59er Golden Reunion Directory

59er Golden Reunion Directory
59er Golden Reunion Directory

Sunday, May 19, 1996

SH-Issue 3: 960519

Hi Web-surfing Cathedralites,

What was the most embarrassing moment of your life?

This week I share mine with you. For that I must go back to school in 1955 or 1956 - I am not sure exactly which year. However, it was the year when the school play was the comic opera entitled "Aladdin and Out" by Fred Edmonds and Thos. T. Hewitt.

Cathedral School Play Aladdin And Out

Cathedral School Play "Aladdin And Out" Cast List


I was a member of the Cathedral church choir. As the late Charles Velu, who lived in Birmnigham, England, the organist of the church choir and choir master was in charge of putting the opera together, there was no way I could escape my role as a washerwoman in the laundry maintained by the mother of Aladdin (58er Michael Colaco).

The opera was excellent. It was directed by the late Mr. C. J. Oliver who was also responsible for all the stage sets and organisation.

Cathedral Staff the late Mr. C. J. Oliver

The late Mr. C. J. Oliver, Cathedral Staff


One of the dramatic moments was when Aladdin (Jehangir Kaka) rubbed the magic lamp and the genie appeared. Aladdin requested the genie to transport him somewhere (I think to the palace of the king). As the genie was granting the wish, the stage lights were switched off for less than a minute. When they switched back on, the entire cast of about 20 of us were taken off the set and the whole complex scenery was changed from a laundry to a blank stage. A masterpiece of stage direction which took place in just 30 seconds.

In all the rehersals everything went like a dream. We were all herded off the stage in those seconds in a very orderly fashion.

The day of the final performance arrived. My parents were seated in the front row watching their son in his multiple roles as waherwomen, etc. etc. At the crucial point, after a very beautiful solo by Michael Colaco, who played the role of Mrs. Mustapha with his great soprano voice, the genie (Clive Ciel) appeared and Aladdin made his wish. The lights were then switched off.

In all the rehearsals there had been a certain amount of daylight which had helped us get off the stage by watching this through the wings. On this evening, being dark outside there was no such guide. When the lights were switched on after those crucial few seconds, yours truly was still in the corner of the stage at the footlights, totally blinded by their sudden brightness. As I was rubbing my eyes as the gust of light hit my face, in a flash I was rudely dragged of the stage by some desperate unseen hand. My chance for a soliliquy had been dashed just when I was in the spotlight!

I do not know whether anyone in the audience noticed I had been left behind. No-one dared mention it, probably out of kindness, but I was a quivering wreck, knowing that all the washerwomen and Aladdin and his mother had been transported off to wonderland, but I had been left behind!

I have never wanted to act in a play again after that mortifying experience.

Last week, those who took the trouble to read my other alma mater page Kooler Talk (Web Version) would have noted how small this world is. This week I can show you how the world is very small for us Cathedralites as well.

I use Alta Vista to search the web. I decided to run through a couple of names of my Cathedralite classmates. The first one I chose was a good friend that I had lost complete touch with after I left school. His name is Parasuraman, and I seemed to vaguely remember his pet name was Bala.

The search yielded about two dozen references, most of them relating to a Prof. A. Parasuraman, a marketing wizard of some sort in an American University. I knew he was certainly not my classmate. Sure enough, amongst the list there was a 59er Bala Parasuraman somewhere in the US. So I sent an email message asking this gentleman whether he was from Cathedral school. Bingo - I hit jackpot as Bala replied recalling many of our classmates and asking after them. I was able to fill him with news of several with whom I have kept in touch.

If any of you want to use an economic fax or gift service between India and the US, or for that matter between any two countries, do contact Bala and I am sure he will give you the very best service. I recall him being such a nice guy in school with a very sharp wit.

A few days later I got a message from the email address of 89er Ari Singh Anand, a Cathedralite of the eighties, with a cryptic talk of what the hell was this dinosaur doing on the list being maintained 93er Vivek Sikri. The email was signed by none other than the father of Ari, 57 / 59er Bhupinder Singh Anand. Bhupi, also Savage House, had been School Captain the year I was Savage House Captain. He was two years my senior and in the X11th at that time.

Ari has not been well. Bhupi is in US to look after him and using his email address to keep contact with his business in India. I hope all of you will pray for a speedy recovery for Ari. Anyone in the vicinity could offer to lend Bhupi a hand, if he needs it. I know how difficult it is for a father to manage a sick son, especially away from home.

Ari is the clasmate of 89er Akiva Elias, son of 59er Ooky Elijah Elias, one of my dearest friends in Bombay. Akiva had sent me a message a few weeks ago asking whether I knew his dad. Ooky is the only classmate who has come and stayed with us in this remote corner of the world, where, believe it or not, it snowed last week. I think we saw spring and summer come and go last weekend!

Cathedral Ooky and me in Oulu, 1988

Ooky visited me in Oulu in 1988


It is a very small world - and the internet has made it even smaller. God bless the internet. Do not forget, if you have something to share with other Cathedralites of any generation, mail it to me, and I shall put it up on this page as a record for posterity. Take care. See you in a fortnight.

Regards

Jacob Matthan
Savage House Captain1959
Oulu, Finland

Sunday, May 05, 1996

SH-Issue 2: 960505

Hi Web-surfing Cathedralites,

First and foremost let me inform you that the World Alumni Register has been prepared and part of it includes the Alumni Register for Cathedral and John Connon School in the Indian Alumni Register Section. I would suggest that you return the Letters to the Editor Section on our main page "Findians Briefings" and read the letter from Renu Mehta who is maintaining the India Alumni Register. This may, therefore, remove the need for 93er Vivek Sikri to struggle to maintain a duplicate Alumni Register He could come to an agreement with Renu to use that list for all our needs. About 20 Cathedralites had registered as of Friday 3rd May, so the rest of you just rush off and register now.

