Monday, January 21, 2008

KTWV 09 Issue 03: Pleased as punch?

Posted on my Jacob's Blog, the Oulu CHAFF Blog, the Mumbai Cathedralites Seventh Heaven Blog and the Delhi Stephanians Kooler Talk Blog.

Does the term "pleased as punch" refer to the condition after drinking an ample amount out of the Punch Bowl (remember Annikki and I are teetotallers) or is it some condition of Punch in the "Punch and Judy" Show?

However, Annikki and I were pleased as punch yesterday, whatever the origins of this phrase.

As was conveyed to most of you by "Manorama JM" yesterday, our younger daughter, Joanna and her husband, Tony, have produced their 3rd child, 3.49 kg in weight, 52 cm in length, at 15:35 on Sunday 20th January 2008.

Samuel and Daniel are very happy with their new baby sister, who is our second granddaughter, and just as beautiful as lovely Asha in England.

Our new granddaughter.

Daniel with his sister.

Samuel and Daniel with their sister.

Samuel with his sister.

Joanna watches her brood after the proceedings of the day.

I took these pictures (with my camera which is held together by sticky tape) at the hospital for Annikki, who cannot leave the house as she is looking after her mother. Grandmom was so pleased to be part of the event! And greatgrandmom was also quite thrilled to hear the news.

Annikki is the only one, who from the time she saw Joanna in mid-December, has been saying that the baby would be a girl!

Knowing Samuel and Daniel, this little girl is likely to grow up as a tomboy!

Friday, January 11, 2008

KTWV 09 Issue 02: A postcard from John

Posted on Jacob's Blog and the Stephanian Kooler Talk Blog.

John Dayal is a Stephanian much junior to ma and one I have grown to respect and appreciate for the work he does selflessly for the intersts of all minorities in India. I give below the text of an email postcard I just received from him. It speaks volumes of the situation in India.

A postcard from the Kandhamala, Orissa 10th January 2008

Dear Friends

Thank you very much for your support.

I returned home to New Delhi a couple of hours ago after spending fourteen days in Orissa – six days in two phases in the hills of the Kandhamala district of Orissa in the week of the Christmas 2007 violence against Christians, and unfortunately four days in an Intensive Care Unit of a Bhubaneswar hospital after a diabetic ketoacidosis collapse. I am grateful to Doctor Neeraj Misra of Kar Hospital, and Father Bernard and his brother priests at Bishops House in Bhubaneswar who nursed me back so I could travel home. I had gone to Orissa on 28th morning, after meeting Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil and his officers in North Block, New Delhi.

Kandhamala still shivers under a mist laden with a foreboding – that something dark and violent may happen on what is called Makar Sankrati, a pleasant and happy occasion that should mark the beginning of spring, but which, in this part of Orissa, marks the season when the Vishwa Hindu Parishad maverick resident abbot Lokhmananda Saraswati, the man at the root of all trouble, who reserves his most vituperative fulminations against Christians for this occasion. The gentleman is currently in Cuttack-Bhubaneswar but threatens to go back in the next three four days to his forest ashram.

The Orissa Government’s own blanket of darkness over Kandhamala does not help. No one really knows the full plight of the Christians in the refugees’ camp at Barakhama village-town. Relief groups and civil society are still barred from the area, despite repeated pleases by organizations of the stature of CARITAS, EFICOR and the like, and personal appeals by Archbishop Raphael Cheenath.

There has been an unreported death – the death of civil society in Orissa. There is no Digant Oza, no Teesta Setalvad, and Javed Anand, no Harsh Mander and Harsh Sethi, no Shamsul Islam-Neelima Sharma and their street theatre Nishant, no ANHAD and SAHMAT equivalents in Orissa, and the above name too are yet to come to the State and to the national Press. In their absence, mischief and white lies have a field day. Television News anchors quote Lokhmananda and speak of debates on conversion. Not one paper calls for relief and assistance and legal aid.

I intend to go back to Orissa after about a week or so after regaining health and writing out the White Paper. I released the preliminary report in Bhubaneswar, just before I took ill.

The following needs to be urgently done in Kandhamala, other than the work of relief and rehabilitation.

1. Re-building civil society. We need to, and I hope to be able to, organize at least four national seminars – one each in Calcutta and Hyderabad, which have had an organic relationship with Orissa in the past, and one each in Delhi and Mumbai to focus attention on the growth of fascism in hidden parts of India and how to meet the challenge as collective civil society, and not as a response only from the victim communities.
2. Organizing legal assistance: This has to be on a par with the organized legal assistance that helped put the trauma of the Gujarat victims in the lap of the legal system. This has to be multi tiered. We need par algal activist to help villagers file FIRs for their burnt houses and shops and their displaced families. We need legal assistance to trace out culprits. We need legal assistance to defend innocents that are being trapped by the police in the guise of `parity’ between communities. We need this before evidence is lost or false `evidence’ manufactured by a governance system that has totally sold itself out to its Coalition Dharma with the Bharatiya Janata Party. And we need to investigate issues of impunity in the matter of the mysterious police firing in Braminigaon.
3. We need to tell Civil Society in India and abroad that the attack on Christians in Orissa is at par with the repeated mauling of Muslims in Gujarat and other states, and an integral part of the Sangh Parivar’s ideology.

