How do I keep my batch mates together

Mervyn Ranaweera



Since childhood I always felt there was something really magical about

photography, being able to capture special moments in peoples’ lives and to keep

wonderful memories alive forever.

 

You see, back then we did not have these advanced digital cameras that could

easily generate lots of images quickly.  There was a process. You carried these

hefty box cameras around, had to have the correct light and hope that you

captured shots people were happy with. You would then have to develop reams

and reams of film in the dark rooms with care and attention. And at the end you

would be able to hold the wonderful images you had created, with happiness and

also pride

When I was in senior school I wanted to join the school photography club, but they

rejected me as they would only take students that were already part of the scouts

group. Determined to learn, I asked my cousin’s relative who worked in a well-

established photography studio in Negombo, if he would teach me. I used to spend

hours after school and at the weekend, in this studio learning to develop and

printing films. I would really enjoy it when the images would gradually appear in the

developing tanker.


(Picture of me taken from Box camera)


I desperately wanted my own camera but they were so expensive and I could not

afford to buy one. So I would beg my cousin’s relative to lend me his, and on

occasion I was allowed to borrow it for family trips or religious pilgrimages.

As life went on, I studied to become a doctor and did my internship in Ratnapura

and moved to Badulla.  With my first salary I was finally able to buy my own

camera! A yashico electro 35! I would use this to capture all the special moments

and adventures of exploring the Sril-lankan hillsides with my friends.


(Badulla district General hospital taken using my first camera Yashica Electro 35)


I moved to Colombo General hospital and met Vasantha in Matale. We moved to

the UK after getting married, and I have captured our life’s journeys in

photographs: our daily activities, the birth of my three daughters, the year we

moved to Wales, all the Christmases and birthdays we shared, our family holidays,

and graduations. We have countless photo albums stacked up in our house of 40

years worth of beautiful memories that will never be forgotten.  

Looking back, going to the prestigious Colombo Medical School was one of my

greatest achievements and my university days were some of the happiest times of

my life. We all came from different parts of Sri-lanka and made so many wonderful

friends, many of whom I am proud to still be friends with to this day.

 

There is something very special about our ‘75 batch. It is filled with talented and

dedicated doctors who have gone on to achieve many great things in their lives, all

over the world. But above all, there is a very strong sense of unity between us all.

You can see this by the heartfelt dedication and commitment in organising multiple

batch reunions over the years, which have been hosted worldwide, with amazing

adventures and attended by so many.

 

A few years ago I started an email batch birthday programme. It initially began as

a way of sending our birthday wishes and messages to all of our great batch

friends, to keep us all connected. This programme became exceedingly popular,

and you could see people starting to share their own sweet memories and

interesting funny stories.

 

With its growing popularity, I then started to include more in the birthday emails;

about the individual’s background, share special funny incidences during medical

school times, include special highlighted commentary and mention a little bit about

their spouses! I sometimes collect information from the person themselves, or their

previous school- mates, batch-mates, family and friends! In these birthday emails,

I include lots and lots of photos I have taken myself. These are mostly natural

shots, of course, taken without any warning at times, using two or more cameras

and sometimes posing shots! Sometimes I modify the pictures with funny

adjustments or adding funny comments! The way I collect these photos is during

our local and international reunions, committee meetings and special occasions,

where I am requested to be the event photographer! Some of you jokingly call me

the paparazzi!

 

I sometimes purposely make spelling mistakes, or change their names around,

make blunders or sometimes make up funny little stories. To these I receive

responses correcting these and it makes me happy to hear from you all!  I still

remember the surgical anatomy from our basic sciences teaching and include

some of these terms in the birthday messages relevant to the person to tease a

little!

 

There are a few ’75 medics who we may not hear from too much or are not keen

on widely publishing their birthdays. That is fine, and they can still enjoy being part

of the email group. There are many who are immensely helpful in keeping up this

birthday programme by sending their own relevant photographs for these special

occasions. They also share their own funny stories, nice comments and good

jokes that we can all happily enjoy. I always include the birthday person’s email

address towards the end of email so that people can contact them easily and send

their own wishes. Many of you send me kind messages, thanking me for the time

and effort I make for these birthday emails.

 

It is with these communications and wonderful photographs we can all stay in

touch with each-other, relive our university days, have some laughter and

happiness together and share new memories. It is my way of keeping our batch

together!! Most of our batch-mates are coming to the age of 70, and we need to be

together as much as possible. We are hoping to celebrate our golden jubilee in the

year 2021.

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