Viva Espana!!

We left London and arrived in Spain just over 24 hours ago! 
Seville – what an amazing place!
Me gusta mucho espana!


Hyde Park Jam – Speakers Corner!

The last week in London has been quite an adventure. Thehighlights have to include the weekend catching up with everyone going to theDuran Duran concert, but one thing that probably needs a special write up isthe “speakers corner gig!” for it was something quite unique for me!

Speakers corner is heralded as one of the greatest places inthe universe (actually this is what I read about it!! But to me I’ve always been intrigued by the concept behind speakers corners –which provides an open forum for no matter what your background and where thereis a potential for endless dialogue. Those who know me well, know that I loveto talk, and at this point in time I feel like I have much to share – sospeakers corner was it for me!

Actually, speaking at speakers corner was a dream I had inJune this year. One day, when I was sitting at my study house desk inAnuradhapura, trying to analyse data for a project that I had finishedcollecting data for one year previously I had the idea! It was a painful timeas there was much mental anguish surrounding the difficulty of the work (for meanyway), and the thought of speaking at Hyde Park gave me some inspiration.

So the seed of the dream was planted and it grew, silentlyat first, for I didn’t even know if this trip to Europe was going to be apossibility. However, I stuck to my dream, and with a lot of help from friendsand family, it came true! I came, I saw, I spoke, and then I spoke some more.

I am so grateful to my amazing support crew of family andfriends who I couldn’t have done this without, starting with Yo and Sandra –who were the dream team from the beginning, and then Davina, Annabelle, Laki,Sud & Tisha, Su, Dan & Kelly. You all really rocked for me!

There was fear, excitement, anticipation, interruption, andoffcourse lots of joy and laughter, and later sandwiches and champagne (thanksAnnabelle).

Basically, I got up on a ladder and spoke, and even stood onmy head! Some were pleased, some were moved, others unimpressed andindifferent. However the most important thing was that I achieved my dream andI am so grateful for that!

So what did I talk about?!

I talked about “the importance of following your dreams”,and how they CAN come true if one believes strongly enough and works hard enough,and has help from others! I also pointed out that this was illustrated with mycoming from Sri Lanka to London and actually talking at Speakers Corner – whichwas my dream!
The other thing I talked about was the concept of “lifebeing more about the journey than the destination”. In today’s society everyoneseem to be so focussed on running the rat-race, thus we must make a specialconcerted effort to try and find out ways to follow our hearts and our owndreams instead the establishments dreams.

After my initial 7 min speech, the support crew and Icracked open the champagne (even though I don’t even drink alcohol anymore!)but all in good spirit (excuse the pun).

Thereafter I found myself talking with a crowd again, andwith the help of the crew we managed to momentarily upstage the 60 somethingyear old determined lady who was speaking to the right of me to a large crowd.She was busy having a furiously heated debate about how “all foreigners shouldgo home” with her crowd, whereas we did a team-building exercise of “laughingtherapy” that was so contagious that even a satellite group of people hadstarted doing it amongst themselves when our audience had stopped!

So all in all it as a fantastic gig, and I think it was forall of us– so thank you so much to my family and friends who believed in me!!

Afterwards we all went to the Columbian street festival atSouth bank and all hung out with the good vibes by having a balcony meal at Gabriel’sWharf.

Good Times, Great People – rock on!!


Shades of Grey – the Poem

One of the other things I managed to do at the speaker’s corner was to read some of my poetry. One of the overriding themes of my banter was about the importance of conflict “resolution”, something I feel very strongly about, especially after living in country at war for the last few years. So I was very happy to be able to read one of my favourite poems about conflict. This poem is about how I believe that most conflict in the world whether it be at the level of people, nations or even between nations is due to not being able to earnestly see thing for the others point of view, and because of the choice to see things as black or white, rather than the shades of grey that things really are!
So here it is:-
Shades of grey, shades of grey, shades of grey
They are all here to stay
Black and white is too easy, easy-peasy lemon-squeezy
Why would we chose something so binary, when everything is much more complex, Cant we see?
Foolishly we follow thee, oh black hole, or white matradee
When really it’s shades of grey that is our friend
The one that will bring conflict to an end
Only when you see the situation as the other party sees
Is when the conflict will cease to be
For understanding and empathy, is far more majestic than a simple “oh poor me”
Day by day, year by year, we carry on, looking far and near
But still only seeing black or white
My father, your mother
They are all good people
And, they are all right, and wrong, at the same time
You see, this is the complexity of what I see
“Good people”, “bad people” do not exist as distinct entities
There are elements of each in every being on this planet
Shades of grey, Shades of Grey, Shades of Grey
We better learn to see them because they are here to stay
Bishan Rajapakse (17-1-08)


Duran Duran in the Park!

