Sunday, September 05, 2010

KTWV 11 Issue 25: Absconding?

Many readers have accused me of absconding.

They are true in one sense that I have not devoted as much time as I usually do to keeping the Kooler Talk blog going as it should.

Reason: Although retired, my hobby has become a national business and I am commuting 1200 km return on the same day once a week almost every week.

My wife calls me crazy, and she is right!

After the last trip i have now stationed a car in Helsinki so I can visit all my apartments when I get there.

Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa are triple linked counties and it covers a huge territory. My apartments are in all three counties.

Also, my mind is not as active as regards our alma mater as it should be. News from the capital has not been flowing as freely as it could or should.

However, with the catastrophic Commonwealth Games just less than a month away, I am sure I will have plenty of gup-shups and PJs to share with you as my correspondents from our capital keep me abreast of the mayhem and chaos which is expected during the two weeks of the events.

Let us hope and pray that no major calamities occur. Having seen what we did last November/December, there are going to be thousands of hiccups.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

KTWV 11 Issue 24: Stephanians not registered

I am getting worried in that I had a huge number of Stephanians who were regularly accessing the Kooler Talk Blog.

Ever since I put in the registration clause, the readership has tailed off.


is registration for your only solid alma mater blog a difficult step.

Do ask your Stephanian friends who have not yet registered to contact me by email and I will add them to the list.

Then drop in whenever you need an update on nostalgia!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

KTWV 11 Issue 23: An important request to ALL our readers

Dear Readers of all our blogs,

It is with great sadness that we have to announce that we will now have to make all our major blogs accessible only to those who register with us.

The subjects we have covered over the years include the wrestler Dara Singh (probably the most popular and controversial blog entries, ever), St. Stephen's College, Delhi, Cathedral and John Connon School, Mumbai, Bishop Cotton School, Bangalore, the UN, talk Shows in the USA, politics, the Kandathil and Maliyakal families, Kampitie, Vesaisentie, Annikki's creative art, achievements of our children and grandchildren, CHAFF (Chamber for Assistance of Finns and Foreigners), Findians, our numerous friends, relatives, our travels, recipes, and life in general. Above all, t they contained the nostalgia the people love.

Due to circumstances far beyond our control, which affect the lives of many of our loved ones, we have to create the SETTINGS of our blogs so that only those whom we invite can read them. This is very sad as our blogs have reunited many friends across the continents.

With over 120000 readers around the world, some reading more than one of our blogs, for a decrepit old blogger and his wife sitting near the North Pole, this will prove to be a Herculean task, but one which has to be done for the safety, security and well being of many of our loved ones.

Please take the time and effort to send us an email telling us which of our blogs you want to be added to so that you can access them freely.

Our sincere apologies to each and every one of you lovely readers who have kept us going for almost a decade and a half by your readership, your inputs and your outputs!

Yours in great sadness as technology besides being a positive aspect of life can also be a very negative one.

Annikki and Jacob Matthan
Oulu, Finland

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

KTWV 11 Issue 22: Now that the Bharat Darshan is over...

Many of you are speculating that now that the 50th Reunion of the 59ers is over, and i did manage to attend the College Founders Day in Delhi, that I have lost interest in the school and college and their activities.

Nothing can be further from the truth.

All assume that as I am retired, I have infinite time.

True, I do have infinite time, but each hour of that infinite time is booked solid. Blogging used to get about an hour in that schedule, before. Now it is down to a few minutes. If my brain stays inactive during those few minutes, then that day's blogging is lost.

But I still am getting emails from all of you and they are being preserved.

Will I make it to the Reunion and Founders Day this year?

That is a really huge question and it still remains unanswerd. But, it will not be a Bharat Darshan like last year. Just Mumbai and Delhi and Bangalore, and Chennai, and Hyderabad, and Kottayam, and... Well, if I do get there, it will have to be a Bharat Darshan, I guess! :-)

Thursday, April 08, 2010

KTWV 11 Issue 21: Old Cottonians act

I have mentioned on my many blogs the unfortunate media publicity attached to some of my alma maters.

I am heartened to see how the Bangalore Old Cottonians Association (OCA) have acted swiftly to ensure to show that they are actively concerned about their alma mater. Past Old Cottonians, as both my late father and uncle, who served as Chairmen of the OCA, would be proud of the stand taken by the present OCA.

I reproduce here the letter that was sent by the present Chairman of the OCA to the Moderator of the Church of South India as per the resolution passed at an Extraordindary General Meeting of the Old Cottonians in Bangalore. Sitting here in Finland, I was kept abreast of the developments and I too fully support the actions of the OCA.:


5th April, 2010

The Most Reverend Vasantha Kumar
Church of South India
Mission Road

Dear Sir,

We, as the Old Cottonians' Association, have a considerable stake in the upkeep of the fair name of Bishop Cotton's Boys' School and all that this entails. Principals and members of the Board of management may come and go, but once a student passes out of the school, and leaves its gates, he becomes an Old Cottonian and this status remains throughout his life and no force on earth can take it away from him.

We earnestly hope that other stake holders in the school should realise this and act accordingly.
Recent happenings in the school have caused us great concern. Old Cottonians from all over the world have expressed their deep worry.  As a consequence, the OCA held an Extraordinary General Body meeting at the Rotary House of Friendship, Bangalore on the 3rd of April, 2010 and the under mentioned resolution was passed and the same is being communicated to the various persons connected with the management of  the school.

Accordingly I quote below:

"The Old Cottonians' Association (OCA) noted with anguish that the matters concerning the administration of Bishop Cotton Boys' School, Bangalore had recently become the subject matter of various media reports, which had tarnished the good name of the Institution.

The OCA further noted that under Article 2.2 of its Constitution containing the "Aims and Objects", the OCA was entitled and obligated ".... to be in constant interaction with the Management of the School in the matter of maintaining the standards, traditions and conventions of the School."

It was therefore unanimously RESOLVED that the Board of Management of Bishop Cotton Boys' School, Bangalore be called upon to take immediate corrective measures to ensure that the incumbent issues be fully resolved, so as to restore the smooth functioning of the School in keeping with its rich traditions and standards, and to keep the OCA informed of the said measures.

