the Indian model or unity in diversity. The Indians are proud as they are united in diversity. Let us also have a constitution that will be accepted by the minority as well. As far as rights are concerned, there should be minority rights and majority rights. Rights should be equal to everybody and should be enjoyed without discrimination.

Whatever solution we find, it should be once and for all. There cannot be a solution in installments. We have taken fifty years to and are yet to solve the problem. If we are to settle it in installments it will take another fifty years to get the second installment and another fifty to get the other. By that time there would be some radicals in power. So whatever the solution, it should be the final one acceptable and reasonable to the Tamil community. As accepted by the international community, a federal solution or the Indian model.

Q: Can the LTTE be destroyed only by finding a political solution?

A: Every problem has a solution but concerned parties may not accept it as a solution. We are suggesting a federal solution, but the LTTE may not accept it. They won't accept it for two reasons. One is, if a solution is found the Indians will just come and take Prabhakaran away. He will have to face hundred years of imprisonment. Even if a separate state is given, Prabhakaran will find some excuse to get away from it. So, forget about Prabhakaran.

Satisfy the Tamils who are agreeable to a solution and for living in a united Sri Lanka, and that is the final solution. Once the Tamil speaking people are satisfied that the government will treat every body equally and give equal rights, then the problem will be solved. We don't need to bother about the LTTE after that.

Even the small support they have will vanish. Even people like Nedumaran and Vaiko in South India will keep their mouths shut, even though now, because of certain interests, they are shouting.

For example, Thamilselvan who should have been tried for multiple murders and hung at the Galle Face Green is now being hailed as a hero by some Tamil Nadu politicians as they don't know what is happening here. Prabhakaran and Thamilselvan should have been tried for sending the 21 suicide bombers alone, but they are being glorified. If a reasonable solution is found then the LTTE can't exist.

Q: How would the budget help the Tamils in the North and East?

A: I don't see the budget from a Tamil point of view or Sinhala pint of view. Our country is rich in natural resources. No one will die of starvation. We must consider one thing. I don't justify the government allocating such a large amount of money for defence. But then how can you blame the government when a rebel organization starts destroying the airport and giving an impression to the world that they have a strong army?

The government is concerned about the security of the country and has to take that decision. If we are to find fault with the government for allocating such a large amount for defence, we must condemn the LTTE before doing that. In one night they caused losses of billions of rupees. So, without finding fault with the budget let us all get together and find a solution. The moment a solution is found; all what is spent on defence can be allocated for development. This is a war situation. We are not fighting against an ordinary rebel group. We are fighting against a group which has air power also.

Q: What else do you do apart of issuing statements and writing letters?

A: My letters have generally not been challenged by anybody. My writing had brought a big impact on the citizens of Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, I have a threat on my life. Otherwise I will prefer to take my message to every corner of the country.

Q: The media in Sri Lankan is under fire. Doesn't that mean democracy is under threat?

A: I strongly condemn those who meddle with the media. You have a right to write. But you see, we speak only about the English media, no one talks about the Tamil papers. Tamil papers enjoy more freedom than any other papers in the country. They have the liberty to write anything. They write all rubbish, they enjoy press freedom but no one speaks about that. As far as Sri Lanka is concerned, press freedom is limited only to others. The Tamil media can write anything, they glorify the LTTE and give them full publicity.

No one should meddle with the media and the press also should see that they don't come out with unwanted things. People who are killing and threatening journalists also should think that this can happen to them also when things change. There is a proverb in Tamil that says just by hiding the comb you can't prevent a marriage. The bride can even come without dressing her hair. Threats will not prevent journalists from writing or editors from publishing.

Q: When you say the Tamil media has freedom, how do you see the Tamil journalists being killed and threatened?

A: I didn't look from that angle. But with my experience, I see that the Tamil journalists have the utmost freedom, and I will hold some of the newspapers responsible for this large number of killings. But they don't condemn. There isn't a Tamil paper that has condemned the killings by the LTTE. That's how I look at it. But I don't know why and who are punishing them. Whenever the LTTE makes a mistake the Tamil papers have to collectively condemn.

