Updated on March 9, 2019
By U Zaw Min Nawaday (EP70, USA)
The academic year started around October 9th for our final year. Ko Aye Win Hlaing (EP), 65 intake, picked me up at the central train station, and took me to his home for dinner. Afterwards, he drove me to the RIT hostels. I had again applied for hostel accommodation paired with Ko Cho Aye (M70). We got lucky and were assigned single rooms at F Block, which had bathrooms attached. That was great. No more going to the common bathrooms or showers. I was in F-10 and Ko Cho Aye was in F9.
Sai Aung San (Met) my room mate from 3rd year and Sai Maung Lin (Ag) were in F-1 and F-2.
At the Boat Club, Ko Aung Lwin (C70) got me to be accepted as a “Half Green”. No more rowing wooden tubs for me. I had now advanced to the “Shells”, after doing the required “Clinker” outings. Ko Aung Lwin told me he was putting me on the RIT “Eights” crew. We set out to do a practice run, I was assigned position number 6, on the stroke side. George Htoon Pay (M71) 65 intake, was the Cox that guided the boat and shouted out commands. The distance for the “Eights” competition was 2000 meters, the distance from the University Boat club to Dubern beach. We rowed out to Dubern Beach and from there, rowed back as if we were in competition with another boat. Half way back, I began to tire and did not put enough power into my strokes. The Cox, who was watching, yelled out “Number 6”. I tried to put power into my strokes but soon slacked off again. “Number 6” the Cox yelled again.
The next day, we were to compete against the “Eights” crew from RASU as part of the Inter-Institute competition. Ko Aung Lwin (C) told me he was putting me into reserves. That was the closest thing at RIT that I came to achieving something in sports. Unfortunately, due to my own fault, I did not get the chance to represent RIT.
In rowing, you were supposed to put the oar into the water at right angles to the water surface. If you put the oar at another angle with the water surface, the oar would slice into the water, unbalancing the boat. We called it “Dip Yike”. Normally, it could happen if you get very tired and could not control your oar, or if for some reason you were not paying attention. If somebody did a “Dip Yike” during competition, the boat would become temporarily unbalanced and lose momentum. In most cases, your boat was almost sure to lose the race if that happened.
Ko Aung Lwin (C) was right to replace me. I did not have the stamina to go the distance. The irony of the matter was that my replacement, an experienced “Full Green”, did a “Dip Yike” at the very start of the race against RASU. The RIT boat was left standing at the starting place while the RASU crew rowed away to victory. For a “Dip Yike” to happen at the very first stroke, that person, my replacement, must not have been paying any attention.
In the second half of the year, I teamed up with 65 intake students on a “Fours”. I was in the number 2 position, stroke side. The distance for the “Fours” competition was 1000 meters. We were in competition against a “Fours” crew from RASU for the Monsoon regatta. It was not an Inter-Institute competition. It just happened that all of us were from RIT and the other crew from RASU. We were leading by a boat length when we were about 150 meters from the finish line. We heard clapping and shouts of “RIT” “RIT”. It was a female “Eights” crew from the Inst of Economics, sitting in their boat and cheering us. Suddenly, our boat shook and shuddered as one of us had a “Dip Yike”. We lost the race. After the race, our Number 3, on the bow side, told me he turned to look to see who were clapping and cheering and dipped his oar improperly, causing the “Dip Yike”.
Saya U Thein Aung (Micky Tan) Physics, RASU, who was running the Boat club, brought a Laung Hle. The Laung Hle had a leak and he had it repaired. Ko Myo Khin (C) one yr senior in 64, asked for permission to take the Laung Hle out for a trial. He recruited me, Ko Yit Moe (C) 65 intake and two others from RIT and the five of us rowed the Laung Hle out to the center of the lake. A Laung Hle is difficult to keep in balance, but probably due to the fact that there were only 5 of us, it glided in the water smoothly and in perfect balance. Unfortunately, the leak had not been repaired properly and the Laung Hle started to sink. We could here a big “Wah Ha Ha Ha” from the people looking at us from the Boat club, jeering at us when the Laung Hle sank. Luckily, a rescue row boat came out from the nearby Yacht club and threw us a line. They towed the Laung Hle to the Yatch club side, across the water from the University boat club while we swam along beside the towed Laung Hle. It was dark when we reached land and had to walk around to get back to the Boat club.