It was further RESOLVED to offer the assistance and support of the OCA to all concerned to enable the resolution of all outstanding issues.

The Chairman and Management Committee of the OCA were accordingly requested to communicate the aforesaid resolution to the Principal, Bishop and Board of Management of Bishop Cotton Boys' School, Bangalore, and to await a positive reaction to the same before undertaking any further course of action."

Yours faithfully


I wish my other alma mater alumni, The Stephanians, would also act with the dignity and purpose shown by Old Cottonians.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

KTWV 11 Issue 20: Secularity in Educational Institutions

(Posted on all my main blogs as this is one of my more serious postings meant to get the broadest reach.)

I learnt from the Times of India of 25th March 2010, Bishop Cotton school principals to resign, that my second alma maters, the Bishop Cotton's Schools in Bangalore, both the Boys and Girls schools, are going through a huge upheaval. The alleged interference of the Church in their running and the seemingly marginalisation of the Principals (also known as Wardens) into puppets, possibly all in the greed for the rich pickings associated with running a well-known educational institution, appear to have taken these two schools from reality into a fantasy world. Accusations are flying left, right and centre.

Sitting 7000 km away from that base, I do not know who is right or wrong, but it is such a shame to see the schools where my late father (he was also the Old Boy's Association Chairman for many years) and all his siblings, and a greater part of my generation of Matthan's, including my four children, being destroyed by these bickerings and the unfortunate media stories being put out.

A similar situation of the differences between the Church and the Principal is causing the rot of the fourth of my alma maters, St. Stephen's College in Delhi. The Alumni in different part of the world are taking actions, but that may not stop the rot.

However, my Mumbai alma mater, The Cathedral and John Connon School, seems to have overcome this problem, or it probably has not yet come to the forefront.

Trying to remember my days in each school and college, I knew I was in a Christian Institution in all these three cases (and also my first, The Good Shepherd Convent School in Mysore).

In Bishop Cotton's Boys' School we had to go, being a Christian by birth, to the Chapel for morning service before the start of school, every single day.

In Mumbai, we had School Assembly every morning with the reading of the Bible by one of the Prefects and singing of hymns. But it was not grossly evident that it was a Christian school.

My 59er class consisted of Atheists, Christians (a handful), Hindus, Jains, Jews, Muslims, Parsis, Sikhs, Sindhis, and probably various other sects and sub-sects. Not once did it cross my mind that my classmates were from different religions.

The only time I was aware the difference was we took our shirts off for PT. I noticed a few of my classmates wore quite different vests - the Parsis, as they had a sleeveless type muslin (?) vest quite different from the rest of the class. Other than mentally noting this difference, and I never even bothered to find out or understand the reason for this, we were all equal in every other respect during our hours in school.

The only differences were those imposed by the time table, as the Christians had to do Scripture as a subject while the non-Christians were exempt from this.

These secular values, and the continuation of the same which I imbibed in St. Stephen's College of the early 60s, has stood me in good stead through my life. I learnt to respect people for what they do and achieve and not because of their religion, caste or creed.

I wish this would be the universal philosophy across the world, as the wars that plague us today are based on these stupid artificial values, called as faith - be it by any religion anywhere in the world where the religious hierarchy fights for power and prestige, misguiding the masses along the way.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

KTWV 11 Issue 19: History of our College

I have written about the book authored by 61er Ashok (Tony) Jaitly for the 125th Anniversary of our College. Tony, like me, was a 57er Mumbai Cathedralite and then a Stephanian. The character of both these great institutions he graced do come through in this book.

Tony joined the college for exactly the same reasons as me - to save a year! Little did either he or I know at that time that we were joining to the most prestigous educational institution in India!

Yesterday, I completed reading his treatise for the third time. Although quite a slim book, it is crammed with the most interesting facts about our alma mater, that I have not been able to absorb it all in just one or two readings.

Almost everything that we need to know about the history and character of our college is included. The author has not blown his own trumpet in the book. He is an outstanding personality and was, during his time in college, on several fronts - on the sports field, in the theatre, in studies, and also as a Stephanian in Rez.

He has also not blown my trumpet ;-) , as although I get a mention as the 1961 JCR President and also the publisher of this outstanding blog (!!), he failed to mention that I was the only 2nd year student ever to be elected to the JCR Presidency, the organiser of the first JCR evening made up wholly of our internal talent in acting, music, comedy, and also the organiser of the first JCR indoor tournaments - chess, carrom, bridge, draughts, table tennis.

In fact, other than mentioning my JCR Presidency, Tony, covered almost every other institution in the college,  but forgot that the JCR existed as the main centre for the residents in college, the main meeting point for all residents in the evenings and also for day scholars who had to pass the time of day between lectures. The JCR President was the Head of all residents and served on various Committees including the all important Mess Committee! I did a lot of campaigning to change the quality of our food in 1961-62, but it fell back to old standards in 1962-63!

I was lucky to have Shanky (R. I Shankland) and Sircar (S. C. Sircar) supporting all my efforts and 62er Sarwear Lateef on the JCR Committee, who used his diplomatic skills to get many things done. We installed the first gramaphone in the JCR during that year. We installed colourful curtains. We allowed students to stay after 10 pm so that they could listen to Test Match Commentaries from places such as West Indies.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog entry, the present JCR is quite a morbid place compared to absolutely electric atmosphere we enjoyed there in 1961 - 62. When 63er Norval Prakash (Sherwood College, Nanital), my classmate, succeeded me at JCR President in 1962 - 63, he did not have the same hectic agenda as he was busy with his final year studies!

Coming back to Tony's book, it is superb on all fronts except where it was outside his control - the publishing. The sequence of pages in my copy is as follows:

102; 109, 110; 107, 108; 105, 106; 103, 104; 117, 118; 115, 116; 113, 114; 111, 112, 119. 120: ...

Whether it is a simple binding error in my copy or one which has been carried in all other copies, certainly is a spoiler in an otherwise brilliantly written book.

The book is also lacking an all important Index and Bibliography, which are most important for any book purporting to be "A History". That again is not the author's responsibility, but the publishers! In this age of computerised editing, these should have been a couple of the easiest tasks to accomplish!

