Uncategorized

U Hla Min’s Observations

Merged ten posts on April 16, 2019

ONE

  • Silicon Graphics Incorporated (SGI) was a top company selling $10,000+ work stations. Its customers include the movie companies doing computer animation.
  • With the advent of less expensive but powerful PCs — especially those with specialized graphics chips and processors — Silicon Graphics lost its market share and eventually went out of business.
  • Computer History Museum (CHM) bought one of the buildings previously owned by Silicon Graphics. It is on Shoreline Boulevard in Mountain View, California.
  • Google bought most of the remaining SGI buildings and created its GooglePlex.

Observation [1]

Even the top companies should take note of the competitors and innovators.

TWO

  • Daw Khin Mya (Susan)was from the first batch of female students who joined RUBC (Rangoon University Boat Club) in the mid-60s.
  • She represented the Institute of Economics and RUBC.
  • Several years back, I met her at Dhammanda Vihara, Half Moon Bay where U Chan Min, defacto leader of the Eco Rowing teams, was a resident monk (Ashin Kondhannadhaja) since his retirement.
  • She paid respect to Uzin U Chan Min. She mentioned that she would not be able to visit the monastery for some time. She would have to take care of her ailing husband.
  • She promised to e-mail me photos of her rowing days.
  • She requested time off from her husband to visit Myanmar and to do meritorious deeds. Sad to say, she passed away in Myanmar.

Observation [2]:

  • People, who take care of their ailing loved ones, can be stressed out physically and mentally. An example is Daw Thida (cousin of U Daniel Tint Lwin). She took care of her spouse Saya Dr. Saw Tin. She was unaware of her own medical problems. Sad to say, both passed away within a few months of each other.
  • Healthy people can pass away unexpectedly. I know a few cases where some fell down and incurred internal bleeding. One passed away the same day. Another passed away within a few weeks.

THREE

M72 batch is a closely knit group that include Wynn Htain Oo, Han Sein, Myint Pe, Win Myint, Myo Oo, Victor Aung Myin and several Soe Myints. They are known for their gentlemen acts as well as child-like behavior. Some thought they were quarreling when in fact they were teasing each other (and testing the limits of patience).

Kan Kaung

U Tha Tun (M72) is from the class of 71, but he feels at home as a senior with the M72 group. At one M72 gathering, a medical condition struck U Tha Tun, but he survived partly due to the CPR skills of U Wynn Htain Oo (M72). Some called the ambulance. A few impatient members took U Tha Tun to a poly clinic instead of waiting for the ambulance (which might not beat the traffic).

Kan Soe

  • Phone Gyi Soe Myint (retired Pro-Rector of ICST, M72) had a busy day visiting the Sun Lun Gu Kyaung twice and also taking rounds to see his nephew and niece with medical problems. He passed away in his bed at 3 AM.
  • U Wynn Htain Oo thought out aloud if CPR could have saved Ko Soe Myint.

Another Sad News

  • U Soe Myint Lwin (EP68) played soccer for RIT and later EPC and Burma Selected.
  • He passed away around the Hall way at approximately 3 AM.

Observation [3] :

  • CPR can help save lives.
  • I completed CPR training many years ago. I did not try to get re-certified.
  • Early in the morning — especially around 3 AM — most family members may be sleeping, sleepy or not alert to respond to emergency problems.

FOUR

During our middle and high school days at SPHS (St. Paul’s High School), we had to take a class — usually after the break — with our class teacher, or take a joint class with another section.

During that class period, the Catholic students study Catechism or pray at the School Chapel.

Students, who profess other religions, had to study

  • “Sar Nar Kya Ni Ti” (mostly in middle school)
  • “Morals and Manners” (mostly in high school)
  • Selected topics and themes (e.g. Civics)

Ethics and Integrity (Moral, System, Data) are fundamental to becoming a good student, educator, professional and citizen of a nation (and the world).

During our younger days, Burma had a reasonably good education system. It did not promote “rote learning” or the idea that “some professions are above others”. It encouraged students to be “life long learners” and “ethical citizens”.

There were “unseen” questions in the examinations. Memorizing essays is unheard of in our days.

Several top students decided to have careers that are not in engineering and medicine. Examples include :

  • U Ba Khin (first in Burma in the pre-war days) decided to enter government service. He was assigned as Head of four government departments. He was also an outstanding master in Vipassana (Insight Meditation).
  • Dr. Soe Win (first in the Matriculation of 1958) studied Chemistry. Robert Sein (second in 1958) studied Physics.
  • Dr. Frankie Ohn (first in the Matriculation of 1959) studied Physics.
  • Dr. Min Oo (second in the Matriculation of 1963) decided to have two doctorates in Mathematics.
  • Many decided to excel in Pure Science, Arts, Social Science, Education, Public Service, Business, Ah Nu Pyinnya (you name it)

Burma was the “Rice Bowl of Asia”. It had a strong economy with rich natural resources. It had kind and friendly people.

