Sunday, December 15, 1996

KTWV02-Issue 6: Au Revoir

Au Revoir Web-surfing Stephanians and Cathedralites,

The time has come to say au revoir to all of you wonderful web-surfing Stephanians and Cathedralites.

Many of you are probably too young to know how Indira Gandhi effectively introduced censorship of the critical news media during the mid seventies. Besides imprisoning the political leaders and her sharpest media critics, her most effective weapon was to restrict the quota of newsprint to the critical press and also the amount of Government business directed to the outspoken media - very effective ways of shutting them up.

Here, in this western democracy called Finland, the establishment has a very effective method in this tightly run society. All your contracts vanish, making it impossible to survive if you are in conflict with the establishment. Hence Findians Oy had no option but to seek outside assistance to prop it up while they tried to restructure their actvities to be able to withstand the tirade. They attempted to raise sufficient funds to save their three popular webletters. This was not successful. They reached only part of the initially targeted amount.

Hence, the new owners of Findians Oy (Annikki, my better half, and I had to sell out our interests in the company for technical reasons) have informed me that they are returning all the cheques, money orders and cash received from many of you wonderful people out there. This will be done over the next two weeks so as to avoid any loss during the present Christmas postal rush. They will be returning the documents registered post acknowledgement due. If you do not receive the contribution, you so generously made, by the 7th of January 1997, please send me a message.

I have succeeded in getting myself a private email address outside the clutches of the authorities and outside of Finland, and you may like to note this email address:

I am glad that KOOLER TALK (WEB VERSION) and SEVENTH HEAVEN lasted 18 issues. I can honestly say I had a lot of fun putting up these pages every fortnight. During these last 9 months I made many wonderful friends from all around the world from different school and college generations, older and considerably younger to me.

Surprisingly, I did not get a single bad vibe during that entire time, which, as a professional editor, was quite a feat - no, not even a single staff member complained about my abraisive style and content!

I am taking the optimistic view that the alma mater webletters are temporarily suspended till I can raise enough funds to put them up without any assistance from Findians Oy. It may mean setting up my own web server equipment, my own computer with sufficient storage space, etc. which, unfortunately is rather an expensive process and outside of my present financial (and probably technical) capabilities. After all, as you all know I am not one of the present youthful generation and in my younger days we were lucky if we learnt how to operate a calculator which weighed as much as my present portable Mac on which I hammer out my books. My next one, Handbook For Survival in India, which is a sequel to our last local best-seller Handbook For Survival in Finland, is about halfway through at this stage.

Hopefully I can leave the archives on line for some time. If I manage to locate a permanent home for these archives, katy1.html, katy2.html and the one one which will go up next week katy3.html for Stephanians and sevven1.html, sevven2.html and sevven3.html for Cathedralites, I shall move them there and post the location in the World Alumini Register. I will leave the entire index archive as a single entity as koolertalk.html and seventhheaven.html till such time I can restart them.

What pleased me the most and made me particularly happy was that many of you thought me to be of just your generation, although, in some cases, I was at least 30 to 35 years ahead of you at the alma mater. Thank you for all the compliments which flowed like water from all of you.

In a way I am sad that it had to come to an end in this way, for no fault of any of us. Unfortunately, Annikki and I are people who believe in freedom of expression, and we accept criticism as much as we give it. My grandfather, the late K. C. Mammen Mappillai (KCMM), stood for this principle, which saw him suffer many ignoble things, but the foundation he laid has resulted in the Malayala Manorama becoming the largest circulating newspaper in India.

It may be too much to hope, but one of these three webletters may hold a similar position on the web well after my time - and that thought itself spurs me to be ready to hand it over to capable hands that may come forward. Consider that the Malayala Manorama had to stop publication for almost a decade when KCMM was imprisoned and it was restarted only after India attained independence.

Emails still continues to pour in. This week I want to only reproduce one from a current Stephanian - which shows how alive this webletter was:

Fri Dec 13 19:12:46 1996
From: "Shashank Luthra" email addess supplied
Subject: More info from St. Stephen's
Dear Mr. Matthan,

Hi ! Do you remember me? (Ed: Of course I do) I am the boy who is still in college.

Anyway, here are some of the current happenings from college.

Founder's day got over last week. I missed both the day and the Old Boys' reunion due to my CAT (MBA entrance exam) on the 8th of December - Sunday. But it should have gone off well.

This weekend Shakesoc is putting up its annual production of King Lear (Ed: I remember Roshan Seth in the role in 1962-63 - great performace!). It is on 15th, 16th and 17th of December. It is being directed by Arjun Raina. The play has shaped up decently and they finally started practice inside the hall at the beginning of this week. The director has got some new ideas and interpretations of Shakespeare which should make the play exciting.

More news later.



Please reply to email address supplied
This is my new and hopefully "permanent" address.

So, as you can see life goes on and I wish the play all success and hope it throws up another Roshan in my lifetime!

Your Stephanian/Cathedralite colleague

Jacob Matthan

Sunday, December 01, 1996

KTWV02-Issue 5: Stephanian Malayalis

Hi Web-surfing Stephanians,

I was web surfing when I came across the mention in some Indian web newspaper that the Kerala Seafood Exporters were intending to start a stir for something or the other. When I looked down the srticle I noticed the name of one Mr. A. J. Tharakan, who is the Convenor of the action Committee. Bells jingled in my head as I put two and two together!!

This week I concentrate my topic about a couple of Stephanian Christian Malayalees - you can't get away from that crowd, can you!

Who is India's largest sea-food exporter?

He is none other than Stephanian Abraham Tharakan (the same J. A Tharakan mentioned above), known as Abe during his days at St. Stephens, who was in residence along with me in the early sixties.

Abe was one of the few Christian Malayalees at college and was an inseparable friend of Ajit Ninan. (Other Christian Malayalees I can remember by name are Delhi veteran journalist B. G. Verghese who married lady Stephanian Jameela, my elder brother in Chennai Dr. Ranjit Matthan, Bangalore top electronics consultant T. Joseph Joseph, athlete and Indian Army Officer, now Kottayam based Publishing Manager of Manorama Publications, Jose Vallikappan, guitarist Ranjit Jacob (see below), Bombay Cathedralite, Stephanian, Cambridge and Stanford economist, Dr. Peter Phiip, New Yorkian (?) artist, etc. Prakash Joseph, John Thomas (sorry - no info), Kottayam planter and industrialist George Verghese, Trivandrum planter Ajit Ninan, Chief Editor of Malayala Manorama, Ko tayam, Mammen Mathew, Kottayam and Supreme court lawyer Joseph Vellapally, Managing Editor of The WEEK in Kochi, Philip Mathew - and the Arctic jack-of-no-trade, supposedly Plastics and Microelectronics expert, yours truly.) (Others - please inform me!!)

Abe completed his economics degree (along with present Indian Finance Secretary Montek Singh Alhuwalia) in 1963 and joined the Indian Revenue Service. However, he did not think much of being a bureaucrat and shifted as a management executive and tea taster to Brooke Bond. After 10 years he shifted to Kochi and started a small business called Amalgam Foods.

It took him about 2 long years to get his product accepted on the international market. Today Amalgam has a turnover of around US$65 million which is about 8% of the marine exports from India.

Abe started the process of freeze-drying and pre-cooking shrimps. He started the first cooked shrimp factory in India. He then started several other sea-food related ventures and now has factories all along both Indian coastlines.

Abe has set a target of crossing a turnover of US$100 million by the end of the millenium and to do this he has planned a cold-store chain across the country and a large poultry farm complex. I think we wish him all the best to achieve his target.

I do not know whether Abe is on the web as yet, but as a high flyer I am sure that he will soon have to be. It feels good to share in his success.

The story of Ranjit Jacob is also remarkable. He was a classmate of my elder brother, Dr. Ranjit Matthan (who left college in 1960 and did his doctorate on Rubber Technology from London).

I think that it was in 1959 when they all parted to go home for their vacations, that Ranjit Jacob fell off the train on Jamuna Bridge and was very seriously injured. He missed a year at college and returned the year I joined. Although his speech was slightly impaired he was back to all his old tricks being a great singer and guitarist. He used to seranade and entertain us in his room with all the popular melodies of the fifties. Shy and retiring by nature I believe he is now settled in Chennai.

Hope to give you more stories in a fortnight,

Till then, take care,

Your Stephanian colleague

Jacob Matthan

Sunday, November 17, 1996

KTWV02-Issue 4: Bulbul

Hi Web Surfing Stephanians,

I was thumbing through some old issues of THE WEEK and I came across an interesting aricle by Sejal Shah called "Mountain magic" under the Art Section.

There was a picture of a bearded artist sitting on the floor with his dog, with a background of what was obviously his paintings. The face seemed extremely familiar - it was none other than Bulbul Singh, Stephanian of the fifties/sixties.

