14th March 1999
47, W. A. D. Ramanayake Mawatha Colombo 2. P.O. Box: 1136, Colombo 2.
The name game
A recent photograph of Colombo Mayor Karu Jayasuriya unveil-ing a nameboard christening a certain road " Pelpola Vipassi Mawatha" may have been lost on readers who were engrossed in the larger political discourse.
But, the truth is that the mercurial Karu Jayasuriya re-named Model Farm Road Ven Pelpola Vipassi Mawatha, and associated with him in this strange baptism was PA Cabinet Minister and former Mayor A. H. M. Fowzie.
One thing is certain, Both the Mayor and ex mayor of Colombo do not seem to be averse to renaming streets at the drop of a hat.
Mr. Fowzie did it in style during his tenure, when the prevalent fad was to reassert the Sri Lankan identity by re-naming streets! Now, Karu Jayasuriya has done Fowzie one better.
He has continued the tradition of naming streets a fine art, with any company being allowed to get its name and trademark at a street corner name board for the correct price.
But, let us leave that particular curious policy aside, because there are curioser things happening in Mayor Karu's city.
He has not only consented to, but has also been associated actively with the act of naming Model Farm Road Pelpola Vipassi Mawatha.
Now the Ven. Pelpola Vipassi, bless him, is still in the land of the living, but that doesn't deter the mayor from naming a road after the Ven.
Thera who is not only living , but also sometimes living somewhat dangerously.
It wouldn't hurt to recall that it was this same Ven. Pelpola Vipassi who scandalised the Buddhist establishment of this country by returning from Japan, in a suit, after undergoing a conversion to the Mahayana brand of Buddhism that's practised in that country.
It would be correct to say that the Ven. Vipassi's only claim to fame is for an act that was widely seen by the Buddhist establishment of the country as an act of subversion of the undiluted Theravada Buddhist traditions that this country can be justly proud of.
To honour a person with that track record — in his lifetime at that— must seem the result of some odd daydream.
We hope that the Mayor does not have secret yen for Mahayanism deep within his grain. That indeed would make fact stranger than fiction.
It is with a sense of relief, almost , that we are able to take our minds off the muck - heap of politics and think about pleasanter things like schoolboy cricket.
It's definitely a more heart warming prospect to talk about the pursuits of a future generation of leaders rather than talk about the motley lot who currently are at the helm of the country's affairs . ( From both parties that is.)
So it is in this vein that it bears mention that it is a little sad that even schoolboys nowadays seem to have been robbed of the opportunity to have good clean fun at what is after all their event — the annual school big match.
It is correct that there are security imperatives which are now more important than they used to be in the good old days.
Yet, if officialdom knows only to kill schoolboy fun by restricting movements of spectators within the field, and by banning bands in various locations on the grounds, it's a sad commentary on the ability of an older generation to provide an atmosphere in which the young can have some clean good old fashioned fun
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