4 October, 2022

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Ashley And Me

By Helasingha Bandara

The memory of one of the greatest contributors to English education in Sri Lanka is fading away gradually and naturally. This article is a conscientious effort to prevent that from happening too early. The intention is to rekindle our memory of him from time to time.

Ashley Halpe

In “A Garland for Ashley, Glimpses of A Life” edited by Tissa Jayatilaka and Jayantha Dhanapala, a book that was gifted to me by Ashley himself with his familiar signature on it, I read a few personal accounts that were similar in some ways to the story of Ashley and me. I wanted to relate my story in his memory as I believe it still is unique despite bearing some similarities to other stories.

The year was 1982, a long time ago, thirty-six years to be precise. If I were to secure study leave to study at university with my teacher’s salary intact, my options were either to take up Mathematics or English, neither subject I had taken at the advanced level examination in 1981 that had guaranteed my university admission. In desperation to study at university on study leave, I approached a certain Doctor at the department of Mathematics which seemed to me the most likely option. My previous studies and work were based on Mathematics. By that time, I had had eight years of experience in teaching mathematics in state secondary schools as a specially trained Mathematics teacher. To this academic, such experience did not mean much and he declined my request to study Mathematics, straight away, without a second thought at all. I had the booklet issued by the University Grant Commission in hand that expressly stated that a person who had studied a subject before, was entitled to read that particular subject at University although they had not taken that subject for the particular advanced level examination that guaranteed their admission to university. I could argue with the then temporary head of the department of Mathematics about my entitlement. I knew arguing with this person could be like committing suicide. Such was the autonomy those men enjoyed within the supreme educational institutions in our country.

My second option was to take up English for which I had no prior qualification or experience, nor had I sufficient knowledge to cope at university level. I was even ashamed to ask anyone whether my request could be considered. I happened to know a brother of a friend who worked at the subdepartment of English at the university of Peradeniya. During this tumultuous period, I accidentally met him at his sister’s residence and he heard my story. He encouraged me to approach the English department irrespective of the outcome. Reluctantly I met him at the university and was introduced to Dr. Kamal de Abrew. Dr. Abrew in turn took me to the grand library of the university.

There, immersed in a book, surrounded by thousands of other books, stood this physically diminutive but intellectually colossal person named Professor Ashley Halpe the humanist, artist, poet, writer and the teacher with whom later I became friends.

Our conversation took place in Singhalese. He simply asked me whether I had studied English language and literature.  Following my “no sir” he asked whether I had studied Singhalese literature. His eyes popped out in surprise at my “neither that, sir”. I said I was a science student throughout. “In that case I don’t think you can cope with the course work”, he replied. Only now, can I comprehend that he would have compared in his mind my situation with his own admission to the department of English instead of the medical school, although he did not show any sign of doing that.  After a few minutes silence he said “If you fail your first year, you may have to pay back the year’s money. Is it not good to return to what you have been doing now rather than returning at the end of the year having to refund a lot of money?” Only years later I realised that he was testing my will and determination. However, my luck was such I said “I don’t mind taking the risk, I really don’t”. “You seem a determined man, all right, give it a go, come to the department on Monday”. That Monday I joined my class of new mates who were being taught by Dr. Tirukandaiah at the time I joined them. That was the beginning and the rest was history.

Ashley’s method of encouraging me was to keep on saying that I would fail. I did not, thank you Ashley, I really did not fail you or myself.

Ashley came to see me in Edinburgh and we spent a few days together and became even closer. Someone had written that more than anything else, Ashley was respected for his humility that knew no bounds. To the pupil who even did not speak English at the first interview, he said “you now speak better English than I do”. I knew I was just an anchovy compared with this massive whale. Yet, such was his humility to complement my rapid development. I have no doubt he must have shown that human understanding and compassion to many others in the same manner. That is the greatness of the man.

Most times when I visited Sri Lanka I visited him at their Peradeniya residence. All those visits were warm. In January 2016 I visited him and promised to visit again in July. I said goodbye in the traditional manner to which I was used. It is hard to imagine that there were many of Ashley’s students who touched his feet in saying goodbye. That in fact touched his heart and when I raised my head I saw his eyes glistening with tears. After all he was still a Sri Lankan. At the time I did not know that it was not just a goodbye but a farewell. Farewell my dear sir!  To me Peradeniya is void of life without you.

