59er Golden Reunion Directory

59er Golden Reunion Directory
59er Golden Reunion Directory

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Petrol prices and its impact on moblity

(Cross-posted on my Jacob's Blog.)

A few weeks ago Cathedralite 69er Prakash Thadani sent me an email in which he requested everyone to observe a "No Petrol Day" on 22nd May 2007 as a protest against the price in India in comparison to neighbouring countries:

Petrol Prices

Pakistan Rs 17 per litre
Malaysia Rs 18 per litre
India Rs. 48 per litre

Prakash was a bit surprised to learn the price in Finland € 1.370 per litre which works out at over Rs. 75 per litre.

Over 70% 0f the price of petrol in Europe is taxes collected by the Government.

These taxes are used for several purposes, including maintaining the roads, plus other environmentally sound policies. The Oil Companies do make substantial profits, but not to the extent as in the USA.

I have been boycotting several multinationals including several oil companies for many years. But the reason has not been just price gouging but more important issues as the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq, the ignoring of reality by denying that Climate Change was due to burning of fossil fuels, etc.

This year I have started using a petrol scooter which consumes considerably less petrol than our car. I get 50 km per litre as against 7 km per litre in our car.

Only when Annikki has to go out or when I have to use the trailer or take Mika for his Physiotherapy, do I use the car.

I have saved a considerable amount of money. The more important reason is that using a scooter in Oulu has considerably extended my flexibility and saved me a lot of time!

Anil's Electric Scooter.

I would love to get the Electric Scooter, given to me by Anil Anathakrishnan, working again. Anil is the brilliant electric vehicle designer from Bangalore. I am sure that I will do so, again, probably this summer.

Anil launched the Electric Scooter in India.I understand it was priced too high to have made an impact.

That was certainly not Anil's decision. He was of the opinion that anyone wanting to buy one of his electric scooters should be able to draw the required money from an ATM!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Be warned or die

(Cross-posted on all my major blogs.)

One of my alumni friends sent me this post which I think is very important.

Coke cans stacked in a warehouse.
Not all warehouses are so clean and tidy!


This incident happened recently in North Texas.

A woman went boating one Sunday, taking with her some cans of coke which she put into the refrigerator of the boat. On Monday she was taken to the hospital and placed in the Intensive Care Unit. She died on Wednesday.

The autopsy concluded she died of Leptospirosis. This was traced to the can of coke she drank from, not using a glass. Tests showed that the can was infected by dried rat urine and hence the disease Leptospirosis.

Rat urine contains toxic and dangerous substances. It is highly recommended to thoroughly wash the upper part of Soda cans before drinking out of them. The cans are typically stocked in warehouses and transported straight to the shops without being cleaned.

A study at NYCU showed that the tops of soda cans are more contaminated than public toilets (i.e).. full of germs and bacteria. So wash them with water before putting them to the mouth to avoid any kind of fatal accident.

Same goes for the envelopes, do not lick it.

I do not know how many times I have drunk directly from cans. I have been lucky but may not be next time.

In an article which appeared in an English online paper Milton Keynes Citizen dated 22nd May 2007Rat infestations on the increase this was stated:

Among the 70 diseases that rats are known to carry are cholera, typhus, bubonic plague and leptospirosis, a bacterial illness spread by their urine contaminating water or food.

Leptospirosis is also known to infect anglers who can come in contact with rats' urine when fishing on the riverbank.

Council environmental health officer Simon Teesdale warned that bird feeding is one of the top causes for attracting rats to residential properties.

I am not an angler, so I need not worry about that. Annikki is planning on feeding the beautiful birds that visit our garden. We will now follow rules that will endure that no rats come to eat at the same bird house.

My thanks to my good friend 55er Bunny Rao of the Cathedral and John Connon School, Mumbai, for sending me this message. He may have saved many a life, including mine, with this one.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Part 2: Why do I do the things I do?

(Cross-posted on all my major blogs.)

The reaction to the first part of this blog title was so overwhelming that I thought I would share another of my very simplistic theories with you.

This blog entry covers the subject of physical and mental endurance.

Beautiful Rauma.

Two scooters belonging to my friends had to be delivered to Rauma, a lovely small town in south Finland. In the normal course I would have just booked them in a truck service and sent them on.

Not having done a long distance drive since 2003, when I drove 1300 km to Helsinki and back the same day, I wondered whether I could repeat part of this by driving to Rauma and back the same day - a total distance of 1100 km up and down.

When I told Annikki my plan, she said I was crazy. She tried to talk me out of this foolhardy mission. But my mental make-up was such that I knew I had to do this trip.

I loaded the scooters onto the trailer. Just as I was tying them down as firmly as I could, my Zambian friend, Kamutaza Tembo, turned up. He did the job of tying both the scooters down as tight as he could.

It looked as if we had done a good job.

Friday was a busy day. We had been invited to dinner by Indu and Asheesh, an Indian couple newly settled in Oulu. Their 4-year old son, Karthik, is a real whiz kid. I get on famously with him.

