We celebrated Leonard’s 40th birthday party a couple of weeks early this year. Some cultures do consider it a taboo to celebrate a birthday early but luckily, the Schokmans do not have any of those compulsions. The main reason for this is due to the fact that summer break is upon us and all the families are going to be away from the Dubai heat then.
Rose started the arrangements very early, asking us to bid for day off on the roster at the start of May. Thanks to the power of Whatsapp! grouping that task was easily handled by getting close friends into the act.
It was planned as a surprised party, and it worked very well. The birthday boy had just gotten back from an overnight flight and was sleeping till late noon, while we all sneaked in and Rose got the food prepared.
The only downside to the plan was that we did not take into account that a bunch of Malaysians getting together generates a lot of noise…a lot! All the efforts of asking the people to shush down lasted for a few perceptible seconds before the decibel levels went up again.
Luck was on our side again as apparently Leonard sleeps with his ear plugs on! Thus when he finally got down and came into the party, the surprise element was evidently there.
He walked into a room full of well wishes and lots and lots of kids!
I first met Leonard in October 1991…he was just 18 then…and now he is turning 40. One of his neighbors asked if I knew the Schokmans before Dubai. I took a few seconds to reply as I was mentally doing the calculation, to reply that I have known him for 22 years!
Some of the original guys from flying school posed together for pictures. Guy, Busri, myself and Leonard, with Gerard the only non AST guy. Unfortunately Alan and Rozhan were unable to make it, if not the full compilation of MH Cadet Batch 91 in Dubai would have been in the picture below.
All of us are fathers now…getting older, and hopefully wiser!
We got him a gift for his camera… something that he can use for a long time, especially with two active small ones running around.
As usual, no Malaysian gathering is complete without the mandatory teh tarik, and while we sipped this wonderful drink, stories of old and not so old were told and shared. Leonard sent a nice email of thanks for all of us at the end of the day, looking forward to another 40 years of friendship and camaraderie!
I’ll drink a mug of teh tarik to that! Happy birthday buddy!