Dr. Ariyaman Mahanama Mendis (1925-2015) former VOG, DMH

It is with great sadness we announce passing away of a great teacher Dr A.M. Mendis(89) few days ago at his home in Perth, Australia. Following eulogy was submitted to us by his daughter Dr.Geetha for publication

Dr A M Mendis

I thank you all on behalf of our family, Anoja & Lal, Geetha, Shiroma, Asitha and Komi, and grandchildren Jennifer and Chamath for joining us to pay our last respects to my father Ariyaman. My thoughts and thanks are also with absent family and friends.
I have to say at the outset that it is impossible for me to do justice to a man who has led such an exemplary life, and been an inspiration to so many. But I will offer a few glimpses of his rich life.
Ariyaman was fondly known as Menda, Mende, Dr Mendis or simply Doc.
He leaves a legacy of devotion to wife, children, grandchildren, family and friends, dedication to his profession, love of teaching, love and respect of his colleagues and patients, and service to his community.
Thathi comes from a very close knit family. His parents Dr A B Mendis and Mrs Charlotte Mendis loved and admired him. To his siblings Thathi was their much loved and revered Loku Aiya. Their unfaltering devotion to Thathi and each other over the years has been wonderful to witness. My special thoughts are with his dear sisters Damitha, Aurasie, and Mahila, and his dear brother Paddy and Charmaine. They and their late spouses, Dr GCI De Silva, Ally Weerasinghe and Bandula Wickremasekera created a loving and respectful extended family for us to grow up in. My late maternal grandmother, Galle Archchi, was an ardent fan of her son in law. He looked after her and my mother’s family, Loku amma, and Artie mama, now deceased, and Sujatha Punchi amma who is in our thoughts today.
Thathi was ever grateful for his formative years at St Thomas’ College, Mt Lavinia. There he excelled at studies and sports. A proud Thomian, we heard him singing his school anthem just a couple of months ago!
A new and long chapter began with a Medical School Dance when the young Dr Ariyaman met nurse nona Cecelia Jayasundara. He was soon to head off to the UK for specialist training. When Thathi introduced Cecelia, she was warmly accepted by his sisters and brother and nicknamed “Sis”. This ploy helped to keep the evolving romance under wraps from parents until my father telegraphed his parents from England to inform them that he had passed his membership of the Royal College of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, and that his bride to be was enroute to get married. My grandfather wisely trusted his son’s judgement.
Thathi returned to Sri Lanka in 1957 with his new wife and baby Anoja to be greeted with much celebration in Colombo. Cis & Ariyaman went onto enjoy a very successful partnership which produced four more children. Despite being busy with his career Thathi made time for his family. Our annual holidays to explore remote locations in Sri Lanka and Wild Life Sanctuaries and National Parks provide us with wonderful memories of fun and adventure. He and ammi knew to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. He was ever ready to gather around the piano and get everyone singing and dancing. There were endless opportunities for this as our huge extended family got together frequently to celebrate birthdays, New Years, weddings and everything in between. Ammi often reminisced towards the end of her life that she had had a wonderful life with my father and that they aspired to an ongoing relationship beyond this life.
On his return from England as a Consultant, Ariyaman’s career took off and he soon established a reputation as a highly regarded Obstetrician & Gynaecologist. As a child I remember that everywhere we visited in Sri Lanka, however remote, people would come up to him and say Oh you are Dr Mendis – you delivered my child and immediately extend their hospitality. I formed the impression that my father had delivered all the babies in Sri Lanka!
In his foreword to Thathi’s memoirs, his mentor, the late Dr Anthonis, Chancellor of University of Colombo wrote: “ Ariyaman’s life has been one of many scintillating facets. Academically brilliant, both his school years and his medical career are sprinkled with scholarships, honours and medals. When I met him at the Colombo General Hospital in 1951, I was drawn to him because of his intellectual qualities and his stamina. He readily did all the work allotted to him plus more. Time was not a factor to him, he worked till late, he was reliable, trustworthy and efficient.” He goes onto say, “His life reveals precision of the intellectual combined with the compassion of the humanitarian”.
Thathi had a gift for teaching. To this day his former students, who have been highly successful in their own medical careers, recall thathi’s inspiring qualities. I quote from a recent poem dedicated to my father by Dr Ariya De Silva OBE.

