Sunday, August 13, 2017

the times we grew up - 2

Going back to our A level days we had about ten friends commuting daily to schools in the school bus. Majority to Dharmaraja and couple of guys to kingswood and Sylvester.  After A Levels one member in this gang , whose father was a close supporter of the member of the parliament of our electorate , got a job as a school teacher. 
Those of who grew up those days would know that an appointment of a school teacher those days was only given to qualified members of   close and vocal  supporters of ruling party and I think the qualification asked for was O Level. Unlike nowadays there were only few private sector jobs and they were far between, so the teaching jobs in state schools were probably the only decent job if you couldn’t make it to the universities. And there were rumours of MPs taking bribes ; 5000 to 10000 Rupees to grant teaching jobs and even taking prospective candidates to rest houses , if they happen to be good looking females, for there  were not many hotels  in rural areas those days.
Our friend who became a teacher got his first appointment to a deep rural area. Some school in Minipe , a newly developed agriculture scheme  irrigated by the Minipe canal. There were many farmers who were given tracts of land to grow rice in this project and our friend found a boarding place in one of the farmers house in the area. This farmer  we were told is a distant relative of the teacher and one of the settlers who had done well in this new irrigation scheme. Our friend used to come home for every weekend to Kandy in a CTB bus. 
 I remember once he told me he would always carry two bottles of gal arrack on his return trip to Minipe and at the end of the trip he would hand over the bottles to the conductor and conductor would return his bus fare back along with cost of the two bottles. This was because in Mahiyangana area there were no liquor shops and conductor and driver would make enough profits from that bottles to cover his bus fare  and make a little profit for themselves too.
Since there was a limit of two bottles a passenger can carry, conductor would do this with as many regular passengers and sell them to a underworld guy who would sell the stuff in black market  with another hike for his margins too. So three or four layers getting benefited in the process. Now in management jargons this process would be called a supply chain I suppose.

Now that we have one of our gang working in a rural area far from Kandy and we were free from all our obligations since the A Level examination is over, we decided the obvious. We should make a trip to Minipe. Hasty preparations were made. We asked him to not to come home in a one weekend and about 10 of us, in a one fine morning, went in a CTB bus, to Minipe. Although it looks now that there was no need for preparations for  such a simple trip , the times were different, there were no telephones to speak of , all the massages had to be conveyed in snail mail, all the information had to be extracted from sources because there was no internet or google. 


  1. Should write your memoirs in the book form. Btw,have you already done so?

  2. i did it about my life and times in the navy , 33 years , book was launched last month at kandy book fair

  3. I am not aware of the prices but the didn't the conductor pay the cost of the bottles too your friends? If that is the case your friend has travelled free of cost and the conductor has covered the cost of bus fare and made a profit. If not the cost of two bottles was the cost of your friends trip. For him to benefit out of it the cost of two bottles has to be lower than the bus fare.

  4. well yes he would have , his profit from carrying them covered the bus fare , he told me

  5. At that time (1970s)one of my uncles used to ride bicycle about 80 miles twice a day to the nearest tavern, buy 2 bottles each visit. This was a seasonal event before new year festival when blackmarket price for Gal is so high. That exercise gave him enough strength to win several bicycles in local bicycle races.

    1. haha, yes they were tough times , and absurd as well


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