Monday, January 29, 2018

Our Golden Graduation Reunion

Kudos to Weena Au Bik Wan for writing this article and Irene Tsai for the last one reporting on the reunion events to celebrate our 50th Graduation Anniversary.  Many of us are already looking forward to our reunion for the 55th! 

It had been my long anticipating wish to see my High School teachers and friends at our Golden Graduation Reunion at our Mother School BHJS in Hong Kong.  Lo & behold, it actualized two months ago in early December, 2017.
To kick off the reunion activities, we had a pre-reunion day trip on December 1, 2017 to Tap Mun.  The main attraction on this fisherman’s island was Tin Hau Temple which was built in 1737. 

We got to see the cute Balanced Rock along the coast too.  A fresh seafood meal at the Seafood Restaurant on the island was the highlight of the day.  We had so much fun in tasting these fresh boiled shrimps.  It took my whole life time to come and explore this beautiful and serene island. It was definitely worth it!  All of us, 12 happy wanderers, had a great time in renewing our friendship.  A big Thank You to Martin and Man Jic Leung for organizing this wonderful outing.
It was an emotional moment when our taxi stopped in front of our Mother School on Oxford Road in the afternoon of December 2.  Both sides of the street were lined up with full grown trees.  They were not there before.  We were greeted by girl guides upon entering the front gate. Alumni from other years were arriving in groups. 

I was in tears standing inside the ground floor open area where our canteen used to be.  I remembered singing Grace together before eating.  We were served hot delicious lunches.  Some of us became good friends with the lady chef helping us at that time, especially Tang Hing Lin.  I believed he befriended with her children along the way.  One of the Coronation organizing committee members gave us a guided tour of the school building, including the new Library in the new structure above the Assembly Hall and the old School Chapel on the top floor. 
The Coronation Ceremony was solemn and emotional.  The school choir and the girls dance team did excellent performances.  Their performances received numerous outstanding awards on behalf of our school at inter-school competitions. 
We were so glad to see Miss Chu, Miss Pang and Mr. Ho at the Coronation Ceremony and the Alumni Dinner.  They meant so much to all of us.
The Alumni Dinner in the evening was held at a nice restaurant in Tsim Sha Tsui.  I am sure it took a lot of time and efforts for all the different committee members to make this happen.  A big Thank You to all.
Fiona gave a nice recap of our school’s founding history and legacies under her late mother, our late School Principal Mrs. Helen Wong.  She is always in our hearts! We were glad to meet with the present Principal Ms.  Lily Wong too.
May Ho and Stephen Lau gave an updated report on the BHJS Alumni Association in Toronto, Canada. They have been actively doing Fund Raising to help the Senior Homes in the Chinese community in Toronto. They are living out our School Moto 非以役人,乃役於人。We are proud of them.

It had been a memorable occasion to see so many buddies from our class of 1967, coming from near and far to enjoy this long awaited dinner together.  
Irene said it all, “Our success story is about how we are still ONE in the Spirit 50 years later since we graduated from BHJS.”   Cheers to our friendship and hope that we don’t have to wait too long to have another Reunion, maybe in 5 years?

Weena Au Bik Wan reporting from Los Angeles, CA

Friday, January 26, 2018


Irene Tsai reporting from Toronto

Believe it or not, my small Samsonite carry-on is still leaning against my front door as if I’ve just returned from Hong Kong.  Snow, cold arctic air, freezing rain, ice pellets, more and more snow have finally come to define the start of the Canadian winter and handed us another beautiful White Christmas.  While the festive atmosphere is still loud everywhere, the year is quietly slipping away.  Let me take this opportunity to recap and reflect a little bit on our 50th Rendezvous in Hong Kong before we say hello to 2018.  May I also wish everyone a very happy, healthy and prosperous new year.   