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Latest comments

  • 1
    11

    The writer has learnt from Dayan Jayathillake. Use the article not for the subject at hand but for self grandizement

    • 6
      0

      I don’t see any attempt at self aggrandizement here. It is genuine tribute to a great man by his student.

  • 7
    0

    What a nice tribute to a great Teacher. Sri Lanka needs all the Ashley Halpes she can find.

  • 0
    0

    You have gone great lengths to explain that even though you were a science graduate you could study ionly MAths but you continued to study in English department because . so, why we can not do the same now. there are so many unemployed graduates. they may be taken under different deaprtments where there is need for retraining. On the other hand, I heard, now the lecturers and professors who came mostly from the back door are not that great teachers and they are so beaurucratic would not come close to Ashley Halpe. those people are just humanoids. So, why don’t you write that part also in your book or is it published already. IT will be a great book if you expose it. Were you a an accused in Manamperi case in the South. I understand what you what Indian degrees, apkisthani, Nepalai, Chinese, thai degrees have dome to Sri lankan universities.

    • 3
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      Dear Jim softy,

      Let me take you seriously on this.
      .
      Helasinghe Bandara’s is an exceptional case. I still find it amazing, but I’m sure that once all the data has been gathered there will be factors that explain his success.
      .
      I intend telling my somewhat similar story, acknowledging my some factors that helped me. Ashley’s initial reluctance to enroll Helasinghe were typical of the former.
      .
      Helasinghe has carefully explained the regulations that made it possible for him to make his late entry to the University. It is somebody else who has said that he read for an English Special degree at Peradeniya. There was an acute shortage of Maths and English graduate teachers in the nineteen seventies and eighties.
      .
      A maximum of three years’ study leave was granted. A Special Degree in English took four years. I entered on External GAQ results in November 1982 – two years after sitting that exam. The delays were terrible. In some Departments (NOT English), the marking of External papers was low priority. Science students were required to repeat the first year’s work, so it was only a General Degree that was possible.
      .
      Given that start, Helasinghe has obviously continued to work hard. Credit to him for that.

  • 1
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

  • 6
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    Hello Bineka,
    Your comment is rather harsh, not kind and unneccessary. It is an admiarable story. You will ask me why. The simple reason is that he was a teacher before commencement of his English degree. He is a graduate with a special degree in English from a Sri Lankan University. This is an admirable excellent achievement. Why? We were born in an era where our society used to laugh at people who can not communite in English. We were born in a society that descriminate people coming from rural sinhalese or tamil backgrounds. We were born in a soicety that descriminate people who studied in rural village schools. These things were rampant in our society after the independanence and upto now.
    I have also some experiance in studying and working in Sri Lankan Universities and I have seen the behavior of students and academics of the English Departments. Some time I felt that these students would behave as if they were beloning to a different English speaking country. They completely ignore the majority community of university students. They behave in a group separate from other students from the Faculties of Arts and other humnities. That is what I have seen.

    Dear Writer, my subject is not English. I have done some number crunching subject and worked in two mostly developed English speaking countries in the world. I lived in these two countries for the past twenty years. I am still learning my English. I am thinking of doing the English subject for the Advanced Level examination conducted by the University of Cambridge as an external student. That is for pure enjoyment.

    Dear writer, thanks for your thoughts.

    • 2
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      Dear Sunil Dahanayake,

      I’ve already posted a longish comment complaining that I find my memory disturbingly selective. Some are amazed at some obscure things that I know, but just don’t seem to remember ALL the people I meet. Some very much resent it.

      You obviously know Bineka V. pretty well. It’s good of you to have contradicted without fulminating.

  • 5
    0

    After the legendary Prof Lyn Ludowkyke and Prof Hector Passe,the English Department at Peradeniya will be remembered by Ashley Halpe and Thiru Kandiah.They were all English Pundits,the likes of whom shall never be seen again in Lanka.Incidentally,,where is Dr Kandiah now?

  • 2
    2

    Today Pera English Dept full of fake profs likewise whole public local university system. No one has PhD from world top 100 universities and no one has minimum 20 articles from ISI/SCOPUS or 20 book chapters and 06 text books and three country full visiting professorships. That is the international criteria to be a professor.

