Monday, November 28, 2011

Humor related to the Faculty of Medicine, Colombo, Sri Lanka.

These are real life incidents relating to the Colombo Medical Faculty and a collection of other stories. We hope that reading them puts you in a good mood. Please send us your contributions to the following email address :-

A 'Saying' to remember
'Good judgment' comes from experience.  
'Experience' comes from bad judgment.

Sent by Premalatha Balasuriya (Ranasinghe)- 1959 batch

1. New students had entered the Faculty and it was ragging time. I am relating one incident that I can recall. The fresher boys had to come in white trousers and during the interval they had to come to the lawn in front of the Physiology block. They had to roll up one trouser leg, wear jingle bells on the leg, wear the tie front to back (I can recall only this much). The so called ‘honourable seniors’ got them to march round and round the lawn saying ‘left, right, left, right’ The Dean – Prof Abeyratne, fondly referred to as ‘pachaya’- announced his arrival by a small cough and the seniors ran away. The boys continued to march. He came and asked ‘Are you a pack of lunatics from Angoda?’ No answer came. The boys continued to march saying ‘left, right, left, right’ for a time until they got chased away by the Dean. I am sure they enjoyed the fun.

2. There used to be an annual cricket match- staff vs block students in the 1960s. Sheriff Deen happened to be the compere.  Dr Watson had just started neurophysiology lectures and it was like Greek to most of us. When he started to bat, the compere announced ‘Dr Watson is receiving an afferent input from  ???? and he is sending an efferent discharge’ and so on..

3. When we were doing Prof C C de Silva’s appointment at LRH, Malkanthi (Dr Channa Wijesinghe’s wife) was the intern house officer. Prof used to sit at the table and teach with the students around him. The intern house officers had to be there. He carried a long knee hammer with which he used to hit anyone missing an answer to his question. Malkanthi happened to answer a question put to a student. He said ‘next time you do that, I will put you under the table’ and he did just that. Whenever a student missed answering a question he used to hit Malkanthi under the table with the knee hammer. She was shouting ‘Please don’t sir’. She had to wait there until the end of the class

Dr.D.F.De.S. Gunawardena was a Consultant Surgeon at the GH Colombo in the 1960s. He had a problem with his larynx and could not talk loud. The medical students had a joke circulating that they went to do his surgical appointment, to learn ‘The secrets of Surgery’. It was a New Years day and a new batch of twelve medical students, went to see Dr.D.F.De.S. Gunawardena in his ward, to start their surgical ‘clerking’ of two months surgical training. They were timid and got late by ten minutes. They went up to the Surgeon and wished him a ‘Good Morning. The Surgeon mumbled something in reply, with a dead-pan face. The students thought that the Surgeon was wishing them a Happy New Year. They replied in unison ‘Wish you the same Sir’. This time the Surgeon talked a bit louder and they heard him repeating ‘Get out’. It was punishment for getting late for the appointment.

Professor Sinnathamby
‘Sinna’ as he was fondly known came to give us a lecture in Obstetrics on a sleepy afternoon. He started his lecture with a question ‘Gentleman ( there were no ladies in ‘Sinna’s’ vocabulary) have you heard of ‘Sinna’s’ arse?’ We being gentleman never discussed any ones derrier and looked perplexed. ‘Sinna’ continued ‘Sinna’s’ arse are three in number. They are Rest, Relaxation and Refreshment. He proceeded to write these three R’s on the black-board, in those ‘chalk and talk’ days of old.

Dr. P.R.Anthonis was a Consultant Surgeon at the GH Colombo in the 1960s. He was famous as the surgeon who operated on the late Rt.Hon S.W.R.D. Bandaranayake, the Prime-Minister, who died after gun-shot wounds to the abdomen. One day while operating on a hydrocoele in the operating theatre he noticed a female medical student jumping away from the path of a jet of hydrocoele fluid. He remarked. ‘I shay, you will never be productive if you jump away from body fluids’

Dr. Piloo Rustomjee was Senior House Officer in Surgery working under Dr.P.R. Anthonis. At any party Piloo would pull out a small notebook from his trouser pocket. He would scrutinize it for a few minutes and replace it. He will then have a fund of jokes to relate  for the next one hour. He gave a definition of a CAT as ‘The only type of ball-bearing rat-trap available in the market’. We were not quite sure whether he was referring to the four-legged or the two-legged variety.

The pre-exam cram - Pheno-barbitone in the coffee instead of amphetamine

During our medical student days in the early 1960’s, three months before any exam the 'cram sessions' started. All the time spent on fun and leisure had to be covered up. Lecture notes gone over, textbooks referred, past questions analyzed - it was one big effort. During our third MB exam the following incident took place. 
One of our batch mates had a habit of taking strong cups of black coffee, to keep up the night to do his studies. One of his 'friends' at the 'Bloemfonteyn' suggested lacing the coffee with a tablet of amphetamine to keep up the entire night. My batch mate accepted it, eagerly. He was duly given a cup of black coffee with a lot of sugar and a 'tablet of amphetamine'' dissolved in it. A few minutes later he was feeling drowsy and went to sleep. He got up in the morning when the sun was well up.  The nights rest made him perform well at the exam. His 'friend' later told him that the 'tablet' dissolved in the cup of coffee was 'pheno-barbitone' a central nervous system sedative and not 'amphetamine' a central nervous system stimulant. Thus my colleague got an unforgettable lesson in pharmacology. 

The story of arson
                It was the time of internship of our batch. These incidents are reported from the Galle hospital.
A.      The early morning papers had arrived and one of our batch mates was reading the English daily news headlines, loud, as is usually done in the villages, for the benefit of the immediate company.
“Fire breaks out in textile shop. Arson suspected”, he read, and then exclaimed, “Machan, who is this fellow Arson?”
General laughter followed, much to the perplexity of our batch-mate, to whom the meaning of the criminal act of arson had to be explained, for him to understand his gaff..
Much to my surprise, long afterwards, I came across a very well respected  Singhalese gentleman, a patient, by the name of “Arson”.

B. One of the medical officers was getting married. It was being arranged to give a party to him and give him a wedding gift. Two of the interns went shopping. There was a replica in plaster of paris, a small statuette, of the Venus de Milo, with the broken arm. It looked nice so they asked the shop owner for the price. He quoted a high figure. One of the interns, obviously a green horn in matters of art and sculpture, blurted out
:"Aiyo mudalali, mekay athath kadila ney”( Meaning - Sir, the arm of this is broken, why are quoting such a high price)
Such was the caliber of our batch mates in the greening years of 1965.