Bulbul was a real character in college. I got him to MC the first JCR evening and he was absolutely great in that capacity. He was a naturally talented artiste and although he seems to have had a very interesting post Stephanian era, Kansas university graduate, an executive in Bombay with Hindustan Lever and Lintas, this Quetta-born Stephanian had the call of the hills when he threw all his high life away and retired to a life in Kulu valley to become artist, poet, farmer and social worker. He even runs a free dispensary for the people of his village.

Bulbul has displayed his paintings and reads his poetry around the world. He seems to have have very prominent friends, as The WEEK has listed Koo Stark of Prince Andrew fame amongst the recent guests at his Himalayan abode.

Bulbul was a boisterous Stephanian and one certainly knew when he was around. It is indeed probably that Stephanian character that led him to his life of peace and serenity in the beautiful Kulu Valley where he can compose his poems and create his artistic masterpieces on canvas.

Hope Bilbul has an internet connection to see that we remember him and wish him well.

Talking of art, the New York Stephanians seem to have had a get together to view the paintings of a Delhi artist Sanjay Bhattacharyya. Sreenath informed those Stephanians who he has access to be email that on Friday 8th November, the New York Stephanians, the present head count being as many as 120, were having their get together at Stephanian Deepak Talwar's Art Gallery. It is nice to see such an active group and this should be a role model for other Stephanian groups around the world. Those of us less fortunate are very happy to get to hear of these events and hope others will keep me informed so as to share the camaraderie with the readers of Kooler Talk (Web Version).

And finally this week, because so many of you have requested a photograph to see what I look like here in the Arctic, here is the picture of the original Finnish Father Christmas taken in summer along with my better half of the last 30 years. Sorry for the quality but unfortunately do not have very good photograph reproduction equipment on hand.

Annikki and Jacob

Annikki and Jacob

Hopefully, more in a fortnight,

Your Cathedralite friend


Sunday, November 03, 1996

KTWV02-Issue 3: History of College

Hi Web Surfing Stephanians,

I received this letter last week:

From: vepaa (email address supplied)
Organization: Huron University USA in London
Date: Wed, 23 Oct 1996 13:45:34 +0
Subject: History of SSC

Dear Stephanian,

I wish to inform you that a compilation of College history entitled "Glimpses of St Stephen's College, Delhi" is now available on the St Stephen's page on the web or at the following address:

If you any remarks/observations, please email them to the undersigned at: email at site and pass on the info. to other Stephanians.



I promptly visited the site and found a goldmine. I downloaded it, sent a thanks to Arvind and mentioned the KTWV.

Here was Arvind's reply:
From: vepaa
Organization: Huron University USA in London
Date: Thu, 24 Oct 1996 12:26:41 +0
Subject: 3 Cheers for Kooler Talk

Dear Mr Matthan,

Thank you for sending the Kooler Talk addresses. Hats off to you Sir, for maintaining the page. For Stephanians, the world will always remain a small place.



Yes, to us Stephanians scatterred around the world, it is a small place. For then I received this letter,
Date: Fri, 25 Oct 1996 23:14:10 -0700
From: amitcv (email address supplied)
Subject: Hello

Hi Jacob,

My name is Amit Wilson and I passed out of SSC this year in May. In case you are wondering (though I wonder why you might wonder) about how and why and what and when.... I share my surname with Dr. Anil Wilson, Principal on leave of/from SSC, its because he is my father.

Forgive me if you find my letter a little(???) weird but I feel its in keeping with the kind of KTs I have been exposed to.

My e-mail is (supplied)

Try and drop me a few lines. I would love to hear from you. I was in Finland last year in June. I had come to attend the World Youth Assembly held held at Aland (the first "A" is supposed to have a little circle on top of it). I had a good time there though it was a little chilly considering it was the height of summer and the place was awfully empty compared to the kind of crowds I am used to.

Anyway, I'm doing my MBA at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore.

I believe that you send out copies of KT. I would be grateful if you could send me one too.

Thanks a lot. Sorry for babbling on.


Amit Wilsom

I had to explain to Amit that the Web Version was a Web Version and that I had even stopped sending out the reminder notices since all of you are now dropping in regularly without any prompting.

Pity Amit did not know of our existence when he visited Finland!

I will not keep you this week any longer but suggest that you quickly hop over to the page maintained by Arvind and really relish it.

I will have more next week and Arvind's page will be a permanent link in the Contents list from the next issue onwards.

I would welcome any comments on the history (especially clarifications, etc.) as presented as you recall the characters mentioned therein. Many are waiting to hear from you through these issues of Kooler Talk (Web Version).

See you in a fortnight, take care

Stephanian 1960-1963

Saturday, October 19, 1996

KTWV02-Issue 2: Research Visa?

Hi Stephanians and you others,
I was pleasantly surpised to receive this letter.

Date: Thu, 17 Oct 1996 11:38:35 +0100 (BST)

Dear St. Stephanians,

I am a research student at Cambridge University, working on early twentieth century Indian History, focussing on Uttar Pradesh. At the moment I really need to get out to India. Unfortunately, my research visa has not yet arrived, although I applied for it in June. I would really appreciate any suggestions or help that anyone might be able to offer... otherwise I'll be stuck in freezing Cambridge for the whole winter! (Ed: Cannot think of anything more horrifying than that. :-))

I enjoyed reading your page. I hope someone can help,

William Gould

I am sure that one of our 242 readers scattered worldwide - [yes, that is the fortnightly repeat hits we have been getting to Kooler Talk (Web Version) page regularly over the last three months] - can extend a hand to help out our fellow reader in true Stephanian style. The thought of him freezing in one of those digs in Cambridge certainly wants me wanting to help William somehow!

However, recalling for a moment the freezing winter mornings in college, running to have that early morning bath once Kundan Singh had heated that coal-fired water heater just outside my room and drawn the water, in a leaky metal bucket, and then shivering and freezing after it as I returned to my room wrapped in my towel, till I sat down in front of that most ineffective two bar radiant heater glowing red on my room floor, is not the very comforting thought that I want to share with William. I hope things have changed for the better when William goes out to Uttar Pradesh where, I think, the winters can be quite cold and there is no central heating system to be found anywhere.

In spite of this, sitting on the green lawns in front of Mukarji East on a sunny January mid-morning (cutting class, of course), and being bathed in the warm glow of that Delhi winter sunshine, was probably one of the most exhilarating feelings of my time in college. There were then a few rose plants bordering the lawn flowered, as the college gardeners tried their level best to turn that barren area in front of Mukarji East and the JCR into a garden.

The weeds from the open area between this and the then new science block, however, kept making their task seemingly impossible. No doubt, with the setting up of Mukarji West, this must have improved.

The Delhi winter is in sharp contrast to the dry burning heat of mid-May when I felt that I was sitting in a tandoor! One summer I had to stay on in Delhi to do some extra course and vowed never to be in that city again during those summer months, a vow that I have been able to faithfully keep over the last 33 years.

Coming back to William's problem, personally I do not know of something called as a research visa. Whenever I sent out a researcher to India, the Indian Embassy in Helsinki (where we did have a Stephanian - First Secretary S. Tripathi, probably 75 batch, an absolutely great and nice guy who moved to Panamma!!) issued an ordinary tourist visa valid for six months.

Education - What is it?

This week, in my second editorial in Findians Briefings, I tackle the question of Education where I ask the question as to the number of handicapped persons, those who are blind, deaf, dumb, or wheel-chair ridden, who are being used as teachers in schools and colleges. Can any of you name any handicapped person who has been in a teaching or administration position in our alma mater. Just curious! (Don't all stand up and shout that I have just described the average Stephanaian through the ages!!!)

Yesterday, Annikki, my better half for the last 30 years, made Masala Dosais for our son and daughter - but not for me! My mouth was watering as I recalled those delicious dosais I used to consume ever so often at the India Coffee House on the campus.

(The reason why I was denied this luxury of a dosai, despite my begging like a dog, was that she had just enough in the dosai mix packet for the kids. She usually makes the dosai mix up by grinding the rice and dhal in her heavy duty antique coffee grinder - works great, but she was anxious to get to a clearance sale in one of the local department stores, where she and our daughter had agreed to meet to pull the hair out of some other women.)

This meant it was just soup for me. It is not as if we can pop around the corner and have a dosai in this Arctic town. We do not have a single Indian restaurant here, hence Wengers, India Coffee House and the Kamala Nagar Coffee Centre seem like heavenly beacons to me. The only source of good Indian food is my dear Finnish wife!!

I do not know about you, but that is all the nostalgia I can take for this week.

See you in a fortnight, take care

Jacob, Stephanian 1960-1963

Sunday, October 06, 1996

KTWV02-Issue 1: Kudos, no brickbats!

Hi Stephanians,

Here are a few letters from regular readers of Kooler Talk (Web Version). Makes life a little difficult!!

Date: Mon, 23 Sep 96 14:10:00 PDT
From: Stephanian Indrajit Banerjee
Subject: Re: Stephanian Rathikant hits the Headlines (SUBSCRIBE)

Hi Jacob:


I also had to endure Hindi exam (the compulsory one), taught by Dr. Arya.