Q: A top international terrorism expert says the government should protect the democratic Tamil leaders much more than the Sinhala politicians. Are the democratic Tamil leaders happy with the protection given to them?

A: All members of parliament are having their own security. In my case I'm given more protection because the risk is different from the others. Take the TNA. Aren't they aware that all these are happening because of the LTTE? There are many people in their prisons. They are failing in their duty and I'm doing my duty. I'm not pro-government or anti-government. I'm doing my duty as a patriotic citizen of this country.

Q: When did you last visit the North?

A: I didn't visit the north for a long time. This is the type of democracy we have in this country. If I go to the north what is the guarantee that I will return safely?

Q: As a democratic Tamil leader, what is your message to the people of the country?

A: I'm fully confident that the people in this country want to live in peace. I'm happy that that the Sinhalese in the south are not harassing the minorities. The Tamils in the north and east are a new type of minority for them. The Muslims have been there for a long time and the Tamils are just moving and live across Colombo to Puttalam.

Jaffna Tamils live along Colombo to Moratuwa. So the Tamils are confident that the ordinary Sinhalese are prepared to live as equals. People shouldn't be disturbed by ideas like who came first and who came last, who enjoys more rights and who enjoys fewer rights. Let us all live as equals so the country can prosper and even beat a country like Singapore.

Reference: http://www.thecolombopost.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=358&Itemid=57

Where Exists the Problem - Race, Caste, Religion or Money?

In most of the parts of the modern world there is something wrong. In some place religious extremists are making trouble, some places racial matters, some places people are tread on due to cast differences. Being a developed country doesn’t give a proper answer to these problems. Black Americans have problems; Russia has a problem in Chechnya, UK has a problem in Ireland. So being developed is not an answer but it under controls the matters up to a greater extend.

When we talk of an animal we know there are specific behavioral activities of that particular animal group. Let’s say a buffalo. They normally eat something all the time. Let’s say an elephant. They normally don’t stay in the same pose for long. They sway or walk around or do something all the time. Likewise when it comes to human I think we all have some common behavior. A behavior of criticizing and getting divided. Dividing in the sense; objecting or accepting a particular idea.

Most of the time people find something to argue uponn. As an animal, human beings like the feeling of being recognized by others. It is not a must. But people like that feeling more or less depending on the personality. Some keep the grip on family while some other gets in to action in community level. Some do local politics. Some dance in the global arena. The stage is provided by different subjects. It may be politics, sports, arts or something else. Even though the basic needs are food, shelter and clothing humans are not satisfied. In the modern era we need money to get what we need. But just money and fulfilling our basic needs is not enough. We search recognition among others. So, we search for it. An easy way of gaining recognition among a community is find something common and make them feel you are a commoner so they recognize you as somebody. In the initial ancient stages these common facts would have been things like the area you stay, the skin color and so on. With time these things have evolved. Even now Sri Lankans say I’m from south, I’m from up country and so on. Skin color is a huge fact even in the modern world. Africans are black, Indians are brown, Chinese are yellow, Europeans are white, and Russians are red!

As a matter of fact our civilization has found reasons on our own definitions like Race, Caste, and Religion to use as facts of fundamental division. In the way I feel all the other divisions are secondary formations which have taken these as basics. It may be political division, community division, global division like Europe, America, Asia etc. What’s nice about all these is there is no atomic level. If you look in to one of the divisions it has so many inner divisions. Let’s say Asia. It is divided further as South Asia, East Asia and so on. If we take South Asia there are countries. Those countries are further divided internally to states or a similar administration unit. These types of divisions have their own benefits. This type of division is really significant to keep our civilization continuously evolving otherwise this world would be a one big mess. But the problem here is not every division is for the better use of human kind.

