Blogs Notalgia Posts Reflections

The Ladies Take Away 2011 Reunion By Storm


By Tommy Htay
For the first time in history, the ladies of the MEHSA took over the wheel and fielded the Fifth International Reunion with such feminine flair and aplomb that the menfolk there soaked in the tender loving care of the sisterhood of pantsuits, skirts and htameins like the veritable kids that they all became in spite of their greying and receding hairlines. What a crowning achievement for the principal players Lily Chen, Sally Joseph, Sheila Patail and, of course, our “Honorable” Mr. Treasurer William Chen!

First, the ladies steered us to a hotbed of fairyland called ‘the Strip’ and turned it into a New York New York wielding their magic wand of charm, grace and ingenuity. The heat indices in Las Vegas during the two days of sultry July (18 and 19) seemed to have melted cooperatively as well, along with the willing hearts of some 140 alumni and 60 some guests, mostly spouses or significant others who were in attendance.

Come to think of it, this success of the ladies is a no brainer. After all, the whole idea of MEHSA was hatched and brought to fruition by an illustrious alumna the late Juliet Teoh who was longingly given a fitting tribute for her exemplary dedication and drive at the opening ceremony.

And, talk about tributes! The word tribute, in terms of the alumni of the Methodist English High School, is synonymous with the Teohs, a family of consummate civility and civic-mindedness from its dean and doyen Cecil Teoh, our President Emeritus of both Methodist English Old Students’ Association (MEOSA) and Methodist English High School Alumni Association (MEHSA), and Kenny, our unique Webmaster, down the line … to what alphabet? So loving and charming were the Teohs in our exclusive world of the MEHS alumni that everybody who spoke even for a minute in Vegas would glorify the clan by claiming himself to be a Teoh as well.

The ladies of the Organizing Committee of 2011 had also seen to it that no stone was left unturned as far as giving thanks and tribute: Our alma mater, the volunteers, our teachers, Edwin Tut (who, for the last five years, true to his profession as a maritime captain, took us on a symbolic cruise of our school reunions’ fun and frolic), Harry Taw (who headed the Third and Fourth reunions in Thailand with a flourish), the MEHS Foundation, and the entire alumni that kept it going and who also made our international reunions enjoyable, meaningful and, at least momentarily, to be kids once more again – to go through “a rejuvenation process” – as one comely alumna put it, in an elevator on our way out.

We all have heard about what is disparagingly said by menfolk such as “the wily ways of women”, right? Well, here I want to use it in the context of a tribute to our lady organizers of the 2011 reunion. They made this same expression good, I mean in a good sense, in making the 2011 venue “the Strip” somewhat realistically true by staging Mra Tun as an Elvis Impersonator. There was Mra, standing tall in a white embroidered outfit with an Elvis hairdo, slightly open-chested baring all that he could – sans chest hair and drooping male “boobs” – belting out staple Elvis songs making everyone feel and enjoy as if Elvis himself was there performing live. Bravo, Mra, with boobs and all!

And, as if they sensed that we might conservatively feel that Mra was a bit on a sultry, saucy and seamy side (although we knew it was not even close, experienced as we all are), the ladies next attempted to “soft-soap” us with a beautiful rendition of traditional Burmese dance by one of them – a lovely Sheila Patail. How did we take it? Like suckers, we fell to their “wily ways” with a beaming smile by everyone present, of course! No offence, Sheila, my childhood friend Marianne’s little sister, you simply did great!

“Reunion Experience” 1 minute talk by the alumni. That was what was to follow after Sheila’s cultural performance, according to the program printout. And, what did we get? Stuff like “when Mrs. Logie stood tall, a cup of tea could sit well on her behinds”; “a Chinese worker’s sexcapade with his boss’s wife to relieve himself of stress”; and “how a stolen kiss from a boy to a girl in a class in MEHS landed her with a punishment of standing up on a chair and how his indiscreet act of trying to look up her skirt from below again landed her with a double punishment” and “how an alumna tried to pull a ‘take that’ stunt on an uppity-up female foreign student by teaching her a dirty Burmese word when all that she wanted to tell her male teacher who she so admired was ‘I love you'”. It was a most enjoyable moment of “kids going wild”!

Programs moved seamlessly thanks to the beautiful and articulate May Tha-Hla as MC, Marina Gaudoin and Roland Liu as Game Masters and their very fair and upright team and Bo Zaw-Win as an up to the mark professional auctioneer for the goodies that fetched a tidy sum for the MEHS Foundation.

The traditional fare of MEHS School song and the Assembly Hall favorites Viva La Compagnie, The Happy Wanderer, Kookaburra, Kuckoo and Sarasponda floated the air of New York New York’s Staten Island Room. And Bingo (won by Jon Twe Maung and Betty Teoh), Pinata Competition (won by the Judson House) and Hula Hoop (won by Michael Lim and Co.) and performances, either singing or dancing, by each class – new features – were icings on the cake for the 2011 reunion.

Class pictures (1947 through 1972), group picture, dancing, singing, games, jokes, and heart-to-heart chit-chat and reminiscences among classmates and schoolmates despite all manners and sizes of waistlines, hairlines and facial lines – the whole package — made the two-day event in the Casino-land a memorable experience.