I was in Delhi in Dec. 1990 and met Dr. Arya. Had tea with him. He was great. Last Oct, I was again in StephenÍs, he had retired a nd moved to Roorkee.

I passed my compulsory Hindi, but in a weird way - Dr Arya had taught us the "wrong" book. It turns out that different books were to be taught according the year's syllabus. But because of people like you (and me) the exam would have questions from different books (to cover student's from different years) and only the relevant ones (depending on year of admission) needed to be answered. However, Dr. Arya, being in the exam committee, taught us the book by Premchand (not for 1971 admission students), knowing full well that the examiner would not check which year we were admitted, or which book we were supposed to be taught.

I almost walked out of the exam not answering anything (seeing I was taught the wrong book). Then something happened and I scribbled something. Dr. Arya said that if I had written some minimum number of pages, I would pass. I did!!!

Good to hear form you. Keep up the good job!!



From: Stephanian "Monsieur A."
Subject: Re: Stephanian Rathikant hits the Headlines
Date: Mon, 23 Sep 96 15:36:10 EDT


I never groan at getting your messages ... they brighten up my day even if you think you are trying to depress us:))

I am not groaning ... I am bugging you now.

Best wishes


Date: Wed, 25 Sep 1996 09:32:29 -0700
From: "S. Raja Gopalan"
Organization: Columbia University
Subject: Stephanian on mailing list

PLEASE CHANGE MY ID TO: (email supplied)



Date: Fri, 4 Oct 96 16:08:26 CDT
From: "Sanjay Mundle"
Subject: Pl. add to KT list


I just got through reading the excellent "newsletters" you put together from your experiences at Stephens. I graduated back in 84, and appreciate all the background info. you have included in your writings. I would love to be included on your mailing list for Kooler Talk

(email: supplied)

Looking forward to your next issue.


Sanjay Mundle
BA 1984
Houston, Texas, USA

It is the several letters like these that helped me continue writing this webletter. We are having several problems as the Finnish Government is extremely unhappy about our hard-hitting editorials and comments that are contained on the main page. We have heard they have tried to put pressure on some organisations to stop our web access. A sort of censorship which would put the steps in Singapore seem like heaven!

In anticipation we are negotiating with some Web Site providers in different parts of the world to host our web pages outside of Finland. Then all I need will be a regular shell account and I can upload the webletters without interference from Finnish Government authorities which are ridiculously sensitive to any form of political satire. They just do not seem to appreciate satire.

What seems to have irked them is that the last editorial on Scientific Fraud in Finnish universities where our rebuttal of the claim that there was a mechanism for detection and tackling of Scientific Fraud in Finland was in existence, got an airing on BBC World Service on Sunday 29th September.

Since I was the first "whistleblower" in Finland, and they just glossed over my complaint about a colleague professor who was stealing the work of my students in our laboratory, this has raised a storm as the Professor's Union, the Finnish Academy, the Finnish Ministry of Education and my own Union, the Finnish Union for Researchers failed to raise a finger to bring the person to book. Well that is life!

I wonder whether in Delhi University and in Stephen's, Professors and Researchers carry out this form of Scientific Fraud, or is it that unlike universities in western countries, very little research work actually takes place in the college or university.

It does appear strange to me after all these years that I do not recall any of our college teachers actually being involved with any original research in Stephens - or is my memory failing me!!

Here is a letter from our New York Stephanian Coordinator
Date: Sun, 6 Oct 1996 15:02:47 -0400 (EDT)
From: Sreenath Sreenivasan
Sender: email address supplied
To: "stephanians (non-new york)":

Subject: SSC #3: our next event

vol 1 / #3: oct 4, 1996

dear stephanians:

a short, occasional newsletter to tell you of our activities in NYC...

the october meeting scheduled for oct 12, 1996 has been CANCELED. (our host-to-be is going to be out of town that day)

instead, our next event, a reception, is now scheduled for nov 8 at the bose pacia gallery in manhattan. a big thank you to deepak talwar (bsc '85), gallery director, for offering to host this event.

date: friday, nov 8, 1996
venue: bose pacia modern
(20th century masters and contemporary fine art of india)
580 broadway, suite 202, soho
212-966-3224 (please RSVP to or
time: 6-8 pm

on display will be paintings by sanjay bhattacharyya, a well-known young painter from delhi.

see you there... pass on the word... if you know of any stephanians who aren't on our list, let us know!

see you there...



FYI: anil wilson has taken a three-year leave as principal of SSC to work at himachal univ, and horace jacob is acting principal...

I am still working on a map layout of the college as it existed in 1963 and hopefully in a month I will have it up.

Regards and take care,

Stephanian Jacob Matthan
Oulu, Finland

Sunday, September 22, 1996

KTWV01-Issue 12: Rathikant Basu

Hi Stephanians,

It is with a great deal of pleasure that I put pen to paper, or rather hammer away at the computer keyboard this week. I bring you the story of a fellow Stephanian who has hit the big time. My joy at bringing you this news is not only because is he a fellow Stephanian, but also a very dear friend.

Rathikant Basu was in his second year of his BA (Economics) when I joined college in 1960. As another Bombay Cathedralite to join Stephens along with me was Sujit Bhattacharaya (son of the then Governor of the Reserve Bank P. C. Bhattacharaya), a Bengali, Sujit's circle of friends in college became my friends as did mine become his.

One of those who joined our flock was Rathikant, already a member of Mukarji Court and resident in one of the upper storey rooms of T-Block.

Rathikant was a widely travelled individual and added a great deal of spice to our lives. If I remember correctly, he had been living in Sudan for several years prior to joining college. Rathikant had a great sense of humour and his sharp wit used to have us rolling with laughter. Yet he had a very unsupposing attitude and a completely simplistic approach to all around him.

When I finished college in 1963, Rathikant was going on to his final year of his MA and studying hard for his IAS entrance exam. He got into the IAS in 1964 and was part of the Gujarat Cadre of 1964.

In the mid-seventies when I was on a trip to Ahmedabad I accidently bumped into Rathikant. He was then the Muncipal Commissioner of the City. He had not lost his humouristic streak. He was a bundle of efficiency. I watched him go through a day's work with a keeness hardly seen in bureaucratic circles.

Rathikant's success at the helm of Doordarshan is well known. His last IAS stint has been as the Secretary of the Departement of Electronics where he has been busy ushering in the rapid change in the electronics sector in India. I am reasonably sure that the lowering of import duty on software was one of his moves as he has always been progressive in his approach to a problem. India's export boom of software has been only because of this opening of the inward flow of technology.

At the age of 54, Rathikant has now been hand-picked by world media moghul Rupert Murdoch to head the Hong Kong based Indian arm of Star TV, News Television India. Reports say that he has been offered an annual salary of $500000 plus a chauffer-driven Mercedes. Rathikant takes over from Gene Swinstead in October.

Rathikant has been given directives to Indianise the network's programming which presently is highly westernised. There could be no one better equipped for this job, as is well known from his activity under the former Information and Broadcasting Minister, K. P. Singh Deo. Rathikant is a highly focused individual as well as results oriented, so will undoubtedly deliver the goods.

As was succinctly put by THE WEEK in its September 15th issue, "Doordarshan reached its azimuth during Basu's term as Director-General."

Rathikant will liase with the Hong Kong based Director, Gene Davis, but network programming and commercial decisions will now be made in India.

I am sure all you Stephanians out there will join me in wishing Rathikant the very best in his new job. I hope that he will drive his arch competitor, his former paymaster, Doordarshan, to higher standards by bringing in top-notch competition in the Indian TV news spectrum.

End of Reminder Messages

I am afraid that I will need you to subscribe separately to be able to continue to receive these reminders as the whole process seems to have got out of hand with my postings touching about 3000 every fortnight and the number of wrong addresses resulting in returns amounting to about 10% every time. My mailbox is just crammed with returned messages so it takes me a while to get to my normal mail. Most of the returns are people who have registered and then not informed me about change of address, etc.

Our main site has expanded at such a remarkable pace that I am getting fully tied down with getting these three webletters up every fortnight and also getting the mailing list out that it has really not left me much time for the investigative journalism for which my web pages were originally created.

Hence Stephanians who want to get a reminder from me should send a SUBSCRIBE message to our email address as otherwise from the next issue you will not get any reminder.

More next week,


Your Editor Jacob Matthan

Or as Rathikant would say "Arre Jacob"..

Sunday, September 08, 1996

KTWV01-Issue 11: Passing Hindi

Hi Stephanians,

I was one of those last batches from school that did not have to take Hindi for my school final examination. I did English and French, having spent a few years toying with Latin, and having given up Marathi and Hindi as bad jokes.

When I joined Stephen's, Mr. Arya was quick to catch hold of me to impress on me that I had to pass the Compulsory Hindi examination if I wanted to get my final degree. I did not take him very seriously when I heard I could try to get through twice a year in all my three years. I was supremely confident that I would get those 35% sometime during that long stint in the college.

