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Old 04-12-16, 09:20 AM
sriyanj sriyanj is offline
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Default Lakshman Ratnapala, Emeritus President & CEO of PATA

Sunday December 4th 2016

A new book by ex-PATA chief
December 3, 2016, 6:39 pm

Lakshman Ratnapala, Emeritus President & CEO of PATA, has published his second book this year titled Soaring Spirits and Shooting Star paying tribute to 14 people who have inspired him through his lifetime.

Born in Sri Lanka and educated at S. Thomas’, Mt. Lavinia, he began his working life as a journalist and government press officer, was appointed as the Ceylon Tourist Board representative in New York and later joined the Pacific Area Travel Association and rose to be its CEO becoming a global corporate executive on travel and tourism.

The people he has chosen to honor, with their biographical portraits, include leaders of tourism, nature conservation, politics, sports and creative arts, from the U.S.A., Japan, India, Indonesia and Sri Lanka.

The book, Soaring Spirits and Shooting Stars, will be available in Vijitha Yapa book-shops, other major book sellers and on-line at amazon as well as at www. and has been recommended as an excellent Christmas gift.

Ratnapala’s first book, Flickering Fortunes klaunched on Jan. 1, 2016, was well received.

Lakshman Ratnapala, Emeritus President & CEO of PATA
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Old 24-12-16, 05:35 PM
sriyanj sriyanj is offline
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Default Two books by pata emeritus president & ceo,


The first, Flickering Fortunes in Changing Ceylon of Mid 20th Century is the story
of the author growing up in colonial Ceylon as the island transformed from feudalism
to a riotous democracy. Set against the medieval history of battles against successive
conquerors, the narrative weaves a colorful tapestry of changes that accompanied the
political evolution of an idyllic land and the cultural liberation of a proud people who
transformed from "nobodies" to be "somebodies". Available at www.vijithayapa.com

The second book, Soaring Spirits and Shooting Stars is a compendium of tributes to
people across the world, who have inspired the author through his lifetime culminating
as a global corporate executive of travel and tourism. Available at www.vijithayapa.com

The author, Lakshman Ratnapala an intrepid traveler with an inquisitive mind brings an
analytical thought process and a candid writing style, often humorous, yet sharp and caustic.
The Sunday Times said, "Lakshman Ratnapala spares no one, suffers no fools, pulls no punches
in the forthright manner in which he chronicles his life and times" and the Sunday Island said,
"It is a montage of powerful word pictures drawn with bold strokes by the author, who unafraid
of criticism paints scenes pleasing, yet full of candor" while the Asian Tribune contended that
"That the story is presented in delightful, effortless prose"
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Old 24-12-16, 06:44 PM
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Default Lakshman Ratnapala


Daily News,Tuesday, December 20, 2016 - 01:00

Sachitra Mahendra

Writing a short biographical profile or quite a few is easy, especially with ample information available. However, dealing with the lesser known aspects of the well known personalities is not that easy. It is a tough job handled by a handful of biographers. These scribes are required to have a firsthand association with the well known personalities or a close study of the subjects.

D B Dhanapala shone in that school of biographers when he authored Among Those Present. He moulded the life of the well known personalities with easy dexterity under his language prowess, which remains to be inimitable. Dhanapala shone with an influential power, but could never be imitated. He was unique, and has never been duplicated.

Lakshman Ratnapala seems to follow suit. He exhibits influence from D B Dhanapala in his latest work Soaring Spirits and Shooting Stars. He forgets not to make reference to D B Dhanapala under whose tutelage he learnt the ropes as a budding journalist.

“His volume of biographies of the movers and shakers of his day was a classic and is one of my favorite tomes. That fanciful monkey of my wandering mind has been relentlessly returning, over the years, prodding me to produce a compendium on a similar theme as Dhanapala’s book,” Ratnapala notes.

Ratnapala was Ceylon Tourist Board Director for the Americas in New York in the 1970s. And today, he has launched a Trust for education and healthcare in Sri Lanka while volunteering for Bay Area Travel Writers. He was also the Emeritus President of PATA (The Pacific Asia Travel Association).

