Monday, 1 June 2015

A planned get-together and unplanned ones too

The last weekend has been pretty busy for me. On Friday evening, I was invited to a networking dinner at the OCBC Premier Banking Centre in Beach Street, George Town. And then on Saturday, it was the Board of Prefects 150th anniversary dinner at the Penang Free School hall.

Early Sunday morning saw me in Beach Street as I participated in the five kilometer-long FMM heritage green walk which mended its way through the heritage parts of the city, followed a few hours later with a closed lunch with old schoolmates at The Old Free's Association's tavern in Northam Road.

Needless to say, with all these activities - especially the strenuous walk on Sunday morning - I really enjoyed a good night's sleep and awoke refreshed this morning.

I wouldn't be writing about this if not for the fact that I met up with several old friends and former colleagues.

My closed door get-together with my old schoolmates. Here we are, relaxing at the OFA Tavern, after a round of lunch. Revelling in old gossip, naturally. Standing, left to right: Wong Chye Chye, Chin Chin Wah, myself, Andrew Choong and Wong Hang Yoke. Sitting, left to right: Lim Siang Jin, my wife, Lam Yoong Koy, Tan Leng Kooi and Ooi Kah Theang.

Amidst the 300-odd people that had crammed into the school hall at the Penang Free School, I was quite certain of bumping into some of old school friends. Which I did. Not many, though. Could count those present with the fingers on one hand. That was how many of my old school mates were present at the BOP 150th anniversary dinner. Wished there were more.

So here we were with, left to right, Abu Huraira bin Yazid, Cheah Swee Poh, Lim Siang Jin and myself. On the far right was our former mathematics teacher - he taught us additional maths in Forms Four and Five, and modern maths in Form Six - who later entered politics and was an Executive Councillor in Penang during the days of Lim Chong Eu's tenure as Penang's Chief Minister. At one point, Khor Gark Kim was briefly deputising for Chong Eu.

At the same dinner too, I bumped into a handful of former colleagues from my Ban Hin Lee Bank days. We got around for a photograph but unfortunately later, I discovered that there were two other ex-BHLBank friends in the hall. Abdul Aziz Sulaiman was actually seen seated here when we took this photograph. Nuts, if I had realised it, I would have asked him to join in. The other ex-BHLBank colleague was Yusri Hamid but he was a distance away. I did try to get another group picture later but with people already starting to drift off after the dinner ended, my hopes of a second photograph ended too. Anyway, seen here, left to right, were Ng Khye Wai, myself, Chew Kah Hooi and Zakaria Merican.

And finally, there were these five of us at the OCBC premier banking centre. Alex Tan Cheng Keat, Ng Ji Li and Cheryl Deborah de Souza are now staff of OCBC Bank in Beach Street but before then, they were staff of the now defunct Ban Hin Lee Bank, just like myself and Saw See.

Alex started his banking career as a teller at Pulau Tikus Branch of Ban Hin Lee Bank. About six months, he said. There were countless hours spent sorting and counting bank notes. I asked him, "Really? You were at PT Branch? Would you remember the address of the branch?" He could not. "Well, it's 403," I reminded him. I should know very well; I was among the pioneer staff when the branch opened in December 1977.

Ju Li said that she was working in the same branch too before moving to the Corporate Loans Division later, while Cheryl said that she worked at the Komtar Branch for several years. Regaling in past memories, Cheryl said that she really looked forward to going to work every day while at BHLB. Her days at Komtar Branch actually molded her work ethics and culture. She reported to Wong Kim Meng and he was absolutely very strict with the staff and brooked no nonsense. If anyone were to so much as to draw a crooked line in the registers, he would simply throw the registers back at the offending staff.

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