Where have all the sweepers gone? Thoughts following bird’s eye view of Galle Road I last saw them before January 8, 2015 but never since. I used to and continue to spend most of the mornings of my waning years at my computer set up near a window of my little abode on the third [...]

The Sunday Times Sri Lanka



Where have all the sweepers gone? Thoughts following bird’s eye view of Galle Road

I last saw them before January 8, 2015 but never since. I used to and continue to spend most of the mornings of my waning years at my computer set up near a window of my little abode on the third floor of a set of flats down Galle Road, Ratmalana.  Every so often I used to and continue to look out of my window away from my computer screen to relieve the strain on my eyes. It is a window, not to the world but to Galle Road; it gives a bird’s eye view of the ever busy road, and I used to see but only before the date aforementioned a group of road sweepers, mostly women, engaged in their daily toil of sweeping the litter and rubbish that pedestrians, motorists and bus passengers, shopkeepers, and residents either throw on to or leave on the road.

The list of litter is a lengthy one: polythene bags (some of which float in the wind across the road); empty glass bottles  and tin cans (mainly ones that contained arrack or beer bought at the bottle store by the side of the road); plastic bottles of various shapes and sizes (some crushed out of shape, others in good shape); heaps of paper, bus tickets, cigarette, cigar and beedi butts, and wrappers; posters that were stuck on the walls and have now come off or been removed, discarded clothes and rags; remnants of vehicles that have met with road accidents; left over items of food, unfinished lunch packets and half eaten fruit; thaembili komba (king coconut shells with the husk) after their water has been relished in the current heat; and other sundry garbage. The list goes on and on.

Hats off to the road sweepers for their services before January 2015 to keep Galle Road clean and neat with even the grass on the islands regularly mowed. They swept all the rubbish day after day and took it away in handcarts. We ratepayers were beholden to the Moratuwa Municipal Council for this service. But not anymore.

Now the excellent cement drains that had been constructed so well in the days prior to January 8 are filled to the brim with all the litter and rubbish listed above. In the prevailing heat the stuff is all dry but come the inter-monsoonal rains as they have already, it will all be wet, soggy and mucky –perfect ground for the deadly dengue mosquito to breed at will. Where will the rain water flow except collect on and flood the road taking its toll on the excellent carpeting done at such great cost? The sight of the sidewalks and drains here has become a veritable eye sore, ugly and offensive, nauseating and loathsome.

It makes me yearn as I look through my window for the days that are no more, when those road sweepers performed a truly noble service. Where are they now? How do they earn a living? Are they out of work and starving? Do they sweep any other road? Where have they all gone?  I don’t see them any more through my window. They are not seen through any other window overlooking any other road either, according to what I hear.

C. N. S.

 Don’t let go these beautiul traditions

Sun God moving into Aries from Pisces
Marking a dawn of a New-Year in April
Rites of a farming-nation are awakened ..
..In serene Sri Lanka – the pearl of Indian Ocean
Time to make a fresh beginning
Pains and conflicts are disappearing
Rise and shine with liberty
April is the month of abundance and prosperity
Good harvest and smiles on every face
Showers of fruits and flowers of fragrance
Precious gifts from Mother Nature
Trust and love among us to nurture
Milk rice and oil cakes
Delicacies for everyone’s taste
Time to get and time to share
Let’s celebrate with love and care
Traditional folk games and children on the swing
Sensational folk dancing and songs to sing
Visiting relatives, we haven’t seen for long
making the bonds and ties among us so strong.
Don’t let go these beautiful traditions
Truthful beliefs of a farming nation
Built in harmony with Mother Nature
For the sons and daughters of our future
Let joy and peace be with you
May all your good dreams come true
As I wish you good health and wealth
Together let’s build a paradise on earth!

Harshana Liyanage
Colombo 8

Introduce a senior citizen’s card in Sri Lanka

In Australia where I come from, there is in place a senior citizen’s card that enables senior citizens to use facilities such as public transport at concessionary rates. The government also looks after their entertainment, arranging picnics, tombola sessions etc. These senior citizens are picked up by buses manned by volunteers and are taken for the day’s activities inclusive of meals and are brought back home in good spirits.