“The ideal teacher, an oasis of knowledge, erudite
None so far I’ve met, committed and so upright,
Kindness & understanding of students, an unfaltering friend
The mentor with wisdom and attention undivided

Gave your heart and your mind to patients, and never were in a rush
Understood their feelings, their worries, fears and concerns,
Encouraged me to reach heights well beyond my dreams
I thank you Sir, for that, from the bottom of my heart “

At the age of 50 my father left Sri Lanka in what would have been a major upheaval, letting go of a well- established career and extended family, in order to give his children a better future. Our family emigrated to Perth. It seems word got around before he got here as we were met by a number of Sri Lankans who became part of a wonderful network of friends, some of whom are here today. Ariyaman soon established himself in WA initially as Senior Medical Officer to the Kimberleys and later in private practice in Perth. Within a short time he was highly regarded by colleagues here. When I was at Medical School I encountered senior consultants who said to me, Geetha you can learn all you need to know from Mende. For a man who never sought recognition it amazes me how he was so widely known and respected. People still comment on his energy, diligence and attention to detail – whether he was doing major surgery or toiling under the bonnet of his car or planting trees didn’t seem to matter.
His passion for travel which he shared with my mother and the enthusiasm for photography that went with it, is a whole other story as evidenced by a massive collection of photographs all methodically annotated.
He also found time and energy to contribute to the WA Buddhist community. As usual his help was practical. Ajahn Brahm recently reminded him of how he helped with spade work to turn the soil for laying the foundations to the first buildings at the Serpentine Monastery.
We have been extremely privileged to have Ariyaman as our father. It has been our privilege also to look after him in his final years when Ammi was no longer able to care for him. I have to say that I am really glad they had five children, a son in law and two grandchildren as it was indeed a team effort to look after ammi and thathi so they could live in their own home to the end of their days.
Ariyaman means “noble mind”. I reflected recently with Thathi, that he truly lived up to his name. He set an example of how to conduct one’s life with dignity. This he showed us throughout his life and throughout his final years of incapacity, right up to his last breath.
We wish him the highest blessing, May he attain Nibbana!

Thank you all.

We will close the ceremony with a traditional song of praise (Danno Budunge), one of Thathi’s favourites followed by the anthem of his beloved alma mater, St Thomas’s College.

Please join us at home in Winthrop for some refreshments.

Sent to us by Dr. Ariya de Silva

“Micro” RU

DSC_0156-2Hi all, We had what I call a “MICRO RU64″ at our house on Feb 15th. Errol and Rosemary drove over 100 miles to join. The others were 15- 30 minutes away. This was mainly to view photos we took at Golden RU 64 an of course the skits, reliving the October RU.  Thanks to Selva and Mahesan we got a DVD of all the skits. It was extra fun to watch with others. We had a few others mostly senior to us – Drs Nihal and Sarogini Gooneratne, Dr Eugene Anandappa and three other family friends. These people helped me with the Sinhala pronunciation, grammar for our skit and gave some constructive criticism. It was much fun and all enjoyed the lunch prepared by Yogamany. The non medical persons must have lost the little respect they had for me after they saw our skit!  This has given the impetus to have a Mini RU 64- North America” soon. whether it will materialize is any ones guess.

Seated L to R Rosemary Baptist, Chitramali Asokan, Dharma (Beard is to hide from the law and is winter adaptation.) Temps are in the range of0 deg F (about minus 16 deg C) and will go to Minus 7F tomorrow!

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Dharma

“An Hour Glass Shape” By Ariya

For most women, I know  today,   their body shape is very wrong                                                                                                        If little plum, a  cause for great concern

If felt too thin, they would urgently want

to put in the right places, bit of flesh on

If they are slightly rounded they are sad

and in puerile stances, eternally moan

starvation diets and calorie counts on

Spend half their lives and earnings for the gym

Become moody and want to be skeleton thin!