Sad to say, due to mismanagement by many authorities, Burma became lDC (Least Developed Country).

  • Destroying the revered Students Union is incomprehensible.
  • Destroying a working education system is unbearable.
  • Destroying the good will and ethics of people is irresponsible.

Observation [4] :

  • We need to get away from a “rote learning” system to get back to our days of glory.
  • We could/should reintroduce subjects such as ethics.

Dr. Thane Oke Kyaw Myint (SPHS60) wrote :

Dr. Myint Tun PhD (Birmingham) was one of my close friends. So as to be together, he also took biology but before the time was up to change subjects, he left and took up as Chemistry major. He stood first in Chemistry and went on to honors and masters degree. When he went to Birmingham, the university would not recognize his master’s from Burma. So, he made master’s again. Within 3 months. He took the exam and passed with flying colors and was accepted to do doctorate. His thesis was about binding of antibiotics with cellulose that they would stay longer in the body. His method was patented by s pharmaceutical company and he was paid for his research. Henry (SPHS 60) was one of the scholarship holders in our batch.

FIVE

  • My father volunteered at a “Bain Phut Ah Thin” — an association for rehabilitating opium addicts.
  • My father gave some money — five kyats (or so) — to a rehabilitated addict for the fare back home.
  • During the Second World War, my parents and his siblings decided to take refuge at Neikbeinda Hills in Prome. My father sent his assistant ahead of him.
  • The assistant encountered a group of bandits. He pleaded the bandits not to take away his saya’s possessions.
  • When the bandit leader learned of my father’s possessions, he decided to guard the assistant all the way to the Neikbeinda Hills.
  • The leader also offered a surprise gift — a box of condensed milk — for my father.

Observation [5] :

Random acts of kindness can be reciprocated even by seemingly bad people.

SIX

In 1951, four students were selected for the Rangoon University Football team. They played for Saya Nyein.

Tint Lwin

  • In those days, a student at Rangoon University could try several options before deciding a fit for the career.
  • U Tint Lwin took the Science option hoping to became an engineer. He then changed his mind. He took Biology classes and fulfilled the requisites to qualify for Medical School.
  • He represented Rangoon University as a goalkeeper. The team played First Division matches at Aung San Stadium.
  • His spouse is the elder sister of U Myint Sein (M69).
  • U Tint Lwin became an anesthesiologist. After retirement, Dr. Tint Lwin migrated to the US.
  • He and his dhamma friends volunteer at Kusalakari monastery in Fremont, California.

Tun Kyi

  • U Tun Kyi became an engineer.
  • He joined Burma Railways.
  • He played with U Kenneth Shein for Railways and the Burma soccer teams.

Kenneth Shein

  • He is the father of Daw Pale Shein (Pearl, UCC).
  • He joined Burma Railways.
  • He played with U Tun Kyi for Railways and the Burma soccer teams.

Collegian Nay Win

  • U Nay Win was with Navy before he attended Rangoon University.
  • U Tun Kyi and U Kenneth Shein wanted him to join Burma Railways, but he was having fun time with his mentor Saya Nyein, who took care of him.
  • One day, Saya Nyein was approached by the team planning to make the movie “Collegian” based on the novel by Zawana (U Thein). Saya Nyein recommended U Nay Win, but cautioned that his protege had no prior acting experience.
  • U Nay Win turned out to be a natural in the interview. He had to forgo his football career, but he gained fame in the Burmese movies.

Observation [6] :

One never knows for sure what the future holds.

SEVEN

U Lokanatha

Life in the US

  • He was working as a Chemist in the US when he received a book as a Christmas present from his supervisor.
  • One of the chapters was “Dhammapada“. After reading the chapter, Samvegha (sense of urgency) crept in. He quit his job and then left for Burma to be ordained as a Buddhist monk named “U Lokanatha“.
  • He was from a devout Catholic family, and his elder brother was a Priest.
  • He wrote later, “I became a Buddhist. My supervisor remained a Christian.”

Life in Burma

  • My paternal grand mother offered U Lokanatha a monastery in Bawdigone (Windermere Road, Rangoon).
  • U Lokanatha practiced Dhutanga. For example, he would not sleep on a bed.
  • He paid respect to Myingyan Sunlun Gu Kyaung Sayadaw U Kavi (who was widely regarded as an Arahant).
  • U Lokanatha made Dhamma Dhuta missions to India and Ceylon.
  • Sayadaw passed away in Maymyo in the late 60s.

