Chandana’s ‘hole’ story…

  • Landing on a high-flying Golf enthusiast

  • Ardent music lover’s biggest dream to act in a movie

 “We are all reasonable decent human beings. This is one message from me and if I am decent to them, they will return the same to me. I have realized this over a period of years having worked with people. People should never have problems with people because we are of the same kind.”

By Ramesh Uvais
Chandana de Silva is indeed a very special person. Anyone who has had the privilege of knowing this indomitable man well, will know what we mean.

Although Chandana is right now occupying a hot seat in our national carrier SriLankan Airlines as the Head of Corporate Communications, he always emerges as a man who takes things cool.

The unruffled man’s piercing eyes and the luminous smile strike one as his immediate, perceptible assets. And what’s more important is that he could talk and talk for hours on almost any topic under the sun and moon – in his trademark voice, firm and clear.

And best of all, there appears to be a childlike enthusiasm in the gutsy personality who is into serious business spreading the good image of our national carrier and the country as a whole to the world around us.

So, here’s presenting the multi-faceted Chandana de Silva in first person, to break his inside story …. the ‘hole’ story, of course.

Music career
“If I go back to the late seventies or the early eighties, my biggest passion was music – singing and I played for the band called Topaz, which was very popular among music lovers at the time. I love that part of my life even though I am working for an airline. Music was very closer to my heart. When I joined Emirates as a young executive I had to think out of the box not only in the sporting area but also to create events to get people together and knitting the travel trade with airline industry. We for the first time started the Emirates rally open to the industry but before that we were the first to participate in the SLADAR 1000 kilometre rally and I had this LADA Samara. Yet I did my best and competed with the others and came third as well. Nothing is impossible if you have the will. Racing is a good sport. You have to keep your mind straight and be very levelheaded. I was also involved in rallying and hill climbing also and mind you that was not very long go.

Racing days
“Those were my Emirates days and after that motor sports was getting very competitive and it was a difficult task to keep up with the changing days. It was getting a bit too expensive and unaffordable to race. So I had to move out of that area and look for other avenues to keep my mind and body occupied. Then I organized some rallies and took part in racing on and off. Generally these rallies ended up with functions and get togethers. From Emirates I decided to join SriLankan Airlines at the time of privatization. I was still doing a little bit of racing after joining SriLankan Airlines.

Flying dreams
“My childhood dream was to fly someday. So I joined the flying club at LionAir and then started learning upto the PPL. But it was a difficult task because I had to spend a lot of time at Ratmalana. Unfortunately flying was restricted due to the situation in the country. We had to wait for a long time and get necessary clearance before flying for a couple of hours. That did not give me the real outlook of flying but I did that also. It was in the early nineties. I was dabbling in all these things – flying, racing and rallying, music. Then at SriLankan Airlines I started organizing various events expected of us – executives or industry leaders whatever you may call us. We had to do something different to attract people to our country.

Tee time
“Then I started organizing sporting tournaments including golf – a game I did not believe in at all then. I thought you have to be really, really doing nothing to run behind a ball with a stick and put that into a hole. Honestly, I though it was stupid. I joined the Royal Colombo Golf Club and used to watch golfers play. I wondered what they were really doing with the ball. One fine day my CEO Peter Hill asked me why I didn’t give the game a try. I agreed to get some clubs and walk with him instead of playing. I got some clubs and went to the driving range to get the basics of the game. I was taught by Billi Morea initially and then got some key tricks of the trade from caddie turned player Nandasena who instilled confidence in me to play the game. Then I organized the first Golf Classics in Nuwara Eliya. I started playing the game but I was not totally committed as I believed then that it was not a game for a person as young as me. But when I took up golf summoning enough courage and played my first game it was a huge embarrassment for me and I knew it. The game was not as easy as I had imagined. The game was challenging me. That really motivated me to the hilt and I was determined to go ahead with it. And today I am a person who will vouch that Golf is the game – it’s a fashionable game because the elite community is playing it. The game challenges you and teaches you heaps of leadership qualities and lot of etiquette, ethics and mannerism. The beauty of it is that it can be played from the age of 10 to 85 or even 90.

