Of Alma Maters And Reunions

 

 

NORCAT 78

Well wishes from a senior (1977-1979). (photo credit : Paridah Mokhsin)

Thanks to social media, the number of invitations to reunions coming my way has increased dramatically over the last few years.

Not that I am complaining and neither is my wife, for she too has been receiving the same and no less in number at that.

These reunions, as is widely acknowledged, have in turn led to impromptu mini reunions either at the fancy upmarket watering holes or at the down-to-earth ‘restoran mamak’ on the other end of the scale.

One of the prerequisites to getting invited to these reunions is to be part of a larger group and its a given that being an alumnus of a certain school or college would do nicely, thank you very much.

Wedding ReUnion

MCKK Class of 1973-1977 at a wedding reception. Not his but of his daughter’s. (photo credit : Azinan Ayub)

I myself had attended quite a few of these reunions, that being of my alma mater, The Malay College of Kuala Kangsar (Class of 73-77). Being at this stage of life, most of these reunions come in the form of wedding receptions.

It must however be clarified that these wedding receptions were held for offsprings and not that, as some are wont to speculate, for a member of the group, lest there be any thoughts to the contrary.

After The Reception

A typical scene after any wedding reception of MCKK 1973-1977. Coffee, cigars, lots of laughter and the same jokes retold. (photo credit : Azinan Ayub)

As for my other alma maters (or almae matres, to use the more fanciful Latin version) ie The University of Wales at Cardiff (as it now called), The Norfolk College of Arts & Technology, King’s Lynn (NORCAT) and Wirtschaftsakademie Schleswig-Holstein, Kiel (WAK), I have yet to attend any of the reunions organized, be it major or otherwise. If there had been any organized, that is.

With respect to Cardiff, never ever did I asked myself the all important question : why have I not responded to any of the invitations to mini reunions organized?

Cigars and Coffee

Cigars and coffee and old friends. Literally and figuratively. (photo credit : Azinan Ayub)

The Cardiff group is itself made up of a large number of people, as the group is composed of alumni from two universities (both universities established at different times and as separate entities),  a college as well as a polytechnic (now upgraded to university status).

It is common knowledge that the group dynamics of a large group of people can get a bit fraught at times, although it may only involve a very tiny minority.

In plain English, there are just some members of the alumni I least want to renew contacts, ever.

Maybe one day that would change. Maybe. Just maybe. I mean, after all my beef is with just a few of them and not all of them. But for the time being, it is as it is.

NORCAT Gathering

Group of Thirteen who attended the reunion. Twelve in front of the camera (Standing L-R : Nazli, Halim, Shahidan, Nadzri, Nik Mastura, Aizi, Maria, Shahidah, Baharum, Nik Manan and Ashaari.  Seated : Shah) and one behind the camera (Sarudin). (photo credit : Sarudin Kari)

As mentioned earlier, another of my alma mater is the Norfolk College of Arts and Technology (NORCAT) of King’s Lynn.

If you are wondering just where on earth is King’s Lynn (as we all did when we first learnt that we would be heading that-a-way), as they say, google it and you will discover all there is to know about King’s Lynn and quite interesting at that as well.

Flight to the United Kingdom

King’s Lynn, here we come. (@ all rights reserved)

The wonders of technology. Never ceases to amaze me and never underestimate it.

Well, thanks to a few members of our batch of 1978-1980, a reunion was organized recently involving the first two batches of young and very fresh-faced Malaysian students ever shipped there in 1977 and 1978 respectively.

Attending the reunion were thirteen of us kindred souls, all formerly of NORCAT (now renamed College of West Anglia, http://www.cwa.ac.uk), which is significant in itself as quite a number of us have not met each other ever since we parted ways back in 1979 and 1980 respectively.

Peering at Old Photographs

Revisiting memories of days past. (photo credit : Sarudin Kari)

It was, nevertheless, also a sad occasion as we found out that two members of the 1977-1979 batch had passed away in the intervening years, both, as it was learnt, having succumbed to the Big C.

