Eddie is a 63er and not a 62er. He was a great swimmer and won lots of medals - except when he had a problem with his swimming shorts!!
Thursday, March 31, 2005
Eddie is a 63er and not a 62er. He was a great swimmer and won lots of medals - except when he had a problem with his swimming shorts!!
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
The power of the blog is just great.
Somebody remembers Sheikh Zahur (Mehfooz Ahmed).
..enjoyed reading your blog.
I remember Sheikh Zahur well.
He was in the B-Section of the Class of '60. All of us used to hang out on Marine Drive, where he lived. I am in touch with a lot of our classmates, so have him get hold of me, and I will fill him in.
Savage House 60ers Reunion
David is seated on the right.
I was also interested to note your reluctance to show the School Championship photograph of Wilson House. The fact that Savage never won a school championship during my entire 12 years irked me no end.(Jacob: David is so right - it was a long haul... I am sure David did psychology at Harvard!!)
However, I did get some satisfaction. Savage won the Championship in '62, the first half of which I was both School and House Captain (I left to go to Harvard), and one of my prized possessions is the Championship photograph that year, with my brother Brian as House Captain, and Mark Sopher School Captain.(Jacob: Mark was a 59er and I am so glad that he became School Captain. Thank you for making my day and hope sometime I can get hold of that Championship Photograph to use in the Seventh Heaven Masthead!!)
With best wishes,
60 - 62er Savage House
School Captain, House Captain
Monday, March 28, 2005
Percy Mistri, the youngest member of our 59er class celebrates his 60th birthday today!!
He is presently in England staying with his daughter, Farah, and enjoying his granddaughter. I have sent him e-greetings from all fellow 59ers.
Percy is a great musician and also is remarkably fit.
However, it appears that he has not been looking after his teeth, as for the last few weeks he has been complaining about a toothache.
I suspect it is more like a Jacob Headache?
He was supposed to be visiting me just about this time - but called it off at the last minute.
He has promised that he and Frainy will definitely make it here on his next visit to Europe.
Happy birthday, my dear friend.
Friday, March 25, 2005
(I owe my secular, liberal view of life entirely to my life in my alma maters, Good Shepherd Convent, Mysore, Bishop Cotton's School, Bangalore, Cathedral and John Connon Boys' High School, Bombay and St. Stephen's College, Delhi.)
For the full text of this blog entry please visit my main blog entry for this date and time at Jacob's Blog 07:30 PM, 25th March 2005
Thursday, March 24, 2005
Sorry that I've been a very poor correspondent lately. My conscience has been telling me that it was time I dropped you a line again, if only to let you know that I appreciate your not dropping me from your list of correspondents worldwide, in spite of my lapse in e-mailing. (Jacob: How could I ever drop such a loving and caring Cathedralite from my list!!)
I've been enjoying your blogs all along, including the one just posted, containing the page from the prize giving list of 1950 that I'd sent you. Glad that you've been able to make use of it. (Jacob: Thanks to such wonderful people, besides 56er Doreen, as Staff Willie, 49er Naval, 49er Yezad, 54er Sadhana, 54er Suhas, 54er Gracie, 57er Abe, 57er Aubrey, 59er Hasnain, 59er Percy, 67er Shobha, 69er Barbara, 69er Prakash, and many many more, I have great archives and material for another 100 issues of this blog!!)
There's really no news I can give from here. I feel so out-of-the-loop living in South Carolina, with no Cathedralites anywhere around. (Jacob: I think this is not correct. I do believe you have a very famous Cathedralite there who is in the music world and CEO of a famous organisation. I will try to track down this information as it is stashed somewhere on my computer.)
There must surely be some of them living in Atlanta, which is about a two-hour car ride from Clemson. My son lives in Atlanta now, though we just had him here for two weeks trying to get him back in shape from a back injury. (He's been suffering from a bad back, but it didn't help when someone chatting on a mobile phone ploughed into the rear of his sports car when he was near the Atlanta airport for a business flight to Montreal. He still managed to catch his early 'plane, but the severe pain set in two days later, and got progressively worse. He's much better now. We took him back to Atlanta on Saturday, and on Sunday he was on a flight to Orlando for a major conference for 3 days.) (Jacob: This is a very serious offence in Finland, the home of Nokia and mobile phones - but there are still some inconsiderate fools who do this. I see this daily on the streets of Oulu. I slow down and give them a wide berth. If one is behind me I let him pass. I equate this as a crime as bad as driving under the influence of alcohol. People should lose their driving licences if they are caught dong this.)
