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,
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