Sunday, December 18, 2011

Jayantha Anandappa's Memories - Part V


The Exhibition we had in the Final Year to commemorate 25 years of Engineering Education was a welcome diversion. As students we did lot of hard work to boost the image of the Laboratories and the Faculty with creative posters, decorations and write-ups for the Testing Equipment. Prof S Mahalingam- the great man that he is- would have nothing of this for his Machine Lab. His meticulously organised, well maintained Machine Lab was always ready and fit to be exhibited without any fillip! People - mostly students thronged from all over the island to see the exhibition. If my memory serves me right we had the exhibition for a week. The most exciting prospect for us was to man those “stalls” or “Testing Equipment”. This was the best opportunity to meet the public. Explaining the significance of those tests (what we hated to do as Coursework!) enthusiastically to students particularly to those groups of AL Schoolgirls was what we were looking forward to daily during the exhibition. The girls always seemed pretty, always seemed to listen to you attentively and always had a smile- even if what you were explaining to them was the technical significance of “Initial and Final Setting Times of Cement!”- Hardly the subject likely to woo a pretty girl! I never realised it then and went on for one full week. End of each day we would return to our rooms feeling well rewarded for our effort of manning the “stalls” and would discuss before going to bed some happy wide-eyed pretty faces we saw during the day.

Another memorable event in the Final Year was the two cricket matches we played in the Campus main grounds on the basis of “Sinhalese Vs Tamils” with the proper cricket ball (leather ball). These were certainly good times- this type of division only meant unity, harmony, affectionate rivalry and fun! I really cannot remember exactly what led to this cricket match, but its genesis may be traced to CTB (Sivakumaran) taunting Aliya (Ranjith Gunatilleka) and Joker (Jayantha Ameratunge) for sometime that he could find eleven of our batch mates from Jaffna and give a mighty thrashing to those who were from “Maradana Schools”- alluding to Ananda College and St Joseph’s College the beloved alma mater of Aliya and Joker. The match in effect was CTB’s XI Vs Aliya’s XI. With PHSW Kulatilleka, RLAC (Mohan) Siribaddana, Vipula Ratnasara, GH Pathmasiri, Jayanaga Fernando and Vasantha Ratnayake in Aliya’s team they looked the better team, at least on paper. CTB’s team included CTB, Herman Dharmarajah, S Logeswaran, Jayantha Anandappa, N Thirukeswaran, S Jayakumaran, Mohan Kumaraswamy, S Harinesan and few others who might wonder as to how their names could appear in a cricket team. Irony is that CTB’s XI was predominantly from Colombo schools.

In the first match (starting before ten in the morning) Aliya’s team batted first until about mid afternoon and were all out. When the run chase started, it was pandemonium as we lost quick wickets. Even before a new batsman could pad up or insert the box, a wicket would fall. (We shared the minimum number of borrowed cricket equipment including the box, and even tennis shoes). As luck would have it, heavens opened and the match was abandoned. I remember bowling unchanged from the Arts Faculty End for almost 25 overs and Herman (Dharmarajah) toiling equally hard to bowl the same number of overs from the Science Faculty End. This was without any match practice or training! We simply did not have any other bowlers. It surprised me when CTB threw the gauntlet again to Aliya, that to settle the issue once and for all, another match should be played on the following Saturday! I recall approaching CTB later and trying to discourage him on the basis that we did not have bowlers and that Herman and I could not bowl unchanged again like that. CTB with his customary smile assured: “Machang, don’t worry, we have talent. The question is how to unearth this talent. Some of these fellows are simply glued to their books. I know of two very good bowlers, a medium pacer and a spinner. With two new bowlers to share the attack, you and Herman can easily fix these fellows. Let us have some fun next Saturday.” I returned to my room quite relieved. It never occurred to me ask CTB who these two new bowlers were! Boy, weren’t I gullible?

For the next match naturally some of the wiser did not turn up which forced CTB to ask GE Amirthanathan to don his “flannels” for the first and probably only time in his life. I recall- fielding at point Amir (who for a while forgot to smile) dropped an absolute sitter offered by Kulatilleka early in his innings against my bowling. The ball approached Amir at a nice catchable height with almost zero velocity, but Amir reacted retracting as if he was about to be smitten by a snake. Kulatilleka went on to score a century and his opening partner Jayanaga Fernando blocked every delivery to get a half century all with singles! Recently Jayantha Ameratunga (who kept wickets for Aliya’s team on both matches) told me that there was an entry in his diary to say that this match was played on 26 April 1975 and the scores were: Aliya’s XI was 206 for 3 declared and CTB’s XI was 15 for 3 when rain abandoned play once again. CTB’s promised medium pacer and the spinner never turned up, and for the second time Herman and myself bowled unchanged at least for another 25 overs each! Herman and I were limping for weeks with the wear and tear whilst Aliya walked triumphantly with his all conquering smile in the Hall and Faculty corridors whistling a tune or singing a popular song. (I am pretty sure CTB at least rather belatedly will look after his two opening bowlers in the Grand Get Together with a beer or two!)

To be continued with PART VI
-Maximus Jayantha Anandappa

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