Although it is officially spring time now, I haven't made any holiday plans for this year, and am beginning to feel that I should spring into action. Am still keeping my sights on the '56er reunion in Mumbai next year. (Jacob: The 56er is being handled by Harminder Uberoi - so please let me have details as many 56ers are awaiting some information about it.)
We're having beautiful spring weather here at the moment. It was like this on Sunday, when I put away most of my winter clothing and brought out the summer stuff, only to have a very cold Monday. (Jacob: I get rid of my long johns when the temperature comes up above -10 C. I drop my sweater when it rises above -5 C. And I get out my sandals as soon as we reach zero - warmth all relative, as on this blog!!)
Wishing you, Anniki and your family a Happy Easter.
Again, thank you for so diligently keeping in touch. (Jacob: My pleasure.)
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
Two stalwart Cathedralites, one in Canada and another, now holidaying in New Zealand, check in...
Writing for Peter (Vaney) and I to say we've made a note of your e-mail address (Jacob: email@example.com). Really appreciate all the work and effort you are putting in to keep us updated of old Cathedralites' news. Hope you never tire of this.(Jacob: Not likely, considering the fun I have been having!! And blogging is quick and easy.)
We are keeping well. We both enjoy retirement and no time to be bored; there is so much to be part of in Vancouver. We have six grandchildren (ages from 18 years to 2 months), 4 little ones here and 2 older ones in Calgary. It doesn't often happen the entire family gets together, when we do those moments are very precious. Also have lots of friends all over the world and it feels good to keep in touch with phone calls, snail mail or e-mail.
In frequent touch with Willy and Pushpa Shiri, and three (née Hayeem) sisters (Jacob: Sophie, Vilma and Gracie) as well as other school friends.
Your e-mails/blogs are always most welcome.
Regards and love to you and Annikki,
Sheila (née Contractor)
And from my very very regular 49er correspondent, Yezad Kapadia.
To place Yezad, whom I refer to as Yesh, I reproduce below page 6 from the Annual Prize Distribution and Speech Day Programme of 17th February 1950. Many thanks to 55er Doreen Heimlich (née Feinbush) for sending this to me.
Yezad won the Baria Medal for School Captain and the MacDonald medal for Leadership. (Click on the picture to see an enlarged version.)
While looking through this programme, I noted that my earlier correspondent, Sheila had also won three prizes that year, the Standard IX progress prize, the Housecraft Prize, as well as the Upper School Open Prize for Best Prefect.
Strange that two of our very best from the school from the same year should write to humble me on the same day. I am greatly honoured!!
Thanks, Jacob. It was at my instance that Naval (Patel) sent you the mail. I remember Omar Kureishi and his other brothers from Barham House.
Currently I am having a good time in New Zealand with our daughter, Jeroo.
Look carefully and you will note that on Page 6, Naval Patel won the Old Boys' Prize for Science, the E. J. Kail Prize for Senior General Knowledge, the Hudson Prize for Mathematics and jointly won the Moos Prize for Astronomy with J. Hayeem (?). Wow!!
Great to hear from all these outstanding Cathedralites!!
Monday, March 21, 2005
Greetings from hot, sunny Mumbai.
My weekly update.
Monday - a vegetarian Thali Dinner at Golden Star Restaurant opposite Charni Road Station. This Gujarati cum Rajasthani Restaurant serves a variety of 9 vegetarian dishes, Free Mineral Water ( I may add) and unlimited quantity, with different rotis, theyplaa, bhakri,puran poli. If you are good hearty eater you could enjoy this meal, not oily but very filling.
Tuesday 16th March - Business India , Man of the Year Award 2004 celebrations at the Taj. This Award is in its 23rd Year and the Panel of Judges was chaired by Kumarmangalam Birla, Business India's Businessman of ther Year 2003, 61er Ashok Advani, and several leading business house heads. Ashok must be commended for the consistency of this major Award, 23 years in a row. His publication Business India is in its 27th year now.
The Taj Crystal Room was packed with many late comers standing at the periphery. The Businessman of year Shri S Ramadorai of TCS gave a short but very appropriate acceptance speech, in the midst of a distinguished gathering. In his speech he thanked his wife, mother in law, son, colleagues and staff of 27000 people in TCS and peers who all had faith in him in a business that was not so known in the early seventies. The TCS group then played a short film made on the achievements of TCS and how it has branched out into other activities and is not only a IT Company. (Jacob: Many 59ers started in TCS at its beginning - Adi Cooper, Ooky Elijah Eliias - when it floated Tata Borroughs.)