Hello Philip,
It was good of you to have attended Sankars wedding.He looks well.I remember his eldest being delivered at GH,Batti by Sinnathamby the Gen Surgeon as the VOG was off. The foetus was in distress and Sinna delivered the baby with one incision going through the abdominal wall as well as the uterus!. It probably holds the record for the fastest CS still. Mallika was transferred from Pottuvil where Sankar was the Medical Officer In Charge. I met him briefly at our reunion, but he left early and I could not have a good chat with him.If you happen to have his em address or tel no:
can I have them please.

Prof. Chanmugam - Anatomy

The above Prof was a man with a heart of gold. Anatomy was a stumbling block for quite a few students in the 2nd MB of those days. One of the legendary 'pillars of the Medical College' was a person we will call 'J'. He had gone in for the 2nd MB anatomy viva for about the fifth time. He went in with the best wishes of his cronies who had assembled to give him moral support. After the specified time for the viva he came out sweating profusely and angry. He said 'Machan, this fellow Chanmugam knew I was weak in anatomy. He gave me the toughest bone the 'sphenoid' to describe in the viva'. He took off his white coat and tie and went to have a beer in a pub close by. A few minutes after he left out comes Prof. Chanmugam. He asked 'Where is that fellow 'J'? I gave him the easiest bone the 'mandible' to describe and he calls it the 'sphenoid'! Such was the climate of the early 1960s.

Frank Sebestianpillai
George E de Silva was famous for the  Gondola joke. A councilor suggested having a few Gondolas in the Kandy Lake and George E is purported to have said"why buy a few, if you buy a pair, they will reproduce !
"Paristology Sivalingam was also known as  "Judo Siva" for his flailing arm action during lectures mimicking movements in Judo.

Earle Fonseka had what was probably the first kit car in Ceylon. It was a beautiful small  "Arkley" with an A35 engine and fibreglass body. Arkley is just north of Barnet  in Hertfordshire.The company later became T V R for
  1. specialist sports cars £50,000 plus.

    Frank Sebastianpillai
'Fredo' Benjamin

I came to know Geri Jayasekera  when I was at Eye Hospital and 
used to go to Regent House for my meals. Geri was Prison MO. He used to let out yarns to newly appointed interns- that he  had stressful times at Welikade. He had to be present at the executions, and when that was over, his duty was to perform CPR and try to revive the victim!

'Interesting news article: Stuart Keen, a 54-year-old carpenter in Wantage, England, mistook his penis for a piece of wood and accidentally cut it off while working with a saw. "This was an unfortunate accident, but these things happen all the time to people in his profession," Keen's mother, Edna, told The Sunday Telegraph. Fortunately for Keen, surgeons were able to reattach the severed member. No word yet on whether Keen has since changed professions'.
 The mortuary surprise – Story by Dr. Joe Fernando formerDGHS 

This story was related to me by Dr. Joe Fernando, a former Director-General of the Health Services of Sri-Lanka. Yes you heard it right. Now there is a Director General, Directing all the other directors under him in our health department. We managed to get a 'General' after all these years.
    Dr. Joe Fernando had been a District Medical Officer in one of the peripheral hospitals, in the 1960s. Maintaining discipline in the work force is one of the many duties a DMO has to shoulder. One night, one of his laborers had come to tell him, that some of the male junior staff were playing cards ("booruwa") for money - gambling -, inside the mortuary building. Dr. Joe Fernando and the laborer were stealthily going towards the building, when they were heard approaching and all the card players fled, leaving the lighted lantern and the cards on a mortuary slab. However Dr. Joe Fernando had gone inside the mortuary. He saw the lantern and the cards and three dead bodies on the bench type mortuary slab. He was about to turn back on what was a 'failed mission', when the laborer accompanying him had told him, that there had been only two dead bodies late in the day, now there were three on the marble slab. It was then that they found out that one of the "dead bodies" was very much alive and was one of the card players. He was too short, to jump over the windows and run for it and had taken quite a bit of liquor. With his 'Dutch courage' he had pretended to be a 'dead body'. Needless to say he was hauled out and faced the consequences.

The bird in the hand –Law Medical - 1960

We had a ‘Poster Parade’ at the end of the annual law-Medical Cricket Match. Posters were drawn up and carried in a parade by their authors. A panel of judges selected the best three posters and awarded prizes for them. One of the posters of the year 1960, had a cartoon of a bird in a bush and a skimpily clad sexy female. It had the following caption:-

‘It is a popular saying that ‘A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush’, but I say categorically that ‘A bird in the bush is definitely better than two in the hand’.

The audience roared with laughter.

Dr.J.D.U.Austin – Surgeon

One of my friends was doing a ‘clerking’ with Dr.Austin for two months, in the early 1960s. They were in the Operating Theater watching the proceedings. A 20 year old patient was on the operating table awaiting an appendectomy. He was seated up on the table prior to be given a ‘spinal anesthesia’ for the surgery. The patient looked round saw all the instruments. It was cold in the theater. The patient got scared and started to say something. Big made Dr.Austin saw this. He came to the side of the table and ordered ‘Lie down you coward’. A needle was inserted into a vein by the anesthetist and ‘Pentothal’ was given in a jiffy and the patient was ‘out for the count’. The surgery proceeded and an appendix nearing ‘perforation’ was removed. He would have died of peritonitis following perforation if he was denied surgery. Those were the days when ‘informed consent’ was not heard of. We were told in our Forensic lectures that if the patient entered the hospital of his own free will, that implied consent. A signature put by the patient under the written statement ‘I consent for surgery’, was adequate to do any surgery on the patient. The Surgeon decided what was best for the patient.

Two stories related by a former Deputy Director Health Services, Sri Lanka.

I was doing a post-casualty ward round with the medical students ‘clerking’ under me in the mid 1990s. A well dressed Gentleman in his 80s with a certain degree of ‘class’ about him was introduced to me as a retired doctor. He had come to casualty with an attack of acute abdominal pain. I examined him and found that he had a colic following indigestion I asked him about the old days of his medical career. This was for the students to learn about the conditions prevailing in Sri Lanka in the 1950s. Here are the two incidents he related.