I hope most of us have experienced enough of Race, Caste, and Religion. So there’s nothing new to talk on them. Even though we have a huge population in this world our civilization goes forward because of a bunch of people who have a mind set which is broader, developed and strong. If all of us were disciples of so called Race, Caste, Religion most of us would have been still lighting fire with two stones in front of a cave somewhere in a thick jungle. But still Race, Caste, and Religion makes the world live in panic. The reason is the general public can be easily convinced to follow somebody. Depending on the vision of the person who is controlling the public the results get differed. The good purposes or future developments done by real thinkers are pretty harder to be carved in to the narrow minds of general public. What the public absorb is what is easier for them to realize and understand.

As I understand there are different levels of leaders. Depending on leadership capabilities and qualities the portion they can administer is decided. The intensions of a leader may differ. They may be good for the whole human kind or they may be good for a selected community or they may be bad for the whole world. But still they are leaders due to the fact that they can convince a huge number to follow them. That’s why Hitler is a leader. Even though he was a real harm he is still a leader as he could hold on to what he believed.

But in the modern times I see a pretty impressive solution to these burdens. That is money. Why I say that is the following reason. Sri Lanka has a problem which runs for more than 20 years now. Most of the people who are suffering are Tamils in the terrorist areas. There is a very large Tamil community in Colombo. Towns like Wellawatte, Dematagoda, Kotahena, Dehiwala are dominated by them. In the school where I studied we had two Tamil medium classes in each section. We have film halls screening Tamil films. Most of the shops in those cities display boards in Tamil. As I have observed they don’t have a big problem in Colombo. If they are bothered by government forces it is due to the barbaric acts of Mr. Pirapaharan. Unless he hides among innocent Tamils and kills people in Colombo the government forces would not need to check innocent Tamils. So if Mr. Pirapaharan stops his barbaric acts Tamils in this country would have a real nice life. Tamils who have money have Come to Colombo and settled. Tamils who had more money have gone abroad and settled. I heard majority of Colombo 7 residents (Colombo 7 is one of the high class residential area in Colombo) are Tamils. I have noticed the majority studying in International Schools or in the Modern Schools as they are called are Tamils and Muslims. So they are dominating in most of the cases passing over the majority Sinhalese. So, left alone poor innocent Tamil and Sinhalese people are taken as bait by the so called leaders of both Tamils and Sinhalese. This is a real world example of power of money. This shows money can solve a great deal of problems.

Since of late I have seen so many inter racial, inter religious and inter caste marriages. Most of the couples were sons and daughters of business tycoons, or political big foots, or celebrities in one field or another. No body questions. Why? I feel it’s money and most of the time that incident makes both of the families stand strong in their common interests. I think that’s what all of us should be concerned about. It should be nothing else other than well being of us and others. We should not put gods and everything else in between us and kill each other.

Why we make trouble is our so called leaders have made us blind and they keep us following them just to make sure their well being. I’m not blaming everybody but the majority. We, the general public don’t see their real intensions. The hardship of understanding the reality we make our lives a mess.

In the modern times money has a great answer. Some people know it. So they keep others in the dark to grab more money leaving very little to majority. That is how the environment is maintained. People who are strong survive. So others are made week by the stronger.

Money is a great universal solution in the modern world. But you can’t make money just by doing what ever. You can’t kill dogs and earn. The reason is it is just the conscience that is left when you leave this world. You can not take anything else when you exhale your last breath. You can get recognition when you are alive. But only the people with a conscience are recognized even after hundreds of years of their departure from this world.

So any matter at any place in this world can get a good solution if the engaged parties are not poor. So does the matters exist in Sri Lanka! I feel that is becoming a universal truth. It's time to open our eyes and see the truth.

Exploring Ancient Polonnaruwa

I went on a trip to the ancient Polonnaruwa a few weeks back. So I thought of sharing some of my ideas just to make a visit to Polonnaruwa better to anybody who is interested.

We left the home around 6 in the morning and reached Polonnaruwa around 11 in the morning. We could have gone there earlier but we were aware of the speed limits as we were informed about traffic police by some of our friends.

Before Seeing Ruins

When you visit the city the best place to go in the first place is the Museum which is at Wewa Road near Parakkrama Samudra (Close to the famous Polonnaruwa Rest House).

