Kumar de Silva
  • GYPSY TALES : Chapter 04 – Friends and Neighbours down Green Path, Kohuwala.

    Kohuwala, Nugegoda, in the mid-1960s was a verdant suburb, rural and perhaps village-like too. Life was leisurely and meandering. Green Path was a narrow ‘lane’ with no street lights if I recollect right. If there were, they might have been like 15 watt tungsten bulbs. Houses were far and few between with no parapet walls but hedges instead. Some had basic rickety wooden gates that groaned on their hinges while others had stiles. I never ventured down Green Path. The furthest I would go down was to ‘Mynah House’ to talk to the mynah. This was a little house which had a mynah in a cage dangling from a tree. We would stupidly talk to each other much to the amusement of the elders. The most visible occupant down the road was St. Joseph’s Seminary with its sprawling gardens and to which I shall dedicate an entire chapter down the

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  • GYPSY TALES : Chapter 01 – Birth, Baptism … and near-death in a haunted Bamba flat.

    My birth certificate says that I was born late in the night on Thursday 20th December 1962 at St. Anne’s Nursing Home, Ward Place, Colombo 07. I was named Egodage Justin Charles Kumar de Silva and yes that’s quite a harangue I’ve been saddled with throughout my life. My parents Manel and Justin de Silva were both (Maharagama Government Teacher Training College) teachers. He started off at Royal College and then came to Wesley College, Borella. Mummy was at St. Paul’s Girls School, Campbell Park, Borella (later changed to Rathnawali Balika Vidyalaya in 1968).  They were also parishioners at St. Paul’s Church, Milagiriya where the Rev. Christopher Mutukisna (fondly known as Fr. Sperry) was the officiating priest in charge. (Please note it is Mutukisna and NOT Muthukrishna). I was a Christmas baby, the first born and a son at that. I was to carry our Ambalangoda family name Egodage. There

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  • GYPSY TALES: Chapter 02 – Infancy at Dr. Moragodas

    Beating a hasty retreat from the haunted flat at Galle Road, Bambalapitiya, my parents then went lock, stock and barrel, to Nugegoda, to No. 209, High Level Road, to the annexe of the well-known dental physician Dr. Jacob Arnold Gogerly-Moragoda. Our retinue consisted of Nancy an old family faithful (in the photo) and Rocky who saved me from death. This was 1964, two years after I was born. I don’t think my parents ever realised that this was going to be the beginning of a life-long association with this suburb, both for themselves and their two sons, my brother and I. Dr. Moragoda’s baby son Asoka was also there. He was a little white boy. Very fair. Very, very fair. “His mother was a German lady”, Mummy once declared to me in later years, as though she were dispensing a state secret. Asoka and I might have played. We might

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  • Goodbye Cedric de Silva, the Gentle Gentleman !!!

    Gentlemen are aplenty, but a Gentle Gentleman is truly a rarity. And that’s what Cedric de Silva was. He was a Gentle Gentleman. He passed away at home last night (31 May) at the age of 91. He was ailing for quite a while. Three years ago, something snapped in Cedric when Sita (nee Dunuwille), his wife of nearly half a century passed away on 10th June 2018. He came to the AF Raymonds funeral parlour where Sita’s body lay. He slowly walked around the coffin, then sat on a chair and began talking to a friend. After a while, he had got up and said, “I will go home now and come back for the funeral with Sita”. Such had been his state of mind. If Sita was the wind beneath his wings, which she truly was, Cedric was then the rock on which she leant. Their relationship was

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  • GYPSY TALES … The Prologue

    GYPSY TALES … stories from my life !   As I enter my 60s in December this year, I had this brilliant idea of writing my life story. It felt grand. And then again it felt terribly presumptuous too. “Who would”, I asked myself in all seriousness, “be interested in my life story” however special it might be to me. There was a tinge of embarrassment too. But I knew that I had some interesting stories from the different eras of my life that ran parallel to the changes in society and the world I grew up in. I had to find a compromise. And compromised, I did. I would embark on a long string of stories inspired by the various incidents, situations, experiences, people, etc etc etc and upload them here on my blog. For some comforting reason that option felt less presumptuous. Now for a title. What would

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  • GYPSY TALES : Chapter 03 – Growing up at No 25 Green Path, Kohuwala

