Tag Archives: Rotary Club

How They Celebrate The 4th of July In England, Britain.

.Anura Guruge December 2014 thumbnail
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by Anura Guruge


Related posts:
++++ Search on ‘July 4’ & ‘4 July’for many, many other related posts >>>>


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Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, MP and Mayor of London, born in New York, is not amused.

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 The Scene

donaldct4th of July 1985. Donald Court, Woodbine, Maryland — a new, ‘middle class’, 4-acre lot housing development. We had been there for about 2 months.

My 2nd 4th of July in the U.S., the FIRST as a British citizen. The other had been in 1968, in Buffalo, NY, when I was 14. I was, however, a citizen of Ceylon at the time (only having changed nationality in 1983).

Big, neighborhood cookout across the road. Very communal community. Around 3 in the afternoon. The sun is beating down. As ever I have a glass of wine in my hand. A lady, one of the neighbours, sidles up to me and puts her delicate hand on my arm.

“So, Anu, tell me, how do they celebrate the 4th of July in England?”

“Quietly, very quietly!”

I kid you not. This is a true story. It was my best rejoinder EVER. I am so proud that I was able to come up with that. I have got so much milage out of this story, in Britain, when I used to do seminars over there. I would start off with this story. The Brits loved it.

So I am sharing it with all of YOU in case you too were wondering how the British celebrate the 4th of July.


Some Other Memorable, “This Really Happened To ME”, U.S. << — >> U.K. contretemps during my many (30++) years in the U.S. as a British subject.

>> “These, what did you call them, ‘pounds’, is that like a currency, like money, like the dollar?” ((“Know they are better than the dollar, about two and a half times better”. This was in 1980 when a U.K. pound (£1) was worth around $2.40. Phoenix Airport, Arizona — trying to pay for excess baggage using airline issued MCOs (Miscellaneous Charge Orders).))

>> “Arthur C. Clarke was British? Well, we wrote damn well for NOT being American!” ((This was by a retired, highly respected surgeon in Laconia, New Hampshire, in September 2001 during a Laconia Rotary Club Meeting.))

>> “He got his first degree from the “University of Whales”. ((Laconia Rotary Club Newsletter, Fall 2001, after I had told them that I got my first degree from the University of Wales. The writer of the piece, a newspaper editor and now the Mayor of Laconia, claimed that he had NEVER heard of Wales!))


New Hampshire Stories: Laconia Rotary Club and Arthur C. Clarke Being American.


Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

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  by Anura Guruge


Arthur C. Clarke in Sri Lanka with the famed Sigiriya rock fortress with its fabled images of topless beauties behind him.

What Arthur C. Clarke is MOST famous for though this was BUT just a small part of his huge legacy … Click image to read about Arthur in Wikipedia.


“New Hampshire Stories” sets out to chronicle noteworthy, but mostly amusing, events from my 3 decades in New Hampshire.
Check the CATEGORY ‘New Hampshire Stories’ or do a SEARCH using sidebar search box for ‘stories’ for other posts.

Please read this post
for more about my induction to the Laconia Rotary Club ….

So per President Kinney’s instructions I did my two presentations to the club about my life, the first devoted to my early days.

A few weeks later, per the club edict that you really must mingle, I sat at the informally designated ‘head table’ for what was always an outstanding buffet lunch. The professional dignitaries invariably gravitated to this table.

On of those at the table was a recently retired surgeon from Laconia. Big guy in every sense of the word, but very nice. He had just recently been the President of some prestigious board of NE surgeons (possibly doctors). His brother was a dentist (in Laconia) and a member of the club. They always sat at the same table. The dentist was a chair-smoker. Whenever I saw him I would have these images of him, in the 70s (when I assumed there were no laws against where you smoked), leaning over his patients with a cigarette dangling from his lips.

I am seated diagonally from the surgeon; his brother seated next to him.

The surgeon puts down his cutlery, looks up at me and says: ‘So Anu, who is the MOST famous American author living in Ceylon … Sri Lanka?

I am stumped. I don’t know. I THOUGHT that maybe he was getting Arthur C. Clarke confused, but dared not mention that name.

I had, in my 1st presentation mentioned Arthur C. Clarke. Pointed out that he had moved to Ceylon in the late 1940s for the sunken shipwrecks that he dove (and for some other local ‘attractions’). Mentioned that my father knew him and that the very first telescope that I had seen (and used) belonged to Arthur C. Clarke. It was a brass telescope and Arthur had lent it to my father for a couple of nights. My father managed to find Saturn with it. Was I impressed and hooked. Wow. Yes, I could see the rings. I am sure Arthur gave my father directions as to where to point as my father, though an expert in many fields, is not an expert when it comes to the night sky. So I had covered Arthur in my presentation. So you can blame Arthur for my abiding interest in astronomy.

So, I am hesitating.

The surgeon by now is visibly getting excited. He goes: ‘Hhhhmmm. I thought you would KNOW. It is Arthur C. Clarke‘.

I am shocked. I am amazed. But, I have a knack of always hedging my bets …

So, I say: ‘You know, I am fairly sure Clarke is BRITISH‘.


This is a TRUE story with no embellishments whatsoever. But, can we PLEASE have a drum roll here …


He turns a bit pink and splutters:
Ha … He writes DAMN WELL for not being American’!