“I am happy about this turnaround in my life with golf. It has helped me bring lots of tourists into the country from various parts of the world, and they are the high-spenders. To say that golf is limited to the elite class is kind of a myth. The haves play golf because everything connected to the game is expensive, but today the higher-end golfers who could spare second hand clubs give them to the caddies or to junior golfers and that has become a kind of a norm today. I personally do love to see the caddies playing the game because it is they who have been involved with the game. Yes, the game is for the elite but they are helping the rest of the community to come up and play the game. This trend is specially seen in Sri Lanka.

My idols
“My passion for music was a very long love affair. My idol was Clarence Wijewardana. As a musician I really admire him for his revolutionary moves in the country’s music scene. Singers C.T. Fernando, Jothipala, Milton Mallawarachchi and a few others had a kind of a melody that could be branded under one common banner. Then we also had the baila but there was nothing in between despite the Nanda Malinis and Victor Ratnayakes. It was Clarence who struck the right balance with some evergreen songs like Dileepa Podu Puthu, Kanda Surinduni and others. As a member of the Topaz band I have played at several open air shows in almost all parts of the country. We were then going as the second band of Gypsies or Super Golden Chimes.

“Speaking of music I shall never forget the recent Refreshingly Sri Lanka held in London where I had to join Bathiya and Santhush on stage to sing a couple of songs and also our corporate song ‘We are SriLankan..’.

Acting dreams
“Talking of my love for the arts, you may find another glamorous side to me. I did several TV commercials and my first one was for Mlesna tea. I was chosen as a model for Donalds and then I did a role in Prof. Nimal Senanayake’s award-winning tele drama ‘Ella Langa Walawwa.”

“But my biggest dream is to act in a movie one of these days I have brought this to the notice of a few filmmakers. I would love to do a character in a film. As a schoolboy at St. Peter’s College I was into theatre and dabbled in Kandyan dancing too.

“It’s sad that today there are no arts, drama and cultural events which are accessible to today’s younger generation especially. As a kid I remember running to watch Chitrasena and Vajira dance under that Nuga Tree in Kollupitiya. Today is there a place where you and I can go and watch our cultural dances? There is little initiative taken to create such an atmosphere. Today it’s unfortunate that the younger generation is seen as a entity with no direction where our culture is concerned. It certainly poses a serious threat to our culture and heritage. In the absence of such a background it’s difficult for us to even advise the youngsters today.

Fashion conscious
“Yes, I am fashion-conscious, but fashion is something that is very personal to any individual. Today we see lots of people trying to copy or imitate some other person. But my only advice to youngsters especially is that whatever they dress they should wear them neatly, immaterial of whether they wear branded attires or not. I hate people who are shabbily dressed, with unpolished shoes and so on. Remember, what you wear is what you are.

“My role at SriLankan is to head the Corporate Communications department. It’s a huge challenge. We handle advertising, media, public relations and promotions. I have four excellent managers working with me and profiling, branding and talking about the company is under our department. It’s not an easy job. No, job is easy for that matter. Keeping your cool is the key. Speaking of the media I love to be in touch with all media irrespective of the language or size.

Respecting people
“We are all reasonable decent human beings. This is one message from me and if I am decent to them, they will return the same to me. I have realized this over a period of years having worked with people. People should never have problems with people because we are of the same kind.”

And as we have those thought-provoking parting words from Chandana to wrap up our interview, we leave his high-rise World Trade Centre office with another impression about him. Yeah… the guy indeed has an excellent heart too.

(Pictures by Mihira Bandara Dissanayake – Courtesy GO)

Via… Daily Mirror

[Spelling mistakes are intentional, to avoid those words being optimized for search engines.]


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Posted on August 28, 2006, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. guilermo molinero

    I am guilermo molinero from venezuela. I liked your life style $interested to see you in srilanka for the golf.I have been practicing in jaypeegreens noida india for the last 12 months.
    kindly write me about the dates available with you.I am really interested to meet you once in this month.Do reply for the meeting.


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