By Pragatheeswaran Vipulanandan
Finally, the idea of having a Gavel meeting in a different location was implemented. The one and only prestigious “board room” was made even more special because of a historical meeting.
Things got a bit intense when a few familiar faces walked in, but not faces of Gaveliers. They were more matured; they were from the Toastmasters Club of University of Moratuwa.
Special place, special people and a special meeting: 290th educational meeting was about to get underway, hand in hand with the Toastmasters of the University.
The President of UoM Toastmasters Club, Upul Ekanayaka, broke the silence, and started off the meeting. Gavel is family and family means love, yet how can you love someone without knowing who they are? So everyone was asked to give a quick introduction about themselves, and the Toastmaster for the day was introduced.
The heart-throb of the club, Gavelier Timal Mohan had the rare privilege of presiding over day’s proceedings, when he was introduced as the Toastmaster for the day. “Lucky people get the chance to get into the University of Moratuwa and the luckiest get into Toastmasters”, was Timal’s way of starting off. Then the role players for the day were introduced.
The stage was set, the opening ceremony was over, it was time to start the Olympics; not exactly Olympics, but the rarity of the meeting made all the Gaveliers and also the Toastmasters hyper about that situation and think of it as if it was Olympics.
Buddhika Kithmini, the Round Robin Master, made every one realize who they really were with; not just with fellow Gaveliers, not just with fellow Toastmasters, but with family.
“What would I do today, if I were convicted guilty and were to go to jail tomorrow?”
“I would start a Toastmasters Club in jail”, “I would plan to bomb the jail today itself”, “I would tattoo myself”,”4 years of engineering or 30 years of jail- I would definitely choose the jail” were some crazy ideas which popped up in the session. Roars of laughter spread all around the board room.
Then it was the time everyone was waiting for: the Table Topics. This time it was a new challenge for the Gaveliers. Will they be able to survive it? Will they step forward without knowing what their challenges were? It seemed quite simple when the President, who was also the Table Topics Master, explained that all what the Gaveliers and Toastmasters had to do was pick a number and they will be given 2 opposite words as a topic. Silence spread across the room, leaving the eagerness behind. “Who’s going to go up first?” was the question on everyone’s mind
“Squeak….” Someone’s chair moved. It was Chamanthi, the dramatic Gavelier who stepped up first. The topic seemed only fitting because her whole life seemed to be a narrative of “bitter vs sweet”. We all got to know a new side of Chamanthi. The concluding remark, ‘Bitter things are the sweetest things you consider when you are old’, made everyone think of their memories and dig up the bitter things they faced a long time back.
“I’m not a good person”, uttered one of the nicest persons in Gavel. Asitha then continued to explain he is both ice and fire. “I don’t know who I am, but it doesn’t matter to me” his way of facing life is awesome at times and easiest way to stay strong evading criticism.
Two speeches down and the level of motivation in the audience was so high that there wasn’t time for a second thought as to who was going to speak next. It was Thilina, the Gavel comedian, who dashed in front to showcase what he has got. Everyone was literally crying, because of his sense of humor and well-timed jokes. The conversations he had had with his brother and family made everyone without sibling regret a lot. He and his brother were more like a bee and a flower; such love, care and passion related by blood.
“The devil is not a bad person”, started Malith, and went on proving his point. He sure made a mark in all of our souls, not to judge anyone by his/ her looks. “Everyone is both a devil and an angel within”, he made us remember our past, and the people whom we have avoided by judging them. Next up was the tall basketball player, Kithmin, who stated “I don’t judge people”; he seemed more serious than usual. Being natural to everyone is not possible always; there are times at which you’ve got to act artificial, was Kithmin’s argument with examples from his life. “Speech is the most natural thing and that’s exactly why I love Gavel” ended Kithmin in his usual manner, with all positive vibes, making everyone remember what Gavel has done to their life.