  1. The antics of a male elephant – a tusker.

He was the Medical Officer in Charge at the Medagama Hospital in the Uva Province in the 1950’s. He had a Morris Minor car. He was returning at night from the Butthala Hospital to Medagama after a visit to a doctor friend there. He was confronted by a herd of elephants at a place called ‘Aanapallama’ on the main road. This area was a corridor which the wild elephants used from time immemorial. A male tusker was blocking the road and looked aggressive. He stayed inside the car after putting off the lights and switching off the engine. He silently put up the shutters and waited. The 'tusker' approached the car and went round it. It felt the warmth of the bonnet of the car with the tip of its trunk. Then it literally attempted to sit on the warm bonnet apparently to warm its posterior. When it felt the car sagging down it quickly got up. Our friend the doctor meanwhile had quietly opened the door of the car, sneaked to a nearby culvert crawled under it and waited. After a long wait he saw the herd moving away. He went back to his car, started it and raced back to his ‘home station’, Medagama Hospital. The strongly built Morris Minor had only a minor dent as witness to the incident. Cars were built with gauge 18 steel and were rock steady in those distant years.

  1. Quinine for the ‘Gammulaadaeniya’

Once while serving in Medagama, he was called to see a Village Headman – a Gammulaadaeniya’ – who he was informed had a fever of a few days duration. Our friend had got a syringe and a vial of Quinine, put them into his coat pocket and was ready for the trek through the jungle. Quinine was a ‘cure all’ for fevers in the malaria infested area those days. He was guided through a foot path in the jungle. They were merrily walking along when they heard the trumpeting of elephants close by. His companion urged him to follow him and started running, using a path skirting the one they were taking. In the process they had to ford a stream. They ran helter-skelter and came to the Headman’s house breathless. After resting for some time the doctor was taken to see the patient. The patient had high fever with chills and on examination a palpable spleen, a sure sign of malaria. When the medical officer looked for the vial of quinine he had thoughtfully brought along inside his coat pocket he found it and the syringe missing. Obviously it had slipped out while he was running away from the elephants. He had to wait till someone went to get a syringe and a vial of Quinine from the Medagama Hospital He subsequently made an uneventful journey back to his station.

Borrowing lecture notes

Prof. Christopher Canagaratne, Professor of Surgery at the NCMC Ragama, related to me the following incident of his medical student days. Christopher was a brilliant student winning First Classes in his medical student days. He used to make lovely lecture notes.
One night he was 'copped' for riding a bicycle without a lamp. He was taken before Mr.Sriskandaraja who was Magistrate at Hulftsdorp, Colombo. The Magistrate fined him Rs.25/-. This was a lot of money those days.
Subsequently one day while Christopher was in his boarding house, he was told that he had a visitor. Christopher went in his sarong to meet the visitor. Imagine his surprise when he saw that the visitor was the Magistrate who had fined him. Luckily the Magistrate did not recognize Christopher the accused. He made a request to Christopher for his lecture notes to be used by his daughter, who was one year junior to Christopher at the Medical College. Christopher promised to hand over the notes to the Magistrate's daughter the next day, at the Medical College. He did this but asked why she sent her father for this as she could have requested it personally. She replied that she was afraid to talk to Christopher and the Aloysius brothers with whom he kept company, because they would have teased her.

Wishes to a newly married couple

'May your joys follow one upon another,
And your troubles be little ones'

These words were on a card given to a brother of a batch-mate of mine at his wedding, by another batch-mate who was also invited for the wedding. There was hell to pay later for this prank.

Anaesthesia of the old days
Dr.Vanniasingam was Consultant Anesthetist at the GH Colombo. He related how in the old days thyroid surgery was done under chloroform. The anaesthesia was administered to the patient as a retention enema of chloroform in olive oil.

'Navel' attack

Dr. P.A,P, Joseph former Consultant Surgeon at the GH Colombo told me this story. He was a student at the Medical Faculty Colombo in the 1940s. News of the war was much in the air and the rulers of Ceylon had a fear of a naval attack by the Japanese. One of PAPs batch mates at the Faculty would confront a batch-mate and announce 'Prepare for a navel attack' and promptly grab and squeeze the unprepared colleagues umbilical area.

‘You have put your foot in it’

The above is an expression in English meaning that you have got into trouble by your own actions. Prof. Milroy Paul on stressing the importance of doing a per rectal examination in a case presenting with bleeding per rectum, where a cancer of the anal canal or the rectum might be the culprit, used to say ‘If you do not put your finger in, in a patient presenting with bleeding per rectum, you have put your foot in it’.
I taught this to some medical students. At a subsequent class when I requested one of the students to repeat what I said in the previous class, he said ‘If you do not put your finger in, in a case of bleeding PR, you have put your leg in’. I presume this mistake was made by understanding and thinking in swabasha, and re-translating the concept in English.

Incident written about by Ms.Anne Ranasinghe (Wife of Prof. D.A. Ranasinghe, Professor of obstetrics & Gyanecology). Dr. Prins Rajaratnam was Consultant In Obstetrics & Gynaecology at the De Soysa Maternity Home, Colombo.

'You left me the wonderful story how Dr.Prins Rajaratnam, when leaving a party (where he had indulged rather liberally) found fault with his driver as he started the car. To punish him he got him to drive the car in REVERSE all the way home!'
Story referred to by Dr,Ms. Philine Pieris Wife of Dr. Ernie Pieris, Consultant Physician, G.H. Colombo).

'He on principle never accepted gifts from Medical Students. I know how disappointed they must have been because it was their way of trying to express their thanks to him. One batch the day they were invited  to dinner had bought a lovely clock and set it to run slow and left it in Ernie’s car boot. They said he was so punctual about the time he came to hospital, they thought the clock might give the next batch a little more breathing space in the mornings! He however discovered the clock and when they thanked and were departing after dinner, they had a real shock when he very lovingly handed it back to them with many thanks'.