—–

That to me will always be how I remember Laconia Rotary.

New Hampshire Stories: Laconia Rotary Club and the ‘University of Whales’

by Anura Guruge


Getting inducted into Laconia Rotary (in Sept. 2001, I think), by the late Kinney O’Rouke, wearing my ‘Granite State Ambassador’ (GSA) shirt, the first thing that Kinney got me into.

University of Swansea

University of Swansea, across from Mumbles Beach with its amazing long (I think 2 mile) tidal ebb-and-flow. No we didn’t use the beach much. During term time it was usually too cold.


Laconia Rotary Park with the historic Belknap Mill in the background, where Laconia Rotary has their meetings (on the 3rd floor).


“New Hampshire Stories” sets out to chronicle noteworthy, but mostly amusing, events from my 3 decades in New Hampshire.
Check the CATEGORY ‘New Hampshire Stories’ or do a SEARCH using sidebar search box for ‘stories’ for other posts.

How I met the once bestriding Kinney O’Rouke in the parking lot of the Laconia CVS and how me got me involved in ‘Granite State Ambassadors‘ (GSA) and Laconia Rotary were described in this July 14, 2012, post. So I won’t revisit that again. If you want the background, please read that post.

Kinney who was President of Laconia Rotary at the time ‘fast tracked’ my induction. I had to fill in a questionnaire about my life and meet with a 3 person ‘Induction Committee’ who wanted to ensure that I had integrity (and took regular showers). Anyway, since Kinney wanted me (and that was mainly to boost his recruitment score) they agreed to have me, integrity be damned.

I was not the first non-white that had been inducted. Dr. Prabhkar K. Shetty, the renowned Ophthalmologist from Gilford, had been a member for a longtime. But, I was by far, the most exotic person they had inducted and that was what Kinney wanted. As Kinney emphasized from the start, we were going to have fun and that fun started with my induction ceremony.

Birthdays are a BIG deal at Laconia Rotary. Around the time of your birthday you are supposed to bring in an item that is then auctioned, at the weekly lunchtime meeting, to raise money for the Club. The goal is to sell your item for as much as you can. So some get very creative and I remember items selling for $300. So, as part of the induction they announce your birthday. Based on a comment I had made that I knew somebody that was born on that day, Kinney announced that my birthday was ‘April 1’ — thus trying to set the tone that I was a clown, if not a fool.

Right after the induction meeting, Kinney tells me: ‘You are ON for the next 2 weeks. You are doing the presentation. Just tell them about your life‘. Another brilliant Kinney move. Each weekly Rotary meeting is supposed to have a ‘meaningful’ (hopefully educational) 20 – 30 minute presentation. As with the Birthday Auction each member is supposed to find speakers to fill these slots — again some setting out to excel (and keeping their speaker secret until the meeting). Once when it was my turn, I got Philip McLaughlin who had just finished his term as the Attorney General of NH. (Yes, they were impressed. Philip, a Laconia native, wowed them.) So, by getting me to fill in 2 slots, right away, Kinney, as President, didn’t have to worry about whether those two meetings were going to have speakers — that always been a challenge. [If he didn’t have school, e.g., Summer, Matthew, who was 8-9, used to attend the meetings with me, kids being encouraged to attend. At one of the meetings the speaker did not show up. I bribed Matthew, who had just come back from ‘Global Finals’, to talk about Destination Imagination (DI). I can’t remember what the bribe was, but I know it was expensive. He must have been 9 at the time. He got up on the podium. His face just about cleared it. So, he is now facing 100 adults. He, hesitated for a minute, but then launched straight in. He got a standing ovation. For the next 2 weeks I would meet people in Laconia or Gilford who would say: ‘I heard about your son’s speech at Rotary‘.]

So, per Kinney, my brief was that in my 1st slot, I had to talk about my ‘early’ life and that the 2nd slot should be about my experiences in high-tech.

Ed Engler, Laconia Daily Sun

Ed Engler at our wedding, January 1, 2003 — looking very happy, as he should.

So, as instructed, I did my first presentation talking about my life in Ceylon, growing up in the U.K. and going to school there.

As per rote, the proceedings of all the Rotary meetings are documented and posted on the Web. In those days, given his professional credentials, our official chronicler of all matters Rotary was Ed Engler, the Editor/President of the Laconia Daily Sun. Ed is a great guy. Very nice, very obliging. But, as anybody who is familiar with the Laconia Daily Sun will know, Ed and his lovely crew don’t waste too much time about accuracy.

The meetings are on Thursday. The report of the proceedings get posted by Monday. So given that I was still new and curious, I checked what dear Ed had said about my presentation.

He had done a decent job covering my time in Ceylon, Buffalo, Paris and London, but then said: ‘he got his first degree from the University of WHALES’!

I am not exactly thin, but I am NOT that fat.

I called Ed up and asked him what that was all about. He says: ‘That is what you said, right? University of Whales‘.

Yes, I know I have an accent, ironically part of it Welsh undertones. So, Ed had heard my: ‘I went to Swansea, University of WALES’ and interpreted it, without ever thinking to check, that I had gone to the ‘University of WHALES‘.

Following that start, just for the fun of it, bottles of “Whaler’s” rum became my trademark auction item at Laconia Rotary.