Gavel has lots of cricket fans, next up was the craziest one obsessed about cricket other than our President. Praveen struck his best strikes today like Mahela did in a match between India back in 2015. “We all need both “sharpness and bluntness” at appropriate times”, he concluded. Overall it was an emotional and inspiring speech by Praveen, who ended his speech in his usual way like Thisara Perera does.
Next up was the most cautious Gavelier, Nipun, who was looking forward for both broadness and narrowness in life always. He pointed that his arguments were correct with his experiences while driving. We wished it was a never ending speech.
Up next was one of the brightest Gaveliers, with the cutest smile. Rochelle turned the whole concrete building green and made us all feel what we really miss in life: the atmosphere amidst the trees, fresh breeze lakes, ponds and many more mesmerizing effects of nature. , We have become so busy with our lives forgetting what countryside really is. Irony is that most of us think of it as a dirty place which is not, pointed Rochelle, making every one dream of leaving to their hometowns right away after the meeting. “You might find a clean thing even in the dirtiest place ” ended Rochelle , making me realise exactly why I find my empty note book which has gone missing for weeks , amidst my dirty room.
Already half-drunk with so many different types of speeches triggering diverse emotions and up next was Chathuranga, the 7up person with his 7up story once again in a whole new different point of view for it. Listening to his craziest story made all of us jealous, looking at the level of happiness he has been through during his schooling days. “I was so alive back then but now I am just dead”, reminded everyone how stressful university life could be.
Then it was the one and only person with the biggest smile in Gavel to finish off the Table Topics session. Merl’s speech came in like a wrecking ball, destroying all our laziest excuses we have kept within ourselves in case we face a situation. Life is both empty and full; it’s just how you look at it which makes the difference. Sharing his World University Games selection experience with us truly made us all feel the pain in his hamstring and his efforts, making us believe what we are really capable of.
It was indeed a voluble Table Topics session. It was not all for the day, we were still left with 3 prepared speeches, how cool is that?
It was Samavath’s “story of a candle” which left everyone mesmerized from the beginning to the end. . He surely did emphasize that the things a candle can do than an electric light in his own unique way. Loads of laughter, and a lot of things to ponder on, added class to his CC4. He made sure the next time every one saw a candle it was his face and his speech which came to mind for everyone. Samavath’s Speech Olympiad experience and his decision making gave us motivation; he was more of a role model to everyone than a speaker. ”This candle cannot be bright as an electric light but it can light a lot of candles ”, “we are all candles and I’m lighting you up with my speech ; hoping you would light other candles in future”, were the wisest words which made my day.
Next up was an ice breaker of a Spartan, thought everyone for some time, until we realized it was Shenali. “The movie of my life”, her ice breaker, was full of never ending giggles which made it more memorable. “Who am I? I still don’t know because I’m learning parts of who I am in different stages of life”, the message was powerfully struck. The emotional and motivating words and the way she delivered it all made it more memorable among the speeches for the day. Phrases like, “I am me and more”, “strength of the body is insignificant to the strength of the soul”, added hues to Shenali’s character.
Finally it was Ms. Thilini with her ACB 09: “Leadership roles available in Toastmasters”. She went on to explain the roles of leadership very well and also in a descriptive manner, making us all want to be future Toastmasters leaders. The ACB session was followed by a Q&A session as well.
The special meeting was finally adjourned after an in-depth evaluation following the Timer’s and Ah counter’s reports.
Role players for the day
Toastmaster- Gavelier Timal Mohan
General evaluator- Dr.Ranga Rodrigo
Ah counter – Gavelier Praveen Kumarasinghe
Timer – Gavelier Chamode Wijayasekera
Grammarian- Ms.Thilini Weerasuriya
Round robin master- Gavelier Buddhika Kithmini
Table topics master- Mr.Upul Ekanayaka
Table topic evaluator 1- Gavelier Merl Chandana
Table topic evaluator 2- Mr.Chinthaka Naleen
- Bitter and sweet
- Fire and ice
- Black and white
- Devil and angel
- Natural and artificial
- Sharp and blunt
- Broad and narrow
- Clean and dirty
- Dead and alive
- Empty and full
Word of the day: “Voluble”