S. Ramadorai's ex boss Shri F.C.Kohli (Madhur, Sanjay & Anirudh Kohli's father), the grandfather of IT In India, was also felicitated and praised with a momento for having the vision & persistence in this industry.
The ceremony was followed by a well laid out dinner at the Ballroom where a Jazz Trio played some classics.
I had the fortunate experience of sitting with Rati & Nadir Godrej, Joanne and Vinod Nayar (Jacob: 58er Vinod did his HSC from Cathedral and is the elder brother of 59er Vijay (School Captain 1060) and 62er, former outstanding squash champion Anil) and dynamic Mohit Burman of Dabur, whose company has recently introduced Pomegranate Juice, discussing our pets, kids and the budget.
I have been telling Mohit to introduce Papaya Tablets, which is very popular with the elderly and those whose diet consists of red meat daily, (through his great pharma company Dabur).
Kaamna Bhojwani, daughter of Indira and Ramesh Bhojwani (Jacob: I wonder if this is the 61er) of the famous Chidakashi Jewellers got engaged last Saturday to Rohit Dhawan with a dinner at the Starters and More Restuarant. Rohit works with Google and Kaamna is with Sun Micro Systems and will be living in sun filled California.
Another Cathedralite, Kunal Kohli, recently won the Filmfare award for Best Director for a Hindi film recently.
Saturday 19th - My cousin Sabrina Jhangiani celebrated her 50th birthday with a few close friends and relatives who made her dress up as a Blonde in the 60's, fish net stockings, straw blonde wig, oversized owl glares, a mini mini skirt and ciggarette to boot, while she was given a lighted Magic Wand (shades of Sabrina the witch). One wall was covered with pictures, letters, school magazine article featuring Sabrina.
"Our Dog & Baby Club" at the Oval is drawing new members every week. Started by Cyrus Broacha (Son - Mikhail, German Shepherd - Rufus) and Prakash Thadani (Cigar - Doberman + Wymirana), this group brings their pets to mingle and socialise& play in the Eros end side of the Oval maidan daily at around 6 pm. and we discuss ways and means to look after our pets and kids with interactive play, sometimes homemade snacks being brought and an occasional birthday celebration.
Gayatri & Gautam Parulekar (Ceasar- Black Doberman) who recently returned from their honeymoon in Thailand could not stop raving about the under water sea walk, the incredible variety available for shopping and food, in the country which has bounced back after the Tsunami tragedy.
Donatella Versace was in the news in each and every publication for participating in the Lakme Fashion week along with Sandeep Khosla, Abu Jani and Abhishek Bacchan. Lakme, the cosmetic branch of Hindustan Lever Ltd., (Unilever group) is looking out for new young talent in the Fashion business, be it clothes, jewellery, clothing accessories. Their Lakme Fashion Week showcases some of the leading, designers merchandise, styles, their whims, their fancies and, not to forget, their "EGOS ".
More news next week when The Afternoon Despatch & Courier celebrates its Anniversary on Friday 25th. The entire Nanabhai Lane in Fort will be transformed into a fun street, with food stalls, live music, games, and events pertaining to our beloved MUMBAI.
I don't know if you have read anything about the undercover STING operations started by India TV. They caught on camera a Bollywood Movie Actor Shakti Kapoor, a well known villian in the movies, making a blantant pass at a young aspiring actress to sleep with him and he would promote her and help her get parts in coming movies. (Jacob: Investigative journalism is my forte, but not in the film world - as there is too much dadagiri involved there.
This was then played out on TV and has brought out angry reactions from all those in the Film Industry. So many journalists have taken the cue stressing that the CASTING COUCH does really exist, and both male and female youngsters are exploited but only those who play along the game, really succeed. Others who were also caught unaware on tape have also spoken up and the entire scene seems so hypocritical as many in the industry feel it is their right to sleep with anyone who is willing to join this industry (Bollywood).
