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DSA Era Group 1959 to 1976, those under Wardens Davidson, Selveratnam and Annadanayagam

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Old 10-09-20, 10:36 AM
sriyanj sriyanj is offline
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In the year 1945 I gained admission to this magnificent College temporarily situated at St Paul's Milagirya Bambalapitiya as our Mount Lavinia premises were occupied by the British Army. They were made into a make shift hospital for the soldiers who required medical attention during the Second World War. In 1946 the British Army moved out of the College premises and College shifted back to its main premises in Mount.

My school life until 1950 was like that of any student with not much interest in activities. Then in 1950, for some unknown reason, I participated in Athletics at the House Meet and was placed second in the Discus throwing event and third place in the high jump for the under 16 age group. This changed my thinking and gave me enormous confidence to try various other events. Though my big physique suited field events, I always wanted to try track events.

During the school holidays in August 1951, I used to visit a public park close to my residence. The instructor there noticed me and encouraged
me to train hard, and he gave me few tips. Subsequently I came to know that the instructor was Mr. K. Duraisingam who was a public school athlete and a product of Manipay Hindu College, Jaffna. During his years he beat the likes of H. S. R. Gunawardne of Royal College, who was the hot favourite to win hurdles. Incidentally, Mr. Duraisingham was a reputable wrestler and represented the country at many games. He ran barefoot which gave me a lot of encouragement as I too ran most events barefoot.

My late father was also a product of College and was a classmate of the Warden de Saram. Dad used to narrate the good old stories typical of a young boy's pranks from his boarding days, and we used to have a hearty laugh. I got through the entrance exams for Royal, Prep and STC but my father, being an Old Boy, insisted I continue
with the College fondly known as "Thora". College had athletic trials at St. Peter's, Bambalapitiya as the school grounds were closed for maintenance. During the August term holidays, all the boys interested in Athletic trials were requested to be present at St. Peter's ground. I also went and told my coach Mr. Brookie Da Silva that I was keen in taking part in the school trials. He gave me a good look and advised me not to
waste his time and go away as I was only a field athlete. Anyhow, I insisted and after a 'hey ho' took part in the 100 metres event and was placed first, beating the would-be champion. This gave the coach no option but to include me in the group 100 metres event to be held at the Royal College grounds. The event was participated in by top schools such Royal, St. Peter's, St. John's, Christian College, Kotte etc. My events were the 100 metres, the 4 x 100 metre relay and the high jump. I ran the heats and was placed second. This gave me a good boost. As I was preparing for the finals my good friend Chito Rajasingham came to my rescue. He had a brand new pair of
Hot Spurs shoes but could not use them as he was injured. When I asked, he lent them to me without any hesitation. Being the first time user I wore them and ran in the grounds like a stray dog to get used to running with shoes. Without the knowledge of the coach I ran the juniors under 16 100 metre final and was placed first, clocking
a public school record time of 10.09 seconds. The borrowed running shoes fitted me perfectly. I came nowhere in the under 16 public school meet. I was disappointed and so were my superiors. The next year I was not placed in the under 19 team but I did not give up hope. In the second year I took part and won the 100 and 200 metre races and was placed third in the long jump. On seniority I should have been given the post of vice captain of the team. However there was another boy in the team who was in the final year and my coach Mr. Brookie Da Silva asked me if I had any objection to him appointing the final year boy as vice captain. Since I had another year, I agreed to
step down from the post of vice captain. I agreed because in the old days we all pulled together. On the next Wednesday the list was taken to the Warden who was on his way to assembly. He had a good look and informed Brookie that the list was
incorrect and pointed out that I was senior He asked why I was not appointed as Vice Captain. Brookie informed him that he had got the permission from me to appoint the final year student as vice captain, it being his last year. Warden R. S.
de Saram refused to allow this stating justice and fair play need to be upheld, and he appointed me as the vice captain. The Warden's words of justice and fair play became a part and parcel of my day to day life ever since.

In a another incident during the public school meet trials our captain Ivor Geddes pulled out due to injury. On the morning of the meet I was summoned to the Warden's office. I was scared and worried not knowing the reason for being called. When I went to his office he told me that our captain could not participate and he wanted
to me to shoulder the team and to win the Tarbat Challenge Trophy. I made the Warden proud in fulfilling his wish. The long jump was the last event after the 4 x 400 relay and I informed the officials manning the long jump that I would do it after the relay. However, the relay took toll on my legs and I was thinking of opting out of the
long jump. But the College boys rallied behind me and encouraged me by saying that if I could get third place the College would win the Tarbet Trophy. Thankfully my third attempt placed me third and we won the Tarbat Challenge Trophy. I delighted the Warden and the College and from this I became well-known as Bala. At the next assembly my name was called and I was inducted as a prefect which was a memorable moment in my life at school.

In the following year, 1953, we won the 100 yards and 4 x 100 yards, 220 yards and we took part in the 4 x 440 relay. I was greatly responsible for winning the Jefferson Cup for the relay and the Tarbat Challenge Trophy for the school. In 1955 I was awarded the Victoria Gold Medal for the Best All-Round Student and was made the Head Prefect.

