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.


Politicians, Bus Drivers, Doctors, Teachers and the Third Class

Once upon a time Politics, Bus Driving, Health Service and Teaching had been employments of respect.

When we were not in this world (before we were born but after we got so called freedom in 1948) there was a time wealthy people ruled us. They were expected to spend their wealth on public matters. Actually some of them have done so. Then the majority of rulers started deviating from generosity earning for their children and for their grand children and for their grand grand children. So public thought we should have some one from our own class ruling us. So came another era. Those rulers rose from nothing to everything. Since the fact that they had nothing they started stealing everything. So called leaders who never even had a stool at their homes died in mansions in Colombo 07. In the starting days of these gang bang robberies the so called leaders made sure they do it secretly keeping the public in darkness. Then came an era where both wealthy and poor become leaders and share the fortune, talk openly about their robberies as if they have done adventures, defend themselves and their mates, let their children what ever they want to do, treat their and their wives families with property of public without a hint of a shame. We are living that era. People are really sick of these worms and feeling helpless against these thieves as they are accompanied with a number of highly trained guards to prevent being penalized by voters. If it was not to be so I’m sure most of the politician are annihilated by angry helpless voters who pay various sorts of taxes for each and every penny they earn just to keep these dumbs and their families at comfort. As a consequence of all these shit politicians have lost all their dignity in this country. If people get a chance they will be beaten like dogs and bitches. You know it, I know it, and they know it.

After the politicians there comes the Bus Drivers and Bus Conductors. They have no respect for passengers, Highway Code or any human value which are considered good practices to keep the evolution of a better civilization. All they care is money to make sure they enjoy a lunch with biriyani and coke, they have a few cigarettes a day, they have a couple of drinks before they reach home and they pay the leasing at the end of the day with keeping some spare money in hand. They are not ready to wait until an old person gets into a bus. They are not ready to wait until people get down from the bus. They use no signal what so ever. They think they can drive on the right side track or on the left side track in any direction. They stop where they want. No speed limits, no ethics in listening to radio, no sense of comforts of the passenger, no limit in loading the bus, no limit in waiting period at a bus halt. They treat passengers with cheapest, most unethical, humiliating slangs. They find it so adventures. They start at 6 in the morning and they stop at 8.30 in the night. They say ‘Simon says this ’. So we do what Simon says. Most of all when they want something, say increment in bus fare, they find it a passion to strike at once with very short notice or no notice at all making poor passengers waste their valuable time on roads. They arrange media briefings to display their strength. To whom? To the poor helpless passengers. Bloody idiots don’t understand what they do make people drown in angry. That is the level of their imagination, their education and their social status. Unlike politicians these headless fellows don’t have security around them. So people just wait until something takes place to release their anger. That’s why buses are being burnt, drivers and conductors are being hit once in a while. No body defends them. The second set of people who have lost their dignity are Bus Drivers and Bus Conductors.

The poor people of this country pay all kinds of taxes. A considerable amount of tax money is spent on education. A large amount is given to the medical colleges annually. By practicing district based systems, providing teaching hospitals, providing several types of permits, scholarships, appointments after the completion of their degree; they are made enjoy a considerable set of luxuries which ordinary people don't get in this country. The public expects the doctors to be kind hearted. To be well behaved. To give poor patients a relief even though they may die the next day. There was a time patients arose from their seats when the doctor arrived. There was a time doctors were considered to be living gods. It’s true that they sacrifice so many things to become a doctor. It is one of the hardest things in Sri Lanka, to become a doctor. By doing all these things a doctor may think he or she can do what ever he or she wants. He may want a large amounts of income, a grand house, luxury vehicle, pretty wife, good schools for their children, spend vacations all over the world etc. It may be fair up to some extent. Everybody likes to be so. Besides they face a real hard time on the process of becoming a doctor. But why do they refuse to go outstation even by being selected on district basis to the medical college. The public hope they will get doctors by implementing such district basis selection in A/Ls. Everybody needs money. But you can’t just earn by killing dogs or doing what ever. You should be morally and ethically clean (at least up to some level). Otherwise you get dirt on your hands. Since of late doctors have started to strike. Clerks can strike, typists can strike, managers can strike, dogs can strike, bitches can strike. No one dies. But why doctors? Why government doctors? A large number of government doctors practice channeling neglecting their duty. Who’s taking action against them? Do the poor patients waiting in long queues in front of government hospitals who paid to make them doctors stab them for their misbehavior. No. Poor patients are helpless. It is said to be a right of doctors to take such narrow minded trade union action. What about patients’ rights. It’s a pure act of killing people. They know it and we know it. By being the top most educated beings in Sri Lanka we expect their minds to be broader than ours. Doctors are badly commercialized. They prescribe medicine on the brand name where there are alternatives cheaper and better in quality in the market. Why? Because they get commission. A doctor is expected to be better than a mudalali. Sales representatives of companies bark on doctors if they don’t meet up their market statistics. Poor low educated badly ill patients don’t know this. As in most of the places patients are not expected to ask questions from doctors. We have to listen to what they say. We can’t discuss. Who the hell they think they are? I have heard in Australia it is a must to explain the patient the sickness and about the medicine prescribed. If you ask something from a Sri Lankan doctor he would say ‘I’m the doctor. You are the patient. So shut up.’ What I’m saying is all the patients may not be up to that standard of discussing the illness. But for the ones who are of that type should get the opportunity. People here in this country still treat doctors with respect. So the patients should get respect in return. Anyhow due to most selfish and unethical action of doctors they have lose their dignity and will never earn the lost respect.