“It was one of those hot, sultry, dog days of Summer. Having just returned from a hard workout at the gym, I was in my rocking chair looking out the window at nothing in particular, when the phone rang. I was not inclined to raise myself from the cushioned comfort of the chair, but the ring was insistent as telephone calls usually are, with that persistent sense of urgency. Still, in the middle of a U.S. Presidential election, I was not prepared to let myself be disturbed by robot calls with political messages. But the telephone had done enough to disturb the peace. It had roused my mind to uneasy wandering which most minds are wont to do,” so writes Ratnapala in his introduction to Soaring Spirits.

Ratnapala’s previous work, Flickering Fortunes, is part I of his autobiographical trilogy of growing up in colonial Ceylon. He has twisted sentences to portray how this little paradise like no other gradually transformed into a revolutionary sovereign state. The autobiography narrates the medieval history of Ceylon under the yoke of several colonial conquerors.

In Soaring Spirits, Ratnapala moves on to a different territory. He writes brief and interesting profiles of the well-known as well as the middle-known personalities. The narratives take you to a bygone period of eminent personalities such as S W R D Bandaranaike as well as those related to the eminent personalities (Cyril Gardiner, George Ondaatje and D B Nihalsinghe, for instance).

“Book publishing produces an undefinable pleasure like gardening or afternoon tea with croissant and marmalade. The last time I experienced this pleasure, which really is more a pride of achievement was, when as a cub reporter at the Lankadipa, my first news report made the day’s headlines. It was a thrill, albeit a muted thrill,” Ratnapala observes.

If Flickering Fortunes is about growing up in changing Ceylon of mid-20th century, Soaring Spirits is mostly about the people who influenced Ratnapala. For better or worse, according to Ratnapala, most of them remain alive in his mind.

There are so many, and Ratnapala manages to name a few.

“Jerry Picolla quintessential American, avuncular, jovial and outgoing maverick who recruited me to PATA after an interview at the Playboy Club in New York. Ken Chamberlain, Cambridge educated Englishman, PATA’s visionary leader, with whom I found a cultural kinship in republican America and was my mentor on the international stage, Alwin Zecha, the bombastic iconoclast who became an iconic champion of voiceless smaller members, having, through gravelly voiced braggadocio and browbeating wrested control of PATA from powerful “gangs” of vested interests and returned its ownership to the majority of smaller members. The always effervescent Michael Paulin, international hotelier and vintner turned mountaineer and globe trekker, dubbed a “lovable teddy bear”. Tan Chee Chye who made my life as Vice President-Asia in Singapore that much easier.”

Last hours of a statesman

An excerpt from Soaring Spirits and Shooting Stars

Rushed to hospital, the Prime Minister joked with doctors preparing him for surgery, telling them they could see that, after all, he had enough guts. Then he dictated a message to the nation asking for calm and to forgive the “foolish man” who shot him.

The apey aanduwa or people’s government of Prime Minister Bandaranaike, the ‘great Emancipator of the Underclass’ meandered its way from crisis to crisis with a program of nationalization that invited numerous enemies. In September 1959 astrologers warned that the stars foretold a threat to the life of the Prime Minister, unless he stayed out of the danger zone in about the third week of the month. This meant that he had to be out of the country. His wife Sirimavo appealed to her husband to go abroad, an idea which he dismissed. She then arranged secretly with Ceylon’s representative at the United Nations in New York, to have him contact the Prime Minister directly, urging his presence at the world body’s general assembly meeting in late September. Bandaranaike’s love of foreign affairs tempted him to accept the invitation. He made preparations to leave the country.

The morning before the day of departure, the residence at Rosemead Place was crowded with visitors to meet the Prime Minister. There was also the lonely sentry at the gate. The smiling Prime Minister emerged from the drawing room to the verandah and with palms clasped in salutation, he went down the line of visitors greeting each, pausing briefly to exchange pleasantries.