    • 2
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      Dear Nawodi & Co.,

      Thanks for truncating your inane copy & paste trolling. I’ve seen the longer version countless times now, whenever the group that you belong to wants to discredit some conscientious academic doing what he can in a Sri Lankan University.
      .
      The first thing that I remember being told in school (let’s forget more pretentious places) was not to say things that are meaningless in the context or that are of no significance.
      .
      No sane human being can possibly interested in your “international criteria”. Please get lost. Period

  • 4
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    Thank you, Helasinghe Bandara.

    Yes, our memories are short and need rekindling, and the memory of Prof. Ashley Halpe is one that deserves recall because he stood for so much that is valuable.

    I will try to say a little more about Prof. Halpe, and recall some senses in which my experience of him has been similar to yours, but also significantly different in certain other respects. Memory is a funny thing, I guess, so let me give it some time and add to my comments a few hours hence.

    When I saw this article in the morning there were only two comments displayed, now there are eight. During the interim period of three hours or so I have been glancing at some of your previous articles on CT, most of them written by you at a time when I wasn’t reading CT because I hadn’t bothered to learn how to use proxy servers.

    I ought to know you, Helasinghe, but to be honest, I cannot connect. It may be that you will be able to, in which case I shall be grateful. However, I feel that this will only be when I complete my account later today.

    Let me assure “Parana Kaduwa” that Dr Thiru Kandiah will definitely be reading this heart-warming tribute to Ashley. Thiru is in Perth, Australia. He is still active, and was last in Sri Lanka about two years ago (I’m not checking these dates for accuracy; if I do, nothing will ever get written!) when he was the keynote speaker at a commemoration meeting for Prof. Halpe at that place on Kynsey Road.

  • 4
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    Well done to the author – forget the ridiculous barbs directed at even this simple appreciation! Some people can’t get their heads out of the boggy mire in which they live!

  • 4
    4

    With greatest respect, i wish to point out that despite all his great services to students like Helasinghe Bandara (unusual name!), Halpe was no great scholar. Truth needs to be expressed as per CT traditions. Without malice, as an undergraduate who received lectures from him, I can tell the world that Asley Halpe was quite mediocre as an academic compared to people like Ediriweera Sarachchandra, K.N. Jayatilleke, Padmal de Silva and many others. He was a regular at the Faculty Club in the evenings and his wife was/is a woman with typical post-colonial middle class values. He did his PhD under George Bernard Shaw who is better known for his political activities at Fabian Society (the engine of underground colonialism) and at the London School of Economics rather than for academic excellence. But somehow we have the colonial inferior mentality of making gods out of university English teachers while ignoring many higher achievers in the Humanities and even in Science, too many to mention here. So let us moderate our praise of this tiny, decent man but by no means great scholar. The same goes to Thiru Kandiyah.

    • 0
      0

      Dear Maname Saimon,

      Yes, I know that there were those who held that, in absolute terms, Ashley could not be ranked with the greatest intellectuals. We knew about Yasmine Gooneratne’s attacks on him. Ludowyke alone was considered a world class scholar from Ceylon as far as English was concerned.

      I also knew that Ashley’s PhD was from Bristol, but I didn’t know anything about a Bernard Shaw connection, and am a bit surprised because I can’t remember Shaw being particularly important in our syllabus.

      But what of it? Few of us students were operating at such rarefied levels! I haven’t yet told you my story, and its similarities to Helasinghe’s.

      Bridgette was kind to us. My original post had got truncated – it had a word of praise for her.

  • 0
    0

    Ashley and me and the baby makes three??

    • 5
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      Sinhala Man, Thank you very much indeed for letting me know that Dr Thiru Kandiah is doing well Down Under.

      He together with Prof Halpe had the unique ability to tweeze out the nuggets in the texts so that the subtext was placed before the student to embark on a amazing voyage of discovery.Halpe’s dissection of Macbeth,for instance,was simply matchless and is seared in to my memory.

      As I have heard ,this is exactly what Ludowyke and Passé did before the Halpe/Kandiah duo took the green hills of Hantane by storm and shined a brilliant light on what the marvellous world of English Literature was all about.Alas after them , great names from the English Department at Peradeniya or indeed from any other Lankan University have simply ceased to come.

      • 1
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        The first thing I did after submitting my initial comment was to send the link to Prof. Kandiah. He appreciated my gesture.
        .
        However, his wife, Indranee had already shown it to him. Thiru says he has a horror of public debate on fora – since he takes “ages to formulate” his thoughts. Take that with a pinch of salt! He’s quick witted enough.
        .
        Of this article, he says:
        .
        “Very warmly and sincerely written article, and a nice motive.”
        .
        I already knew Macbeth backwards when Ashley again taught it inspiringly to me at Peradeniya. Let me talk about his lecturing technique later.

