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?
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