I did make an effort by attending Mr. Arya's lectures a couple of times, but besides getting through the alphabet, I do not think I got much further, despite all the help given to me by my friends. I learnt to speak a corrupt form of Hindi, mixed with Punjabi swear words during my time in college!!

I faithfully sat the exam each year, and faithfully failed it. Of course, during the last year I just did not have much time, as Physics, Chemistry and Maths were giving me enough trouble.

When I finished my final exam in May 1963, I called on Principal Sircar. It was then it dawned on me that even if I got through my degree I was unlikely to be awarded the degree till I passed my Hindi test, and if my plans to go to England to specialise in Plastics was to materialise, I just had a couple of months to learn a language and pass an exam I had flunked four times in the previous 3 years.

As soon as I reached Bombay I decided to solve my dilemma. I located a young Hindi teacher, Mr. Laxman, who was quite different from the usual mould. He promised to sit with me day and night, if necessary. His method was quite unique as he came to the classes with nothing but the Navbharat Times, knowing that I had read the Times of India early morning. With that background he got me to read the editorial, which was about the same as in the English edition, and in absolutely difficult Hindi.

At first it seemed gibberish, but having understood the English editorial a few hours earlier, within a couple of weeks I was quite enjoying reading the Hindi editorial, the references to the Dictionary gradually decreasing. Within 4 weeks I was managing the editorial on my own and even composing a couple of decent Hindi sentences.

I went to Delhi full of confidence in early September and when Mr. Arya met me he seemed confident that now, at least, I would get through. Sure enough, I passed with flying colours. I had already joined the University in England when the results came through and I felt more chuffed at having passed the Hindi exam than actually having passed my major subjects.

I think the trouble I had with Hindi was equivalent to a couple of my classmates who struggled with English - if I remember correctly they were from Modern School in Delhi, and although they could speak English as well as I could converse in Hindi, they were just as word blind as far as English was concerned as I was word blind to Hindi. Poor Rev. Jarvis used to go crazy trying to teach those guys just enough of English to pass the exam.

I wonder if these language exams are still part of the present system?

Editor Jacob Matthan

Sunday, August 11, 1996

KTWV01-Issue 10: Patriotism

Hi Stephanians,

Were you ever struck by a heavy dose of patriotism when you were in college?

I recall being overwhelmed by it in 1962 - 1963 when the Chinese invaded India. The father of my neigbour in Mukarji Block, a brigadier in the Indian Army was captured by the Chinese and was taken a prisoner of war. We heard endless tales about the heroic efforts of our jawans and our officers and how the Chinese kept marching onwards, shoulder to shoulder, and how all the efforts of our forces to mow them down were totally useless.

In Delhi there was an air of panic as we felt that if they continued their advance at the pace we could determine from the maps which we had strung up in the block, they would be entering the college gates a few days hence.

Suddenly the Chinese stopped their advance and declared a cessation of hostilities. There were cries of "fight" from all around, bold utterances that India would not give up one inch of land, etc. etc. All hot air as we were in no position to do anything.

Ministers and Army Generals were being castigated in public. I do not know whether the expresso coffee machine scandal came up at that time - the accusation being that Krishna Menon had converted our defence factories to produce coffee machines rather than weaponry.

It was indeed a trying time. Panditji happened to visit college one evening - I am not sure what was the occasion, but he looked flushed, red and drawn, and a beaten man. He appeared to me as someone who had been badly betrayed by all around him - the Chinese, not to say the least. I had seen him a short while earlier when Queen Elizabeth had visited India and he had then looked radiant despite his age.

The following Republic Day we were still smarting from the defeat which we had been inflicted, when it came about that the NCC had organsed that all the Stephanians who wanted could take part in the Republic Day Parade and march down from Rashtrapathi Bhavan to India Gate.

My bosom pal, Ajay Verma was in the NCC naval wing and brought me the news. Almost all of us in Mukarji Block, as a solidarity to our soldiers and army officers volunteered to take part in the march.

We assembled very early in the morning in front of the JCR and waited, and waited, and waited, till finally some NCC trucks came and picked us up and deposited us somewhere behind the Rashtrapathi Bhavan.

After another interminable wait we were told to march, and we non-NCC group sauntered down the whole way to India Gate with our few NCC friends trying to keep some semblance of order by marching in step.

Desperately tired at the end of the road, we again had to wait for several hours before being picked up by the trucks and then safely transported back to the college - a feeling of accomplishment passing as a warm glow through all of us.

Ajay did join the army, he fought in the Pakistan war and recalled to me how one evening, while sitting in the bunker, decided to go out for a smoke. He had hardly gone a few steps out of the bunker when a shell landed dead centre on it and destroyed the entire construction. Ajay was the sole survior of that incident and made up his mind to quit as soon as his commission was over.

He married a Danish girl, set up a small Indian boutique in Sweden at Malmo, just across from Copenhagen and had a couple of lovely children, but he still recalled that fateful day as a nightmare when a cigarette save his life. Unfortunately, he has now moved and I have lost touch with him. If anyone knows where he is, please do let me know.


Jacob Matthan

P.S. Seems our New York group is very active and enjoying their reunions. Do keep us all in mind when you are having a great time. I am sure that given the opportunity, we all would love to join you. Are any other groups out there holding similar activities? Do let us know as we love to hear of your reunion dos.

Saturday, August 10, 1996

KTWV01-Issue 9: Stephanian Authors

Hi Stephanians,

I have restructured the page slightly so that it loads quicker on your browser. I will limit the kilobyte size of this page by keeping it to a maximum of six issues. I will move the old issues to archive files, each of which will contain six issues.

I have also included a link to the World Alumni Registry Stephanian Page. You can click there and register your Stephanian connections.

I have also linked other web pages and lists maintained by Stephanians so that you can visit them if you desire. If any of you have a web page which has something to say to Stephanians, do let me know so that I can add your link at this site.

This week has been rather uneventful as far as email from all of you out there. Maybe all of you that took the trouble and filled out the poll form on my main page (thanks) were so exhausted that you took a break from sending any other mail!

Picture of Montek Singh Alhuwalia

The latest issue of THE WEEK has a nice picture of Finance Secretary, Stephanian (1960-1965) Montek Singh Alhuwalia (also a Rhodes Scholar), standing at the side of the present Finance Minister, Mr. P. Chidambaram, just before the presentation of the recent budget.

Montek has changed his turban style to the more conformist type. He used to have a unique and fascinating way of tying his turban when he was in college. It was nice to note, that like me, Montek has filled out with age, although unlike me, he has not become grossly overweight with a pot-belly.

Stephanian Authors

I am still looking for information about Stephanians who are authors, the intention being to compile a web page as part of this site of these names along with details of the books published by them. I have a few additions to my list.

Stephanian Amitav Ghosh teaches at Columbia University, New York. He has written three novels, "The Circle of Reason", "The Shadow Lines" and "The Calcutta Chromosome", plus one non-fiction called "In An Antique Land".

Stephanian Upamanyu Chatterjee published the book "English August: An Indian Story" which has been made into a film. His latest novel is "The Last Burden".

Stephanaian Sashi Tharoor has written "The Great Indian", "Show Business" and "The Five Dollar Smile", which is a collection of short stories.

If any of you out there can give me details about these writers, any other books that they may have published, as well info about any other Stephanians that you know who have published books and can be considered to be authors, I would be most obliged.

My intention is also to have reviews of the books authored by Stephanians available on the web page. If any of you can send me reviews of the books that you have read by Stephannian authors, they would be most welcome.

In the context of authors, could someone out there confirm or deny whether economist author Ravi Batra at the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas is a Stephanian or not. I had a Ravi Batra (from Assansol) as a classmate in college. Before we parted he gave me snap, on the back of which he had written:

To Jacob with fond regards

sd: Ravi Batra

Born: 1943

Died: _____

I saw a snap of the author Ravi Batra in the TIME magazine a few years ago, just after his book "The Great Depression" had hit the headlines. These two Ravi Batras either are twins as they share all the same features, a very stocky face structure and bushy eyebrows or, by some quirk of fate, are look-alikes with the same name!!. I remain puzzled so please put me out of my agony!

I guess, that is all my ramblings for this week.

Editor Jacob Matthan
Oulu, Finland

Sunday, July 28, 1996

KTWV01-Issue 8: Ranjit Bhatia

Hi Stephanians,

This last fortnight, other than casting your votes in droves for which book I should serialise for the web (for technical reasons the poll is continuing for one more fortnight - so you can still cast your vote), all of you, except Indrajit Banerjee have been very quiet. Indrajit sent me a message about Chinmoy Banerjee (who I had mentioned in my last issue - Smoking Tea Leaves) along with the email address of Chinmoy in Canada. Thanks Indrajit.

