Gramps and Life at #300


Not every person would have the lavish luxurious of paying time with their grandparents from their beginning. I have been just one of individuals quite privileged types who was in a position to love the best aspect of my youth, until eventually I was just about 20+ many years old, with the two sets of my grandparents, paternal and maternal. In actuality I even experienced the great chance of residing with my maternal grandparents when my paternal types lived appropriate following door in two sprawling mansions positioned on the seaside of the Galle Street, at Bambalapitiya.

Lifestyle, as youngsters was attractive at Bambalapitiya.


My paternal grandfather, Muhammad Sameer, son of Ismail, was born on 7 March 1890 at his parents’ house at No 111 New Moor Street, Colombo 12. His father, I L M Haji Ismail Effendi was born in 1854 and married his mom, Haleema Umma Ahmad Ali (Seevatamma), in 1886 at 107 New Moor Road, Colombo. Excellent Grandpa Ismail handed away on 18 Jun 1931.

Gramps, affectionately acknowledged to all 32 of his grandchildren, as “Sameer Appa”, was educated at St. Thomas’ Higher education and entered the Colombo Municipal Council clerical services in 1910.

He was utilized as Chief Clerk less than an Englishman named Orr and received acclaim and passion from Civil Servants these as, H.E. Newnham, H.P. Kaufmann, and W.L. Murphy.

He married Grandma, Raliya Umma, daughter of A.C.Noordeen in 1911. They experienced 4 sons and six daughters. The oldest son was Muhammad Thahir (1914-1989), my Dad, a surveyor by job, who held the place of Superintendent in the Municipal Engineer’s Department at the Colombo Municipal Council. Dad handed absent at the ripe age of 75 in 1989. Two of the other sons of Gramps, my paternal uncles, Muhammad Ismail (1919-1993) and Ahmed Farooq also took up the surveying job and practiced it successfully. Muhammad Sadiq, the youngest son, a bachelor, made a decision to seek his pastures in the United Kingdom in 1958, and used almost 45 years of his life in England, and returned to settle down in Sri Lanka and passed away in Colombo immediately after a brief health issues in 2003.

Gramps Sameer passed away on 24 May well 1972 at No 298, Galle Road, Bambalapitiya, exactly where he lived for practically 30 yrs..

Discovering the ropes

As a four yr aged, in 1952, I however don’t forget Gramps, dressed in his ideal, colonial fashion, beige suite, jacket and tie, gold pocket look at dangling on its chain into his breast pocket, his black Lion Brand name umbrella rolled up to safeguard us from the sunshine, having me by the hand and walking me together the sidewalk, on the seaside of Galle Highway, all the way to the Wellawatte junction, then having a proper switch toward the sea down Lily Avenue in front of the sector, where by I attended a nursery school run by a excellent previous Burgher lady known as Ms. Fay Poulier. Ms Poulier was an ex instructor of St. Lawrence’s College, Wellawatte, the place she was extremely well known with the personnel, students and mother and father for her determination and determination to the education of little small children. She was the partner of a retired Railway gentleman named Mr. George Dick. The university was housed in her garage and we had a vibrant bunch of youngsters attending class there. Ms. Poulier was these a wonderful girl who cared so a great deal for all of us that she created us sense so substantially at home absent from residence at her cosy garage faculty. Unfortunately plenty of I simply cannot bear in mind a solitary student in that class right now.

Right up coming doorway to the nursery university, at No. 45 and No 43 Lily Avenue, lived two of my paternal aunts and their people and Gramps made use of to go more than and relaxation his limbs there, sipping tea and chatting with his two daughters right up until my university was in excess of.

After that, I keep in mind him walking me back again home along the railway tracks by the seashore. I utilised to ask him a thousand and 1 issues which he answered diligently and truthfully. The trains, the railway station, the ocean, the Wellawatte bridge, the canal, the rocks, the waves, men and women, fishing boats, the Kinross Club. Who would not want to know about the trains, the trees and the ocean, even at age 4?

Serious College

My dad was an old Royalist, even though Gramps was a Thomian, and, appear 1953, when I was 5 decades youthful, I was marched to my extremely to start with interview in lifetime at Royal Main Faculty for entrance to Course 1C English Medium. For my great fortune the Each day News reporter clicked a photograph of me becoming interviewed and there I was in the up coming mornings news answering my interview diligently, shorts et al. Dad had saved that photograph and it however continues to be in my data files somewhere deep inside of my humongous documentary archives.

