oldest car in Sri Lanka
William de Alwis
First, the car, because that is how its owner would have
liked it. It does not look like one but any veteran car enthusiast
will tell you it is a treasure that would grace any museum of vintage
vehicles anywhere in the world, even including the National Motor
Museum of Beaulieu, Great Britain which is by far the best of them.
Peiris at the wheel of the Wolseley with Lord Montagu of Beaulieu
founder Lord Montagu was in fact one of those who visited Sri Lanka
in 1964 to admire this masterpiece and also drive it; a pleasure,
he said, even if only for those few minutes.
because this Chain-driven single cylinder two-seater Wolseley was
produced when the internal combustion engine was in its infancy
by Herbert Austin (later Lord Austin). It was the fore-runner of
the sleek beauties you see on the roads today and was built, of
all places, in a makeshift workshop of the Wolseley Sheep Shearing
Company Limited in Birmingham in 1902 and named after Frederick
Wolseley, the Managing Director. It is one hundred years old today.
The first death
anniversary of its proud restorer/owner, Hithakami Chidrupa Peiris
(Chitru or H. C. to his friends) was on Friday (September 13), which
is why we are taking this short drive down memory lane.
the farmer's son, will always be remembered for his Baby Austin
"7" which was his own design. He listened to the criticisms
of his customers. An interesting story is told of him. In 1922 a
customer wrote that he was very satisfied with the Austin "7",
but was disappointed that it had no running board. A few months
later, an advertisement appeared in the press - "WINGS AND
RUNNING BOARD FITTED TO MODEL SERIES THREE". These cars were
offered at $.225.
consigned treasures such as this - its local registration number
was Q 53 - 1904 - to the junkyard or exported them to fanciers of
veteran vehicles abroad, Chitru saw the value of preserving them
for future generations to admire and marvel over how it all began
in those distant days.
Q 53 changed
hands for the third time and HC became its owner. The task of restoring
it to her original splendour began. "My task has not been an
easy one, and as I write, the formidable task that lies ahead on
the 7th of August (1955) - the Ceylon Observer Old Crocks Rally
looms in my mind." The task took him almost an year. "The
chassis unfortunately was too deteriorated for repair which necessitated
rebuilding it anew.
axles were in fair condition though repairs were necessary on springs
and shackles and the wheels had to be completely replaced."
Came the day of the Rally and the Q 53 roared its way to success,
all the way round from the Galle Face Green to Maharagama and back
and out again to the Ratmalana Airport. "All she needed was
a snort of water somewhere around Nugegoda", a jubilant HC
said at the finish after collecting his trophy from Colombo's Mayor
Dr. N. M. Perera. "She ran like a champion". The speed?
Around 12 miles per hour! And that was great for one of the oldest
cars in the world. Of the 50 models built, only two remain, Q-53
and the other in Australia.
is home to a number of other classic cars and the earliest transport
vehicles, which have over the decades replaced the bullock cart.
One other is probably the first horseless fire engine to have been
imported to this country - a Morris "Magirus". There is
the 1911 Adler built by Adlerwerke of Germany, and a 1904 Minerva
manufactured in Belgium, a Rolls Royce Phantom I and of course the
Baby Austin of the 1920s which made Herbert Austin famous.
HC made it
a point to make friendly contact with Lord Austin who was a pioneer
responsible for the motoring revolution.
The steam driven
car was even in its earliest stages a very quiet mechanism although
it did frighten people off the roads.
significance to Sri Lanka's motoring history is the fact that the
Automobile Association of Ceylon was founded in Kandy in November
1904 one year before the Automobile Association of Great Britain
was founded! Similarly the Veteran Car Club of Ceylon of which the
late Mr. H. C. Peiris who introduced the Veteran Car Movement to
Ceylon was the founder President in 1952 is the oldest Club in the
by Nedra Wickremesinghe
Any professional either in a high-profile job or at the
start of her career is expected to be attired at all times in appropriate
office clothes. These clothes should be suitable and in style. Of
course, the accepted dress codes continue to expand but there will
always be certain accepted standards to conform to.
on a career or profession should make a serious investment on clothes.
The clothes she wears may determine the image she tries to create.
Her aim must be to make her professional presence or her look work
totally for her.
There are degrees
of formality in office dressing. Those in the power seat are expected
to wear no-nonsense, classic-style suits that are well tailored.
