Saturday, November 07, 1998

KTWV03 - Issue 5: Thanks to all...

Dear Stephanian,

What kicked my butt into putting up this issue of Kooler Talk (Web Version)?

I have masses of material, but some personal aspects of life have kept my usual active self from being virile on the computer keyboard.

It was two posts that I received in today's mass of email - I get around 300 to 500 every day - Sunday to Saturday. It included the very first negative post about Kooler Talk (Web Version). The other showed up a very dire dry situation in Bombay.

My duty is to bring to light a message which shook me to the very core. It was from one who signed himself as Shujoy Dutta although the email address is of one Gaurav Srivastava!!

Subject: sorry for being so anti your page
Sent: 7/11/98 23:15
From: Gaurav Srivastava,

dear jacob

let me first say how shocked i am that kooler talk has become a chat page for stephanians. inspite of the fact that it was hardly the forum for chatting in college. but then what better way to attract stephanians.

well anyway, college has changed !

little surprise considering the fact that everything around it is changing too. so has kooler talk. in the 4 years that I spent editing and writing for it, it was just a trip-taking ragmag. substituting for spice, the black widow and pretending to be intellectual and snobby. not to mention literate. about 20 people understood the jokes.

am i cynical ?

not really.

college is too. captured by the mtv generation and administered by a group of british raj types. totally mixed up. you wouldn't recognise the place. but it still is a beautiful place.

i miss the cockiness of stephen's in this kooler talk page. i miss kooler talk. and i get very upset by goody-goody stephanians thinking of college as some sort of idealistic Camelot.

sorry for being so anti your page it's just post-college angst.

shujoy dutta.

This not being Kooler Talk, but Kooler Talk (Web Version), which settles the raging debate as to whether I should name this as Kooler Talk (Online) - which it is not, I did promptly reply:

Hi Shujoy,

That is because you were not around when Kooler Talk was launched in 1961-62. It was not an anti-establishment operation then. It was a rag which was meant to be enjoyed by those in college - and it certainly was.

I did write one of the earliest articles of the nature you describe but it was rather an exception. Sarwar, Swami, Montek and Prakash were certainly not anti-establishment, neither were Peter, Zaffar and others who were behind the launch. At that time, I was JCR President and we all enjoyed the issues when they came out.

There was no confrontation except the threat to rusticate the three HEAPS - Niranjan Desai, Ajay Verma and myself!! However, even Princi Sarkar saw sense when it came to investigative journalism.

Thanks for your input, the first negative one in the history of my Web Version - and, of course, there must always be a first. I am however gratified that the readership which spans a good 40+ years of Stephanians, has found this Web Version as one which transcends the generation gap - which was what I was trying to do.

It is possible to castigate a few people but that will not draw the readership - and that was what I set out to do from this remote Arctic corner of the globe, and your letter proves I have reached many (Ed: although the one from Alok, given below, will certainly raise some doubts!!)

Thanks a lot for your input.


Oulu, Finland

Which brings me to the subject of Little Heap - Niranjan Desai. I received this letter:

Subject: Niranjan Desai
Sent: 4/11/98 23:40
From: John Hobbins,

Hi Jacob:

I notice in your Kooler Talk you mention Niranjan Desai. I am trying to get in touch with a diplomat of that name who in 1966 was working in the Human Rights Division of UN Secretariat. It seems this could be your friend.

Do you have an address for him?

Thank you,

John Hobbins
Associate Director of Libraries,
McGill University, Montreal, Canada.

When I expressed doubt whether Little Heap and the Niranjan Desai of the 1966 era were one and the same, I received further input from John.

Subject: Re: Niranjan Desai 2
Sent: 5/11/98 08:30
From: John Hobbins, john@LIB1.Lan.McGill.CA

Thanks Jacob.

I have found a website that tells me of an Indian diplomat who was recently ambassador to Venezuela and had been Director General of the ICCR and Administrator of the Festival of India. I suspect he is in fact your friend and hopefully also the person I'm looking for.

It seems to be a common name, alas. I have found 8 in the USA alone.


Will someone out there tell Niranjan - the original Little Heap of the original Kooler Talk forum, that there is a search party out here looking for him!!

Now comes the second letter that shook me.

But the ones following this from Arpit (in Bombay?) and Akash (in Singapore) should, hopefully, get things sparkling for Alok.

Subject: Re: Kooler Talk (Web Version) latest issue is on line NOW
Sent: 7/11/98 22:06
From: Mr. Aloke Chandra,


Caufth your recommendation for a bottle of Smirnoff for Gopkiran Rao's little gem a bit late - nevertheless, will honour all committments - if only people would TALK to me ! (OK, will settle for message from cyberspace).

Seriously, not one Stephanian in BBY has yet called - my tel no (off) is 495-2558, and, guys - we're in the process of merging with United Distillers (the Johnny Walker guys) so VALHALLA !


Gopi - hope you collect your due!!

Can what Alok writes possibly be true - or does Alok have to add a dose of Viagra with his offer to get Bombay Stephanians to raise their dopey heads and call him?

Maybe Alok should contact Arpit:

Subject: Re[2]: Kooler Talk (Web Version) latest issue is on line NOW
Date: Thu, 27 Aug 1998 12:42:09 +0900
From: (Arpit Agarwal)


I will send you a little note on the Stephanian Western India
Society in a day or two.

I will also mention the name of some of the extremely well known
Stephanians like the Director of Bandit Queen Movie,
"Shekhar Kapoor", MD of Bajaj Auto Mr. Rahul Bajaj.



Arpit, I am awaiting that note eagerly. In the meantime, Shekhar has hit the world headlines this last week with his new film ("Elizabeth", I think is the name) which is grossing many a ton in the box-offices around the world!! Well done Shekhar, and hope you give us an exclusive for Kooler Talk (Web Version). What ho, Arpit can you manage that for us? I am sure Alok will compensate you liberally for that act of kindness.

There is an important message I want to get across, possibly from all Stephanian readers of Kooler Talk (Web Version) - hopefully before the Singapore Stephanians get together for their reunion today. It is congrats and all best wishes for a long and happy wedded life to Akash and his newly wed, Manali. (Annikki and I will be celebrating our 32 wedding anniversary in a couple of months time!!)

Here is the message received from Akash from the equatorial region.

Subject: Hi Jacob
Sent: 4/11/98 18:47
From: Akash & Manali,

Hi Jacob

As usual, it was a pleasure to go through the Kooler Talk. And I liked the pictures.

An update on the Stephanians in Singapore - we are meeting up this Saturday, Nov 7th. at 7 PM, in a restaurant called Bukhara (Welcome Group).

There are about 30 families here and I shall send you the updated address list and a few photographs after the get-together.

Incidentally, there is a Stephanian who has recently joined Welcome Group as the head of strategy - Nishi Mukherji. He was a faculty at the Asian Institute of Management in Manila and moved back to India last year.

Please note my new Email address:

I got married to the 'best girl in town' - Manali - and decided to change my email address along with my life - I am enjoying my new life - so the bachelors out there, I highly recommend marriage.

Here is for the information for Alok who wanted names of Stephanians in Bombay.

Alok, here are a few names.

Pravin Chatterjee (7572699 - a very enthusiastic Stephanian who has an excellent PR),
Sanjay Sane (TIFR),
Tara George (6121223),
Ricki Husseni,
Vivek Chachi,
Murli Dhar Madhur (Railway Accounts),
Rashmi Shukla Dave (Railways - last heard was ACM goods at 3085555 Ext 212),
Shantanu Nagpal (Tata Administrative Service),
a big gang in Arthur Andersen, and
another big group in TIFR.

My information may be a little dated as I used to be in Bombay a few years ago. We used to have get togethers quite regularly.

Look forward to read the next issue of KT.



And now for some real sentimentality and pure nostalgia. I received this message from one Deepak Mukarji:

Subject: Hello
Sent: 28/9/98 16:07
From: Mukarji Deepak,

Hi Jacob,

It was delightful to have read Kooler Talk on the Web. It brought back a lot of very fond memories of a time past.

The family has had a very close association with the college since the early 1900s. And I am constantly amazed that no matter where I may be, there is someone who knew my father, my cousins, my brother. From the streets of Tokyo to the bars of Cairo and on to the waterfront of Seattle, I have met Stephanian's of every generation. And some have been brought to me by acquaintances.

Most recently, an 80 year old man rang up through a family friend to ask if I could give him a photograph of my grandfather's since he had dreamt of him every night for three months.

I had but one, but willingly parted with it. I was touched that at an age when most people forget all but the most dear, this venerable gentleman remembered little other than his time at St.Stephen's.

I would love to correspond with other Stephanians since in my industry I don't get the opportunity to meet with too many. It was fun for a while in the early nineties when I worked for an organisation where a college friend sat in the cabin next to mine and we had as a wonderfully supportive colleague another Stephanian ahead of us at college by some 10 years. Do keep in touch.

Deepak Mukarji
General Manager
Communications & Operations

I promptly replied asking whether Deepak was the grandson of Principal Mukarji? To which, I received this reply.

Subject: RE: Hello 2
Sent: 30/9/98 07:15
From: Mukarji Deepak,


Your assumption is quite correct.

My father was Ramesh -- the youngest son of Rai Bahadur S N Mukarji.

As of now only two of the five sons are living -- Sadanand Mukarji and Nirmal Mukarji.