A  cartoon by Collete
in the early 1960s. This was after a Law-medical Cricket match day mayhem, where the Block students invaded the NTS at Kynsey Road - earning them a second 'rag' by their seniors.

email from Dr.Milroy De Silva (1960 entrant) 

 I was reminded of  an incident at one of the surgical tutorials with Dr Niles .We were all seated around in a circle where there was a mix of our batch(some) and the batch below which included Babapulle. Dr Niles asked something and was going from one to the other, none of them having a clue. Then he came to Babapulle and asked "Baba  Pulle  have you any clue(to rhyme with Baba black sheep have you any wool?) When there was no answer Dr Niles started say Yes sir Yes sir" Those were the days-Cheers -Milroy

email from Dr. Sadiq (1960 entrant)
Incidentally one day I was assisting Prof. Milroy Paul at his surgical operation. During the procedure I remember him saying ‘’ Gentleman we are in the era of bloodless surgery’’. However he was pulling out ‘swab after swab’ all dripping with blood from the surgical wound. Needless to say being terrified medical students we could not even point out to him the ‘bloody swabs’

email from Dr.Piyasena Harischandra(1960 entrant)
Dear Philip,
I saw the photo of Vijiy Ponnambalam, My good friend. When we were in the anatomy block, we used to play hell out of her. One day she took out the femur that she was carrying and hit me in the head. Apparently I fainted. Needless to say she panicked thinking I died on the spot. To this day she remembers this incident and relates it to me whenever I meet her. With kind regards,
K. Harischandra, G. Piyasena.

A popular joke related at a Law-Medical match

Don't ask Grandma silly questions
Lawyers should never ask grandma a question if they aren't prepared for the answer.
In a trial, a small-town prosecuting attorney called his first witness, an elderly grandmother to the stand.
He approached her and asked; 'Mrs.. Jones, do you know me?'
She responded, 'Why, yes, I do know you, Mr. Williams. I've known you since you were a young boy, and frankly, you're a big disappointment to me. You lie, cheat on your wife, manipulate people and talk about them behind their backs. You think you're a big shot when you haven't the brains to realize you never will amount to anything more than a two-bit paper pusher.
Yes, I know you.'
The lawyer was stunned! Not knowing what else to do, he pointed across the room and asked, 'Mrs. Jones, do you know the defense attorney?'
She again replied, 'Why, yes, I do. I've known Mr. Bradley since he was a youngster. He's lazy, bigoted, and has a drinking problem. He can't build a normal relationship with anyone and his law practice is one of the worst in the state. Not to mention he cheated on his wife with three different women. One of them was your wife. Yes I know him.'
The defense attorney almost died.
The judge asked both lawyers to approach the bench and in a quiet voice said:
'If either of you idiots asks her if she knows me, I'll send you to the electric chair.'

email from Dr.Malin Weeraratne
Speaking of getting mauled by Prof. Rajasuriya, he did not like me, from the day, I unknowingly parked my scooter in his spot.
During a ward class, having seen that I did not seem to have a penlight, he asked me to examine a patient’s throat.
I smugly pulled the penlight out of my hip pocket, to which he said, ‘it must be contaminated with strep fecalis’.

email from Dr.Daya Jeyasinghe (1960 entrant)

Dear Phil, 
I never had success much in SL and generally most things went wrong for me. I remember my last memory was my father arriving to see the finals results and I told him that I had passed  but he insisted on going to the results board and his face dropped when he saw the class list. He said 'Umbalata viyadang karala wadak neha. Boru karala ney. Varen yanna gedara'. He took me home like a criminal. My first day as a doctor and that was how I was welcomed, However I arrived in Melbourne and under Southern cross my life changed. I got my exam easily, got 3 fellowships got consultant and teaching appointments made some money and developed a consultant practice which I am doing for 35 yrs.  Had I stayed in Ceylon I would be still MOPU Kandakaduva my last place in Sl. My relatives say I do well because of Southern Cross. Bye Daya J.

email from Dr. Buddy Reid

Hello Phillip,
Please circulate this among my batch mates.
I am proud to say that the Kandy Matale railway line was built by my ancestor James Henry Reid, but that is where my pride ends and my shame begins. He built the railway line directly to the coffee estate belonging to his brother so that his brother could transport his coffee easily to Colombo. This is the real reason for the railway line having a dead end at Matale.

email from Dr.Freddo Benjamin

 Clarence Perera was head & shoulder above everyone in College house. Once there was a movie at Savoy- called 'Wattusi' referring to a tribe in Africa where every one was above six feet tall.. It was advertised  that all 6 footers would be admitted free. So Claro & I went along. I  was asked to stand against a wall which had a mark at 6 ft. I just  cleared it by half an inch. Next in line was Claro- the manager just waved him through  without question!. We both saw the movie free of 

A story on rape as an offence

It was a lecture on Forensic Medicine in the early 1960s. Rape was defined as Sexual congress without the 'aggrieved party's consent'. The lecturer elaborated this point of consent by a tale of a court room scene. Very often a man is framed of this charge with malicious intent. The party making the accusation, in this particular case, a very tall, talkative woman, was being cross examined by the Defense Council and the conversation went as follows.
Defense Council (DC)- 'You are sure that you were not a willing partner in this encounter?'
The 'Victim of rape' (VR) - 'I was not at all willing. He forcibly had sexual intercourse with me'.
DC - 'I put it to you that you were a willing partner'
VR - 'Definitely not'
DC - 'In what position was the offense committed?
VR - 'While standing against a wall'
DC - ' Look at the accused. He is such a short man. You are a very tall woman. How was it physically possible for him to have sex with you, in the standing position?'
VR - 'I bent a little at the knee to make it possible'

At this point the Judge dismissed the case against the accused as consent was implied.

Prof.Geri Jayasekara

Those were the very early days.The time we entered the faculty every entrant(prospective) had to face an interview.We were privileged to have Sir Nicholas Attygalle as one of the panelists.I had my viva and was asked by Sir Nicholas as to why I did not think of taking to teaching as a profession.This was after I replied to a question about the last book I had read just before the viva and said that I read"Good Bye Mr Chipps" and thought teaching was such a noble profession and was asked as to why I chose Medicine and I  replied that I thought medicine was a nobler profession.I was relating this to Gerry whom I had just met and asked him what they asked him.He said they  asked him what his hobby(ies) are and Gerry had answered "collecting jokes".Sir Nicholas had then asked what his latest was and Gerry had replied"coming for this interview"Whether this really was true or not that was a really great introduction to the tonic we got from Gerry throughout out grind at medical college.Those days psychiatry training was confined to a few lecture demonstrations at Mulleriyawa,and when we arrived there the Consultant (?Dr Welikala) had lined up about two or three catatonic Schizophrenics with Waxy Flexibility( a rare find these days with advanced treatment.)..The consultant had just gone out of the room and to his dismay when he came back he saw his patients all arranged to dancing poses standing like statues,created by Gerry during those few moments.Gerry many thanks for your great company and hope you have the most hilarious farewell from your Prof Chair.
Dr. Milroy De Silva