The amount of research Tony has done, not only from written matter, but meeting and talking to Stephanians of all ages, has been a heroic effort. His comments, like a true diplomat are guarded, but the importance of our college as a secular institution from Day 1 comes through.

I would advise the present Principal, Valson Thambu, to read this book to understand something about the college, as almost everything he has been doing for the last 5 years is diametrically in contrast with the hopes and wishes of our founding fathers and all the Prncipals that have preceded him.

Valson Thambu would do well to remember that the first four students of our college were 'Hindoos' (Sansar Chand, Har Gopal, Kirpa Narain, Ram Lal) and the fifth a 'Mohammedan' (Sajjid Mirza).

I was certainly not aware of the involvement of many of our past staff and students with all the drama that India went through during the last century.

I was certainly not aware that the massacre of Jallianwala Bagh was condemned by, in writing in the Stephanian 1920, by the editor C. B. Young!
As a public institution it is our duty to avoid taking sides on strictly political issues... (but) we are in emphatic agreement with the condemnation bestowed on the action of General Dyer... as Christian missionaries we cannot avoid the duty of forming and expressing a judgement on such a deed of horror as the slaughter in Jallianwalla Bagh.
All the characters that I knew are portrayed with great accuracy throughout the book and it is a credit that Tony was able to write it without causing offence!

I was not aware of the close connection of our college to Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore and many more historic personalities of the world stage.

I will be using this book now to put many of my blog posts in context, in future. It is something which has been at my bedside for the last 3 months, but has now been moved to my office table so as to be of service to the rest of you.

I recommend that you get yourself a copy, also! Certainly worth every rupee I paid for it - just Rs. 365 (€ 6!)  in New Delhi. They had to order it from the Publisher and I was able to pick it up just hours before I left the city.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

KTWV 11 Issue 18: Who is Stephanian 1?

Whoever has been sending me emails revealing the inside goings on in the Governing Body, much of which is scandulous, if true, could you please reveal who you are?

I am not prepared to publish stuff from anonymous sources.

What you say is important.

So be a Stephanian and stand up and behave as you should - or shut up!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

KTWV 11 Issue 17: Who or what is Stephanian 1?

Who or what is Stephanian 1?

The email that reached me from Stephanian 1, stephanian1 at, about the interference in the selection process, if true, is shocking.

If what is contained in this email exchange is true, the entire Governing Body of St. Stephen's College, the Principal of the College, as well as some other senior members of the Staff should resign, if they have one Christian bone in their body.

But I doubt many have!

As I do not publish anonymous emails, I can only hope that the person who mailed this to me will have the courage to stand up.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

KTWV 11 Issue 16: Welcome this new day, Holi 2010

When Annikki and I left for India in mid-October, we drove the 600 kms from Oulu to Helsinki. We had snow storms for much of the day, heralding the early, very early, advent of winter.

We do not know much about the time we were away in India, but when we got back we were right in what seemed to be mid-winter. (I lost my old SIM card in the snow in Helsinki airport! But I have got the uld mobile phone number back last week, so you can call me on that number again!)

But winter in Oulu has just continued and continued. We have had the longest spell ever where the temperature has remained well below zero. Some days have been exceptionally cold because of the strong winds. The snowfall right through winter has been heavy.

The Vesaisentie and Kampitie gardens are totally and completely snow covered, with only one small foot track, each, to the garages.

From 2010 Photos February

From 2010 Photos February

Our reindeer stands deeply immersed in thought and snow. Just like Annikki, who has been wondering when it will be "snowman snow" as I think she is contemplating another unusual creation, like her mobile snowman, before the grandkids arrrive by March end!

From 2010 Photos February

From 2010 Photos February

From 2010 Photos February

The snow formations on the ladders and fretwork are reallly beautiful. The aluminium door and frame are a grewat view from the kitchen window.

Today and tomorrow are celebrated as the festival of Holi. Holi is celebrated, in many countries around the world where we have a Hindu population, and also in Bangladesh, at the end of the winter season on the last full moon day of the lunar month Phalguna (February/March), (Phalgun Purnima), which usually falls in the later part of February or March.

We certainly hope that this long hard winter in Finland, and which seems to be an unusual phenomena around the northern hemisphere this year, will draw to a close and the milder, warmer spring weather will be on us. (Friends in Dallas, Texas, reported snowstorms even at that latitude!)

Annikki and I would like to wish you a colourful and happy year ahead on this auspicious day.

(All these above photographs are by Annikki.)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

KTWV 11 Issue 15: Is this Christian?

The Bishop of the Church of North India (Chairperson of the Governing Body of our alma mater and also a member of the alumni) and the Principal of our College (also a mmember of our alumni) keep talking about upholding Christian morals and values.

The latest news as reported by he Kolkata Telegraph last Sunday "Leaked mails suggest Stephen’s foul play" makes me wonder how any of these two can go into a church and practice their "primary" profession, when all we see reported in the media is a lot of lying and hypocrisy!

New Delhi, Feb. 22: Private email correspondence between the current principal of Delhi’s St Stephen’s college and key insiders suggests that Valsan Thampu’s controversial selection as head of the prestigious institution in late 2008 was rigged.The correspondence suggests Thampu dictated the exact procedure for selecting the principal through a key member of the college’s highest decision-making body and the legal counsel for the St Stephen’s chairman.

He was also allowed access to secret college documents and plans in the lead up to the selection when he was one of the candidates and had no official position in the institution, the correspondence reveals.

The correspondence threatens to hurl St Stephen’s – one of India’s most prestigious colleges – into its biggest controversy ever, and is peppered with ugly references to the sharp divides that have brought embarrassment in recent times.

Where there is smoke there is surely a fire!

The recent petition being circulated amongst the alumni certainly draws one to believe that our alma mater is is state of decline on all fronts.

When will these people quit their desperate games to grasp power and money while our alnma mater rots?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

KTWV 11 Issue 14: 2010 Doha Debate at St. Stephen's College in Photographs

(Sorry for the photograph quality as they are directly snapped from the TV!)

The Premises: Auditorium, St. Stephen's College, Delhi

The Moderator with the Panel

The Proposition: 'This House beleives Muslims are not getting a fair deal in India'.