In this part of the world we have the choice of the saree too. What
is important for a woman executive is to use her clothes to project
a confident, professional image and so it is 'bye' to the glamorous
dress or the breezy blouse. The days you have meetings and when
you have to entertain clients in the afternoon, dress for the occasion
- A smart jacket over the skirt suit or a strand of pearls with
the saree is just fine.
When you choose
office wear - you have to be true to yourself and remember the basic
rules of dressing i.e. wear clothes to fit your body, mind and reason.
As much as how the colour you choose affects people in certain ways,
both optically and by association, clothes that you think look drab
and boring on you are sure to look uninteresting to others too.
exude a certain aura. It is the non-verbal message that you convey
of who you are. In a business world that is saturated with self-opinionated,
ego-enhanced, macho males, the power-playing woman has to strike
a profile of importance on equal grounds. It is vital you take time
to plan your outfits, develop your already existing wardrobe and
care about your success. This is a vital attribute of the female
executive who plays to win.
A proven basic
technique for building a successful working wardrobe is to keep
your clothes elegant and simple. Elegant dressing is characterized
by dignified richness and grace. Elegance is achieved through refined
sophistication. Simplicity is itself being sophisticated with dignified
minimalism - totally devoid of excessive buttons, frills and flounces
and over-layers and collars. Simplicity can be best described as
a basic design that is classic or contemporary where the fabric,
colour and line blend harmoniously.
comfort in the hills
Ruhanie Perera and Thiruni Kelegama
Even if you are an established coffee person, there's nothing
like revelling in a cup of tea;
especially when you are tucked away in a cosy cabana, breathing
in the cool mountain air tinged with the smell of tea permeating
from the millions of tea bushes around you. A smell one gets all
too familiar with in the valley renowned for the very best of tea,
Hailed as the
Golden Valley, the Bogawathalawa valley is truly, as the name suggests,
the valley blessed by the Gods.
begins with the Wanarajah Group of Bogawanthalawa Plantations Ltd
and ends with the Campion Group. Acres of tea, golden sunshine,
and rows of tea pluckers in the early morning - that is the essence
of this place. Situated in the Central Province, the 11 upcountry
estates of Bogawanthalawa Plantations are managed by five groups;
Wanarajah, Norwood, Campion, Loinorn and Kotiyagala. In keeping
with the latest trend, Bogawathalawa Plantations has opened up both
plantation bungalows and eco-friendly log cabins, which make great
An hour's drive
away from the Bogawanthalawa town, the North Cove Cabanas are situated
along a roadway through the North Cove Division of the Loinorn Estate.
The long winding
drive amongst the hills takes you to a storybook wooden gate on
which a tiny hoarding informs the traveller that he has arrived
at the place 'where time stands still'.
The North Cove
Cabanas are best described as an idyllic place for rest and relaxation
with large doses of privacy added. Situated at an altitude of 5470
feet above sea level, partly concealed by the surrounding tea bushes,
the cabanas present the harassed soul from Colombo with an escape
from the chaos of daily life in the city. The entrance was breathtaking;
water gushed from a stream above and did not stop with the cabins,
instead glided through the two cabins, which were built so that
a bridge connecting them cut across the stream of water. A small
pool, perfect for a little dip provided one is in the mood to brave
the cool water, lies comfortably in between.
cabanas surrounded by flowers and greenery and bathed in pools of
afternoon sun was originally just a scenic spot, a natural waterfall
and sheer rock. Built in 1993, in keeping with the principles of
eco-tourism, the rustic nature of the cabanas allow for one to be
very much in touch with the proximate abundance of nature. However
the immediate creature comforts like comfy beds, hot water and a
barbecue on request (for additional charges) are options that make
this feel very much like quite a comfortable holiday home.
who was part of the one-and-a-half year building process of the
cabanas, stays on as the caretaker. Friendly enough to make the
visit a memorable one and aloof enough to give visitors a sense
of privacy, he's reputed for turning out some mouth-watering dishes
which have earned him words of commendation by every visitor. No
entry in the guest book is complete without the mention of the delicious
food; the descriptions alone leave one yearning for a taste.
If you're the
type of person who wants more than just a lazy holiday, there are
plenty of things to do. As Dharmasena inform us: "Horton Plains
is just a walk away." A five-hour walk, that is, with twisting,
winding roads that will definitely make it a hike to remember.
