Tag Archives: UNESCO

THE Queen, My Mother & The Queen’s Phone Number.

by Anura Guruge


Click to ENLARGE.




Doing the post on the Queen’s Christmas address yesterday, and then a couple of comments that ensued on Facebook, reminded me of a cute story involving my adoptive mother and the Queen.

My adoptive mother over the years had met the Queen socially on a number of occasions — and there is a possibility that my mother spent some time with the Queen. That would have been in 1954 when the Queen visited Ceylon. My adoptive father was at that time the private secretary to the Prime Minister and as such was heavily involved with the visit and would have been at all the events and receptions — often with my mother. I was but 7 months old at the time and do not remember any of it. But, from what I recall from later snippets, they might have gone to Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa with the Queen — on the official train. ‘They’ (i.e., the ‘government’) would definitely would have wanted my father around. He, though only 25 years old at the time, had a Ph.D. and was an acknowledged scholar and history buff. My mother and the Queen would have been 4 years apart in age, my mother born in 1930.

Anywho … my mother met the Queen, at least a few times. starting in 1954.

To say that my mother was a people person would not even get close to the truth. She had an exceptional capability. She has been compared to Mother Teresa and Princess Diana in that respect. There was something about her — it was organic and chemical. People were drawn to her and she to them. She was rarely without a smile and people somehow detected this amazing warmth she had for all — strangers in particular. All her life she had this child-like quality of innocence. She was totally without guile and people recognized that. She, from a young age, collected people’s contact information and birthdays. She had bulging address books and was diligent at sending birthday and Christmas cards. In her 40s she would send out 400 — 600 handwritten Christmas cards per year. She would start in mid-November.

OK … Somewhere during these meetings with the Queen she believes that she got the Queen’s personal contact information. It is possible. She might not have got it directly, but it is likely that it was given to her by one of the Queen’s staff. I never asked, but it is likely that the Queen got birthday and Christmas cards from my mother.

From 1968 when my father joined UNESCO to her death in 1992 she was very much a part of the European diplomatic circle. She socialized with Heads of State on a regular basis and to her they were always friends first and Heads of State second.

In late 1984, when my father was the Sri Lanka Ambassador in Paris, my mother answered the phone, in their official residence, in a fancy apartment block, very early in the morning. A stranger on the line informed her that this was going to be my father’s last day on earth and that he planned to assassinate my father before the day was done. He then hung up. Threats on my father’s life were not new and we had lived with it since the 1960s — given that he was a highly political figure. She did not rush off an and tell my father. Instead she calmly made one phone call — and this was around 7:30 in the morning. My father got out of bed because he could hear a lot of commotion around the building. He looked out. There were armoured cars and military personnel with heavy weaponry. Police cars with sirens followed.

That was when my mother informed him of the call. He asked her if she had called the police — though that is NOT what diplomats are supposed to do. They have a special ‘diplomat protection’ number to call. My mother hadn’t not called that number or the police. She had called President François Mitterrand, at home — on his personal line! I kid you not. She knew him and he had told her to call him if she ever needed anything. She took things like that literally. Appears that Mitterrand, her friend, was cool. Told her not to worry and that he would deal with it himself. Hence the army presence ahead of the police. I gather he called up later to make sure all was OK. Over the next few weeks he would have received a stream of flowers, chocolates and other gifts from my mother. So … my mother did not hesitate about calling Heads of State.

This was 1983. I had finally got fed up of trying to travel on a Sri Lanka passport — especially since I had to make business trips, on no-notice, on a regular basis. So, I decided to apply for British Citizenship. That was not going to be problem. I have lived, full time in the UK for 15 years, had an unlimited work permit and had been married to a British citizen for 9 years. So, I applied. And it dragged on.

One day, in late 1983, my mother, as was her wont, had called from Paris to see how things were.

I happened to mention that I was getting frustrated that I had not heard anything about my citizenship.

And she then says, quite casually: “Do you want me to CALL the Queen?

I kid you not. To her this was nothing. No big deal. She would just call up the Queen. And she would have.

I was mortified. “Amma, NO. NO. It is OK. Don’t call the Queen. That might be overkill”.

She eventually decided to call a MP (i.e., Member of Parliament) she knew. He called me to ask for details!

I did get my citizenship paper, in the mail, shortly afterwards THOUGH I am not sure whether the MP had any hand in that.

But, I still remember: “Do you want me to CALL the Queen?