Our long-awaited for 50th Golden Anniversary Celebrations have come and gone with the grand finale on a balmy day, right after the Sunday Church Service at Lin Poh’s Holy Trinity Cathedral

on Dec 3, taken place inside the Aviation Club at the old Kai Tak Airport.  The balmy weather in Hong Kong during my short 7-day visit made me still longing for those lazy agenda-free subtropical afternoons where I had indulged in all kinds of fun activities the first 19 years of my life.  The months and then the days leading up to the 50th Anniversary Celebrations suddenly appeared and disappeared quicker than one could keep track of.  It was some 50 years ago I came to the old Kai Tak Airport standing at a fair distance below the wings to see my older sisters off after they, too, graduated from BHJS and then 2 years later it was my turn to go above the wings, with teary eyes I looked out of the little window by my seat, saying goodbye to the Colonial Hong Kong I once so loved until it all powdered into the wind and cloud.  I took off to start my new life in Toronto, imagining I would never ever see Hong Kong again for the rest of my life.  It was late autumn of 1969.  For some reasons, I often have a great sentiment for the old Kai Tak Airport.  In fact, I used to live not too far from it in Kowloon City where I attended kindergarten on Grampion Road. 

That day, I took a cab from my hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui to get to the Aviation Club. The Cantonese speaking taxi driver suddenly turned his head to admit to me that he actually knew nothing about the Aviation Club at the old Kai Tak that he’s not confident to drive me any further and driving me round and round the crazy cul de sac would probably get me more lost at the end.  I told him to let me off right away.  He had no GPS, meanwhile I properly did a lousy Cantonese translation for the Aviation Club.  I stood on the sidewalk, pacing up and down looking for any remote sign of the Aviation Club.  For a moment, I literally had to orient myself when once upon a time the old Kai Tak Airport was a familiar site to me.  You see, my silly alien thumb has accidentally wiped out some previous emails the night before, including Lin Poh’s latest directions and phone contacts to our final luncheon meeting place.  I asked quite a few pedestrians for directions to the Club and they all shook their heads and gave me that same ‘I don’t know’ as if I was asking them how to get to the moon.  A definite senior moment of  '少少離家老大回, 郷音無改鬢毛衰, 兒童相見不相識, 笑問客從何處來'

Just as I was feeling dumb and blaming myself for being such a loser, my guardian angel came to bail me out.  I bumped into Leung Mui Hing (Leung Lai Hing rather) who’s a local and she was sitting next to me at Ms. Lin’s Special Luncheon Invite at the Jockey Club only a couple days before.  Wow, what a calming effect at the sight of this Good Samaritan, an ex-classmate who used to sit right in front of me, with Kong Kam Keung seated right in front of her in our 2C classroom.  I think Leung Dip Kuen took the first seat facing the teacher’s desk right in front of KKK.  And who can forget KKK’s legendary ‘twist & turn’ hairdo?  I still remember LMH’s pair of pastel blue near-sighted glasses.  As an all-time ADD, both of them used to intimidate me a fair bit as they always looked like such serious scholar-type to me.  I can honestly confess throughout my BHJS days I had no patience to sit still and no interest in all the mandatory school subjects except Phys Ed and the daily Lunch Break.  I did well in Phys Ed, had even won the Junior Girls’ Track and Field Championship on Sports Day one year, beating the unbeatable athletic Chan Pui Ying, to everybody's surprise!!   I guess all of that running back and forth in such great hurry to get our delicious pipping hot bowls of 菜遠雲吞 from 一條龍 at the 城寨 border with Kan Yu Tong whose legs were already at least 10 inches longer than mine back in our high school days.  I am sure that daily speed walking and out-of-breath running to get back to class on time for the afternoon had inadvertently trained me to be a good sprinter in those days.  Ha-ha!  