More news later Have a great week. Moving into my newly renovated office in Fort this week hopefully,
Sunday, March 20, 2005
Even as India won the Second Cricket Test match in Kolkotta by 195 runs, news was on the way to me from my regular Cathedralite correspondent, a great cricketer in his day, Naval Patel, that 44er / 45er Omar Kureishi, the best known cricket correspondent in Pakistan, had passed away in Karachi. Unlike A.F.S. Talyarkhan, who never wanted to share the mike with anyone, the Asian Cricket Commentators and the cricketing public owes much to Omar Kureishi.
Pakistan's seniormost cricket columnist Omar Kureishi died in Karachi on Monday following a massive stroke. Kureishi, 80, is survived by his wife and a son.
Just last August the Interntaional Cricket Council honoured Omar by selecting him as the representative of the media on its 50 strong Awards Voting Academy.
The 50-member Academy, which includes a minimum of two representatives from each of the ICC's Full Member countries, comprises four groups:
• The captain of each country (10);
• All members of the Emirates Elite Panel of Referees (current officials who have officiated in a series in the voting period) (7);
• All members of the Emirates Elite Panel of Umpires (8); and
• An invited group of `Legends and Media' (25).
And our own Omar was both a Legend and the Media.
One has only to read his piece from the Dawn written in the year 2000, The heart has its reasons to understand his depth of knowledge about issues as well as cricket. In this article he says:
" It is a fantastic sight and social scientists would be hard pressed to explain how a country that does not provide safe drinking water for half its population, where so many live below the poverty-line and where there are no schools, to speak of, can afford to indulge in an activity that is a luxury by any definition. I have often been asked to rationalize this cricket madness. I am not able to do so beyond saying that like a love-affair, the heart has its reasons."
And in that piece he also wrote:
"What gave Indian cricket its greatest impetus and created public involvement was the Quadrangular Tournament played at the Bombay Gymkhana between Muslim, Hindu, Parsee and European teams, later it became the Pentangular with a team comprising The Rest and the venue of the tournament was shifted to the Brabourne Stadium. Though it was a tournament structured on communal lines, it is quite remarkable that not a single untoward incident ever marred the proceedings. There may have been communal riots raging but it was peace and harmony on the cricket field. It was this tournament that became the nursery of cricket on the subcontinent."
On her recent visit to India, US Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice stated that she would have to learn the game of cricket. Cricket is the game of Gentlemen and Gentleladies - and not those who are warmongers and killers. IMHO (In my humble opinion) Condi has no place amongst this august gathering of people from around the world.
In his Orbituary today in The Daily Times 2nd Editorial it is written
"In the glorious 50s and 60s, when the Pakistan cricket team was just budding, we would tune in to our radios to listen to Omar Kureshi alternating with Lata Mangeshkar, the ball-by-ball ankhon dekha haal sweetened by the Nightingale of the East. Especially memorable was how Omar would follow the bowler to his mark, trace his steps as he bounded to the delivery crease, and then raise his voice to a crescendo as the ball hurtled towards the batsman. We would sit at the edge of our seats in excitement and trepidation, and Omar would tell us all. He would describe how the batsman fended off the delivery, or attacked it — hooking, pulling, cutting or driving. And then he would trace the fielder’s lunge at the ball, his despairing chase as the ball sped towards the boundary. His English was unmatched. His evocation of the play matchless."
As India basks in its victory today, let us spare a moment to think of one of us Cathedralites who contributed so much to the game by his very Cathedralite nature.
Long live Omar Kureishi in our hearts as a symbol of cricketing friendship between our two great nations..
Thursday, March 17, 2005
The late Dr. Raja Ramanna, the eminent scientist and accomplished musician was a good friend of my father, the late Kuriyan Matthan. Dr. Ramanna was an old boy from Bishop Cotton's Boys' High School, Bangalore, and the Madras Christian College in Tambaram, Madras.
My father was also from both these institutions, although several years senior to Dr. Ramanna. My father was also the Chairman of the School Old Boys' Association for several years. They met regularly to share their exploits of their school days. Further, they shared the passion for the piano and music.
But Dr. Ramanna was not just an old boy from Bishop Cotton's (also like me as I was in Bishop Cotton's before my Cathedral days). Like me, he started his schooling at the Good Shepherd Convent in Mysore. Besides these two common characteristics, there may have been a vast degree of intellectual difference between the two of us!! :-)
This is my class at the Good Shepherd Convent from 1948.
I am that neat looking fellow sitting on the ground, third from the left.
I still remember my first day at school. I was not fortunate to have such an outstanding kindergarten teacher as our own 54er Gracie Hayeem. The young lady you see in this picture was very pleasant and friendly.