Track and Field & Some Rum
I also had another Kauk Yoe Mee project. I tried to compete in the 400 meters race at RIT. In the heats, I ran for 300 meters looking at the heels of the great RIT athlete Ko Mg Mg Thaw (EP). After 300 meters, my stamina gave out. Sayagyi U Mg Mg Than (T) president of RIT Track and Field association, commented that I was able to run only 300 meters since I had only trained to run 300 meters during practice. I was supposed to run 500 meters in practice if I wanted to compete in the 400 meters.
Although my efforts came to nought, Sayagyi U Mg Mg Than invited me to a cocktail party that he was giving for the RIT Track and Field athletes at his house. Ko Yit Moe (C) 65 intake, Ko Oo Myint (Mn), Ko Zaw Win (M or Mn) were there. Female athletes, Ma Nang Khan Ein (A), Ma Lei Lei Chit (Ch) were probably there together with Ma Nyunt Nyunt Shwe (E) from Moulmein, about 3 years junior.
For the first time in my life, I had a hard drink (Rum). I had drunk only beer before. After the party, I was walking back to the hostels with Ko Yit Moe when he started to stagger. I put my left arm around his waist, put his right arm around my neck and grasped it with my right hand. We walked like that until we reached D Block, Ko Yit Moe’s home Block. He could not step up the stairs so I lifted him up in my arms and carried him all the way up to the 3rd floor and put him on his bed. Coming back to my room in F Block, someone told me Ko Oo Myint (Mn) was getting loud and boisterous in front of the main RIT building. Since we had drank together, I somehow felt responsible and went there, but found that Ko Zaw Win (?) had used reverse psychology to calm Ko Oo Myint (Mn) down without incident.
During our final year, all of us studied hard. We knew that we must learn as much as possible about the subjects that were taught in our final year so that we may be able to work without any problem after we graduated. In addition, Ko Win Thein (EP70, GBNF) and I would go to “Ava House” bookstore on Sule Pagoda road and scrounged around for good technical books. I managed to get my hands on a good boo. It was about industrial controls, which I found to be very helpful when I started working.
Doing these extra studies also created a disappointment for me. I had bought a book from the central book shop titled, “Principles of Automatic Controls” and had gone through all the problems in it. There was, however, one problem that I could not solve. It was about a Motor- Generator Control set up. We had been taught the “Ward – Leonard Motor Generator Control System” by Sayagyi U Tin Swe in RIT. This set up was different. I passed over it thinking it was not relevant since we were not taught that type of system. Got an unpleasant surprise at the finals when this exact problem was asked. That turned out to be the only problem I could not solve for that subject. I felt like a person that had a winning lottery ticket and did not know about it.
No Time For Relaxation
After the last day of the finals, I thought of relaxing with my friends for a few days before leaving. That was not to be.
My eldest brother, who was teaching at the Geology Dept. in RASU at that time, showed up that very evening and told me to pack up and leave immediately. Perhaps he was afraid that I might again be falsely accused of stirring up trouble, like at the time of the unexpected school closing in December 1969 when someone made a false report to the school authorities that I was going around the hostels stirring up the students. He gave me money to rent a Bo Bo Aung (higher priced taxi) and Ko Cho Aye (M) helped put all my belongings on it. So it was with great sadness that I bade my final good bye to the RIT Hostels that had been my home away from home for the past 5 plus years.
In conclusion, I have no regrets for the way I had spent my time at RIT. Not studying much during my first two-three years, getting involved in one activity after another, being a “Jack of all trades and master of none” in sports. The only thing I regretted doing was that incident where I got physical with the student from the 66 intake, which I wished I had never done.
I had entered RIT as a wild eyed teenager, just becoming 17 years of age the month I entered, and now I was leaving as a mature grown man. The life I had at RIT was very memorable. In my eyes, I can still see the Sayas, the Sayamas and our friends as they were then. The laughters that we had together are still echoing in my ears. It is a part of my memory that will remain with me until the sun sets on my life.