The love box festival on Sat 18th was great, but Duran Duran was awesome!!
Great times!
I also managed to get some “corumba” or coconut water! That picture was for my resus team in Anuradhapura who helped organise the “Thambili” for our workshops – I never thought in a million years I’d be able to get coconut water at a concert in London!!


From Anuradhapura to London – the next phase begins…

Well I’ve been in London a week already and really hit the ground running! But it’s wonderful to be here catching up with my bro again and embarking on this 10 year re-union journey to London.

Why is it a 10 year reunion? Well, basically 10 years ago, back in the summer of ’99 me and my brother deferred from our conventional jobs of surgical training to go and explore the world and what it had to offer. We always intended to go back to the mainstream training (which we did in our own ways, as my brother has finished his plastic surgical training now, and I am still on the program for emergency medicine) but we knew in our heart of hearts that the journey going “off the beaten track” would teach us oh so much more than we could have ever learned following the crowd! So we set off on a world-wind journey and started with a small village called “Antigua” which was in Guatemala. Heree we learned  to speak Spanish, and the rest is history as they say. Good times, and some not so good times, took us through central America, the Carribean, USA, and of course London and Europe. This journey and many that followed in that year defined much of our perspectives for the years that followed, and to be honest I never really lost the spirit of that trip which was all about living life to it’s fullest at every moment possible – so here we are 10 years later, reconnecting with that spirit!

The last few days before leaving Sri Lanka were manic to say the least, but also incredibly interesting. There were a string of leaving parties and leaving functions in Anuradhapura which really touched something deep within. The funky impromptu leaving party that Nadeera and Rajeev’s inspired me to have and helped me to put together at their place was the ‘icing on the cake’ -here we pulled out the “cousin party power” card to the max, and with the help of Jehan and his friends –we had one pumping Jam-session! Thanks guys. Also, the farewell to my family in Kandy was great, where I did a “tag-in, tag-out” act with my other cousin who has just got back from her foreign training in Australia. And then the “family train” continued to be ridden as I was greeted on the other side by my brother and Sandra!

The trip from Colombo to London was seamless. Neel drove me to the airport from Kandy –and he even bought me a gift!  How touching ! Especially considering that I had crashed his car at least 9 times in the 3 years that I had been renting it from him- I would have thought he’d be glad to see the back of me!! What a nice guy!

So goodbye, or Ayuboawan Sri Lanka – and hello London!!   


A successful certificate awarding ceremony – a tribute to my amazing team!

Today I thought i’d share a few thoughts about a small feeling of accomplishment, for sometimes even a small accomplishment can feels like a great thing.

For the last 6 months I’ve been working very hard on a research project that aims to assess a new system of resuscitation education for peripheral hospital doctors in Sri Lanka. It has been a challenging time and I’ve learned a lot. On Friday (3rd July) I feel like I jumped though one set of hoops in my personal PhD journey, but more than this I felt that the team of people who have been helping me, both visibly and invisibly, along the way have also jumped through those hoops along with me, and I really want to thank you for your company.  

Friday was the certificate awarding ceremony where we delivered the certificates of participation for both the “Trainers” and “participants” of the resuscitation training course. In addition to this we had a panel discussion of how to make this training program sustainable and thus make a real impact on resuscitation education in the provincial doctor community. Ultimately the discussion was about how to make a positive impact on patient care in the province, which is always the name of the game. 

This discussion occurred amongst policy makers of the Province where we’ve been conducting the project in collaboration with the local Provincial Ministry of Health. There were some important local people present having constructive dialogue and I felt like this was a huge achievement, even thought it was really only the beginning of a long road ahead. Nevertheless, and I am very happy with the outcome, for more than anything I believe I was party to a group of people who were working together to really try and achieve something good. I was also happy because it what had happened was the culmination of the efforts of so many people’s dedicated hard work.