Indu and Asheesh decided we would dine at the Indian Cuisine, the new Indian Restaurant in Oulu. The owner, Michelle, was there to look after us. She produced an absolutely great meal. For the first time in the last 10 years we had tandoori chicken which tasted as much as tandoori chicken from Moti Mahal on Chandini Chowk in New Delhi.

After this meal, eaten slowly and enjoyed till the last mouthful, Indu and Asheesh suggested we visit their new home. Indu has done a wonderful job with this flat, bright and airy and really home-like. We chatted and finished with ice cream. I had to drag Annikki away, as I planned to leave at sunrise, about 3:30 am.

When we got home, I go a shock.

Annikki said she would also accompany me on this long journey! Although grateful to have her company, I was wondering how she would last this journey, as I had no intention of stopping halfway!

She has not done such an arduous journey in the last 15 years.

I had a shower and hit the sack. I was tired when I went to bed, but I was up, fresh as a daisy, at 3:30 am. As it was raining I decided to wait till it got a bit brighter. I let Annikki sleep while I got all the paperwork for the trip ready. Just as I was going to fill the petrol at 4 am, I told her that she should be ready in about half an hour.

As soon as I hit the first bump on the road, I realised that the scooters would give me trouble en route. After filling the petrol, I thought of a great idea and put the spare tyre between the two scooters, wedging it in tight. I then re-tightened all the ropes. When I tested it driving home, I was sure that for the most part there would be no damage en route.

I was home by 4:30 and we were able to get on the road by 4:45.

We took a route which is non-traditional. Although driving slowly because of the load in the trailer, we made good time. We stopped at a petrol station for a cup of tea. I stopped another 3 times to ensure the ropes were tightened. By 12 noon we were in Rauma.

After unloading the scooters, we dropped in to see our friends, Padma and Mika. It was Mika's birthday so we had a piece of cake and some great Indian tea. We had to refuse the meal that Padma had cooked for us as Annikki and I had eaten crisps all the journey down to Rauma.

Kannan is moving to a new flat at the end of the month. We went to see his nice new apartment. Then we drove to a lovely restaurant, HR-Kala in Olkiluoto, which specialises in Fish.

The lunch, two pieces of beautifully smoked salmon, a large fish cutlet and sliced gravey salmon served with freshly cut vegetables was superb.

HR stands for the name of the fisherman, Hannu. He has two boats, a 5 metre and a 10 metre one. He fishes in the waters of Olkiluoto and sells his fish at the Rauma market. He and his wife run this great fish restaurant.

We had this delicious early dinner. By 4 pm we set on our way back, Kannan taking the trouble to put us on the highweay.

We took another route, the main road between Rauma and Oulu, but we discovered it was a ghastly mistake.

This route is lined with camera speed checkers. I am not averse to camera speed checkers, but in the Swedish-speaking section in Finland, the Police have deliberately placed the cameras in a way to catch offenders by creating them.

The cameras are set up in one speed zone (say 100 kmph). Then, all of a sudden, one hits a speed limit change sign (say to 80 kmph) and even before one has the chance to reduce one's speed to the new speed, less than 50 metres away, they have placed the camera.

In other parts of Finland the cameras are at least 200 metres after a speed change sign.

Keeping the cameras so close to the speed change sign, has one hitting the brakes, causing the cars behind you to focus on why you are braking, and then they too realise they are being forced to brake to reduce the speed dramatically to avoid being caught for speeding.

This is catastrophic and causes a great deal of mental anguish while driving.

The whole object of this exercise is to trick drivers into a mistake and then they get caught for speeding.

It was close to 11:30 at night that we were on the last stretch home. I had been driving well within the speed limit, but as the last 5 minutes were ahead of us and we were on a motorway, I told Annikki we would be home in 5 minutes and I speeded up.

Just as we were pulling of the highway I saw the Police car behind me. I pulled up, knowing my mistake instantly.

With a trailer one is limited top a speed of 80 kmph. I had been at 110 kmph. I knew I was going to be fined. The Policemen were courteous and sympathetic, but I got my dose of the correct medicine!

Because if this slight deviation from the routine we got home just before midnight.

The entire day for me was from 3:30 am till midnight: 20+ hours approximately, in which I had driven 1155 km. The real pick-me-ups on the way had been three extra strong cups of tea, two lie-downs of about 5 minutes each to rest the eyes and limbs, and a couple of stops to fill petrol and stretch my legs.

After a quick sauna, I hit the sack at a quarter past midnight and I was asleep in less than a minute. I slept like a lamb till 9 am, five hours longer than normal, but on waking up I felt on top of the world.

The moral of this story is quite simple.

Test your endurance capacity regularly as you grow older. It is important that you know where your body stands. Any weak links will be shown up immediately when stressed to the limit. Then, you can work to correct the problems.

My weak link is that when driving for a long spell, I get an ache at the knees. Stopping and walking around for a couple of minutes eases this ache completely for the next couple of hours.

I must find out the reason for this. That was the only problem I had during this 1155 km 20 hour drive day. Mental agility and reactions were as perfect as when I used to drive like this in my younger days.

Annikki also lasted through this trip without any problems. We mid-60ers can claim to be in a reasonably sound condition as our bodies have spoken!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

A genuine "Finnish" misunderstanding by me

(Cross-posted on my major blogs.