  • 4
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    I must add a little postscript to “Parana Kaduwa’s superb comment above about Prof Halpe.My 2 cents worth is about the colourful,vivacious Mrs. Bridgette Halpe.

    She was an excellent pianist,who tickled the ivories well!Many were the evenings that we students sat mesmerized by her tunes at their home.What a vivacious host she was.When we were not invited, we hid in the nearby bushes and listened !! Incidentally,DH Lawrence’s hauntingly delightful “Piano” was one poem that Prof Halpe read brilliantly before his students .

    Together the Halpe couple were made for each other and vicariously made for all of us students.

  • 0
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    Bineka Polanga
    You are full of poison. You have to bite your words back now. Apologise and withdraw the comment.
    Thilaka

  • 1
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    While reading this essay on that Great Man Prof: Ashley Halpe my thoughts ran amok.Prof; Halpe was my dads pal to put it rather crudely. But I had known him at close quarters at Peradeniya though I did not offer English. I still kick myself for not having done so! Will Peradeniya ever produce such men? He topped the CCS list but opted to become a Teacher. I still remember how his detractors,with political clout had him out of Peradeniya on the pretext of some pettyfogging issue , in the early70s.
    Dr. Thiru Kandiah later Prof: English was another pillar of the English Dept.
    My thoughts are running amok with emotion…. I cant type further……

  • 0
    1

    Helasingha Bandara
    Those who think they personally know me can write to helasingha@googlemail.com with their right details. If I recognise, I will reply. Thank you all for reading the article and your encouraging comments.
    Hela

  • 3
    0

    Oh the redoubtable Plato running amok could indeed be a dangerous thing!!Among other things, it makes Homer nod!

  • 1
    1

    Maname Saimon.

    I will cite just cite one totally incorrect statement of yours. Prof; Ashley Halpe did not do his Ph.D thesis with George Bernard Shaw. Shaw died in 1950, When young Halpe was just 17!
    Your other assertions about Prof: Halpe does not merit a reply.

    • 0
      0

      Part 1:

      Dear Bineka,

      It so happens that most of us loved Ashley, and Thiru, and Prof. Sarath Wickremasuriya in different ways, but all quite honestly having affection for them and doing our best to achieve something during the three or four years that we were at Peradeniya.. Plato, thanks for pointing out the impossibility of Ashley being supervised by Bernard Shaw, who, incidentally was 94 years old when he died.

      Plato, this is the first time I myself have begun to publicly talk about these teachers in the familiar way that we’ve now adopted. After all, we have by now got to be about the same age as them! Doric D’ Souza (that I think was the preferred spelling) had left Peradeniya by 1982, but I did meet him in his Colombo home twice. That was to find out from him some things that only he knew.

      I wonder what Bineka, Percy and Maname Saimon would have made of a certain “William Shakspere” who attended the village school from age seven for 7 years. Have they heard this?

      I dreamt last night that Shakspere’s Ghost
      Sat for a civil service post.
      The English paper for that year
      Had several questions on King Lear
      Which Shakespere answered very badly
      Because he hadn’t read his Bradley.

      I now know that Helasingha was indeed my contemporary, and we’ve acted in “The Tempest”, written by that man who didn’t have one proper spelling of his name.

      Ashley did have a sense of humour, and I think that he’d like the idea of the two “disreputable village schoolmasters” getting together to have some fun for the next seven days or so.

  • 0
    0

    I can’t claim to be an alumnus of Peradeniya, but I think most will agree that there were teachers and scholars from the humanities who were fam more accomplished than Ashley. Ashley was a run of the mill mediocre scholar with great personal attributes. There were others from the English Dept like Upali Ameresinghe who was snatched away too early,, and of course Yasmine Gooneratne a great scholar, and not forgetting Raja Salgado of Nottingham University hailed as among the best English scholars internationally. In Sociology Gananath Obeysekera reached great international heights as a researcher and lucid presenter of the many theses he developed much to do with his bi lingual excelllence. Stanley Thambiah and Ralph Peiris were also at the heights of excellence. A man whose other facets of his personality drew him away from the scholars abode else may have reached the top of the tree was Mervyn de Silva.