The Moderator Tim Sebastian

The Speakers

Seena Mustafa

Sachin Pilot

Teesta Setalvad

M. J. Akbar

The Questioners


The Audience

The Vote

Saturday, February 20, 2010

KTWV 11 Issue 13: Commonwealth Games and St. Stephen's College Residence?

Yesterday was an interesting article in India that Delhi University students had been asked to vacate their rooms for delegates for the Commonwealth Games Conference.

In a world which has been changing and modernising so rapidly, the face our college presents to the delegates who may live there will the the old squatting toilets, no running hot water, rooms which are unheated - in fact, the picture of a third rate residential accommodation.

Can we state that in these modern times we are looking after our students if they are being subjected to living standards of bygone ages?

Annikki took umbrage with the authorities who organised the Veterans Olympics in 1991 when our Indian delegation was humiliated by being given third rate accommodation is a school premises where they had to sleep on the floor, dormitory style, while participants from other countries got five star hotel treatment!

This is what she wrote in 1991:

Veterans Olympics in Finland
by Annikki Matthan

The World Veterans Athletic Championship which was held in Turku, South Finland a few years ago (1991), is cause enough to deny Finland the right to host any international sporting event in which third world participants may wish to take part. It would be best if intending participants from these countries are informed of the heartless treatment that is likely to be meted out to them if they choose to come to this country for international sporting events.

It would also be wise if the Olympic Athletics Committees of developing countries discussed the matter with the veteran athletes that took part in these games and made an official complaint to the International Olympic Athletics Committee. The International Committee should be requested to fully investigate their findings. The IOC, based on their independent conclusions, should take steps to deny any country that behaves inhumanely towards athletes, like Finland did, the right to host any international sporting event.

Finland - the most expensive country in the world

It is without doubt that Finland is one of the most expensive countries in Europe and probably the world. The proof is the hotel bill I paid (special summer reduced rate of Rs. 4000 for one night!) when I stayed at a three star hotel during my visit to Turku where I had gone to see the Championships.

In this expensive hotel, as in all the five, four and three star hotels in Turku, were the participants from the richer countries and officials from all the participating countries enjoying hearty five and six course nutritious buffet breakfasts of their choice (fruit juice, tea, coffee or milk, corn flakes, yoghurt, a wide variety of vegetarian salads, preserved fish and meat, bread, toast, or rolls with butter and jam, and finally a fresh fruit as a large juicy orange). They had just descended to the plush breakfast room from their beautiful and tastefully decorated hotel rooms (equipped with telephone, radio, television sets, private shower and bath) after their early morning gratis sauna and swim in the hotel pool. In fact, anything that their money could buy was available to these contestants from the richer countries.

What about the contestants from India and the financially poorer world countries taking part, whose athletes did not have pockets lined with gold. Where were they?

Rude shock

There was a rude shock when I visited the large contingent of men and women from different parts of India.

They had been crowded into a couple of school rooms with mattresses spread out on the floor, twenty or more to a room. There were not even the basic facilities like cupboards to keep their clothes and sporting equipment. They had to queue to use the common toilets facilities. There were not even proper food facilities in line with their limited financial means (Rs. 200 for a most unappetising meal). They had to pay extravagant amounts to get anything and even had to pay an exorbitant bus fare for the seven kilometre trip between the two stadiums where the meet was being held. They had paid extremely high fees to take part in the events and were even made to pay high charges for use of these rudimentary facilities. These poor cousins were herded and treated like animals and fleeced like goats.

The caretaker of the school, taking pity on these poorly looked after athletes, gave his personal cooker to the Indian participants to prepare their own food. The participants, instead of training and resting, had to scour the ultra-expensive Finnish supermarkets for cheap products like milk (Rs. 35 per litre), rice (Rs. 85 per kilo) and vegetables (Rs. 160 per kilo of tomatoes) to meet their basic dietary requirements. Meat eaters would have had to pay anywhere from Rs. 250 to Rs. 800 for a kilo - so that was best avoided. Fruits and other basic ingredients of a healthy diet were totally financially inaccessible to these athletes, many of whom have owed their long life to their strict dietary habits.

Less enterprising participants from the neighbouring socialist countries, who shared the same school premises with the Indians, were considerably worse off than the Indians. They took to selling their watches and cameras to the slightly better off participants so as to afford to live.

Was the Olympics between equals

Is any contest between the richer and poorer nations held under these conditions equal in any respect? What was the meaning of the Olympic Motto under which this sporting event was supposed to be Hosted in Finland?

Moaned one Indian participant who had taken part in the Asian Veterans Championships at Kuala Lumpur earlier that year - "The Malaysians looked after our every need and made us feel welcome. If the Finns came to take part in any event in India they would be properly hosted - not treated like this - worse than animals!!"

Indians show the way

It was indeed a great achievement that two over-nineties from India, despite these adverse conditions they were subjected too, dominated their age-group events and ran their way to glory capturing all the medals that they could lay their hands on.

Athletic ninety year Narayanamurthy from Bull Temple Road, Basavangudi, Bangalore, born on 12th December 1900, was indeed oblivious to the problems around him.

His colleagues shared their humble food and drink with the sprightly gentleman. Full of beans (metaphorically speaking only) he was!! He captured the hearts of the sparse audience as his sprinted away a full 50 metres ahead of his rival in the 200 metres, as indeed in all the events he took part in. He more than justified the trust placed in him by the Karnataka Chief Minister who had, in his personal capacity, given Narayanamurthy a helping hand to take part.

So also was the case with fit-as-a-fiddle ninety-nine year old Joginder Singh from Patiala in Punjab. Narayanamurthy and Joginder Singh certainly did India proud at this occasion.

Indian hospitality

What was even more surprising was that when we visited the Indian contingent, never having met a single one of them before, friendship and hospitality, even under the conditions that they had been forced into, oozed out of them. They made us at home on the three wooden stools that were available for them to be shared between the couple of hundred athletes that were staying in the school. Even with their meagre resources, some of the lady athletes from Kerala produced piping hot cups of coffee for us strangers who had landed in their midst.

This was a mark of good culture, upbringing and sportsmanship - not what my country, Finland, had forced on these eager contestants who had spent fortunes from their own pockets to come to this country to participate in this event.

