Noise pollution that drove me deaf and out of our beautiful home As someone who suffered acutely from noise pollution, I sympathise totally with the Colombo residents enduring deadly building noise at night.  I hope Nadia Fazlulhaq’s article in last week’s Sunday Times, results in serious action to deal with this. Around 1980, we moved [...]


Letters to the Editor


Noise pollution that drove me deaf and out of our beautiful home

Our house in Dehiwela

As someone who suffered acutely from noise pollution, I sympathise totally with the Colombo residents enduring deadly building noise at night.  I hope Nadia Fazlulhaq’s article in last week’s Sunday Times, results in serious action to deal with this.

Around 1980, we moved into a beautiful, little, open house in Dehiwela, about 200 yards down from the Galle Road, on the seaside.  Created for us by the young architect, C. Anjalendran — his first house upon graduation.  Word of it got about and people came from far and wide to see it.  We expected to live there for the rest of our lives.

Anjalendran planned the house around all the trees on the land — none were cut –  a mango tree, a billing tree and a kamaranga tree. And a coffee bush.  Every room opened on to the meda midula and we could see the sky from wherever we sat.  Wooden lattice doors and windows.

Steps near the open dining room led up, around the mango tree trunk, to a terrace, leading to a guest room.  From the terrace we could pluck the mangoes, dangling just above our heads.

A place of bliss.  Cheaply built, as well.  Under pressure from a landlord anxious to raise his rent, which the UNP government had removed controls on, we moved in even before the floors were fully laid.  Soon after, while resting one afternoon, a snake slithered along the rafters above us.

But we were unaware that a more deadly visitation lay in wait just across the road.

Up on the Galle Road was a shop with a large window displaying antiques.  A long, high wall extended from it, down our narrow road, ending a few yards from our house.

We began to hear strange noises during the day.  Initially, for just two or three hours, but ultimately, from morning till late evening.  And it poured over into our open courtyards and rooms.

It was the sound of electric saws and lathes and drills…vital to the improvement of — may be even the production of — the antiques.

At first, I tolerated it as I was away at work during the day, but it was also bad on Saturdays. And, later, when I began to work at home, it became unbearable.

Clearly, a fortune was pouring into the shop. Diplomats and other foreign personnel were well provided for.  And, I expect, they carried off abroad whatever genuine antiques were available in the shop.

The noise became a torture and finally we complained to the CEA.  Someone came and tested the sound level and said it was much higher than the permitted level in a domestic environment.  Later, police turned up when there were complaints, but always left with big smiles on their faces.  Pretty obvious why.

After some years, I began to lose my hearing and found it impossible to stay at home during the day.  The only solution seemed to be to move, to give up our much-loved home.

In the mid-1990s, by which time my hearing had greatly deteriorated, we went abroad briefly and during that time a friend found a tiny flat for us in Colombo.  We lived there for a couple of years. Then we went abroad for another three years and on our return were able to move to a larger apartment.

I am now almost completely deaf.  A single hearing aid helps one ear very slightly, but I am totally lost in company…even a one-to-one conversation is difficult.  And over the years, I retreated more and more from social life.  For many years now, I have been unable to enjoy music or the spoken word, in the theatre.  A diminishing of life.

The conjurer of my deafness, however, has gone from strength to strength, opening more shops in the city.  I wonder who is going mad from his work now.

We, alas, were forced to sell our beautiful house and on a recent visit to the area I discovered that the new owners had replaced the architect’s beautiful façade with takaran screens!


Manel Fonseka   Havelock Rd (another noisy place)

 Applause for retired teachers going beyond their call of duty

Two months ago, some of the retired teachers of Horatudawa Maha Vidyalaya in Moratuwa came to my home and had a long discussion with my wife who was the Vice Principal of that school. They discussed collecting money from well-wishers and past students to buy books and stationery items for distribution among the needy children in the area. They had collected over Rs 100,000.

I was astonished to see how these retired teachers were working so hard going around in the hot sun and rain collecting funds for this worthy project. On some days they were even foregoing their meals.

They bought the stationery from bookshops in the area and brought it to our home  where they made several parcels. It was a tedious task and they worked from morning till evening making the parcels for distribution.

They had a grand function at Horetudawa Maha Vidyalaya to make the donations. They had invited all those who had contributed financially, past teachers, the recipients and their parents. The guests enjoyed refreshments and there was also a lottery draw with the winners receiving cash prizes.

The children who got the stationery packs and their parents were really grateful and it was appreciated also by the well-wishers who were very thankful to these teachers for their great meritorious action. Usually it is past students or some school society that organises such functions – we rarely hear of former teachers of a school making such an effort. This was a very commendable act.

Rohana Ekanayake   Moratuwa

The doctrine of Anatta

 This refers to the piece by Dr. C. Ratnatunga, a Consultant, published in the Sunday Times recently. Among the important concepts enunciated by the Buddha in his doctrine/philosophy as being universally valid, are dukka, anicca and anatta. The first two, state of unsatisfactoriness/sorrow and impermanence  are easy to understand while the third ingredient, of “ no self” or the absence of a never-changing soul or a stream of consciousness defies comprehension for a non Buddhist. Of course it is a logical step arising from impermanence.

In biology/evolution we know that the rare beneficial effects of random mutations get accumulated in the genes and get passed down to the progeny. This is how evolution is supposed to operate. But this process, that operates with respect to matter though the theory of “memes” and advocated by Richard Dawkins, implies that it operates in the non material sphere too. The evolution of the mammalian and human brain retaining the reptilian part deals with the material plane.

There is also the case where the effects of good and bad actions cause changes in the changing or evolving soul or the stream of consciousness in an individual when he “re-becomes” another individual at death. This matter is raised as a question put to the Buddha by a Ven. Monk as recorded in “What the Buddha taught” by the Rev Walpola Rahula (page 66 of the 1990 Reprint). The question posed by the monk is “..if there is no self or Atman, who gets the results of the kamma?”The answer of the Master was,  “I have taught conditionality everywhere in all things”.

What then happens at the stage of rebirth? Is it that at the time of death the “atman” becomes permanent for an instant for the net balance of kamma to take effect in the new being?

 Dr. Leo Fernando    Talahena, Negombo

Take a cue from me and sew your own cloth bags 

I read the article by DK in last Sunday’s issue of the Sunday Times and I thought of adding a few words. This is a requisite in our day-to-day life. We all use bags but we are not concerned whether they are conducive to our needs.

I am quite old but I still make cloth bags mostly marketing bags. I sew origami bags too and they are very much in demand by my family and friends too.  It is very rewarding to know that they come in handy when they go to the shops. I could make even two a day so why can’t others too try their hand at this?

I hope others would take the cue at least to sew tote bags for their needs.

 Anandi Kulatilleke   Via email



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