First encounter with 'Geri'

We had just entered the Medical Faculty in 1960 March. Our anatomy dissections were done in three dissecting rooms. ‘A’ was the big hall, ‘B’ was in the back of the main building and ‘C’ was a small clean room, well ventilated and with six bodies on white tiled platforms. The majority of the freshers were scared of the block seniors and demonstrators. Mutual visits from batch-mates, occurred between dissecting rooms. A group of three of our female batch mates, once entered the door of our dissecting room ‘C’. A young Jerry, was immediately at the entrance, bowing and curtseying to the visitors saying  ‘A very good morning to you ladies. Welcome to our humble abode”. Needless to say, this brought in unrestrained laughter from all of us dissecting in hall C, for at that particular time the seniors had gone for a lecture and there were no demonstrators in sight. The visitors had a deep blush on their faces. This was our first introduction to Jerry Jayasekara. By then Jerry and his elder brother Perrin were famous in the musical circuit, in Colombo, as they had recorded their composition ‘The cherry Blossom Tree’, which they sang in beautiful harmony. Perrin also was in our batch but was more reserved unlike Jerry, who would do anything for a laugh.
Jerry and Perrin used to come to the Faculty, on their Lambretta scooter. They behaved more like cousins than brothers. Many were the pranks and many the jokes, which kept the area around Jerry in stitches.
                Jerry had an excellent academic record and passed out with honors. We were doing internship at the Lady Ridgeway Hospital in 1966.

The ability to pull

                We had completed our post MBBS first year of internship in 1966. I was working at the Lady Ridgeway Hospital for Children in Colombo. As usual we had a party at the house officer’s quarters. We consumed a fair amount of beer and we had music and dancing. Someone told Dr Geri Jayasekara, who was a popular singer with a record to his credit, “Jerry, you will get a good post after internship close to Colombo as you will be having good pull”. Pull was a slang word to denote influence in the administrative echelons of the Health department, who selected the post-intern postings. Jerry replied “What pull do I have. I can only pull my fore-skin”.
Jerry later joined the Colombo Medical Faculty as lecturer under Prof.Navaratne. He inherited Nava’s corner ward and expanded it. On retirement Of Prof.Sherifdeen, he moved to the main Professorial unit surgical ward. In the meantime Perrin had died. Jerry’s lectures were ever popular with the students.
                Jerry had once, invited his house officers, to a dinner to his house. When they arrived at the house, they were greeted by an old lady, who identified herself as Jerry’s mother. She invited them to come inside and be seated. Every-one of the house officers noted, how remarkably similar to Jerry, his mother was. Later, to their surprise, they discovered, that it was Jerry himself, who masqueraded as his mother.
                All of you who came for the Dambulla reunion, must be recalling Jerry’s lecture on a the design of a ‘Bar Code’ to identify individuals. He also did an unforgettable imitation, of a one armed violinist, at the same show.           
I was reminded me about our block concert  where there was
a take, on an affair the then British Minister of Defense whose name
I  believe was Profumo,  had with a high class prostitute by the name of
Christine Keeler. It was titled "The Frisky Feeler Story" and Jerry played
the feminine role!
(We must not forget the block concert where we presented the 'Profumo case', with Gerry Jayasekara looking more glamorous than Christine Keeler and Ram Karthigesu looking more sexy than Profumo.
- Dr.Karalliedda) Jerry, I recall developed Hepatitis and missed the regular 2nd MBBS exam and so was forced to miss a term and doomed to graduate later. This I believe does not happen now. In fact in many medical schools where I taught and those in the US, when one falls ill and submits
an MC, he/she can take a repeat exam soon after. More recently on the rare  occasions when I met Jerry he would pull out from his wallet a piece of paper with a few smutty jokes.
I would like to join in wishing him many many years in happy retirement and am looking forward to his presentation at the next get-together
Prof Asoka Dissanayaka

How do you differentiate the married female medical students from the unmarried, at a clinical examination  

'The authoritative way they handled the penis, in examining a male patient with inguinal hernia'. - Geri

Perrin Jayasekara
Perrin continued his entertaining  talent even after graduating ,He did his internships with me at Kurunegala ,others were Jameel ,Saravanamthu,Sebastiampillai,Lanka Wijeyasena,Derick de silva
Sabanayagam,Vimala Arumugam and Lida Anyhonipillai
At Kurenagala we had annual Law-madical Cricket match,established by sometime back by our predecessor .
We  usually have the match during the day and have a dinner dance and entertainment in the evening. Perrin and Sabanayagam performed a Shadow Strip as part of the entertainment in the evening. A large screen was set up 0n the stage ,and performers behind the screen so that the audience could not see them and a bright light was also placed behind the screen to project the images on to the screen and the audience could only see the shadows not the performers, Perrin did a female strip dance beautifully taking off (Her Clothes} one by one to a seductive music and Sabanayagam performed a supporting role as a male cast(pimp). Many of the audience the doctors wives and friends and lawyers and their friends ,believed the casts were real professionals until the screen was dropped to reveal the performers who were with minimum
clothing  to hide their naked bodies .Perrin was also star performer during our get together at our frequent get together dinner and boozing  sessions at the resident quarters ,it was Beatlemania time and he used to sing Beatles song solo's  we  really miss him ,

Hung by his pubic hair

In our third year at medical college, Forensic Medicine was one of the more entertaining subjects. The fire-arms on exhibit and the knowledge of their workings was one I studied avidly. The book on Forensic Medicine by Sir Sydney Smith was voluminous and was a classic. We used as a text book a smaller text by Keith Simpson.
Sir Sydney Smith was already known in Ceylon as a person who appeared as an expert witness in the Sathasivam murder case. Sathasivam was an ex captain of the Cricket team of Ceylon. His wife from whom he was separated was found murdered one day. Sir Sydney Smith's evidence indicated that the servant in the house-hold was responsible. He had subsequently written a book called 'Mostly murder" which came out as a paper-back and which we all read, as part of our syllabus.
                One of our lecturers cited to us a case of rape followed by murder. In this case the only evidence was a pubic hair found at the site of the crime. This pubic hair, matched that of the accused, who was subsequently found guilty and sentenced to death. Our lecturer concluded that the "suspect was hung, by his pubic hair". These were the days before DNA matching.

