Thomian ‘Thora Family Night’ Sydney 20 Jun 2015

June 20th 2015; winter in Sydney. Suitably ‘coated’ and ‘booted’ lads (and their lasses) from the old school by sea, converged on the Don Moore Community Centre off North Rocks Road, to share reminiscences, mingle, and catch up with friends, over good wine and food – with entertainment provided! The occasion: “Family Curry Night“ – STC OBA NSW. The ‘new’ committee got to work immediately after the Annual General Meeting in 2014, ably led by the elected President Graham Masefield. First, the Carol Service; followed by the annual Royal-Thomian Cricket match on Australia day followed by the special dinner to fete Old Thomains who gathered for the World cup and today, the Curry Night.  The OBA is in its 20th year of service to the Thomian and wider Sri Lankan community in Sydney. From humble beginnings the OBA had evolved over the years, motivated by spirit and passion alone, to keep the “blue, the black and blue” flying high over the harbour city. The “Family Curry Night“ was yet another ‘winner’ in the OBA’s impressive tally of successes.

 

The evening had been well planned, with each committee member playing an invaluable role. Duke Ramachandran opened proceedings in customary style. His commitment to the task was more than evident on this occasion.  He requested politely and then had to demand a moment of ‘hush’ which he did get - a feat in a Lankan audience. As a professional his microphone style and technique was flawless; diction perfect, delivered with clarity and thought. While Duke was helping the audience to get into the swing of things the other members of the committee were ’working the crowd’. President Masefield shared the OBA’s vision to send a portion of the profits made on the night to help deserving students at STC who could not pay their way. He thanked all committee members who had worked for and with the OBA over the years, particularly the spouses, who had patiently and caringly enabled their Thomian husbands to give of their time in Committees.

Over the years the STC OBA has developed a style that is supported by all attendees. It just seems to happen with a regularity that is both unique and special. Friends and acquaintances will greet each other in a range of settings be that on and across the dance floor; or by making an effort to stop by for a brief exchange of pleasantries. It adds to the ambience and breeds a sense of community. Old boys gather in groups to have a chat about the past, the present and the future with a balance of humour, information and attention. Young Turks of yesterday now often end up in discussions about health, medication, retirement and the untimely passing-away of mates. All the while, music blares!   Interlocutors must rely on a combination of lung power, facial gesture and lip-reading skills! It is quite likely that a belly laugh is the result of the listener just seizing the moment without actually hearing the story but, by just responding to the look of expectation on the speaker’s face and graciously choosing to act as expected! It all adds to the sense of goodwill abounding.

In a touch of camaraderie and support the President of the Royal OBA Mr Daya Thayanathan and his wife Sue headed an all Royal Table.  Over the years the two OBA’s have worked together to set up a more formal structure to conduct the annual Royal-Thomian match in Sydney. These interactions have resulted in a more cooperative relationship between the two OBA’s in Sydney. President Masefield ‘regurgitated’ an oft quoted phrase in his speech: “there is no Royal without S. Thomas’ and there is no S. Thomas’ without Royal”.

The legendary Bonny Fernando delighted the crowd with a swag of old favourites which evoked memories of times past…of pleasure and passion on the dance-floors of younger days. DJ Neil came up with the music that got the blood flowing by spreading the sound without fear or favour throughout the hall. Seldom does an event have two piècederésistance!! One was the skit by Royal Veteran Sunil de Silva (School girl from Bishop’s College) and Thomian Chitran Duraisamy (School Boy) – “At a bus-stand” - the starting point of many-a schoolgirl/schoolboy romance. They artfully managed, through the characters, to hold a mirror to the foibles and contradictions of Sri Lankan life! Their wit was enhanced by their dress sense which failed miserably but only added to the sense of theatre. The audience were willing participants and went along for the ride in good spirits.   The second was the live auction for a specially carved memento from the Mara Tree in the Chapel Gardens.  Duke Ramachandran wielded the ‘hammer’ …or ‘gavel’ if you prefer. He did a marvellous job; with a clever and judicious combination of history and nostalgia. He was ably assisted by Kumar Rasiah who walked the floor with the polished plaque held up high, adding a sense of drama to the auction. The bidding was quick aided by the sense of urgency in Duke’s voice. The winning bid was that of Lasantha Peiris - the last man standing. Many-a Thomian had memories of settling scores with hand and fist unsupervised in the Chapel Gardens. However, on the night there were only two known combatants present; Jimmy Buultjens and Graham Masefield who came up (now as life-long friends) to present the plaque to the highest bidder. The plaque was donated by Ex Rugby Captain Stefan D’ Silva, a frequent visitor to the Greenfields of his youth, as coach of and mentor to Thomian Rugby players.

The culinary delights were ladled out by the legendary Siva of the Blue Elephant Restaurant and Catering at Waldorf Apartment Hotel. The mix of spices, flavours and colours managed to send waves of heat through the body on what was a particularly cold night. Talk about ‘warming the cockles’!!! 

This year (2015) the committee decided to veer away from tradition and replace the annual black tie Thomian Dance with a Family Curry Night. In keeping with that theme it was wonderful to see tables with three and even four generations of family life. The interaction between the generations painted a pretty picture of family life. It was a pleasure to see the youth of yesterday now become the grandfathers and grandmothers of today. While others waited patiently in the wings to inherit their status of grandmothers or fathers.

As one observed one wondered where the years had gone! Life had evolved so quickly with the relentless march of time. 

 STC OBA (NSW & ACT) Committee 2015  : Graham  Masefield, Eksath Perera, Richie De Silva, Indrajith Gunawardhana, Rex Ratnam, Duke Ramachandran, Bob Prabha Supramaniam, Shamilal Wijeyawardena, Nihal Ramanayaka (ACT Rep)

Please click to view pictures of the event