But ... when my father was alive in the early 90s, one warm November morning, Principal John Hala invited him for lunch out of the blue. We thought it rather strange, particularly as my father was recovering from a heart attack. But having spent his childhood growing up at St.Stephen's, my father was excited to be going back and agreed readily despite words of caution from me. Also, he was very fond of Principal Hala.

I drove Papa to the college and as usual went to Alnutt Gate despite his protests. Sure enough the malis and the guards sent us round to the front gate which was wide open with a guard placed to welcome us. Papa couldn't resist his wicked smile saying, "remember, I too am a Stephanian and know which gate to use when".

Principal Hala ushered us in to his office where, for the nth time, I was told by Papa that the chairs in the room were brought by my grandfather from Cambridge. A pleasant cup of coffee in the staff room with many of my teachers whom I was delighted to meet again, and then Principal Hala and Amin Sa'ab coughed gently and requested that Papa please walk through the new library.

Old portrait shots had turned up in the archives and now graced the galleries but no one could identify them. Happily my father straightened up, and for someone who was barely 10 days out of hospital, brought a bounce into his step as he walked the halls of college. An exercise that should have taken 5 mins. ended up taking one hour since my father had to tell me and the others around all about T E Lawrence (of Arabia's) brother and Charlie Andrews (not my nick-name but my father's, since that is how he was taught to address the Rev. Charles Freer Andrews) amongst the many others. He kept his audience regaled with practical jokes played on various members of the staff and his father.

All in all a very warm memory for me today. Just the thought is making me tight in the throat. Lovely to have heard from you and do keep in touch.


To this I did express some of the present difficulties in putting up Kooler Talk on time as I was facing a problem on the family front. Our youngest son of 24 is recovering in hospital from a third major surgery during the last three months to his vertebra and he will be unable to walk for a very long time. To which I received this touching reply.

Subject: RE: Hello
Sent: 30/9/98 08:05
From: Mukarji Deepak,


My heart goes out you and your family. Even though I am not a Roman Catholic, I will visit the Infant Jesus church in Bangalore this afternoon and light a candle for your son. And I promise when I return next week to get Mass said for his complete and speedy recovery. May God bless you and the family in this trying time.

Its amazing but it suddenly got cold for me when I read your note. I look forward to much happier notes about very much happier circumstances in the near future.

With very warm regards to your family.

I am still a happy bachelor and the family for me is Mama and a younger brother. I had a fight with him last week and therefore do not want to discuss him at this moment.

Maybe next week.

Thus a small and close family.

Oh yes! Lucent. It is a break away from AT&T in 1996 and comprises the research, manufacturing and marketing of telecom products that were part of the AT&T stables. I am part of Bell Labs in general management since I really should have graduated in theater having spent more time in SkakeSoc than Eco lectures or Tuts. However, God has been good to me, that in a limited sense, the world has expressed value for my specialised talents of writing, communications and people interface.


Deepak - brother's are meant for fighting with. The best part is making up later. The same goes in marriage - (Akash and Manali, please note)!!

Mika, our son is recovering steadily, thanks to prayers being said, like the one by Deepak, for him all around the globe by the many readers of our, now sadly irregular, webletter, Findians Briefings. But it is still a long haul before Mika will walk again. From this, you will probably guess as to one of the reasons for the delay in putting up this issue of Kooler Talk, and probably a few more of the issues to come.

What was enlightening during the intervening period was the message I received about the "unofficial": web site for our college which has been put up by Kevin D'Souza.

Here was his message.

Subject:St. Stephen's College Unofficial Web Site
From: Kevin D'Souza

Dear Alumni,

It's time to update all your Links & Bookmarks. The unofficial website of St. Stephen's College is now on the World Wide Web. It is available at :

St. Stephen's College Unofficial Web Site .

This makes Stephen's one of the few colleges affiliated to Delhi University to have its own website. You have been registered automatically into the alumni directory. If you want to make changes to you existing entry please use the online registration form available in the Alumni page. I would be very grateful if you could visit the site and provide your valuable feedback.

Please do not hesitate if you can contribute in any possible way.



P.S. Kevin D'Souza ( Web master ) is a first year student studying B.Sc. Computer Science. Email Technical enquires to him at

There is a page of links to Stephanian related sites and sure enough, Sreeni from Columbia University and myself, had our links put up almost immediately. May I suggest that all of you put your links on that page.

In that context, Dr. Anthony P. Stone sent me this message:

Subject: Include Web Address Link
From: Dr. Anthony P. Stone

Dear Jacob,

If it's not there already, I should appreciate having my web page listed:

Dr. Anthony P Stone's Home Page

The India section gives some of my experiences. Otherwise a lot of it is mathematics.



and here was a message about the change of link address from Royans K Tharakan.

Subject: St. Stephens: my home page has changed
Sent: 7/11/98 16:02
From: Royans K Tharakan,

My Home page address has changed. The bookmark is

Royans K Tharakan

Would be kind of you to reflect the change against my name on your pages.


Sprint RPG India Ltd
+91 11 6961722/6863172

With pleasure Roy.

And now to more nostalgia - if you can stomach it!!

I had written a letter to a few ancient Stephanians like me on the lines of:

"Being one of the oldest Stephanians registered at the Stephanian Alumni Registry, I would be grateful if you would kindly send me a few words about yourself to be included in one of the coming issues of Kooler Talk (Web Version)."

Subject: Re: Hi,
Sent: 14/10/98 01:07
From: Enver Masud,

Judging by the dates, we must have been in Stephens together.

I have two resume's on the web. The shorter one at

E Masud

will lead you to the second. If I can add anything please let me know.

By the way, what do you do in Finland? I was supposed to be traveling to Latvia this weekend, but the trip has been delayed.

I have copied Sanjoy Acharya in Canada - a classmate at Stephens.

Enver Masud

And this was the continuation message including my reply to Enver:

Subject: Re: Hi 2
Sent: 14/10/98 14:59

Jacob wrote:

* Hi Enver,

* Till now, I was claiming to be the oldest Stephanian to maintain a web
* page - but now, and publicly, I will gladly hand over the title to you. I
* did not count Dr. Stone in that calculation as he was not a Stephanian by
* education, but that he later taught Mathematics there.


How time flies.

Jacob wrote:

* You passed out in 1959, one year before I joined - but you would have
* been there the same time as my elder brother, Dr. Ranjit Matthan
* (now in Madras), who used to live in Q-block and he was a part of the BSc
* General crowd consisting of Anil Kumar (Annie) now in New
* York, T. J. Joseph (Josey) now in Bangalore and Kazim Raza
* who used to work as a steward inAir India till he died. You may also
* recall Ranjit Jacob who was part of that crowd, who fell off the
* train at Jamuna Bridge and returned to college a year later.


You're right. I had the dates wrong. '60 to '63 is when I went to the University of Oklahoma. My memory must not be so good. Sanjoy's seems to be a lot better. I remember a Promod Chakravarty, and perhaps Kazim Raza. He must have been quite young when he passed away.

Jacob wrote:

* Of course, Kamalesh Sharma, now the Indian Ambassador at the
* UN and Arun Guha (who has just recently been in touch) will be
* those who are in touch with me which overlaps with you. You may also
* recall Chinmoy Banerjee who is presently in Canada. Samuel
* Alexander was also probably your time, but in the last few weeks I am
* having a problem with his email contact address.

* Dr. Peter Phlip joined the year you graduated - he lives in Bombay.


Now I'm sure my memory is failing. That's what my sister frequently says. I don't remember any of these folks. And I reply that one remembers what one gives priority to, or that which is reinforced by some other incident., etc.

Jacob wrote:

* PS: I live in North Finland about 700 km from Helsinki and very few
* Stephanians reach here - except possibly Prof. Ajeet Mathur, who
* lives in Tampere, Finland - grand reunion of the two Stephanians in
* Finland whenever we get the chance!!


That is way up where it must be really cold. I assume you've learned to ski. My colleagues in Riga come from Norway. I've made several trips there. If it weren't so cold I might have considered relocating. It is beautiful, and the people somewhat more civilized than here in the U.S.

Best wishes,


But I had a more informative message from Sanjoy, even though in his first message (not included here) he did take me for being a cross between my brother, Dr. Ranjit Matthan and Ranjit Jacob, both being his year mates!!

Subject: Re: Hi 3
Sent: 14/10/98 04:30
From: Sanjoy Ahcarya,

Hello Jacob,

Yes, Enver and myself were indeed classmates together during Raja Ram's tenure at St.Stephen's.

We both scraped through "Compulsory Hindi".

We both enjoyed our 3 years at SS and the University of Delhi, under professors such as Dr. Kichhlu (Physics), Harnam Singh, Dr. Bannerjee (Physical Chemistry), etc. Mr. Sarkar and Mr. Nagpal taught us Mathematics at the SS home base.

We were both day boarders, but stayed for lunch at the college refectory.

Personally, I loved Wednesdays when we had Kaddhi and puri, so I used to sit at the "veg" table that day, even though I was a "non-veg" person normally.

Anyway, we both passed our B.Sc. degrees and I went to London, England to complete my Electrical Engineering degree. I worked at various companies in the UK, got married to Ann and had 3 children, Lalita, Ranjan and Manjula.

Then in 1998 we emigrated to Canada.

I currently work for Atomic Energy of Canada as an Instrumentation Engineer.

Regards to all Stephenians.

From the Acharya family.

Is it really possible that someone liked any college food served in the Mess? The days I was on the Mess Committee when I was JCR President, the complaints I had every week were mile long - the only acceptable stuff on the table being the green mirchis and the onions - now, I understand, in scarce supply in Delhi. Must be a riot in the Stephanian mess!!