Personally speaking, it’s always sad to hear of a person’s passing, what more when it’s that of somebody we knew during an impressionable and memorable stage of our lives. May they be forever blessed in His Safekeeping.

During these reunions, catching up is one of the two main themes of the day, the other being reminiscing.

Of Days Past

L-R : Nik Manan, Aizi, Sobri, Halim, Zuhairi, Nadzri and Baharum. (all rights reserved)

Peering through old photographs was great fun, reminiscing of the days when our ‘crowns’, as was the fashion back then, were long and black (we’re Asians) and flowed freely when the wind blows, as opposed to the current state of our ‘crowns’ which elicited so much laughter by itself.

And that was just us guys.

The Three Ladies of King's Lynn

The three ladies of King’s Lynn who attended the reunion : L-R Maria, Shahidah and Nik Mastura. (photo credit : Sarudin Kari)

As for the ladies, there were a combined total of five ladies from the two batches. Though only three were able to attend, their numbers were reinforced by the wives who gamely attended the reunion with their ex-NORCAT husbands.

The Spouses

The wives of NORCAT 1978 (photo credit : Sarudin Kari)

The catching up soon turned to the poor souls who attended to us young Malaysians. These poor souls were also known as our lecturers. Not that we expected them to still be tending to their gardens but the memory of our lecturers and their peculiarities made for a good topic.

On the streets of King's Lynn

On the streets of King’s Lynn : L-R Nadzri, Aizi and Sobri. (@ all rights reserved)

I got to admit, our lecturers were a very patient lot, they were. Not that we were a very trying or mischievous lot. In fact we were rather quite a well-disciplined one, but the fact remained that the mere presence of us Malaysians were a novelty for NORCAT as well as King’s Lynn then, thus presenting a new and very different challenge to our lecturers, in more ways than one.

Yes, there were foreign students and ‘students’ on student visas (mainly Iranians and Hongkongers) already studying at NORCAT but then again, they were not that many in numbers.

Peering Into The Past

The guys’ turn to peer into past : L-R Nazli, Shah, Nadzri (partially covered), Halim (partially covered) & Nik Manan (photo credit : Sarudin Kari)

All these catching up and reminiscing was accompanied by some background music : music of the late 1970s with The Commodores with Lionel Richie & Co, The Electric Light Orchestra (ELO), and a host of famous musical acts of the 1970s.

Talking about music, there were also other acts who had a big impact on the music scene then. Barry Manilow, Sir Cliff Richard, Bee Gees, Supertramp, Pink Floyd, Earth Wind and Fire (EWF) and even ABBA, to name but a few.

But I guess my pick has to be Ian Drury & The Blockheads with their No.1 hit ‘Hit Me With Your Rythm Stick’. With a name like The Blockheads and an attitude to match, who can ever forget them and last time I checked, they are still on Youtube.

It was not long before we had to part ways again, but this time with old ties re-forged and with a plan to organize a grander and larger reunion for all of us Malaysian students ever so lucky to have the chance to further our education at King’s Lynn.

Catching Up

Catching up : L-R Shahidan, Nazli, Nik Manan, Nadzri, Halim, Ashaari, Baharum and Aizi. (photo credit : Sarudin Kari)

In all honesty, the reunion was much more fun than I expected. Peering through all those pictures of long gone days brought back fond memories : the first time we ever experienced snow fall, of snow fights at the local park, of frozen lakes at Hyde Park, and of apple picking at the Queen’s apple orchard at Sandringham.

For me, it also triggered memories of my team Liverpool with Dalglish, Rush, Souness and Co creating havoc at football grounds up and down England and in Europe, of Khomeini, of Thatcher, of Reagan, of BBC’s Panorama, of the cold war between US of A and the Soviet Union, of the Iranian revolution and the siege of the American embassy in Tehran, and of the SAS and the Iranian embassy in London.

Very interesting times. Very memorable times. The best of times.

I am rather sold on the idea of reunions and in fact, I might even attend one of them Cardiff ones. I mean, closure has to come sooner or later. And of course, if I do get invited.

Til the next reunion and may it be as memorable as this one was.

 

 

 

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