There are literally too many people that I want to thank but I want to all the same because I feel that this project would not have gone anywhere without their help. First and foremost I feel the gratitude has to go to my hard working team of research assistants and secretary. Over the last 6 months I have had two batches of research assistants who are junior doctors awaiting internship. Both teams had been dedicated and diligent in helping me achieve my goals, but much more than that they have been a constant source of support, intelligence and creativity. Then there is the team at the Provincial department of health that have been absolutely fantastic. The MO of planning for the North Central Province in particular has taught me so much as well as been a pleasure to work with. Also other key people such as the as the Provincial Director of Health for NCP, who is our key partner, and the Regional Directors and Regional Epidemiologist for Anuradhapura, not to mention my direct seniors at the South Asian Clinical Toxicology Research collaboration (SACTRC) with whom I am affiliated, and of course my University (Australia National University, and the Welcome grant that helps fund my time here).   

There have also been so many people who have helped so much along the way who so often don’t get a mention – i think they know who they are, particularly my friends and family who I feel I have neglected somewhat in the last 6 months-and to them I do want to make an apology. 

However,  I’m also thankful for the people who will not have access to a blog like this – people like the security guards who greet me with a smile each morning as I arrive to work and who let me out of the building late at night sometimes, for they are always there never complaining, consistently there form me. The team of drivers also greet me with a smile on a daily baisis as well as a sense of camaraderie after I got to know them a little better at the office cricket match and post-match Baila party! Then there’s our office crowd who somehow bring a sense of calm to my work day that quickly can become hectic, not to mention the list of activities that we have developed over time such as saying good morning in 3 languages in the morning, and of course our attempts at public speaking with the game we sometimes play over afternoon tea in our open-air canteen- “table topics” from Toastmasters ‘Anuradhapura edition’. 

Then there is the whole host of instructors who are responsible for training the “trainers” from the very beginning last November. I’ve been very lucky to have such good links with these dedicated local consultants and and educators, as well as to have been able to have received a steady stream of help from overseas doctors (from as far as Nepal, India, New York, Brisbane and Perth) who have had a real knack for teaching resuscitation!

However, more than anything, I feel I have really have to express my gratitude, as well as awe, for the trainers themselves who took the challenge 6 months ago, back when they didn’t really know what they were up against, by having to learn to teach something they had not taught before, and actually followed through. Nobody knew that this would be possible at that early stage but they really did go the extra distance and they made it happen. The difficulties they faced is not readily apparent on face value, especially when you come from another culture and health system. What it means to attend a 2 day training session that is scores of kilometres from your place of work and residence is more than meets the eye, so to the dedication of these trainers we really owe a lot of the initial success of the program. 

Finally, thank you to all the participants, who also have busy schedules, and the staff in the hospitals themselves who accommodated the training program for they also need a special mention.

So to all who have helped me with this project either visibly or invisibly, I appreciate it all and say a big “Thank you” to you!


Ps I hope you enjoy the quotes and the pictures!

Quotes that help me through the project 

Always follow your heart and your “own” dreams as life is too short to follow someone else’s dreams

Life is not a race, but unfortunately we live on a race course 

Simplicity = success (many would laugh at this if they saw my list of “to do’s”, especially Sari)

Happiness is the catalyst 

“When wrestling a gorilla you give up with the gorilla gets tired, not when you get tired”

“You are never defeated until you accept something as defeat” – Helen Keller 

“See problems as opportunity for improvement. Problems reveal genius” – Robin Sharma (Success coach and Author of “The monk who sold his Ferrari”)

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves” – Carl Jung (Psychologist)

“Success is within everyone of us, we just have to realise it”  Bishan Rajapakse (some crazy NZ Sri Lankan doctor who is taking the scenic route to finishing his EM training)

 and most importantly ….

“We are not machines”  Dr D Jayasinghe – a very charismatic peripheral hospital doctor and trainer

Key to the pictures. 

Below are some of the pictures of the Certificate Awarding Ceremony at the RDHS on July 3rd 2009, showing the progression of the meeting including the handing out of certificates and the subsequent discussion about sustainability. My research team and team of extended colleagues and helpers at the function are also extensively featured in the photos!