Monday, January 31, 2005

KTWV06 - Issue 3: Stephanians, hip, hip, HURRAH!

The President of India, Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, has conferred on Mammen Mathew (Kandathil family, Stephanian) the PADMA SHREE Award. This important news was announced on Republic Day at New Delhi. This award has made it a record for any one family in Independent India (see below).


Mammen, former US President Bill Clinton and former Indian President Shri K. R. Narayanan

Besides being my dear and constant companion when we were together in St Stephen's College, Delhi, Mammen was also very dear to both Annikki and me when he came to England. It was Mammen and his friends who campaigned for me and made history in the college by getting a second year student elected to the post of JCR President of the College. Together we made the JCR from a dumb unloving unfriendly place into one of the most liveliest places to hang out in.

Later, I was one who was involved in giving him the courage to choose his life partner, Prema!! I still remember him sweating away in the car when he went to see his to-be for the first time!! He ran through more than a few of my handkerchiefs and hand towels at that time!!

Mammen, with another outstanding Stephanian classmate, architect Ramu Katakam, who is also now a member of the Kandathil family by marriage, hitch-hiked across the globe from India to London to land at my doorstep in the mid 1960's. Both were going places, and Mammen has shown us the way to the top.

I must mention the other two of the four Stephanian musketeers of Mammen’s year, Azhar Siddique, who went into hotel management and made a great name for himself in that field, and Suresh Mehra, who runs one of the finest garment export houses from Hyderabad.

Mammen studied journalism on the job at Bristol in Wales and then in the USA. In 2002 he received the rare honour of being appointed as a Reuters Trustee, the first Indian to be appointed to this position. He has been the Chairman of the Indian Section of the Commonwealth Press Union, President of the Indian Newspaper Society, and the Editors Guild of India, and has also been on the Press Council of India.

Today, he is the guiding spirit of the Malayala Manorama Newspapers Group, India's most outstanding newspaper and magazine publishing centre, founded by our greatgranduncle, Kandathil Varghese Mappillai, given shape by our grandfather K. C. Mammen Mappillai and then guided in turn by the late K. M. Cherian and then K. M. Mathew, till Mammen took the helm.
Mammen is assisted by his two younger brother, both professionals, Philip Mathew, also a Stephanian and father of 2 Stephanians, Amit and Riyad, and Jacob Mathew , sadly not a Stephanian but the father of one, Harsha.

Mammen's daughter-in-law, Miriam Mathew (née Paul) was an outstanding Stephanian and a leading executive in a US bank till she returned to India to take the helm of Manorama Online. Her husband Jayant, is also in the newspaper business and a student of our leading Stephanian friend, Sreenath Sreenivasan, Professor of Journalism at Columbia University and an expert on convergence journalism.

The other Award Winners in our family:

1. The late Mr. K. M. Cherian - first awarded the Padma Shree and the later he was given the Padma Bhushan.
2. Mr. K. M. Philip was give the Padma Shree three ago back. He was the World President of the Y. M. C. A. after many years of outstanding and honorary service in the Indian Y. M. C. A. At the age of 92, he is still physically and mentally fully active and still takes part in many business functions. His wife is also fully active at the age of 85. She was the leading light of the Mumbai Y. W. C. A. for many many years. A dearer lady so full of fun and laughter one will not find on this earth. His two children are Sen Philip and Dr. Peter Philip (Tubby, Suresh, a fellow Stephanian of my era, an outstanding economist, the business brain behind the launch of the FIRST Kooler Talk, classmate of such leading Stephanians as Sayeed Rizvi, Sarwar Lateef, Zaffar Hai).
3. Mr. K. M. Mathew (Mammen's father) was given the Padma Bhushan, nearly a decade ago. His wife, the late Mrs. K. M. Mathew, who passed away in 2003, surpassed all what her husband and her children have done in her service to the women and children of India. His daughter, Thangam, Mammen’s sister is the mother of 2 Stephanians, Adit and Rohan. (See above for details of his sons - Rajen, Thambi and Chacko.)
4. The late Mr. K. M. Mammen Mappillai, half a decade before he died in 2003. His wife, is a hostess extraordinaire, a person who has made any person entering over the doorstep feel as one of the family. KMMM, aided by his six brothers (Cherian, Oommen, Eapen, Varghese Mappillai, Philip and Mathew) and one sister (Mariam, my late mother ) and the sister-in-law of their deceased brother, (Mrs. K. M. Jacob), built the MRF tyre company by their sense of unity and devotion to one another as well as the entire Syrian Christian Malayali Community. Kochappachen was physically assisted by his wife’s brother, now retired Technical Director of MRF, Kurian George (my dear friend in Chennai who keeps me abreast of all the best news from India these days) and technically, mentally and morally assisted by my late father (Kuriyan Matthan). MRF was stabilised and brought forward as India’s leading tyre company by his son, the late Ravi Mammen, and is now run in the family tradition of professional management by his two surviving sons, Vinoo and Arun. Vinoo is the father of 2 Stephanians, Samir and Rahul. His only daughter, Remani is an outstanding artist running her own creative art design company.