I don’t forget each single facial area and name in that course even right up until right now, which is a incredibly nostalgic and superb memory for me. The bulk of the course comprised Muslims and Burgers on account of the medium of instruction staying English. The Muslims experienced the totally free selection of opting any of the three languages and my father properly chose English. Our trainer was Ms. Croning. Wow! wasn’t she a toughie? It was sad to listen to that she experienced handed away not long ago as I uncovered out from an obituary in the community press. She certain will have to have lived to a ripe outdated age.
Some of my closest associates have been Allan Ebert (Dr in Aussie now), Philip Stork, Graham Koch (Lodge Administration expert migrated to Australia and doing the job on a substantial resort undertaking in Peking now, 2005) Brian Lieversz, Maurice Chapman, (equally migrated to Aussie), Mazher Fazleali, Mohammed Iqbal Najmudeen, (handed absent in 2003), Mohammed Hassim, Premasiri Guruswamy, Jezley Hussain, (handed absent), Jeremy Pereira, Nigel de Kretser, (both migrated to Aussie), Arooz Sheriff, (LA, Usa), Imthiaz Jaffer, William Solomons, (Aussie), Ramlal Gunewardena, (handed absent in 2002), Aubrey Willis and Rodney Vanderwall, (both equally in Aussie).

Other names I can even now keep in mind are Alwyn Anthonisz, Dallas Grenier, Cedric Ernst, Michael Gray, (all in Aussie), S.T. Aziez, S.J. Bahar, (Brunei), Nihal Canagasabey, Monty Cassim, (United states), Suren Chitty, Bryce Fernando, (Geneva), Eardley Foenander, (Aussie) and Anthony Walpola.

Gramps Sameer made use of to choose me to Royal Major by rickshaw and continue to be at college in the massive cage like composition erected for ready dad and mom, guardians, and maids, until eventually it was time to go home. I continue to recall peeping out of the course and contacting out to him “Appa, Appa!”, the Tamil equivalent of “Grandpa, Grandpa”, to the screeching of Ms. Croning shouting at him to go away and not spoil his grandson. They have equally passed away. May well God Bless them.

Our Home

The two houses, the place I lived on Galle Street, were incredibly aged villas created sometime circa 1900. They were being located between Castle Lane and Sagara Street on the seaside of Bambalapitiya and the a person we lived in was named “Sukhasthan”. We referred to it as “300” remaining the evaluation quantity offered by the Colombo Municipality. The adjoining dwelling, bordering Sagara Road, a mirror image of #300, the place Gramps and two of my paternal aunts lived, was referred to as 298 for the exact good reasons.

It was narrated by my maternal grandpa, Muhammad Rasheed, that the properties had been crafted by the grandfather of my maternal Grand Uncle, Sir Razik Fareed, who was then famously recognized as Wapchi Marikar Baas (Baas is the Sinhalese word for builder, contractor, mason etcetera.) with the rubble and remnants of a constructing he experienced to demolish in the Fort the place he was contracted by the governing administration to develop the Typical Article Business which however stands tall as one particular of the majestic outdated structures in the city of Colombo. Wapchi Marikar Baas also created the Colombo Museum, Customs Making, Galle Encounter Resort, and a lot of other famed old durable constructions in Colombo that nevertheless stand tall and proud to his identify and devoted workmanship. The Governor of Ceylon at that time asked for him to seek out any favor all through the opening of the Colombo Museum and the humble Wapchi Marikar Baas experienced requested that the area be closed on Fridays so that the customers of his group would not commit their time in there and focus on their weekly Friday prayers at the Mosque.

The Colombo Museum is closed on Fridays right up until this working day.
Most of the outer partitions of 298 & 300 have been created of Kabook (a significant rectangular formed brick created of modest purple stones and sand). They have been the abode of quite a few a termite colony for the duration of our continue to be there and we made use of to delight in seeing the minimal white headed insects carrying on their masterly operate of setting up and shifting particles of sand to and fro within their nests. Just about every dwelling, shaped like an L stretching significantly down to the yard, had a few substantial bedrooms, a verandah, Hall, Research, Dining Hall, Retail outlet Place, and two kitchens situated at the much conclude and a pantry. There have been only two bogs, one in the centre of the home, at the intersection of the “L”, and a person at the much close which was employed mainly by the servants. The roof was spread with local (Sinhala) tiles and stood superior earlier mentioned the flooring compared with numerous households of fashionable occasions. A wooden ceiling shielded the tiles and coconut rafters from the inside. Home windows were all wooden with glass panes and admirer lights in the bedrooms.

The Yard

The gardens at 298 & 300 have been a spot entire of joy and miracles that one particular has to individually encounter to understand. I employed to dream of becoming buried beneath it sometime after I move absent.

The serenity and calm it provided beneath its shade was anything out of this earth. The backyards experienced their wondrous share of fruit, vegetable and nut trees. Guava and mango had been the major delicacies. It was very a trauma keeping the bats away at night and the urchins away throughout the working day. Jak and Breadfruit ended up also mouth watering delicacies that our garden grew. Both equally Grandmas had been generally fond of the mouth watering pomegranate fruit that she claimed had good medicinal value, in particular for expectant mothers. A sprawling umbrella like Jam Fruit tree adorned the middle of our entrance lawn at 300 adjacent to a tall and superb Sapodilla tree that was generally attacked by passers by for its fruit. Coconut and Tambili (King Coconut) have been sprinkled all throughout the estate, generally in the again yard. Two monolithic Tamarind trees stood facet by facet somewhere about three quarters of the way down the yard and
I continue to don’t forget the tone of the outdated Owl hooting from its lofty branches. All kinds of previous wives’ tales, based mostly on devils, demons and ghosts, have been wound close to these magnificent crops to maintain us absent from the backyard at sunset and after dim. A sprawling Kottang (Almond) tree was positioned virtually at the left hand corner of the finish of the yard bordering the fence that separated the garden from the neighbors on the Castle Lane aspect.

