Ranjan Anandappa : Farewell dear colleague | Sunday Observer

Ranjan Anandappa : Farewell dear colleague

A down-to-earth person

Our dear colleague, Ranjan Anandappa, passed away tragically and unexpectedly after a short illness on December 6.

Ranjan was well-loved and admired for his down-to-earth personality and for his enduring commitment to work by all his colleagues. For me personally Ranjan was a special friend, as we both had several common friends in other media institutions -- we often had very interactive discussions on music and cricket.

Ranjan was one of the first few persons I met from the Sunday Observer when I joined the Daily News in the late 90s. I was introduced to him by former Foreign News Editor of the DN and later CAO of Lake House, Rohana Aryaratna. At that initial meeting Rohana didn’t forget to mention that ‘Ranjan is a gifted musician.’ That was not all - Ranjan was also an ardent fan of the late musician/singer, Clarence Wijewardena.

Later, when I listened to him singing on several occasions I realized how talented this man was – his voice was remarkable. Often, I encouraged him to record a few songs. He had recorded some songs in both Sinhala and English including a popular cricket song. A few months ago, I also got the opportunity to listen to his latest Sinhala song composed by renowned musician Rohana Edirisinghe. He was kind enough to lend me a copy of it ---and it was mesmerizing. He was keen to get it aired and was on talks with a few channels at the time of his demise. Although Ranjan was keen to launch his musical career parallel to his journalism career, it did not take off the ground for some reason. The end result was a bright sports journalist.

Ranjan was predominantly a journalist/reporter who was on the field, covering many sports events throughout his career. But by its very nature, being a journalist entails an enormous challenge of multitasking, from being a reporter, sub editor and a page make up professional at the same time. His sports coverage was short and simple -he kept only the most important facts in his copy, leaving the jargon out.

When the Sunday Observer experienced a brain drain issue, in particularly the Sports Desk, Ranjan singlehandedly ran the desk. From writing to subbing and passing the pages, all the responsibilities were on his shoulder. He never complained; never was fussy. He kept his cool all the time. For this reason alone, he will be well remembered by all his colleagues.

In the last couple of months, he was particularly happy and when he became a grandfather recently when his son and daughter-in-law became the proud parents of a baby boy- he was over the moon. He shared the happy news with his colleagues with pride and by showing the photos of the bundle of joy.

An old boy of Ananda College, Colombo he was always proud of his alma mater and his fellow classmates some of whom are very powerful politicians today. Although he knew several influential figures in the political spectrum, Ranjan had no habit of asking for any favours from them at any time. He was such an unassuming person.

It is hard to believe that our gentle friend and colleague is no more. It is impossible to believe that Ranjan’s sincerity, integrity, calm and dignity will no longer enrich our work and life.

To his family, who has lost a husband, father and a brother, our prayers and thoughts are with you.

- Chandani


Easy going and pleasant to talk

The value of an individual is gauged when he is no longer with you. As long as he is alive everything he does is taken for granted until suddenly he is no longer there. It is then that reality takes over and you find yourself saddled with the extra responsibilities and you realize that a colleague who has been so near and dear to you is no longer with you.

Ranjan and I worked in two different newspapers – he in the Sunday Observer and I in the Daily News. Although it was in the same establishment we seldom met every day except at cricket matches where Ranjan would quietly make his way and take a seat behind us and start relating tales of his experience as a first-class umpire, a field at which he was very good, and commanded the respect of several cricketers who had gone onto wear the national cap.

In recent months Ranjan used to walk into the Daily News Editorial almost regularly just to have a casual chat and the topic invariably ended with cricket. He was very knowledgeable on the subject, especially, on the Laws of the Game, being an umpire. He was also an avid reader of fiction and most of the time he would walk into the editorial with a paperback in his hand.

Ranjan was hardly an individual who made an impact immediately, he was easy going and pleasant to talk to but behind the scenes he was quite a handy person shouldering the burden of ensuring that the Sunday Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest was kept going weekly with the counting of votes and eventually the awards night that took place annually.

It is due to the hard work and effort put in by individuals such as Ranjan that ANCL has been able to successfully conduct the Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest so successfully, year in year out. He will certainly be missed at future awards nights, but he perhaps will be there in spirit.

As a sports writer Ranjan commanded a good knowledge of the English language and he was versatile in covering any sport although the more standout ones were on cricket and rugby.

They say that good men must die, but death cannot kill their names.

Ranjan’s name will remain with us forever till immortality.