Finnish mismanagement

Who was to blame for this shambles? Was it the Sports and Cultural Ministries of Finland who had obviously ignored the event. Was it the City of Turku who had not taken steps to ensure that the event was organised as defined by rules of fair competition in sporting events.

Or, was it the officials of these Third World Participating Committees who did not raise a single voice in protest at the inhumane conditions that their participants were forced to live with or the gross inequality of the contest? Was it that the officials from these countries were wined and dined by the Finnish organisers so that they would not raise any noise about the arrangements, or rather the lack of them?

Is it any surprise that the medals in the more contested age groups were shared among the richer countries which could pay their way to victory? Is this the spirit of the fair sporting competition or the Olympic Movement!!

No first aid for injured

The numerous organisers and officials visible everywhere at the athletics stadium sported expensive bright new green uniforms, were picked and dropped in expensive cars and vans, and ate breakfast, lunch and dinner, at the expense of the athletes, in posh restaurants and hotels, obviously taking care to host the Committee Members from the participating countries but ignoring the starving third world athletes.

However, when a 85 year old participant stumbled and fell two yards away from the finishing post, not a single games official was on hand to rush to his aid.

It was the oldest participant of the competition, 99 year old Indian, Joginder Singh, who was talking to us just at the moment, who rushed onto the track to lift up the poor injured participant. No first aid was even offered by the officials to the injured man who, crestfallen and bleeding at the nose, angrily hobbled away into the centre of the stadium.

Sensational journalism

What about Press, Radio and Television coverage of the event? This meet was virtually ignored by the Finnish Press, except for sensational journalism. The results of the penultimate day were not even reported in the leading Finnish papers. On the other hand, the Finns started off their own National Athletics Championships in Helsinki on the concluding day of this international event with massive press, radio and television coverage and totally ignored the large contingent of foreign athletes, numbering close to 5000, who had assembled in their country for the international event. A strange sign of hospitality indeed!!

Is this the correct cultural way to host and promote an event which is designed to enthuse middle-aged and elderly people around the world to live better lives by keeping up their activity level?

Is any contest between the richer and poorer nations held under these condition equal in any respect? What was the meaning of the Olympic Motto under which this sporting event was supposed to be Hosted in Finland?

Atlanta Olympics - July 1996

The Olympics in Atlanta, USA, will certainly be organised so that all contestants are treated equally and participants from the poorer nations are accorded the same hospitality rather than as shown by these indifferent and inhumane Finnish organisers, aided by officials from the poorer nations who only looked after their own interests rather than the interests of the people they represented.

All these amateur participants at future Veterans Olympics should be given the same level of hospitality by hosting countries. They are a finer example to the people of today than the commercialised superstars of the modern day Olympics who can well afford to pay for their comforts.

Now it is my turn to point out that India needs to wake up when hosting an international event like the Commonwealth Games and ensure that all the delegates get equal treatment!

I hope our College Authorities as well as the Indian Sports Authorities will take note of this!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

KTWV 11 Issue 12: Golf in Bangalore

The Southern Stephanian Chapter of our alumni was involved in representing our college in Inter Public Schools Golf Tournament 2010 last weekend.

I wrote to Alok Chandra for the result, which was very promptly sent to me:

Hi All,

Results of the ‘Inter Public Schools Golf Tournament 2010’ held at the Karnataka Golf Association golf course on Friday 5th Feb were:

WINNERS ......Lawrence......306
RUNNERS UP......Stephen's......267
2nd RUNNERS UP......Doon......259
3rd RUNNERS UP ......Mayo......189


CATEGORY 3 (handicap 24 - 30)
WINNER ...........ASHOK RAO (OL)..................37

CATEGORY 2 (handicap 18 - 23)
WINNER ...........ALOK CHANDRA(STEPHENS)..........36

CATEGORY 1 (handicap upto 17)
WINNER ...........ALOK MALHOTRA (OL)..............37
RUNNERS UP........SANJEEV VOHRA (DOON)............34

WINNER...........SANJEEV MEHRA (DOON).............27

WINNER...........SALIL PUNOOSE (STEPHENS).........41

Some progress in the rankings for Lal Sitara!


Alok Chandra

Congratuations to Alok, Subir and Salil.

I will try to get the Bangalore Bishop Cottonians and Mumbai Cathedxralites to take part next year, so please give me some advance warning. Plenty of good players in both these alma maters of mine!

Monday, February 15, 2010

KTWV 11 Issue 11: Doha Debate in College

The College is into some, hopefully better, press than we have been plagued with for almost three years.

The decision to hold the Doha Debate in the college premises has brought some positive news about our alma mater in the world's media.

The debate, which should be over by now as I write this on the evening of Monday 15th February, had as the topic "This House believes Muslims are not getting a fair deal in India"

Many of our alumni felt this was a very inappropriate topic for our College. As India has had two Presidents who were Muslims, the highest post in India, I think that there is much to be said against the topic. Also, as a person who has worked with ethnic minorities who are refugees in Finland, I think that the Muslims, and all ethnic minorities in India have had a better deal than the refugees that I have come across. I am not suggesting for a moment that they have a rosy and cushy time, but the longer we pamper the minorities, the longer will be the lack of integration into the mainstream.

Injustices should be removed. The legal system should be transparent. We should be a totally secular country in all respects. Let us hope that Doha Debate in our college has focussed on the pros and cons facing all minorities in india, not just the largest one - the Muslims!

Let us see when we view the edited version of the debate on 20th and 21st February on BBC World News TV Channel.

This was what was written in the online edition of

Speaking for the motion is Ms. Seema Mustafa, the Editor of Covert magazine. She has authored a number of books on Indian politics and in 1999 received the prestigious Prem Bhatia Award for Excellence in Political Reporting and Analysis for her coverage of the Kargil war.

With her is Ms. Teesta Setalvad, Civil rights activist and the co-founder of Sabrang Communications, an organisation aimed at protecting and promoting human rights in India. She has been at the forefront of the campaign for justice for the victims of the Gujarat riots and in 2003 she won the Nuremberg International Human Rights Award. In 2007 she was awarded the prestigious civilian honour, the Padma Shri by the Indian Government for her work in public affairs.