In Sri Lanka I read with utter dismay that some senior citizens are kept in dire circumstances by their relatives and go through a wretched period in the evening of their lives. Some others live frugally with the limited resources they have for their sustenance. We must understand that once upon a time they ran the country in both the public service and the private sector.  They also produced the present generation that is running the country now. It is our duty to look after them.

Toward this end I propose that the government introduce a senior citizen card system that will enable them to procure things that they need to live at concessionary rates. These could include, transport, health care, etc. The value of the pensions that they get now has diminished considerably over the years to an extent that they cannot purchase the bare essentials required for living. Any system to improve the quality of their lives by setting up senior citizen centres for entertainment could be a bonus.

This card could be issued to persons of over 60 years. Of course these persons could be means tested such that those senior citizens that can afford to pay for these facilities (like me) should not be given this card. It is important that only those deserving cases are looked after in this manner.

Ananda M.N. Perera
Via email

Canadian dual citizenship: Sri Lankan Govt. should take up issue on govt. to govt. level

I have quite recently read a few letters that appeared in the local media (including Sunday Times of March 6) depicting problems faced by Dual citizens of Canada.

The Sri Lanka Dual Citizenship Certificate which is in all three languages is not accepted by most of the airlines at Toronto Pearson International Airport although for all intents and purposes it is a legally binding document. I cannot, however, blame the airlines for declining boarding without a visa. The onus of responsibility lies with the Government of Sri Lanka and this matter should be taken up on a government to government level or alternatively the Sri Lanka Government should consider authorising the SL Consulate in Toronto and the SL High Commission in Ottawa to make the following endorsement on the dual citizens’ Canadian passport with the concurrence of the Controller General of Immigration and Emigration in Colombo:

“The requirement of having a visa to enter and remain in Sri Lanka does not arise as the holder has acquired dual citizenship status as evidenced by certificate number…..issued under citizenship law of Sri Lanka.”

I hope my letter will catch the eye of the Minister of Internal Affairs, Wayamba Development and Cultural Affairs.

N.M. Sabar
Via email

Like Denmark and Hawaii let’s turn to ‘our friend the wind’

A recent discussion aired on BBC said that the country making maximum use of wind power is Denmark. It is generating 2 Gigawats (2000 Megawatts) of power using this resource.

It is regrettable to note why Sri Lanka is not making use of this natural resource when strong winds are found in most places specially in the hill country. We see only a few of these turbines in Hambantota district, but gusts of winds are observed in most parts of this country specially in mountainous areas. My visit to Hawaii showed the hundreds of wind turbines installed on mountain tops which also added beauty to the country.

Like hydro power there is no running cost for these turbines, only the initial cost of installation. Once installed it will generate the power at no extra cost and it is also environmentally friendly.

I wonder why the government is not interested in this resource. The money spent on coal power plants and diesel generators could have been used to instal these wind turbines which would have generated the same power that is produced by these and other generators.

A retired Telecom Engineer
Via email


Time suspended in Time.
A year past, another unborn.
A time to contemplate on life’s impermanence:
Its transience, sorrows, joys and tribulations.
Time stilled to reflect.
A time to contemplate, meditate and ponder
On the meaning of life,
In tranquillity and detachment.
A time to ponder on sad and happy moments,
Of a year that has ended.
A time to recall past years
And memories of friends gone by.
Time suspended in Time
Stilled motionless time
Awaits to be reborn anew,
As another year.

- Nimal Sanderatne
Via email

Coconut dashing: The bad intentions will only rebound on the doer

In accordance with Hindu customs breaking coconuts is done to acquire self benefit to an individual and his family. When someone breaks the coconut it brings self-mortification and the hope is that his life will be purified like the colour of the kernel of the nut.

It is a foolish belief that by breaking coconuts one can bring or transmit  curses or harm to others.  For anyone who does this ritual with bad intentions it will only rebound on the doer and he will have to face the consequences.