Connection with Sunlun

  • He had a close connection with U Vinaya (a friend and Dhamma teacher of U Khin Maung Latt, Daw Khin Myo Chit, U Thein Nyunt, U Win Pe and several other Sunlun yogis). Sayadaw U Vinaya interpreted and expounded U Lokanatha’s sermons given in English.
  • Later, U Lokanatha donated from his garawa money to help build Kaba Aye Sunlun Gu Kyaung, where Sayadaw U Vinaya would reside and teach vipassana meditation until his demise at the ripe old age nearing 100. When he passed away, he was succeeded by U Wara (Win Paing, ChE70) who had served as Tike Oke Sayadaw for four decades.

Observation [7] :

It amazes us that a book chapter can change a person’s life.

Ashin Pannagavesaka (Bobby Myo Tun, A69) wrote :

Wonders never cease!

EIGHT

Moke Seit Phone Gyi

  • Reverend Tennyson was the Buddhist Archbishop of Latvia and Lithuania. Reverend F. Lutvig was his assistant. When the Communists invaded their country, they moved to Burma, where the government allowed them refuge in a monastery in the “Ah Le Pyit Sa Yan” of Shwe Dagon Pagoda.
  • Reverend Lutvig would come to our parent’s house for alms. He would be known as “Moke Seit Phone Gyi” (the monk with a beard).
  • After his mentor’s demise, Reverend Lutvig became the Buddhist Archbishop of Latvia and Lithuania.

Ashin Ananda

  • He shaved his beard and was ordained as a Theravada monk with the title “Ashin Ananda“.
  • He is a Laureate Poet. He wrote poems in English and also published a book of translations of Burmese poems. He gave me an autographed copy of his book.

In July 1969, he critiqued my poem “Men on the Moon“.

  • He gave a copy to Mr. Hall (Information Officer at USIS) to be forwarded to NASA and the Apollo 11 astronauts. Mr. Hall put me on the USIS Subscription List.
  • He gave a copy to the Guardian newspaper for publication.

Observation [8] :

It is a rare opportunity to learn from two non-native Buddhist monks

  • Mediation and sermons from U Lokanatha (Italian American)
  • Poetry from Ashin Ananda (Latvian).

NINE

State Scholars

  • At one period, most Burmese state scholars were selected to study in communist and socialist countries.
  • One day, a group of state scholars (who had been chosen to do their Diplom and CSc (Candidate of Science) were surprised and delighted to learn that they will have to do their Masters and Doctorates in the UK (and other non-socialist countries).

What happened?

  • Grapevine says that four Burmese state scholars in GDR (German Democratic Republic, East Germany) formed an association and led protests in front of the Burmese Embassy claiming that the “Burmese Way to Socialism” is weak.
  • The student leaders were routed back to Burma via Moscow (in the USSR).
  • The higher authorities decided to send less scholars to the socialist and communist countries to prevent or minimize hard-core cadres.

Observation [9] :

One’s luck can change unexpectedly.

Saya U Thein Tan (C64) added :

U Hla Min, it is not only cause for diverting state scholars to UK and Canada. We engineers and Physics graduates and forestry graduates are chosen to study in USSR. We had our passport in hand and applied for visa . Then there were no reply for about a month. They gave back our passports. Later on I learnt that our government had denounced the invasion of Czechoslovak by Warsaw group is illegal. After some time we and Physics graduates are sent to UK. Forestry graduates are sent to Canada instead of USSR.

TEN

Stipend

  • Our SPHS classmate and RUBC crew member Willie Soe Maung (Myint Soe, GBNF) was from the first batch of BDS.
  • I met one who received his BDS (Bachelor of Dental Surgery) in the 70s. He is quite junior to us. He said,

“I received a monthly stipend of 75 Kyats. I paid 57 Kyats for the hostel fees, and 15 Kyats for the school fees. I use the remaining 3 Kyats for riding buses. The short trips cost five or ten pyas.”

Scholarship

  • In 1963, ten from our class received the Collegiate Scholarship of 75 Kyats per month.
  • After paying 15 Kyats for the school fees, those who attend as day scholars have 60 Kyats to spend.
  • Sad to note that Dr. Myo San (Freddie Ba San, who stood Third in Burma) and U Aung Thu Yein (Brownie Way, who stood 13th in Burma) are GBNF.

Eligible YTU Students

  • Scholarships and stipends are being awarded by various organizations to YTU students.
  • In 2018, NorCal RITAA awarded US $1000 to four YTU students, and US $500 to three YTU students. The pre-screening was done by volunteer alumni (entrepreneurs as well as EC of RITAA).
  • Testimonials from the recipients have been posted.

Observation [10] :

  • The value of Kyat (and hence the purchasing power) has declined drastically over the years. In our younger days, a US Dollar is worth five or six kyats.
  • Slide rules and calculators have given way to lap tops, note pads and smart phones. It is important to spend time wisely on the devices, and to keep the devices out of reach during one’s sleep.
  • Several individuals, groups, associations and foundations have enabled students with hardship to pursue their dreams of becoming engineers.

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