Together, Leung Lai Hing and I cheerfully walked forward and crossed the street and voila, we saw that ‘hidden’ Aviation Club!  Still a bit uncertain about hitting the right place, we tiptoed quietly through one of the doors, and yet another door only to find a quiet naked dining room under dim lights with 2 super long dining tables and there Stephen, Lau Ki Chuen and his wife were somewhat either meditating or just browsing around and relaxing.  I said to them laughingly, ‘You mean you 2 didn’t go to Lin Poh’s Church Service this morning either?'  There I thought I was very late but was pleasantly surprised to find myself arriving earlier than most others as lunch has been changed to 1330 start instead of 1300.  Phew!  

Ten or fifteen minutes later, happy familiar faces came dribbling into the now luminous dining room with last but not the least, the Black Robe (Lin Poh).  Unlike me, the crazy, unsettled spontaneous type, Lin Poh is still that calm and full of self-control guy even after 50+ years.  With the gesture of his hand, the Black Robe shepherded us into our seats and immediately told us to bow our heads to say grace together before we dipped into our food and drinks. 
The on-time-performance waiters started to bring out the delicious 3-course meal along with red and white wine, Borsch/Mushroom soup, and beef/fish, followed by delicate desserts, coffee and tea.  Unfortunately, I was still suffering from a bad stomach virus.  Therefore, what I saw on the table was what I didn’t get to go near.  Thank God, I only caught that awful stomach virus at the end of my Day 3 in Hong Kong.  At least I was able to pig out the first 3 days when I was among the lucky hand-picked ones on both Ms. Lin and Au Man Chung’s 食客名單.  
Thanks to Principal Lily Wong for sharing with us how the School is faring today

As soon as our meal was done, Lin Poh pulled out a cordless mike and asked each one of us to introduce (I should say re-introduce) ourselves to each other.  As a frequent rebel inside, I wasn’t too thrilled to do that exercise at first. I thought to myself, get real, Lin Poh, haven’t we done this boring exercise in our 1C classroom before?!  And besides, how could we possibly get caught up with each other’s colorful lives by mumbling or exchanging a few words within 15 or 20 seconds since we’ve gone above, below and beyond the wings in every walk of life, I tell you, and also in different corners of the world for over 50 years??!!  But, as it turned out, it wasn’t exactly an exercise of futility as there were quite a few ‘new’ faces I was totally clueless as to who they were until they stood up to re-introduce themselves to all.  Dai Suk Hing got up and told everyone she was the first one to get married after high school and her grandchild is already in Form 1 as we speak.  How about that, eh!!!  Au Man Chung, Mrs. Betty Lee’s Math Assistant back in our high school classroom is forever meticulous with numbers.  He got up and said, ‘I am Au Man Chung.  I have ONE wife named Vicky who’s sitting over there……...... Can we have our next celebration 5 years from now and not 10?  Ha-ha!  

Suddenly, my mind traveled back to an awesome camping trip up north in my early Canadian university days.  It was a late summer evening, I was among 30 male and female undergrad students.  It was our last camping trip before we returned to the Fall Semester.  As we paddled back to shore, the sun was going down in a hurry.  The skilful ones quickly set up a bonfire and a few others pulled out their classical guitars and started to play.  We put blankets around our shoulders and on our knees to keep ourselves warm.  Sitting in a big circle, clapping our hands, singing all kinds of folk and gospel songs cheerfully together.  One of the songs I remember up to this day with a catchy tune and lyrics like this:  'It only takes a spark to get a fire going, and soon all those around can warm up in its glowing'. Yes, I could feel the spark and a fire going around the long dining tables.  Chung Ping Kuen could have just picked up his guitar and played for us that day except he only brought his empty stomach and his smiles this time around.
Boy, was I ever so glad that at least I have eaten my heart out during my first 3 days in Hong Kong before I got hit by that vicious stomach virus.  First, I was invited by Ms Lin and Tam Sir upon my arrival in Hong Kong to the great Dim Sum Lunch at the Jockey Club in Happy Valley.  Ms. Lin was so sweet to have us (her sentimental first batch of BHJS students). 
We’re always on her mind and in her heart even after so many years especially some of us have moved away and lived thousands and thousands miles away from Hong Kong since we were late teens. What did we do to deserve that honour?  I guess we’re just the very privileged bunch. It was such a delightful, enjoyable and relaxing special luncheon that early afternoon.  The quiet, lovely gentleman, Wong Gai Yu (Wong Yih Sy rather) sponsored all the wine at this occasion and also at the Fine Dining Occasion on Saturday night.  I remember the other Mr. Nice Guy, Lau Kwan Chark who picked up the tab at our 40th Anniversary Celebration Dinner and took quite a few of us out to Siu Yeh when our dinner dance was over that night.  At the Jockey Club luncheon, our all-time favorite world-class Chief Editor, Yau Lop Poon, walked up to the front and very cleverly summarized our special golden friendship in his 1-minute crafty speech, "那種多麽難得的純情".  Omg, I couldn’t echo more on those few pristine words coming out from his mouth.  Way to go, Yau Lop Poon!!