A memorable experience? Surely, all of our alumni must have many a memorable moment throughout their school career at MEHS. And, our wise President Emeritus Cecil Teoh broached this matter and requested all attendees, both teachers and old students and MEHS alumni the world over who could not make it to the Las Vegas reunion to write down all about their memorable experiences and send them over to me (Tommy Htay) by e-mail (km****@co*****.net) for editing and compilation with an idea of putting them out in book form for posterity. I feel honored to serve as the Project Manager, as Cecil anointed me there and then.

The funny lyrics, forwarded by Sally Joseph to Lily Chen, lauding the beauty and frailities of our advancing age, rendered beautifully by our band’s ace singer to the tune of “Are You Lonesome Tonight” still lingering in my mind and silently savoring it …, I venture to think that if the 2011 MEHSA International Reunion in Las Vegas has left all of us with an indelible message this is what it is: when it comes to food (Pan Asian Pacific and Hampton Beach buffets), pure fun and admirable finesse, just leave it to the ladies and they will take us on a grand, grand ride – Viva La Compagnie!

(With due apologies to Edwin Tin Tut, Cecil Wagstaff and William Chen (who kept the accounts balanced, worked on the slide presentation with May Tha-Hla (the MC), songs for juke box and other miscellaneous too many to mention) for my somewhat biased appreciation of the ladies’ efforts although, by admission of Cecil, they all “worked their butts off” as well.)

Blogs Notalgia Posts Reflections

5th MEHSA Reunion in Las Vegas by Myat (Phyllis) Khaing

5th MEHSA Reunion in Las Vegas

By Myat (Phyllis) Khaing
It’s here, it’s here, it’s here at last!!!

The 5th MEHSA International Reunion is here at last! This is the much awaited, long anticipated reunion, which is held in Las Vegas, in the heart of all the bright lights and casinos. What a better way to celebrate the celebrities of dear old MEHS!

We came in droves, some of us came all the way from the UK, and some from Burma, Hong Kong, Singapore, India, Pakistan, Thailand, Germany, Greece , Italy and Canada and some of us came as far away as Australia. Those of us in the United States came from all over the states such as New York, Washington, DC, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Texas and Arizona. Those of us from California, who are close to Las Vegas, took the road and drove for 3 – 4 hours in the Nevada desert, braving the hot burning sun of 108 degrees heat and higher, just to be with our classmates, just to be back in the time of our lives, when we are at the happiest time of all, together with our teachers, friends, class mates and admirers. We could not ask for more. Hence the crowd totaled about 137 alumni and about 60 guests.

Most of us stayed at the New York New York Hotel, where the Reunion is going to be held. Most of us arrived on the 17th, just to get ready and be prepared for the 2 big days, the 18th and the 19th. As we registered at the New York, New York, you could hear screams of friends seeing friends after a long time, shouts of recognition, and peals of laughter when best friends get together and joked around while waiting in line to register. It was just like being back in high school, with guys eyeing gals, who are older now, but still very attractive, and best of all, getting acquainted together once again. I met my old friend Cleo who sat with me in my 4th standard class, and also Brian Sein Tun, who sat with me in my 2nd Standard classroom.

After registration, we looked around to see what we could do for the next two days. I was very tired so I went off with my good friend Cleo and her husband to Maggiono’s. The food was cooked to perfection, so it was great, and there was musicians going around playing your requested music. Cleo asked for some Hungarian music and the musicians played three songs beautifully. After dinner, we thought we would walk around, but the Nevada heat was too much, like a blast from the boiler, so we went back to our hotel to rest for the next day.

On the morning of the 18th, we all trickled down to the Staten Island room where registration was taking place. Again, we had a lovely time with friends meeting friends, and classmates who haven’t seen each other for a long time, shaking hands and talking non-stop. Lunch was supposed to be at 12:00noon, so I joined my friend Winsome and Brian to check out a few shops for souvenirs as well as find out about the numerous shows that Las Vegas has. Even in the morning time, the sun is burning hot , so after a couple of shops and a few souvenirs later, we were sweating and exhausted, so went back to our rooms to shower and prepare to go downstairs for our lunch. We were already late coming into the Staten Island room, as most people were already seated and I found some more friends, Gerald Tin Maung, Michael Lim, Peter Kyaw Tun, Zan Tha and their families. I was so happy to see my long lost friend Pamela Aung. It has been a very long time that I have seen or talked to Pamela, but as soon as we saw each other, the years fell apart and it was just like yesterday and soon we were chit chatting away just like before.

