Sunday, January 28, 2001

KTWV04 - Issue 1: Relaunch

Dear Stephanians,

Today is Sunday, 28th January, 2001.

As promised, Kooler Talk (Web Version) is finally back online.

I was busy for the last two years as the Project Secretary of social service project for the Northern Finland Sports Federation and the City of Oulu. I was trying to create a sense of harmony between the ethnic minorities and the local Finns, a large number of whom are highly Xenophobic.

The free time I had to be on the internet had to be dramatically reduced.

When I checked to see whether Kevin's site (the unofficial official College site?) was still active - I found that it has defunct since 1998 - the effort was short-lived. It appears that only this old man's musings are still monopolising the web.

The layout of Kooler Talk (Web Version) is new. I have standardised it for the three ezines I am running. (Do take a few minutes to read the other drivel I write.)

The contents are also, hopefully, new. At times, at this tender senile age, it is sometimes difficult to remember what one has said just a few minutes earlier. Trying to remember what one has written a couple of years ago is certainly an uphill task.

The jarring obnoxious style, however, will remain the same.

There will be no email intimation or version of this Web Version. The same problems as earlier persist. Many of you who have sent me your email addresses have shifted. You have forgotten to tell everyone (including me) about the shift. Most of the offenders are students or researchers in the US. But that is not the only category of offenders. Sucked into the turmoil of day-to-day survival, things like telling a half frozen out-of-work Father Christmas in the Arctic about the change of an email address will hardly figure red hot on your priority list.

Hence, when I send email to these closed addresses, I get back a load of returned mails (bounced emails). It takes a frightful long time to go through each one and to delete them from my mailing list.

The only mailing list I do maintain is for those Stephanians from my era (late 50's and early sixties) who have been in touch with me and with whom I have been corresponding over the last several years. (We are about 30 or so Stephanians from the fifties and early sixties who are on this mailing list compared with around 600 to 700 on my general mailing list.)

During the intervening period of two years I have had emails from many many Stephanians. These are mainly from young men and women who have chanced on this web site and written to say nice things. It is indeed fortunate that not one person has written to say not so nice things. That is, except for one who complained that I was an old Stephanian who was nostalgic about the past and not in tune with the real spirit of Kooler Talk!!

That young man was not around when Kooler Talk was launched - but I was. And I was the first one who got into trouble with the authorities for my writing about the distribution of aid in the villages around Delhi by our college. So, I feel I know the original Kooler Talk better than anyone else other than the creators (Montek Singh Alhuwallia, Sarwar Lateef, Swaminathan Aiyar, Peter (Tubby) Philip, Prakash Joseph, Mohammedullah, Zaffar Hai and Vice Principal Mr. D. I. Shanklind). Those that followed have only moulded it to their concepts - but without my having set the agenda - their ability to make Kooler Talk what they wanted it to be may have never been what it has been.

I decided at the outset that in this version I would have a sense of nostalgia - and so it has. If you want to change, you can try by submitting articles and letters, but it will not be at the cost of the present cross-generation readership that I now have.

But it is not just from young men and women that I have heard. I had an email recently from Chinmoy Banerjee (you will recall my earlier reference to him with regard to the tea leaves smoking issue) who said thus:

"Col. Shafat Hussain, retired from the Pakistan army, is an ex-Stephanian who has maintained deep attachment to the college. He is living in the Vancouver area."

I have emailed Col. Hussain. Hopefully, I will have a reply in time for one of the future issues of Kooler Talk (Web Version). I am sure that there are lots of you out there who would like to hear from him and his experiences in Stephania and after.

I hope that you will keep these emails coming. It is from these that I am able to jog my memory and create the input that helps keep this (hopefully) an active and interesting site.

Of all the emails that I received, the one which chuffed me the most was the one from the Stephanian and well known writer Shashi Tharoor. You may recall that in KTWV03 - Issue 1:980310 I had mentioned about Shashi who was always a few steps behind Kofi Annan when they were busy bringing some sense to the Iraq crisis. Shashi is also the debating colleague of my other Finnish Stephanian alumni - Prof. Ajeet Mathur. They are about 12 years my junior.