Rhodes Scholar Ranjit Bhatia

I thought this week I would share thoughts about the return of Ranjit Bhatia to college in 1962-1963. Ranjit had been to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar and was chosen to represent India at the Olympics in a long distance event - I am not sure which distance (was it the 800 metres or the mile?). Hence his return to college as a lecturer was much awaited by all of us.

Principal Sircar had been our mathematics teacher till then, and although he was a great guy, he was not much good at teaching mathematics to an idiot like me. He would come into a packed class room, mumble along for an entire hour, scribbling on the board, and that was the end of the lecture.

When Ranjit turned up, he took over this role as our maths teacher. He was infinitely better at it than good old Sircar. Within a couple of weeks I started to get a hang of the subjects, as vectors, matricies and analytical geometry and proceeded to more exotic and interesting subjects, as astronomy.

Ranjit was also a great socialiser with us students. He mingled with all of us, who, in turn, looked up in awe at this wiry superstar amongst us. I do not remember of which block he was the tutor. He frequently joined us for the after dinner coffee. Although he did not play "thumbing the matchbox" he certainly appreciated the mathematical probablity of the game.

Wonder where Ranjit has got to by now?

The Cafe

Talking of the cafe, I wonder if the quality of the mince cutlets and scrambled eggs (with tamatar) has been maintained. There was quite a quality difference in each speciality depending on whether it was Ganga, Shelly or Dolly who served up the choice, so much so that our choice was usually dependant on who was waiting on us. There was another youngster who started his career in the cafe at that time - was he called Sebastian? I personally loved the scrambled eggs from Ganga, the mince cutlets from Shelly and the vegetable cutlets from Dolly. The coffee was uniformly good from all four. I did not care too much for the tea (although today I am only a tea drinker - I have not been put off by the dire warnings of this habit which have been scribed by P. G. Wodehouse). The iced sweet lassi from Sebastian was out of this world. Not much difference in the fresh lime, however!

By the way, was the name of the guy who sold the Barfi at the cafe door Sukharamji?

And till when was Deep Singh the barber who gave us those atrocious haircuts but great head and body massages?

More in a fortnight,


Stephanian Jacob Matthan - 1960-1963

Oulu, Finland

Sunday, July 14, 1996

KTWV01-Issue 7: Holi Dunking

Hi Stephanians,

What I said last week seemed to have prompted some life into a few of you. Besides wishing my father-in-law a happy birthday, about a dozen of you have actually responded to tell me not to stop those reminders. It is no hassle as it takes me only a minute. I have rather a good email program (PopMail by Dave Johnson from the University of Minesota) on my ancient Mac PowerBook in which I keep all my mailing lists and update them as details come in. (Wish I could afford a PowerMac to bring some colour to this page!)

Many of you who wrote were wondering why you get the messages without a long list of names. I learnt this trick of putting only a couple of names - usually headed by our oldest web-surfing Stephanian from Canada, Samuel O Alexander, while the rest of you go into the Blind Carbon Copy space. So you do not get a message with hundreds of names to scroll through. In my Findians Briefings mailing list there are a few hundred on my mailing list. It does take a while for the post to actually be sent as I still use only a 2400 bps modem, but as the Mac has always been a multitasking machine, I am usually busy doing something else, or busy web-surfing, while the mail is being sent out.

Well Sree in New York thanked me for all the nice things I wrote about him. My contact paid off as he was able to put me in touch with a nephew of mine in New York, son of a Stephanian. I also got rid of the extra "A" in SAJA - the error had emanated from The WEEK. Think our New York crowd will be enjoying their get-together meal as I am writing this.

Holi Dunking

Has that absolutely filthy habit of dunking everybody in the slush just outside the dining room on Holi come to an end. After being flung in and sloshed with muck in my first year (and losing a lens from my spectacles), on subsequent years I was up early as a bird and went and sat in the muck so that I would not get thrown in. Of course several thought the whole affair was hilarious. I seem to remember that I was so early in my second year that it was probably me that turned on the tap to make sure that the slush would be formed. Since it was March it was still miserably cold to roll about in that murky water.

After the mud bath many of us would proceed to the residence of Principal Sircar who always had barfi ready for distribution and also some colour to throw at us students. He seemed to enjoy being part of the celebrations. I got the feeling that he would have been disappointed if we did not show up at his doorstep.

One year we even went on the VCs residence - It was C. D. Deshmukh, if my memory serves me right. He too was quite jovial and took part with good spirit although we did not get any barfi from him. Typical attitude of a Finance Minister!! Hey Montek, are you listening?.

Masala Dosais

Are the Masala Dosais (that was how it was spelt on the Kamala Nagar menu) at that dingy restaurant at Kamala Nagar and the Coffee House still up to character. Now-a-days Masala Dosas are available everywhere but in our time to get one in Delhi was like receiving manna from heaven.

My first visit to the Kamala Nagar restaurant was with a group of second and third year students who took a few of us newcomers there after dinner to be ragged. They did do some ragging but they were kind enough to buy us a cup of coffee after the ordeal.

I remember tall and lanky Kamlesh Sharma (now an Ambassador somewhere, I guess), stylishly attired in his traditional robes Chinmoy Banerjee (who tried to convnce me that smoking tea leaves was the thing to do), and Lalit Mohan (probably busy editing a newspaper somewhere in Punjab), then in their first year MA, met up with me on that first visit to Kamala Nagar - and so I even got to eat a Dosa, paid for by my mentors..


Talking of ragging - does this still take place? I remember some of the excellent ragging that I was subjected to - it was sheer mental torture, but when I later ran through the episodes in my mind, I had actually enjoyed being ragged by a few seniors who a few moments later became good friends. Of course, there were the crude and physical raggers which was distasteful, but those who knew the art of ragging really had us freshmen quaking in our shoes - something like a good April Fools Day joke.

Maybe some of you could fill us with stories about your best and worst ragging experiences.


Hope you have registered as members of GOPIO - the web link was not working for a good part of the last two weeks, but I kept hammering away at Professor Thomas Abraham. He finally got a new web address and I can confirm the site is working although it is not yet possible to register as his FORM mailto is not yet functioning. I , however, sent email to register.


I am off on holiday next week - enjoying the lake district in Eastern Finland right next to the Russian border - and considering my editorials in Findians Briefings of the last two weeks - I half suspect Yeltsin and Lebed to be waiting for me across the border with their Mafioso friends while the Finnish President Matti Ahtisaari makes every effort to push me over to the other side!!

Regards and take care,

Yours in a holiday mood,

Stephanian Jacob Matthan

Sunday, June 30, 1996

KTWV01-Issue 6: Variety is spice

Hi Stephanians

(Sorry to Seventh Heaven readers also visiting here for some duplication),

Ad at the top

You may have noticed an ad at the top if you are using Netscape. It is part of a contract with a Portugese group that all my web pages will carry a rotating ad at the top. If it offends anyone or affects your access time or download time, please do let me know. I shall reconsider whether I keep it at the top of the Kooler Talk (Web Verson) page. (Ed: I have to try to earn some money sometime - I am not very successful at that task!)


Last issue I asked whether my annoying reminders should stop - I have a posting of just over a hundred messages to Stephnians. I received a total of 2 replies, one saying not to stop them and the other asking what was the URL-minder. Well this split the response 50/0/50 (undecided), so I am continuing my reminders. Any of you that wants out should let me know.


May I please direct you to the Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO). You can read the letter from Prof. Thomas Abraham from Columbia University in the Letters to the Editor on my main web page. Do take a break and visit it and the appropriate link.


In keeping with the message about GOPIO, I thought I would share this tidbit about another Stephanian from Columbia.

Sreenath Sreenivasan, who is the active Stephanian in the Big Apple, is also an Assistant Professor at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. Along with a friend, he decided to form an informal organisation of South Asian Journalists, calling the organisation South Asian Journalists Association (SAAJA) (Ed: Sree, where does that extra A in the middle come from?).

Sreenath is reported, by Laviana Melwani (India-West) whose article "Brown-Skinned WASPS" was run in the 21st January 1996 issue of THE WEEK, as recalling that

"A few of us would see each other at press meets and say, we should get together. So we made a list - we thought there would be about 20 Indian journalists in New York. Actually, there are about 200."

As you would have read from earlier issues, Sree is also active in organising the Stephanian meets in New York. In fact just as I was writing this I received his "SSC new york newsletter". Truly amazing that there are 115 in that city and that as many as 45 attended the get-together. It seems to show the love and attachment we have for our alma mater.

Just for posterity I include the list of those which were mentioned by Sree in his newsletter.

Anil Kumar (eco'60, CFO of Population Communications Intl), Gaurav Laroia (chem'93, studying at NYU medical school); Brij Raj Singh (former professor who left in 1972, professor at Hostos College); Priya Ranjan (a.k.a. PRJ; eco'89; left in 1992, completing his eco PhD at Columbia Univ); the senior-most woman Stephanian: Padma Rao (eng'78, reporter with ADR German TV).
I feel we should all join in wishing him a great success in developing SAJA, as well as making the Stephanian group of North America, popular rallying points. From the Arctic wilderness, presently blazing in summer sunshine, I wish him the very best and thank him for having mentioned this fortnightly webletter.