I hope to be able to analyze some of threes issues in larger essays soon.

I am sorry to record that till the film maker Mahesh Bhatt came to Bhubaneswar and addressed a press conference with Maharashtra Minorities Commission vice chairman Abraham Mathai to denounce the Sangh Parivar and warn of its designs, no other worthy had dared do so.

And till All India Christian Council president Dr Joseph D Souza and New Methodist Bishop Joab Lohara shared the stage with Dalit leader Udit Raj, there had been no visible protest of any magnitude in the capital of Orissa.

I regret that Union Home Minister Patil did not visit more places even more than I regret that the National Minorities Commission did not visit any place other than the town of Phulbani.

In a way, I thank the handsome and smug Inspector General of Police Kapoor, who had me escorted out of Phulbani on 29-30 December 2007 and the sarcastic Divisional commissioner, the subdivision police office and the circle inspect tor of Braminigaon whose language and behaviour, in a flash, made me understand that the apparatus of governance stood firmly on the side of a particular ideology.

I wish to close with my thanks, and those of my family, once again to the Catholic Fathers of Orissa, in particular Fr Bernard, Fr Nicholas Barla, Fr Mrtiyunjay and Fr Madan, Rev Pran Patrichha, Dr Anna and the MC Sisters for their love and care.

I salute the brave Nuns, Pastors and Priests of the Kandhamala, tribal, Dalit and always rooted in the soil of their mother hills.

And I wish to salute Archbishop Raphael Cheenath, SVD, who defies his 73 years, to provide Orissa the sort of leadership the late Archbishop Alan de Lastic provided us all in 1998 and later.

Happy New Year

John Dayal
New Delhi

Safe in a country far away from where John is, my heart bleeds for all those in such distress. My prayers go out to all those who have a belief that India will remain the wonderful secular society that I was brought up in.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

KTWV 09 Issue 01: Back again to our teeny weeny world

Posted on my Jacob's Blog, on the Mumbai Cathedralites Seventh Heaven Blog, on the Stephanian Kooler Talk Blog, and the Oulu CHAFF Blog.

Glad to get back to regular blogging. And it is a new Volume of the Kooler Talk Web Version Blog. I hope good sense, peace and prosperity will see this year through at our alma mater!

The last two weeks were a delight in that we were were not snowed under by snow, but with love and affection and greetings from all over the world.

(Sadly, as an aside, this is the first time in the last 23 winters we have been in Finland (and Annikki's some 40 winters she has been in Finland out of her 63 winters) that we did not have snow in this near Arctic location. Remember we are just 200 km from the Arctic Circle! A sad reflection of the effect of global warming!)

Into our 10 email addresses, 5 Blog Accounts, 3 Google Groups, our mobile phone number, our landline phone and our snail mail postbox, a total of just around 70000 (YES 70000!) season's greetings poured in.

I had a task sorting them out and then updating mailing addresses in our numerous mailing lists, grouping them into the various groups, i.e., family (Maliyakals and Kandathils), friends (Indian, Finnish, world), Mumbai Cathedralites, Delhi Stephanians, Bishop Cottonians (Bangalore), Findians, CHAFF Participants, O-Indians, past colleagues, present colleagues and others - making sure we were not sending out duplicates or to dead addresses and then send our greetings to all on our lists. (If it was not for 3 trustworthy Macs working round the clock this task would have been impossible for just one computer idiot!)

Out of a total 37000 postings (the last ones were today), I am glad to say that this year we had hardly around 300 returns! I had taken out all those who had university addresses in the US and UK (the majority of these were Stephanians), and that had cut the mailing list from the 80000+ to this more manageable figure.

We are sorry to all whom we may have missed.

But this is proof that we have a teeny weeny world of our own. But this teeny weeny world is even smaller than we thought!

A few weeks ago I had about 6 emails, all with the same attachment - some pictures of the Old Bombay - a truly great collection of pictures. Most of the emails were forward.

One of the persons who forwards me great emails is Cathedralite from Mumbai) 56er Ubi (HS Uberoi). (Another is Cathedralite 49er from Mysore, Naval Patel.)

When I looked at the forward I noted that it was from his daughter-in-law, Anahita. Besides Ubi, she had forwarded it to one Farookh Mehta.

I sent an email to Ubi asking him whether this "Farookh" was the same "advertising" Farookh who was married to a great Maharashtrian stage actress, Vijaya. I explained to Ubi that we had sailed together from Venice to Bombay in 1969, round the Cape, and Farookh had beaten me in the Table Tennis final on board the ship. Farookh played well on a tilting and listing ship!

Ubi's reply was swift as it was amazing. Yes, this was the self-same Farookh, who was also a Cathedralite of the 47 era, married to the Maharashtrian stage legend, Vijaya, and whose daughter, Anahita, who had been a few months on that voyage was Head Girl in Cathedral School in 1985, when Ubi's son, Samir, was Head Boy, and the two were married!

A year or so ago, Farookh and Vijaya's son, Ravi Khote, had passed through Finland and I had talked to him about his parents.

Since this exchange of emails I have had emails and photographs from Farookh, which I will blog soon.

But the moral is that our teeny weeny world is much much smaller than we thought!

Cathedral, Alumni, 47er, 56er, Farookh, Vijaya, Ubi, Anahita, Samir