The ticket for a local costs 40 rupees and for a foreigner it was something around 40 US dollars. Children can get half tickets. That place describes every ancient place in Polonnaruwa. A great amount of ancient stuff are displayed and described there in all three languages, Sinhala, Tamil and English. There are coins, pots, medical equipment, war fare, jewelery, statues, carvings etc. There were some really great model structures made which demonstrate the ancient buildings that are now ruined. At that place we can get a clear understanding of the places where we should go and we can get a good knowledge about those places. It would take 2 hours maximum to cover the whole place.

Visiting Ruins

Once we come out the museum we can visit the Pothgul Vihara complex which is 5 minutes drive from the museum along the bund of the Parakkrama Samudra. All the way points are guided with the boards along the road. So finding places are not that difficult. At that place there is the Pothgul Vihara and the famous statue of the king or the rishi (the one people call the statue with gaslabu baeya). It is better to visit the museum and the ruins closer to it in the visiting day if you have time so that in the next whole day we can visit the main ruin site without any rush. The museum closes at 5 in the evening.

Most of the ruins are found at one place where the kings old city was. In one side there is the palace, the pools and the Raja Mandapa and in the other side we find the Shiva Kovil, Nishshanka Latha Mandapa, Thooparama Pilima Geya, Saptha Prasadaya, Atadageya, the famous Watadageya, Hetadageya and some other ruins. After a one minute drive we can go to a stoopa which is said to be a model to remind Ruwanwelisaya in Anuradhapura. From that stoopa there is a road to the Galvihara (Uttararama) which goes through Beheth Oru and the hospital section of old times. If we like we can avoid that road and drive up to the place where Galvihara is. One should not miss the Galvihara as I think it is the most beautiful thing in Polonnaruwa. Along the way but before Galvihara there is a place called Nelum Pokuna which is a small pool.

The only place left out is the Thiwanka Pilimageya which is a 3 minute drive from Galvihara.

Interesting Places Out of the Way

There are a few places which get missed easily as they are not in the direct road of our visits.

One place is the Namal Uyana where the pink granite is found. There’s nothing much to see but it’s nice to climb the mountains early in the day before the sun comes out and burn us down. We didn’t go there this time but one of the past trips we climbed the mountains around 8.30 – 9.00 in the morning. That trip we left Colombo around 3 – 3.30 in the morning.

Another is the famous Medirigiri Watadageya. It is not very far from the main ruin site. It may take 20 minutes to go there. That place also has some interesting ruins to see. There is a place in the Watadageya where burglars have excavated to get treasure. In that place there is a secret building and a stone vas which is said to be holding the treasure at old times. It’s now guarded by a locked net so that we can see the underlying structure.

The other famous place is Somawathi Sthoopa which is 37 kilo meters from the main road. We didn’t go there as we felt it’s a bit too far.

Lodging and Resting

The best place to rest on the way is the Ambepussa Snack Bar. It has better toilets and food at reasonable price. If we take food with us and all of us are guys the best place would be Kos Kele which comes just after Kurenegala town.

When we went Polonnaruwa we stayed at Hotel Seruwa which is controlled by Ceylon hotel Corporation (CHC). It is somewhat ok but not very well maintained these days. It has all the facilities like hot water, A/C, attached bathrooms etc. What’s nice about it is the rear side has an opening to the Parakkrama Samudra where we can stay and enjoy some cool breeze. It has around 40 rooms. Some are double bed rooms and some are triple bed rooms. We should have gone to Polonnaruwa rest house which is also maintained by CHC. But it is harder to book as it has something around 10 rooms. There were some other two hotels near where we stayed. One “Araliya” and one “Village”. Both looked ok with pools and stuff.

As to my knowledge I estimate we can have a fully loaded trip with 3 days including Namal Uyana, Somawathi Sthoopa and Medirigiriya. Or we can have a relaxing trip with 3 days excluding the out of the way ruins which would leave us some spare time to chat and enjoy some cool breeze of Polonnaruwa.

I’m listing down the phone numbers of some of the better places of Ceylon Hotel Corporation. To some places I have visited. Other places are recommended by friends.

