Saturday, June 21, 2008

KTWV 9 Issue 17: The fine “Gentlemanly World”

Last week I had a copy of an email from a Mr. Kapadia to a Mr. Chopra.

It appears that in Delhi they have a Club where people get together to see movies. These two gentleman attend this club and share their company with a few others.

Mr. Yezad Kapadia (Yesh to me) is a Cathedralite of the 49 era, 10 years my senior. He discovered that Mr. Dev Chopra was a Stephanian, also of the 49 era.

Mr. Kapadia got talking to Mr. Chopra, and of course the topic came up about me, a Cathedralite and Stephanian. Mr. Chopra expressed a desire to know more about my blog.

A few minutes after an email from Mr. Kapadia to Mr. Chopra (introducing me), I had a nice email to “Dear friend Jacob” from Mr. Chopra.

I replied “Dev” with a copy to “Yesh” thus:

Jacob Matthan
15 June 2008 11:10
To: “Dev Chopra”
Cc: “Yezad Kapadia”, “Jamila & BGV Verghese”, Ajay Verma, “Sarwar Lateef”, “Montek Singh Ahluwalia”, “Suresh & Meera Philip”, “Aftab Seth”, “Raj & Roshni Sircar”, "Rahul and Rupa (née Gholap) Bajaj", "57er Ashok (Tony) Jaitly", “Niranjan Desai”, “Deepak Mukarji”, “59er SUJIT BJHATTACHARAYA”, Ajeet Mathur Prof, Swaminathan Aiyar, Sreenath Sreenivasan, John Dayal

Bcc: 64er Deepak Deshpande

Dear Dev,

It is a great honour that you have chosen to be in touch.

I have chosen to share this email with many of whom I know will be pleased to hear about you. These include Raj Sircar (Canada) and Deepak Mukarji (Mumbai), whose association with our alma mater is not just as students! I am also copying Sreenath Sreenivasan, Professor of Journalism in Columbia University who runs the New York Forum of Stephanians and is also the Moderator of the South Asian Journalists Association (SAJA) in the US.

B. G. Verghese and his wife, Jamila, are the oldest Stephanians that I am in touch with presently. Both are just a tad younger than you. I was in touch with Col. Shafat Hussain in Canada, but I seem to have lost contact with him over the past 5 years. He was in college around 1945.

My time in Stephania was 1960 to 1963. It was an exciting three years. I was probably the first and last 2nd year student to be elected as President of the JCR. The first JCR evening of music was the highlight of my Presidency as also the introduction of various JCR tournaments - Bridge, Chess, Caroms, Draughts, Table Tennis. The Rai twins, Chandra and Suraj, beat Ajay Verma and me in the very last hand of the Bridge Finals with an unbelievable call of 7 Spades on the very last hand where Ajay and I had bid 7 Hearts! It was only the intuitive communication that twins have that prompted that call! Both were makeable contracts!

It was also during my years that Sarwar Lateef (World Bank), Montek Singh Alhuwalia (Planning Commission), Swaminathan Aiyar (Economic Times), Dr. Peter Philip (MRF), Zaffar Hai (creative films director and producer), Prakash Joseph (the artist), Aftab and Roshan Seth, and a few others started the college rag - which was called Kooler Talk as the name Blacksmith was rejected by Principal Sircar and Dean Rajpal. Niranjan Desai (ex-Ambassador), Ajay Verma (who lives in Lund) and myself were known as The Heaps and we did write exposés for the rag during our time.

Kooler Talk as a hard copy has had a chequered life. I started the online web version from here in Finland in 1996. It has a worldwide readership of Stephanian's interested in a bit of nostalgia. Over a thousand Stephanians correspond with me regularly and help me keep my spirits up in that I know I am not writing to thin air.

Originally it started as a web page monthly. But times have been changing. About 5 years ago I changed it to a blog. Others have copied my style and presentation, but my Kooler Talk Web Version Blog keeps going. Now I am experimenting with the new fashion - FACEBOOK!

Ashok (Tony) Jaitly, in his book about our college, kindly gave my online efforts a nice reference. I do try to stay above politics and stay with nostalgia, although I have been drawn into the recent controversy which surrounds the College Principal fiasco. Friends, such as John Dayal, keep me abreast of happenings behind the scenes.

I also started a similar online web site / blog about my school, where Yezad and I went, Yesh being 10 years my senior. Seventh Heaven is extremely popular and also more active than Kooler Talk Web Version.

There are a few of us who share both the alma maters - including Industrialist and Rajya Sabha MP Rahul Bajaj, Ashok (Tony) Jaitly, Dr. Peter Philip (MRF), Sujit Bhattacharaya (son of the former Governor of Reserve Bank), Prof. Ajeet Mathur (now Director of Manpower Planning in the Planning Commission and also at IIM, Ahmedabad).

Rahul celebrated his 70th birthday last week and I did a small tribute to him on both my blogs. He was kind enough to spare a few moments to write a word of thanks to me.

I would love to broaden the horizons of my efforts which is purely a labour of love of both my alma maters. I am happy that many former staff and ex- and present students stay in touch with me and give me a pulse of the institutions today.

My wife and I will visit India in November 2009 to take part in the 50th Year Reunion of my school class. We will also visit Delhi to meet with several tens and tens of my friends who are there. I hope too organise a joint Stephania / Cathedralite reunion session while I am visiting the capital, our last visit being as long ago as 15 years ago!

Do let me know what ideas you have in mind. You can read the blog and delve into its archives at the Kooler talk Blog. Thank you for being in touch and a special thanks to Yesh for having put you in touch with me.

Yours most sincerely

Jacob Matthan
Stephanian - 1960 - 1963
JCR President 1961 - 1962

It was great to see that because I copied many who were mentioned in my email, that a large number of sub-converaations resulted, people remembering each other and their previous associations.

And the two gentleman, Mr. Kapadia and Mr. Chopra, exchanged an email marvelling at the rapidity of communications of today across continents.

No doubt, at the next film viewing session in Delhi, Mr. Kapadia and Mr. Chopra will exchange a few words about the Kooler Talk Blog and the Seventh Heaven Blog.

Thank you, Yesh and Dev, for being part of our alma maters communities and may your wonderful gentlemanly formality live for ever!

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