“Once upon a time . . .”
By Yasas Ratnayake
Many Royalists of yore would recall, to this day, to their children and grandchildren the annual pilgrimage to Kandy every Royalist looked, and still looks forward to. But in the days of old, where Royalist traditions were followed with enormous pride and tremendous passion, the annual trip to the Bogambara stadium was one full of adventure, color, and festivity. While today’s Bradby revelers from Colombo journey through the crowded streets of Gampaha and Warakapola and snake through the twists and turns of the hilly terrains of Pilimathalawa and Kadugannawa, the Old Boys of yesteryear speak of an entirely different experience that today’s Royalists would have seldom heard of. It was an experience that all Royalists young and old looked forward to more than the actual game itself. It was a journey that kindled the very essence of the sense of adventure that slumbers within every person young and old. It was an experience that, even more than 20 years since its inevitable halt, lives on to this day through the unforgettable memories it gave to those who were lucky enough to live it. It was . . . . . . A train. A Bradby train.
Today’s ubiquitous practice of traveling in buses of old boy groups and private vehicles only gained popularity when the Bradby Train was forced to a halt due to the emerging state of civil war in the country. The security of valuable lives came before any tradition, no matter how old or venerated, and because of this, the tradition of the Bradby Train never saw the light of day after the mid 1980’s. But although the tradition was stopped, the memories wound around it were never erased. The imagery of the captivating emerald paddy fields of Polgahawela, the experience of feeling the breeze of Kadugannawa’s rolling hills with its beautiful creeks, waterfalls, and crisp fresh air, and the exciting stories of shouting at the top of your lungs in the dark and mysterious railway tunnels of the...
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