An Echo from RIT

Post : 2000

Updated : August 5, 2019

  • Dr. Myint Thein (M73) was doing his Ph.D. at Georgia Tech (aka Georgia Institute of Technology) in Atlanta. During this period, he wrote using the pen name Maung Ba Thein (Altanta).
  • He wrote articles for RIT Alumni International Newsletter and Swel Daw Yeik Sar Saung for Singapore SPZPs.
  • The topics cover “An Apology to Sayagyi U Ba Toke”, Saya S. Arya, Rowing, Fund raising Marathon Run by Saya Dr. Tin Win (M62) for SPZP-2007, visit to the alma mater.

An Echo from RIT

by Maung Ba Thein (Atlanta)

In October 1999, I visited my alma mater, RIT. I was very excited to see the campus totally green covered by grown trees. According to the newspapers, in 1999 the rainfall was the highest in Yangon since 1872, one year after the precipitation data were started to record at Kaba Aye station.

First I went to the main portico. Its splendid 12 columns were standing straight and firm in the morning sun. With dignity, they were still sustaining the weight of huge concrete roof. I suffered a sad feeling of having to leave them behind. I was standing still for a moment on its steps. From there, I saw the windy space right under the ‘Set Hmu Hall’. There used to be Registrar U Hla’s office on the left, a big bulletin board and the library on the right, and in the middle two English newspaper reading-stands (Guardian and Working People’s Daily provided by the registrar’s office). At this place every morning we would stand and explore the outside world’s events during the height of the Vietnam War. It used to be so windy at this place that while reading we had to use our both hands to hold down the newspaper.

I walked to the east of main building. I came across an old green Mazda pickup truck anchored in the car parking lot. It might be at least 35 years old and expired. It took me back to the days at RUBC. This old truck had served us as a ferry to RUBC at Inya Lake from RIT and Thazin Hall (Hlaing Campus), 3 afternoons a week for two years. Sometimes two trips a day. Because of its transportation, we successfully recruited female members to our RIT Rowing Club. At the 1972 RUBC Annual Regatta, RIT Rowing Club competed in full strength including (for the first time) 4 crew of Women’s Eight, breaking our RIT Rowing Club’s tradition of ‘All Guys’.

I walked to the north along the concrete driveway, made a pause between Buildings 1 and 2, and looked up. I saw the corridors where we used to stand, watch, shout, cheer, and laugh. On these corridors, our butts and the floors had kissed each other uncountable times during the rainy seasons.

I continued roaming down the road. The trees were still welcoming me. All were green and had grown well. On my left I could see the Building 2 where Departments of Textile, Electrical, Mining & Petroleum, Physics, and machine shops were located. On my right, in the lower triangular terrain, annexed Buildings 5, 6, 7, and 8 where housed the Architecture, Civil, and Mechanical Engineering Departments were sitting quietly under the blazing sun. I heard a jet flew out of the Mingaladon Airport making a loud roar.

At the Mechanical Engineering Department, I met Saya U Khin Mg Tin and Saya U Kyaw Aye. I was looking for Saya Aryar (Strength of Materials) to apologize him. Instead of learning respectfully what he taught in the class, I made jokes with my classmates on his accent. For these silly acts, (in the past, present, everyday, everywhere) I was/am paying the price. Many people hardly understand my speaking. For me – frustrations, arguments, ridicule, shame, unconstrained anger, refusals for the service, etc. You name it. I had it. They were common for me.

At the Metallurgy Department, I met Saya U Tin Mg Nyunt and U Nyunt Htay. We went to the food court. The restaurants ‘Nway-Aye’ and Aung Theik Pan’ were still running. I assumed that the cafe owned by ‘U Chit of Blacksmith’ would be also doing well. In the courtyard the Padauk trees were growing well and providing the patrons a green canopy.

On the other side of the concrete driveway, I could see the soccer-field where we enjoyed crazily in the mud and rain like buffaloes. Our “loyal fans” of the G-Hall might be watching our games or might be suppressing their intense hunger watching the clock for dinner. In reality, they saw us as the reincarnations of the ‘Ah Yee Gyees’ (who faithfully practiced self-torturing exercises to purge their body from Kilesa (mental defilement) of the Bagan era before His Majesty King Anawrahta stripped them off, booted out from their dwellings, and sent to the elephant and horse stalls to pick up the animal-made fertilizers.

The trees had grown so well that I could hardly see our great sisters’ G-Hall. Next I saw were the infirmary and the resident quarter for the faculty and staff.

Then I went to the west of the main building to see the small entrance behind the BPI bus stop on Yangon-Insein Road. On Friday mornings, we used to buy the ‘Set Hmu Thadin Zin’ at this gate. I was surprised to see that the entrance had been widened to about 10 feet.

In our days, it was only about 3 feet wide. Two students could barely pass simultaneously this gate without touching each other. To emphasize the width of the entrance, one of my friends used to brag that “In this RIT campus, there were many female students who were Ma’ Loot Ma’ Kinn Phyit with me”.

I came back to the oval lawn in front of the main portico. There was no water rising into the air at the fountain as it was the same in our days. However, flowers were blooming. I learned that there was a graduation ceremony on that morning for completing a diploma program. I saw some young female students with brand-new crispy dresses moving to and fro in the oval garden. Some of them were standing / sitting / lying on the grass in a variety of postures for the zooming cameras. A great photo-opportunity for them at this age, time, and place. I stood gazing at their agility, youth, and smiles. I was thinking very deeply.

In the south, I could see the dormitories A, B, C, and D Halls sitting quietly at a distance waiting for my visit. Again, my mind took me back to the old days.

Suddenly, I thought I heard – from a 30-year distance – somebody from the top-floor corridor of hostel A-Hall roared like a lion at his highest volume:
Ma’ Pyawwww Ma’ Sheee Ja Ne Byoooooooow !

A long echo followed. All residents of A-Hall came out of their rooms and joined their leader’s wake-up call by beating loudly nearby bathing-utensils, pots, and pans. And a trembling noise like a thunder.

Today, welcoming the upcoming noble occasion and recalling the echo and tremble which I used to hear often at RIT, let me hail again.
Ma’ Pyaww Ma’ Sheee Ja Ne Byoooow !

We are going to have a once-in-a-life-time gathering at ‘Saya Pu Zaw Pwe and RIT Grand Reunion’ in San Francisco on October 28-29, 2000.

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