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Consumers air their views on gas

Nearly 30 years ago Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) entered the market with the decommissioning of the underground town gas system. Back then, it was only a few who enjoyed the luxury of cooking with gas. Now, nearly all urban households cook with gas. 70% of LPG sold in the market is utilized by the urban population for household use.

When questioned, 24-year-old Sufi Khan Sullaiman said "I have never known an alternative for cooking. My mother always used gas and what is this fuss now?" This was the common attitude amongst the city-bred of that age group.

Not having known of an alternative to gas as a domestic energy source, the young view gas in the same manner as they see water and electricity. On the contrary, his mother Mrs Felicia Sullaiman said "I am most comfortable cooking with gas and can't think of goingback to kerosene and electricity is far too expensive for us".

This is the view of the city dweller. In the suburbs, it is a different story. When questioned Mrs Disna Perera a resident of Kottawa, who has shifted back to firewood and coconut refuse for her cooking needs, whilst having a stand by cylinder of LPG and a cooker, was of the opinion "I use coconut husks and the dry wood from the garden for most of my cooking and I am able to manage. But, I have the cooker and the cylinder for convenience" "I try to manage with the minimum use of gas".

She also told me that when the price of gas started rising she had no alternative but to go back to the way she used to cook before shifting to gas, though it was cumbersome and time consuming to do so. Another consumer Mrs. Sivananthan, a pensioner who lives in the city said "We shifted from kerosene to gas thirty years ago. The prices have risen but the comfort of cooking with gas is immeasurable. My advice to young people is to avoid waste and to make a cylinder serve you a longer period than before".

Her view was, 'to minimize the effect of the price, is to be conscious of the manner of consumption'. She was sceptical about a reduction in price. "After all we have used the Shell cylinders for over ten years now. They are better maintained than before when Lanka Gas was the supplier.

Also in those days, there were no stoppers on the lid and initially the opening was not sealed so we did not even know whether we were buying a cylinder which had been used by someone before us.

Then the weighing scale was introduced to guarantee to the customer that the weight was correct. Now we know what we are getting for the price we pay. Though it is higher, there is a steady supply of refill cylinders. I have not experienced a shortage in the last 10 years".

When asked to react on competitors entering the market offering gas at a lower price, she said "It is always in the interest of the consumers to have two or even three suppliers. I may not change from Shell but what is to prevent new users buying the new product?"

She also opined that as long as a commodity is essential, people will pay the price on account of necessity and forego on something else. The closest alternative to gas is electricity and it is prohibitively expensive. Kerosene is used by the small community of tenement dwellers.

The other alternative which is firewood is cumbersome in usage even in instances where it is possible. Consumers are unaware of how pricing is done but fully aware of quality and availability two factors which are equally important to them as price.


Have a good nap after lunch

According to the Oxford dictionary, a nap is defined as a short sleep especially during the day. In my personal experience a 30 to 45 minutes sleep after lunch makes me very fresh and relaxed and I feel refreshed when I do my afternoon channel practice. My afternoon nap gets disturbed due to unavoidable circumstances such as getting a telephone call from an Intensive Care Unit. I don't feel refreshed during my evening session.

I have been "addicted" to this afternoon nap from my student days at Colombo Medical School (1958 to 1964). There were some occasions when I have got caught napping during the afternoon lectures at Medical School especially if the lectures were uninteresting and if the lecturers read the lectures from some old set of notes as in case of the Public Health lectures.

I continued with this "bad" habit of having a nap after lunch even when I did my fellowship in Cardiology at the University Department of Cardiology at Manchester Royal Infirmary (1971-1973).

I know of a very good friend and colleague of mine who does his channel consultation from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. in a nursing home and has a 10 minute nap at about 7 pm daily. I also know of a friend of mine who frequently drives between Galle and Colombo and has a 5 to 10 minutes nap on his way to Colombo and during his return trip to Galle, after stopping his vehicle near a petrol shed.

It is common knowledge that one of the most brilliant and educated Ministers in the late President Jayewardene's and late President Premadasa's Cabinet of Ministers had a regular one hour nap after lunch. This late minister is said to have given strict instructions to his sub-ordinates never to disturb him during his afternoon nap.

According to Nicholas Horrocks and Ray Pounder at the Royal College of Physicians, London "naps are powerful means of staying refreshed both before and while on duty and naps as short as 20 to 45 minutes have been shown to provide positive benefits to shift workers".

According to European Working Time Directive, trainee doctors (Intern medicos) should not work more than 4 nights in succession. According to a Lancet editorial doctors working night shifts need to sleep well at home" (before starting their night duty)". "The nap is a doctors indispensable secret weapon to survival".

One editor at the Lancet had once worked for a psychiatrist who had a large couch in his study which had never been used for the purpose of psycho-analysis.

This editor who had done some "research work" had found that the psychiatrist would take a 30 minute nap everyday after lunch using this large couch. His rule was that he should not be disturbed on any account during his nap".


Lancet Editorial. Vol, 367, February 11, 2006.

by Dr. D.P. Athukorale

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