Against them is M.J.Akbar, distinguished journalist and Chairman and Director of Publications of Covert Magazine. He has launched and edited several publications in India including a new weekly publication The Sunday Guardian and served as a member of India’s Parliament from 1989-1992.

He is joined by the Union Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Sachin Pilot. Pilot made history in 2004 by becoming the youngest Member of Parliament when he was elected in Dausa, Rajasthan. He won by a record margin of over 120,000 votes.

The trip to St. Stephen’s College, one of India’s top-rated educational institutions, is a sign of the unique status of The Doha Debates as the leading forum for free speech in the Arab and Muslim worlds.
For more information of the broadcast visit the Doha Debate website

I will reserve my verdict about the Debate after I view it in its entirety. I found that one TV airing will be next Saturday at 11 am Finnish Time.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

KTWV 11 Issue 10: Alumni coming together?

2009 Founders' Day Coffee Session after programme of speech
by Past Indian President Abdul Kalam.

I had an interesting email sent to me through the Southern Stephanian Society Alumni Group which operates out of Bangalore:

date 10 February 2010 11:49
subject Please read this.
mailing list

You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "Southern Stephanian Society" group.
To post to this group, send email to
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to
For more options, visit this group at

That took me to a site which was called

Save St. Stephen's College
Yes We Can

which had the following text and links (Emphasis MINE.):

College is facing the greatest threat ever to its existence. The administrative and financial autonomy of the College is being undermined. Alumni and well-wishers have to put their heads together and intervene. It is important to have clear understanding of the turn of events which has led to the present crisis. A detailed note on the crisis facing College and other documents is posted on the web. An online petition appealing to the Chairman not to destabilize the institution is also in circulation. They can be accessed through the links provided.

  1. Note on the Crisis Facing Stephen's College
  2. Letter by 23 of the 45 permanent faculty expressing disapproval at the humiliation meted out to Mr. N Raghunathan
  3. Letter to VC
  4. Resolution passed by the Governing Body *
  5. Letter from the Chairman, Bishop Sunil Kumar Singh* asking for an inquiry into the dharna staged by some teachers
  6. Letter from the University of Delhi * stating its disapproval of appointing a Bursar in violation of university ordinance.
  7. Online petition appealing to the Bishop not to interfere and hijack the College:

Please go to the site to download and see the various documents.

Although I am glad that some members of our alumni are taking steps, preferably I would have liked to do it behind the scenes with each Alumni Group (New York, Kolkotta, Mumbai, Singapore, Bangalore, etc.) calling together its own Action Committee and then meeting at the national level with a strong uniform voice about what should happen in and with the college.

However, I am pleased that this has happened, as I have been calling for something on these lines for several years.

Our College is in the limelight for all the wrong reasons.

We should reclaim our College from all disruptive forces and help make the College a beacon for the education of tomorrow, not a hot bed for politics and fundamentalism.

The symbol of OUR UNITY -
The Blacksmith, the modern one (2009)!

I would like to state some of the obvious:

  1. We should have the finest faculty in all branches we intend to teach in our learned institution.
  2. We should have the brightest and best students in the College.
  3. We should have professional management to run the College, both the teaching, the education and the premises.
  4. We should optimise all the aspects of running an educational institution.
  5. We should modernise in keeping with similar institutions around the world.
  6. We should involve alumni who have experience in managing a national education institution.
  7. We should change our focus to handle the problems that face the India of tomorrow.
  8. We should stop the reservation policy for anybody which is only detrimental to all communities in the long run.

There are lot more ideas to offer to any Action Group, as I have seen how our small town of Oulu has a University, which is a Centre of Excellence in several fields, and is also run professionally. If we could do it in a city of just 120000 people, I see no reason why it cannot be done in our College!

Thank you guys for making this happen.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

KTWV 11 Issue 09: Holy Spot missing

Those of you who remember our Holi celebrations will remember the muddy pond we used to create just outside the dining hall. It was a terrible state and we all revelved in it like 5 years´olds, dumping all our friends and enemies in that muck.

This last visit I made to college I noted that a barbed wire fence has been put up by the tap, so it would be too dangerous to follow this sport today.

Another change in our customs, but probably a welcome one, as not many liked being dunked in that foul water and muck!

Monday, February 01, 2010

KTWV 11 Issue 08: Passing away of Babloo Das

It is with great deal of sadness I have to inform you of the passing away of a young Stephanian, a former President of the college.

This is the information I received from the Southern Stephanian Alumni Group operating out of Bangalore:

We are sad to announce the passing away of Rajendra Das, known to many as Babloo, on 1 February 2010 at 3:42am in Bangalore . To celebrate his life, a memorial service will be held at the Indiranagar Methodist Church (13 main - 100 feet road crossing) on 6 February 2010 at 4pm. Kindly inform your friends and acquaintances who knew him.

Santona (Bulbul) : wife
Rajiv ( Gudu ) : son
Ishita Verma ( Baby ) : daughter
Dr. Shyam Verma : son-in-law
Sneha Das : daughter-in-law
Udit : grandson

Though I did not know Babloo, from what I have heard, he was a person dedicated to helping others in true Stephanian tradition.

We have conveyed our condolences to the family through the Southern Stephanian Group.

May his soul rest in peace.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

KTWV 11 Issue 07: Alumnis waking up

First it was New York (Prof. Sreenath Sreenevasan), then Singapore (Akash Mohapatra), then Bangalore (Alok Chandra), Kolkotta (Satish Dhall) and now Mumbai (Vijay Shukla). The alumni in each of these cities is slowly waking up.

This is a recent message received from the Mumbai Alumni:

The Reunion Dinner is being held on Friday, 5th February 2010 from 8.00 p.m. onwards at the Main Lawns, Willingdon Sports Club, Mumbai.

We take this opportunity with great pleasure to invite you and your spouse/partner for this function. We are confident that your evening would be delightful in our company.

We request you to kindly inform all those Stephanians who are in touch with you to be a part of this occasion.

Looking forward to meet you, your presence would be valuable.

Thank You.

Vijay Shukla

shuks10 @

All it takes is for a couple of Stephanians of any age to get together, and we have so many memories to share, so many PJs to exchange and chance for a real gup-shup! (I wonder if this language is still used in college?)