It is important to mention Mr. M. K. Mathulla, founder of H.M.T. and a die hard Kandathil, got a Padma Shree some 20 years ago.

Friday, January 28, 2005

KTWV06 - Issue 2 : What a GLORIOUS day!!

Today, January 28th 2005, is truly a Glorious Day.

It is 38 years since Annikki and I got married in a small beautiful English town called Shrewsbury in Shropshire.

Sadly, we are barred from visiting that town by our local friends. When we visited there the last time, about 14 years ago, as we drove into the town, it was hit by an earthquake!! :-)


As my mother used to say, if I had been married to an Indian, I would have been thrown out on the streets a long long time ago. Annikki deserves that cup the my father used to say was his trophy for having been married to Ammachi for all their years together!!

And here is a recent photograph of us with 2 of our 3 grandchildren . Asha and Samu.


Annikki's mother is in her interval care in the Old People's Home. Mika is also at his 3 day a month interval care.

We were able to sleep late. We are looking forward to a day of shopping - Annikki as usual at the fleamarket, while I potter around a few shops - looking for nothing particular in mind as I have everything I need. After that we will choose to dine at some restaurant, one of the vast array of friends' restuarants to choose from - Chinese, Thai, Indian, Turkish, Greek, Mexican and, of course, Finnish. Depends on what we feel like in the evening. Maybe not Turkish, as we did that last year and maybe not Chinese as we did that the year before!!

Many thanks to all the rest of you who remembered us through emails on this great day.

As we enjoy another honeymoon year, it is on to the 39th!!!

Friday, January 14, 2005

KTWV06 - Issue 1: Proud to be a Stephanian

BBC Hard Talk on BBC World on Thursday 13th January 2005 featured the Indian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, none other than my good friend and Stephanian colleague, Kamalesh Sharma. Kamalesh had just gone into the MA course when I joined as a fresher in 1960.

On my very first night in college, there was a knock at my window after dinner. It was a time when all us freshers were living in fear of who would catch us to rag us. But for the rest of this story kindly visit

Katy Issue 7 14th July 1996.

Kamlesh had previously been the Indian representative at the United Nations, where he had faced some tough interviews, and one on them was on BBC World Service Radio. It was after this that I was able to re-establish contact with my old friend.

Kamlesh stood up as a true diplomat when faced with the aggressive questioning on Hard Talk.The whole objective of the interviewer was to question why India had rejected to receive Aid from the developed world and seemed to be focused on "India's pride" and the "desire of India to be a superpower in the region". Some of the questioning, as is usually the case in Hard Talk, bordered on the ridiculous!!

I was impressed by how Kamalesh stood up and in a quiet and gentle manner brought the aggresson down in a manner which made the interviewer look quite ridiculous with her one track mind. His Stephanianness stood out above all!!

You will be able to download and see the interview in a day or so from the

Hard Talk Web Site.

It is not yet on the web but should be in a day or two.

Well done Kamalesh!!