Lihiniya Surf Hotel - Beruwala 0342275126

Tissa Resort - Tissamaharama 0472237299

Ambepussa Snack Bar - Ambepussa 0355671803

Polonnaruwa Rest House - Polonnaruwa 0272222299

Queens Hotel - Kandy 0812233026

Some historically interesting information about the ancient Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura are found in the article " Interesting Articles on Ancient Sri Lanka" which is found below in the blog.

The General Hospital of Sri Lanka

Recently I had to visit the General Hospital (GH) as my father under went a minor operation in one of the wards. I was totally amazed about the way the hospital is maintained and administered. I never expected a fully government administration to do such a marvelous job.

We went there around 6.30 in the morning. It was a Saturday and there was a sitting place for the patients who were to be admitted. Two security guards made sure that nobody skips the queue. One was male and the other was a female. The doctor who had the authority to allow patients in came at 7.00 sharp. Nobody wasted a minute. After the doctors approval we went to another counter where we had to register personal information. At all the places there were enough seating facilities. On my way to here and there I just had a look at the toilets as they are really shitty in public places. But I noticed toilets at general hospital are really clean and usable even though they looked a bit old. Another good thing I noticed was the landscaping. All the credit should go to the director (Dr. Hector Weerasinghe) and the administration as I saw the director was telling the media that they have initiated a project to landscape the place with their own money and strength.

The environment was really cool with friendly people and with well maintained facilities. These days most of the people are not worried about landscaping and friendly approach to the people who come to get something done. We have been visiting a famous private hospital in Colombo. I thought that hospital is far better than the general hospital. But I learnt that I was totally wrong. After listening to what my father said (He stayed there one whole day) and what I saw no hospital in Sri Lanka would pass the general hospital. In that private hospital most of their nurses and the staff are cheaply hired people. They are no where when compared to the well trained well experienced staff at the GH. My father said well equipped theatres at the GH are the best theatres he has ever seen. Even the doctors are well experienced as they treat thousands of patients. The wards, beds, equipments and the service were better than in private hospitals.

My father consulted a doctor (Dr. Punchihewa) at the private hospital which I mentioned earlier. He should have asked my father to admit there and he could have earned some 20-30 thousand as the charge. But he didn’t do that. Instead he asked my father to admit his ward at the GH.

That’s how we went there. Later we learnt that the operation would have cost some 40-50 thousand rupees if we did it at that private hospital.

These days the private hospitals are on alert to suck money from people. Even for fever they try to admit the patient to the ICU. They are very much on back foot when it comes to discharging because they are loosing a customer. Even though we pay sometimes the service is really bad. Some of the staff is not qualified and they don’t understand what they do. They just chat all the time and they are pissed off when the patients need their help which should be their real job. The administration just keeps them as they are cheap. Even the doctors charge very unfair amounts without even properly visiting the patients.

The GH is growing at a great speed. A new 8 storey building is coming up with a facility to land choppers on the top. I heard the hospital land is around 8 acres. The only bad thing I saw was no parking facilities. But it’s fare as most of the people visiting the hospital are poor general public. I noticed it by looking at them. It really made me feel so bad about how we live. Among those people there were hundreds who had slept the last night on the benches along the either sided of the hospital road. But there were enough space on cross roads where we could park the vehicle. Besides security reasons would have made a parking facility unwanted.

That visit really made me feel something good about our country and its people. From the smallest staff member up to the highest designation at the GH our nation should be thankful and I think the service they provide to the people who are so badly in need and who are helpless is so great that it would cause the staff great achievements morally or spiritually.

PhD Speech of Anna Quindlen

This was a speech made by Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Anna Quindlen at the graduation ceremony of an American university where she was awarded an Honorary PhD.

I'm a novelist. My work is human nature. Real life is all I know. Don't ever confuse the two, your life and your work. You will walk out of here this afternoon with only one thing that no one else has. There will be hundreds of people out there with your same degree: there will be thousands of people doing what you want to do for a living. But you will be the only person alive who has sole custody of your life. Your particular life. Your entire life. Not just your life at a desk, or your life on a bus, or in a car, or at the computer. Not just the life of your mind, but the life of your heart. Not just your bank accounts but also your soul.