The following were added by Ko Ohn Khine:
(a) Thanks a lot for your interesting reminiscences Ko Zaw Min and looking forward to see more of them. I would like to sprinkle some sesame (Nhan Phyu).
(b) The boxing tournament was held in the lawn in front of C and D block. I remember two of our seniors went up the ring and had some jovial boxing making us LOL. Ko Zaw Win and Ko Min Kyi (both M 67) were the two, if I can rely on my memory. Please correct me if I am wrong. There was no square concrete monument at that time.
(c) List of Sayas in departments at RIT in 1964 (when we started attending classes). The list is not comprehensive.
Burmese Department: Head: U Tein Kyi,
U Tin Shwe, Daw Khin Than Myint, Daw Hla Myint, U Tin Win, …
English Department: Head: Daw Yin Yin Mya
Daw Khin Win Kyi, U Sao Kan Gyi (GBNF), Daw Naw Charity Sein Oo, U Joe Ba Maung (GBNF), Mr. Desmond Rodgers, U Kyaw Lwin Hla, …
Maths Department: Head: U Sein Shan (GBNF)
U Shwe Hlaing, U Ko Ko Gyi (GBNF), U Tun Shein (GBNF), U Aung Soe, U Than Lwin, …
Physics Department: Head: Daw Nyein (GBNF)
Daw May Than Nwe, U Saw Hlaing (GBNF), Mr. Robert Pho Rein (GBNF), U Nyunt Yin, Daw Thaung Nwe, Daw Aye Yi, …
Chemistry Department: Head: U Kyaw Tun
Daw May Chit, Daw A Mar Sein, U Morris Kyaw Zaw, Daw Win Win, U Ba Ti, Daw Rosie Kwet Kaw, Daw Win Myaing, U Pike Htwe, Daw Tin May Latt (Betty) (GBNF), Daw Than Than (GBNF), …
Mechanical Department: Head: U Ba Than
U Kyin Soe, U Tin Hlaing, U Mg Mg Win, U Tu Myint, U Arya, U Soe Lwin, U S Kyaw Aye, U Phone Myint, U Win, U Khin Mg (GBNF), U Myo Win, U Tin Htut, …
Electrical Dept. Head: U Sein Hlaing (GBNF)
U Kyaw Tun (GBNF), U Tin Swe (GBNF), U Sein Win (GBNF), U Soe Paing, U Khine Oo, U Myo Kyi, U Sein Mg, U Ba Myint, U Tin Shwe (GBNF), U Thein Lwin, U Soe Min (GBNF), U Nyi Nyi, …
Chemical Dept. Head: U Khin Aung Kyi
Dr. Hla Myint, …
Civil Department: Head: U Min Wun
Dr. San Hla Aung, U Allen Htay (GBNF), U Khin Mg Phone Ko, U Thein Dan, …
Metallurgy Dept. Head: U Thit (GBNF)
U Aung Hla Tun, …
Mining Department Head: U Soon Sein (GBNF)
U Win Kyaing (GBNF), …
Textile Department: Head: U Maung Maung Than (GBNF)
U Shwe Yi (GBNF), Daw Tin Tin Ohn (GBNF), …
Architecture Dept. Head: U Myo Myint Sein
Dr. Lwin Aung, …
Workshop Dept Head: Mr. Simons (GBNF)
U Phone Myint, …
Librarian: Daw Myint Myint Khin (GBNF)
(d) We had to do practical works on blacksmith and carpentry in the first year. All first year students male and female had to do it. Mr. Simons, father of Victoria Simons (Met 70), was head of the department and U Phone Myint assistant head. Most popular among students was U Chit the blacksmith. U Chit had passed away a few years back.
(e) The so called canteen in our first year days was a small open air building with roof and sort of concrete flooring, just like a zayat. But the location is very strategic for us male students. The road from the roofed walkway leading to G Hall is in front of it so G Hall students and their friends had to use that only road going to and from the main building to the Hall. Just imagine how much we enjoy sitting in the canteen. Of course one thing is we had no choice than to eat Si Kyet Khauk Swel, drink tea coffee or cold drinks at that canteen. I remember the price of the Si Kyet Khauk Swe was 50 pyas, and special one 75 pyas.
