Monday, December 01, 1997

KTWV02-Issue 10: Email from Principal Wilson



Christmas is upon us here in the North Pole (figuratively speaking) and the snow cover, though there in plenty to lighten the dark days, is not too much so that we have to dig our way out. Not that late sleepers, like me, have to dig our way out as the snow ploughs shift the snow in the city during the early hours.

The last month has been one of consolidation and thanks to the mail from our tireless New Yorker, Sreenath (you can read an interview with S-cubed on Indialine) , who sent us that humourous note about Dr. Anil Wilson's thoughts about our much loved Stephanian corridors (please email me if you did not receive it and I will send you a copy), I established contact with our lively Head of State.

Here is his last message, which includes invitations all round - so I hope that those of you in the vicinity will take the opportunity to join up in the festivities.
From: Dr. Anil Wilson,
St. Stephen's College,

Dear Jacob,

Delighted to hear from you and to know about you in some detail.

I have visited the web site and enjoyed what I read there though I could not access the one with your photograph ( Ed: I wonder why - as it comes up without any problem - anyone else had this problem - or is the devil in that picture playing tricks with your computer?).

Regarding the College version of Kooler Talk, it may interest you to know that after I took over as Principal (January 1991) I discovered that quite a few traditions had flittered away which I felt should be restored. In this process I came across old copies of Kooler Talk (Ed: I wonder whether he found the one with the scandulous article by the 3 HEAPS - Big Heap (me), Middle Heap and Little Heap?) but could not find out why it should have been stopped. Hence, I decide to put it back on the rails and asked Dr.Vijay Tankha, (who, as you know is teaching Philosophy here and is also an Old Boy) to become the Staff Adviser. Last year Vijay went off on study leave and now the Staff Adviser is Dr. Christel Devadawson (read English at College then did her Ph.D. from Cambridge and is now on the faculty).

It would interest you to know that the JCR activities, that you initiated, are going strong. Instead of a JCR Evening (Ed: My lasting contribution to Stephenia - I now know I have done at least one valuable thing in my life!!), now we have a JCR Week!! (Ed: If I find my bridge partner Ajay Verma, we will take on anyone but the Rai twins (Suraj and Chander) at a bridge challenge competition!!)

These days College is preparing for the Founder's Day. Normally this is on Dec. 7, but 7th being a Sunday, we are commemorating it on Dec 6, 10.30 am IST.

(Ed: Dec. 6th is the 80th Finnish Independence Day - so we will be watching on TV all the dignatories, including our own Ambassador, Mrs. Kumar, enjoying their fun and frolic in the Presidential Palace in Helsinki.)

Ved Prakash Marwah (distinguished Stephanian) (Ed: Will someone fill me in on Ved and the exploits that have made him distinguished) will deliver the Founder's Day address.

In recent years I have made it a point to invite only Stephanians as Chief Guests for this occasion. B. G. Verghese (Ed: Who married a lady Stephenain of the 50's era, glamourous Jameela, for those who think that women in college is a new fangled sport) was our guest a couple of years ago. Letters of invitation are sent to those Old Students in Delhi whose addresses we have on our files.

(I wonder if there are a good number on the Web Stephanian Directory and if so could that be used to send them this invitation?)

The Old Students Reunion and Lunch is on Sunday December 14. Normally 350 to 400 Old Students turn up. (This too could be notified through the 'net')

In order to make this occasion more meaningful I have added a few things to it, apart from the usual basketball and tennis matches: we put up an exhibition of old photographs and memorabilia which is very popular, we remember the 'dear departed' during the previous year, and invite three of the oldest Stephanians present to speak about their days in College. I have also taken to inviting ten to fifteen Junior Members (the President of the Students Union Society, of the JCR, Secretary of the Social Service League, Shake Soc etc. etc.) to be the 'hosts' and receive the Old Students as they come in and, in general, to interact with them.

Well, there is so much more to write, but let that be for the next time.

(Yes, Kundan Singh (Ed: my absolutely wonderful gyp - who made me drink a glass of milk morning and night - following my mother's orders) is going strong).

Best Wishes,


Amongst the other letters I had was one from Singapore.

Subject: From a fellow Stephanian
Sent: 26/11/97 01:27
From: Akash Mohapatra, email address provided

Hi Jacob,

It has been a real pleasure to go through the Kooler Talk (Ed: Web Version, I assume). I have been following it since the past year or so.

I am Akash Mohapatra, Economics - 1989.

Presently based in Singapore. It made me so nostalgic.(Ed: It seems our dinosaur from Canada is not the only one is driven into nostalgia by this electronic noise!!)

I had called college last week and Raghunathji is now the Section Officer - Where there was Mr Rampall earlier. I was told that a Girl's Hostel has been opened in college, near the New LCR.

