59er Golden Reunion Directory

59er Golden Reunion Directory
59er Golden Reunion Directory

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Reason for being a top school

I was informed by one of my best and learned readers that his comment about why our school is at the top of the charts was missing. I do not know how that happened.

From Cathedral School, Mumbai

However, I reproduce here what 49er Yezad Kapadia wrote:

Quite some time ago. I had clicked on comments  and sent the comments.
Although there are various factors at play, I believe a lot of credit should go to the Founding Fathers for their vision and the sense of purpose with which the School was founded. The value system endowed at that time prevails even now. I guess the same reasoning applies to the the Public Schools in England too.
I have worked for the House of Tatas. Fortune magazine has estimated that the average life span of a corporate entity is 17 years. There are at least three corporates/entities in the Tata stable (Tata Steel, the Taj Mahal Hotel and the Indian Institute of Science) which, after being around for more than 100 years, are world class! I can only attribute this to the vision and the sense of values of the Founder. We all know what a great man he was. Very few know how great!! 

This comment is specially interesting as most of our family companies are also of thatbreed of over or near 100 years. The Malayala manorama is now 123 years old, MRF is over 70 years old and most of the plantation companies as Badra, Devon, Balanoor are in their 80s.

To last just 17 years for a corporate seems a bit astonishing!

Sunday, September 05, 2010

What makes it happen?

I was thrilled to read that our alma mater was rated as the best school in India for this year.

Last year, I was a little disapointed when  saw that we were not in the top postion, which was held by a Delhi school.

Our School - by 59er Hasnain Chinwala
I thought to myself - WHY are we No. 1?

Is it the Management, is it the staff, is it the students, or is it the alumni?

If I look back on my life at the school and my times in other schools, we did not have playgrounds, we were cramped in the City Centre, and yet our lives were full of everything.

Our staff, from around the world, those days, were simply of a class well above others.

But then, now comes the rub!

Which has been the best Class EVER in the 150 history of our school.

Having written about this school for the last 15 years, in my mind, there is no doubt.

It is the 59ers, as is embodied in the song written by a 59er Ratan Singara, called "THE CLASS ACT". (Click on the image to see an enlarged version of the song.)

If you look at the 50th Year Golden Reunion organised by our class last year, it is going to be a very hard one to beat.

This picture taken outside the St. Thomas Cathedral on November 14th 2009, shows most of our 50th Year Golden Reunion Group assembled from around the world.

This reflects on how wonderful a class we were and are!

Reflecting on the past, I would say that what made our school exceptional was the combination of the staff and the students. That made our school No. 1, 51 years ago.

Maybe someone could enlighten me as to why our school is still No. 1!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A wonderful evening in Helsinki

Annikki and I went to Helsinki to meet a cousin and her husband who came for a holiday in Finland. That is reported on my Jacob's Blog.

During that visit we were invited to the house of Ruki and Devinder Kishore. Devinder is a Direector in Nokia and his wife, Ruki, is the daughter of 49er Yezad Sam Kapadia (known to me in Finland as Yesh).

As Annikki's sister, Anneli, lives near Helsinki, I sort of asked Ruki whether I could bring her along as Annikki was anxious to spend as much time as possible with her sister. She graciously accepted my request.

What an incredible evening it was!

Besides Ruki and Devinder, Yesh and his radiant wife, Rati, were there, as well as Jeroo, their other daughter who lives in New Zealand. Also present were Arjun and Varun, the two sons of Ruki and Devinder. They are so incredible loving kids.

The hosts, Devinder and Ruki, in their gorgeous Helsinki home, dished out a meal which showed of Ruki in the glory as the yrained chef she is. Every dish was made to perfection. And it was topped off with a delicious home made kulfi!

The atmosphere was totally Cathedralite in that a 49er and 59er meeting in a strange land showed how close our Cathedralite families are, even if a decade spans our life style.

Yesh is so remarkably fit and well that he puts me to shame, and I rather pride myself on my physical condition.

Thank you Rati and Yesh - as you showed me what a beautiful family you have around you.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


I am getting requests from many to get registered to read this blog. I had no idea that many of them existed.

The reason I am following this for the well-being, safety and security of my grandchildren.

Today I receive a request from a 62er, Sandra.

I do remember her as a pretty little girl about 3 years my junior.

Her brother, Maurice used to play hockey alongside me. He was a really good sportsman. Maurice was not a 59er and I think he was a 60er. I think he also was in the Cathedral Church Choir, although I cannot vouch for that.

I know that Sandra and Maurice were cousins of the Colaco family, David being my classmate!

Wonder where Maurice has got too?