Hey Sree, any other Stephanians among your SAJA group reading our Kooler Talk (Web Version)?

Other sites mentioned by Sree are:

Krishna Kumar (chem'91; Phd at Scripps) runs Global Alum Directory
Montek Singh - son of Prof. G .S. Bhatia (who, I think, was my Physics Lecturer in 1960-63); spent the first 21 years of his life on campus; did physics for a year; now computer science PhD at Columbia maintains Pix and Info from NY Events.

Rev. Jarvis/Luck

Going back to my college days, does anyone out there have any information about Rev. Jarvis. He was the Chaplain for the first two years of my time (till summer 1962). He was replaced by Rev. (David or Dennis) Luck in my last year. Rev. Luck was a "bigun" from Canada and did not like much noise in Mukarji Block after 10 pm. He did not have much luck (PJ - if you did not notice) in keeping the peace.

One night, around 2 am, he stormed into a lively bridge session and ripped the packs in half. He apologised the next evening to the group and the block for his lack of understanding and patience. I think he even replaced the packs. He knew if he continued his demonic show of brute strength, he would probably have got twice in return. Kundan Singh had warned him of the plots being hatched behind his back. Poor Kundan would probably have had to clean up the mess!


Rev. Luck (I would be glad to know of his whereabouts) gave me my first Canadian Stamps and rekindled my childhood interest in that hobby. Now I am an active Stamp Dealer with a very good Finnish and Indian collection in which I trade using the web. So any of you having stamps to buy or sell, please do let me know. I have connections with over 250 reputed dealers worldwide. (Anyone know if the stamp of our college is around - I have many of St. Stephens Hospital.)

Yours in nostalgia

Jacob Matthan
Editor Kooler Talk (Web Version)

Thursday, June 13, 1996

KTWV01-Issue 5: Feedback

Hi Fellow Stephanians,
This week I give way to the oldest and probably one of the youngest web-surfing Stephanians as well as probably one of the most active:

Date: Mon, 03 Jun 96 13:22:02 -0700
From: Samuel O Alexander (email supplied)
To: Jacob Matthan
Subject: Voice of the remote past!!

Hello Jacob:

Thanks for carrying on the torch bright and proudly! Ha... what nostalgia ... If I die of nostalgia, you will be responsible!!!!

Principal at your time: Mr S.C. Sircar (pl note the spelling). In my time it was Mr D. Raja Ram. Mr S. C. Sircar was the Head of Mathematics; and Mr Walker was the V. Principal. Later Mr Walker went to Peshawar to become the Principal of Edwardes College there ... probably in 1955 or so.
Mr R.I. Shankland was the next V. Principal. His wife was Mrs Elspeth Shankland ... very active in the SSC plays and in the cultural life of Delhi theatre (English). She was decorated with the CBE for her efforts.

Mr Shankland taught History and when discussing the "Committee of the Whole" (i.e., the whole house after the speaker stepped down from his chair and the mace was removed) ... he always spelt the word "whole " in case it could be mistaken or misheard!!!!

I think Mr Shankland also was decorated with an OBE !!

Best wishes.


Some interesting facts from Jhelum (Econ. 1995)

Date: Tue, 11 Jun 1996 17:41:09 +0500 (GMT+0500)
From: Jhelum Chowdhury (email address supplied)
Subject: Re: Stephanians Web page

*On Tue, 23 Apr 1996, Saurav Sen wrote:

*Katy and Kooler Talk were/are the same, aren't they?

I have recently had the pleasure of perusing the Feb 1996 edition of Kooler Talk. To answer Saurav's query, Aunt Katy, with her collection of gossip, is the fictional narrator of Kooler Talk, who, I was entertained to note, has not lost her touch - "age has not mellowed her" or Stephania, if I may add.

Dr. Vijay Tankha, of the Philosophy Dept. oversees the publication of Kooler Talk. The editors of course, are drawn from the current undergraduate students, although I noticed that the latest edition has acknowledged its debt to an ex-editor, who had pitched in with his counsel.

However, Spice would really qualify as an "underground" mag. It comes out about twice a month on average. Since "writing Spice" depends on the initiative of individuals or groups, one can never predict the appearance of Spice with its shocking revelations of activities, whose participants had considered their heels well covered. The writers of Spice take great pains to remain incognito, slipping the sheet under the doors of sleeping rez students in the wee hours of the morning. Indeed, guessing the identity of the writers is no less entertaining than reading the latest edition of Spice.

Jhelum Chowdhury

And the last item is courtsey Sreenath who is doing a great job whipping up Stephania madness in New York and keeping me informed. Thanks Sree and also thanks to Wajahat for this information.

Date: Mon, 10 Jun 1996 17:04:18 -0400 (EDT)
From: Wajahat Habibullah (email address supplied)
Resent-From: Sreenath Sreenivasan (email address supplied)
Resent-To: Jacob Matthan

The Indian Embaasy has a number of Stephanians including yours truly (History 1965, MA 1967). Others include Shiv Mukherjee and Arvind Dave, to whom I have passed on copies of your message regarding the get-together on 12th June. I will not be in a position to come, but would suggest that you keep in touch with Stephanians in DC through me or others in IMF and World Bank in case you have the e-mail addresses. Otherwise, let me know and I will register as many as I can collect. I have registered with the Web Site mentioned.

We here are planning a get-together of Stephanians on 27th July. Let me know if you'd like more information.


Wajahat Habibullah

Well I guess I can thank the contributors for this issue. Do keep the letters coming and I will fill in with the reminiscences whenever necessary - I have plenty of stories still to tell!!


Oulu, Finland - where our glorious sunset is now at 0030 hours and sunrise at 0200 hours
Happy Midsummer - and, believe it or not, I now use a table fan (Made in Taiwan) here in the Arctic - Global Warming?

Sunday, June 02, 1996

KTWV01-Issue 4: JCR 1961-62

Hi Web-surfing Stephanians,

Before going on to tell you a bit about the JCR and its workings in 1961-62 I thought I would give you some info about a couple of Stephanians from my time - the brothers 63ers Roshan and Aftab Seth. Both are gentlemen. I am happy that both have done well in the world - Roshan in acting and Aftab, well he has just released a book of poems "Pillars of a Landscape" published by Ravi Dayal Publishers.

This hardback edition is well illustrated by Anandjit Ray. The book contains 29 poems in the 55 pages. The price is very very reasonable at Rs. 85 (hardly the cost of a packet of fags in Finland -which is Rs. 140). The book is well worth it for your special bookshelf for Stephanian authors (and now a plug - as also my two books "Handbook for Survival in Finland" and "Seven Years Hard Labour in a Finnish Holiday Camp - A Finnish University". :-)) And do not forget the book by Arun Shourie that I wrote about a couple of issues ago.

Can anyone give me a list of other Stephanian authors so we can prepare a master list?

I am not going to tell you about the book of poems but a brief introduction to the Seth brothers. They were great actors. They were extremely friendly to everyone. I do not think that in my time I ever saw either of them frowning in real life. They were, however, superb in their use of expressions on the stage, especially the production of King Lear (1962-63). There was never any show or artificiality about them in their day-to-day communications. I think they were Doscoites, but to this I cannot swear.

The first time I saw Roshan after leaving college was in one of those Z-car type TV serials in England in the mid-sixties. I think he must have been one of the earliest Stephanians to have got a break in that British media. Of course his role in Gandhi is well known, but not being a movie follower I do not know much more about his film career. Maybe someone of you can fill us in!

And now about the JCR - 1961-62. As I mentioned it was about the dullest thing in college. As soon as I got elected we formed an action committee consisting mainly of second year students. (We had a couple of third year students on the Committee and one I remember was 62er Sarwar Lateef - I wonder where he has got to?) We prepared a plan. It was great but it looked expensive as the wants were a stereo gramphanoe set, a better radio, lights and a new table tennis table, carrom boards, chess sets, card tables for bridge. It was my task to convince Principal Sircar and the Staff Member on the Committee Vice Principal Shanklin (if I remember his name correctly as I seem to remember a d at the end of his name).

Surprisingly, at the Sunday morning breakfast when I put the case to Principal Sircar, he understood the issue and organised the funds almost immediately. Even before the end of the first quarter we had a JCR with great equipment and even the Table Tennis competition between the college and others was hosted in the JCR. We had a couple of very good players and I especially remember 62er Kishen Mubai in one dramatic encouter in a packed JCR.

Not satisfied with this level of success, the Committee then decided we would organise competitions for the residents. Chess, draughts, bridge and table tennis were held and were extremely successful. I reached to the final of the bridge competition with Ajay Verma as my partner, only to lose to the twins 63ers Suraj and Chander Rai (great squash players) on the very last hand with some superb bidding on their part - a virtually uncallable slam being bid and made despite some fantastic sacrifice bidding by Ajay and me. We are convinced that it was the telephathic communication by the twins at that stage which got the better of us as Ajay and I had played impeccable bridge the whole evening to see a grand slam, doubled, redoubled being made by Suraj taking an unbelieveable finesse of the 9 of spades.

