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We have only one WORLD yet! If we destroy it, where else will we go?

"Underwater Safaris" and how it all started...

"The ocean is Earth's Last Frontier; until now we have been hunters and gatherers.
NOW we must become responsible Farmers
Arthur C. CLARKE

is one of the pioneers of
Scuba Diving in Sri Lanka since 1956.

Interview by Bircan ÜNVER

Hector Ekanayeke is one of the pioneers of Scuba Diving with Sir Arthur C. Clarke in Sri Lanka. They have been partners since 1956.  Mr. Ekanayake explains to us how Sir Clarke had chosen to live in Sri Lanka as well as their partnership since then.

Sir Clarke defines the Ekanayake family as his adopted family in his Egogram - January 1, 2003: "Hector has been looking after me since 1956, and with his wife Valerie, he has made a home for me at 25 Barnes Place."

On December 31, 2002, after a brief visit to Sir Clarke, I met Mr. Ekanayake, his wife Valerie and his sister Beauty. I previously read about Sir Clarke and Mr. Ekanayake's partnership on Scuba Diving, but I am the one who had never dived; therefore, this has been an unknown territory to me.  Mr. Ekanayake showed me his office, and diving equipment where there is another building and next to Sir Clarke's office. There we briefly talked about how it all started. 

Edwin (Buzz) Aldrin - the second man to set foot on the Moon -
together with Sir Clarke and Hector Ekanayake at 25 Barnes Place in Colombo.

- When and how did you meet with Sir Arthur C. Clarke?

In 1955, Arthur C. Clarke was stuck in Sri Lanka on his way to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia with his partner Mike Wilson. And he stopped over here for a couple of days, and he found out he liked this country very much but he still went on with his trip to Australia. Then he decided that this is the country that they should live in, and they started a diving company with Mike Wilson called, "Clarke Wilson Associate." And after that he created a new company called "Submarine Safaris."  I was working as an assistant diver and after that the business and tourism of Sri Lanka was not very good. We didn't have tourism in 1956, so Mike Wilson, his partner made Singhalese movies. He went making these movies and I took over the diving side. I went abroad, became qualified, came back and took over the diving side. I and Arthur C. Clarke, as one of the directors, created a company called "Underwater Safaris" instead of "Submarine Safaris." Ever since then we have been running this company. During 1958-59 I was running this shore.

At the moment he cannot go diving, because he cannot get on board. He can only go diving if I lift him from water into the board. Though he can still jump into the water; he just cannot come out. That is why we cannot take him diving.

- When was the last time you took him diving?

One year back I took him diving in the water. The only problem is he cannot get into the board because his hands are not strong enough to hold the latter. He is quiet active and aware of what is happening but the only thing is he cannot move properly. You have to help him, he is in a wheelchair. But he is getting better.  I have made a wheelchair to take him on the beach with thick wheels. I made a ramp going into the pool so we don•t have to carry him into water. He sits down on to the chair and goes into the water. It is simple and we don•t have to carry him. Then when he is finished he sits down on the ramp and we pull him its just like a lift.

"He is a very important person for Sri Lanka as well as the world."

- What is your experience from being a partner with him all these years?

- When I met with Arthur C. Clarke, I was aware of that he is a very important person for Sri Lanka as well as the world. When he had post-polio syndrome at first in the beginning of 1960•s, I took him step by step and he had some operations and I was with him all the time.  He got better after that but it took little longer to recover.

Hector Ekanayake is with his wife Valerie. (Dec. 31, 2002, Colombo)

- What is your over-all philosophy of life?

- I believe in what is good and what is bad. I hate doing something wrong for people. If you treat everybody alike and if you give them what they should have then there won't be any problems in this world. Fighting and wars are going on because somebody is doing wrong things.

What people don't realize is that we don't want war. We don•t take anything by force. If I don•t do anything by force and if you don't take anything by force there won't be any fighting. That is how the war started. One person made one mistake and it is escalating like that. People are killed. Innocent people are killed.

- Thank you.

- . -

Mr. Ekanayake also played boxing, and an admirer
of Muhammed Ali, whose two photography
placed on the top of his awards and certificates.

A Brief Introduction of the Underwater Safaris Ltd:

An expedition to the Indian Ocean in the early 1960•s led to the formation of Sri Lanka•s leading diving company. Hector Ekanayeke and Arthur C. Clarke, the two pioneers will find underwater exploring interesting and invigorating.

A  typical day's diving starts at 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. with a one and half to one hour boat trip to a dive site or wreck where you can glide through fascinating schools of friendly fish. During the diving season the underwater tours are organized from off Colombo and the south coast, using the most modern equipment. (Source: Underwater Safaris, Ltd.'s Brochure.)

*Source: Underwater Safaris, Ltd.'s Brochure.

© Bircan Ünver, Light Millennium, March 19, 2003, New York

This issue is dedicated to the Peace Process of SRI LANKA & prominent Turkish author Yasar KEMAL

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