I must say St. Stephens is putting in it's bit for gender equality. I was very happy to hear this. I wonder when the college will have a Lady Principal(Ed: Watch out Anil - Now you have a real unequal threat!!) and a Lady President.

We had a Stephanian get together here in Singapore about 3 months ago and are planning another get together this Sunday, November 30th and I am taking copies of the Kooler Talk and Vepa's History of St Stephen's to share with everyone.

(Ed: If you can rattle up some ad revenue for this rag out there in Singapore from our well-to-do Stephanians - and also from the New York and Washington groups - maybe we can make this webletter into a bundle of joy with some glitzy pictures and video images, some real audio featuring music from Stephanian Jazz and Pop groups, etc., etc.!!)

We are about 25 Stephanians here in Singapore and I shall send you the list.



My Address and contact.
Tele:.. 65 - 3567792 (Res) 65 - 2901306 (Off)
Email: (Work) (Home)
Blk 194, Kim Keat Avenue, # 10-420, Singapore 310194

Joanna (pronounced Yoanna), my younger daughter (a Masters in English Philology from our local university) dumped an enormous book "A Suitable Boy" on my table before she left for a long holiday to India to show off my first grandson (8 months) to his greatgrandmother in Bangalore. She sort of mumbled that it was by a fellow alma materite - Vikram Seth.

Looking at the sheer size of the book - 1474 pages - I told her that I doubted very much if any Stephanian would have the concentration to sit down and write such an elephantine monster.

In my younger days I was a master of speed reading - 1500 words per minute - but with age (bad vision and lack of concentration in matters not of utmost importance and interest - as the latest cricket scores and match reports) it has dropped back to the normal sedate 300 words per minute - so it is going to take me a good, long time before I finish this book - sort of 10 pages a day schedule.

Will someone confirm or deny the antecedents of Vikram - as if he is one of us I will have to indicate that in my Authors and Personalities page where a couple of other Stephanian names (e.g., Arun Shourie, Shashi Tharoor) have found their way into the hall of fame alongside Rabindranath Tagore, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, etc....

Now a request from someone who wants to be Stephanian -

Subject: College info
Sent 20/11/97 17:29

Respected (Ed: I am flattered) Mr. Matthan,

You are probably wondering who the hell I am?

Well, my name is Rashmi and I am studying abroad; to be specific in the American school in Athens. My parents however cannot afford to send me to the States for a College education, so I decided I wanted to go to the St. Stephens College in Delhi.

My parents told me it was a very good college in Delhi. But in order to go I really wanted some advice as to what percentage you need to get accepted and what the interview is about. I mean what type of questions they ask you!

So after a lot of surfing (Ed: Must have been wind-surfing - any Stephanian or would-be Stephanian would know that by typing Kooler into any search engne you will land up at this page. :-)) on the net I found this site.

Please guide me - I 'll really appreciate it !


Yours Sincerely,


Sadly Rashmi did not give me her email address so there was no point of forwarding her request to the people who could help her. If anyone knows who she is or if she happens to surf by again, please send the correct email address to me and I will ensure that your request is sent to some present day Stephanian who can advise you - sitting on top of the world here in Finland, I am ill-equipped to give any info on the subject.

Maybe Anil will take note and help me put up a web site which has all relevant data about our honoured institution - something we cannot put off for much longer in this day and age. My old school, Cathedral in Bombay, has decided to put up its site - a flashy one with the Princi's picture, splash screen, etc. after the success of my other webletter - Seventh Heaven.

And finally a note from one mini-Stephanian searching for another.

Subject: Do you know Christopher Cecil?
(Ed: Thought it was Christopher Robin :-) )
Sent: 25/11/97 10:57

Looking for an eco honours student who started at St Stephens in 1960. Any info will be appreciated

Dharam Pal Luthra

P.S. I joined St Stephens with him in 1960, became his buddy but then left India

Ed: I did know a Chris - but I cannot swear he was surnamed Cecil, and I certainly do not know whether he was an Eco Honours student - but I am sure one of our many 1960 - 63 crowd (e.g., Sujit Bhattacharaya, Montek Singh Alhuwallia, Rajagopal Narayanan, etc.) should be able to help Dharam.

Surfers have helped fill this issue and my news bank has remained intact for another issue or two. Do please write and tell me what is happening in your area (we have Stephanians in over 70 countries who have been surfing in to this site) so that Stephanians in that region can meet up and take part in events, such as in the Big Apple and Singapore.

Wish you all a Merry Christmas and hope you will join me again to read a bumper New Year Edition on the 1st of January 1998.

Till then, Your shivering frozen editor

(You should read the great tip about how to get yourself a home-made hot water bottle which I use every cold winter night!!)

Jacob from the Arctic