However, when my mother took me from my childhood home and its wonders to school, I was petrified. When she left me in the class, I howled and looked around. I did not notice a single face that I knew, which made me even more miserable. I ran out of the class to catch hold of my mother's sari tail. But she was nowhere in sight. The teacher loomed after me.
I ran, looking in all the rooms for my mother, and suddenly I spied my elder brother sitting in a classroom. I dashed in and sat next to him, sobbing at my misfortune. He sort of wanted to disown this little crybaby. However, my teacher walked in just then and said I could stay in this class as long as I wanted!! Much to my brother's distaste.
I stayed till the break. Then a little girl that I knew and a dear friend, Dinky Wilson, who used to play with us at home, came from my class and asked me to join her. Dinky was a real tomboy and one of us. She climbed trees like all of us and played cops and robbers with us. I was glad to have found my playmate. Since then I always looked on Dinky as a dear friend.
Her father, Inspector Doug Wilson, was more than a family friend. One of these days I will tell you the story of he saved our family from being lynched in Bangalore in 1947 in the post Independence riots.
Dinky and I used to walk home from school everyday. Our friendship continued later when both our families moved back to Bangalore. I used to visit their home in Church Street off Brigade Road at every opportunity and we played cricket in their compound.
I have lost touch with Dinky, whom, I believe is somewhere in Germany. I did meet her father, mother, Margret, and elder sister, Beverley, in Bangalore when they stayed with my parents about 12 years ago. I know that Mr. Wilson passed away, but the fate of the rest of that wonderful family (Doug, Marge, Abner, Beverley, Cedric, also better known as Mitty, Dinky and the youngest, Zena) remains unknown to me presently.
Anyone like to fill me in on their present whereabouts?
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
When I unearthered 62er Monty, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that he was married to someone I remember very well, a 60er, Cynthia Abbott. (I always thought Cynthia was a 61er.) Monty sent me a great picture of the two of them when they attended the wedding of their eldest son last year. She is still as beautiful as I remember her!!
Cynthia, (nee Abbott) was also in Cathedral girls school 1960s class... same year as Audrey Adams, Stanley Adams, Morris Belcourt, Desmond Guage, Michael Colaco, and that gang.
I did not know Cynthia in school. We met by accident (destiny) in London, England through a mutual school friend, Vernon Williams... who was also in the Catherdal church choir with me.
Feel free to give my email to others that ask for it.
Your Blob brought back wonderful memories from the far corners of my mind of Mr. Morecroft, Thompson, Oliver, Pharoah etc..
Keep up the good work of collecting all this info... and keeping in touch with Cathedral alumni.
FYI... Clive Ciel, last I heard, was in London, England.
I remember Audrey Adams, Stanley Adams (vaguely), Morris Belcourt (see photo of hockey team of 1959), Desmond Guage (cannot place him exactly), Michael Colaco (see Prefects picture for 1959, seated on extreme left as he was Wilson House Captain) who was not a 60er. He was senior to us by a year as younger brother David was my classmate. I also remember Vernon Williams from our choir days!! We were all sopranos.
For Monty's benefit, however much it hurts deep in the heart of a Savagite, I put up here the picture of the 1956 Champion House - Wilson.
Sunday, March 13, 2005
I am pleased to welcome 62er Monty Wilson into our midst. Here is te email I received:
What a lovely surprise to hear from an old school mate!
How did you get to know about me? Who gave you my email? Not that I mind at all... I just want to keep in touch with old friends. Was it Wendy Wood the head girl in 63? I met Wendy in Toronto last summer (2004). I live in the Toronto area.
Some of the UK old school friends I stay in touch with are: Romesh Velu (64), Cecil Colaco (63), Vernon Williams(62), Joan Edwards(61). Sorry to say my good friend and classmate Alex Colaco (62) passed away in 2003 in the UK.
I was in the class of 62, Wilson huose.
I was (still am) keen on playing cricket (I can remember the surprise and dismay on his face when I clean bowled Jusudin (a good batsman and friend... don't know his whereabouts) on the first ball of the game between our classes 11a and 11b in 1961!
I am in Saudi Arabia on a project at the moment. Will be back in Toronto next week.
Attached is a picture of me at Niagara Falls... I'm on the right.
Who was your sister?
Keep in touch.
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
I am not using italics as someone had difficulty reading it. Here is a quiz?
