Sidat Sri Nandalochana:
Sidat was a legendary figure of our time. I first met Sidat at a
cricket match when I was a law student. At that time Sidat was playing
for “E.R.S.R. Coomarasamy’s” cricket team which had an annual encounter
with the law college.
Sidat invited me to join his cricket team “casuals” and play in the
Daily News Trophy matches. We went all over the country for this trophy
as members of the “casuals” and we became close friends. He always said,
“life is a short thing, you must pack in many things into this life”.
Indeed, he kept his word and did many things in his life.
He had an abiding interest in the theatre. He was trained by Jubal,
the great producer and took part in the famous “Insect Play”. He played
the role of the Baron in Ibsen’s Wild Duck. He wanted to produce a play
himself and he produced Eva Ranaweera’s Attaka Mal Paravegiya.
As a member of the YMBA he organised the drama contest for schools
based on Jathaka stories from the previous lives of the Buddha.
This event gave a big impetus to rural schools that produced plays.
He once said, “unless you do “Hamlet” you cannot be a great
actor/producer. He had an interest in horse racing. He knew much about
horses, their breeding and form. He had a desire to own a race horse. He
owned one and his horse won an event. He said “a horse can make you a
fool, in the same way that shares can tumble in the stock market and
make you a fool.”
He had a good knowledge of stocks and shares. He knew what to buy,
when to buy and when to sell.
In his political life he was involved in left wing politics with his
friend Sarath Muttetuwegama. He joined the SLFP and was the president of
the SLFP Lawyers’ Association for quite some time, during the Premadasa
regime. During this period he organized the party’s legal affairs
appearing all over the island. He was a member of the team that handled
the election petition against President Premadasa for almost four years.
As a lawyer, he appeared in many criminal cases at an early stage and
won praise for his role in the Dodampe Mudalali’s case. He gradually
left the criminal bar and appeared mainly in the labour tribunals and
industrial courts and was retained by many legal firms to appear for
He travelled widely to countries that he was interested in. He
visited the Buddhist Holy Places and the Sai Baba Ashram in India. On
another occasion we travelled together in a train for five days from
Tashkent to Sofia in Bulgaria to be present at the youth festival.
He was keenly interested in meditation and came under the supervision
of Goenka, the Indian meditation guru. He served on the Help-Age Board
and gave much time and energy to charities.
He led a simple life. He did not want big cars, luxury houses or high
office. He moved freely with those at the top but was always accessible
to every body who wished to meet him. He did not miss a sea bath at the
Kinross, tennis at the Otter’s and loved to dine at the Capri.
He had a good knowledge of astrology, and read much about Ayurveda.
He kept himself fit and in perfect health. He helped people in distress
and comforted those in difficult times. He loved his nephews and nieces
and was proud when they were achievers. His extended family were his
close friends and their families. To children “uncle Sidat” was an
advisor and friend. He had them in fits of laughter with his wit.
His journey in Sansara is not over. A new chapter has begun after his
demise. He used to say, “in a play the curtain call comes at a given
time, but in life it could come at any time.” A life full of fulfillment
has ended leaving pleasant memories to those who shared his life.
Inventor, rubber technologist
I have known Donald Gunasekara for over 30 years. Our first meeting
took place at his residence at Palm Grove Avenue, Colombo 03. He was not
only an engineer who qualified in Canada, but also was a great inventor
and practical rubber technologist.
In order to appreciate the service he rendered to Rubber Technology,
PRI has honoured him with EPRI certificate. In appreciation of the great
service rendered by him to the Rubber Industry of Sri Lanka, PRISL
honoured him with a “Merit Award”.
He was the architect in manufacturing the following products.
* Direct vulcanized gents shoes - “Process 82”
In late 1990s Gunasekara designed and produced a gents shoe, with
“Direct-vulcanizing” technology under a process developed in Wisconsin,
America, known as “Process - 82”. This shoe was made with a genuine
Suede leather upper and the rubber sole was directly vulcanized,
incorporating a special insulating and cushion layer made with natural
coconut fibre. The shoe was not only comfortable but also was very
durable. All machinery used in the Process - 82 were designed and
fabricated by Gunasekara.
* Catspaw Slippers. This slipper was made by using rubber blended
with coir fibre. Upper material was textile which was a unique design.
There were no competitors at all. All the machines required for this
production were fabricated by him, sourced from the junk yard and the
durability of slipper was more than two years. That was the lightest
slipper available in the market at that time.
* Syntha cane. This was another unique invention of Donald Gunasekara.
Syntha cane was manufactured using dual extrusion technology to replace
the natural cane used in the furniture industry. The durability of cane
was enhanced technologically by introducing black as the base colour to
protect it from UV attack. All machinery were designed and fabricated by
* Aluminium belt. The most popular invention of Donald Gunasekara
which was manufactured from aluminum scraps collected from the crashed
planes of World War II. This unique invention attracted males who used
to wear the sarong especially mudalalis. All the machines required were
fabricated under the guidance of Donald Gunasekara.
He was the architect in setting up first shoe factory as far back in
1950 under the name of Foamtreads and this particular Catspaw slipper
was marketed under the name of Foamtreads. Later the name of the company
was changed to Elasto Foamtreads and finally known as Elasto.