These competitions, which lasted through the whole of the winter, really made the JCR popular. However, what really got us the support of the entire college was the organisation of the first ever JCR evening where the student talent in the college was used to put up an evening of music and drama. I do not remember the names of all the performers, but Principal Sircar and Dean Rajpal were amazed at the amount of talent we discovered in the college. Principal Sircar made sure that we had tea, samosas and barfis for all. We had a packed hall which cheered the entire performance. We even had some Miranda House girls turn up (although we had not intended it to be an open evening).

I do not know how many of these traditions have continued but already the next year we saw them dying as the Committee was taken over by a few who thought at the start of the year they would do something better than us, but finally did not do anything as they did not establish the correct rapport with the authorities.

The crux of the matter was to have good communication with the staff. That was possible because Principal Sircar was always open to suggestion and agreed in the students interest on most issues. In our dictionary I would describe him as a Montessorian - The Child is the Father of Man - and he showed that it was possible to have a happy environment for us students who were far from our homes. Many may disagree, but I think our second year in residence was one of the most active and pleasant ones that I can remember - and it was not due to me - I was only the figurehead of a group which was active enough to be successful.

And that brings me to the crux of this Kooler Talk (Web Version). If you want it to be successful, then you must take part in it by joining in framing its layout and contents. I have pushed in 4 issues and can keep it going for several more, but your contributions would be welcome. I can then concentrate more on making my main page, Findians Briefings, more provocative!

I am already persona non grata in Finland for my hard-hitting writing on social and economic issues so I need more time for investigative research to keep up that tempo. I do not believe we should rest on past laurels and only content ensures greater readership. This page is the reverse, as it now has the readership support and now needs more content.

Yours sincerely

Oulu, Finland
BSc 1960-1963
JCR President 1961-1962
Mukerjee Block S-8 (1960-1963)
Gyp: Kundan Singh - a great guy who helped us out in every way possible from jumping gates to fixing the late night register!!

Sunday, May 19, 1996

KTWV01-Issue 3: Bloated Head

Hi Web-surfing Stephanians,

Here is Some Late Late News for Stephanians in the New York Area:

Date: Sun, 19 May 1996 16:05:03 -0400 (EDT)
From: Sreenath Sreenivasan (email supplied)
Subject: FYI... Stephanians in New York

You are invited to the launch of STEPHANIANS IN NEW YORK
-A monthly gathering of former students of St. Stephen's College, Delhi
Wednesday, June 12, 1996, 6:30 pm-8:30 pm
Lancer's Restaurant / 230 E. 44th St (btwn 2nd &3rd) in Manhattan
Complimentary appetizers, cash bar
Come have a drink and catch up... Please spread the word...
Questions? Comments? RSVP? Sree 212-854-5979;
As Indian weddings cards would say...
With compliments of:
The '70s
Ramu Damodaran, Amitav Ghosh, Sunil "Mankind" Khanna, Padma Rao, Kanwar Singh, Shashi Tharoor
The '80s &'90s
Alok Kumar Jha, Rajiv Kamilla, Nandini Sikand, Sreenath Sreenivasan)

In this issue I want to show you how large a bloated head I have!

When I joined college in 1960 the JCR was dead as a doornail. A new building with dusty green curtains, a sleepy chowkidar called Sahib Singh, but no action. After the Miss Fresher contest it was not worth visiting. All we had was a very old radio on which it was difficult to even pick up All India Radio, Delhi, and a couple of draught boards. Many of us used crystal radio sets (those were the days - I wonder if I could make one of those now!) in our rooms rather than listen to that lousy one in the JCR!

As a first year student from out of Delhi, it was really boring in the college in the evenings, and especially during the weekends. During the year, some of us in Mukarji East (there was no Mukarji West then) decided that we would take charge of the JCR in the following year. We decided that we would to put up a candidate for the JCR Presidency. (Pardon my memory. The correction of Mukerjee North and South to Mukarji East and West was kindly pointed out - quickly, by Shreyas Bordia whose father and uncle were also Stephanians)

Even before the end of the first year, because I had fairly close links with Principal Sircar and Dean Rajpal, as I used to go to St. James Church at Kashmiri Gate and have breakfast with the Principal every Sunday morning, the lot fell on me to stand for the Presidency. The idea was to use my good contact with the hierarchy to get some things done for the students. It was a tactical plan and proposed, if I am not wrong by shrewd Rathikant Basu, then a second year student of Economics and also a Mukarji Court tenant.

No second year student had ever been President of the JCR before. Many of our group felt it was worth attempting as our strategy was to promote the concept that not having the study pressure of a final year student, a second year student was likely to spend more time making the JCR an interesting place.

When I returned to college for the 1961-62 year, it meant that I had have to forgo ragging freshers as I had to be nice to get their vote. (I only ragged one guy who was escaping ragging by claiming to know me personally - whereas I had never met him before in my life.)

I was fortunate to have a solid supporter in my cousin, a fresher, 64er Mammen Mathew, now the Chief Editor of the Malayala Manorama. He, and a group of his friends became my core vote catchers amongst the freshers.

I also had a cousin, 62er Peter Philip, known as Tubby, in the third year. Tubby did his Economics from college, proceeded to Cambridge to get his Masters and then got his Doctorate in Economics from Stanford. He is presently the Managing Director of India Coffee and Tea Distributing Company in Bombay (known to Mumbaites as Philips Coffee and Tea) and he also heads the plastics metallisation plant in Aurangabad, amongst his many industrial activities. So I had a good activator amongst the third year students.

Unlike Dosco-ites and other northern public school students, there were not many from my old school in Stephens, but IAS Tony Jaitly was very much there amongst the MA crowd to canvas votes for me. 63er Sujeet Bhattacharaya, son of then Governor of Reserve bank of India, and my classmate from Cathedral School, Bombay, was also there to support me.

Being of rather happy-go-lucky constitution I was fairly solid among the second year residents.

If I remember correctly, my opponents were Harsh Tankha, a Physics Honours student of the final year and Gulshan Dua, a first year MA student. Both of these were extremely confident that no second year student was going to land up as President of the JCR.

I won this contest easily thanks to the untiring efforts, not only of those named above but a solid group of my election workers which spanned the entire cross-section of years and communities in the college. They included 63er Ravi Batra (I am still trying to decipher whether it is the same Ravi Batra of the Great Depression fame - he certainly looks a twin of my friend from Assansol with his bushy eyebrows), Pondicherry-product French speaking 63er Ajay Verma (great basketball player), East African 62er Niranjan Desai (now probably an Ambassador in the Indian Foreign Service somewhere), 63er Arun (Tich) Agarwal (the Managing Director of MAS, Delhi), tennis star 63er Rajagopal Narayanan, 63er Abe Tharakan (now CEO of the largest sea food exporter in India), 62er Rathikant Basu (who I think is now in some senior IAS post in Delhi), Physics Honours student 63er R. Badrinath who received a Padma Shree for the way he handled the refugees at the time of the Bangla Desh war, Keraltes 63er Ajeet Ninan, 63er George Verghese, 62er Ranjeet Jacob and artist 62er Prakash Joseph, 64er Azhar Siddique (probably managing a five star hotel in the Middle East after his days as the head of Oberoi Towers in Bombay), 64er Ramu Katakam, now a great architect, (whose dad was the last man to report to the Prime Minister Indira Gandhi every night as head of Indian intelligence), Suresh Mehra (a very successful garment exporter now operating from Hyderabad, to name just a few. I also had a few very good supporters from the MA final crowd as 62er Lalit Mohan, 62er Kamalesh Sharma and 62er Chinmoy Banerjee, as they had been close with my brother who had finished at college just before I joined.

I learnt then how it was to organise and win an election, and in the next issue I hope to tell you what we accomplished in that year to make the JCR a wonderful and lively place during the remainder of our time in the college. I wonder how many of the traditions we started still survive.

Thanks to all of you who wrote in after Issue 2. May I remind you once again to register in the official Indian Alumni Register, both in the Stephanian and Delhi University sections - details of which can be obtained from our Archives of the Letters to the Editor.

If you feel that these issues are too brief, please let me know, as I have lots of material. I hope some of you will start to send in your stuff as well. I am hoping with these regular yarns from the past I will bridge the generation gap as you may recognise many of the personalities mentioned - some may even be your dads, and if so, I would certainly like to know. Since we were not co-educational then, I am afraid I cannot claim knowledge of any of your moms!

Yours sincerely

Oulu, Finland
BSc 1960-1963
JCR President 1961-1962
Mukerjee Block S-8 (1960-1963)
Gyp: Kundan Singh - a great guy who helped us out in every way possible from jumping gates to fixing the late night register!!