I was really amazed with the contacts you have established with so many Cathedralites who have left and settled down all over the world. It was last year I had come across the "Catalumni" website that took me back to the good ole school days.
Although your name did ring a bell, I couldn't picture you. (Jacob: Not recognising a 6 foot dead Chicken. WoW!!! ) After all, it was almost 45 years since I had left school and reading one of your articles in which you had mentioned names such as Zayani, Mr. Thompson and "Seventh Heaven" immediately brought back vivid memories.
I was more of a sportsman than a studious person. Representing the School in practically all the outdoors games from 1956 thru 1960 had been my main forte. Anyway, I want you to add my name in your list as this would enable me to find some old friends I never got to meet after leaving School in 1960 for Pakistan. Now I'm working in Saudi Arabia as a project administrator of one of America's renowned construction companies. Haven't thought about retiring as yet! (Jacob: Hope you send me some of your photographs in the various sporting groups..
I had visited the School in April last year and tried to obtain any kind of record which could prove my identity which I required for a property case pending in the Bombay High Court but was unsuccessful. The Admission Books were dated back to 1953 - the year I had enrolled. Unfortunately the book which was to have contained my name was not found. The only register that was available contained the admissions starting from July 1953 onwards! I had enrolled prior to July 1953.
Lets hope that someone out there reading your blog might recognize my name and get in touch with me.
My school name was SHEIKH ZAHUR and now have reverted to my original name which is Mehfooz Ahmed.
Stay in touch and thanks,
Barham - 1960
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
From 69er Barbara Rossi in Italy:
Today was a busy day shovelling snow as it started to snow early in the morning and then never stopped....
and by law you must keep your pavement clear here in town so that those who walk on their way to and from their homes do not slip and do not have to climb mountains...
we do have a man who does these tough jobs, but today he was sick and remained in bed, warm and dry...
and so I didn't answer immediately like I do usually
what I wanted to say was, are you happy the puzzle is complete? Miss Hayeem was looking for me and Jehangir, and has found us BOTH - 35 years have passed, we now read and write fluently, we have improved our musical skills and also our general knowledge...
she now reaps the well matured fruit of her kindergarten!
Because it is so important to START WELL with a good teacher, on a rich soil, like the Cathedral School was and still is today......... and for this we are truly grateful!
and before I close... last but certainly not least, a big thank you to YOU for making it all possible!
From 54er Gracie Hayeem in California:
dear Barbara has written such a sweet letter to you!
Lots of Love and Good wishes as always.
And finaly from 70er Jehangir in Pune (edited):
I had the pleasure of hearing of you only a couple of days ago through Miss Hayeem. Subsequently saw your interesting site yesterday.
We are a tribe of Savagers too. Co-incidentally my wife Jasmine too and therefore, naturally, the kids while they were in Cathedral.
You can certainly put my name up on your list as a guy from the class of '70 and Jasmine from '78.
> Do you know the some of the Cathedralites in Pune as 54er Sadhana
> Madhusadan (née Shah), 57er Fleur Madnani (née Ezekiel), 57er Sunil
> Sahani (former Research Director of Hindustan Lever), 59ers Adi Cooper
> (operates in bothMumbai & Pune) and Indarjit Shah?
Unfortunately I don't know any of the above. Have heard some of their names only in the course of the last few days. The only Catherdralite I know of that vintage is Dr. Jazz, Behram Badhnivala. However, there are 6 from '70 that I know of based in Pune.
Ciao and all the best.
Thanks to Antia watumull and Shobha Jhunjhunwala, you can view the first set of photographs, featuring mostly the ladies looking gorgeous in their resplendent outfits (can I be any more verbose?).
I will post the link to more photos shortly. Thank you Shobha.
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
He changed the lives of many thousands of people by his open and humouristic, yet thoughtful and understanding of life in general.
K. M. Mammen Mappillai (Kochappachen), youngest son of K. C. Mammen Mappillai, the man who founded MRF with seven of his brothers, his sister and one sister-in-law who lost her husband at an early age, ran the company in a most humane manner. Despite every possible hurdle, he drove it to the top of all Indian tyre companies.
Besides being the leader of a corporate giant, he was also an accomplished artist. It was this tenderness that dominated his handling of people. This photograph of a painting by Kochappachen of the family home on the island of Kuppaparam, in the backwaters near Alleppy / Kottayam in Kerala, raises nostalgic memories of my childhood days swimming in those "crocodile" infested waters. We used to swim only in the area near the far left of the picture where was the washing room on the waterfront. (Those were indeed dreamy days.)