In anger or just for fun, if call them,

Using a foul or unbearable name

With a smile they will take them

But if you even accidentally say ‘fat’

it would be the crime, horrendous most

From that unmistakable moment onwards

no mirror is spared at home or anywhere else

Glancing at every angle will be the focus of life

The relationship with you would face irrevocable change

She will highlight your  bold patch

your occasional failure in bed

Become the target for her constant stare

And from then onwards you are not her friend

Breakfast egg over boiled, toast burnt, the tea will be cold

She will hurriedly withdraw all past tender care

Nothing you may say or do will help the bugbear

Will make no difference, the bitterness will be there

Anorexia nervosa and bulimia

Are new terms now used quite often

These are results from aberrations

of attitudes by wanting to be thin

The beauty industries, and the role models

have indoctrinated our vulnerable women

The importance of the hour glass body shape

and being fat’ is an unpardonable crime

A doll like face and vital statistic

thirty six, twenty four and thirty six

You cannot possibly maintain when

one has well passed age thirty six

Natural changes, wrinkling and sagging

if you ever try to point them out

Your life will not be worth living,

And soon be relegated to the dustbin

The great  Victorians however

knew and had the correct answer

Frisky aristocrat women with faces

decorated like painted dolls

Wore under their flowing skirts

a rigid bamboo cones enhancing the pelvis

Their waists then deceptively appeared thin

The shape of hour glass was achieved by everyone

The  dirty old  men drunk, running like jackasses

pinching bulging bottoms of high spirited lasses

They had a remedy to hide their bold patches

All had their scalps covered with great big wigs

Mimicking natural flocks with profound black curls

Lack of sex drive, potency or libido

Was  not a great worrying  issue at all

As gallons of gulped Rum made useless

All of them with no sexual prowess

Ariya

Ariya’s Contemplations

 Please do not take my smile away

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              When I was a child, I wrote a tiny poem

               It is not of high class nor does it rhyme,

               I feel it has an appropriate perfect meaning

              More so now, as I am elderly and feeble.

 

Do not estimate the worth of your garden,

By the number of fragrant blooming, flowers,

Check the aging and dying leaves, brown and yellow

Which fed the plant in the past, to flourish and grow.

 

Wrong to count as good times exclusively the sunny hours,

Should never forget the dark days, raining cats and dogs

As rain nourished your plot to make your paddy grow

So that you have rice on the plate to help yourself grow

 

Enjoy properly your nights not just admiring the moon

Or counting the stars in the sky when the moon is gone

Certainly the darkness of the night does have a role to play

The calmness allows you to rest, to be fit for the next day

 

  Assess your life as worthy by times you’ve made friends smile

   Must take away from that list’ hours you’ve made them cry

    Never regret for what had gone, make it a useful tool to learn

     The one who learns from mistakes is the one who uses his brain.

      Whatever the big position you may now hold

      Remember none of us did it all alone

      Our parents who now are old and haggard,

       Fed and guided us to what we are, right or wrong!

     One’s old friends, specially the batch mates

      Are truly the architects of the professional life

       They were there consistently advising and sharing

        The tough swim upstream to imbibe gems

         From the ‘ocean of knowledge’ to make us special

      By not publishing this  poem

      Please do not take my smile away.

       If you do not want to see me sad

       Put this in your RU website, esteem

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                                                 Ariya

“Memories of the Greatest Reunion” by Ariya de Silva

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The profession with a prefix ‘Noble’, even the royalty would lower their sway  

Fifty long years of hard slog, amidst rain, hot sun, freezing snow or cold spray

  A super batch of medicos toiled sake of humanity, here at home & a few far away

Returned with friends to relive their impressive past, in a truly memorable way

The milieu is pretty, gorged with heavenly scent, delighting the Resort, ‘Eden Spa’ 

 Southerly winds rocked in harmony flowers & buds, dancing on tree tops near & far  

Mixing soft pollens with the nippy morning dew and produced a heavenly aroma

 To salute the deeds of prodigious sons and daughters of beloved mother Sri Lanka 

  Butterflies & bees forgot for once, to visit the nectary to fill their bags of honey,

  Instead flocked to the resort to please us, and danced waggling their empty tummy

  Babies on mothers’ laps, seeing our fun & frolic, smiled, giggled and blethered friskily

   Ignoring copious pouring milk from ‘melons’, in mums’, covered in bras cagily 

Dwellers in tiny tree hutches, eagerly came out in hot Sun, sat to stare   Patiently on the watched, with their large eye balls, focus on the grand affair

Birds busted out of nests, danced to their songs, exhibiting amorous ‘love play’ 

 Splashing flower petals and pollens, ignored their usual morning bites & prey 

Fish big and small busy in the sea, in rivers, rivulets and brooks near and far

Formed gentle ripples lovingly, sniffing, cajoling and enticing, for one look extra

Beat of their fins, sprayed drops & split the colours of Sun rays to form a rainbow 

Thus did their very best to delight us & and converted our hearts, to a fervent altar

     Water falls from hill tops rushed nonstop, jumping through stones and rocks, 

   Slowed down in the meadow at the resort, to share our fun, with thievery peeps & checks

     The monarch of planets, sent energy beams in form of brightest pure white rays   

  To rejuvenate us, as well to peep at our beautiful damsels romping on pastures and pools!