    • 0
      0

      Percy,
      .
      This is not my first interaction with you. I’m sure that you are knowledgeable; but unintelligent, aren’t you? Nor decent, in my book.
      .
      You say nasty things, so do I sometimes. But if challenged, I reveal my identity, and take responsibility for what I say.
      .
      I know that the scholars you have mentioned are some of the greatest that our country has produced, and may rank higher than Ashley. Or Ashley, with “great personal attributes” (don’t you contradict yourself here, albeit in a generous way?) may have done more. How can you know if you don’t want to digest what Helasingha and I have said?
      .
      Is it not you who once lambasted me for being “a Tamil, educated in the North, but now living in the South”? All totally wrong, and going against what I had clearly stated. If it was not you, someone said it. It is not my fault, throwing this at you; so many pseudonyms are used, that a guy of my limited intelligence cannot keep them all distinct. At least Plato and Helasingha have given themselves pseudonyms that are unlikely to get forgotten. Mine is factual, . . . but I know has slightly misleading connotations. So, I reveal identity.
      .
      We’ve got to talk of what actually was, not of what could have been. So, your claim that Andaya, Dayan Jayatilleke’s father, had the potential for greatness, had he not become a drunk is beside the point. And why impose it here, when an honest man is paying a sincere tribute?

      • 0
        0

        Sinhala man
        In your earlier posting you took objection to my mentioning the name of Mervyn de Silva among those who. I consider was one of the great scholars and intellectuals that came through the Dept of English. You took exception to my mentioning his name and even dragged in his son Dayan Jayatilaka name in a veiled attempt to denounce him. I have observed your anti Sinhalese comments in your postings, and it is now clear that you have a pro Yahapalana agenda which you try to hide through your regular sanctimonious “goody goody”piffle on CT. You have been found out as more than a Tiger in Sinhala clothing. Shame on you.

  • 2
    0

    The English Department at Peradeniya shines as a place of exceptional wisdom even today. It continues to be a home to teachers and students whose scholarship is reputable and politics is progressive. SL’s leading public intellectuals like Professor Sumathy Sivamohan and Professor Arjuna Parakrama are members of this Department. On the literary side, Professors Walter Perera and Carmen Wickramagamage have brought out some important publications. Dr Nihal Fernando, who recently retired, is regarded by at least two generations of students as a great teacher and his publications, though few in number compared to some of the others, are quite fascinating. Of course the tone and character of the intellect the Department produces now is different from what you got during the Halpe-Kandiah era but it is certainly radical and on par with the English Departments in the UK and USA. Every year at least one or two of its graduates (one or two is a significant number given that the department admits a small group of outstanding students to its special degree program) go to universities in the West and Australia for postgraduate studies with full scholarship.

    • 0
      0

      Dear Bandula,
      .
      Thanks for bringing us up to date. Helasingha and I have now exchanged e-mails. We were contemporaries, older than our batch-mates. The persons whom you have mentioned are all younger than us in years, all known to us, and some have actually taught us. Helasingha has explained the pseudonym that he had adopted ages ago. Thilaka has obviously been an amused observer of the rot that has been said already. H’singha has been in the UK for 29 years, but he’s not yet given me a list of his achievements there. I have extrapolated; given how he started, this must rank as one of the most astounding success stories that we have ever heard of.
      .
      Now to deal with the nasty detractors: Do you not yet realise that to praise the life and achievement of one person, you don’t have to denigrate others? This is not a forum for specialists. If you want to seriously assess the relative merits of scholars, please publish in one of the Leaned Journals that the criteria-dropping Nawodi has listed above.
      .
      In case you find Thilaka’s suggestions too difficult to follow, please scroll right up to the top of this page. Below the amusing “Ashley And Me” title, you will find the logos for Facebook, Twitter, etc. Below those logos you find the author-name, Helasingha Bandara, in bold blue letters. He’s asked me not to reveal his real name; I respect that practice, provided what is said is consistent, honest, and objective. Like Plato. Neither Thiru K. nor I know who he is. My practice is different. Plato and other regular readers know all that they want to about me. I have published only three articles on CT. If requested, I will identify myself.