He came abreast of a monk in saffron robes and as he bent low in reverence, with folded palms, the monk pulled a revolver hidden in the folds of the robe and emptied it into the Prime Minister’s belly, point blank. Bandaranaike held his stomach, turned and rushed inside, while the assassin fired again at the retreating Prime Minister. Crying ammo, ammo, “oh mother, oh mother”, Bandaranaike fell into the arms of his wife Sirimavo, who was rushing to check what was happening. She laid her bleeding husband on the nearest settee.

Rushed to hospital, the Prime Minister joked with doctors preparing him for surgery, telling them they could see that, after all, he had enough guts.

Then he dictated a message to the nation asking for calm and to forgive the “foolish man” who shot him. He instructed the Governor General to ensure peace in the country. After a five-hour surgery, he regained consciousness next morning, chatted briefly with Sirimavo but soon breathed his last. The nation was plunged in mourning.
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Old 22-01-17, 09:50 PM
sriyanj sriyanj is offline
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Default REVIEWED BY: The Revd. Marc Billimoria Warden, S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia

Lakshman Ratnapala has done it again
January 21, 2017, 4:51 pm

REVIEWED BY: The Revd. Marc Billimoria
Warden, S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia
He has done it again! ‘Soaring Spirits and Shooting Stars’ the second book to be published in the year 2016, by author/publisher, Lakshman Ratnapala, is as interesting and evocative as his first book ‘Flickering Fortunes’, published in February of the same year

This second book contains primarily pen portraits of fourteen men who have had a significant impact on the author’s life. Among them are a number of the author’s colleagues from PATA and the world of Tourism who have chapters of their own. It is an eclectic collection of subjects that Mr Ratnapala has dealt with, here.

The novelist Joseph Conrad has written that the task of a writer ‘is, by the power of the written word to make you hear, to make you feel - it is, before all, to make you see. That - and no more - and it is everything.’ Mr Ratnapala’s biographical writings have done just this. Just as his first book helped the reader not just to engage with the life of the subject but also of the subject’s times and seasons, so this second book will also serve this purpose.

The British historian G. M. Trevelyan in his ‘Autobiography of an Historian’ from An Autobiography and Other Essays writes ‘The dead were and are not. Their place knows them no more and is ours today...The poetry of history lies in the quasi-miraculous fact that once, on this earth, once, on this familiar spot of ground, walked other men and women, as actual as we are today, thinking their own thoughts, swayed by their own passions, but now all gone, one generation vanishing into another, gone as utterly as we ourselves shall shortly be gone, like ghosts at cockcrow.’ A study of the lives and times of men and women of the past help us to realize that we are all part of a grand design; that we will get some things right as did our forebears and we will definitely get some things wrong just as they did.

Although characteristically, as in his first book, Ratnapala does not pull his punches, he treats his subjects with respect and with a sense of humour that is by no means irreverent. However, he is guilty of betraying his loyalties to his heroes! But then most biographers do tend to treat their subjects ‘subjectively’! There is perhaps a fine line between biography and hagiography that is the uncritical and even reverential description of a subject’s life. Trevelyan has identified that ‘bias’ is very much a part of the historical biographer’s weakness. And so, Mr. Ratnapala’s pen portraits of some of his heroes can be described as having been written in similar vein.

Reading through ‘Soaring Spirits and Shooting Stars’ I have been struck by the fact that the author has remembered so many details about people, places and events. It is obvious that he paid attention to the little things and made a note of the details. In a fast-moving world like ours we would benefit by remembering the small things and the little details for at the end of the day it is perhaps these things that matter.

Mr Ratnapala shows us also the value of remembering, the value of respect for people both great and small. This shows us that we all need mentors, people we can look up to and respect and seek to emulate and be inspired by for our own journey through life. It shows us the value of heroes – men and women who stood for the right kind of public opinion and principles whose courage, integrity and lifestyle continue to inspire. Someone has said ‘Next to doing things that deserve to be written, nothing gets a man more credit, or gives him more pleasure than to write things that deserve to be read.’ These pen portraits deserved to have been written and certainly deserve to be read!
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