Final Year BE (1969-70)
The academic year started around October 9th for our final year. Ko Aye Win Hlaing (“La La”, Abel, 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 (M). 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 F-9. 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 (Jasper, C) 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 (Aung Tun Oo, M, 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 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”(or “Catch Crab”). 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 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, SPHS59, 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 (C65 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 Kam Ing (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 climb 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 (EP, 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 book. 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 Saya U Myo Min (Geology Dept. ,RASU) 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). 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.
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 laughter that we had together is still echoing in my ears. It is a part of my memory that will remain with me until the sun sets on my life.