When I was told by Ville Suomi that we would have two visitors from the Palam Rural Centre in India, I believed that they were from New Delhi, assuming Palam to be related to the Palam Airport.

However, when I went to the chappal making demo on Tuesday noon, I saw a humble "moochi" sitting on the floor making a sandal using his traditional skills.

Daniel Jesudasan, and his boss Benjamin Sundarkumar, are from Tirupur in Tamilnadu.

The real name of the organisation should be Paalam. Paalam mean "bridge" in both Tamil and Malayalam.

Tirupur is the major textile centre of India producing undergarments and t-Shirts by the millions and these can be found in even the most exclusive of shops around the world.

Daniel is a humble cobbler, having learnt the profession from his uncle over 30 years ago. In the period since, he estimated that he has made over 50000 sandals plus a variety of different products as leather bags, key ring holders, and many other leather products. His wife and his children have also been part of his professional activity.

Range of fragrant soaps "literally" lovingly hand-packaged in beautiful hand-made paper cartons from the Paalam Rural Centre.

Benjamin Sundarkumar is the Secretary of the Paalam Rural Centre, which is a cooperative of around 130 families, who are working to create an honest and good life for themselves and their children. They are producing leather products and also about 30 different fragrant soaps at their facility. They now intend to diversify into liquid soaps and shampoos.

Over the last 30 years the cooperative, started by a Swedish pastor, has taken legs of its own and has become part of the Fair Trade worldwide programme. (After Oulu, Daniel and Benjamin were on their way to Sweden so see this 80 year old pastor, now living in retirement in Stockholm.)

Kati Hjerp of Juuttiputiikki introduces the visitors from India.

In an evening programme at the WALDA Youth Centre, Benjamin said that the prices they received from the Fair Trade programme was certainly "fair" and had helped the cooperative to develop itself. The small profit had been wisely invested in improving the livelihood of the families that form the cooperative.

Impressive was the Primary School which was equipped with computers and which they hope, with further improvement in profits and help from a few friends, that they can develop into a High School.

Daniel and Benjamin at the Tropical Botanical Greenhouse.

On Thursday, I took the two of them for a tour of the city of Oulu, showing them the Oulu University Central Hospital, the Medipolis area, the Technopolis area, the University of Oulu including the fascinating Botanical Gardens and the Zoological Museum, and then a trip to the Oulu Nallikari Beach including a visit to our friends at the Children's Park.

The first ground bloom flowers in Kampitie.

View of the Kampitie garden.

View of the Kampitie garden.

View of the Kampitie garden.

Annikki's new experiment this year - peat bricks as a border.

After this I took them home to meet Annikki and view the Kampitie garden, which today is a splendour bathed in much colour.

We had a delicious Indian meal at the Indian Cuisine Restaurant. Then, I dropped them off at Juuttiputiikki, where Daniel was once again going to demonstrate his artisan skills to a much larger audience than on Tuesday.

During our conversations, many serious thoughts struck me.

Firstly, with the children of the now cooperative members being educated presently in modern facilities, it is most likely that the artisan skills of Daniel and his friends will not be passed on to the next generation to follow. It is, therefore, imperative to develop their cooperative in a manner that does not drive these educated children away from their roots and homes as they are forced to seek employment in the metropolitan cities.

Secondly, I felt that as water is a scarce resource in Tirupur, when making their liquid soaps for export, it would be far wiser for them to export the liquid soapconcentrates, and market these concentrates in the Fair Trade outlets, just as Juuttiputiikki is doing of products from many other producers of liquid soaps and shampoos.

Thirdly, the cooperative should cooperate with Universities and other organisations to ensure that the water scarcity which plagues their region is solved using modern scientific methods. Otherwise the entire region, which today depends on fast depleting groundwater, will be led to total ruination!

And finally, the manufacturing facilities are truly primitive, but yet they produce a great range of products suitable for the elite of the western world. Here, I am caught in a dilemma as to what to say. If I say that the facilities should be modernised, it will take away the glamour of the humble way of life of these people. But if they do not modernise, their competivity will be lost and they could grind to a halt in the not too distant future.

The primitivity is what impresses me, YET depresses me. To think that India, with its explosion on the world economy, still has such manufacturing primitivity is extremely hard for me to accept.

Having spent many years with Annikki in villages around Karnataka - I know this is a reality. Maybe someone will help me clarify my thinking!

Some important feedback

Many of you, especially Cathedralites, have commented on my will power of giving up smoking, alcohol and coffee in one swoop, 25 years ago.

I am afraid all of you are wrong about "the will power" part.

It was NOT will power that made me stop. What it was, was that I had always, and still, always, listen to what my body tells me. That was the main point of my earlier blog entry!

Considering that human brain only uses about 4% of the enormous capacity that it has, it is not usual for the damage to the brain, in the early stages, to coincide with that part of the brain that is actually being used. In my case, this did happen, and MY body realised that immediately. Many observe this damage much later in life, by which time it is quite difficult to go through that regeneration process. Hence, the difficult slide continues, leading to dementia and many other brain-related problems.