There is no shadow of a doubt that she thought she could get through to the Queen. But, we will never know.


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by Anura Guruge


The ‘United Nations’ (UN), Came To Be This Day, 72-Years Ago; October 24, 2017.

by Anura Guruge


Click to ENLARGE and read here. Wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations



I have spoken from THAT podium,
in front of that green granite that Trump detests.

Click to ENLARGE.


As I mentioned in this post from 12-days ago, I grew up an UNESCO brat — with UNESCO a UN agency. So, I am NO stranger to the United Nations.

I have (honest injun) stood at that famous podium, in the UN General Assembly Hall, in front of the green granite, and spoken. It was 1977 or 1978. I was in New York with IBM. My adoptive father’s cousin worked at the United Nations — in the library. These were the INNOCENT DAYS before security concerned ruined so much. I think I walked into the UN HQ building, to meet mu ‘cousin’, without encountering any security. He took me for a tour. The General Assembly Hall was empty. He just walked in. Told me to go up to the podium so that I can tell folks — years later (like now) — that I have stood on that podium. Those were the days, my friends … Life was so much simpler.

Whether you ‘like’ the UN or not, it has done a fair amount for the World and humanity.

It was set up 52-days after the END of WW II to prevent WW III. In that it has been successful — for now. That said we have had TOO MANY WARS in that period, and I do blame the UN to an extent.

Yes, it is NOT anywhere close to efficient as it should be and there is a lot of ‘mismanagement’ and downright corruption. But, that (in this case) goes very much with the territory.


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by Anura Guruge

U.S. Withdrawal From UNESCO A Travesty — And, Yes, Personal To I.

by Anura Guruge


Click to ENLARGE and read here — along with my comments & highlights. From: state.gov.


Click to ENLARGE and read here. Wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UNESCO



I was an UNESCO brat. That is why it is personal. My adoptive father worked for UNESCO from September 1968 to c. 2013 — Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to UNESCO from 1985 to 1992. From 1992 till c. 2013 (or even later) he had honorary (I think) advisory roles with them. During the 18 years he worked for UNESCO itself he was based in Paris (2 terms), New Delhi & Bangkok. When he was Ambassador to UNESCO be was based in Paris and was also the Sri Lankan Ambassador to France.

So, I am no stranger to UNESCO. UNESCO put me through school. Whether that was right or wrong is another matter — BUT such ‘financial support for kids’ is pretty standard with most ‘international’ jobs because there is this belief that the kids have been uprooted from their home country (which is, of course, true).

Yes, I have seen BOTH the good and bad of UNESCO — and in my youth there have been times when I have railed against and ridiculed the extravagance and waste. Yes, ‘senior staff’, especially the diplomats (such as my adoptive father) led a good life, but that again is par for the course for all diplomats.

Yes, UNESCO has done good and the ‘Silk Road Program‘ (and I was actually there for the Sri Lanka chapter of that in 1980) and the World Heritage Sites are but SOME of the examples. No question that, by and large, developing countries get more benefits from UNESCO than the developed ones. But, that was the point of setting up UNESCO. To spread and share the largess.

All that said …

The U.S. has NOT been PAYING its member contribution to UNESCO since 2011 and now owes upwards of $600 MILLION!

That UNESCO did NOT kick-out the U.S. during that time is a disgrace to UNESCO.

I do NOT think that the U.S. or any other country should be able to PICK-AND-CHOSE their membership affiliations with UN Agencies.

It should be ONE-FOR-ALL, & ALL-FOR-ONE.

If the U.S. wants to be a part of the UN it also has to belong to UNESCO and pay its dues!

Anywho …

This is not going to happen till December 31, 2018 and that is a LONG WAY away. Much water will flow under all the bridges in the World prior to that.


Related posts:
++++ Search ‘PBSfor many, many other posts
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by Anura Guruge

Another Holocaust Story — This One An UNESCO Sponsored Video.

by Anura Guruge


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Click image to access Vimeo video.


Now that I am irrevocably associated with Kati Preston’s near-Best Seller “Holocaust to Healing: Closing the Circle” I am getting Holocaust related material on my e-mail. This one, on Thursday, was from UNESCO. I could NOT ignore that. UNESCO was a BIG part of my life for 17 years. They paid for some of my education; e.g. Swansea


Amazon listing for the paper version.
eBook version at $5.99 or $0 with Kindle Unlimited (or equivalent).