Donald Gunasekara was an extraordinary character in advertising too.
The FOAMTREADS name boards were installed in YMBA building and Colpetty
Junction with the unique system of having small circular reflecting
plates which dazzled due to the wind. People were attracted by those. It
was done without using any external power and no other company had such
type of advertising mode, even today.
Later, together with Albert Wijegunawardena who was the architect of
Kelani Cables, Donald Gunasekara manufactured small hand bags which were
made from the waste PVC scraps which came out as the waste PVC collected
from cable production. Those bags were so popular at that time and it
was manufactured as Cottage Industry products and marketed by the
company called Cottage Plastic Industries. Donald Gunasekara earned
quite a profit out of this industry while helping his friend Albert
Wijegunawardena to clear his scrap yard. Profits earned out of this unit
were used to set up the Gunasekara Memorial Hospital in the name of his
He has set up an industry to manufacture baby cot sheet which was
again a unique industry which used natural latex as basic raw material.
He erected a tall building which was covered with GI sheets fully
painted in black to absorb the heat from the sun to dry the latex sheet
without using electrical energy. This cot sheet was manufactured under
the company of Delan Exports Limited and was the only company in Sri
Lanka engaged in manufacturing and exporting this type of cot sheets
In his rubber factory, the internal mixer used, he described as a
machine used in Germany to make rubber tyres during Hitler’s period.
He never used a posh room as his office in the factory, unlike other
CEOs in the office, instead there was a small bench drill, bench vise
and tool box and several other small miniature metal parts.
He made use of bicycle parts in making most of the machines that he
designed and the explanation given was that the bicycle parts are the
cheapest components available in Sri Lanka which can be used for
He never called himself an engineer, instead he identified himself as
a Baas-Unnahe. He was the architect in organising a grand function
during late 50s in Bentota under the name Bentota Tharu. There were so
many events that took place and even an unique event which was the boat
race in Bentota River. There was a massive crowd never seen before to
witness this event.
In Bentota there was small Island in Bentota river on which the
Elasto Foamtread’s name board was erected which was clearly visible not
only to motorists but also to train travellers.
His last project was to melt silicone by using natural sun light. He
wanted to achieve a temperature of 1400 degrees celsius for which he
designed a huge parabolic antenna, which could turn in the direction of
the sun to collect maximum heat required.
Even though he couldn’t reach the required temperature, he indicated
that the system reached somewhere close to 900 degrees Celsius. He
didn’t have enough finance to buy better reflecting materials to be used
in this antenna.
He tried at his level best to source suitable highly reflecting
materials but unfortunately he couldn’t complete that project. Most of
the leading rubber chemists in the rubber industry today had been
trained or worked under Donald Gunasekara. The demise of Donald
Gunasekara who was a practical engineer, innovator and rubber
technologist is a serious blow to the entire industry and a great loss
to the nation.
The 30th death anniversary of Peter Damian Goonewardane,
Superintendent of Police, that appeared in the Daily News on July 26
opened the floodgates of my memory of Peter. He was a school mate of
mine at Maris Stella College, Negombo, in the early 1940s. He was gifted
with an inborn sense of humour which made him very popular in school.
Two very special incidents that concern Peter and me were worthy of
record,since they portray his generous and affable character. Peter
passed out as a graduate of the Peradeniya University with honours in
history. Eventually he enlisted himself as an ASP. This happened while I
was employed in the Health Department and Peter was the Assistant
Superintendent of Police, Jaffna.
A senior office mate of mine, Sivanathan who hailed from Jaffna had
to surrender his gun to the Police due to the prevailing terrorist
activities at that time. He appealed to me to help him to have his gun
restored. I gave him only a letter addressed to Peter. Peter had
returned his gun. Even though many years had lapsed since I last met him
he had remembered me. That was his affinity that endured through the
The second occasion was when I called on him over a personal matter
and he was then attached to the Police Headquarters as Senior
Superintendent of Police. I quickly finished my business and was about
to leave as I did not wish to waste his busy time, when he asked me
“Ben, are you returning to your office now?” “Yes” I said.
He then said “Wait a while, I’ll be leaving office for lunch and I’ll
drop you at your office in Torrington Square”, and he did. Once again
Peter showed his unfailing Kindness, a hallmark of his affable nature.
Peter Goonewardane had only one setback. Being a Senior Police Officer
himself, he would never kowtow to even higher authority when he was
certain that he was right. May his soul Rest In Peace.
My Dearest Appa, Jude Muttiah
Appa loved film,
He loved creativity,
He loved his work, he loved the publicity.
Dramatic, talented and quiet.
Such a man was Jude Muttiah.
He followed his dreams,
He never had a care
For the consequences that came near.
His heart and soul was his work
Directing, acting and producing,
the talents lurk
His directing was fine,
His acting divine,
The affection couldn’t be compared,
As the love to his family forever shared.
He was born to be on stage.
But he left us at an early age.
The few years of his life,
Wasn’t full of struggle and strife,
Nothing battled with joy as he shed no pain.
But one day God said to him,
“Come Home my son”
And so he left this world
Where his life had begun.
He left films,
He left his family,
He left it all
For no one can ignore God’s humble call.
Appa we love you