It is never ending source of delight to meet up or exchange notes with the alumni.

Standing: 2nd from left 61er Ashok (Tony) Jaitly, 6th from left 58er Rahul Bajaj, 8th from left me (a 63er) and far right, 63er Siddarth Singh.

Meeting 58er Rajya Sabha MP Rahul Bajaj, 61er former Commissioner of Jammu & Kashmir Ashok (Tony) Jaitly and 63er retired Ambassador Siddarth Singh during my recent visit to Delhi and then later, 62er retired Ambassador Niranjan Desai, 69er Integration Council Member John Dayal and then a whole host of past and present day Stephanians and staff in the College during the Founders' Day event (including the Bishop and the Principal - both of the Alumni), certainly was a most vitalising feeling.

I also met a lot of Stephanians in Kottayam when I attended the wedding of my nephew, Harsha Mathew, a Stephanian of recent era. Besides 61er Lt. Col. Jose Vallikappan (retd.), 62er Dr. Peter (Tubby) Philip, 63ers George Verghese and Abe Tharakan, 64er Mammen (Rajen) Mathew, 67er Philip Mathew, I met a whole host of younger Stephanians including Mariam (Anu) Mathew (née Paul), Rahul Mammen Mappillai, Amit Mathew, Riyad Mathew, Adit Mammen and his wife Deepshikha (also a sStephanian) who reside presently in Australia, Rohan Mammen, and many many more. Sadly in Bangalore I was only able to connect very briefly with 68er Arun Matthan.

The West Bengal Chapter of our Alumni has as its current President 64er Satish Dhall. The Governor of West Bengal is a Stephanian - 67er His Excellency Shri Gopal Krishna Gandhi. He hosted the Alumni Reunion at the Raj Bhavan on 21st November of last year. If I had known, I would have flown to Kolkotta to attend it as there are several Stephanians of my era there: 62er Rathikant Basu, 63er Sujit Bhattacharya and 64er Nirmal Jhalla - just to name a few! There are several in Kolkotta who have not yet connected with the Alumni Association there.

My hope is that Stephanians around the world who read this Web Version of Kooler Talk will use this forum to communicate to the almost 3000 regular Stephanian readers who check out here periodically. Please share your thoughts and ideas with me as I start to try to get together a plan to ensure that our alma mater is not pushed down the drain hole!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

KTWV 11 Issue 06: Should I be agitated?

I was browsing around the College Web Site when I came across a page called "Kooler Talk" with a sign asking "Any takers"?

I promptly sent an email to the webmaster, which was given at the bottom of that page, pointing out the my Kooler Talk Web Version has been online for over a decade! I also pointed out that Ashok Jaitly has pointed this out prominently in his book on the History of the College.

St. Stephen's College: A History by Ashok (Tony) Jaitly (1958-1961).

Page 85 mentions the Online Kooler Talk - This ONE!

With 3000 Stephanians around the world checking in regularly on my Kooler Talk, I wonder whether it is a sort of ego problem for the webmaster of the College Site not to acknowledge this. He, and his predecessors, have been fully aware of my Kooler Talk for many years.

When I visited college at the end of last year, many staff and students paid rich compliments to my perseverance in keeping this alive for over a decade! They were all aware of it and most said that they enjoyed my nostalgic presentations. (Remember, I (Like Tony) was around when the original Kooler Talk was launched. Articles by me can be found in the first few publications.)

That email bounced, showing that nobody really looks after the whole site.

Another Kooler Talk without any purpose probably is an act of sabotage against my efforts. Why?

I resent the email to the email address on the main page of the college site - but it has not been acknowledged, as yet!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

KTWV 11 Issue 05: Discovering alumnis

During te last few moths, when our alma mater has been suffering due to the behaviour of "grown" men and women, I have been looking out to see where our various alumni associations exist.

There was a close knit group of Stephanians in Singapore. I have lost touch with them of late.

Professor Sreenath Sreenivasan keeps his New York flock abreast of major developments.

Of late, I am glad to see that the Bangalore alumni have started to click together.

And just yesterday, I received news of the Mumbai alumni.

If you have news about other alumni groups, please forward them to me so that I can put them up, with their web pages, if available, and their contact email addresses on the web.

Without a strong and dedicated alumni, the college will continue on its wayward path.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

KTWV 11 Issue 04: Dilemma! What do I do?

I was in this dilemma when I stated blogging in December 2004. I had one blog for all my different audiences. At that time I also had web pages devoted to different sectors of readers.

There was a clamour amongst my readers of the blog that I was out of tune with them as they were reading many items that they were not interested in as they pertained to my alma maters or something specific to Oulu, etc.

It was then I started breaking up my blogs - besides my primary Blog (Jacob's Blog), I started one on Politics, another related to my association with Cathedral School (Mumbai), another about St. Stephen's College (Delhi), another about finding goods and services in Oulu, etc.

Everybody was happy!

All went well till my recent trip to India, where I stopped all my auxiliary blogs and kept only my main blog going, with just a few very specific entries to my other blogs.

My readership shot up as it appeared that many were interested in all aspects of my trip around India - which I had termed as "Incredible India".

The readership more than doubled at one point. People were referring others to my blog and it just snow-balled into a massive readerfest. Old and young, relatives and friends, school and college mates, Findians, O-Indians, my professional colleagues, past and present, were all tuned in. And many strangers from around the world were liking my style!

Wherever I went I found I needed no introduction as people had been following my blog. As I recorded, at one stage it became highly embarrassing, as people would come up to me and ask whether I knew them!

On returning to Finland, I went back to my old system.

Now I am having a spate of complaints. Many say that I should only blog at one point.

That would be great for me but not fair on my diverse audience. For instance the Cathedral School Alumni Association have especially complimented me on my sustained effort to keep the school spirit at its height by my blogging.

That is definitely not possible as my Seventh Heaven and Kooler Talk Blogs have very specific readerships. And not everyone likes my Politics. To burden all my regular readers with MY political views would be unfair. And my Oulu Best (Worst) Buy Blog is very specific to my Oulu Readers. Who in India or USA wants to read about the price of eggs in Oulu?

Is there any single solution, which is outside my very limited knowledge, which will help keep all my readers happy?