Cut away from
the town, the cabanas border the forests of Mahaeliya, a lush green
area devoid of human settlers, which serves as a habitat for sambhur,
leopard and deer. Still, it is a central spot reachable from Nuwara
Eliya, Balangoda, Maskeliya and Colombo. A trip to Bopaththalawa,
or even Adam's Peak is a possibility and a soul-filling scenic drive
along the Castlereigh Reservoir is a must.
With the crisp
atmosphere ensuring that it does not get too cold or too hot, the
climate is lovely all year round. However the best time to visit
the cabanas are the holiday months of August and September during
which time the bookings come pouring in, says Dharmasena, leaving
no weekend free. The charges for the cabanas are Rs. 5500/=, with
Cabana No.1 at Rs. 2500/= and Cabana No.2 at Rs. 3000/=. Guests
are required to bring their own provisions.
writes one light-hearted traveller, but next time I would like to
be invited stay on. He's not the only who thought that. The cabanas
are an experience in itself and all that will remain in your memory
when you leave the place will be the fact that whilst you were there,
yes, time did stand till.
fragrant bouquet for Joan Forbes
When Joan Forbes took up floristry in the early '70s there
were not many in her line nor any as enterprising. Over the years
her business has grown and today she is a household name when it
comes to flowers for any occasion. Having been in the field for
30 years, her services are still in great demand in and around Colombo,
an achievement gained through sheer hard work, dedication and of
course, that all important creative flair.
clients are the second generation - children of the brides she had
made dream bouquets for years ago. Reminiscing, Joan says, "I
am satisfied with my life thus far, and wouldn't want anything changed."
are still piling. She recently won a trophy for Garden Display at
the International Flower Show held in Quebec, Canada in April, where
15 countries participated. Representing Sri Lanka, Joan Forbes was
the only South Asian contestant at this triennial event, her display
adorned with little elephants and other indigenous objects.
how her career was virtually thrust upon her when she had to help
a grieving relative, a florist by profession. She imbibed her love
of flowers from her and went on to doing arrangements for friends.
"You wouldn't believe it, but I used the housekeeping money
for my first order," she smiled.
break came when she received an order from the five-star Intercontinental
Hotel in the early '70s. Her career took off in spite of having
to juggle with professional commitments and family responsibilities.
"I had to take care of the house work, take my children to
school and then go all the way to Maradana to buy the flowers,"
she recalls. Gradually everything fell into place - suppliers from
Maradana, Nuwara Eliya and Bandarawela knew that she bought flowers
on a regular basis and would come home to deliver. Her family was
supportive and she never felt the need to advertise or open a shop.
early days when importing flowers was not as simple, Joan recounts,
"It wasn't always easy to get the flowers I wanted, to match
the colour scheme of a bride or match the decor of a venue."
She then made arrangements to import flowers, which meant that she
had to plan her designs well in advance.
The big assignments
during her career include creating floral arrangements for visits
here by Queen Elizabeth II of England, the Emperor and Empress of
Japan, the King and Queen of Nepal, President Tito of Yugoslavia
and Indira Gandhi's visit to the Maldives, to name a few. "It
was an honour for me," says Joan of these high profile jobs.
She is also
in demand to teach floristry. She organised an exhibition with classes
in floral design for A. V. Thomas and Company in Kerala, India.
"I wasn't used to public speaking and there were around 260
pairs of eyes staring at me." The Company then ran a scheme
whereby all ladies were encouraged to grow orchids. The perfect
blooms suitable for import were bought by the company. Joan taught
them what she could within the given time - hair sprays, garlands,
Back here in
Sri Lanka, during Lent or before the Sinhala New Year each year,
Joan conducts classes in floral arrangement. She has also attended
several international demonstrations, workshops and seminars in
flower arrangement that she greatly benefited from.
Joan had previously
worked briefly with Sahanaya to teach its members certain basics
of flower- making. She now hopes to start something along the lines
of 'Flowers for therapy' to help overcome grief, a new concept that
has gained international recognition.
On the job
full time now, Joan says, "I don't know what I'll do if I don't
have this work. I'm a senior citizen in this profession," she
continues, thrilled that her daughter, trained in London has joined
her in her work. Some of her helpers are doing well for themselves
in the Middle East and Australia.
Joan is a distinguished
member of the Zonta Club, Women's Chamber of Industry and Commerce
and the SAARC Cultural Association.
To mark Joan's
30 years in the profession, a service of praise and thanksgiving
will be held at St. Theresa's Church on September 17 at 7.00 p.m.
Love cake, which Joan is famous for will be served. Scholarships
for two students to follow a course in floristry will also be awarded.