    I think I was about three years old when we moved to No 25, Green Path in Kohuwala, Nugegoda. Please note that the ‘Nugegoda’ tag HAD TO be added on to Kohuwala. It was the norm at that time, even with the letters the postman brought us. No 25 was a spacious old house with a front ‘office room’ on the right hand side, a large hall and dining room along whose right hand side were the bedrooms. At the back was the kitchen. There was a large garden all around the house with trees of every kind. The back garden was larger, verdant and salubrious. Our landlady was a very kindly old lady call Mrs. Bogaars. I call her ‘old’ because in the mind of a three-year old, everyone above forty was deemed very old. I never knew her first name. She was simply Mrs. Bogaars. She occupied one

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  • THE BONSOIR DIARIES – Chapter 10 – ‘Bonsoir’ finally goes Sinhala !

    If Bonsoir was considered a ‘hit’ among Sri Lankan television viewers during that time, I must add that the Sinhala Bonsoir far outshone its English counterpart. From the day we began, there were persistent requests for a Sinhala Bonsoir. We had neither the time, nor the manpower, nor the expertise to embark on such a venture BUT it did persist in our minds as a ‘somehow-must-do-someday’ task. One day our technical director Chinthananda Abeysekera volunteered to do a Sinhala Bonsoir “provided it happened on a once-a-month basis”. He already had much on his plate – handling the entire technical side of Bonsoir – lighting, filming, editing, maintenance etc. The French Embassy was delighted that France would now reach a wider audience through the Sinhala Bonsoir and agreed to his time frame. Chintha’s talented older brother Indrananda Abeysekera also came onboard, as a freelance scriptwriter and did a great job I

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  • THE BONSOIR DIARIES – Chapter 09 – Peggy the Goose stalks French guests at the Wayfarers Inn

    Daughter of the celebrated Mrs. Olga de Livera, Ramya de Livera Perera is the well-known pianist and violinist, and, a much sought after performer and teacher. She has also been one of the lead violinists of the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka for several years. Always the quiet and unassuming person she is, Ramya and her husband Christel run a charming little guest house – Wayfarers Inn. It is a very peaceful and salubrious locale, indeed an oasis down Rosemead Place. Ramya has, over the years had an assortment of pets, from dogs to geese to swans and whatever else in between. There were ten dogs at one time. Their weekly bath was a ritual, with all of them lining up for the identical special treatment. Peggy is a long stay guest at the Wayfarers Inn. By the way, Peggy is not a ‘she’. She is a ‘he’. It was

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  • THE BONSOIR DIARIES – Chapter 08 – ‘Romeo et Juliette’ in a thorny balcony scene !

    Our neighbours, the Madanayake’s house and garden at No 93, Rosemead Place were our permanent outdoor set. But there were also times when we ventured beyond our immediate neighbours. There were Anne Ranasinghe at No 82 and Ramya de Livera Perera at No 77 towards Wijerama Mawatha. Towards Kynsey Road, at No. 112A, were Erin and Upatissa Attygalle and their (then) little daughter Ruveka, who attended Ladies’ College. The house is called ‘Amazing Grace’. A strange coincidence is that his immediate neighbour today are Michel Treutnaere and family. Upatissa was the owner of the once-famous Spanish Hacienda in Kollupitiya, next to Methodist College at No 238, Galle Road. His house at Rosemead Place is Spanish-styled with Spanish architecture. The balcony has a Spanish air about it with its beautiful white wrought iron furniture and that’s where we did our special programme on the Barcelona Olympics in 1992. I remember Yasmin

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  • THE BONSOIR DIARIES – Chapter 07 – Bonsoir ‘shoots’ with friends and neighbours down Rosemead Place

    The French Embassy at Rosemead Place was ‘home’ for fifteen glorious years until the studio moved to Barnes Place in 2000, the year I quit Bonsoir. It was the only foreign mission in Colombo at that time, to house such a television studio. During those early years, we were unhappy being confined to ‘performing’ in front a grey or black curtain and under three lights. We wanted to shoot outdoors with its endless possibilities and thus made friends with our friendly and consenting neighbours. The Bandaranaikes lived down the road at No 65. Their lovely old house – Tintagel – had lots of filmable corners and spaces. True they were friends of the family, true I had, as a wailing, pamper-less, one-week old infant, pee-ed in her older daughter Sunethra’s arms in the early 60s, true her younger daughter Chandrika is Francophone, and true her son Anura was my father’s

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