I do suffer from rather selected dementia, however! :-)

What would this blog be without such insightful inputs of the likes of Staff members as William Shiri, 49ers Yeshpal Kapadia and Naval Patel, 54ers Gracie (née Hayeem) Leno and Sadhana (née Shah) Madudansadan, 56er Ubi and 69er Prakash Thadani, among many many others.

I am so glad that our Alumni President Rajiv Bhatia took the advice of our late 57er Dr. Behram (Budni) Bhadniwalla in his very last email to the world, seriously, and has started to use this blog as one of his means of reaching the wider Cathedralite audience in the world.

I would like to make a plea to the many who send me jokes. I greatly appreciate your wanting to share these great jokes with me.

However, as I have a readership on my various blogs of well over 120000, it means that I am getting a spate of jokes from several readers. May I kindly request you to limit the jokes sent to a maximum of one a day, and possibly 2 per week.

This will greatly help me manage my account as I am getting repeats of the jokes, and as many of 8 to 10 copies of the same joke, every day!

Also, like Budni, if the joke has a deeper underlying message, it will be much more valued as I share many of these jokes with many others on my different blogs. This makes you a valuable contributor to one my many blogs.

Selected feedback, like Naval Patel on cricket, or articles that appear about the school in various media, are also greatly appreciated. I remember 57er Kashinath Dandekar especially, as he used to send me articles from various media about our school. (Unfortunately, this source has dried up after his return to India!)

The special city reports, as those submitted by 69er Prakash Thadani, are much appreciated, not only by me, but by those who I share them with. Especially inputs such as this one about Global Warming:

from Prakash Thadani
date May 23, 2007 7:47 PM
subject Global Warming, Please attend the screening if you can

Dear Friend,

This is the copy of our invitation for the screening of "An Inconvenient Truth" - a documentary by Al Gore.

We would appreciate it if you could spread the word amongst your friends.

Please ask those interested to call RISHIKA at 9820354428.

Also, it is not compulsory to carry the card as long as they confirm that they will be attending the show.



Prakash A Thadani

Ubi remembering his friends at the 56er 50th year Reunion.
For a slide show, loooong and sloooow, about this event visit the 56er Reunion Site.

I am grateful for 56er Ubi (H. S. Uberoi) for sending met this very personal note about his relationship with the former Principal of the school, Col. Eric J. Simeon.

Dear Jacob,

I met Eric for the first time in Belgrade, then Yugoslavia, in 1971/2 or so.

He and his wife Jean came to visit Jean's brother Mr. Rikhi Jaipal, the then Indian Ambassador to Yugoslavia.

The Jaipals brought the Simeons along to our home for dinner. We struck up a good rapport and spent some good times in Belgrade for the period that they were there.

I remember Eric telling me that though he was an army officer, he had an abiding interest in education.

If my memory does not fail me, his first educational assignment was as the head of India's first Sainik School.

He was a hardcore La Martiniere man (I forget which, Calcutta or Lucknow) and I suspect that his innermost loyalties were with La Martiniere!

After Belgrade, our paths crossed again in 1977 in Dehra Dun, when he was the Principal of the Doon School. We spent a night or two in Dehra Dun with some old students and evaluating as to whether we wanted to send our first born to Doon School. We decided in favour of keeping him with us.

Years later, in 1981, when I was transferred back to Bombay from Nairobi, my thoughts turned back to Cathedral and the need to find admission for both our son and daughter, Samir and Yasna.

I was very pleasantly surprised to learn that Eric Simeon was then the Principal of the Cathedral School! It was indeed a small world!

If it was 1971, when we first met the Simeons, Samir was three and Yasna was not then born!

When I spoke to Eric Simeon from Nairobi, he felt that I should come to Bombay to get Samir tested for admission. So, in 1981 August or so Samir entered Cathedral under the stewardship of Eric Simeon and shortly thereafter, did Yasna.

Our relationship continued and grew stronger in Bombay and I recall with fondness of the occasions Eric asked me to be the chief judge at the annual cross country races (I recall Tara Malkani being a judge too one year and when he asked me to coach the schoolboys in boxing in 1984/85.

He was often critical of the standard of judging in boxing in Bombay!

We met frequently, both he and his delightful wife Jean.

It was during his tenure as Principal that the school celebrated its 125th Anniversary.

In 1984/5 Samir and his wife now Anahita (née Mehta) both became headboy and headgirl respectively under Eric Simeon.

I'm sure Eric had something to do with the chemistry the two developed and eventually get married!

As the ex-officio Vice-President of the Alumni Association, Eric Simeon could not suffer fools and was quite outspoken in his views!

I met him last in 1986, in Bombay, when I was transfered to Abu Dhabi.

I shall cherish the memory of Jean and Eric Simeon warmly.


I must also draw attention the Memorial Service which will be held in New Delhi for Col. Simeon. This was the message from his son Dileep, a fellow Stephanian:

There will be a Memorial Service for the Late Col. Eric Joseph Simeon, ex-Principal, at the Cathedral of the Redemption, North Avenue, Near Gurdwara Rakabganj, New Delhi, on Tuesday May 29, 2007 at 5:15 pm sharp.