Therefore I earnestly request people to desist from this practice done out of ignorance that breaking coconuts will bring bad times on their opponents as it looks cowardly and foolish.


A modest girl is a thing of beauty

I read with interest Kishani Jayasinghe – Wijayasekera’s column ‘Voice for Women’ and wish to make a few observations on last Sunday’s subject.

Modest attire is generally understood to be any garment which is not transparent, or tight-fitting and which covers the body. When a woman is modestly attired, society must judge her by her mental and spiritual characteristics and not by her physical characteristics. With her own special dignity, she elevates herself to a real person.

A woman who is immodestly attired has a sexually exploited identity. It is not so for a man hence we cannot make comparisons. Women attiring themselves modestly is only beneficial to them.

“The beauty of a pearl is its purity

The beauty of a girl is her modesty”

Mother Lanka

Citizen Silva’s an impotent country

Citizen Silva’s jibe on the SriLankan debacle (ST-2: 27.03.16) states,

“As is well known, neither Nishantha Wickramasinghe nor Ajith Dias had any real knowledge or experience of aviation at the time each of them was appointed as chairman of SriLankan Airlines.”

The two personalities evidently are as different as chalk from cheese.

The present chairman, an ex-Royalist, is a proven successful millionaire merchant in his own right, having a solid corporate track record, hailing from the renowned family of the illustrious Arthur V. Dias of Kos Mama fame, striving to recoup and resurrect the ailing airline.

Arguably, one necessarily need not be knowledgeable in a trade to run it  successfully, if, academic/professional qualifications aside, one possesses an extensive track record of senior managerial experience in operating any trade, as discerned amongst a slew of successful magnates. It’s basically the real wisdom of management which matters.

- Firoze Sameer
Via email

Eureka! I found the Sri Lankan

For the last several years I was really wondering how to figure out a Sri Lankan in the country called Sri Lanka when in fact there is no Sri Lankan language spoken by its inhabitants, nor is there any Sri Lankan civilization. It is also a universally accepted fact that the nationality of a person could be identified by the language a person speaks.

But I found nobody speaking a language called Sri Lanka anywhere in the country called Sri Lanka.

However I was still wondering when the other day I happened to go to Battaramulla People’s Bank branch. Since it was a Saturday and there were hardly any customers I went straight to a counter, where a lady was in casual dress which is usual on Saturdays.

She was wearing a t’shirt and it was first amusing to see a picture of a donkey on it. While she was processing the cheque, I asked her what that picture on the t’shirt was. She pulled back the chair and looked at the picture herself and smiled, and I also had a better view of the picture. To my great surprise, just below the picture it was written-“I am Sri Lankan”.

Eureka, I found the Sri Lankan!

Gallege Punyawardena
Via email

Half renovated road and hardships faced by people

The road which extends through Pala Pathwala, Borowewa, Ambagamanna, Halmillakotuwa, Bakmeewewa, Ambagaswewa, Galkadawela, Meewellawa, Girilla and many more villages from Ambanpola to Nikaveratiya has been renovated only up to Katupitigama junction.

During the previous Government’s time, former Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa laid the foundation stone about six or seven years ago to develop this road and an asphalt processing plant was started next to Usgala rock in Bakmeewewa village.

Ever since, the heavily loaded trucks carrying asphalt travel on this road and even more culverts are broken. The Road Development Authority renovated the dilapidated culverts for their benefit.

During the rainy season the road is muddy and during the drought it is full of potholes. As a result motorists and all users of this road face many hardships. Children suffer due to the excessive dust.

The Government has not taken any steps to repair this road. We hope some action will be taken soon to ease the people’s suffering.

Gayantha Premalal Hettiarachchi

Headstrong and footloose

In an acrobatic move, the Ambagamuwa Pradeshiya Sabha’s former UPFA member Helapriya Nandaraja stood on his head as part of a widespread protest against the postponement of local council elections- the Sunday Times of April 3, 2016.

Headstrong and footloose

“You have brains in your head
And feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself in
Any direction you choose!”

-Dr. Seuss R. Noor

Advertising Rates

Please contact the advertising office on 011 - 2479521 for the advertising rates.