I was organising a conference to be held in Oulu in March 2000. In an effort to try to get the UN Secretary General to attend, I had written a personal note to Shashi. I did not manage to get Kofi as the Finnish Ambassador to the UN, Marjatta Rasi, who had previously been the Finnish Ambassador to India, was unable to get things organised as there was to be a change of President of Finland about the time of my Conference.

However in my correspondence - in true social English style Shashi wrote:

"I have logged in to your KT-on-the web once or twice and found it marvelously well done."

Thanks Shashi - I am sure my grandchildren (two presently) will treasure that sentence.

Mentioning Ajeet means that I have to inform you that the third reunion of the Finnish Stephanian alumni was held over Christmas at my residence in Oulu. As usual, we had 100% attendance, with all two of us present.

Ajeet came to Oulu, not just to be with his fellow Stephanian/Cathedralite, but his ulterior motive was to try to get to see the Northern Lights which often are visible in all its swirling blue, red and golden glory at this high latitude.

When, on the third evening, because of heavily overcast snowy skies, we were unable to see the stars, we were both a bit surprised when my better half said, very confidently, that Ajeet would see the Northern Lights the next evening. I have never heard such a forthright and dramatic statement from her in all my life. I was quite taken aback.

Next day, as we watched the skies eagerly, looking to see if there was any break of clouds to see the stars above, we were not very hopeful. But Annikki was merrily keeping her composure and said again that without fail Ajeet would see the Northern Lights.

Come evening, we sat down to dinner. After a nice meal, Ajeet was planning a walk around the frozen town to see whether Annikki's prediction would come true, when, out of the kitchen walked this cake designer with a recreation of the Northern Lights transfixed in a glass cake bowl. The ground made of chocolate butter covered cake, with a beautiful blue gel topping about six inches (150 cm) deep. Annikki had managed to create the entire Northern Lights effect in the jelly above the cake - quivering dark blue with stars and moon included.

Ajeet and I were dumb struck.

Annikki is famous for her unique cake designs. Much of her work is soon to be published in a photographic book form (and maybe also on the internet) but none of us expected her to fulfill a promise using her cake designs.

Ajeet left back for his southerly abode quite satisfied at having seen something infinitely more unique and beautiful than the Northern Lights!!

And we all had a great laugh!!

Here are the snippets from his alumni reunion report:

* Rauha Annikki, wife of Sushil (Jacob Matthan to some), contributed a special Northern Lights Cake which she designed and made herself and which was a great hit..not a crumb was left as it was polished off by Stephanians/Cathedralites with much appreciation.

* The cake idea arose to make up for the non-appearance of the Aurora Borealis! The year 2000-2001 was forecast to be a spectacular auroral year with spectacular lights around New Moon Day (24-25 Dec) but you know weather forecasters....

* Ajeet Mathur and Jacob Matthan went a-walking through the snow and ice around Oulu past midnight in - 26 C remembering....

Lots of older Stephanians are finding their way onto the internet. But they still seem to be shy of establishing communications using this medium. I know Niranjan Desai, Montek Singh Alhuwalia, Rathikant Basu, Dipankar Basu and Davendra Pratap, are very much active in their own spheres. Niranjan was Ambassador to Egypt when I last heard of him. Montek is somewhere in the Planning Commission after his stint as Finance Secretary. Rathikant has had a rough ride after his time at Doordashan. According to Nirmal Jhala, who met him recently at Delhi Airport, he now heads the new TV group called "tara" which is affiliated to an international network called "worldwide". Dipankar's name has been recently in the news as chairing some Government Committee. Davendra is somewhere in England - he registered at the alumni page recently. He must be a bit riled at me having sent him email where I addressed him by his nickname, coined by me when he was in college - Daisy. I think we gave him the name as he was top of the list during the Miss Fresher's contest.

Just wondering if the Miss Fresher's is still on the JCR agenda?

I had a nice email over Christmas from Dr. Anthony Stone (Tony):

Date: Wed, 20 Dec 2000 19:00:20 +0000
From: Dr Anthony P Stone
Subject: Our news

20 Harding Close, Redbourn, St Albans, Herts, AL7 3NT Tel: 01582-626647
December 2000

Dear friends

Happy Christmas & New Year!