Dileep Simeon

Once again, remember that this blog is by you, about you, for you, and Annikki and I are purely vassals of all of you out there!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Why do I do the things I do?

(Cross-posted on all my major blogs.)

Recently there was a programme on an American internet radio station about how humans were less developed than animals. Examples cited included the fact that all the animals moved to higher ground before the tsunami struck. Several other examples were given and it reinforced my view that animals are infinitely superior in all respects to human beings as far as knowing themselves and their environment.

The programme also highlighted how much we have to learn from animals. For instance, when the super-fast train was being built in Japan, there was a sonic boom when the train emerged from a tunnel at the high speed. This was solved by watching how a kingfisher enters the water with its specially formed beak and it moves effortlessly from one medium into another! The front of the train was designed to be like the beak of a kingfisher.

I have been a strong believer in the philosophy that my body tells me exactly what I should eat or drink. As a result I have never been a pill popper AND I have not been seriously ill for many a decade. In my 23+ years in Finland I never missed a day at work.

People find it hard to believe my very simplistic theories. Usually, when I draw their attention to facts when they are published later, they forget that I had told them the reasons well before scientific evidence had proven something.

I must go back in time when I was a heavy smoker, consuming nothing less than 80 Charminars a day, drinking several bottles of beer and finishing the day with a bottle of rum. This was also a time when I drank about a dozen cups of coffee per day!

Even with this I had never been drunk. I lived and worked hard, usually a grueling 20 hour day.

I also had an unbelievable memory where I could recall facts instantly. My ability to scan a letter and pick out errors was uncanny. My secretaries were astounded by how I glanced down a sheet and faster than they came in they were out of my office with a pageful of corrections on the sheet.

Then, one day I walked into my office in Bangalore and could not find an important paper, I realised my memory was failing. My body immediately told me to lay off alcohol.

Within 24 hours I had given up not only alcohol, but also coffee and cigarettes, as the consumption of one to the other was interlinked.

People were astounded how I had such enormous will power - but it was not me doing the choosing, but my body.

It has taken close to 25 years to rebuild the small portion of my brain that was damaged. Although it was a small partr, it was quite a considerable portion.

My alma mater web sites and my blogging were part of a long term programme which helped me rebuild my damaged brain.

When I quit all the "harmful" parts of my intake, I went on to consuming water for several months. Then my body told me to take to tea.

From then onwards I have been consuming anywhere between 5 to 8 cups of tea per day. The effect on my entire body as well as my brain has been so invigorating. If I told anyone that my tea intake was being controlled by my "intuitive" need, I would be laughed out of the room.

Today, when I read this article on BBC Tea 'healthier' drink than water, I knew my body was the one which had been right all the while.

I quote a couple of passages from this article:

Drinking three or more cups of tea a day is as good for you as drinking plenty of water and may even have extra health benefits, say researchers.....

....Experts believe flavonoids are the key ingredient in tea that promote health.....

....These polyphenol antioxidants are found in many foods and plants, including tea leaves, and have been shown to help prevent cell damage....

...Other health benefits seen included protection against tooth plaque and potentially tooth decay, plus bone strengthening.....

Besides tea, I also consume about 5 to 7 litres of water per day, as my body demands that.

It is my contention that tea not only prevents cell damage, but it helps restore damaged cells, although that is a painfully slow process and needs much outside stimuli to repair the cells to its original form. Maybe this will be discovered in 10 years!

That is how my brain cells have been regenerated!

So I say, learn to listen to your body!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Tributes to a past Principal

Although I did not have the pleasure of knowing former Principal Col. Eric Simeon, from the tributes that have come in, it appears that he did our school proud.

Dear Jacob,

By the way did you hear of Col. Eric Simeon's death in Delhi yesterday. He was suffering from cancer.

The former Principal of Cathedral had lost his wife some years ago.

He was well respected and kept in touch with many Cathedralites, when he was living in Pune.

69er Prakash Thadani

And the Alumni President Rajiv Bhatia submitted this "Recall" report:

from: Catalumni - Rajiv Bhatia
date May 16, 2007 3:47 AM
subject Recall

Col. Simeon succeeded Mr. Kuruvilla Jacob as Principal of Cathedral School. He took my General Knowledge Class at the `SLR'.

I had the good fortune of meeting him in Pune, after he retired, from time to time, thanks to my friends the Lobo's (Col. Ivo Lobo, the Late Mrs. Jean Simeon's brother).

When I met Col. in early 2005, he autographed my copy of the new Hymnal, as designed by Mrs. Isaacs. His nephew and my friend Jonathan Lobo (Barham 1981 ISC) had taken me over to his residence at Ashoka Apts in Pune. Col's wife Jean, had passed away a few months before in late 2004 and he was heart broken. Seeing her suffer during her last he said he often recapped the words from `Abide with me' -

"When other helpers fail, and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless,
O abide with me."

It is comforting to know that the prayers and good wishes of scores of his highly accomplished students have always been with him.

The Armed Forces stood behind him too. It was'nt without reason that NDTV flashed text messages last night that a noted Educationist was no more.

Prannoy Roy was Col.'s student at Doon.