Sunday, May 05, 1996

KTWV01-Issue 2: Hockey in Stephania

Hi Stephanians,

What an exciting two weeks. My mention of Kooler Talk has seemed to hit a raw nerve amongst many of you. The mail has been great and it seems that I have enough of you out there to make an effort to keep this Web Version alive.

First and foremost let me inform you that the World Alumni Register has been prepared and part of it includes the Alumni Register for both Delhi University, as well as our college, in the Indian Alumni Register section. I would suggest that you return the Letters to the Editor Section on our main page "Letters to the Editor" and read the letter from Renu Mehta who is maintaining the India Alumni Register. This may, therefore, remove the need for 91er Krishna Kumar to struggle to maintain a duplicate Alumni Register He could come to an agreement with Renu to use that list for all our needs. Only two Stephanians had registered as of Friday 3rd May, so just rush off and register now.

Before going to the correspondence from several of you from around the world, I want to discuss the book by 61er Arun Shourie. "The World of Fatwas" published by ASA Publications. Arun, if you did not know it already, is a Stephanian of the late Fifties/Early Sixties.

Here are some of the questions raised by Arun as excerpts (copyright Stephanian Arun Shourie)

Why does a bath become necessary when one has a thick cloth tied around the organ? And is such an action jaiz or not according to the Sunnah.

If a woman has a discharge like men upon excitation, is a bath necessary?

If a woman discharges without co-habitation, is a bath necessary?

If a man knowingly inserts a finger in the vagina of a woman, is a bath due upon the woman or not?

If to put some medicine or to examine some problem, or even otherwise a woman inserts a finger in the vagina of a woman, is a bath obligatory?

If a minor boy has intercourse with a woman who is a major, or a major man has intercourse with a girl who is a minor, then on whom is the bath due?

A man's semen is thin; he urinates, bathes after that, and then the remaining semen emits, is the bath due or not?

Obviously Arun is trying to answer these questions in his book - so to find out you will have to get hold of it.

The book was reviewed by Saslin Salim in the December 3rd 1995 issue of The WEEK. He castigated Arun for his lack of knowledge. Reading the review seems to indicate that the homework had not been properly done and I get the feeling that Arun probably wrote the book to gain notoriety to become a second Salman Rushdie! I do not intend to comment but if you hear that Arun is now in hiding - you will know why!!.

The Chief Editor of The WEEK, 64er Mammen Mathew, was a Stephanian from 1961 to 1964. The Managing Editor, Philip Mathew, was also a Stephanian (I am not sure which years. but I remember visiting him in college at the end of 1969 or early 1970). It has come a long way as a reliable English weekly ever since it was first published at the end of 1983. It reaches me here in Finland before it hits the newstands in India!

I think Arun did either English or History at college, but from the review I found that he obtained a degree in Economics from the University of Syracuse. He was doing his MA when I joined college. We had a common interest, Hockey. We were part of the same college team. He was the Captain, and a stickler for training and discipline, although not to the same extent as Vijay Singh, the cricket captain of that year who was a glutton for punishment.

My interest was to play as goal-keeper. I had been my school goal-keeper for the previous two years. There was a fierce competition for this place with my classmate, 63er Norval Prakash, who was from Sherwood College, Nanital. I was reasonably fit and always punctual for practice. My six foot two plus frame also gave me a tremendous advantage of reach compared to shorter Norval. It seemed that I would get the place, being chosen to play for the first few games of the season.

Fate played a cruel trick on me. During a hectic game, a splinter of wood from my hockey stick entered deep into the index finger of my right-hand. I managed to get out most of it but did not realise that a small piece had been left inside. The finger became septic. The doctor at the WUHS, in the hospital sometwhere on top of the ridge (wonder if it is still there?), decided to leave the splinter in till it was infection had fully matured, meaning that for four critical weeks I was in sheer agony. The finger grew in size to that of a ripe tomato (non-hybrid Indian variety). When he lanced it I had lost all nerve sensations in that finger and also my place in the hockey team.

Norval was a great goalkeeper. I am sure that in the long run he would have won the place anyway, as in those days, our opponents, especially the Hindu Collegites, had one objective when they saw a Stephanian goalkeeper playing with glasses. They would enter the D and cut the ball straight at the face. I survived my few games by sheer luck. I do not think I would have had that luck through three years as it was not yet the day of contact lenses.

We had some great hockey players in our batch. Ashok Daga was a natural sportsman. Besides hockey, he was also a superb basketball player. Datta Singh, also from our batch, was a tireless centre-half. And, of course, I return to Arun, who was a good captain and a solid full back who got me out of a lot of trouble.

And now to some of the correspondence of the last weeks. I had a letter from one 92er Amitabh Dubey in which he said:

"I was in Stephens 1989-92 (BA Economics) and in my third year Vijay Tankha and I restarted KT. The first issue came out in 1991 if I remember right and while I was editor we brought out two issues which were very successful. Siddhartha Sivaramakrishnan was the next editor and he too brought out two issues (I think). (Tankha, a philosphy professor, was the editorial advisor)."

(Ed: We have reached Issue 2 and I have Issue 3, 4 and 5 ready and raring to go.)

When I replied to Amitabh I mentioned there had been a 63er Suman Dubey in my year who was doing English or Economics. I asked whether Amitabh was any relation. The reply from Amitabh was a

"Wow! He is my dad and he was doing mathematics"

I did then recall Suman was doing just that! I commented to Amitabh that it was small small world. (If you happen to read the next issue of "Seventh Heaven" due on 19th May, you will realise that this true not only for us Stephanians, but for Mumbai Cathedralites, as well.)

Alexander from Canada conceeded that I was the oldest on the web till he got his page up. I replied that I would willingly give up my place to him.

Rahul Siddharthan from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, did point out that being so fresh out of college, it was difficult to be nostalgic like us older ones. I fully agreed with him as the nostalgia only sets in once you leave the shores of India and lose complete contact with the alma mater for a decade or so.

Well that is all the reminiscences for this week. More interesting episodes in a fortnight. Till then keep well and God bless.

Yours sincerely

Sunday, April 21, 1996

KTWV01-Issue 1: What is Kooler Talk?

Hello Web Surfing Stephanians,

First question First

What is Kooler Talk?

Kooler Talk was a college rag which was started in the early sixties by such illustrious names as 62er Sarwar Lateef (of Economist fame and he was then a correspondent with one of the major Indian newspapers), 62er Prakash Joseph (a superb cartoonist and the last I heard was busy marketing Indian textiles somewhere in the US), 63er Montek Singh Alhuwalia (Rhodes scholar and now Indian Finance Secretary spearheading the liberalisation programme) amongst others.

It was named after what took place every night at the Blacksmith, where us "studious hard-working" souls, usually having a rest from our intensive bridge rubbers, would assemble to discuss everything under the sun but studies.

Kooler Talk was a great hit. After I left college in 1963 I do not know whether it continued, and if so, for how long.

I, along with two colleagues, did a couple of pieces for Kooler Talk including one exposure of the misappropriation of some Aid material.

Our trio was called the Heap Gang - Big Heap, Middle Heap and Little Heap. Little Heap was none other than 62er Niranjan Desai, an East African student who later took up Indian nationality and is probably a First Secreatry or Ambassador somewhere by now. Middle Heap was 63er Ajay Verma who joined the Indian Army, survived a war with Pakistan by the luck of a cigarette, worked with Bata Shoe Company and then emigrated to Denmark without a penny in his pocket, married a nice Danish girl, had a couple of lovely children, and last I heard had an Indian Boutique somewhere in Malmo in Sweden. Of course, Big Heap, was me, Jacob Matthanand over the course of the next few issues I hope you will get some idea of life in college, as I saw it, during the early sixties when I was there.

What I would like to offer here is a page for other Stephanians to share the experiences of their years, so that others can enjoy and see how the college grew or shrank, as many do not know much of what has happened once they left their alma mater.

I must especially thank 91er Krishna Kumar (Alumini list) for maintaining the Alumini list, which I discovered while web surfing, and if you have not registered, I suggest that you go to his site and register immediately.

Do let me know how you would like this page to develop and I shall try my best, as I am not a net wizard youngster, compared with most of you and do not have the youthful experience to do anything very complicated on the computer. I am a Mac addict and as a result prepare my web pages without knowing anything very much about scripting. We have great Mac tools with which we just type up a file in a text processor and just drop that file onto a program, and hey presto - the web page is ready. As the text processor does not have a built in spell checker, you may rather frequently come across spelling mistakes - for which I ask to be excused!

Some of the items that I wll cover from the period 1960 to 1963, is the JCR Presidency, the first JCR Evening, the introduction of various competitions in the JCR, the Miss Fresher contests, ragging, stories about the Principal, Dean, some staff members, some students - especially those who are well known characters today, etc. Lot of hard gossip in the usual Stephanian style as I can muster after a period of 33 years in the outside world! And hopefully, plenty of PJs.


Oulu, Finland