The interview

 Dr.Jansz had in his early days as a doctor, gone for an interview for the post of Medical Officer, Mental Hospital, Angoda. He had gone in the regulation coat and tie. He had been seated facing the members of the interview board. They had requested to see the relevant documents. Subsequently they had asked him a few inconsequential questions of a personal nature. The last question fired at him was 'Have you played cricket at school?' Dr. Jansz had got up in a huff and observed 'I came here for an interview to get selected for the post of medical officer Angoda. Not to play cricket'. He had walked out red in the face. Later he joined the Department of Physiology in the Faculty of Medicine Colombo, as a Lecturer. Apparently they did not play cricket there.

Two stories by Dr.Janz of the Hon.George de Silva

  George De Silva was a Minister during the early days of our independence. He was attributed various 'howlers' in his day to day conversations. Two of these were related by Dr.Janz during his physiology lectures.
                The first one related to a conversation of the Hon George de Silva with his daughter. The Hon. George de Silva's daughter learn t to ride a bicycle without her father's approval. She also had a pet cat. One day the daughter had found a spot of loss of hair, on her pet cat's fur. She was told it was a disease called 'mange' by her veterinarian.
                The daughter had come running to her father when he returned home in the evening. She had told him -
                "Daddy, daddy, my pussy has got 'mange' ".
George de Silva had retorted -
                "I told you not to ride a bicycle".
Obviously George Silva was thinking of the wrong 'pussy'

(By the way I heard this one recently - "A man who says that a dog is man's best friend, has never felt a pussy")
                The second story was about a meeting presided by the Hon George de Silva regarding the development of the Botanical Gardens at Peradeniya. Someone suggested that a place, a urinal, be constructed for visitors to the garden, to pass urine if the need arose.
George Silva promptly replied, "Why don't you go the whole hog and build an arsenal".
The Hon George de Silva thought, an arsenal meant, a place where you could do a number two, as it was called during Victorian times.

Incident related by Dr. Heather Nicholas nee Knower

It was the 1st lecture in reproduction by Dr. David Jansz (My Brother -in-law). He took great pleasure in trying to embarrass me , because of the relationship! We entered the lecture hall to find an 'epidiascope' ,covered with a cloth ,in the middle of the lecture  theater. When we were all seated, Dr. Jansz made his entrance and surveyed the crowd over the rims of his glasses. Then he said pleasantly "Ladies and gentlemen, as an introduction to my first
lecture  on reproduction, I am going to show you some 'bioscope'!  He looked at me , and shouted "Nicholas!! Mehe wareng!(Come here)'---now I must explain that my married name is Nicholas ,and his lab-boy was also called Nicholas.------ Nicholas the 'lab-boy' came running in.  Still looking at me ,he yelled " Redda Ussapang! "(raise the cloth). Nicholas blushed and stared at him.  The audience was screaming with laughter.Without a smile on his face he looked Nicholas up and down and repeated his request. When nothing happened he said severely to Nicholas " Umbey redde nevai bung. Ara redde"  (Not your cloth man, that cloth) and pointed to the cloth over the 'epidiascope'. Then he muttered "You people have a one track mind" and started his lecture.

'Warming up' the breakfast - Story by Jansz

A newly married couple, very much in love, were on their honey-moon and were staying in a rented isolated up-stair house. When discussing their schedule for the day the bride asked the husband 'Darling, what shall I cook for you today?' The husband replied 'Darling we will have love for lunch. love for dinner and love for breakfast for the next 24 hours'. They had 'love' for lunch, a rather satisfying and prolonged dinner and went to sleep. It was late in the morning when the husband got up from the twin bed in the up-stair bed-room. Sunlight was streaming in through the windows, it was rather cold and the bride-groom was feeling awfully hungry. His new bride was not to be seen and the attached bath-room was empty. He quietly opened the bed-room door and saw the beautiful spiral stairway which had well polished wooden banisters, in the morning light. Then he saw his scantily clad bride astride the banister with her leg on either side of it sliding down it. When she got to the bottom of the stairway she got off the banister, climbed the stairway and repeated the sliding down. The anxious husband unable to make head or tail of the antics of his wife shouted 'Darling, what on earth are you doing'. Pat came the reply from the new bride ' Darling, I am WARMING UP your breakfast'.

The story of the Martians - Related by Jansz at a lecture on the 'Physiology of reproduction'

A few Martians landed on earth. They got friendly with an Earth couple. The Earth female being rather inquisitive wanted to know how they produced young ones on Mars. The Martians showed her a machine where the fertilization, incubation and weaning of a new Martian was done. They then asked the Earth couple how a new Earthling was produced. The obliging couple showed them and the Martians watched the whole proceeding. At the end of it they asked the Earth couple where the young Earthling was. They were told that it would take nine months for the result to be seen. The Martians were rather surprised and exclaimed ' It takes that long? Then why the indecent haste in the last part of your performance?' The Earth couple had no rational explanation for that.
'Steak House' - Kandy

During the last England Tour, a British couple came to Sri Lanka, to watch the Test matches.·

While in Kandy, they came across a restaurant called "Steak House", and were happy to have a steak after having lots of rice and curry meals earlier when they were in Galle for the First Test.

· While sitting and waiting to be served, they noticed that most of the customers were having spicy food.

The tourist, Collins by name, called up the waiter and asked for two steaks· with potato chips

· The waiter replied: "Sorry sir, we do not sell steak here" ·

Collins then said "How come you call this place "Steak House" when you· don't sell steak".·

The waiter replied, "Sir, we have an ELEPHANT HOUSE in Colombo and they don't sell Elephants."