Such is the regard that those who knew the late Col. Eric Joseph Simeon will always have for him. His was most certainly a life well lived. In our hearts, he will live for ever.


The late Col. Eric Simeon with Pushpa Bhatia (53er)
on Christmas Eve 2003 in Pune.

Rajiv Bhatia (Barham, 1981 ICSE)
President @ your service

May Col. Simeon rest in peace.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Rahul's company split up

(Cross-posted on the Delhi St. Stephen's College Kooler Talk Blog.)

There was news in the Financial Express of 18th May 2007 of Rahul Bajaj's business empire to be split in three.

Rahul is a Cathedral School 54er and a 58er Stephanian.

I am quite interested that Rahul has adopted this step rather early on in his giving up the full time responsibility of his companies, although he remains as Chairman of all three new companies.

It is obvious that Rahul intends to pre-empt what may arise if the two brothers, Rajiv and Sanjiv, should fall out, and even if the two are best of friends, this could happen.

This can be witnessed in several other family managed companies. So long as there is someone respected by all at the helm, the semblance of family unity may appear on the surface.

It is a wise father who ensures that all will remain calm once he is no longer on the active scene. The way Rahul has chosen to do this can ensure that the Bajaj Empire will continue to grow and become stronger, at least in Rahul's lifetime which, with the advances in healthy lifestyles of today, can be assumed to be at least another 25 years.

Only two weeks ago I wished my uncle, Mr. K. M. Philip, father of Cathedralites 53er Sen Philip and 58er Dr. Peter Philip, the latter who is also a 62er Stephanian, a happy 95th birthday.

I got my 59er Cathedralite classmate, Ashok Kapur, Chairman of YES Bank, and also the immediate next door neighbour of Mr. Philip in Mumbai, to drop in to wish my uncle and report on his health and well-being to me.

Ashok informed me that 95 year old Mr. Philip is still playing a daily round of golf, plays a good game of bridge and is still raring in his mental energy to do business!

My wife, Annikki, who has observed many of my family members, told me that the secret of Mr. Philip's long and healthy life is that he is always happy and content. His life is filled with laughter.

I can vouch for that as he is always wanting to do new things showing that his mental age is as when he came to Mumbai over 7 decades ago and started his businesses.

Considering that Mr. Philip was instrumental in MRF Ltd. entering the tyre field and then he later became the World President of the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA), presiding over a group probably larger than the population of India, and yet he lived a life where he treated all who came across him as equals, his long life is because of his youthful outlook to life around him.

Let us wish our Rahul a similar long life presiding over a group of companies which are a tribute to India and Indian business acumen.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Deep regret - Passing of a Principal

(Cross-posted on the Stephanian Kooler Talk (Web Version) Blog.)

It is with deep regret that I must inform you of the passing of Col. Eric Simeon, former Principal of the Cathedral and John Connon School, Mumbai.

He passed away in New Delhi earlier today, just past noon. He had been ailing with cancer for the past few months.

Our condolences to his son Dileep, a Stephanian and a well known historian, and also to the larger Simeon and Lobo families.

I must especially thank the President of the Cathedral School Alumni, Rajiv Bhatia for rushing me this information.

Monday, May 07, 2007

A year ago there was just ONE

I was getting worried that the 58ers were quite a different bunch compared to all the other Cathedralite Groups from the 50s.

There has been slow and steady progress. The most recent was an email from 58er Kamal Gupta, who has had a very illustrious career, to 58er Homi Khusrokhan, which was kindly copied to mei:

to Homi Khusrokhan

07th May, 2007

Mr. Homi Khusrokhan.

Dear Homi,

Sub: 58er Cathedralite.

1. It was indeed a pleasure to hear from you. I was delighted to read the personal details about your life from the time you left school.

2. As for myself, after I left school in 1958 I went on to do my B.Com from Sydenham College and graduated in 1963. Later on I did my LLB from the Government Law College and graduated in 1965. I then practiced law with a leading firm at that time Ambubhai Diwanji and got my Advocate degree in the same year.

3. After my graduation in 1965 I went abroad for a year to work with two engineering firms in U.K. and then returned in 1967 to start a Public Limited Company Snail Forgings Ltd.,

4. I continued as a Director in this Company and we became one of the leading manufacturers of hand tools till the year 1985. During the early 1990s we saw the advent of militant Trade Unions in the industrial belt of Mumbai and with Dr. Datta Samant spearheading the attack, we had no choice but to close down the manufacturing operations in 1995.

5. After that, I diversified my career path into education and having joined the Lala Lajpatrai Institute at Worli, Mumbai, I went on to become the Chairman of Lala Lajpatrai Institute of Management. This Institute conducts a two years full time MBA course and three years part-time courses such as MFM, MMM and MHRDM. The Institute is well recognized by the Government of Maharashtra.

6. Regarding my personal life, I got married in 1965 and have three sons, of which two are in the United States having become American citizens and working as Investments Bankers in New York. The third son is also working as a banker in Mumbai and resides with me.

7. I am in regular touch with some of the other students from our class such as Ranjit Lalvani who has now retired and I also keep in touch with Abey Stevenson who lives in Derby in U.K.