He was ably assisted by his wife's brother, Kurian George (Georgie, to me), who retired recently from his post as Technical Director. His other brother-in-law, my father, Kuriyan Matthan, assisted him by giving him non-family oriented professional advice, whenever asked, and getting him the services of some of the best engineers (for example, Mr. S. K. Rao and Mr. C. P. J. Diaz) to help in setting up the company in its early years.
When the company was struggling for financing, it was the father of my Bombay Cathedral School classmate, Elijah Elias (Ooky), who had just taken charge of Corporate Financing of State Bank of India in Bombay, that came forward and trusted MRF and the family and provided the crucial funding necessary to set the company on its course. Kochappachen never forgot that help and always made it a point to remember Mr. Elias and his closeness to the family as was seen in the friendship I have had with Ooky for almost 50 years. Ooky probably never even probably knew this till much later in life. I remember his father quizzing me on all the aspects of the tyre company and our family when he was discussing the funding of MRF. In this process, the late Mr. K. C. Mathulla, who had a way of dealing diplomatically with all people, played a very critical role.
It was Kochappachen's elder brother, Mr. K. M. Philip (Peelukuttychayan), who was instrumental in setting up the collaboration with a small US tyre company, Mansfield Tire & Rubber Company of USA, in Akron, Ohio, owned by James Hoffman, so as to start the tyre divsion of MRF, which till then was dominating the Indian field in rubber compound for tyre retreading. The story has it that Peelukuttychayan met Mr. Hoffman in a YMCA and from there on the friendship blossomed into the formation of the Joint Venture.
After the starting of the company, when production problems were being faced, the family brought in Mr. T. Thomas, son-in-law of another brother, the late Mr. K. M. Eapen (Eapachayan), (Chairman Board of Governors of Cathedral School) who with his organisational management skill helped streamline the company. A tyre company consists of 7 indepndent operational streams and it is necessary to co-ordinate them perfectly to get the overall production to grow. At the time Thomas came in, the company was stuck at a level of 800 tyres per day. He helped to organise it so as to take the production to 3000 tyres per day - the breakthrough which brought MRF on par with the other tyre companies which were then operating in India - the multinationals Dunlop, Firestone and Goodyear, whose only interest at that stage was to see the collapse of this Indian owned and managed company. This reduced production cost and brought the company on the road to profitability.
T. Thomas was over-ambitious, wanting to become the Technical Director and eventually, Managing Director, of the company. So, it was necessary to part company after he set the company on its course. At this stage a major family crisis developed as Thomas was the son-in-law of a respected brother. It was my mother, who was loved to the skies by all her brothers, who firmly held the brothers together and ensured that this problem did not result in the collapse of the family which would have led to the ultimate demise of MRF.
Thomas did not do so badly, however. He was the first person who was ever re-employed by Hindustan Lever, going on to become the Chairman of that company and then a Board Member of Unilever Headquarters in London. He knew how to play the rat race game!!
There were many who contributed to the growth of MRF. Among them I would count my very dear friend, the late Prem Sadanand, who came in from Borosil Glass Ltd. as the Staff Assistant to the Managing Director, and the late Mr. N. P. Abraham, who came in from the Marketing Division of the drug giant, Sandoz Ltd. These two people earned the trust of Kochappachen to a degree that I saw in none other. They disagreed with him on many issues, but he knew that they always had the interest of the company at heart when they gave him advice. That, he respected above all.
At a most crucial stage of the company much later, Kochappachen's late son, Ravi Mammen, a product of the Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies in Bombay, with a very socialistic vision of management, turned around the company from its major problems, especially labour and corporate image. He helped break the stranglehold of the destabilising unions, interested only in their power and least interested in what the workers welfare, with his very direct and honest approach.
The company is now being ably captained by Kochappachen's eldest son, Vinoo Mammen, and his youngest son, Arun Mammen.
In his lifetime, Kochappachen set up the company so that it was professional management combined with love and affection, which is only possible in a family managed company, that was the basic principle of running this great company.
Above all, he insisted on quality.
Kochappachen had the patience to listen to advice from everyone, small and big, and used that information to ensure that the company benefited from it.