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by Anura Guruge

‘Revels North’ Kids Program On ‘Silk Road’ A Welcome Opportunity In The Northeast.

by Anura Guruge


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Click to access the ‘Revels North’ Webpage for this program, with dates etc.


I was taken back and delighted when I saw this, in the form of an e-mail, this morning. Kids in the Northeast, particularly in NH, could do with ALL the EXPOSURE they can to the wide world beyond the borders of their state (or in some cases their town). This is why I am such a big advocate of the Laconia ‘Multicultural Day‘.

Learning about the ‘Silk Road‘ could sure inspire kids to explore their wonderlust. The ‘Silk Road’ has it all: adventure, history, culture, art, music, romance. Yes, I have a soft spot in my heart of the ‘Silk Road’ — other than the fact that the ‘Silk Road’ also traversed through Ceylon, by birthplace. In 1983 when UNESCO started its grand ‘Silk Road’ program, my adoptive father, by then a 15 year old and Director-level official with UNESCO, was part of the team. As it happened the Ceylon (by then Sri Lanka) part of the UNESCO kick-off was scheduled for August 1983. I happened to be in Sri Lanka at the time. So given that my adoptive father and mother were also there, from Paris, as was the Director General (who I had met many times in Paris), we attended many of the events. Somewhere in this house there is also a lavishly produced UNESCO book, published in 1983, for the ‘Silk Road’. So ..

This GRAND. I am happy. Bravo.


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UNESCO ‘Silk Road’ Home page with the ‘Sri Lanka’ flag highlighted. Click to access.


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**** Search on ‘Revels North’  for many other related posts >>>>


by Anura Guruge

Obama In His Snazzy Philippines Pineapple Shirt — I WisH I Still Had Some.

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by Anura Guruge


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Click here for the U.K. ‘Daily Mail‘ original,
with a lots MORE pictures.


I used to have a LOT of this pineapple shirts from the Philippines. I now have none. I actually tried earlier this year to get one, online, but could not justify the price.

PLUS, to be brutally honest, I no longer have the figure for these translucent shirts, BECAUSE, unlike Obama, I wore them, they way they are SUPPOSED to be worn — with nothing underneath.

I used to get them from my adoptive father. He, especially when he worked for UNESCO, used to visit the Philippines often and he too liked these shirts — though he never really had the figure for them. OK. Full disclosure. He was GOOD friends with Ferdinand & Imelda Marcos! What can I say. Many times, when he visited Manila, in the 1970s, when he was stationed in Bangkok, he would stay at their Palace! Some of the pineapple shirts he had — and some which I acquired from him (sometimes by just helping myself from his closet) — had been given to him by the Marcoses! I even had one which was a genuine hand me down from Ferdinand. What can I say.

I just checked again. Amazon, to my amazement, does NOT have any! How is that possible. I, of course, Googled. WOW. $90!

IF anybody in the Philippines wants to go into business with me selling Pineapple Shirts in the U.S. please contact me. My contact can be found on the sidebar >>>>.

Smile. Happy Beaujolais Nouveau Day 2015.


‘Old Spice’, ‘Brut’ Or ‘Bay Rum’ As Aftershave Astringents & Aroma.

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013.

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by
Anura Guruge


This morning watching MSNBC we discovered that ‘Old Spice‘ was back in circulation due to a very cute and clever viral video on YouTube. Deanna just loved it — though nearly all of her experiences is mainly with daughters. 

Click to access IF you haven't seen it. It is quite funny and cute.

Click to access IF you haven’t seen it. It is quite funny and cute.


oldspicebottle112What amused me about this new interest in ‘Old Spice‘ was that of late, and by that I mean the last 3 months (or so), I have been occasionally using ‘Old Spice’ as an aftershave. A few months ago I, with a penchant for collecting old bottles, saw an old, classic ‘Old Spice’ bottle, more than likely at the (ever delightful) Alton dump swap shop, and picked it up. It was not empty. It was nearly full and it smelt authentic and ‘good’. Well aftershave doesn’t spoil plus I have very thick skin. So I put the bottle on my bathroom sink and use it — not every day, but maybe a few times a week. I have used ‘Old Spice’ in the past but I was never into it — much. I wasn’t that enamoured with its smell.

brutFor as long as I can remember ‘Faberge Brut‘ was my goto aftershave, definitely in my 20s, 30s and 40s. The green bottle, with the suspended badge, was very much a part of my life. I, of course, remember the ‘tall’ brown box, just like in this image. I think the Brut had to do with me having been a ‘Diplomatic Brat‘ in the 1970s. There are certain things whose prices are kind of upside down if you can get them ‘duty-free’ at true, diplomats-only prices — ideally from a specialized store (such as in the UNESCO building in Paris) or from a specialized catalog. Brut must have been ‘cheap’ duty-free, as was good caviar. When I was attending University in Swansea in the early 1970s I could get caviar for cheaper than I could buy cans of sardines. So I would have bottles and bottles of caviar sent to me. I think ditto for Brut.