8. I meet Jaffer Hussain who still lives next door to me. Any communication to be sent to Jaffer may kindly be sent to me as he is not contactable on email but is available on telephone number 2204 0665. Jaffer is in touch with Meher Katrak and some others. I will get further details from him and keep you posted.

9. It will be an absolute delight to meet everybody after a gap of 50 years.

With regards,


Now the list has grown from 1 to:

  1. "58er ABE STEVENSON"

  2. "58er DARYUSH IRANI"


  4. "58er JAFFAR HUSSAIN"

  5. "58er JOHN KURRIEN"

  6. "58er KAMAL GUPTA"

  7. "58er MEHER KATRAK"


  9. "58er RANJIT LALVANI"

Great start guys - but where are the gals?

Sunday, May 06, 2007

23 years too late...

(Cross-posted on my Jacob's Blog.)

(If you are wondering why the pictures of the children from the opening ceremony are so fuzzy, it is because of a child safety law in Finland which bars the inclusion of pictures of school children from any school event on a public forum without express permission each parent concerned!)

Thanks to Eric Mwai, I was invited to the reopening of the International School Campus in Oulu on Friday 4th May 2007.

The completely refurbished facilities now house three schools: The Leinonpuisto School, the Oulu International School and the International Baccalaureate (IB) of the Oulu Lyseo School.

The Opening Ceremony was truly amazing. It was so professional that it is difficult to believe that it was ordinary school children who were performing.

The choir, the acting, the blending of the Finnish Kalevala with cultures from many countries, including outstanding Bollywood dancing choreographed by the students themselves, were something I would not have missed in years.

They even had the Chief Guest, Ms. Elizabeth Rehn, taking part in their performance. It was so seamless, that one was astounded at their ingenuity.

Ms. Elizabeth Rehn, who after a very rewarding career in politics, being Finland's former Minister of Defence (Europe's first women to hold this post), former UN Under-Secretary General, special rapporteur on the Former Yugoslavia, etc., has been very active in gender and education issues.

The speech by Ms. Rehn was from her heart and to the point. She spoke of her work in the Balkans and the schools she was involved with there, where many different nationalities of countries in conflict live and study together.

This was what I always thought what education was about!

After the event, when we all enjoyed a very wonderful spread prepared by the Home Economics Department of the School, I took the liberty of meeting Ms. Rehn. (I have met her many many years ago when I was involved in work to help Ethnic Minorities.) I told her how much I enjoyed her speech. But, I added one comment - she was speaking of Cathedral and John Connon School, Bombay where I studied over 50 years ago.

I informed her how we students had stayed in touch and how we were organising our 50th Year Reunion in 2009!

These true values of education did exist during my childhood, both at Bishop Cotton School, Bangalore, and Cathedral School, Bombay.

Samuel in Florida in December 2006.

(Our grandson, Samuel, attended the Oulu International School when he was studying in Finland. I used to either drop him to school in the morning or pick him up from school in the evening, whenever required. Even then I was impressed by the courteous nature of the students and staff in the school. Samuel now lives and studies in Newcastle, England, where Joanna is studying medicine, and only spends his short summer holidays in his home in Finland.)

I was also able to compliment both Teuvo Laurinolli, Rector of the Oulu Lyseo, the school from which our younger daughter, Joanna, completed her higher education from in 1990, and Raija Perttunen, Rector of the Oulu International School, on the excellent programme.

How I wish such a situation had existed in 1984 when we shifted our residence to Finland.

It was with heavy heart that we had to break up our family. Within 7 months of moving to Finland we had to send Susanna, our older daughter, who had completed her schooling in India, to England to continue her studies. Five months later we had to send our elder son, Jaakko, to England to be able to carry on his studies.

These were heart-breaking events for both Annikki and me to break up our family at that crucial formative stage of the children's teenage lives.

Joanna, being extroverted by nature, and being much younger, was able to adapt into the Finnish system and complete her education right up to the Masters level. Our youngest, Mika, was broken hearted that we had moved to a country which did not play cricket. Once he became an outstanding Chess Player, and was placed in the Finnish Junior's Chess Championship, he was able to integrate, but was never quite at home as was Joanna.

To us, the International Campus has come 23 years too late.

We wish the 3 schools, the staff and the students, a wonderful existence promoting the values of life related to education and tolerance!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Oulu's Hyde Park Corner

Yesterday, being the Freedom of Speech day, worldwide, the local newspaper, Kaleva, and the local division of the Finnish National Radio Station, YLE, organised a 2 hour Free Speech Podium in the central Otto Karhi park in Oulu. They had originally announced that it would be London Hyde Park Corner style, with each speaker choosing his own location and podium, and speaking to his audience.

©Photographer: Eijas Sallinen/Kaleva

When I arrived at the park, I found the rules had been changed. They had organised a single podium with a recording mike in front of it. The speakers were asked to line up and take their turn in making their presentation.

I had set off from home with my own stand, a rickety steel frame with a wooden top which had been made by Annikki. When Annikki saw me leave on my scooter with this contraption, she was aghast and tried to get me to put it back. She felt that it would just fall to bits under my weight.

I was, however, adamant.

©Photographer: Eijas Sallinen/Kaleva

There was only me with a stand.