Recalling the Golden years

'The way it used to be'
The gram sellers at Galle Face Green sold their 'kadala gottu' topped with 'isso wade' for twenty-five cents .
The movie goers at Savoy cinema came out; Couples went to Aleric's  for ice  cream and families miserly budgeted for Chinese fried rice at Golden Gate. Gunawardena opened batting for the Tamil Union and Sunderalingam kept  wickets for the Sinhalese Sports Club. This was once nostalgic Sri Lanka on easy street sans the raging war and the terrible turmoil. The 'Yal Devi' took the Madhu pilgrims and the 'Ruhunu Kumari'  carried the Kataragama clan. Marawila fishermen fished at Mullativu with the monsoon change and Lever's and Reckitt's Sales Reps sold toothpaste in Jaffna  and  drank 'Tal Raa' whilst bathing in the Keeramalai tank . The Vel cart used to come down Wellawatte and the waiters worked double time at the Sarasvati Lodge . The differences were there from the North to the South, but who cared ?
 Nobody killed anyone. There was a life, simple and in peace. Bala Tampoe took the CMU out on strike every year and the Parliament  changed colours every five years with mythological promises .   That was acceptable .
The queues got long at the CWE to buy 'Jumping Fish' and the bread prices leapt like high jumpers. Those were our big problems . The smiles were there too, affordable to the all and sundry, beat  shows and big matches, sports meets and school carnivals, all within a ten-rupee budget .
Fashion-wise, the pinnacle was the CR-Havies Match at Longdon Place;  the Suzettes and Claudettes were there, dazzling in mini skirts, making their best attempts to get partnered to go to the Coconut Grove and jingo and jive to the Jetliners . Some made it to Akasa Kade too, to eat egg hoppers and hold hands and  become more naughty whilst pretending to be watching the ship lights at
the Colombo harbour . There was peace; it was a long long time ago. That was before the  Morris Minor taxis changed their English alphabet number plates .Then came the carnage. Who's to blame? Don't waste time, that's kicking the moon and corralling clouds .We all know better. We are all to be blamed, some for cheering and  others for their silence. It has always been 'our soldiers' - but it is  their war .
The guns are silent now and the talks go on and hope seeps slow like  a  weed-clogged wave. If the Gods are kind, we'll have peace. Let it  lie there .North and East must be separate 'Don't give this', 'can't have that',  'autonomy? what nonsense?' Such passionate phrases bellow from
borrowed patriotism . 'My son has to study', 'No no, not to join the Air Force', 'Army? Are you mad?' The same voices add the contradictions  'We must continue to fight at any cost' . Brave words, quite cheap too when rights and wrongs are just 'whys' sprouting out from empty opinions on even emptier forums .Try telling all that to mothers who buried their sons or children who  pray for their missing fathers .
 Voice it to a legless 'Boy' from Velvettiturai or a Sightless soldier from Devundara. Or maybe to a lover who lights a candle for some forgotten  fighter buried under swollen earth, too poor even for a memorial. What does it matter to which side they belonged ? They paid the price, we didn't. They shed the tears, we didn't . Let us then wish, nay, that's not enough, let us pray, to all the Gods in creation for 'The way it used to be' to return . Or ........ let us be all silent  ~  we owe that much to those who died nameless  !!!

The advice of an old Obstetrician
This story was related to me by Dr.Mark Amerasinghe, Orthopedic Surgeon.
It was in the 1950s. Dr.Henry Nannayakkara, had recently returned after getting his FRCS and MRCOG from UK to Ceylon. He was attached to the De Soyza Maternity Home, Colombo. He was full of new ideas in early intervention in Obstetrics. One day he was seated in a room next to the Operating Theater at the DMH with Dr.Caldera the Senior Obstetrician. There was a mango tree with a lot of fruits hanging and a few ripe fruits were fallen on the ground below. Dr.Caldera pointed the tree to young Dr. Nannayakkara and told him ' Dr.Nannayakkara, do you see those mango fruits? When the time is ripe they fall down.' That was all Dr.Caldera said and Henry understood.

Advice of a Professor of Medicine

Another incident related by Dr.Mark Amerasinghe, Orthopaedic Surgeon.
In the days of steam-ship travel to UK, Liverpool was the first port of call. Quite a lot of the Medical Post-Graduate trainees trained in and around Liverpool.
Lord Cohen of Birkenhead was Professor of Medicine at Liverpool. Once at a lecture which Dr.Amerasinghe attended Lord Cohen wrote on the blackboard in large letters the following message:-

Advice of a Professor of Orthopaedics

This is also another story related by Dr.Mark Amerasinghe.
This was at the first lecture by the Professor of Orthopedics at Liverpool. As he walked in all the post graduate students preparing for the M.Ch. Orthopedics course stood up. He had the following advice for them:-
‘Sit down gentleman, please sit down. When you all stand up like that it gives me a false sense of importance and it gives you a false sense of security.’

Dr.Austin Consultant Surgeon, GH Colombo

Dr.Austin was the very life size image of Sir Lanceolot Sprat' of the 'Carry on doctor' film series fame. He was large made and dressed in white coat and tie. Punctuality and protocol was rigidly imposed in his unit. During the ward rounds starting sharp at 8am the Consultant and Ward sister led the way. They were followed by the Senior House Officer and 'Interns' - House officer trainees. The medical students trailed behind last unless summoned by the big man. Once while waiting to get into a lift in the Bandaranayake Block at the General Hospital Colombo, a medical student stepped first into the lift cabin when its doors opened. Dr.Austin caught the erring medical student by his collar and said ' SENIORIS PRIORIS' and left him out to climb up the stairs to the Class one ward in the fifth floor.

 Dr.D.F.De.S. Gunawardena

He was a Consultant Surgeon at the GH Colombo in the 1960s. He had a problem with his larynx and could not talk loud. The medical students had a joke circulating that they went to do his surgical appointment, to learn ‘The secrets of Surgery’. It was a New Years day and a new batch of twelve medical students, went to see Dr.D.F.De.S. Gunawardena in his ward, to start their surgical ‘clerking’ of two months surgical training. They were timid and got late by ten minutes. They went up to the Surgeon and wished him a ‘Good Morning, Sir'. The Surgeon mumbled something in reply, with a dead-pan face. The students thought that the Surgeon was wishing them a Happy New Year. They replied in unison ‘Wish you the same Sir’. This time the Surgeon talked a bit louder and they heard him repeating ‘Get out’. It was punishment for getting late for the appointment.

Professor Sinnathamby

‘Sinna’ as he was fondly known came to give us a lecture in Obstetrics on a sleepy afternoon. He started his lecture with a question ‘Gentleman ( there were no ladies in ‘Sinna’s’ vocabulary) have you heard of ‘Sinna’s’ arse?’ We being gentleman never discussed any ones derrier and looked perplexed. ‘Sinna’ continued ‘Sinna’s’ arse are three in number. They are Rest, Relaxation and Refreshment. He proceeded to write these three R’s on the black-board, in those ‘chalk and talk’ days of old.

