Saturday, 30 August 2008

The VI Spirit

Friday evening 29th August 2008 - Third reunion of the Class of 1964-1970, Victoria Institution.

The Fairway Restaurant of the Royal Selangor Golf Club was filled with 50-something men and women, some meeting classmates for the first time in 38 years. Whilst form may have undergone metamorphosis, the spirit of the old days rang high.

In the crowd a familiar figure, though somewhat changed in appearance, was spotted in the form of Mr V Murugasu, the renowned Headmaster of VI from 1964-1970. Now completely silver-haired and walking with a slight stoop, he chatted amiably with the boys up close and personal, no longer as student and HM. A sizable group of former teachers graced the occasion as well.

The ceremonies began with the singing of the school song lead by Mr Vincent Voo, a senior teacher of VI. "Let us now with thankfulness praise the founders of our school. . ." sent a tingly feeling and a flood of memories.

Surjeet MC-ed the occasion and the one and only Ezani Bakar, fondly called 'Baker' by Paragash, presented a photo memorabilia medley where he retraced the journey from Form One to Five with his usual charm and wit and soon had the floor interacting while stories unfolded. A few secrets left the old boys' closet and were made known to the HM at long last. Boys will be boys.

Band of brothers - Simon, Ezani, Omar Lee aka Seng Chai & Peng Cheng

Finally Mr Murugasu was invited to speak.

"Good evening ladies and gentlemen and . . . senior citizens". The crowd roared with that ground-breaking intro. Who would have guessed that old Muru had a funny bone in him? Definitely not when we used to slink down the corridors in fear of bumping into him.

From the outset the venerable HM humbly apologised for hurting any one person who felt unjustly treated and defended his actions as being part of the pain and pleasure he had to endure as HM of VI.

The pleasure, obviously, was VI's record of high academic and sports achievements and the high level of success his students attained. "That's why", he said "I never demanded 100% pass rates because sports was an important aspect to take into consideration to achieve a holistic education".

As for the pain, he admitted to "going to church to pray for the strength to carry on every day and not hurt anyone in the process." To him it was a great responsibility placed on his shoulders to lead the school after the 'white' HM's. He reiterated what he used to say in Assembly, that "discipline was like water or sand in your hands - once it has fallen you cannot get it back".

In response to Surjeet's comment on the 'watershed in education', he agreed wholeheartedly.

" Education is close to our hearts . . . for the sake of our children and grandchildren . . ." he said. He appealed to old boys to contribute ideas and to document the good practices that built the reputation of VI. He revealed his plan to write a book on education, The Legacy of VI and the Future of Malaysian Education, where this input would help him answer the question "The VI spirit - what is it?" If you had listened carefully, he had actually answered the question earlier in his speech; "the most important is a HM with good values, character, intent and sound religious principles."

On a lighter note, Mr Murugesu referred to his 'pain' which included signing all those hundreds of report cards at the end of term, having to attend all rugby finals, and being blamed for rules like "Do Not Walk On the Grass!" He informed the gathering that it was HM Daniels rule after he had shouted at his wife for walking on the grass one fine day way back when. Now that's news to me.

His hand phone rings, "this is an undisciplined phone!" Hey Muru you are quite a funny guy.

The evening ended with exchange of business cards, hugs and promises to meet again, in not four years but perhaps two years, as the list of dearly departed seemed to be getting longer every year.

The usual back benches and die-hard hippies who were reluctant to call it a night adjourned to the Garden Terrace to belt out Proud Mary, Let it Be and Leaving on a Jet Plane till 2 am.

I must say that it was great to meet all of you again. A big Thank You to the organisers!

Enjoy this photoblog people . . .

Teachers table

Mr Anthony Loh Kung Sing (all the way from OZ) - Bio teacher giving hints for
Bio pract exam wind-dispersed or was it animal-dispersed seeds?


Lai Leng & hubby & Jenny

Surjeet & Fatimah aka Tim

Yoon Shing aka Gary, Ahshrup, Indran & Awtar

Group photo

The Supremes?

Jothies, Fareeda & Paragash

Simon, Boon Cheow, Anthony Sun, Yuet Meng


Omar said...

Excellent reporting Fareeda and great pix. In fact, I'm going to just provide a link from site to this article, if you dont mind.

But aging and a hippie?... thats new to me.. but the Beatles era.. yes.... ;)

omar lee @ seng chye

Surendran said...

Got very nostalgic seeing the photos - especially of our former HM. I remember during the cricket nets whenver he came to bat, all the bowlers would line up to take their chance it him; and he took it like the sport he was. Sad I missed the occasion as I was in Bali for the shooting of the final TV episode for a national Quiz amongst school children here in Indonesia.
And Omar, I have no qualms being reffered to as an aging hippie - peace bro !!!
Surendran Menon

fidel said...

Email from Mr Murugasu to me,

The honour to meet all and every one of you was more mine than yours. Thanks you all for the kind sentiments.
Thank you too for your beautiful photographs. The write up was so incisive and captured the VI spirit at the reunion.
I am now more inspired to write the book with support from the 1964-1970 group. I hope that the VI spirit may provide some answers to some of the problems in the education arena of this beloved country of ours to which we owe everything we have today.
With warm regards to all


boy from dungun said...

How fascinating!
Is that Samy Vellu in the first photo? I like the guy's hair unit though.
Fadzil, I can imagine how dreadful our Staroba gathering would be years from now! It will not have red wine as held by Frida, for sure!

Betty said...

By chance, I came across your blog sent to me by my friend Ginnie Ng. I can't help noticing "The VI Spirit" with the photos of the reunion party. My lower VI happened to be in VI in 1969. Is Surjeet and Surendran in the same class ?

Enjoyed your Blog tremendously...must catch up some day !

Betty Lee