I was not too anxious to join the queue of speakers, as I knew I would not be able to say what I wanted in the short time one would be compelled to observe if one is taking a turn.

The audience was large. Several of my friends had turned up. I told them I would run my own show once the Finnish speakers had finished their presentations.

©Photographer: Eijas Sallinen/Kaleva

©Photographer: Eijas Sallinen/Kaleva

CHAFF participant Matti Moisa spoke.

©Photographer: Eijas Sallinen/Kaleva

Chaff participant Eeva-Maija Kolehmainen spoke.

I listened to several speakers who expressed the problems faced by them. It was obvious that they were all on the same page as they had no-one listening to or airing their genuine complaints. They hoped this public forum would be effective. These residents of Oulu were quite excited to have this chance to speak their mind. Obviously they were hoping that someone would listen to them.

I waited till the string of Finnish speakers were run through. When there was absolutely no one else approaching the main podium, I mounted it and did a 2 minute speel (Watch this on Windows Media Player using this link - http://www.kaleva.fi/video/fos001.wvm - it is the last speech on this video by Veli Pekka Tolanen).

I told the audience my main rant and introduced Annikki's new book "Freedom of Speech - Whose?"

The organisers were hit with a bolt of lightening as I pointed to THEM directly as being, not the solution, but the PROBLEM.

I directly threw down a challenge that my speech would probably be the only one not reported in the following day's report of this event!

When I completed this short speel, there was a great applause. I was now sure I would be able to make my longer talk from my own podium.

As I walked to my podium, several people asked me to continue, even though I was speaking in English. A large proportion of the audience were older Finnish folk whose English would have been strictly limited.

©Photographer: Eijas Sallinen/Kaleva


©Photographer: Eijas Sallinen/Kaleva

I did not need much persuasion. Mounting my soap box. Actually I put a small soap dish under my platform so as to say I was standing on top of a soap box. (This humour was not lost on my audience.)

I let fly attacking the corruption prevalent in Finnish society including in the Police, the Judiciary, the Politicians, the Bureaucracy, and above all the Media. I used specific examples as to how each of these authorities were totally corrupt from the very top, as they all practiced a "Big Brother" mentality at the expense of the common man.

I shouted that I was now able to speak out as I was now retired. This was unlike my many hundreds of foreign and Finnish friends who were unable to make their voices heard as they feared being punished in their daily working life!

I introduced Annikki's new book which focuses especially on the censorship practices by the Media in Oulu, in particular the Kaleva newspaper. I also gave examples from our two previous books - "Handbook for Survival in Finland" and "Seven Years Hard Labour in a Finnish Holiday Camp - A Finnish University".

When I finished my rather emotional speech, from my podium it sounded as if there was thunderous applause, making it very clear that the truth had been told.

I received several congratulatory remarks from the listeners. I went home and told Annikki of the red faces of te organisers I had seen in the audience. Without doubt, I was sure that this speech of mine would not be covered by the media.

To my surprise, in this morning's paper, the Kaleva had fallen for the trap as they were forced to give my speech and my comments a special place. My picture waving my book about the University of Oulu got full exposure!

So as to blunt my comments, the main Editorial in the Kaleva newspaper was written claiming that, as per Freedom House, the Finnish Press was amongst the most free in the world.

Freedom House is either a totally incompetent organisation or it has fallen hook, line and sinker for the mastery of Finnish authorities to create an image.

(Is there any other country in the world where the Police rings up a suspected criminal and asks whether a crime has been corrected? If the suspect, a bureaucrat, says that no crime has been committed, the Police does not investigate! Is there any other country in the world where the media restricts the right of reply, if the reply is from the "common man"!)

In conclusion, I must include here an email I received today.

from: Eeva-Maija Kohlemainen
to: Jacob Matthan
subject: Re: Kaleva today

I think it takes enormous bravery to face and criticize Oulu's main media like you did. They can't just ignore it, because you reallypublically put yourself on the line there. I admire you and don't know whether I could do the same myself. Media has a lot of power and should be responsible for it as well. It's great that there are people like you to remind them for it every once and now.

I said to my sister that my young rebellious times are probably over, because I felt a flash of shame after my speech and the Kaleva-quote. After all, we have it so well compared to what used to be. On the other hand - nothing changes if people tape up their mouths. ;)

Back to painting Eerik's room and sewing a quilt for his bed.


I think my speaking out is for little Eerik and my grandchildren, Samuel and Daniel, whose future in Finland rests on what we do to ensure their freedoms!

Passing away of a former Staff Member

I just had this email from the Alumni President.

from Catalumni - Rajiv Bhatia
date May 4, 2007 1:23 PM
subject Mr. John Paulose, ex-Chemistry teacher passed away on Friday May 4, 2007

Mr. John Paulose, ex-Chemistry teacher passed away during the early hours of Friday May 4th, 2007.

He suffered a heart attack.

The funeral is likely to be held on Saturday, May 5th, 2007, after his children arrive.

His residential no. is +91-22-2643-4226.

Our sincere condolences to his family and prayers that his soul may rest in peace.

I join the Alumni in sending condolences to John's family. May John rest in peace.