25 August 2008

Pak Cik reminisces (Part 4) - An old Friend resurfaces

Slowly and surely another month of August has crept up and caught up with us, making it the 51st Merdeka Anniversary. This is Pak Cik’s 8th posting since last year’s Merdeka golden jubilee. Without doubt the posting frequency has improved over that of previous years. It is Pak Cik’s hope to do no less in future. After all, this website and my e-mail are the most effective means of communication between Almanar and students associated with it.

During the course of this year Pak Cik had a very pleasant surprise, a message from one of my long lost friends of pre-Merdeka era. Those who have read Pak Cik’s postings a year ago - Pak Cik Reminisces, (Part 1)and(Part 2) - would realise that 50 years ago I was a lonely Malayan student in England, away from Malaya then and living in an English home with others who hardly knew where on earth Malaya was, Pak Cik had little choice but to adapt myself to the new environment. Over time Pak cik had many close friends from England itself. To my regret, we have lost touch with one another. By a stroke of luck, somehow, one of these old friends was able to contact me through the alumni association. He is Ian Sanderson, simply known as Ian among us. Apparently he migrated to United States, where he and his family are today.

Photo : 1961 Mechanical Eng class (L to R) - Peter Goodman, Harold Levy, Ray Perkins, Pak Cik, Anthony Roylance(dec) and Ian Sanderson

Ian sent Pak Cik a number of e-mail messages some extracts of which are recorded below:


Hey, how are you- do you remember me, Ian [!] We are all well, Blair, my wife and I have been enjoying retirement-almost a year….. . I keep quite fit playing table tennis [ping pong] 4 hours a week with some retired men who are very good. Also I still bike 30 miles every few weeks and play tennis…. I like to sail- I crewed in a friend’s sail boat for a [ Block Island ] race. We came 5th overall. I also sing in a church choir…”

“…….I have 3 sons; Peter 39, Mark 36, Matthew 23 and 5 grandchildren ……”

“ ….I have no contact with our old class at Loughboro' unfortunately- but I do with people in the old cycling club. I have a lot of relatives in England, nieces, nephews, cousins, sisters- that I like to keep in contact with…. .”

“ …..The only person I was in contact with was Tony Roylance- alas he died 3-4 years ago…..”

“……Blair & I went on a great vacation to Italy & Greece recently ……..”

“…….I actually retired June 2007 ……..
From Ian

That is Ian Sanderson who belongs to Pak Cik’s age group and was together with me for four years about the time Malaya became independent. It is apparent from the brief notes above that he is far more active and mobile than Pak Cik, professionally and physically. To all intents and purposes Pak Cik looked at Ian as a typical English lad during the years we were together. On that account I thought he was conservative enough to make his home in good old England. Instead he opted to migrate to America and be an American citizen. Pak Cik, on the other hand, have returned to my birth place – “.. belut pulang ke lumpur”.

Ian is a truly hard engineer to the core. He was active professionally until he retired in June 2007, a good 15 years after Pak Cik had called it a day. It is interesting to view Ian’s work background and experience. Before he retired last year he had been involved in most aspects of mechanical engineering work ranging from operations and maintenance to design and development, with designs patented to his credit as well. As a true professional he has, on top of it, authored several scientific papers.

Ian has three children, all boys, and is proud of them. Pak Cik have three as well but with a girl among them. Ian may say he is one up on Pak Cik since a girl is just a nuisance! I may indeed agree with him. My classes at Almanar are full of girls, shrieking, chattering, yelling, you name it, driving Pak Cik crazy at times! However there is a plus point in having a daughter, an opportunity to have a son-in-law!

Now allow Pak Cik to reminisce back to the Merdeka time, when Ian and Pak Cik attended the same lecture theatre, enjoying cups of tea served by the same tea lady during tea breaks and queuing up for lunch (of fish and chips for me) in the same dining hall. Ian was an avid cyclist and I was not. Cycling was a pure necessity to shuttle me between my house of residence and the college. Pak Cik can never forget an occasion when I was hurrying to college one morning. The road had an invisible thin layer of ice. That being the arrival of my first winter and inexperienced, Pak Cik soon found myself flat on the road surface with coat, overcoat, hat, files and all, after trying to make a clever manoeuvre on my bike. I knew a group of English school girls were across the road. Quite naturally Pak Cik expected humbling smiles and giggles. Instead they did the unexpected, hurrying across the road to offer help to a silly foreign student. That was a lesson in humility and civic-mindedness. I wonder how many of Almanar girls would react in such a manner under a similar situation – furtive glances and suppressed giggles at best!

Ian often enthusiastically talked about his hiking and biking with friends all over the country during weekends. And Pak Cik had to be contented with my hitch-hiking trips which were planned for semester holidays only. Pak Cik could never see the fun of sweating it out hours and hours on a bicycle. “These crazy English guys!” I used to say to myself. How strange it is that at my age today I have begun to appreciate it. Alas, I have none of the energy to pump up and sweat it out on the road. Now I sit to admire the likes of Ian. I am full of envy whenever I think of my Malaysian friend, Ramli, who takes it in his stride to cycle all the way home from KL to KB in Kelantan, calling at Almanar for keropok lekur. (To appreciate the true prowess of this Malaysian cycling enthusiast friend, Pak Cik would certainly recommend his website: When Less Is More)

Once, Ian told me that, when he was as young as 16, he had already been cycling with his cousin of 14 to places in the south of England, doing a distance as much as 140 km a day. I too was 16 once but my bicycle was for going to school, a distance of about 5 km! Now let Pak Cik ask how many of you have seen a penny farthing ( a bike with a small and a huge wheel – see photo ) being ridden? Pak Cik have and it was Ian who demonstrated it. He rode one during a college carnival week. It was a great annual event known as Loughboro’ Rag Week when students of our college staged a week of festival, reputed for a very sizeable sum of money collected for charity. Ian surprised us all riding a penny farthing! During the parade the traffic stopped. Guess how one makes a stop on a penny farthing! Ian deftly stepped off on to the hood of a nearby car. The driver didn't seem to mind. Few realised how much pain he took to be sufficiently good at riding that machine. On one occasion he managed to get up on it and soon found himself propelled unstoppable toward a nearby canal. Fortunately he fell off away from the canal. What a hilarious sight it was!

That was 50 years ago, a year after Merdeka.

According to his e-mail Ian still cycles on top of many other activities. He is in possession of an old bike, a rickety one indeed. Look at the picture of a proud man with his old bike – or should I say a prized bike with its old owner? (No offence intended, Ian, if you happen to read this.)

In his e-mail above he made reference to a Tony Roylance, another close English friend of ours, who has passed away. Tony too was a successful engineer. It is sad to hear of his passing. We were close those days (see photo above).

Pak Cik will end this posting a message for Pak Cik’s ‘anak buah’. I am sad to see that very few of you take up a hobby, a healthy co-curricular activity. I wish you would adopt one and learn to love and enjoy it.


ARZ said...

Akum Pak Cik,

Been a while since I dropped in on Al-Manar, website i.e.
Your friend had proven that cycling is a way to health and longevity (insyallah). FYI, I did Jogjakarta in July for a week. Great experience

Al-Manar said...


Welcome to Almanar. Perhaps you will visit us regularly leave your comments. This one way that makes us feel the site sould be kept going.