Believe it or not, I must stop now, even though I am loaded wth great post from Stephanians from all corners of the globe (such as Arun, Amit, David, Reji, Deepu, Mariam, etc.....). I do read all my mail - that I prpmise. I will get around to putting up all your comments in some of the coming issues - that I promise, although I cannot quite promise it will be on time as previously.

Don't stop writing as I have the desperate urge to prove to Shujoy that Kooler Talk (Web Version) is something that Stephanians around the world appreciate and enjoy, not because it is just for chatting, but because we all have something to say and contribute to each other's lives - as Deepak's prayers in Bangalore have helped me and my wife, and our son, tremendously.

A short while ago, when the existence of all my web efforts was under threat, over 200 of you around the world sent me cheques to continue this page. Luckily, the issue was resolved and I was able to return all of the cheques, UNUSED!!

That spontaneous response showed me how supportive our community is online, and how much this effort of mine is valued. So, despite Shujoy's comment, I intend to continue it in the same framework, albeit, irregularly. Hope Shujoy will contribute some of those non-understandable jokes for us to digest.

Your Kooler Talk (Web Version) Honorary Editor


Saturday, August 22, 1998

KTWV03 - Issue 4: St. Stephen's is TOPS

Dear Stephanian - wherever you are,

There has been a gap of three months since my last issue. The reasons are plentifold - but I have not vanished from the face of the earth - my heart is still pumping away.

My fellow Stephanian in Finland, Prof. Ajeet Mathur (1975 Economics) graced our home again last week on a flying visit, our second reunion of this year - he arrived by the 7.32 from Tampere and away on the 22.12, back to the industrial city of South Finland.

I wonder how many of you heard our own Kamalesh Sharma, Indian Ambassador to the UN, give his piece about the UN attitude to India after the tests. I think that his views were probably the most focussed that I have heard expressed by any diplomat. The Stephanian in him was pouring out through every decibel that he uttered. I wrote to him about his profound rebuttal to his interviewer and this was his email reply.

From : Kamalesh Sharma, PR, New York

To : Mr Sushil Jacob Matthan, Finland

I am sorry I have taken a while in responding to your message of 6th June, which I was delighted to receive.

I was interested to learn that you had heard the BBC broadcast in which I was interviewed. I thought nobody paid attention to these things and that this was something done by radio journalists to earn a living !

I am delighted to know that Kooler Talk is still kicking and has kept up with the IT revolution.

Great to hear from you.

Kamalesh Sharma

I had lots of other email during this period and here is the pick of them. This message from Luke was most inspiring.

From: Luke George Haokip
Subject: Kooler Talk
Date: Thu, 25 Jun 1998 04:48:37 PDT

Dear Mr Matthan,

I passed out from college in 1995. Since then I have been working with Outlook, India's "Most Exciting" Weekly News magazine. I know your loyalties lie elsewhere (The Week - the Matthews). But his (Stephanian Philip Mathew's) sons are good friends (Amit and Riyadh..hey, no offence but Outlook's definitely better)

Stephanians are almost everywhere as we keep reading in "Kooler Talk Online" (please remember it is I who first called it Kooler Talk Online - KTO).

( Ed: Maybe it is worth taking a vote whether we should adopt this name or whether we keep using the name "Kooler Talk - Web Version." I like both. I leave it up to you to put me right and maybe to give Luke his day and place in our Online History .)

Outlook is published by Deepak Shourie (another Stephanian) who was in Eco sometime (?) back (younger bro of Arun Shourie) And then in the editorial we have quite a few Stephanians..

I must say that it is very satisfying (?) to read about Stephanians and identify yourself with them... whatever that means and achieves.. I used to cringe at people whenever they brought the Stephanian thing on.. still do.. but it is kind of fun to have something exclusive!!!!! But really - we must restrict it just to "FUN".

( Ed: Let me assure Luke that whatever I have ever done is for FUN, for me. Hence, unless this was FUN, I would not be doing it. But I cannot say that it is fun for anyone else, although from my mailbag, I seem to sense that a lot of others are having FUN with me!)

In NDTV (Prannoy Roy's) 80% of the people are Stephanians so they say. So, if you are a Stephaninian you stand a good chance to get employment there. But - if you are a Bong (Bengali) and a Stephanian (i.e., Stephanian Bong) then even God can't stop you. WHAT IS THIS... kind of dark humour. (Ed: In some circles it may be called LUKE's PONG HUMOUR or its more traditional Stephanian name PJ.)

I don't know how it was during your time but when I was in college we had several "types" of "Groups" we had the Mallus; Bongs; The Harrys; The Chinkis; Mayoites (that is everyone who relentlessly went to the gym and came for meals together in a line - always a group of more than 10 - this included mayoites, doscos and a lot of Rajputs.

( Ed: I can remember some groups when guys first came into college (mainly the Doscoites), but that vanished very quickly as we became Stephanians. Of course, you did identify with your "groups" on certain issues, but it was not a factor for very long. When I was rather uniquely elected as JCR President in my second year, I had the support of all, across the year divide as well, and despite the groups card being raised by some - it just did not work that way during our time. Issues were far more important.)

Now, when I got into College, I was straightaway classified into one of these groups - The Chinkie. And now the thing was they don't get ragged. Every evening (I was in Rud North) all my neighbours were called to various rooms and it looked like they had a lot of fun getting ragged even though they always complained..

My routine after 10:00 and signing of the "Reg" was to sleep lamenting my fate (of not being ragged).

One day someone knocked at my door (I was without a roommate for 3 months) and growled "hey fuccha (i.e., a combo of fresher and baccha) so raha hain, wake up"

I was like "Yes!! finally someone to rag me."

This guy was really aggressive. When I opened my door he just barged in and got a hold of me - then he realized his fatal mistake "Oh huh its a chinkie - Hi i am Arvind Vepa, III year History.. You are... "

"I am Luke first year..."

"Huh nice meeting you Luke, my room is in Rud South any problems let me know..."

Now, that is my ragging experience (hey, it wasn't really Arvind it was someone else.. just can't remember the name)

Then there were so many guys in rez who I remember - apart from people I'm still in touch with - there was Saurav Sen who is in Merton (ox, Unimesh (Cambridge), Parthasarthy Singh Rathore, Tommy, Shen, Kitto (All Mukh East alias the Far east.. I thought Mukh East was a km away from the main college block in my first.

Getting back - Saurav Sen was studying to get the Radhakrishnan Schloraship to go to Oxford - he used to study 16 hrs a day!!!??? And I was his neighbour.. It was not unusual for him to walk into my room in the middle of the night and he would try to explain to me very graphically "the theory of chaos" and some principles of some math funda.. It was quite amazing.... Then he was very amazed at how I could throw a knife and always get it "stuck" on the door.. He used to do that to relax late at night... bang bang bang, and when I went to check up on him once, he nearly killed me.....

Now I know I have been tedious.. but really after reading kooler talk - moa mind took a jog thru mem'ry lane -

Luke George Haokip

Anyone else feeling like that. Meanwhile, I had a very nice message from an ex-editor of Kooler Talk:

From: Mr. C.K. Joseph

My email id is

I was one of the editors of KT during the early 90s - 93-94, I think. It was great time to be young, for ideals, the clear stream of reason flowed, India was liberalising... all in all, a good time was to be had.

And we had it, me and some friends, down by the kooler, or the cafe, with hari mohan and bhaiyyan to serve us mince cutlets...

or in the lawns, or playing block cricket ( Ed: Can anyone wise me on this block cricket thing)... bye bye miss american dei gloriam...


CKJ has that rumbling feeling in his stomach, the same that churns mine when I think of Ganga, Dolly, Shelly and Sebastian and Sukhia!!

Now, here was a message about the Top 10 Colleges of India sent to me from a soulmate Stephanian (i.e., if you read the last few lines of his message). The rest of the message and the link should chuff you all up a bit.


i trust you've seen the results of the india today survey on the best college in india? if not, here is where you go:

Top 10 Colleges of India by Vijay Jung Thapa


david c king, toronto, canada
tel: (905) 305-7720 fax: (905) 305-7714 net:,

"The amount of intelligence in the universe is a constant. Unfortunately, the population keeps increasing". -- Arthur C Clarke

"An ancient eastern proverb says: I complained because I had no shoes; then I met a man who had no feet. For the 90's: I complained because I had no PowerMac; then I met a man who used Windows." --Cloyce Sutton

Get a Macintosh! There's no better!!

Sreeni did send me the full text of this article as well but so as to not violate copyright law I am not reproducing it here, but repeating the above link. But the message from Dr. Tara Chand to Sreeni is included below.

Date: Mon, 6 Jul 1998 15:32:22 -0400 (EDT)
From: Sreenath Sreenivasan
Subject: IT & St. Stephen's

hello, hello... i received the following note from prof. tara chand at SSC and thought i would share it with you. turns out that india today has repeated last year's package on india's top colleges and once again, a certain college in delhi has done pretty well.

as you may recall, last year's listings had some controversy, so they seem to have made it a little more scientific this year, and have done a better job of explaining their methodology. last year, for example, presidency-cal had a better individual score in every category, but SSC was rated ahead of presidency overall (grin)...

below you will find dr. tara chand's note, followed by excerpts from the IT article stolen from the web. most of the IT package is available at

Top 10 Colleges of India by Vijay Jung Thapa

that's it... trust you are all having a nice summer...

cheers, sree

sreenath sreenivasan | columbia graduate school of journalism * 212-854-5979 * 2950 broadway, nyc 10027

---------- Forwarded message ----------

Date: Sun, 5 Jul 1998 19:38:11 +0500 (GMT+0500)
Subject: On top once again

Dear Sree,

The India Today-ORG-MARG poll has once again rated St.Stephen's as India's best college, both in Arts and Science categories.