Dr. P.R.Anthonis 

He was a Consultant Surgeon at the GH Colombo in the 1960s. He was famous as the surgeon who operated on the late Rt.Hon S.W.R.D. Bandaranayake, the Prime-Minister, who died after gun-shot wounds to the abdomen. One day while operating on a hydrocoele in the operating theatre he noticed a female medical student jumping away from the path of a jet of hydrocoele fluid. He remarked. ‘I shay, you will never be productive if you jump away from body fluids’
It was always a pleasure to listen to the incidents relating to their patients being told to us. They invaribly carried gems of wisdom gleaned out of a working life as a physician/surgeon. A story related by Dr. P.R.Anthonis was this. He had operated on an inguinal hernia in a wealthy businessman. It was done under a general anaesthetic in the private sector. After the hernia operation was over the anaesthetist had pointed to a lump on the wrist of a patient which looked like a peunculated fibroma. It looked quite unseemly. The anaesthetist suggested taking it off while the patient was still under anaesthesia. Dr. Anthonis had said ' We will get him another time for this' and left it at that. When the patient recovered Dr.Anthonis had seen him and pointed to the lump and suggested that it be removed. The businisman had said 'Ever since I got this lump I have been very successful in business. I would not have it removed at any price'.

Dr.Sabin’s lecture & young Ooyirilankumaran 

When we were students in the faculty, it was a habit by the faculty staff to rope us in, on various dubious promises, to attend lectures delivered by guest speakers. These speakers were of various calibers, from within and from outside Ceylon. When there was a lack of numbers in the audience, those who were found idling in the Bloemfonteyn and DeSaram hostel, and those in the library or study rooms, were roped in as a permanent relief backup. Polio was an endemic disease at that time worldwide with devastating results. We had a permanent polio ward at the Lady Ridgeway Hospital for children. The green painted “Drinker’s machine”, called the “iron lung” was a technical marvel at that time, and if I recall correctly there were five at the Ridgeway hospital. The patient’s were put into this machine, when there was paralysis of the muscles of respiration, due to disease of the anterior horn cells in the spine, by polio. We also had quite a few post-polio paralyzed patients, awaiting the attention of the orthopedic surgeons and the prosthesis makers. At this time we also saw a famous film, screened in our cinemas, about the life of a comedian called “Red Buttons”, whose child was affected by polio. It was a very heart warming film.
Dr Salk of the USA, had developed a vaccine for polio, at this time, made from the dead products of the polio virus. This had to be given by injection to each child. Along came Dr.Sabin, also of the USA I presume, and developed a live attenuated polio vaccine, which had to be given orally. This latter, because it was live, had the advantage of spreading by the feco-oral route and of immunizing whole populations. We see the result today of the effectiveness of the oral vaccine. Polio has been not heard of in Sri-Lanka and some other developed countries for the last few years (2011). One day, during our 3rd MB days, we were told that Dr.Sabin would give us a lecture, about his vaccine, in the New Anatomy hall. As usual all of us were roped in and the hall was full to overflowing. Dr Sabin must have been impressed to see so many “doctors” attending his lecture. It was a very lucid lecture and after the rousing hand-clap at the end, it was left open for questions. Young Ooyirilankumaran, one of my perceptive batch mates, got up from the back of the hall and put a very pertinent question which impressed Dr. Sabin. 'Ooyir' wanted to know if the oral polio vaccine cells lived in the cell walls of the small bowel as claimed, how they managed to survive there with the high turnover of these cells. Dr.Sabin wanted to know the “Doctor’s” name. The cat was out of the bag and he was told that the questioner was a medical student in the 3rd year. He invited “Ooyir” to come forward close to the stage and gave him a detailed reply. He must have been mightily impressed with the caliber of our medical students and must have passed the word along to his colleagues, for subsequently quite a lot of them ended up in the USA after graduation. "Ooyir" ended up in the UK.

Presence of 'Worms' inside a varicocoele

A medical student who came for the final MBBS Surgical Clinical exam was given a case of varicocoele to examine. A 'varicocoele' is a mass of dilated veins in the pampiniform plexus of veins and on clinical examination is said to 'feel like a bag of worms'. The candidate did the physical examination of the patient and said that the patient had a varicocoele. The examiners were in for a surprise when the question was put to the candidate 'What does the varicocoele contain?' The answer given by the candidate was 'WORMS'

Anal delighters

One of the treatments given for  ‘haemorrhoids’ is to do an ‘anal dilatation’ under GA and follow it up with dilatation of the anal orifice with plastic dilators daily. A very sophisticated English-speaking female patient had this procedure done on her. At the follow-up in the surgical clinic two weeks later she was asked how she felt now. She started her reply ‘Doctor, those anal DELIGHTERS you gave me ….’. She was making a significant Freudian slip.

'Patchaya’s' lectures
   Construction of latrines in individual houses in Sri Lanka was a state-aided Public Health project in Ceylon in the 1940s onwards. This was to overcome the scourge of hook-worm induced anemia in the population. The results were far reaching and unlike in the neighboring countries present day Sri Lanka has a toilet in every house. Prof. O.E.R. Abeyratne, the Professor in Public Health in the 1960s, fondly remembered by his students as 'Patchaya', would enumerate the advantages and disadvantages of various types of roofing, in the construction of household toilets. Roofing made of tin galvanized sheets were according to him,
‘Hot in hot weather, cold in cold weather,
And noisy during rainy weather’
2.     Squatting plates for the toilets were provided free to households at that time. The Professor would tell us in his lectures that the squatting plates were so designed that any person using it had the ability 'to hit a bulls eye’ every time he or she used it.

      There are plenty of interesting stories from Medical College that I suggest you should collect and put together in your next edition so that it will appeal to others who were not in your batch.  For example, 'N A' was a thug and respected others like him.  'J', aka Kanamoorthy, took awhile to complete his studies but Nicholas was keen on passing him.  Nicholas asked a very simple question that needed 'J' to say Copper Sulphate in answer to the question 'What is used to treat eye infection?' (forgive me if I do not recall the facts correctly).   After prompting in many different ways Nicholas finally asked ''What is Copper Sulphate used for?' and even then 'J' had no clue but in desperation asked quizzically 'Copper Sulphate?" and Nicholas is reported to have said "You B..r, why did it take you so long to give the correct answer".