No doubt, as Sandra is reading this blog, I may soon find out! :-)

Do keep registering. I will soon introduce a much better and simpler system when the limit of registered readers is approached.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Yezad in Finland

About a week ago, on  hectic day in Oulu, I was all over the place. My phone was on silent or discreet because of meeting after meeting. (Please do remember that my phone number has changed. The new number is + 358 41 720 2850.)

We had some visitors, but as neither Annikki nor I were at home, so we did not know that they had been. They left a note in our mailbox which, because I was tied up till midnight, I missed.

The next day, I left for Helsinki at 3:30 am.

I decided to give 49er Yezad Kapadia's daughter, Ruki, a call to find out news of the arrival of her mom and dad to Finland.

Ruki answered my call, but she was not in Helsinki, but up north, about 200 km from Oulu near the eastern frontier. She was with her two kids as well as her parents!

She explained how they had been to Oulu the day before and missed us.

I was heartbroken as I was waiting to show all of them my home town of the last 26 years.

That evening I drove back to Oulu and reached about 3 am.

But I was up at the crack of dawn, finished my office work, and took off to Vuokatti, a small holiday resort near Sotkamo and Kajaani, quite a beautiful part of Finland. (Actually, these days we do not have dawn here as it has been our season of the nightless nights!)

It was really wonderful to connect with Yezad. We had lunch together, and then spent quite a few hours chin-wagging, till I finally had to take leave around 5 pm to reach Oulu at 7 in the evening.

I was really sorry that they could not visit and stay with us at Oulu, which had been the original plan.

Annikki and I will go Helsinki on the 9th of August and meet up with them at Ruki's place for dinner on the 11th night.

Yes, it will be Cathedralite Reunion! A 49er and a 59er! Any 69ers likely to join us? Barbara, game?

We talked a lot about our alma mater. The fact that Yezad is 10 years my senior just did not matter as we have so much in common to talk about.

I do wish more of you will make it to this lovely country!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

New speakers

I just attached two new speakers to my Mac Mini.

This morning , when I reached worked, I opened my iTunes and clicked on the piece "Nostalgia in Times Square"

It was amazing how quickly I reacted to strains as played by our own 59er Jack Haskell.

Jack has sent me many compositions he has been playing with his friends. There no better way to start a morning at work than listenng to his playing.

It brought back many nostalgia thoughts of when we used to stand outside St. James Court corner on the Marine Drive and Jack would be drumming away on the first floor!

Or the times we went to a restaurant opposite Eros theatre to listen to the Jazz bands playing there.

Or the time when 59er Ooky introduced me to the Voice of America broadcast Jazz Hour, or was it Jazz USA, and the deep voice of the host. I cannot remember his name, but he was around for several years.

That was 50+ years ago, but is seems just like yesterday, thanks to the wonderful music of our Jack!

I felt young again.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

November Programme....

For those of you not in the loop, here is the 150 year celebrations and Founders' day programme for this October / November 2010:

22 Oct. 2010: Art Auction by Saffronart followed by dinner at Taj Hotel. A fund-raiser for school expansion.

9/10 Nov. 2010: School play at Tata Theatre

12 Nov 2010: T20 cricket match between Alumni and School

13 Nov 2010: Golf Tournament at Willingdon Club

13 Nov 2010: Celebratory Dinner at Turf Club. Note. A Commemorative stamp will be unveiled as also a coffee-table book launched

14 Nov 2010: Church Service and High Tea followed by Bus Tour of school buildings which will all be illuminated.

It is interesting that a "Coffee Table Book" is going to be launched.

Well, I guess we 59ers have set the standard and raised it so high, they are going to have a job keeping it up there, and at what cost!!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

An important request to ALL our readers

Dear Readers of all our blogs,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Annikki and Jacob Matthan
Oulu, Finland

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

This is for 41ers to 69ers and a few others

I have sent out this email today:

Dear 59ers and Cathedralites,

Today Annikki and I mourn the loss, not of a 59er, and not even of a Cathedralite, but the spouse of a great lady without whom we would never have achieved our dream of organising our Golden Reunion last November. She comes from from one of the greatest families our school has ever known.

I received this email from her this morning:

"Dear Friends and Family,

We lost the Great Dane, Bent Lerno on the morning of the 4th of July, 2010. He died peacefully after fighting for so long with his heart condition. He was surrounded by family and friends. He will be greatly missed as he was a true Viking, soldier, philanthropist, and above all a great husband, loving father and grandfather.

He came to America in the 1950's and immediately embraced his new home, but never forgot his Danish roots and was involved in many Danish charitable organizations. A Holocaust survivor, he felt it was necessary to make sure that the past was never forgotten and spoke eloquently at many local schools and through the Shoah Foundation as well.

Bent was always the life of the party and it's only fitting that he left us on the 4th of July as it was one of his favorite holidays which he heartily celebrated here and in Denmark at Rebild.