      • 0
        0

        A little addition:
        .
        In the last paragraph above, I’ve forgotten to ask you to click on “Helasingha Bandara, in bold blue letters” with your mouse.
        .
        You will be then taken to lots of articles written over the years. All of them make sense.
        .
        Not everybody need make comments. I sent links to this article to a number of our contemporaries. One (who was in a different Faculty had said this to me, although he declined to comment):
        .
        “To me, Ashley was a man. He had his strengths; he had his weaknesses. I believe his strengths outnumbered his weaknesses significantly. I don’t know about his scholarly achievements or contributions, but he certainly added value, colour and charisma to to the University and the community in Kandy.

        Above all, he was a man; a humble man, who lived his passions.

        May he rest eternal !”

  • 0
    0

    Sorry, I standby my comments. Until now Helasinghe Bandara is unknown in Lanka. He tries to use Halpe, who is dead, to bloat out a name for himself. Typical Dayan Jayathillake tactics.

    Helasinghe Bandara trying to show he is the new Halpe? Then it is something that goes too far.

    About Halpe, well, Ipeople say good when one is dead isn’t it.When living he was nobody.

  • 0
    0

    Sorry, I standby my comments. Until now Helasinghe Bandara is unknown in Lanka. He tries to use Halpe, who is dead, to bloat out a name for himself. Typical Dayan Jayathillake tactics.

    Helasinghe Bandara trying to show he is the new Halpe?

    My God.

    Then, it is something that goes too far.

    About Halpe, well, I did not know the man personally. People say good only when one is dead.When living he was nobody (in that context Helashinghe Bandara’s self grandizement is understandable).

    • 0
      0

      Dear Bineka,
      .
      I know that there are more important issues to be addressed, but they have to be carefully thought out. I’m sending this from a tablet, while in the middle of Bandarawela town.

      By now Helasingha and I have exchanged a few emails. The comments here are getting ever crazier. Let me see if somebody accuses me of being yet another incarnation of the “terrible Helasingha”.
      .
      If self aggandizement is indeed the motive, wouldn’t he be using his real name?
      .
      Why not start reading David Hume on solipsism. I’m pretty sure the doughty Scot wasn’t so mad as to imagine that only his mind existed in the universe. But that’s how absurd all these conspiracy theories are getting to be.
      .

  • 1
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    There are many things to admire about Ashley. In a trove of such talent and virtue two aspects of the man are often neglected his poetry and his theatre.

  • 1
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    Good to know about the tradition of English pedagogy in Lanka and its Universities. More articles such as these that illustrate the lesser known side of Lanka should be published here. I wish the very best for Lanka and University of Peradenya

  • 1
    0

    Bineka;
    Your justification that Helasingha is trying to carve out a name for himself over the dead body of Ashley Halpe is not only ludicrous but hilarious. Don’t manifest your ignorance publicly. Helasingha has been writing since mid-eighties. I am a follower. Go and search CT archives alone. No one else has supported your stand or view. Read what people like Dr. Kandaiah has said. Read the article again if you did not understand at the first go or row your own boat until you sink.
    Thilaka

  • 2
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    Aardvaark the Elder.
    You are spot on.
    Prof: Halpe was the live-wire of the University Dramsoc, for a number of years. It is this place that drew students from other disciplines to interact with Prof: Halpe with a lasting impression of his Humane values.
    ps.I am still trying to figure out the meaning of your pseudonym!

    Sinhala Man.
    You are in your elements when it comes to the English Dept!
    Interestingly, with names like Ludowyke, Passe, thrown in another great has been missed.- Doric De Soyza!
    Thiru Kandiah [ My gosh I am typing his name as if I was a colleague!!!] once told me that some junior guy in the Dept: had met Doric in the Faculty club and after the first drink, thinking that he was a colleague after all, had ventured to ask him[Doric] why he did not pursue with his PhD…..
    Pat came the reply: There was no necessity to reassure myself!!!

  • 0
    0

    Thilaka, just because Helasinghe Banda wrote few articles in ct, that does not make him a Great English Literist like Halpe.

    Look at the title – ‘Ashley And Me’.

    Oh my God, oh my god.

    How dare he call him Ashley and how dare he compares himself with Ashley?

    The two are like Gulivar and Liliput.

    Isn’t this self agradizement or otherwise what?

    Thilaka you may be Helasinghe Banda writing himself or one his stooges I do not care as long CT allows me to comment. This is a free world and I have raised a valid point.

