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 adwilson@iimb.ernet.in 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:

From: priyainc@syv.com
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