The Event Report Oct 24th to 26th – 2014

      By far the best batch of medicos entered the medical school, Colombo Held their reunion golden, ceremoniously in Beruwala, at the ‘Resort Eden’ 

For this gathering of famous, distinctive medical men and women, Some with their better halves, gleefully joined, 1964 batch mates, eighty seven!

 

Returning to our own ‘Bethlehem’ of the medical world, was amazing and wonderful

As I opened the door to enter, saw the bunch of wriggling mates with gleeful smiles

Being unable to pick which one to meet first and to let go my pent up feelings and give hugs

I got the same feeling of that of a mosquito entering a nudist camp with plush red hot boobs!

Flashed back fond memories as we sat on respective seats of the lecture hall physiology

Remembered like yesterday, Professor Koch, saying that we were the ‘cream of the society’

For making this gathering of my beloved mates in such a fantastic ambience

Please accept my heartfelt gratitude and thanks to the RU organizing committee

It was truly a magnificent titanic affair, pretty colossal

Like of which so far unheard of, and surely there was none parallel

Everyone was eager to meet their mates, after so many decades

Initial task however, was to get the name correctly of the bubbling buddies  

Anoja started the forum giving the agenda and the house keeping points Aley got us in stitches reminding how he became brave to speak in English

The beaver of the batch Lakshman, underlined the programme’s, dos and do-nots,

Narme and CJ too gave glimpses indicating how our three days would progress

 Walking through our library was poignant as I passed the seat I used to sit

Reminded my days as I saw some poor students fallen asleep on the book

I had a smile as fifty years ago I never thought I would make it

When we think back it wasn’t as bleak as we as students thought and felt!  

It was yet another great idea, RU organising committee had planned

To offer to the library copies of Text Books, written by our own mates

In addition, the offer of twenty or so scholarships to the needy students

Was truly a magnanimous gesture our most generous batch mates made 

Current staff were admirably gracious and were very cooperative

Continuing the glorious trend of our professors and Academics

Anoja and many others must have had a very positive influence

We were even treated for tasty cinnamon buns and Milo milk refreshments!

Thirty odd Kilo meters, our journey from Colombo to Beruwala Hotel

I am not alone to say this, became the most entertaining track to trail

Knowing the lyrics and history of film songs, ‘Kadavunu poronduwa’ to date,

Playing his guitar like a professional, Esiri sang in his most melodious voice

While Deepthi, Mahendra, Swana, Shakut and others joining the chorus

 What a pleasant surprise the welcome at the hotel was

Traditional drummers and Kandyan dancing men and girls

Escorted us to the hotel on a carefully laid red carpet

Glamorous welcome I have ever experienced, the most

In all my seventy years of life and truly very elated, I felt!  

Almost all of us were around or soon becoming septuagenarians

The failing memory was the killjoy, unlike the youthful former days

Some alas showed the savagery of time slightly more than the others

Yet with a hint secretly whispered, recognised correctly all our mates

Learnt how to boost the morale with a white lie, everyone abode

‘Oh you’ve not changed a bit, please tell me, how you did’

The sweetest thing we yarned to hear, came out from every buddy  

Diplomacy was rampant as all tried to make each other very happy

 A bouquet of flowers to those who toiled to make the occasion possible

Professor Anoja of Pharmo and ethical fame was the skipper astute

Lakshman and Aley handled finances, bookings and things many more

CJ did a stupendous job, spreading across the globe, the ‘RU gospel’

Narme, editor in chief, did rationalize contents of the souvenir very well

There were aspects which made our souvenir great, grand and unique

Firstly the acumen of the editorial team, Anoja. Lakshman and Narme

New ideas from so many, like the ‘then and now’ photos and the ‘mini bios’

For which Dharma and Wimal did a painstakingly difficult job collecting details

Poetry corner, memories and appreciations of our teachers and mentors

Photos, and jokes especially from Titus, elucidating the richness of our past years

 One other striking thing striking about our ‘souvenir golden’

Was the absence of commercial ads and no outside interventions

We are proud and grateful to have two willing, affable mates

Wije and Seelan who bore entirely the batch souvenir expenses

 

Dharma, Wimal and Selvaranee sorted out affairs in the U.S.