The newest category added to this third class (THIRD as in train third class) is Teachers. They are the people who are living examples to generations to come in a country. Students in Sri Lanka worship them. They are considered to be foster parents to a child in this country. They are remembered with grace by every figurehead in this country. Children get up in public transport to offer them seating. We never sit on a higher level above our teachers on their presence. We don’t call them Mr, Mrs like western kids do. We call them Sir, Madam. They can even hit us or scold us with good intentions to make us better citizens. They guide us, they show us the path to go. They say what’s good and what’s wrong. They smile with us and they cry with us. But all of a sudden they organize a strike in the middle of A/L paper marking. Of course their demands may be fair. But why in the middle of the most important moment of the students’ life? Why do they take innocent students for the bait? Shame on them. They can do it some other time. Why at this moment? We know they are badly paid. Saying teaching is not for money won’t solve any matter. They are humans too. They need money. But there should be a better way to win their demands. They are just playing with the feelings of students who waited a life time until this A/Ls. Teachers are starting to lose their dignity. I think they have already lost a great deal.

At present Politicians, Bus Drivers, Doctors and Teachers are of the same class. That is the third class. They all are alike no matter what they think of themselves. They are a little bit better than cunning foxes, pigs, donkeys, dogs and bitches (not everybody).

Among all these things which grow hatred in hearts of the public there are good politicians, Bus Drivers, Doctors and Teachers. But they are out numbered (That’s why they say ‘Agana menik kalugal atarehida wede’).

All these people can call media briefings, they can write articles and everything to convince us that they are correct. But they can’t heal the broken hearts of the public. It is useless to be a winner among a whole bunch of losers. If somebody is a real winner all the others surrounding him should feel they are winners too.

Free Education in Sri Lanka

I saw in a recent article that the Sri Lankan government spends something around 200, 000 rupees on a single student for his or her primary education. But I think it’s much more than they estimate. Why I say so is that no one will ever get such an opportunity for 200, 000 rupees at a private college.

Let’s say a student is learning in an averagely facilitated college. Still he or she will get texts books and uniform material free of charge. There are serious problems in distribution of these stuff on time to the right people. But anyhow if a student has a burning need to learn I think they have a great opportunity.

I have gone to several tution classes during my school days as it is a common practice in modern Sri Lanka. But I have seen so many students who don’t need tution as they can do it by their own. Apart from the knowledge I got by following tution it gave me some sort of confidence. I think that’s why parents and students are looking into tution. But for some people it’s a fashion. That’s where most of them go astray.

When I finished my school days depending on my performance in Advanced Levels (GCE A/L) I entered University of Colombo School of Computing (UCSC). It was a whole lot of opportunity. We had nearly 120 undergraduates. Computer labs which consist of nearly 40 machines were made available during the whole course. Of course there were shortages in facilities. But it was manageable. We had so many PhD lecturers. I think no institution or faculty in Sri Lanka has such a qualified staff. There were at least 12 – 15 PhD holders. There were very advanced digital labs for image processing stuff. Sony Ericsson provided a robotic lab, UCSC put up a very advanced large server room, they are handling the election results computerization. Most of all they developed a Sinhala kit which made Sinhala a default language in Microsoft Vista. We had libraries, hostels, a very good gym with carom, badminton, weights, chess and so many other stuff. We had around 4-5 cafes. Food was not yummy but very cheap. There were so many societies. Buddhist Society, Christian Fellowship, Unions, Science Society, Computer Society etc. There were all sorts of musical classes, dancing classes, drama workshops, carrier guidance units, counseling units, cheap photocopy and book binding places, gardens, study rooms, places for lovers. We had so many sports. Cricket, Elle, Basket Ball, Tennis, Martial Arts, Rowing, Swimming, Athletics, Foot Ball, Rugby, Net Ball, Hokey any sport you can imagine. There were sports meets inter faculty, inter university and inter national level. A grand Colors Night, Freshers’ Welcome (Freshmen’s Day), Going Down (The Last Day Calibration), cultural shows. We even had an arts theatre which screens films for just 20 rupees. That’s not all. The government pays something around 2000 rupees as Mahapola scholarship or as bursary every month.