Last edited by sriyanj; 11-09-20 at 12:04 AM.
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Old 10-09-20, 10:36 AM
sriyanj sriyanj is offline
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On an interesting note, my House Master Bada
Perera went out, leaving me alone with his dinner
to look after the boarding. It was Christmas night
and this was my third dinner for the evening. I ate
and later dozed off in his bed. After some time he
came back in the pouring rain and had to call me
for some time to open the door. Next day a newspaper article read "Bada Perera stood in the rain while head cop Bala slept soundly in his bed after eating his dinner".

From the time I won the Tarbet, the Warden took
an interest in me, and guided me even after I left
College. While I was doing my final year of studies
many leading commercial firms were offering jobs
through the College carrier committee. Warden
wanted me to get into a good firm and invited me
to the Old Boys' celebrations where he introduced
me to Justice E. F. N Gratien a reputable rugby
player. He knew Mr A. C. Walker though playing
rugby and I was given a job at Walker & Sons.
After a few years Warden came back to Sri Lanka
from England and enquired after my welfare. He
observed that the company had not promoted
me. He came in person to the company and met
Mr A. C. Walker and said that he would remove
me (Bala) if the company did not promote me.
Within a few weeks I was given a promotion. My
progress from there onwards blossomed, showering me with wealth and popularity. I was known
as "Walker's Bala". I was blessed to have had wonderful parents to give me a good education in a fantastic College where I was given all what a child can ask for. More over the Warden was a pillar of strength and he ensured I progressed well in my life after College.
My career began shaping well thanks to the College and the Warden. I realised that it was time to give back to the College. Though I used to attend College OBA meetings, I never wished to contest an election. On principle I thought
if they needed my services they would ask. This
kept me back and none of the wardens took me
on board. However, when Warden Neville de
Alwis met me at a cricket match, he invited me
to join the Ex-Co of the OBA, as he knew my
capabilities as an Old Boy. I was pleased to join
and went on to do many projects for the College
in the capacity of an Ex-Co member and Vice
President of the oldest OBA in the world.
If my memory holds good Deshamanya Siva Obeysekera was made chairperson of several Thomian fairs and was very successful. She selected some very useful and staunch Old Boys for each event and gave them targets. If the targets came In under budget, the committee members had to make up the difference. This
happened to me and Ganeshalingam when we did the Thosai stall. That was how Mrs Obeysekera managed so successfully. In addition to Thosai stall, I have made many personal contributions to College, collecting funds through
the OBA for the school. It is to be noted that Mrs. Obeysekera generously donated the several adjoining lands next to College, and these were a great benefit. Some of the events I organised were Fairs and setting up a Thosai Stall twice
along with another Thomian, the late Ganeshalingam. The stall was well decorated with palmyrah leaves giving a Jaffna touch which was well received by the guests.

I also held a fund raising event with my contemporaries in Sydney, Australia. One significant project was celebrating 125 years between
Royal and S.Thomas'. This was a joint venture
with Royal, and as Co-Chair I led the Thomians. I must say the collaboration between the two schools went well, resulting In the release
of a magnificent 125 year History of Cricket
souvenir. In addition we held a joint walk and
kept the spirits of the schools high. The 125
year celebration concluded with a dinner at the
Colombo Hilton. I was also involved with the
Centenary group and as the Vice President we
embarked on various projects to help the school
via the OBA.
I also took ownership of a project to house all
the winning trophies under one roof in the
Board Room Instead of scattered around the
various rooms behind Warden's office. I also
financed and replaced the missing trophies.
When the college Athletics standard started going down I was made the chairman of committee. By appointing a sub-committee with past
athletes we made sure that the welfare of the
budding athletes was looked after. We initiated
and collected funds to give quality breakfasts
and provide athletic kits for the students.
These are a few of my achievements and I am
proud and pleased to have rendered them to the
College as an active OBA member under Wardens Neville De Alwis and David Ponniah. I was involved in OBA activities until I fell sick at
the Royal Thomian encounter in 2006. Because
of my illness over the past four years, I have not
been able to actively participate in OBA events.
At the moment I am in Australia trying to recoup my health after having had four operations including a bypass, but I have not given up actively scouting for the school. Whilst in Sydney Australia, I will be rallying with fellow Thomians from this end to try and help the school via the OBA Sydney, as one can never repay the allround education College gave us all. Therefore I would sincerely like to encourage young Old
Boys to help the alma mater via the OBA in return for what the school has done for us.
I would like to thank the Committee, who have done a magnificent job in producing the Newsletter over the years, and for giving me the opportunity to pen a few thoughts of my life in this magnificent College, fondly known as "THORA".
May God keep the Blue and Black flag flying
high, always.

M. Balasubramaniam
(known as Bala)
(1955)


file:///C:/Users/USer/Downloads/89_The_Old_Boy_Special_Edition.pdf

Last edited by sriyanj; 10-09-20 at 10:57 AM.
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