The ceremony was opened by Mrs. E. Quinn and the organizers marched into the hall bearing the Flags of our Houses, Judson, Carey, Livingstone and Wesley, with the school flag carried by the President of the Alumni Association, Gloria Hengshoon (WinThein). Next we all sang the MEHS School song, lead by Gloria and Mra Tun. We also sang those popular songs such as “Viva La Compangnie”, “The Happy Wanderer,” “kookaburra,” “Kuckoo” and “Sarasponda”, songs that nobody can sing like the true alumni, as we had sung these songs day in and day out, in our morning assembly time. Then the introductions were made by Lily Chen, and with May Tha Hla performing the MC duties, the whole event started. Marina Gaudoin spoke about the MEHS Foundation, then a Tribute of Silence was paid to our dear friend Juliet Teoh, who founded and planned the first Reunion, and who had passed away, as well as those alumni who passed away. After that, recognition was paid to the Teoh family and to Kenny Teoh, our Webmaster, who has done such an excellent job of putting up the website, updating and keeping all the alumni together from all over the world. The Alumni awarded Kenny with an Amazon gift card. Then recognition was given to the teachers who attended. Teacher Daw Aye Than, Daw Khin Khin Thein, Daw Gloria Hengshoon, Dr. Robert Fuller, Mrs. Quinn, Ms. Johnson, & Mrs. Lonsdale.

Lunch came and we had a lovely array of Pan Asian Pacific Buffet. Later, after lunch, we had a series of games competed by different Houses, games of Bingo, Pinata Competition and the Hula Hoop. My friend Winsome and I stole away to get some tickets for the show that afternoon. Out we went into the searing hot sun again to get our tickets for the show that night. By the time, we got our tickets and came back to the New York, New York, we are soaking in sweat and tired, so we went for a quick shower and joined the others for the afternoon tea. High Tea was offered as “Death by Chocolate,” with tons of chocolate cake and a selection of tea, coffee and an assortment of soft drinks. We stayed for a short while, then went back to our rooms to get some rest and get ready for the evening activities. Earlier during the day, Pamela Aung was so excited to see friends from our class of ’66, so we decided that we would have a private dinner with our class of ’66. We decided to go to a Chinese Restaurant called Emperor’s Garden which has spicy food, in Chinatown to chill out and chat with our friends. Michael and family, Pamela and husband, Winsome and husband, as well as Peter and Brian joined our group. We ate, laughed and talked till late into the night, then decided to go back to the hotel. But not before we had ye-ge-thoke, which I hadn’t had for a long, long, time so we were all very happy, tired and went back to our hotel, but Brian, Winsome and I to went and saw our show so onward we went to Bally’s for our show, then went back to our hotel, tired, but very happy. The next day, we had the morning and the whole afternoon free, so after breakfast, I did some last piece of shopping for souvenirs, then went off with my friends to the Hoover Dam, which is majestic and a wondrous piece of engineering work. Then we went back to New York, New York again to shower and dress up for the evening. I was very tired so rested a few minutes and thus missed the fabulous show put on by Mra Tun in his Elvis look alike costume. Later on, our alumni from DC, Bo Zaw Win, and Michael Tin Hla put on a few songs of their own, although our DJ, Ko Khin Maung Win of the “Gatuq Band” put on a fabulous show with hit songs from the oldies, which we all knew.

Later on, we took pictures of the class of ’41, 51, and so on and so forth. Our class, the Class of ’66 has the highest turnout with 16 classmates altogether. Then came karaoke time and all our fabulous singers went on the stage and belted out their hearts. Then each of the classes sang a few songs of their choice. This went on for a while and later on, Sheila Patail gave us a marvelous performance of Burmese dancing, Hta-ma-thein and all. She also performed an Indian dance by herself. Sheila is such a talented person and a beautiful one as well. Then May Tha Hla said she wanted to do an auction to get some contributions to the small school that they were building in the outskirts of Rangoon. Ms. Johnson gave a Thai silk shawl for auction, and it went up from the first offering of $50 all the way to $200. Then a jade bead necklace, which was paraded around by Winsome Sein Tun, was also auctioned off and reached a sum of $125. After that jokes about the school and some other jokes about Mrs. Logie and the classmates were told and we were cracking our sides with laughter. Tommy Htay said he will collect our experiences of funny jokes or anecdotes and will put it up on the website for all to enjoy, so please send in your articles to Ko Tommy Htay. Cecil said, if there are 150 alumni, we should send in 150 jokes, so I do hope all of us can take some time to send it in. Only alumni who had experienced time and attendance at MEHS could do this. Those of us who wanted to dance went on the dance floor after that. Then some alumni wanted to do the line dance and they practiced and did it well on the dance floor.

Then, much later, the lights were dimmed and alumni all got together, held hands and with the lights blazing on our hands, we all waved to each other and sang the “Auld Lang Syne.” We sang it over and over and over again, with such a sense of deep feeling and emotion and a sense of togetherness, to be together once again, back in the time of dear old MEHS, where the sense of friendship, brotherhood and that feeling of being together once more, can never be compared with anything else in life. This was the time that we felt happiest, we had our dreams and aspirations and I felt that the memories we’ll cherish deep within our hearts will never cease to fade. It was a great feeling that the event went very well, with no disturbances nor intrusions of any kind.

My grateful thanks to the organizers of the 5th Reunion event and the President of the Alumni Association, Kenny, the webmaster and the performers who entertained like no other, as well as all the friends and classmates who took the time and made the effort. We will all look forward to our next Reunion in January of 2013, which will be held, back in our MEHS in Rangoon, Burma.