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.
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?.
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