It's time we gave you our news, and best wishes for Christmas and the New Year. This year Bertha's heath has not been very good, and Tony has been busy. At the beginning of this year Bertha was having ultraviolet treatment for her skin. This helped it a lot, although it is still itchy. The new development is that she has been diagnosed as most likely having Parkinson's disease. Unfortunately, the doctor has not found any pills without side effects, and Bertha is going back to see the neurologist early in January.

In May, Bertha very much enjoyed a week in respite care in a care home near us, which sadly doesn't offer that any more. During that time Tony went to Berlin or four nights, for meetings about the voluntary work on transliteration standards. Things move slowly, but the work could possibly be completed in 2001. Berlin is a very interesting city, and travelling on the underground is extremely easy, with no ticket barriers (a day ticket can be bought from a machine).

In October, Tony gave a paper entitled 'A model of time for physics and
theology', at a day conference in London. The physics part was done in earlier years, but you can see what he will be studying now! After a long break, Tony is again proof-reading books of the Bible in Oriya, as voluntary work with Compass Braille, which is based in Moretonhampstead, Devon, and led by our friend Lionel Holmes.

At the beginning of December Bertha had two weeks in respite care and Tony visited the West Country. He saw Roger & Susan and family, Roger Rowe (who used to be our pastor, now in West Hill near Ottery St Mary), and Lionel Holmes. Both of us benefited from this rest.

Through the kindness of two friends, Tony's computer was upgraded early in the year, at no cost to him. Now he can play audio CDs on it and see video news reports from The Times of India, as well as from the BBC.

We look forward to 2001 when we shall all agree on what is meant by 'the last century'.

Tony & Bertha

A subsequent message from Tony said:

"At the end of February I am planning to visit Prabhu & Philippa Guptara in Switzerland. His mother is there, too, so we should be talking about Kerala."

Let us hope and offer a prayer for Bertha's speedy recovery.

I have a public apology to make to the Shakespeare Society in that they wanted to raise funds for this years performance. The target was about Rs. 1.5 lakhs. In an effort to help I promised them whatever was possible from my Indian bank account. I wrote to a cousin in India to find out what lay there. Sadly, either they did not get my mail or they ignored it. As a result I just had no idea how much was lying in my local bank account and I could not fulfill my promise.

I promise to make it up to them, or if they are still prepared to take a donation when I do find out what lies in my local bank account, I promise to give them all that is possible from that account.

In my case, as many of you will vouch, I answer all my emails within 48 hours, usually 24. This is because I get close to 300 emails every day. If I leave my correspondence, even for four days, it would take a month to clear the backlog. Only when I am dependent on feedback from outside sources and it does not come, I usually get into a mess.

I do hope the Shakespeare Society will forgive me on this occasion. I hope that any of you who can help them will dig deep into your purses and send your contributions to them, even if it is a bit late.

Contributions to "Bindu Sara Sunny"

To ensure that you are informed when the next issue of Kooler Talk (Web Version) comes on line, I have instituted a new service on this page. The central panel at the very top of this page is that of a Monitoring Service. You will be sent an email every time I change or update this site. It will take you just 10 seconds to complete the formality. It will save you and me a lot of hassle!!

I also have introduced a special feature. I am listing all the Stephanians mentioned in a particular issue, and also as complete a list of web pages of Stephanians. (Most of e presently given LINKS ARE DEAD, DEAD, DEAD...)I would also like to provide the email addresses (if available). For that I would need a individual OK's that this is acceptable. Till then only names of those mentioned will be listed in the column alongside.

And finally, anyone interested to help Sponsor/Advertise in this Web Version or my other two ezines should contact me. I have been lucky to top all the major search engines with my web pages. This page is also no exception. Do read the research report mentioned at the top of the next column and the introduction to the new book written by my wife and myself (see the column alongside) about how we managed to get to this position. It is a fascinating story considering that I am a computer idiot and my wife does not even know how to type.

So long for now. See you in a month.


Jacob Matthan
Honorary Editor
Kooler Talk (Web Version)
Stephanian 1960 - 1963
JCR President - 1961-1962