  • 0
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    As far as I can remember Thiru Kandaih is not good,, someone who supported Velu;s cause. Also he changed our history through his book

    • 0
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      Part One – re-submitted on finding it missing.

      Dear Bineka,

      It so happens that most of us loved Ashley, and Thiru, and Prof. Sarath Wickremasuriya in differing ways, but all quite honestly having affection for them and doing our best to achieve something during the three or four years that we were spending in the lovely campus.
      .
      Plato, thanks for pointing out the impossibility of Ashley being supervised by Bernard Shaw, who, incidentally was 94 years old when he died.

      Plato, this is the first time I myself have begun to publicly talk about these teachers in the familiar way that we’ve now adopted. After all, we have by now got to be about the same age as them! Doric D’ Souza (that was the preferred spelling) had left Peradeniya by 1982, but I did meet him in his Colombo home twice. That was to find out from him some things that only he knew.

      I wonder what Bineka, Percy and Maname Saimon would have made of a certain “William Shakspere” who attended his village school from age seven for just 7 years. Have they heard this?

      I dreamt last night that Shakspere’s Ghost
      Sat for a civil service post.
      The English paper for that year
      Had several questions on King Lear
      Which Shakespere answered very badly
      Because he hadn’t read his Bradley.

      I now know that Helasingha was indeed my contemporary, and we’ve acted in “The Tempest”, written by that man who didn’t have one proper spelling for his name.

      Ashley did have a sense of humour, and I think that he’d like the idea of the two “disreputable village schoolmasters” getting together to have some fun for the next seven days or so.

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    Part Two

    Yes, Sunil Dahanayake, all that scholarship was meant to serve a certain purpose. Isn’t it sad that despite all the resources invested in the teaching of English, the language remains the preserve of those families that got it a hundred years ago? Exception: Helasingha. Mind, the Peradeniya English Degree continues to maintain high standards, and the present Chair, Arjuna Parakrama, despite many health issues, manages to strike terror in to students – as he did in 1983, before he was discontinued.

    Arjuna was a Temporary Asst. Lecturer – which year? 1983 and all that! I was ten years older than Arjuna, an undergrad, but survived. Together with Ashley, we stubbornly refused to give in to the racism that was rampant then as NOW – see Bineka’s most recent “Kandiah comment.” I remember how angry Thiru’s wife was when she decided that she’d better compromise by asking Niranjan and Shivanthi to lay claim to her maiden name – Kannangara – if they were challenged on the road.
    .
    I was not really surprised by Maname Saimon’s description of Bridgette Halpe. She WAS controversial, but we knew her. Bridgette worked very hard, and was extremely generous. Long before entering Peradeniya, I knew that she was a brilliant pianist who never played in public. Apart from that, we knew that we could raid her kitchen.

    However, work was work. I just don’t know how Helasingha made the grade in his first year. I didn’t then know the details he’s given now. There was no time for such things. But work, we had to. Those threats of failure directed at Helasingha were no idle words. Standards had to be reached. I will say more, but I hope that some others will join in.
    .

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    Sinhala man
    I must admit to intemperate language when I deal with humbugs and masqueraders, and I make no claim to intelligence above my endowment. My intervention here is to bring some relativity to this business of adulation. People who have been taught by Ashleywould undoubtedly be impressed by his capabilities. My mission was not to deny his greatness, but to place him suitably in the Englishteaching firmament. You would note that Iwas not engaging with Helasinghe as my point was to suggest that when discussing the greatness of teachers one has to look at the whole landscape. Having known Ashley I have to say that he was a most humble person who carried his learning lightly. But as far as scholarship goes he is no comparison to Yasmine and in my book not anywhere near Salgado Prof of English at Nottingham Uni and regarded as the best English teacher of his time.
    My belief was and still is that you are a Tamil settled in the South. Correct me if Iam wrong and it certainly does not worry or concern me if you think that I am not a decent person because I am not seeking your approval for any of the comments I make which I hope have had the intended impact.

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    Bineka is right.

    The title ‘Ashley and Me’ alone tells all.

    How dare such a colossal as Ashley Halpe be compared with such an unknown quantity as Helasinghe. This is self agradizement at its very best.

    Reminds me of Gulivar and Liliput.

    Bineka is spot on about Thiru Kandaih, He supported division of Lanka very badly and also wrote vividly supporting Tamil separatism. Yes Bineka, he (Thiru) changed our correct history. I’m sad.

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