1. St.Stephen's
2. Presidency, Calcutta
3. St.Xavier's, Calcutta

(There is no other Delhi college in the top 10)

1. St.Stephen's
2. Presidency, Calcutta
3. St.Xavier's, Mumbai

(LSR and Hindu figure in the top 10 )

1. SRCC, Delhi

1. IIT, Mumbai & IIT, Kanpur (tie)

1. AIIMS, New Delhi

1. National School of Law, Bangalore

With warm regards

Tara Chand

In the past three months I discovered an uncle, but my junior, and his mail is interesting to us Stephanians. I guess he may also be a Stephanian. It is sort of implied.

Dear Matthan achayan (Ed: a form of respect to an elder amongst us Mallus)

I am Philip Kandathil Pothen of Nedumbroth Kandathil, Purackal branch of Tiruvalla. Presently, I am in New Delhi. I am, Founder and Director of AV&T Foundation and AV&T group of companies. AV&T is the largest access control system company. You can see us at and

I will read the Stephanian's magazine and also forward to Rev Valsan Thambu of St. Stephens. (Ed: Someone could wise me on this Reverend.)

Philip Kandathil Pothen

The prize, however, for the best email received goes to this message from Gops. Maybe some of you can work on Alok (Alok Chandra now at International Distillers in Bombay) to donate a bottle, or better still a crate, of his fabulous product range for the best email of the month - obviously to be split with fellow Stephanians in the locality!! A parallel crate for the judge - me, would be well in order while I rack my grey cells to arrive at the final decision every month.

From: Gopkiran V. Rao
Subject: Blacksmith's lads
Date: Thu, 30 Jul 1998 11:11:58 -0700

Dear Jacob,

As a result of what must be a singularly nasty and unique genetic defect, I am seized by great gushes of paralysing pleasure when I chance upon all things Stephanian. I first chanced upon your page three years ago when I was still a cuckold in the harbours of bonny bombay. I read, then I got mistyeyed and froze.

I've made some progress westward ho since then, and today, after being seized with similarly painful convulsions of pleasurable reading through KT I was almost prone to tuck away another bookmark... and re-retire to solemn nostalgic contemplation.

But I have in a manner of speaking grasped my bull by the horns and thus this self affirmative missive to all at large. More so, as it appears that many of my time that passed through the portals of KRC's and Mr. Malhan's eco classes and rudra north in the grand years of 1990-93 have been similarly seized with paranoid anonymity in great gusto.

I'm glad to see your efforts to maintain the tenuous links of contact are so fruitful and I would certainly enjoy keeping up with the fruit of the loom, especially now that I am now once again, ex post the groves of academe, on the brink of unemployment.

Gopkiran V. Rao (Gops)
From that almost last outpost of natural beauty
Monterey, California

First, let me state that unemployment is a state of mind - although I have no visible means of support from a job myself, I have not considered myself unemployed for a moment as there are so many things to do, like outputting this Web Version of Kooler Talk to fill my life - and, of course, all six foot two of me careering after my toddling grandson.

Like me, and most of Kooler Talk hard copy editors before my Web Version, Gops has the absolute knack of putting down 10 lines which sound great, but translate to the gibberish nostalgia that I manage to pump up regularly - without any help from Viagra!!

Keep writing folks - there are a whole herd of lurkers out there - and by my last count almost 600 of them, that are devouring this junk as heartily as they flushed down the scrambled eggs with tamatar on toast with some of that great chay from the canteen, while flipping the matchbox.

The early summer in Finland was excellent in that the 24 hour sunshine was as it should be - but as July wore on into August, the rainy weather has tended to prevail. The cold is now setting in. Today I noted the first signs of yellowing of the leaves. Autumn will be upon us shortly and soon there will not be many leaves left on the trees. However, the scenery in September is glorious as all the shades of yellow and red paint the skyline, whichever direction you look, and as the days grow shorter and the leaves fall to the ground, we shall be waiting for the first snowfall to brighten up the long dark days and to see the northern lights as they dance majestically in the sky above.

Sorry for this lengthy issue and HOPEFULLY more next month,

Your Kooler Talk (Web Version) Honorary Editor


Friday, May 22, 1998

KTWV03 - Issue 3: Check-in time

Dear nostalgic Stephanian,

Guess what, on the 30th of April through to 2nd May, we had a Stephanian Finland Alumni Reunion, held at my residence, and we had 100% attendance (even poor Sree can claim that sort of success) - can any other chapter claim such a feat!!

All two of us were present - Prof. Ajeet Mathur from the industrial town in South Finland, Professor of International Business Studies at the Unversity of Tampere and Visiting Professor at the Helsinki School of Business Administration, and yours truly.

My dear wife tolerated all our chit-chat and served up some delicious food - Indian cuisine on one evening followed by Chinese the next - so remember to let me know if any of you are happening to visit this northernmost outpost in Scandinavia, and maybe we can organise another such reunion.

Here is some mail I received from Stephanians around the world.

Date: Sat, 04 Apr 1998 05:45:57 PST
From: Vikas Sahni email address supplied
Subject: A Stephanian in Dublin

I was in college for 6 years, 1980-86. I did my B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Physics, and then taught for a year.

I currently teach in Hansraj College.

I am in Dublin till 8th May.

I chanced upon Kooler Talk, while surfing around looking for old friends, and have spent a couple of hours visiting your site.

Is the real stuff (YES - SPICE) also available on the Web ?


Vikas Sahni

Date: Mon, 06 Apr 1998 01:08:35 PDT
From: Vikas Sahni

Hi Jacob,

Thank for your reply.

As far as SPICE is concerned, KOOLER TALK has always tried to parody it, but failed ! No wonder, dear editor, that you have not been able to lay your hands on even a single issue of Spice.

When I was in college, Spice was the variety of life, and Kooler Talk existed only to be parodied in the next issue of Spice.

Do you also send the new issues by e-mail ?

(Ed: Sadly, No, as I get more returned mail then receipts as our very considerate 475 Stephanians in over 70 countries are too busy to let me know their change of addresses!!)

Date: Wed, 08 Apr 1998 00:56:14 PDT
From: Vikas Sahni

Hi Jacob,

Thank you for your reply. I agree with you - email addresses change so frequently that I and many of my friends are using hotmail or accounts for stability.

(Ed: This was nice till some ISP's have put these two free service providers on their spam return list, so I hardly use that address for sending mail.)

I'll read the web version, and as you have mentioned, will print it and circulate it among my circle (Ed: Make a nice large one wth someone in there who can help sponsor some issues!!) when I am back in Delhi.

Vikas Sahni

Date: Wed, 22 Apr 1998 04:07:08 PDT
From: alex joseph email address supplied
Subject: Fellow STEPHANIAN

Dear Sir,

I was browsing the net when I came across the Stephen's website. (Ed: This is not an official Stephen's web site, and I do not want to claim it to be, too much of a responsibility for this dinosaur - just my musings!!)

My name is Alex and I am also a Malayalee who, like you studied, in this great Alma Mater of ours.

Hope to hear from soon.

May God bless you and your family.

With regards,

Alex ( class of 97)

Date: Thu, 23 Apr 1998 06:32:15 PDT
From: alex joseph
Subject: Thanks a ton

Dear Sir,

Thank's a million for your prompt reply. I am currently working for a buying house as a management trainee in the textiles division. I really like this field and am looking for opportunities in this field.

Are Indian textiles well received in Finland? (Ed: Yes, but sadly they are squeezing the blood out of our producers!!)

Sir, someday I plan to start my own business in this field and It all depends on God's grace.

Lets see how things work out in the near future.

Are there lots of Malayalees in Finland? (Ed: Alex, where in the world are there NOT tons of Malayalees?)

Do let me know sir once again thanks.

With Regards,


Date: Wed, 06 May 1998 13:49:58 PDT
From: juno V email address supplied
Subject: Mission college kooler yet

1967 graduate, Allnut North, various rooms, I believe h2 then h4. Few lines for Katy 1965-66?

Some of those who appear on the KT surfed a few minutes ago well remembered - Rajen, Philip. Not mentioned, but in this part of the wuruld - Arun Chacko at the WWF Trust Geneva, Rishpal Singh might still be the Gen Consul at Geneva (did not call back last month, so might be elsewhere now). Arif Hussain is also at Geneva. Brijesh Khandaria as well.

In Luxembourg a 54 graduate: Yogeshwar. Sharp clear mind, twinkling eyes.

And that leaves yours truly,

Verghese Varkki /Juno.

Were these not nice letters to receive?

And now for a diversion with couple of pictures of my grandson, Samuel, on the wings of his plane with my son-in-law, Computer Wizard Tony, and in-flight with his English philologist mom - who works as a Technical Writer for Nokia, my younger daughter, Joanna. I am working on the little fellow (already) and her to send Samuel to Stephania!! Hopefully, sometime soon, I will find an excuse to steal in in some photographs of my devastatingly beautiful granddaughter, Asha, her mom, Susanna, and my other son-in-law Chris, who is a brilliant violinist and musician (or so says his father-in-law)!!

