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