People don't talk about the soul very much anymore. It's so much easier to write a resume than to craft a spirit. But a resume is cold comfort on a winter's night, or when you're sad, or broke, or lonely, or when you've received your test results and they're not so good.

Here is my resume: I am a good mother to three children. I have tried never to let my work stand in the way of being a good parent. I no longer consider myself the centre of the universe. I show up. I listen. I try to laugh. I am a good friend to my husband. I have tried to make marriage vows mean what they say. I am a good friend to my friends and they to me. Without them, there would be nothing to say to you today, because I would be a cardboard cut out. But I call them on the phone, and I meet them for lunch. I would berotten, at best mediocre at my job if those other things were not true.

You cannot be really first rate at your work if your work is all you are. So here's what I wanted to tell you today: Get a life. A real life, not a manicpursuit of the next promotion, the bigger pay cheque, the larger house. Do you think you'd care so very much about those things if you blew an aneurysm afternoon, or found a lump in your breast?

Get a life in which you notice the smell of salt water pushing itself on a breeze at the seaside, a life in which you stop and watch how a red-tailed hawk circles over the water, or the way a baby scowls with concentration when she tries to pick up a sweet with her thumb and first finger.

Get a life in which you are not alone. Find people you love, and who love you. And remember that love is not leisure, it is work. Pick up the phone. Send an email. Write a letter. Get a life in which you are generous. And realize that life is the best thing ever, and that you have no business taking it for granted. Care so deeply about its goodness that you want to spread it around. Take money you would have spent on beer and give it to charity. Work in a soup kitchen. Be a big brother or sister. All of you want to do well. But if you do not do good too, then doing well will never be enough.

It is so easy to waste our lives, our days, our hours, and our minutes. It is so easy to take for granted the colour of our kids' eyes, the way the melody in a symphony rises and falls and disappears and rises again. It is

so easy to exist instead of to live.

I learned to live many years ago. I learned to love the journey, not the destination. I learned that it is not a dress rehearsal, and that today is the only guarantee you get. I learned to look at all the good in the world and try to give some of it back because I believed in it, completely and utterly. And I tried to do that, in part, by telling others what I had learned. By telling them this: Consider the lilies of the field. Look at the fuzz on a baby's ear. Read in the back yard with the sun on your face.

Learn to be happy. And think of life as a terminal illness, because if you do, you will live it with joy and passion as it ought to be lived.

'You've got to find what you love,' Steve Jobs

NOTE: This speech is really inspiring. It is the Commencement address by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, delivered on June 12, 2005

I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: "We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?" They said: "Of course." My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, its likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something - your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky – I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation - the Macintosh - a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn't know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down - that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me – I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story , and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I retuned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple's current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.

My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I'm fine now.

This was the closest I've been to facing death, and I hope its the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog , which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960's, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much.

Interesting Articles on Ancient Sri Lanka


The layout of Anuradhapura as described in the Mahavamsa:
"He laid out (...) four suburbs as well as the Abhaya-tank, the common cemetery, the place of execution, and the chapel of the Queens of the West, the banyan-tree of Vessavana and the Palmyra-palm of the Demon of Maladies, the ground set apart for the Yonas and the house of the Great Sacrifice; all these he laid out near the west gate." Mahavamsa X, trans. Wilhelm Geiger
"A hermitage was made for many ascetics; eastward of that same cemetery the ruler built a house for the nigantha Jotiya.(...) On the further side of Jotiya's house and on this side of the Gamani tank he likewise built a monastery for wandering mendicant monks, and a dwelling for the ajivakas and a residence for the brahmans, and in this place and that he built a lying-in shelter and a hall for those recovering from sickness." Mahavamsa X, trans. Wilhelm Geiger