I was also indeed very fortunate that on Day 2 of my visit, the forever stylish and generous Au Man Chung together with his beautiful wife, Vicky, did it again!  They invited all the Chinese food deprived overseas old boys and old girls to the most authentic Chinese cuisine at a 老字號 restaurant in Wan Chai (the restaurant’s probably as old as the old Kai Tak Airport).  All those carefully and thoughtfully picked authentic dishes from the ‘60s and early ‘70s he treated us to really brought us down the memory lane. 

While rhapsodizing over the nostalgic tasty dishes and fine wine, he also gave us a great Food Talk, sharing with us his knowledge behind the dishes and smilingly entertained us with the funny happenings of the remote past.  He was making us laugh so much with his impeccable stories of the night before writing the School Certificate Exam, hanging out with Lee Wing Shek who only lived next door to BHJS and reminiscing incessantly how that 插班生 Stephen, Lau Ki Cheun (a.k.a.  三字經) was his all-time hero back in our high school days.  

Meanwhile, Yau Lop Poon sitting on my right, intermittently painted a picture of his readiness for fights with the boys, how fighting was his regular pastime when he was attending BHJS, which really surprised me and reminded me so much of my 'tame' grandson in Toronto (the cute, cuddly and totally innocent-looking white French Bulldog),
how he instigates dog fights everywhere he goes with his ‘innocent’ looks, those 360 degree peripheral big round black eyes and adorable pink bat ears with calm soulful expressions, yet forever looking for fights.  Hey, looks can be just so deceiving.  I still remember how very innocent Yau Lop Poon looked as a young teen when his seat was just right in front of mine.  

Absolute kudos to Lin Poh and Martin who have worked so efficiently and tirelessly as the back stage crew for planning and organizing such fun and remarkable celebration events to be enjoyed and remembered by all.  A big thank you to Au Man Chung and Vicky, Ms Lin, Tam Sir, Wong Yih Sy, and all our dear Hong Kong folks for making us (those coming back from Australia, Canada and the US) always feel so welcome.  Au Man Chung and Vicky’s unbelievable authentic dishes, Ms Lin and Tam Sir’s delightful Dim Sum Lunch and Wong Yih See’s special pick of wine that went so well with the Dim Sum and all those sumptuous dishes at the Saturday night fine dining experience which I am very sure someone’s more than ready to do a fun report for all. 

Our 50th Anniversary Year's really our best year ever because at our golden age, we simply won’t have another Golden 50th Anniversary unless you are going to live beyond age 116, 117, 118 or 120 and go into the World Guinness Book of Records.  Our happy success story is not just about the additional titles attached to our names, and not about the bigger luxury homes we now live in or the faster exotic cars we now drive.  Our proud success story is about how we are still ONE in the Spirit 50 years later since we graduated from BHJS.  I truly believe everyone who could come have all shown up at the various memorable Celebration Events in Hong Kong.  Aahh! '那種多麽難得的純情' which is really second to none!!  May that very special friendship be timeless, forever warm and glowing inside our hearts.   

Photo courtesy Irene Tsai, Weena Au, May Ho