With love, Gracie Lerno and Family"

Dearest Gracie, Sophie Vilma, Abe and Ellis - we shed tears for Gracie's husband, Bent, who left us on the 4th of July.

Although we never met or corresponded with Bent, we knew him intimately through our dearest Gracie, who kept us informed of all the happenings.

It was through Gracie that we were able to track dowwn so many of you, starting with her two brothers - Abe (the School Vice Captain in 1959) and our own dearest Ellis. Other 59ers whom we were able to locate included Jack Haskell, Noel Ezekiel, Mark Sopher, Matilda Moses, Pamela Shelim, Anne Sopher, Jeanette Ezra, and many more, as well as many many Cathedralites of all years. As soon as we had a problem finding someone, the very first person we turned to was Gracie.

Bent was a rock at the side of Gracie. Gracie often shared her thoughts of her husband and her family with us, so they all have become part of our family, especialy our Cathedralite family which extends over all the continents.

And the Hayeem family, as a whole, is ingrained in all of us in a thousand ways. All of you would have known at least one of these - late Benjy, Sophie, Vilma, Gracie, Abe and Ellis, whose time at our school spanned almost two decades in the 40s and 50s.

I have sent our deepest condolences to Gracie.

May Gracie, and the Hayeem family, stand firm knowing that all of us are with them in and with our prayers at this grave hour of their lives.

And may Bent's soul rest in peace.


Annikki and Jacob

Condolences have been pouring in as all of us have some close affinity with the Hayeem family.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Founders' Day 2010 - A messge from Piloo

A message received by Jacob and me from our wonderful friiend - 59er Piloo Tata (née Dastur):

Through you, and your wonderful worldwide network of communications, I would like to bring to the attention of all 59'ers, as well as all Cathedralites, that our School is having a big function to celebrate the 150th Year on the 13th of November, 2010, at the Royal Western India Turf Club in Mumbai. It is going to be like a fun fair, and a dinner dance. If any Cathedralites, especially the ones living abroad, want to make advance plans for being in Mumbai during these celebrations, they can start thinking about it and planning from now. Ofcourse, I hope the ones in India will come in large numbers.

On 14th November, 2010, on Founder's Day, there will be a church service in the evening at St. Thomas' Cathedral, followed by high tea, something like there was last year during our 59'ers reunion celebrations.

From Hasnain 59ers 2009

59ers before the Founders' Day Church Service in November 2009.

Jacob and I were very disappointed with the organisation by the Alumni for Founders' Day 2009. We left within a hour or so as it was chaotic, hot, and totally impersonal.

There must be structure to an event of this magnitude, not just the money collection and statistics of the numbers attending!

I did not even get to the food table. The number of seats allocated for the 59ers was not even enough to seat the better halves who accompanied their alumni partners.

I do hope the organisers would have learnt from last year's fiasco and organise the 2010 one with some thought as to bringing the alumni together.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Now that the Bharat Darshan is over

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

Nothing can be further from the truth.

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Card, Cake, Champagne, and a glorious surprise

Chinnie has done us 59ers proud.

He visited Bill on his 85th birthday with a card, cake and champagne on behalf of all us 59ers:

From Bill Shiri's 85th Birthday

From Bill Shiri's 85th Birthday

From Bill Shiri's 85th Birthday

From Bill Shiri's 85th Birthday

From Bill Shiri's 85th Birthday

And guess what, a glorious basket of fruit arrived at the doorstep courtesy our own 59er Ellis Hayeem from New York.

And in my last report I had mentioned that Peter Vaney was a 49er. I was quickly pulled up by my ultra sharp 49er on the web, Naval Patel from Mysore. Peter must be a 50er or 51er. I am at my work computer and these records are on my home computer. Sorry Peter for this slip.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Speaking with Bill

Yesterday evening I rang to Toronto, Canada, to wish my Physics teacher of 50 years ago a very happy 85th birthday. I also spoke to Pushpa, his wife, who had also been a teacher in our Mumbai school. My classmate, 59er Hasnain Chinwala (Chinnie), who also lives in Toronto was with Bill (prearranged) when I called as we, 59ers, paid our respects to a man who firmly shaped our lives.

That Bill and Pushpa attended our 50th year reunion in Mumbai last year was itself such a joy for all us 59ers. They lent their solidarity with a class of boys who have traversed the world and sought success based on the fundamentals of life that were instilled in us by our teachers. Not just our classroom performance, but our moral values were instilled in us by these wonderful Gurus!

(Photo thanks to the 64er Rajiv Ved when we took time off for a fee minutes to attend their reunion in Mumbai.)

In the olden days, as per the Indian Civilisation, the Guru was a man to be revered. All of us 59ers have revered all our teachers during the ensuing years. But Bill and John (who was our class teacher and our English teacher in 1959) are very special as they took the time to travel a long distance at great expense, many thousands of kilometres, to be with us as we reveled in our past last November.

