The grey-haired brigade ... one for the road..
With ex-boss, former Malay Mail Editor Aziz Hassan
Datuk Rejal Arbee getting comfortable on the Editorial floor. Aahh, just like the old times. The two ladies to Rejal's right are Noraini Mydin (in blue) and Putri Juneita (in black).
Rejal, still looking good after all these years. Unfortunately, I can't recall the name of the fella to my left; said he joined NST in 1985 (that made him a 'baby' amongst us that day!)
Old hat Najib Rahman, retired but back on contract. Just goes to prove, old reporters never die.. heck, they don't even fade away...!
Pixman extraordinaire Eric Peris, one of the few quiet ones in NST, always doing his own things with nary a care about what went on around him. Next to him is former business writer KH Lim, now a successful entrepreneur.
Former Crime Editor Rudy Beltran, once a big bully who scared the crap out of every rookie crime reporter. An accomplished pianist, Rudy now plays in clubs and private functions.
[He said he played more at funerals these days since his friends were dropping off one by one! He also chastised me for my second helping. "Oi, makan sikit cukup, you gumuk oredi!" Aiyaiyai, that's 'tak makan saman' Rudy for you...]
Aishah Ali, former Editor of Sunday Mail and a celebrity in her own right, now running her own media consultancy..
KC Boey, yet another former boss of mine in Malay Mail. Aussie-based for the last couple of decades, KC was MM editor in the mid 1980s.
On his right is Margaret Sebastian, former editor of women's magazine 'Her World'. Flanking him on the left is Teresa Manavalan, one of my closest buddies during those ribut days.
Hanim Melan, NST court reporter in the mid 1970s, with ex-sub Calvin Goh, the guy with a perpetual smile on his face, who is back on contract after retirement..
[Picture credit: Pixs 3-10 by ex-scribe Gobind Rudra]
A Stroll Down Memory Lane
Some 30 former editorial staff of the New Straits Times Group - reporters, sub-editors and editors - got together at Balai Berita Friday to rekindle old memories at a place where many had spent their adult working lives.
The reunion was a prelude to a bigger one, to be held Sunday at the Tropicana Golf & Country Club in Petaling Jaya. Some 120 have confirmed their attendance.
The Friday gathering saw former staff coming from as far as the United States (Yin Fong, now married and residing in Ohio), the United Kingdom (Nooraini Mydin, now single again, from London) and Australia (KC Boey & Hannah) to join in the fun.
There were beautiful moments for me, in particular when I met again three former bosses - Philip Matthews, KC Boey and Aziz Hassan - at the same time.
Philip Matthews was the news editor when I first joined in 1973; KC and Aziz when I rejoined in 1985 after a three-year hiatus (I took a break to complete my college education, after marriage and three kids).
Philips, who went to ISIS (Institute of Strategic and International Studies Malaysia) upon retirement from the Malay Mail, played a major part in moulding me into a journalist.
A taciturn man, he hardly praised but was generous with his advice and never skint with his knowledge.
I have never forgotten how he made me sit down next to him whilst he went through, sentence by sentence, my raw attempts at reporting.
This was the era of the typewriter, where you had to file in your stories by typing them out with seven carbon copies going into various trays.
Copy manually 'cleaned' by the boss, using red ink no less, would have to undergo the same process all over again.
I owe you bigtime, Philips. Thank you for being such a wonderful teacher to a fresh-faced kampung lass from Terengganu on her first job, nervous and hesitant in a strange, new environment.
And thank you too to the current bosses for playing such gracious host to us. On hand were NST Group CEO, Datuk Anthony Bujang, Group Managing Editor Datuk Zainul Arifin and Managing Editor Datuk Nuraina Samad.
For tea we were served very delicious laksa Johor, kuih muih and creme caramel, downed with teh tarik.
The oldtimers were also presented with a copy each of NST-published "Road To Nationhood, Malaysia 1941-1966". A lovely gesture, that.
Gobind Rudra, acerbic yet witty as ever, took the trouble to get everybody's pawmark for his copy. Clever dickie! I wished I had the presence of mind to do the same..
Swithin Monteiro In Rememberance
Amidst all the joy, I was somehow reminded of Swithin, one of the first reporters to have befriended me when I joined the Malay Mail.
This pleasant, gangly young man literally held my hand; I was terrified of big city traffic to cross Jalan Bangsar by myself.
It was Swithin who first took me to lunch at A&W Restaurant in Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman where I was introduced to root beer. I was aghast when he ordered one for me.
I remember being very annoyed with him, and telling him off by saying: "Swithin, I don't drink beer!"
How I wished he was in Balai Berita with us to share the fun and laughter. Swithin, who had not a single mean bone in his body, passed away in February this year .... :(