Samuel with his father, Tony

Samuel with his father, Tony

Samuel with his mother, Joanna

Samuel with his mother, Joanna

For all of you who wrote in concerned about the accident that all three of them were involved in, as you can see from the pictures above, they are all fit and well. We, however, discovered that the accident was not due to black ice as I had reported, but the front axle of their Citroen, which they had bought just recently, had snapped. It was God's grace that they survived.

More next month,

Your Kooler Talk (Web Version) Honorary Editor


Saturday, April 11, 1998

KTWV03 - Issue 2: Jumping gates

Dear Stephanians in many parts of the world,

I have a slight problem in that my hard disk is so full that most of my email lies on my server. I have to compress and put away several of my programmes on my hard disk. As a result most of the addresses of Stephanians world-wide have been stashed away till better times. (Would you believe that I am managing three webletters and all my other work with just a 120MB Hard Disk and one 100MB Zip Iomega Disk!!)

If any of you are in Ireland - please contact me as we have one visiting Stephanian who is anxious to contact any others who may be there. I do know there are a couple of you on my mailing list who are in Ireland - so if you do get some time drop me a line so that I can put you in touch.

Spring is supposed to be upon us here near the Arctic, but we had heavy snowfall last week and the temperature dipped to -12 Centigrade.

Our daughter had a close shave when she, her husband and our little one year-old grandson were returning from a trip to see the ice castle, which has become a popular tourist attraction during the winter months in a town about 1-hour north of us. As she was driving down the highway on a road which seemed absolutely dry, she saw a patch of what she thought was just water across the road. Before she realised it, the car was slithering out of control as she had hit what we call a stretch of black ice.

Joanna says she does not know what she did, but she managed to reduce the speed of the car as it slid from the fast lane into the slow lane, doing a couple of full circles in the process. As the car continued to slither, it rammed into the packed snow at the side of the road, on the driver's side, and did one more spin before it finally came to rest.

Her husband had just finished feeding our grandson and did not have his seat belt on, but seeing what was happening, managed to cover his head and lay down on the back seat. Little Samuel was safe in his new and expensive car seat that they had bought for him just a week before. He screamed his head off but was totally protected by the seat belt and the excellent seat design.

Cars stopped and the police were there in less than 5 minutes, but there had been no physical damage to anyone. They were all badly shaken, and as the breath test proved, no-one had had any alcohol - Joanna is a tea-totaller, anyway.

Passers-by helped to drag the car back on to the road and Tony limped it back home, which was just about 15 minutes away. One can truly say that God was with them those few moments and saved them any real tragedy.

So you can see, that we are still living in difficult wintry conditions even at this time of the year when many of you are shedding your clothes and complaining about the heat.

Getting back to the sixties, I want to recall a few moments of those days when we used to jump gates to go and see a late night movie. After the movie we used to go to some cheap coffee shop 'dhaba' and spend a few minutes there till we worked out our strategy to get back to college. As we were usually 6 to 8 in the group, we usually had a tough time talking to a taxi driver to get him to accept a reasonable price to cram all of us into his cab (usually it worked out at a rupee per head).

And the route - the Dharayaganj route was taboo as we had to pass to many police points, so it was always the route past New Delhi railway station and past St. Stephen's Hospital till we were deposited a safe distance from the college somewhere on top of the ridge. From there we would work our way back into college and jump in through the hedge behind Mukarji Block.

On one occasion we had all gone through, save, I think, Ajay Verma, when we noticed Dean Rajpal out for a midnight stroll. As we tried to whisper to Ajay to stay put till the coast was clear, Dean Rajpal hearing some sounds decided to come our way. We fled. Ajay was midway through the fence when he saw Dean Rajpal approaching. Luckily there were no lights just at that spot and by the time Dean reached the gaping hole in the fence, Ajay had got through and fled.

The next day there was a great dal of activity as Dean Rajpal personally supervised the mending of the barbed wire fence. There was a stern talk given to all the gyps of Mukarji block that they were to report if any further holes in the fences were noted by them.

Within a week - half a dozen holes were again opened in that hedge and it stayed that way right through my time in college!!

More next month,

Your Kooler Talk (Web Version) Honorary Editor


Tuesday, March 10, 1998

KTWV03 - Issue 1: Four Stephanian Musketeers

Dear fellow Stephanians,

Great to be back with you with a new Volume - Volume 3 -- especially when I can draw attention to a couple of Stephanians who have been much in the limelight.

First was Shashi Tharoor, who was at the side of Kofi Annan during those crucial days when we saw sense and diplomacy prevail in Baghdad. I could see this quiet Stephanian a few steps behind Kofi in all the key shots on Finnish TV. One BBC commentator especially mentioned the cool advisors at Kofi's side, and even named Shashi. We can truly say that a Stephanian has played a part in keeping violence off the world agenda!!

The second Stephanian to enjoy a well-deserved spell of publicity in this part of the globe is none other than George Mathew. George, who was junior to me by a over a decade, is the son of Mr. V. M. Marangoly, who was the Resident Representative in New Delhi for the Malayala Manorama newspaper when I was studying in Stephen's till the beginning of the 80's.

Like father, like son - George was, and is, a very wonderful and friendly person. I still remember his effervescent friendliness when I used to visit his home.

When I heard from our neighbouring Scandinavian country, Norway, that George had been awarded the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit, Knight First Class, I was overjoyed and overcome with great emotion - not only because he is an fellow countryman but because he is, above all, a Stephanian.

George is the Managing Director of Norinco Private Limited. I still remember when he discussed with me about the job on one of my infrequent trips to Delhi. He joined Norinco in 1978 after he finished his stint as a Stephanian and then his MBA from Ohio.

Since then George, who started his life with the company in Calcutta, has moved to Bombay and has been the Honorary Consul for Norway since 1988. His move to Bombay was simultaneously with him becoming the Managing Director of Norinco. Norinco is the largest importer of steel refractories to India.

I am sure that every Stephanian out there will join me in congratulating George on his award. (If I am not wrong Gorge did do some writing when he was at college - maybe he even wrote a few pieces for Kooler Talk!! Can I tempt you?)

If one of you Stephanians in Bombay will give George a print-out of this issue, I would be greatly pleased!!

Well, now to that scandalous picture that I mentioned last week.

First, let me get the non-Stephanian out of the way - it is that little guy in the front row on the left - recognise him - well, he is now the Vice-Chairman and Managing Director of MRF Ltd., Vinoo Mammen - he finished his college from what is an equally famous institution - Madras Christian College in Tambaram, Madras - I have to say that as my late father graduated from there also!!

Kottayam 1952

left to right: Vinoo, Sushil, Thambi, Suresh, Rajen (Kottayam 1952)

Four Stephanians + 1

What about the other four. Here is a letter I received along with this photograph.

INTER OFFICE MEMO dated January 13 1998
To: Manarcad Mathew, Editor in Charge, MANORAMA ANNUAL,
MM Publications, Kottayam, Kerala

My dear Mathew,

I am enclosing a photograph which appeared in the Manorama Annual in the early 50's. This was retrieved by our Installation Engineer, K. R. Raghavan Maistry, who had a copy of the annual.

I think the circulation was then around 3000 copies. The photo was taken by .... Artist K. J. Mathew. (Ed: I remember this as I worked with him to develop the picture and make the block and then worked with the carpenter to make the wooden piece to mount the block. I then persuaded my grandfather - along with an equally mischievous Mammen - to have it included in the Annual issue!!)

The caption was "Grandchildren of K. C. Mammen Mappillai". It shows Vinoo, now Vice-Chairman and Managing Director of MRF Ltd. (front left); Sushil (Stephanian Jacob Matthan - a plastics technologist (Ed: and Kooler Talk Web Version Honorary Editor - much more important than Plastics!!- back left) now living in Finland; Thambi (Stephanian Philip Mathew - Managing Editor, The WEEK, Cochin - front centre); Suresh (Stephanian Dr. Peter Philip alias Tubby - Managing Director India Coffee and Tea Distributing Co. Ltd., Bombay, back right) and Rajen, me (Stephanian Mammen Mathew - Chief Editor - Malayala Manorama, Kottayam - front right).

Our Annual number is now 1 lakh circulation and if you publish photographs like this, you can rest assured that our circulation will drop back to 3000!! (Ed: Will the Kooler Talk Web Version circulation jump from 300 to 3000 now that we have run this picture?)

This is to show that we have come a long way, from a "house magazine" to being 100 per cent professional.

This is only for your information.


Yours sincerely,

Mammen Mathew

This picture is nostalgic for several reasons.

A few days after this picture was taken, Tubby was struck by diphtheria, and in those days it was virtually fatal. Probably because of his critical mass - he survived, but missed the great fun we kids always enjoyed when we holidayed in our granddad's home which was just below the press where we spent most of our leisure time - which was always.

Secondly, the person who unearthed this picture, Installation Engineer K. R. Raghavan Maistry was then a young blacksmith at the press, sitting on the floor casting lead letters to be used to set the newspaper, but so brilliant that he could install the most complicated printing equipment even without an engineering drawing - and still can. At that time he was installing a secondhand rotary press - which he did absolutely fantastically by even repairing broken parts and making duplicates of missing ones without the original drawings. He still remains one of my closest friends as he taught me at the age of 7 all I needed know about printing!!

You have read many mentions of Mammen Mathew in past issues, so no need to dwell here on him any longer. He is just as crazy now as he was in college - and his closest Stephanian friends, Suresh Mehra (Hyderabad - fashion expert and garment exporter), Ramu Katakam (New Delhi- architect) and Azar Siddique (?- last heard of as being a bigwig in the hotel management business) will vouch.