                                          CJ, Praxy and yours truly, managed to energise the Britishers

Mahilal, Mahendra, Nimal and Seelan removed cobwebs from the Aussies

Ana, Indira and MLD in Canada, Ruthraj in NZ inspired respective mates

Of all the mates who made our reunion a spectacular event

Core contribution of a few stand well above the wall parapet

From the first day to the last, every single aspect of this mammoth event

Laky, Shanti, Narme, Anoja, and Aley our heroes, on that there’s no contest  

Let me thank on behalf of the batch to all their spouses

They worked hard and were the catalysts for the RU success

Those who came to the party decorated the gathering with their graces

Special mention is made for those spouses of batch mates

Who were intensely involved in organising and setting this party colossus?

  Faizal Zavir mesmerized enire Beruwala with his divine music

Gaspar sponsored the Friday evening karaoke performances

Esiri Karu sang yesteryear Sinhala euphony, tingling auditory senses

Deepthi delighted thewhole place with her flute and Baila dances

Must mention here a line about our batch ‘cake queen’

Selvarani,  produces a delightful cake in our every reunion

 Praxy’s contribution to the RU also need a special mention

She was a useful busy body, a facilitator to keep things moving

Her after dinner speech following the Gala ceremony was a good ‘thanksgiving’

More importantly supervised arrival of foreign liquor under the guidance of Seelan

 Hotel accommodations, refreshments and the food were class first

Smiling faces of all the staff and the atmosphere was excellent

The milieu of the venue was excellent rates were so low it was a steal

Must thank the committee and our Sam, for finding a jewel of a Hotel

 It was humbling and a fantastic experence on Saturday to share a meal with us

Great Prof. Priyani De Soysa our beloved teacher at an age eighty nine plus

With Dr Ana Soysa former ENT surgeon, the arrangement to be amongst us

Yet another grand mile stone and showed our committee’s Sterling Class

   It was not just song and dance and food for the tummy they did arrange

To rid the cob-webs from our brains scientific meeting Prof Anoja was in charge

Chosen were five top class respected medical giants in their respective fields

And a joker also was given a chance to put the gathered crowd in ‘nine stitches’

 

Most memorable, hilarious and enjoyable part of our Golden reunion

No doubt was the hurriedly arranged drama show ‘the block concert’

Each country was given to produce a drama or two in this event

The USA team won everyone’s heart on that there was no conflict.

 

 Anslem compered the concert with his usual command and the professional touch

Some characters were so good there performances could match any professional act

Dharma’s performance of a pregnant lady going through a twin confinement

Obstetrician, Banda used scientific jargon to translated all filth uttered by the patient 

  Also cannot get over how ‘pretty nurse’ Perumal, for contraceptive used a Panadol tablet 

  Gaspar, Chandra, Narme, Aley, Mahilal, Eddie, Soma, Banda, Piching, and Willy,

Damayanthi, Deepthi, Rose, Anoja, Indrajee, and many others agile, like Donney

Danced to the sixties music through the night and created an ambience heavenly

Those of us with croaky voices and creaky joints, just watched, yet felt very jolly

Taking the group photo alas, had a set back with stops and starts

Rain gods were unkind to us but none of us were deterred 

First with spouses then on our own, dodging the falling rain drops

Somehow we did stand together shoulder to shoulder all in one shot

 

  As they say ‘All good things must come to an end’

After three wonderful days we had to say ‘Good buy’

Just like the scenes of hugs and tears when siblings do apart

Each one with tear filled eyes was sad to let go mates and part

 

 Having returned to the four corners of the globe, quite depressed and sad

We desperately try to hold on to incidences and faces; the dream experienced

I for one feel like a baby whose favourite toy has been rudely snatched

Without doubt everyone wants soon the RU64 committee, a repeat enacted

Finally please forgive me if I have omitted to mention important events

My memory is not as good as my student days is now rapidly wining

Contents here are obviously very remote from the wonderful happening

If there are omissions consider me not as a batch mate rather as a sibling

 Ariya