Wednesday, November 12, 2008

those were the days

when you have not met your former colleagues for nearly thirty years, the things that would dominate all conversations would be the good old days. actually, the rest of us in the pictures have been meeting quite regularly; it is only lai wenko - seated on the extreme right - who has been missing from the picture for about thirty years.

lai was with us in balestier hill technical for ten years before he got a transfer to kim seng technical. soon after that, he resigned from teaching and left for the states to further his education.

i always remember him as the st john's ambulance brigade officer who would be the only one around conducting drills and other activities for the sjab members on a saturday afternoon. at least one misconception was cleared up at today's meeting. i always imagined seeing him in his white sjab uniform. he verified that it was light brown (khaki) uniform that he wore for ten years.

there was a lot of laughter as we recalled those youthful days when we were full of zest and we devoted our time unquestioningly to the school and the students. in retrospect, someone commented that we were quite naive compared to the present lot of teachers. nevertheless, we enjoyed such a tremendous sense of camaradie that after all these years, even after we had moved on to different schools and different jobs, we still keep in touch.

lai is still managing his own business. what puzzled him most was: how come, out of the eight of us (myself, the photographer, included), seven retired prematurely. one retired at age 54, one, 55, two, 57, two, 58 and one, 59.

we told him that if he had not resigned from teaching, he would have also been in the same boat - retiring before he could reach 60.

the present lot of 60 years old do not look as old as those one generation before them. with better medical care, personal care (no botox, but got botak) and hair care (dye), they look as though they are in their 40s or 50s.

we chose an appropriate meeting place - the coffee-shop, located in balestier complex, where we used to have meals between breaks about thirty years ago.


fr said...

Many in the photo look young.

Many opted to retire earlier but got some retired teachers who are still teaching on part-time or half-load basis or just as reliefs.

yg said...

most teachers are not adventurous people and they have limited interest. after a while, they find it very boring staying at home, so they go back to the one thing that they have been doing most of their life.
none among my former colleagues (in the photo) has gone back to schools to teach. one goes back to his last school to do volunteer work - gardening. another went back for one term to look after the 'detention class' students. the one who has been working on a regular basis coaches canoeing and dragon-boat racing.
not that we have not been offered; we have to politely decline many requests to go back as a flexi-adjunct or to do casual relief.

PChew said...

Am I right to say that all of you are in your 80s now, since the youngest was 54 when he retired 30 years ago.

We too had a group of retired colleagues meeting regularly. We started in mid 1990 with about 20 members. As time went by, one by one disappeared. Now we have a few members left but we continue to meet every week in town.

yg said...

mr chew, it is not we retired 30 years ago; it is we have not met this particular colleague for nearly 30 years. he had left teaching, went to study in the states and then went to australia to do set up some business. the oldest among my retired former colleague is 65 and the youngest, 57.