(f) There was also a stall selling tit bits (snacks, cigars, cigarettes and betel) at the corner of the roofed walkway from the main building to dining hall and hostels. (That walkway covered the sunshine only but couldn’t cover the heavy rains with strong winds. We all were soaked like rats in water pail sometimes walking along that walkway in the rainy seasons.) The owner of the stall was a middle-aged lady. Later U Chit also opened a Mont Hin Ga stall in the mornings near the dining hall. There was also a food shop at Gyogone junction outside the RIT compound known as Ma Tin Aye’s shop.
(g) The new open shed to accommodate food stalls was built on the space between the small canteen and dining hall. I am not sure when new stalls came in to sell foods. At the time there was only one shed facing the dining hall. Later another shed was built on the opposite side also.
(h) I remembered the shop named “Aung Theik Pan”, especially the two siblings of the owner. They are Po Po, elder girl and her young brother Aw Tee. Of course we couldn’t go to that shops frequently but sometimes when we had sponsors and during the holidays when the dining hall was closed.
(i) The film shows at the Assembly Hall once a week were enjoyable. There were good films both foreign and local. Thin and lanky Ko Khin Mg Yin was the electrician and operated the film projector. He had passed away already.
(j) During our 2nd year summer holidays, some students who didn’t join UTC camp, attended the First Aid course. I attended the course but couldn’t recall my memory about it.
(k) From 3rd year we had to undergo practical industrial training at factories and dockyards during the summer holidays. It was compulsory. I did my training at Mandalay Dockyard (3rd year) Amarapura B.E.M.E base workshop (4th year), and Union of Burma Research Institute (5th and Final year).
(l) Architecture students went to places where they can see and learn about the historical buildings and our ancestors’ architectural talents.
(m) Civil Engineering students went to Maymyo for the practical training on Surveying and other related studies. Other engineering disciple students went to their related industrial factories. These arrangements were beneficial to us and the industrial experiences we gained were of much help later in our work life.
(n) As a hostel student we have to mingle not only with our classmates but also with our seniors and juniors. Due to our moving from one block to another at random rather than stay put in one block and room, our circle of friends become bigger and bigger as we advance to our final years.
(o) From second year onward, the blocks and rooms were allocated by drawing lots. So we did not know which hall will be our next year’s place and who our neighbors will be. We can choose our room mates in advance. The floors of the blocks are already fixed for which year students to stay. The uppermost floors of A,B,C,D,E blocks, corridor rooms between A&B, B&C, and D&E are mostly for fifth and final year students. F block is for final year students only. Inle Hall is mainly for first year students.With this system of allocating rooms, we tend to have more close friends with those from one year senior and one year junior. I think this is one main factor in fostering our RIT spirit which we showed vehemently in Inter-Institute Sports meetings (as my friend KZM mentioned), and later in our work and social lives.
(p) How I got my nickname “Gaing Gyi”
rother asked my father what my name was. When he told my name, the brother put down on paper as “Ohn Gaing” with the guttural sound of the second word. I was an overweight and chubby boy then. I remembered whenever I put on long pants our family doctor would call me “Lu Win Sin Nauk Paing” and told me that it was not an English name but the hind part of Kyauk Se Elephant.
Those who had seen the Kyauk Se Elephant will have in their eyes how I look like at that time. From thence my friends jokingly called me “Gan Gyi” meaning big hip. Up till Matriculation class I was called by that name among friends. Rarely will they call me “Ohn Khine”.
When I joined RIT together with (11) of our friends from St Peter’s these friends were so used to call me “Gaing Gyi” before. So after a while, I was known by that name among my friends’ friends, and they started to call me by that name. Some called me “Khine Gyi”, but the guttural sound seemed like easy to call and that was how I came to be called. In my work also my colleagues addressed me by that name up till now. I changed my name’s spelling to “Ohn Khine” when I joined RIT.
We request sayas and colleagues to point out the errors and discrepancies.
(1) Blog by Daw Than Yi (EP70, “Maubin Ma Shwe Than”)
(2) “History of University Engineering Education in Burma/Myanmar” by Saya U Aung Hla Tun & team
(3) Pamphlets/booklets by the “Combined 1st BE Intake of 64 and 65”
(4) RIT Student Guide
(5) Photo albums posted to “RIT Updates”