Let it not be thought that the other brothers, whom I have not named, the late Mr. K. M. Cherian, the late Mr. K. M. Oommen, the late Mr. K. M. Varghese Mappillai and Mr. K. M. Mathew, were sleeping partners in the process of creation and running of MRF. They were crucial pins in the development of MRF. One day, maybe in the future, I will reveal some of the intricate past and the roles of each of these in building this corporate giant, as only I know it from an objective viewpoint.
Tuesday, March 01, 2005
One of my corresponents (who shall remain unnamed) wrote to me
Even I would have 80,000 friends if I forwarded all the e-mails I got to every one I know !!
Somehow, I prefer a more personal approach, more one-on-one-- too shy to have my mails all over the place."
Actually, I rarely forward emails unless there is a specific purpose
to be served.
I replied thus to my correspondent:
What you say is absolutely true that the number of contacts
could grow by forwarding emails, but in my case there is a slight
difference (and my fault) in that I get personally involved with all
the people I deal with.
For instance this is an email I got yesterday from my a Finnish and
a Hungarian friend whom I introduced day-before-yesterday to a
Had dinner last night with Ashok and Malathi, and they
invited us to stay with them already on the phone
before they had met us. .......
Today, we will call Fazila at 4 pm and we should meet
her tonight unless something came up. Malathi asked us
to invite her for dinner at their's tonight as well,
so we will call and ask to see if that is ok.
They are really great people and thank you for linking
us up (ildi's words)."
You see how it works.
All my worldwide friends are great and wonderful people and I
always try to link the right types, knowing each person's
background and character.
That cannot be done by only forwarding emails!!!
When I started "Findians Briefings" as a free hard copy in-house
journal, it was just for a few hundred Finnish and Indian
businessmen interested in trade between the two countries.
Within three months it had snow-balled into 7000 copies
which I could no longer afford to produce it as hard copy.
That was why I started putting it on internet.
Within a year the readership was in 90 countries and covered
over 50,000 people!! And it grew and grew. I was producing it
from my attic with an obsolete Mac PowerBook.
When I launched Seventh Heaven and Kooler Talk, it again
blew up out of all proportions.
The secret was personal "nostalgic involvement" (and it still is).
Plus it is a close one-to-one relationship with my audience which
involves a 24 hour reply and action cycle. Some contact me once a
year, some as often as two or three times a week. Their husbands /
wives, children, grandchildren, are all important to them (and me).
Again to give an instance, Shallu, mother of Rohit and Rahul read the
blog, got her 90 year old mother involved, generating a huge
audience from Madras and Bangalore. Now Rahul's photography
is on the blog. Within a few hours I had readers clamouring for more.
I posted the short note about Rohit's wife's (Kavita's) book "Brahmins
and Bungalows : Travels Through South Indian History by
Kavita Watsa" . That has generated an enormous response
from people I had never heard of before yesterday!!
To give you a couple of examples that you would be more familiar
with: How else would I have stepped in and taken care of Sadhana's
daughter, and her relationship leading to marriage with a Finn, even
though I have never met Sadhana in my life? Or why would I search
and locate Barbara Rossi for Gracie as I have never personally met
Gracie in my life (knowingly)? Both Sadhana and Gracie are part of
my absolutely lovely personally unmet friends, but we know each
other intimately through our correspondence!!!
In the old days it used to be called "pen-pals" whom I have termed
When I wrote the article "Greed : Missile of Black Gold", I had
literally hundreds of people all over the world (professors to
housewives) who were saved from losing large amounts of money
and life in the Nigerian Scam. All of these people have become
dear friends even though I do not "know them from
When my domain name in Canada collapsed, there was utter
chaos, but now it is slowly getting back to normal as I restore
normal communications with this circle of "friends". (JM:
This has proven to be the most difficult of the tasks that I have
There are hundreds of journalists and writers that I know who send
out automated replies when people write to them about their
articles. I have never done that, so that is why my circle of friends
and readers is so large and growing. Of course I get criticism,
but I answer them with a principled answer which may conflict
with the opinions of the correspondent. But we soon agree to
disagree and remain friends. (Unless of course it is so blatant
as in the bizarre exchange of e-correspondence with the
What is the secret behind Malayala Manorama and its immense
readership? My grandfather's personal involvement with his
audience, something I learnt from him in the 50s!!
It is a philosophy which is built into the organisation and does
not depend on who is in charge today. Rajen, Thambi and Chacko
are really introverts, but Malayala Manorama continues to grow
because of a philosophy laid down in its early years which has