It is said that King Pandukabhaya made it his capital in the 4th century BC, and that he also laid out the town and its suburbs according to a well organised plan. He constructed a reservoir named Abhayavapi. He established shrines for yakkhas such as Kalawela and Cittaraja. He housed the Yaksini-Cetiya in the form of a mare within the royal precincts and offerings were made to all these demi-gods every year. He chose the sites for the cemetery and for the place of execution, the Chapel of the Western Queen, the Pacchimarajini, the Vessavana Banyan Tree, the Palm of the Vyadhadeva, the Yona Quarter and the House of the Great Sacrifice. The slaves or Candalas were assigned their duties and a village was set apart for them. They build dwellings for Niganthas, for wandering ascetics and for Ajivakas and Brahmanas. He established, the village boundaries. The tradition that King Pandukabhaya made Anuradhapura the capital city of Sri Lanka as early as the fourth century BC had been very important.

The administrative and sanitary arrangements be made for the city and the shrines he provided indicate that over the years the city developed according to an original master plan. His son Mutasiva, succeeded to the throne. During his reign of sixty years, he maintained Anuradhapura as his capital and further laid out the Mahameghavana Garden which was to play an important role in the early history of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. It was in the period of his successor, his son Devanam piya Tissa, that Buddhism was first introduced this island 236 years after the passing away of the Buddha. Emperor Ashoka in India was a contemporary of Devanam piya Tissa. Historically this period is considered to extend from 250 to 210 BC. This is the point at which a kingship began and a civilization developed based on one of the greatest religions of South Asia, Buddhism.

The great building era was when vast monastery complexes and some of the tallest buildings in the ancient world were built. The Jetavanaramaya dagoba of the city is still the highest brick structure in the world.

The Maha Vihara was centered around the orthodox Theravadins. This was founded by King Devanampiya Tissa in 249 BC. The heterdox Mahayanists founded the Abhayagiri Vihara. King Mahasena (275-310 BC) built the Jetavanaramaya located in between the Maha Vihara and the Abhayagiri Monasteries.

In the suburbs of the city major monasteries with their gigantic stupas were constructed, The Maha Thupa, the Bodhi Tree and Thuparama of the Maha Vihara stood to the south of the city. The Abhayagiri to the north, the Pubbarama to the east, the Tanovana to the north-west and the Jetavanaramaya to the south-east.

The Sacred Tooth Relic was brought to the city in the reign of King Kirtisri Meghavana. The relic was deposited in a building named Dhammacakka. Since then annually it was carried in a procession to the Abhayagiri monastery after which an exposition was held.

The city's popularity grew both as a ritual centre and as the administrative centre, a large population was attracted to the city for permanent settlement. Thus the living facilities were improved to accommodate the expanding population. King Vasabha constructed many ponds which were fed by a network of subterranean channels which were constructed to supply water to the city. Tissa and Abhayavapi tanks were built, the Nuwara weva was built and the Malwatu Oya was dammed to build the Maccaduwa wewa which was 4408 acres (17.84 km²) in size.

Parks were also provided in the city. The Ranmasu Uyana below the bund of Tissavapi or Tisa weva was one such, but it was strictly reserved for the members of the royal family. Health care and education were two other aspects to which the authorities paid attention. There were several hospitals in the city. In the forth century King Upatissa II provided quarters and homes for the crippled and the blind. King Buddhadasa (337-365 AD), himself a physician of great repute, appointed a physician to be in charge of every ten villages. For the maintenance of these physicians, one tenth of the income from the fields was set apart. He also set up refuges for the sick in every village. Physicians were also appointed to look after the animals. Kassapa VGeneral Sena in the tenth century is believed to have built a hospital close to the ceremonial street (Managala Veediya). The history of medical care began early, for in the fourth century BC King Pandukhabaya, in the course of sanitizing the town constructed a hospital. A large workforce was entrusted with the task of keeping the city clean. (914-923 AD) founded a hospital close to the southern gate of Anuradhapura.

Large lakes were also constructed by the city's rulers to irrigate paddy lands and also to supply water to the city. Nuwara wewa and Tissa wewa are among the best known lakes in the city.

