March 19, 2023 (LBO) - I was born and schooled in the United States. In a very unlikely scenario, I ended up marrying a Sri Lankan, having a family, and settling down in Sri Lanka. In another unlikely scenario, I decided to send my boys to S. Thomas' Preparatory school as opposed to international school. We had some past family connections with S. Thomas, and we knew of some friends' children who were also going to the school, so we decided to give it a try. So my kids are now Thomians.
A few weeks ago, I met an old Royalist who I very much admire. He convinced me that I must take my kids to the upcoming Royal Thomian cricket match, and even organized the tickets so I could come to his same tent. As I am neither a Royalist or Thomian, I have generally avoided the event. Normally I shun events with large crowds and even larger amounts of alcohol consumed, however this time I thought I'd give it a try, for the sake of the kids.
After attending the event, all I can say is that no matter what school you went to, in Sri Lanka or overseas, everyone should attend this event at least once in their lifetime.
I have been to a lot of places and seen a few things in my life, however I have not experienced something quite like the Royal Thomian big match. It is truly a unique only in Sri Lanka experience.
During the lunch break I walked around the grounds and peeked into every 'tent'. A tent is basically an enclosed part of the grounds for spectators to watch the match and engage in fellowship. What I saw in these tents was fascinating. In each different enclosure there was a different kind of crowd, with a different kind of band, and a different kind of vibe. Everyone in these tents seemed to be having a great time, with food, drink, music and friends all around them. The school boys had their own tents, with 'papare' bands and loud cheers.
The 'big match' is essentially a backdrop for over a dozen different parties, who tune in and out of the cricket. This year, the cricket was fun to watch. A historic partnership between two Royal College batsmen: Dasis Manchanayake (137) and Ramiru Perera (128) threw the match decidedly in Royal's favor. Royal then methodically closed out the match to secure an outright victory after 7 years.
My young boys had a ball, despite cheering for the losing side. We watched parts of the match at home on Youtube, so we could get to know the players and get a good feel for the game that one can only get on TV. Then later we would go off to the match, to be with the crowds for an in-person experience. I met over 40 people I knew at the match, some who I haven't seen in years. There was cheering, singing, dancing, and revelry all around.
After I came home I saw pictures of Sri Lanka's most famous Royalist, President Ranil Wickremesinghe, at the match. He's been going to the match regularly throughout his whole life. Now I understand why.