We utilised to go selecting almonds every early morning from what the inadequate bats had skipped out the previous evening. Banana trees, of various flavors, had been also waving their shady arms across most part of the yard. All in all it was a beautiful shady grove for any sort of relaxation and slumber. A little Paradise termed house.

We experienced a cow and two goats named, Laila and Majnoon. We also had hens, roosters, ducks, Muscovy ducks, and a complete host of geese, all meandering by the backyard garden in freedom and splendor. With a pair of elephants and lions the place could have effortlessly been categorized as a mini zoo. Grandpa and Father made use of to have a whale of a time trapping the bandicoots and mongoose that utilised to appear sneaking at evening to dine on the chickens.

The twin residences stretched considerably again into Sagara Highway to practically halfway down to the sea and bordered many neighbor9ing properties on the other side of the road who made use of to join us in enjoying its splendor and exciting.

Royal Main School

Royal Key University, from 1953 to 1958, was a globe whole of pleasure and wonders that lingers sweetly in my memory for all its lovely times and periods. The boys in the class comprising predominantly of Burghers and Muslims carried on jointly for six amazing decades as mates by means of some of the ideal periods of my existence. My first trainer was Ms Croning of 1C, adopted by Ms Pereira, Ms Dissanayake, Mr Pinkamage, Mr David, and last but not least Mr J E de Silva. The yearly Sports activities Fulfill was a different unforgettable celebration that everybody of us enjoyed. The university magazine was a satisfaction to get home and the Headmaster and lecturers were persons to be truly happy of and cherish for all instances. A quick game of cricket for the duration of the lunch break or strolling all-around the big grounds was a day-to-day schedule for most of us immediately after acquiring enjoyed an ice lolly or some gram from the suppliers, Bella, Achi or Kadalay (the gram seller) at the gate.


Moving to Higher education in 1959 was a huge modify for every person. Some of the Burgher boys have been in the course of action of migrating to Australia with the Sinhala only coverage coming into area. Some did not make it getting unsuccessful the entrance exam. New fellas joined us from numerous other universities. We experienced a batch of in excess of 200 in the 1st calendar year at Royal College in 1959 unfold out into seven courses categorised as Type 1A to Variety 1F. I was in 1E and my course trainer was Mr Justin de Silva, affectionately known as “Abraham Lincoln” for his remarkable enjoy and respect for the previous American President whom he applied as a job product in each feasible way. He even sported a beard and tried out to glance like old Abe in the most effective of his possess inimitable design and style. 1A was taken by that incredibly dynamic trainer Capt. MKJ Cantlay renowned for his routines and contributions with the Scout Troop and the Cadet Corps. I also try to remember Mr MM Alavi taking a person of the classes in Type 1. My Variety 2 course grasp was Mr Sivalingam, Mr JH de Saram having Form 3, Ms Samarasekera getting kind 4 and then Mr Canegaratne also getting Kind 4 as I experienced to invest one more year in the exact variety in 1963 on account of an eye damage I endured when actively playing “Elle” or Rounders (the regional variation of baseball) and had to commit six tough months warded at the Colombo Eye Healthcare facility from June to December 1962. The one particular whose bat strike me on the confront was KC Fernando and it was the very last “pitch”of the day ahead of the bell rang to end the lunch interval. I was rushed to the Accident Services in an unconscious state just after owning been taken to the hostel for fast notice to the reduce above my left eye that subsequently experienced to have 3 stitches implanted to near the gaping wound.

Secondary Faculty

Returning again to Royal in 1964 I was capable to move via my GCE (O) Concentrations with six credit score passes and a person straightforward move (Sinhalese Language) presenting all 3 streams of Mathematics (Pure, Used & Highly developed), Physics, English Language, & Islam. I flunked Chemistry, the bane of all my lecturers. Never ever preferred it. Under no circumstances however do.

Possessing attained proficiency in all three maths the trend was to transfer in direction of engineering sciences and Dad was quite eager that I observe in his shoes.

Shifting to the higher echelons of Royal in the Decrease and Upper Sixth Course was a incredibly prestigious period in my existence. Lifestyle was fairly severe, stuffed with experiments and added hrs in creating certain I could get around the hurdle of University entry. Appeared for the GCE (Innovative) degree assessment in 1966 and came out efficiently with two credit history passes (Pure and Used Mathematics) and a single regular pass (Physics) obtaining a large more than enough mixture mark to get entry into the University of Ceylon, Colombo Campus, for a degree program in Actual physical Science.


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