Tubby finished his Eco degree in 1962 from Stephen's, went to Cambridge, England, where he did a further degree in Economics and then went to Stanford, USA, where he obtained his doctorate in Economics. He is busy in business in Bombay but probably is more famous for the 30 or so outlets in Bombay which sell freshly roasted and ground coffee and great tea blends in the Philips Coffee and Tea retail shops. He was closely involved as the financial brain behind the launch of the original Kooler Talk in 1961/62 being a close friend of Sarwar Lateef - the first Editor.

Less said about Philip Mathew the better - he had the audacity to come to Finland and not visit us in Oulu - just 600 km (50 minutes) away from Helsinki!! More importantly, never take a bet with him - he never pays up. Just before the 1978 elections I had a bet with him that Indira would be routed, as I had close links with the opposition parties at that time. It was for crate of Scotch - and he has still not paid up 20 years on!! I gave up drinking 15 years ago - but it is the principle that is important. His son, Amit, is also a Stephanian - but, I believe quite quite unlike his father!! Anyone prepared to give me the lowdown on him?

And now for some letters received during the past month. Here is one from a Singapore Stephanian:

Date: Thu, 5 Mar 1998 17:02:39 +0800 (SGT)
From: Naresh Makhijani Singapore
Subject: Kooler Talk Web Version - February Issue

Dear Jacob

Thanks for the note on Kooler Talk. I was finally able to see it... It brought back memories of those wonderful winter afternoons in front of Rohtas's dhaba and nibu-pani.

I have now established contact with alumni in Singapore and will meet them at next alumni get together!

Keep up the good work.


Naresh Makhijani B.Sc. 1985

And here is a letter from a Stephanian who did not previously know I was a Stephanian - wonder why?

From: Arun Bhatia email address available
Subject: Hi ! Stephanian
Date: Thu, 19 Feb 1998 04:28:15 PST

Hello Mr. Matthan,

I wonder if you'll remember me. We met in 93 or was it 94 when you had come to India to sell software in Bombay and then in Delhi. I had attended a seminar and lunch hosted by you at Bombay. I was working with a newspaper by the name of 'The Pioneer' at that time.

It is unfortunate that we did not meet as Stephanians.

I got to know of that just now when I was updating my entry in Alumni registry and happened to notice that Kooler Talk is now on the web.

Having seen that message I could not resist myself and got to know that the site is hosted by Findians. On seeing your name there I remembered that we had met before. I have gone thru the issues of KOOLER TALK and felt good.

I passed out from Stephens in 1980 and graduated in Chemistry.

Keep up the good work.

With best wishes

Arun Bhatia

And a change of address notification from our faithful reader Amit - not Anil - Wilson:

Date: Fri, 27 Feb 1998 09:04:04 +0500 (GMT+0500)
From: Amit Wilson
Subject: Change of address

Hi guys,

I'm now available on e-mail at

Please do not send mail to the old address

Amit David Wilson, F-27, IIMB, Bannerghatta Road, Bangalore-560076.
'Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend.
Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.'

Now what will be a popular message for Mumbai based Stephanians - from a Stephanian. I am sure that those who want some Happy Hours in Mumbai will be rushing off to contact Alok:

From: Alok Chandra email address provided
Subject: KATY DID IT
Date: Mon, 9 Feb 1998 19:57:54 +0530

Dear Jacob (or should it be Sushil ?),

As a "newbie", one of the first things I did this week was surf sites connected to the alma mater - your effort is outstanding : must be all those long nights frozen-in above the Arctic Circle.

I was in college 1970 - 74 (yes, 4 yrs- dropped 1 yr from Physics to History) including one mis-spent year in Mukh West (you guessed it - the first); currently am in Bangalore (these last 11 yrs) in a "spiritually uplifting calling" (I'm passionately dedicated to advocating the increased consumption of wine for International Distillers - the guys who also make Smirnoff and J&B) and going thru the throes of a potential move to Bombay/Mumbai (Ed: See my true life incident with the Finnish Police in the latest issue of Findians Briefings - Exclusive Section - I am sure your company will get some great ideas from that.)

The point is : I'm sure BBY has a large (and potentially thirsty) population of Stephanians, and I'd be happy to arrange a bash/get-together whenever (the motives are not altogether altruistic) if you can send me some addresses/tel nos - the only chap I'm in touch with is Lalit Mohan (ex-IRS, now retd. & with Essar).

Do keep Katy going - great job !

Regards ,


And a message from a Stephanian of my day and age, Ranjit Singh:

Date: Thu, 19 Feb 1998 15:31:27 -0800
Subject: Nothing Special

HI Jacob,

Thank you for all the information you sent with you last letter. (Ed: This is about the book by my wife, Annikki, which is some good reading on the web.)

It was amazing that the kind of inept handling of situations are so commonplace in India (Ed: Not only India - Finland is even worse!! Read a few issues of Findians Briefings and you will see how bad.)

You and Annikki must have gone through stress that could only have been overcome by your faith. It makes for fascinating reading.

How are you both. We have been busy as I had mentioned about our clinical trials. (Ed: Anyone who is bald out there should contact Ranjit and Priya and they maybe be able to generate a few strands..).

I remember Alan Robertson very well; but do fill me in on Anil Wilson who is the present principal. I frankly have no recall of him. Was he in the years when we were in college or am I mistaken. (Ed: Not mistaken - I included his name in the letter to all our group as I felt he was mature enough to be included with us old foggies!!)

What happened to Mr Halla who I think was Principal for some time?

I remember going for a Stephanian reunion, when Mr Rajpal was Principal, at the Holiday Inn, Bombay; but do not recall the year. and would you believe - not a single person from our time.

Well God bless and keep in touch.

Hope we meet sometime.

Ranjit Singh & Priya

Finally, I have to transmit some sad news that has just reached me via Sreenath Sreenivasan, our active Stephanian from New York.

He has reported that RANA K. D. N. SINGH (Eco'46), who was the oldest Stephanian in New York, passed away on Feb. 26 in Manhattan. The cause was cardiac arrest; he was 73 years old.

As Sreeni wrote, those in New York would remember his enthusiastic participation at the reunion dinner in 1996. He attended the event even though he had an early appointment in Boston the following morning (he drove to Boston AFTER the event that night!)

Mr. Singh was at SSC when women were students the first time (he acted opposite Joy Michael in Shakesoc plays), and then went into the IAS (the third batch). After a long and successful career in the service, he joined in United Nations, working with transnational corporations in Vienna and Mexico. After that, he became a consultant for the UN. He continued to work right till the end, and, in fact, had the heart attack while en route to an appointment.

Sreeni said that his enduring memory of Mr. Singh will be his energy and enthusiasm for the college and Stephanians.

On another note, Sreeni reported that some of the Stephanians from the '60s in New York had a habit of calling anyone from the '70s, '80s and '90s "bachchas" all the time. When Mr. Singh came to our dinner, he put all those people in their place, calling THEM "bachchas" instead!

He is survived by a daughter and two sons.

Messages of condolence may be sent to his son at the following address. Amar P. Singh, 1010 Cummings Rd., Monmouth Jn., NJ 08852 USA

On that sad note - I sign off and hope to meet up with you again next month!! Don't forget - keep that email coming as your friends out there want to know where you are and what you are doing!!

Your Kooler Talk (Web Version) Honorary Editor


Wednesday, February 11, 1998

KTWV02-Issue 12: Macs vs PCs, ROI

Dear fellow Stephanians,

My sincere apologies for coming up late with this issue, but some grave problems confronted me in the form of influenza which knocked me cold - leaving me with no option but to delay my extra-ciricular activities. However, all is well that ends well, and your host is back on line - minus 10 kg of his 115 kg original flab.

New York seems to have been most active last month as they got our Indian Representative to the UN, none other than the tall and lanky (as I remember him), Kamlesh Sharma to attend the reunion.

I had a look at the New York list of Stephanians and I was most pleased to find the name of another good colleague, Alan Robertson, 65 History, listed. He too is at the United Nations.

Alan was the first non-Indian from the African continent that I ever met and got to know (Rathikant Basu - claimed Khartoum, Sudan, as his base while Niranjan Desai was my friend from Nairobi, Kenya).

Alan was a fine upstanding fellow during his college years. If I remember right, he used to be in training with the late Arjun Soni (Horse), about whom I wrote last week

Maybe the first person one meets from a new place can set your mind about a whole continent, and Alan was a true Ambassador in the sixties for the African continent.

New York's active Stephanian, Sreenath, is also responsible for this month's letter from our Principal - which is in a good cause to help develop our college. I hope all of you will act on this request - as every dollar contributed will be worth its weight in gold.

I hope Anil will tell us the bank account to which we should transfer whatever meager assistance we can steal and divert from the mouths of our starving babes.


5th Dec 1997.

Dear Sir,

St. Stephen's College is one of India's premier educational institutions. For over a century it has consistently maintained high and exacting standards in the field of liberal arts and sciences. Along the way, it has produced many of India's leaders in politics, business, administration and other professional streams.

At present the college offers Honors courses in Economics, Mathematics, Physics, History, English, Philosophy and Sanskrit along with a General course in Computers. The college plans to offer an Honors course in Computers from next year. It also plans to make access to the Internet and email available to every student. This requires an augmentation of the existing computer infrastructure in college.

The college plans to set up a modern computer centre and seeks the help of a corporate sponsor in this venture. We would be grateful if you either provide us financial support or contribute the equipment. Enclosed is our proposal for what such a venture would entail. We welcome any changes or additions that you might have to suggest.