After all what is death – six feet of earth makes us all equal.

- SA’ADI


Ranjan - Sportsman, music lover, bibliophile, loyal friend

It was with great sadness that I heard the news of the sudden passing away of my dear friend and colleague for over three decades, Ranjan Anandappa.

Ranjan and I first bonded when we discovered we both shared similar interests in books. Like me, he too was an ardent reader of suspense thrillers and biographies. When it came to thrillers, we would spend what little spare time we had in heated argument over what made our favourite authors tick , and dissect their writing skills as though we were doing a dissertation on them!. As a former navy man, he was a great fan of Wilbur Smith’s historical novels based on the navy and it was he who first kindled my interest in this great author, certainly a master of suspense, passion and intrigue.

Ranjan had an excellent memory. One of the best. It stood him well both for his reporting on sports and his extra curricular interests. While he used to take down the barest of notes in an interview, he never failed to produce a very comprehensive piece of excellent reporting. Whenever we discussed a book ,I would ask him when he had the time to read knowing his very busy schedule when he sometimes left office early morning to Nuwara Eliya , returned and then again to Galle or Hambantota to cover a match. His reply was “I can read an entire book in less than two hours no matter how many hundreds of pages. I even read while standing in a bus or train and remember every detail.”

It was no idle boast. To test him I would ask him to quote a passage of a book he had just lent me, and he would not only quote it word to word, but even give me the exact page in which it appeared.! It was this amazing gift that helped this music lover to remember the many well loved songs of yesteryear which he hummed and sang to us everyday while working . A trilinguist, Ranjan was also a professional singer . He released an album of songs in Sinhala and English to mark the 1996 Cricket World Cup victory. Mild and gentle by nature, he could blow a fuse in the face of injustice, especially, if it had to do with a colleague. Ever ready to help, polite and with his ready smile that constantly lit up his face from ear to ear, he took his work seriously but never failed to see the lighter side of life as he worked. Comic strips intrigued him . His favourite was” Mutt and Jeff’ and ‘Marmaduke’. A compassionate, caring person he was not ambitious or insisting on his byline even when a re-written story was almost wholly by him. He always sought to help others, especially, younger reporters. He never begrudged spending time to ‘polish up a badly written copy just to help a struggling reporter.,, new to his job..

A devout Catholic we know that Ranjan has gone to his Maker with the faith of a Christian as he journeys home to his Maker. We the Sunday Observer staffers, join his wife Christine and son and daughter in saying, “God be with you as you enter your final resting place.”

The long corridors at Lake House will be strangely empty, now that Ranjan is no longer there to light them up with his cheerful smile, catchy and infectious laughter.

- Carol Aloysius


A friend in deed

A friend in need is a friend indeed, is what aptly describes Ranjan, a jovial and down to earth friend and an office colleague who always carried a winsome smile on his face. There is no value in showering praises after someone has left the shores.

However, what is undeniable in him was his willingness to stretch a helping hand and go the extra mile to any one who needed help. There was never a ‘let’s see’ or ‘ I cannot’ phrase in Ranjan’s vocabulary, but rather, ‘I will’ and ‘take it as done’ were his response whenever his friends sought support.

Friend or foe, rich or poor he would treat them all alike. He mingled with anyone and everyone who came in contact with him. He would sit beside those in a lower rank and also those in higher echelons when partaking meals, or during conversations in the office as well as outside.

His ability to stomach, both due and undue criticism from his bosses and counterparts in office was astonishing. He would put up with any moods of his erstwhile boss Mr. A.C. De Silva, fondly known as AC, with a smile. ‘Never get angry, for you will be the loser’ was a little advice from his father that Ranjan treasured when the going got tough.

Ranjan would always keep the ball rolling and get the momentum going even on a dull day. He would keep cheering and get all those around to be in high spirits, especially, when the chips are down. There were many instances that he patted me and his colleagues when we were downhearted.

Writing was not the all in Ranjan although his stint as a scribe spanned over three decades. His flair ranged from cricketing to music. He not only excelled in cricket at his alma mater but also was the first Christian among his team mates at Ananda College. He composed songs and sang of Milton and Clarence as a tribute to the 1996 Cricket World Cup victory.

Ranjan, your name will always be etched in our hearts. It’s goodbye for now until we meet on that beautiful shore. May God grant you eternal rest.