Anuradhapura attained its highest magnificence about the commencement of the Christian era. In its prime it ranked beside Nineveh and Babylon in its colossal proportions—its four walls, each 16 miles (26 km) long, enclosing an area of 256 square miles (663 km²) —in the number of its inhabitants, and the splendour of its shrines and public edifices. The city also had some of the most complex irrigation systems of the ancient world, situated in the dry zone of the country the administration built many tanks to irrigate the land. Most of these tanks still survive. To date, it is believed that some of these tanks are the oldest surviving reservoirs in the world today.

The city suffered much during the earlier South Indian invasions, and was finally abandoned by AD 1017.

The city was the capital of the country continuously from the 5th century BC to AD 1017. Its decline began with continuous wars with the invading South Indians which made the kingdom economically poor. The city was sacked by a Chola invasion forces in 1017 and the governing capital was shifted to the relative safety of Polonnaruwa. The destruction caused to the city and its complex irrigation system was so great that the city was totally abandoned, and fell into decay for nearly a thousand years.

It was not until the 19th century that the jungle was cleared away, the ruins laid bare, and some measure of prosperity brought back to the surrounding country by the restoration of hundreds of village tanks by the British.

The ruins consist of three classes of buildings, dagobas, monastic buildings, and pokunas. The dagobas are bell-shaped masses of masonry, varying from a few feet to over 1100 ft (340 m) in circumference. Some of them contain enough masonry to build a town for twenty-five thousand inhabitants. Remains of the monastic buildings are to be found in every direction in the shape of raised stone platforms, foundations and stone pillars. The most famous is the Brazen PalaceDutugamunu about 164 BC. The pokunas are bathing-tanks or tanks for the supply of drinking water, which are scattered everywhere through the jungle. The city also contains a sacred bo-tree, which is said to date back to the year 245 BC. The railway was extended from Kurunegala to Anuradhapura in 1905.


The second most ancient of Sri Lanka's kingdoms, Polonnaruwa was first declared the capital city by King Vijayabahu I, who defeated the Chola invaders in 1070 CE to reunite the country once more under a local leader. While Vijayabahu's victory and shifting of Kingdoms to the more strategic Polonnaruwa is considered significant, the real Polonnaruwa Hero of the history books is actually his grandson, Parakramabahu I. The city Polonnaruwa was also called as Jananathamangalam during the short Chola reign.

It was his reign that is considered the Golden Age of Polonnaruwa, when trade and agriculture flourished under the patronage of the King, who was adamant that no drop of water falling from the heavens was to be wasted, and each be used toward the development of the land; hence, irrigation systems far superior to those of the Anuradhapura Age were constructed during Parakramabahu's reign, systems which to this day supply the water necessary for paddy cultivation during the scorching dry season in the east of the country. The greatest of these systems, of course is the Parakrama Samudraya or the Sea of Parakrama, a tank so vast that it is often mistaken for the ocean. It is of such a width that it is impossible to stand upon one shore and view the other side, and it encircles the main city like a ribbon, being both a defensive border against intruders and the lifeline of the people in times of peace. The Kingdom of Polonnaruwa was completely self-sufficient during King Parakramabahu's reign.

However, with the exception of his immediate successor, Nissankamalla I, all other monarchs of Polonnaruwa, were slightly weak-willed and rather prone to picking fights within their own court. They also went on to form more intimiate matrimonial alliances with stronger South Indian Kingdoms, until these matrimonial links superseded the local royal lineage and gave rise to the Kalinga invasion by King Magha in 1214 and the eventual passing of power into the hands of a Pandyan King following the Arya Chakrawarthi invasion of Sri Lanka in 1284. The capital was then shifted to Dambadeniya.

Today the ancient city of Polonnaruwa remains one of the best planned Archeological relic sites in the country, standing testimony to the discipline and greatness of the Kingdom's first rulers. Its beauty was also used as a backdrop to filmed scenes for the Duran Duran music video Save a Prayer in 1982.

The ancient city of Polonnaruwa has been declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO.

REFERENCE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anuradhapura