The college would recognize your participation and the form and manner of that recognition could be discussed with the college later.

We look forward to a favorable response from you. All payments may be made to the Principal, St. Stephen's College. We would like to express our gratitude to you for your support of St. Stephen's College.

Thanking you,
Yours faithfully,
Principal, St. Stephen's College

President, Students Union Society

This is the proposal for a new computer centre for St. Stephen's College. We plan to offer each student access to the Internet and email. The centre will also have desktop publishing and multi-media capabilities.

Fixed Costs (all figures in Indian Rs.)
1. Three 2-tonne air conditioners 100,000
2. 1 UPS 20,000
3. 2 Laser Printers 80,000
4. 2 Color Inkjets 50,000
5. 2 Modems 20,000
6. 2 Phone Lines 6,000
7. 1 Server 100,000
8. 1 Scanner 25,000
Sub-Total 401,000

Infrastructural Costs 300,000

Variable Costs
20 Computers 100,000
Sub-Total 1,701,000

Annual Maintenance & Upgradation 2,500,000

Total Endowment Rs. 4,200,000
(roughly $100,000) The centre will also have desktop publishing and multi-media capabilities.

Although this is not the forum for debate about computer platforms, a couple of points may be worth making. Stephen's is the centre of forward thinking and learning. Second, there is an important phrase in the above:

" The centre will also have desktop publishing and multi-media capabilities."

This alone points to the choice being made to install Apple Macintosh computers rather than PC's at Stephen's.

The reasons for this are plentifold, but when over 80% of those in publishing use Macs, the argument would be compelling.

The recent GISTICs Executive Education Knowledge-Based Publication Series report, Volume II Issue 1 Number 1 Revision 4.8 dated Summer 1997 - I can submit a copy to whomsoever is interested - showed that the return on investment (ROI) in the publishing field of a Macintosh-using creative professional produced US$26441 more annual revenue and US$14488 more net profit than a Windows user of comparable skill engaged in similar work. This revenue differential enabled a PowerPC Macintosh-based studio to achieve payback on a new platform in 4.59 months, whereas in stark contrast, a WINDOWS NT-based form required 12.58 months to recoup its investment.

This is one of the primary reasons for the predominance of Macs in this area of technology.

Probably a more compelling reason would be the conclusion of this report published in the UK by the British software company SCO and Harris Research which found that most time was lost through PC malfunction or misuse. Seven out of 10 surveyed said they became frustrated when their PCs failed to work. On average, each employee surveyed wasted 100 minutes a week during the first month a new system is introduced. "Consequently, the latest software isn't empowering these users -- it is disrupting their working day," - Geoff Seabrook of SCO commented. The survey of 400 PC users in medium-sized and large companies in Europe found that personal computers caused stress, with employees feeling that they had to work harder than ever before. Such malfunctions are rare on a Mac. I have hardly lost a moment of my computing time in 14 odd years.

Further, I quote a couple of lines from the April 21st 1997 issue of TIME which had the special report on the wife and mom of Stephanians - none other than Booker Prize winner and world best-selling authoress - Arundhati Roy .

"All the more wondrous for a book that according to the author, came into being almost on its own. Once Small Things showed up on the screen of her Macintosh desktop, Roy virtually chained herself to the keyboard in the bedroom of her book-lined, one-bedroom New Delhi apartment, emerging for little besides aerobic classes."

My own experience (with 3 local best-sellers between my wife and myself , three webletters coming up for the last two years every fortnight, and over a 1000 articles published between us), with the Mac has been similar - and till today this old decrepit Stephanian who puts up this crazy webletter for equally gonky Stephanians world-wide, has no clue what his computer is doing - and I do not want to know as all I am interested in is productivity.

And as to productivity on the Mac - that I can swear by - as when I came to Finland in 1984 - I had never touched a computer before (barring my whopping big calculator) - and I was thrown into the highest tech lab in Oulu - Microelectronics (the heart of electronics) - where everyone swore by IBM and DOS.

I started by looking at a few manuals and playing around with a VAX machine, and I knew in my heart I was just wasting time.

A friend of mine and I chanced upon the Mac - and before you could say "Jacob the Finn" - we were the two most productve guys in the lab. Thereafter, virtually every high tech operation, including control of excimer and argon ion lasers, research on the high temperature superconductors, and research on a mass of new technologies was being done on Macs. The entire staff in the lab got themselves Macs, both for their office desktop as well as for their home computing.

What is even more interesting is that over the last 14 years, except for my earliest acquisition for the lab, none of the other Macs have been retired as they still perform in the high tech environment with all the efficiency required. (I bought my earliest Mac acquisition for the lab at an auction last year and I am still using this antique 14 years on with no loss in productivity!)

There are several even more compelling reasons for staying away from PCs - there are over 100000 bugs and viruses associated with PCs - which is chaotic in a public facility where students bring in their own discs. The total number of bugs and viruses on Macs is just 35 and the disinfectant and anti-virus programs are all free.

However, probably the most compelling reason is that you can run all the main operating systems on a Mac - Windows, MacLinux, and of course, the Mac operating system, which the rest of the computer world is trying to emulate - rather badly at that, whereas with a PC, you are stuck with just one operating system.

I could give you hundreds of other reasons why our college should use Macs - but probably the greatest is just productivity. If you want Stephanians to be productive in the wide world - then equip them with the real thing and not just a bad copy of what has set the world of computing alight 15 years ago. Face it - Windows is a copy and will always remain a copy of the real thing!!

Oh, by the way, the Marketing Manager of Apple Computers Inc. in the US is a good Mallu - Jacob Kandathil - and if the right approach is made to him, I am sure that Apple Computers Inc. should be able to make a substantial donation to the most prestigious college in India.

Moving on to other subjects, I promise you an exciting next issue of Kooler Talk Web version, with a most revealing photograph of four Stephanians. Three of them, plus a 4th who is the Chairman and Managing Director of one of India's most respected companies (but sadly not a Stephanian) in that photograph, will probably pay me good money to stop the picture coming online - but this old coot (the fourth figure) cannot be bribed - so watch out for the next episode of a new volume of Kooler Talk web version which should come online by the beginning of March 1998.

Till then "näkemiin (Finnish for - goodbye till we meet again)" from a frozen north where temperatures for the past week have been hovering around -39 Celsius.

Your Kooler Talk (Web Version) Editor


Thursday, January 01, 1998

KTWV02-Issue 11: Reader Inputs Plenty

Hello fellow Stephanians,

What has been the most embarrassing moment of your life? (Seems to be an ideal opportunity for many of you to send me your true life confessions.)

Mine was when I was stranded as a soprano washerwoman on the operatic stage in Bombay instead of being carted off to be a harem girl in a Chinese palace. A short-lived career indeed. But two friendly(?) Stephanians changed all that in the month of December 1997.

Our Professor of Journalism from the Big Apple, Sreenath, having read some of my musings, thought he would drop a gentle hint by subscribing me to the South Asian Journalists Association (SAJA) mailing list so that I could be exposed to the 90 odd learned scribes who share their thoughts on matters of earth-shattering importance (as do we Stephanians) - as to which is the best Indian sweet. (Some came out in favour of something known as "pinni", which in my long life in North India - especially with the cooking wizards in the Stephanian Mess, I was sadly kept in ignorance of. I stodgily stood behind Bangalorean K. C. Das's Sweet Curd - some had the nerve to claim this Kannadiga delicacy was from Bengal! I would have suggested Sukhia's barfi, but I was in a cussed South Indian mood.)

Coming back to my narrative, as I expressed my preference for this mouth-watering delicacy to the journalists, and then questioned why the Indian flag was called a tricolour when it has a fourth colour - the blue in the centre as the chakra - causing many of the assembled audience to unsubscribe from the list - suddenly, appeared a message to this all star cast saying something like - "Hey there, Sorry to use this for a personal query. Is the Jacob Matthan who questioned the use of tricolour the same as Sushil Matthan?"

My world was shattered to smithereens - here was I hiding in my anonymity and a fellow Stephanian, albeit a few years senior to me, with whom I just happened to share a flat in London for three good years, drops a hot potatoe (so with my Dan Quail spelling, now you can grade me to be inline for the American Vice Presidency) to this sombre (almost as dropping a brick at the Drones Club) list of great names from the American media, asking for the well hidden truth!!

A few more unsubscribe requests must have made Sreeni wonder whether he had destroyed his pet project by including me. In the process he put me in touch with Anil Kumar, Stephanian 1956-1959, Chartered Accountant from London 1966, much travelled character extraordinaire, as he can describe ball-by-ball (takes the good part of five days to get through it), even today, the final between Bombay University (captained by Ajit Wadekar) and Delhi University (captained by Akash Lal?) in 1959. He is now working in the Big Apple for a small population organisation which promotes family planning by using radio and tv soap operas to convey the message.

Welcome to Kooler Talk (Web Version) - Annie, yes, I thought I should respond in kind and reveal to our Stephanians your plomme de num (you can guess I got distinction in french for my Senior Cambridge as I mixed this nom de plume!!).

Thank you all for not castigating me for flooding your mailboxes with my reminder message last month - but I suffered the most, as there were 38 wrong addresses,, which meant I got over 150 returns in my mailbox, and I had to go through each one to check for the fault. See why I hate sending those reminders!

The response to the last issue was heartening - but the glory belongs, not to me, but the contribution of our dear Princi. Most suggested that I should give him a permanent space for his scribblings, which I think would be well worth it.

