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