Where on earth one can get all these for free? All I can say is ‘God Must Be Crazy’.

People who market private institutions can’t compete with any of the local government university in educational wise or any other wise. But they may have some good qualities which are lacked by local university graduates such as behavioral aspects. What I mean is if you go New York and eat rice by hand you may become the talk of the day. That social gap may be there since most of the guys in the local campus haven seen that alien world. But I’m sure they can grab that world if they are trained. I have seen it. The thing is general public doesn’t know all this. The private institutions take advantage of this and government body is not interested in marketing themselves. I believe there should be private institutions as government is limiting opportunities due to lack of capital. There are so many clever people who miss the opportunity due to some reason. I have so many friends who have come out of such places and making their names in the industry. So they play a great role but they can't just criticize everything (they can criticize what's wrong). If somebody is too simple then there is a big problem somewhere! (That's something I have experienced). Like so most of the people who have their kids in the private institutes or who are involved in those type of stuff just criticize as a habit without knowing inside just to defend what they do or what their children do (Not everybody does this. But most do).

We have a dark side too. There are strikes, fights, quarrels and everything. But eventually it all makes a very experienced grown man. Besides Science faculty of Colombo University does not involve in such acts. They have a very good non violent history in recent years. Because the government do all these some people in the university thinks it's a must to provide all these to them. That's where they go wrong and that's where they make the general public angry. Like they say you can't put leaches on the bed some of these rotten minded people who come from all over the country add black spots to the local universities. This happens due to the vast variation of different backgrounds of the undergraduates. If we take a private institution people are from a similar kind of a background as it requires some economical status to come to a place like that. So variations of the imagination or social status are somewhat narrower. So the problems are made lesser in those places. Like Hitler convinced a whole nation to follow a vision of unimaginably brutal some of these types of rotten heads become student leaders and activate their personal propagandas that make them big foots and eventually shattering futures of hundreds of their disciples. The Science Faculty of Colombo Campus was totally different in these affairs. Undergraduates were not easily fooled by these type of people. Most of the people who go astray due to this stupidity are people from remote areas who have not totally broaden up their minds to the world. They don't simply understand that they are being misused. Once they realize so most of them are too late. I have seen it so many times.

I saw step by step how guys from remote areas like Ampara, Monaragala, Nuwara Eliya etc. Coming out of the shell and making themselves respectable people in this society. Even people from war stricken areas like Jaffna, Batticaloa, Trincomalee got the opportunity to get rid of agony. Most of us got jobs even before we completed our degree. We have an industrial training (Placement) as a module in our degree. Most of the people are well paid.

According to the information I have shared here (They are my own experience. Not what I imagined or heard from somebody) free education in Sri Lanka is a golden opportunity. People who don’t take its advantage are crazy, stupid or blaming it just to cover up their incompetence. One doesn’t have to go to a university as it is restricted due to limited resources. But they better not blame the local body without knowing anything or knowing very little about what they are talking. Everything has pros and cons. At present some seem to find it a passion to condemn local education. I tell them it is a pure mean act of hiding their own incapability or it’s just an act of jealousy. They can do what ever they like but it is very unethical to provide general public incorrect statements and guide them to darkness. Thousands of hard working people in this country pay tax to keep this free education. We have a bankrupted government. All the big shots skip paying tax. The children of ordinary citizens in this country should take the golden opportunity of free education without spending their beloved parents money to make some big shots richer and richer. We are not pigs, cows or donkeys. Please do understand because the truth is out there.

It is FREE as in Freedom. Not FREE as in 'Buy one you get one free'. Somebody is paying for this. Who's paying? It's our hard working, tax paying parents. So get to know the truth and take the opportunity meant for you.

Please remember what they taught us when we were small and truthful. It's running all over this small poem. People who don't see values of free education, this small poem would leave them something to think over.

I have said all these and shared some of my experience just to make aware of anybody who does not know this. Please don't throw this opportunity away. I grabbed it. I had the time of my life. I feel it's my duty to promote it and make sure generations to come would use it for the goodwill of themselves and this country.