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!!