by Ba Thein (Atlanta)
On the ex-RIT Website often I read about RUBC [Rangoon University Boat Club]. I was not a GOLD. But I had a Silver.
In 1972, Professor William Paw (Institute of Economics) and Saya U Tin Htut (M60) were the President and the General Secretary of RUBC. Saya Dr. U Tin Win (M62) was the head of our RIT Rowing Club. I was a member of the EC responsible for Publicity [Public Relations].
In 1971, there were only 2 female members (colors: Full Green and/or Half Green) in our club: Kyi Kyi Aye (Textile, from Loikaw, Kayar State) and Zar Nee Aung (Rangoon). On those days, we could not rely on the No. 8 (Landsdown – Insein) bus to go to RUBC. Fortunately, we had a kind permission from Rector Dr. Aung Gyi and Registrar U Thet Lwin to use the school’s B-2000 Mazda pickup truck. Due to the transportation, we successfully recruited about 20 female and 30 male new members to our RIT Rowing Club. The truck ferried the crew in afternoons (three times a week) to RUBC at Inya Lake from RIT campus and Tha Zin Hall at Thamaing dormitories. At the 1972 RUBC Regatta, our RIT Rowing Club competed in full battalion including two Women’s Eights and four Women’s Fours, for the first time in the club’s history.
The Rectors and diplomatic corps of foreign embassies and consulates also attended the regatta. It was an unprecedented event at RUBC. Thousands of students cheered the race.
The GOLD Crew: The captain was Ko Myo Lwin (M). Some of the Golds were Ko Nyi Nyi (timing-stroke, from Meikhtila), Ko Win Zaw (M), Ko Myint Swe (M), Ko Yey Paw (Tex), Ko San Shwe Aung (M, from Kyauk Phyu, Arakan State), Ko Win Myint (M from Pa Khoke Ku). I think there were 14 or 16 RUBC Golds in 1972. Some are now in the U.S. At the Grand Regatta, our RUBC Golds Men’s Eight beat the Defense Ministry’s crew by one length.
On the other hand, the RIT Men’s Eights in which I
participated at the bow position lost to Institute of Economics’ Eights
by more than a length in the 2000-meter race. It was a great humiliation
for us. Our motto ‘Engineers Never Fail to Win’ which we shouted just
before the race at Dubern Island near Inya Lake Hotel had gone with the
wind. (To save the face) slicing-off our faces would have been the only
available remedy for us then.
At the regatta, I did not win any tangible prize. I was mad. Really mad. I got mad at Sayas for not selecting me as a Gold. To be fair and square, let us review my second-to-none qualifications existed then. Let me hear your unbiased and unequivocal judgment.
My GRIEVANCE: My height and weight then were just 5′-6″ and 125 lbs, respectively. Moreover, my biceps, triceps, and thighs were merely bigger than bicycle spokes. They will be unacceptable by today’s Kentucky Fried Chicken’s standards. My muscles could barely cover my tiny bones. My chest and breast were lean and flat like a mat. How about my calves? My friends called them ‘Gandhi Calves’ in honor of Mahatma Gandhi (India’s Leader of Independence). Both of my RIT Sayas at RUBC overlooked me in the selection process of Golds. I felt I was treated unfairly.
My REMORSE: For my midget size: Should I blame my parents for not being or having mighty physical structures? No. Not at all. My parents were of average size of typical Burman. They fed and raised me very well. I did not take it. Nevertheless, while I was in my first year B. E., I should have bowed to the recruitment of Saya U Thein Aung (Met72) to join his RIT Body-Building club. I should have become a disciple of Saya U Thein Aung. If I had exactly followed his practices and styles (i.e., self-torturing practices), I would become a well-built macho in 1972, be selected as a GOLD for RUBC, and NOW I will be able to attend the SPZP and RIT Reunion at San Francisco 2000 wearing a “Gold Jacket”. How nice it will be? Everybody will welcome me. Anyway, NOW, I am desperately looking for a ‘Gold Jacket’ at the men’s wear-houses to attend the Once-In-A-Life-Time gathering at San Francisco.
My BRAG: Anyway, believe it or not, in 1974 National Regatta held at Inya Lake, I won the silver medal in Coxless Pairs 1000-meter race. My partner was Htin Kyaw (M) who is now in U.A.E. Our success to the final was NOT because of our muscles but due to our opponents’ sinusoidal or zigzag courses in the preceding races. (NOTE: Nobody played or attempted / agitated to play the national anthem at the ceremony while we were standing still on the pontoon with joy wearing the silver medals on our necks. Also, no TV or media coverage was there. It didn’t matter. I got something to brag.
RUBC was founded in 1923 by Sir Arthur Eggar, law professor. He had great admiration for the Burmese “laung” rowers.
The following are some stanzas from the “RUBC Rowing Song”.
Pull long and steady boys
Strange though it may seem
The hardest stroke won’t send the boat
The swiftest down the stream
If we wish to keep your boat afloat And brave life’s stormy weather
You must not pull your oars too deep
But always “PULL TOGETHER”.
Thanks to all the organizing committee members and volunteers who have pulled together six RIT Reunion and Saya Pu Zaw Pwe a resounding success.
After every big event, we shouted “Give her a TEN. ONE, TWO, …, TEN. Easy Oars.”
Several sayas and the organizers are GBNF. I’m happy to be in reasonably good shape to write posts.
I’ll try to write new posts and revise old posts as time and energy permit.
As all Old Crocs say, “ROW TILL YOU ARE DEAD”.