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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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
pie...love..ad 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: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
"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...
sreenath sreenivasan | columbia graduate school of journalism
email@example.com * 212-854-5979 * 2950 broadway, nyc 10027
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 5 Jul 1998 19:38:11 +0500 (GMT+0500)
From: TARA CHAND firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: On top once again
The India Today-ORG-MARG poll has once again rated St.Stephen's as India's best college, both in Arts and Science categories.
2. Presidency, Calcutta
3. St.Xavier's, Calcutta
(There is no other Delhi college in the top 10)
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
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 vingcard.com and glplus.com.
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
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
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