Many suggestions of titles for Anil's column came in - the most popular being "Corridors of Fame" - his piece about our sacred Stephanian corridor, so kindly circulated by Sreeni, having aroused a great deal of comment!

I have not decided on the name, and neither has Anil agreed to grace these pages on a regular basis - but we can always live in hope.

He has, however, has sent me a letter for this issue, so here goes.

Subject: More about College
Sent: 29/11/97 08:31
From: Dr. Anil Wilson, Principal of St. Stephen's College

Dear Jacob,

I have gone through Issue Ten of the Web Version of Kooler Talk and have enjoyed it. A brief update on some of the issues mentioned by you:

VED PARKASH MARWAH, our Chief Guest for the Founders Day, is of the 1949-53 vintage. Graduated in Economics and then went on to do his post graduation in History. Joined the IPS and served in important positions. A more detailed CV will follow when I have a little more time.

Vikram Seth was not at St. Stephen's though there are some who suggest that he did join College for a very brief while before leaving for foreign climes. This needs to be checked out. However, the hero of "Suitable Boy" is specifically made out to be a Stephanian (is this an example of vicarious wish-fulfilment by Seth? Any shrinks among your readers who could delve deeper into this??)

(Ed: This issue remains unresolved - but the bulk of those who wrote told me to get on with it and read the book, nevertheless - still struggling on with this Five Year Project, but must say I have read some better stuff in my day!)

Talking about writers: Arundhati Roy's step daughter and husband are Stephanians. Hence we could persuade her to come and read portions of her "God of Small Things".

I do not think there is any Stephanian worth his mince who hasn't heard the story about Natwar Singh's comment in the College Visitor's Book: "I am what I am today because of College," and Mani Shankar Aiyar's, retort a few days later, "But why blame the poor College!?"

Well, Mani was in College two days ago on an IDG invitation, spoke on well into the night (he left at 11.30 p.m.) and the large audience, like the Wedding Guest in Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" were held in thrall by the glittering eye and tales of yore of this our own home-spun Ancient Mariner.

However, not to digress from the point from where I began: On leaving Mani wrote the usual courteous things about College in the Visitor's book, and ended up with, "But, No, I will not write anything about Natwar this time."

On the subject of Ancient Mariners and Old Boys: Sriniwas Sohni (63-68, History) who was Secretary to President Shankar Dayal Sharma and was appointed Secretary-General Rajya Sabha just before Shankar Dayal Sharma retired, was unceremoniously dumped thereafter and relegated to an inconsequential position. Sohni, with the help of another well-known Stephanian, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal (also member of the College Governing Body), took the johnies to court. Yesterday his position was vindicated and he was reinstated.

However, all is not bonhomie and camaraderie among Stephanians. Stephanian Jagmohan Dalmia and Stephanian Sunil Dev (both powers-to-reckon-with on the national cricket scene) were involved in a messy public squabble over the control of the Cricket Board of India. Body-line bowling and nasty bouncers were the order of the day till Dalmia got the better of his junior brother-[up]in-arms.

While on Cricket: College cricket team has reached the semi-finals of the Delhi University tournament. En-route, among the important victories were the one against Aurobindo college (Aurobindo: 121 all out. SSC: 121 for two) and, more important, against the chaps across the road (Hindu: 82 all out; SSC: 82 for one).

In the other DU tournaments concluded so far we have won the University Championship in both the men and women basketball. This is the first time that both these championships have come to us--we have been winning one or the other alternately.

The College debating team has been invited to Greece to participate in a World Debating event. In fact during the past few years the College Debating Team has been participating in a number of international events and doing very well.

(Ed: Should have them up against a series of Old Boys teams - we will then know which generation can produce the greatest amount of gas!!)

More in my next mail.

Best wishes,


Need I add any more to this issue? Not to disappoint you folks, here are a few baby dinosaurs who have appeared on the scene during the last year.

Subject: Katy, 1969-70
Date: Tue, 08 Jul 1997 21:55:00 -0400
From: marshall-shah

Dear Jacob,

You've created a veritable nostalgia funhouse!

I graduated Stephen's in 1970 and was in residence from 1967 (Allnutt South).

I was also the Katy Editor in 1969, the year that Katy was "confiscated" by a group of students who didn't like the editorial content or the tone of the articles in a particular issue. Things got quite out of hand and the balance of the world seemed to be at stake for a short while!

It WAS a long time ago. Anyway, I'll have to try and remember more.

Amit Shah

Subject: Stephanians
From: Prabhu Guptara
Date: Tue, 15 Apr 1997 10:07:16 -0400 (EDT)

I did not know that there was a Stephanian so near the Arctic Circle! And if I had realised it, I would certainly have dropped in on you when I was in Oulu doing some work for Nokia!

(Ed: Anyone else heard of this small Finnish company my daughter was working for before she decide to produce my first grandson - the very same daughter who has set me lines to read Suitable Boy as a process of father education - while she vacations in Bangalore?)

Though I hear about others from time to time, the only Stephanians I am in more or less regularly in touch with OUTSIDE INDIA are Anish Mathai (in NY) and "Juno" Verghese Varkki, (in Luxembourg).

I also WAS in touch with Trinanjan Mitra in Luxembourg but have lost touch with him for some years.

If any of you knows the whereabouts of Stephen George (Physics, 1960s; then LSE for his Masters; when last heard of he had formally changed his first name to Ranjit (or Ranjeet?) and was in California...).

And if any of you fellow mission-college guys ever visits Switzerland, look me up - I am based about 45 minutes north-east of Zurich airport, overlooking Lake Constance.

Prabhu Guptara
e-mail address is available

And again:
From: Prabhu Guptara
Date: Wed, 16 Apr 1997 07:41:41 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Stephanians

Dear Jacob

I was at SSC 1965/70, then lectured there 1970/73, before going to Scotland for 3 years and England for 16 where I set up a consultancy while keeping up my academic links.

We did some work for Union Bank of Switzerland in 1995 and they made me an offer in 1996, so I have been with them 18 months as Group Director, Organisational Learning & Transformation while also continuing as Chairman of the consultancy in the UK.

Prabhu Guptara

Subject: Re: Hi There

From: Josew Vellapally
Date: Thu, 10 Jul 1997 12:43:23 +0500

Hello Sushil (Ed: yet another who reveals all),

Sure, I remember you and am delighted to hear about your "Kooler Talk" site.

I have just registered myself on both my old school and college registries on world alumni net. Yours is the first response from an old Stephanian.

I am now based in Delhi and have been practising in the Supreme Court since 1991.

Looking forward to seeing the next edition of KT.


Joseph Vellapally Stephanian 1962-1965

(Ed: Joe was the only person I ever ragged in my years at Stephen's. He was made to stand on one leg for a very long time - but, of course, I was not looking and he was cheating!! :-))
Subject: Re: Hi
From: Dileep Rao
Date: Thu, 10 Jul 1997 16:06:29 GMT

Dear Jacob,

Yes, we were indeed in SSC together..... and I think I remember you somewhat better than you do me!

You were with Rajan Narayanan (Ed: Rajan was last heard of at Cochin working for one of the plantation companies) and the late Arjun Soni, weren't you?

(Ed: It was sad to hear about Arjun's demise. Arjun was popularly known as Horse because of the way he ran - he was a long distance runner of some merit and kept in training with Rhodes Scholar and Stephanian Olympian Ranjit Bhatia. I last met up with Arjun in Bangalore where he was branch manager for India Foils in the mid-seventies. He appeared to be in great physical shape then. Can anyone fill me on the details - as Arjun was a wonderful Stephanian and a happy personality.)

I clearly recall the story of your altercation with the late Arun "I'm tough" Babbar, who earned great laurels in his brief police career for valour and gallantry!

(Ed: Again, I am also very sad to hear of the demise of Arun - as he lived three rooms away from me during my three years in college. He was tough on the outside but a real softie inside - and after our first head-to-head confrontation, he realised that he had better not bother me - I was twice his size and also twice his weight, and just as physically fit as he was!!)

It's great to hear from you!

I read History Hons., doing my B.A. in '63 and my M.A. in '65, after which I went to Oxford for three years and have been working with ITC Ltd. since '69.

Write soon. Yours aye,

Dileep Rao

How is that for a sample from my mailbag. I have lots more to come from many a generation so please stay tuned for the February issue, which will end this Volume.

I shall then try to revamp the site to make it a bit more daring, but considering my total lack of knowledge about this thing they call a computer, it is really going to be an effort.

Those of you with web pages, please submit the correct URL - as some of the links given below (about 2 issues down) are broken. I have left thm in so that you will write to me when you note your link is not working.

As an aside - ad space on the Kooler Talk and the Katy Archive pages, as also all my other web pages are going at a premium. If you want to advertise to some 52000 hits from 70 countries every issue, do let me know. I will ask my ad agent, an young Indian nuclear physicist from Hyderabad working in a town, Jyväskylä, about 300 km south of Oulu in Finland on the local cyclotron, to get in touch with you. My intention is to help a few struggling Indian students here in Finland earn a small income so that they can support their studies in Finland as they are not entitled to any form of grant or subsidy, and living costs are substantial.

A very happy new year to all of you out there (be it Tamil, Parsi, or any other - I will not be repeating this greeting - my brand of secularism - for the next 365 days!) - and take care.

Your Kooler Talk (Web Version) Editor

Jacob - one who is still surviving the bitter cold of the Arctic - the Finnish word is "sisu" which the Finns say is Robert Bruce type perseverance but which in my case translates better as "blockhead"