One way is that you could become a "Follower" of a specific blog. Whenever the one you are interested is updated, you will get a message from Google. No infringement of your privacy. You can always stop the "Follower" program whenever you want.

That way, it would stop my having to post important blog entries on my multiple blogs. (Possibly - as I have not yet looked into the ramifications of this alternative.)

If you have any suggestions, please email me or leave me a COMMENT. (Although my blogs are not exactly "Comment" blogs, I do read all the comments and reply them appropriately - also knocking off the spam that does come in.

This entry is being posted on all my major blogs, as it concerns all my readers in all categories.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

KTWV 11 Issue 03: Active alumni is important

It is so wonderful to read on Facebook about the very active alumni we have in Bangalore.

The Southern Stephanian Facebook Group is certainly getting their aim right. The Golf Tournament organised by them is pulling in many takers.

Well done, Southern Stephanians, but do also take up the issues which plague our alma mater these days.

Sreenath Sreenivasan, our talented professor, tech savvy journalist in New York, is certainly helping to keep that alumni faced in the right direction. I know we have a great bunch of guys in Singapore, but they have been out of touch for some time. Pressures of the global financial melt down?

It is only with a strong and active alumni around the world that we can drive our college back along the right track.

Above all we need an active alumni centre at home base in New Delhi.

Any Stephanians in Finland? After Professor Ajeet Mathur moved back to India and the Indian institute of Management in Ahmedabad, I am left as an alumni of 1!

And I am active!!! :-)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

KTWV 11 Issue 02: Is this how we should be in the news?

I was a bit peeved when I read this in today's Delhi / Calcutta "The Telegraph": Minority education cell minus hands.

"Current St Stephen’s College principal Valson Thampu was first appointed the Christian member but was forced to quit amid controversy.

Is this how we want the alma mater to be remembered in the News Media?

Is this not what is the result of the washing dirty linen in public disregarding the consequences of such actions?

As you will recall, I analysed the character of Rev. Valsan Thampu at the outset many years ago and said that here was a person who had reached the limit as defined by the Peter Principle. My recent visit to the College for Founders' Day did not in any way result in the change of my opinion.

Not that his current adversary, the Bishop of North India, is any better.

Both of them, by their immaturity and childishness, have brought only shame to the work of the Church and our alma mater.

Is that what Our Lord intended?

Now this is what haunts the alma mater.

We should have professional management introduced and see that the College develops on all fronts and stays as the Number 1 institution of "education" in India.

I hope we can see better days soon.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

KTWV 11 issue 01: Integration Council members

I read today in the Indian Telegraph about the new "Minority boost to integration council".

Here are the names of people that may be on that council:

The Telegraph has learnt that the proposed names include those of Justice A.M. Ahmadi, Omar Abdullah, Salman Khurshid, Syed Shahabuddin, Asaduddin Owaisi, Shahid Lateef, Shabnam Hashmi, John Dayal, Ramdas M. Pai (president and chancellor, Manipal University), Valsan Thampu (St Stephen’s College principal), Roman Catholic Archbishop Vincent M.C. Concessao, Ratan Tata, Rahul Bajaj, N.R. Narayana Murthy and Kiran Mazumdar Shaw.

Recognise some names in that list?

Shahid Lateef is the wife of 62er Stephanian Sarwar Lateef. John Dayal is a Stephanian, as also present Principal of the College, Rev. Valsan Thampu. Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament, Rahul Bajaj, is both a 58er Stephanian and also a 54er Cathedralite. Ratan Tata was a Cathedralite for a part of his education. I have not had the good fortune to meet him personally, although his younger brother, Jimmy, was a close friend and my hockey mate.

During my recent visit to Delhi I did meet John, Valsan and Rahul.

John broke protocol and came to see me the day I was leaving. He had just got back from Orissa and he came over that morning just to spend a few minutes over breakfast. And I did say a short prayer, holding hands with him, for his devoted work for the people of India. Maybe this is where I show him the meaning for that prayer.

I met Thambu at the St. Stephen's Founder's Day celebration on Monday 7th December, where I took part in the Holy Communion Service in the College Chapel, and then at the proceedings in the College Assembly Hall where former Indian President Abdul Kalam was the Chief Guest.

Sadly I do not see Valsan as a man with much vision at this moment of time. Hopefully God will lead him in the right direction if he gives up his ways of playing politics for power!

And Rahul paid me the greatest tribute by staying on a extra day in Delhi to be present at an event organised by Delhi Cathedrtalite to meet with Annikki and me. Having led an industry to the zenith, he now has a wondeful opportunity to show his fellow men that he has the vision to lead minorities to the centre of Indian society as equals.

Sadly, I did not learn till later that Sarwar and Shahid were in Delhi, as otherwise I would certainly have met up with this very dear couple. Shahid has always been at the forefront of the women's movement as well as a powerful spokesperson for uplifting of Muslim women.

I do hope this Council will stop beating about the bush and get a move on, not on the antiquated model of reservation of seats for the minorities in schools, colleges and jobs, but by uplifting the hearts and minds of these people labelled as minorities, into them thinking that they can compete on equal terms with the best of the world. They are not second class citizens of the world, so let us stop treating them as such.

You treat people as weak and they will be weak. You treat them as human beings and they can outstrip the very best.

Look at the fantastic performance of the black community in sports in the USA and UK (and also Kenya, Ethiopia, Jamaica, Canada, France, etc., etc.). They do not need to be treated as weak and powerless minorities. Given the right role models, they will bring in performances that are better than the best of their more fortunate brothers and sisters.

That itself is the tonic for success, not reservations, which is the sure tonic for failure!

I remember the words of my friend, former Ambassador Niranjan Desai, while we were having lunch together at the International Centre just a few weeks ago. He said that by treating the minorities as we do presently, we will not achieve any improvement in their standards.

I fully agree with his reasoning. This Integration Council should start looking at other ways to uplift the ethnic minorities in India than stupid and unrealistic reservation policies!

Recognise inherent cultural and ethnic talents. Build on successes. Do not force people into streams where they are doomed to fail.

In short, I hope this council will bring forward a new vision to the way we handle the integration of minorities into mainstream society!