– Lalin Fernandopulle


Great entertainer

One does not conceive the thought of a friend’s death during this month of yuletide. I was deeply shocked to hear of Ranjan’s sudden demise. I first met him along the corridors of Lake House, leading to the editorial, and greeted him as ‘Sir”- he being senior to me by almost three decades! He unleashed his amiable smile and said “Please call me Ranjan”: this sense of humility was his hallmark.

Ranjan was a gifted cricketer and displayed his prowess equally as a singer. On our annual staff trip he entertained us in many ways…Ranjan redefined what it means to be a gentleman. He can truly say “Cursum perficio- my journey is over”. He lived life to the fullest.

Aeternum Vale- farewell.

- Dishan Joseph


So Ranjan...

Ranjan ​Anandappa was not a journalistic ‘super power’ with a dominant personality. He was a humble man with modest ambitions. His sole interest was sports and his presence was soft. So was his mannerism. If you bump into him on a corridor, on a random office day, he would just greet you with a nod and a friendly smile. A man of few words. That’s how I will always remember him.

I didn’t get to closely associate with Ranjan until I joined the Sunday Observer. So, it was a brief encounter. But I have plenty of fond memories – ones that I will treasure for the rest of my life.

During the last office trip of the Sunday Observer staff, we had a good conversation over a couple of drinks, on a rainy afternoon. Despite the unbridgeable age and generational gap, we had one thing in common - our alma mater. He was a classmate of Rajitha Senaratne and Sarath Fonseka at Ananda College and therefore, Ranjan, to me, was a repository of interesting stories.

“So Ranjan, how was Sarath Fonseka in school?”

“Sa-i-lent bugger machang; but a good swimmer!”

On a less hectic Saturday, I would sit with him in his room and talk about cricket. The abysmal performance of the Sri Lankan cricket team during the recently concluded ODI tournaments was our usual topic. Occasionally, we would talk about his experience as a cricket umpire back in the day.

“So why did you give it up? – aparadeney” I would ask.

“I was too tired men. It’s physically taxing. You have to concentrate on every ball. Not very easy,” he would reply, intently looking into the screen of his computer.

“We must hire a couple of youngsters for the sports desk before the big match season. Only you and Bernard no,” I would give him a false promise, knowing too well that it’s not easy to lure ‘a couple of youngsters’ into the field of journalism - especially, before the next big match season.

Ranjan, a seasoned campaigner who had been in the business long enough to cut through one’s gu​ff, would give his trademark nod and smile, probably with the realization that I was just trying to make him happy by giving some hope.

I am sure I will see him again, when someone walks gently into the Sunday Observer editorial on a Saturday evening; whenever I have a chat with someone over a drink, by the sea, on a rainy afternoon; or when I pass by his little office room where he would sit in a silent corner.

So Ranjan, see you!

- Rasika


Succeeding in his own way

Ranjan Anandappa was not someone who one could describe in a few words. His ideas and in fact his life was so colourful that spending a few moments with him often brought one out in fits of laughter.

As he was tied to the Sports Desk I didn’t meet him regularly, but I used to bump into him since the mid-1980s at various rugby matches where he had come to cover the proceedings. I also was happy to meet him, having been told by a colleague that he was the son of the late veteran journalist Clarrie Anandappa, who I was fond of in The Island newspaper.

At Lake House over the years Ranjan had passed several transformations of producing the paper, taking the technical sophistications in his stride. I often had doubts whether he would be capable of coping with the changing conditions, but he would surprise everyone doing it his own way and succeeding. But not without some banter that would keep others around him in stitches. (He would sometimes threaten to write to the ICC (and the lords of cricket) appealing to them to advance the cricket play time in England to suit Sri Lankan press deadline for printing, so that the local newspapers could hit the newsstands on time!)

Ranjan also had an ear for music and in fact was much in demand at various singing dos. He would often burst into song when the moods / spirits turned high.

At the recent Sunday Observer Day’s outing he was particularly in a jovial mood after knowing he had become a Grandfather, and appreciated everybody’s good wishes.

In that sense none could deny the fact that Ranjan bade farewell having lived a full life and seeing the sun set.

Let the next man in, he would say.

- RG.


A gentle presence

Ranjan Anandappa was a journalist of few words and more smiles. On all the chance meetings we had, be it in the corridors of Lake House or at the canteen, he always had a ready smile. During the period of my short acquaintance with him at the Sunday Observer Editorial, his was a gentle presence. He caused neither turbulence nor inconvenience. At times, he would silently wander into the editorial newsroom and watch the cricket match, even that with the same calmness he observed in his everyday life.

May his soul rest in peace!

- Dimuthu

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