The English School Cairo Reunion, Marina del Rey, CA, USA
October 8–9, 2004

A Report by Michael Topsakal '60

After two consecutive years of reunions in the East Coast, followed by an absence of four years without reunions, the third reunion of the North American Chapter was held in the Marina del Rey, California on October 8 and 9, 2004. Sixteen OBs and OGs and six guests (spouses and friends) attended the reunion.

On Friday, October 8th, the planned 7:00 PM gathering at the lobby of the Marriott Marina del Rey did not happen on time. The very few who showed up on time were debating among themselves, whether the late comers were running on the flexible Egyptian time system, or running late because of the presidential debate, which had started at 6:00 PM. Around 7:30 PM, the hotel lobby was starting to fill with chatter and smiling OBOGs. Fifteen OBOGs and their guests were in the lobby, all chatting, laughing and pleased to be together again.

Not everyone from the Los Angeles area was able to make it to the reunion, however, Fred Easty managed to sneak out from his busy work schedule to join the crowd in the lobby. Also Basil Mikaati drove all the way from the San Diego area and stayed with us for an hour or so and had to drive all the way back home, as he had family commitments to attend to. Sawsan Chahine was there, but did not see him, or perhaps they did not recognize each other after all these years. Such was the ambiance before dinner, perhaps a reflection of the hurried pace and traffic jams of the big city on the West Coast. A little bit after eight, Fred and Basil bade us farewell as we proceeded to go to the informal dinner at the Washington restaurant.

At the dinner table we managed to get reacquainted. Amr Barrada and Steve Lawrence hadn't seen each other in 50 years. Though they were in the same class, they did not remember each other; yet they remembered all the incidents and anecdotes over the years that were peculiar to their class. Raif Tawakol remembered quite well my wife, Eveline, as an OG, even though she never set foot in the school and of course did not remember me, being seven or eight years his junior. Eveline, being French, was quite impressed that everyone around her spoke perfect French and the OBOG's said that that was thanks to Mademoiselle Marie, the French teacher. There were, of course, other reminiscences of staff members. A few of us were still wondering if Dr. Richter, the School Librarian, actually spoke 60 languages. Undoubtedly Mr. Beard was remembered as well as his painful caning punishments which were followed by an invitation to chat over a drink or to play a game together, just to prove to the punished boy that the caning was not for any personal reason.

On Saturday morning after breakfast, small groups went for walks on the beach. In the evening we got together again for a formal dinner at Shanghai Red's restaurant right on the Marina in full view of passing yachts and boats. There was no slide show this time, but many new pictures were taken and a few old ones were passed around. The general atmosphere was that of a family gathering, very similar to the family gatherings over lunch or dinner that I have been to in France and Egypt. Discussions from the previous night continued until past eleven o'clock, when some felt it was time to leave to get a few hours worth of sleep before their early morning flights. Shortly after Amr Barrada blew off the candles on his surprise birthday cake, for it was his birthday, we reluctantly broke off, all hoping to see each other again in a year or so.

In conclusion, there were sixteen OBOGs; all but one attended the school in the 1950's. Some graduated in the early 1950's and some started school in the late 1950's. Those that graduated in the 50's mixed quite well with those that graduated in the 1970's, and it is hoped we will see more and more graduates from later decades. There were three OBs who lived in or very close to Marina del Rey and there were others that came all the way from the East and from Montreal. This was Dick Moats' first reunion. He was the only American (or one of the very few) in the English School Cairo and now most of us in the reunion have become Americans and in that way he is no longer the "odd man out!"

Last but not least, many thanks from all of us to those who helped organize the reunion and to those who insisted on paying the bill for Friday's dinner and the wine bill for Saturday's dinner. Egyptian hospitality never dies in far away places.

This year's attendees were (* :did not attend any dinner event, **: did not attend Friday's dinner, ***: did not attend Saturday's dinner):
Essam Badawi '54
Amr Barrada '55Pat
Fred Easty '56 *
Mohamed Hamza '55
Hanaa Hazelhurst '69 (Omar)
Sherif Khattab '70 *** Ghareed
Hassan Khorshed '69 ***
Steve Lawrence '56
Dick Moats '56
Basil Mikaati *
Gengiz Nazim '54
Sawsan Nosseir '53 (Chahine) Mohamed (Hamada)
Meryam Pickard '51 (del Burgo) ** Peter & Patricia
Raif Tawakol '57
Tousson Roushdy Toppozada '57
Michael Topsakal '60 Eveline

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