I had really not given much thought at all to my affectation for Brut until I got an e-mail, in 2001, from a lady who wanted to determine whether I, like her, had worked for Wang, at the iconic Wang Towers in Lowell, MA. She had seen me on the Internet and was trying to place me. Her description of me was: ‘were you the guys who always wore a three-piece suit and smelled of Brut. Us secretaries always knew you were around from the Brut …’. To begin with I was mortified. I had not realized that Brut had become a trademark. Then I started laughing. Well, that had to have been me. The three-piece suit reference alone was a dead giveaway. At that time I lived in three-piece or double-breasted suits from London. So, after I got that e-mail I went and checked. I didn’t have any Brut! Next time I was in Manchester I stopped and got a bottle.

I don’t have any Brut right now either — and that is OK. Deanna used to get me men’s fragrance, usually ‘Perry Ellis’. I think I still have three bottles, of light blue stuff, in various stages of use, in the bathroom. Yes, women have told Deanna that her husband smells good. I am glad — though I am also known to take the occasional shower, whether I need it or not.

BayRumDuring the last 5 years or so, old age having crept in, nostalgia played a major role in my life. I used to remember the Bay Rum they used to put on my head, in Ceylon, after a hair cut. I always liked the smell of Bay Rum. Very robust and masculine. I went looking for Bay Rum. Of course, thanks to the magic of the Internet, you can find anything. I have been using this ‘Ogallala‘ (and what a name) ‘Bay Rum‘, from this blue bottle, for the last few years. I can use it on my hair and on my face. Twofer. I really do like the smell. Yes, I also have a bottle of ‘Brylcreem‘! Yep, this nostalgia thing has bit deep. I am the retro man, 1950s all over again.

I have NEVER relied on aftershave as an astringent. As I once heard, famously, slapping your face alone does as well. I am sucker for LOTION. For 40 years, without fail, day-in, day-out, I used ‘Oil of Olay‘ original on my face. I still use some form of lotion on my face everyday, without fail. I can’t face the day without it. So, the lotion takes care of the skin conditioning. So, for me, the aftershave is just for the smell. For now, I am cool with the Ogallala Bay Rum. But, now that I am thinking of it, I will have to get some Brut and start buying some old, iconic Brut bottles on eBay.

From a 1988 Wang marketing brochure ‘Wang on Networking’. Guess which one I am. And PLEASE don’t ask me about my other hand. It is but a bad optical illusion. I got so much ‘shtick’ for that when the brochure came out. None of us saw the proofs. I now dread that I probably intoxicated that poor lady with my Brut!

Arresting Contemporary Ecumenical Icons From Mary Jane Miller, A Dear Friend Of Clearlakes Chorale’s Anne Grady.

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013.

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by
Anura Guruge


Related posts:
++++ I have done a lot of posts on ‘artists, ‘paintings‘, ‘museums‘ and even ‘icons‘. Use sidebar SEARCH or click each term (<-) for a start … >>>>
++++ Search ‘Clearlakes’ for those posts including recent post on Christmas 2013 concert. >>>>


P1080515cropAnne Grady, a music teacher, and a clear-as-a-bell soprano, is Devanee’s inspiration and mentor at Clearlakes Chorale. So when Anne tells me anything I take immediate notice. This Thursday Anne told me about Mary Jane Miller, her friend for nearly five decades. She had just got back from visiting with her, in Florida. She asked me to have a look at the amazing body of work by Mary Jane. I was blown away. Wow, they are good.

The multi-religious ‘The Dialogue for World Peace’ is 31′ long. In my mind I measure all things longer than a yard in terms of boats I have owned. 31′ is longer than any boat I have owned. That is big. This is an amazing piece. I know the perfect place for it. The UNESCO HQ in Paris.

Have a look at her work. You really must. She also has a number of books on icons. Check it all out. Take your time. Her pricing is good, too.


Click  images to access featured Mary Jane Miller Website …

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