Many of you have written to me. I was especially happy to hear from 89er Akiva Elias, son of my very good friend and classmate Elijah Elias, also popularly known as Ooky. How did Elijah get his nickname Ooky?

Ooky, Rifka, JM

Ooky, Rifka and me in Mumbai in 1994


The grandfather of Akiva was a senior officer in the State Bank of India and was constantly being shifted from city to city. So when Elijah arrived at Cathedral, I seem to remember it was either late in our Ninth or early Tenth standard. In the Tenth we used to have an English Essay writing competition which was called the Ookerjee Memorial Prize.

Cathedral English teacher R. G. Salmon

Our English teacher from 8th to 10th Standard, the late R. G. Salmon Photograph: Courtesy Mr. Salmon's son, Luke.


Elijah wrote a hilarious piece. The late Mr. R. G. Salmon, a tall Englishman who was our English teacher did an especially good job of reading out the essay to us after he announced the winner. It had us in splits of laughter for many a week. Elijah had all the wit of Wodehouse. Without any doubt he was the clean winner of the prize and earned himself the nickname Ooky - which has stuck through all these years. It also made Ooky one of us although he joined our class at such a late stage of our school lives. Plus the fact that Ooky was a good seam bowler, dedicated to the game of cricket, made him a popular addition to our class.

If I am not wrong, even his wife (Rifka) calls him Ooky when she is in the company of his classmates!

Speaking of nicknames, in this issue I want to give you the origin of mine.

We were in the Seventh Standard when our class teacher, the late Mr. W. H. Thompson (see last issue for picture) suggested we go for a Saturday picnic to a small stream about an hour and a half from Bombay (Mumbai) by suburban train at a place called Vasind. The idea appealed to many of us. It was duly arranged, the two teachers in charge of the party being PT Master the late Mr. A. G. Morecroft and Mr. Thompson.

Cathedral P. T. Master the late Mr. A. G. Morecroft

P. T. Master Mr. A. G. Morecroft who saved my life


I was up early and had a good breakfast. I was about to drink the glass of milk which my mother had heated for me when the glass slipped from our hands and crashed to the floor. My mother was distressed, being slightly supersititious. She told me to be especially careful on this trip.

I arrived at the railway station to find all the others already there. We got on the train and had a very lively interesting journey, with Vikram Singh, one of our classmates, joining us at some station along the line.

We reached Vasind by about 8 in the morning. A trek through some fields brought us to a lovely stream with a sandy bank. As I had insisted on wearing my swimming trunks already from home, I was probably the first into the water and was splashing away having a wonderful time before any of the others even made it into the water. The river was quite shallow, about waist height, even for us small kids. I was used to river swimming as I used to swim in the backwaters of Kerala when I was just a few years old.

I had not been in the water more than a few tens of minutes when suddenly my feet gave way under me. I do not know what happened, but I think it was cramp which made me curl up as I lost all control of my body. I was drowning. I went down for the first time. When I came up I was trying to shout for help, but only taking in more water. I saw Vikram swim near me. I made a grab for him. He thought I was fooling around and let out a viscious kick. I went down for the second time. At that point I knew then I was a goner. As I came up for the third time, my thoughts were not on survival, although the body was struggling to stay alive, my mind was already tuned to death and my life of the previous 12 years rolled by me in an instant in slow motion. I saw all the highlights of my life and in my mind I thanked my parents for all that they had done for me. I went down for the last time looking at the shore which seemed miles away, and I knew my life was over as I blacked out. I was not in pain or mentally distressed at that point of time.

I awoke some time later. Sand was sticking all over me. Someone was pounding my chest. Water was gushing out of the side of my mouth.

It appeared that Mr. Morecroft had seen me going down for the second time. He had been able to get me out just after my third submersion. Artificial respiration of about 20 minutes had got me going again. When I looked up I could see the worried faces of all my friends looking down at me, but beyond them I saw the bright blue sky. As they saw my open eyes a sigh of relief passed through all of them.

It was a painful time while they pumped out all the water from inside me. But both Mr. Thompson and Mr. Morecroft were well versed in life-saving techniques, and I think both of them thanked the day when they had taken the trouble to learn these life-saving techniques. In about half-an-hour, they had me going and they asked whether I wanted to be rushed to the hospital.

Seeing all my friends were still standing around looking worried, I knew I would ruin their day if I opted for this. Despite my insides being raw, I declined. I asked them to prop me up in the shade of some trees while they went about swimming and enjoying themselves.

I can remember that day as clear as crystal, as although I was not running around and jumping and playing with them, I was thanking God for saving me from the jaws of death.

Seeing how I had been dragged out of the water, held upside down by my legs before they started artificial respiration and my very drawn and pale face as I lay there while having our midday sandwiches, I was not able to eat as my throat was raw, Viney Sethi (Palmer House Captain 1959) commented that Jakes looked like a "Dead Chicken" - and that nickname remained mine for many a year!

Arvind, Viney and me, Mousoori 1960

Arvind, Viney and myself holidaying in Mousoori in 1960


I was a resurrected Dead Chicken - and that was fine. I remember my friends and especially these two fine schoolmasters, Mr. Thompson and Mr. Morecroft all the time as I have got this far in life only because they were prepared in an emergency.

More true life stories from Cathedral School in a fortnight, so till then

Yours sincerely,
Jacob Matthan
Savage House Captain 1959
Oulu, Finland