In our conversation we talked about many things - including the greetings from other 59ers (which Hasnain had forwarded to Bill,) the loss of another wonderful teacher, Alberto Zavala from peru, our geography teacher, the exploits of Greg, our Chemistry teacher, and the whereabouts of many past Canadian Cathedralites, as Torontian 59er Narsys, but not just our classmates, as 63er Monty Wilson and 49er Peter and 51er Sheila (née Contractor) Vaney, and Peter's brother, 57er Herbert.

Now that Pushpa and Bill live right in the centre of Toronto, a stone's throw from Lake Ontario, I will make it a point to visit them soon as my grandson, Samu, an Ice Hockey fan, wants to visit that great city, with his Grandpa, to see one of his favourite teams play.

Happy birthday Bill - we love you!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Coffee Table Book arrives

After a long and very nerve racking wait of almost 4 months, the final version of the 59ers Directory, the Coffee Table Book put together by Annikki and me, finally arrived in our post box.

From Coffee Table Book

The new cover had been laminated as the old cover was being damaged by handling in high humidity conditions as Mumbai. A lot of the beautiful photographic lustre has been lost in the new cover.

From Coffee Table Book

The size of the final version is smaller than the first version. It is shorter in length and breadth, as well as thickness, as the printers have used a lighter paper than in the original. This has helped to reduce the weight for posting.

The posting cost to Finland worked out at Rs. 665 (€ 11), so that shipment cost (including packing materials) is about Rs. 750 (€ 13) for the overseas copies. I will ask the dispatchers in Bangalore to use a better envelope. I think they used the best that was available in India, along with the bubble packing material, so that no damage occurred except for a slight warping. Placing the book under a weight for a day has corrected this warp and a serration effect.

Parvin's signature on the contents page, which is a photocopy of what was signed by all those who attended, was cut in half! Sorry!

As reported by Anjula, she had been mistakenly promoted. Luckily no-one had been demoted, as Gita was also shown as the Orange House Vice Captain!

There were several small errors. But almost all the gross design errors that Gita had so painstakingly pointed out, such as the alignments and colours, were all near to what was intended.

Of course, these corrections, and any others which will be no doubt be reported by my classmates, will be done in my master copy on my computer. Those who want to add matter or photographs are welcome to do so, so that the next edition can be better than the first!

Are we happy or sad with the final version?

Annikki is mildly ecstatic because she has got the final product in her hands.

I feel a little let down as I expected much more.

All the errors are of my making, so I take full blame.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Alberto Zavala - Orbituary

Yesterday, I received a communication from my Class Teacher and English Teacher of 1959, John Billington, conveying to me the very sad news of the passing of Alberto Zavala, my Geography teacher in 1955 (8th Standard). 

The late Mr. Glynne Howell taught me Geography  from the 9th to the 11th, Thanks to these two wonderful teachers, who raised my interest in world geography, I got a distinction in the Senior Cambridge in this subject.

He was around 80 years old. He died on 8th March at his home in Masschusetts, USA. He passed away peacefully in his sleep, while resting from working in the garden.  It was quite unexpected as he had not been unwell. 

Alberto was the Junior Housemaster of Barham. As John added, others will recall his help in Table Tennis and Football. and of course as a teacher of Geography. When he was teaching at the school, he had an M.A. from Nashville, Tenessee, USA. Because of his presence, I learnt where South America was on the map of the world, and he taught us about the ancient Indian heritage of the South Americans, and introduced us to the Incas of that great land.

Zavala was a Peruvian and brought a great deal of colour to our school in the 50s. He looked stern, but he had a heart of pure gold and a broad and fascinating smile. He was a wonderful and intense sportsman. I remember him from his antics on the hockey field when he was in the forward line and making rushes at me. He played ferociously and was always ready to strike the ball hard and high into the net. If he beat me, he would console me with a wry smile!

Alberto was the one who taught me that fitness was all important when taking part in any sport. 59er Percy Mistri has recalled how Alberto helped him with his table tennis.

I tried my level best, through both William Shiri and John, to persuade Alberto to attend our 59ers reunion in Novermber 2009, but unfortunately, I failed. Our loss!

I have asked John Billington to convey our deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Alberto. May his soul rest in peace.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Secularity in Educational Institutions

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

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

Sitting 7000 km away from that base, I do not know who is right or wrong. The literally hundreds of "Comments" in the newspaper make it difficult to understand the correct situation.

But it is such a shame to see the schools where my late father (he was also the Old Boy's Association Chairman for many years) and all his siblings, and a greater part of my generation of Matthan's, including my four children, being destroyed by these bickerings and the unfortunate media stories being put out.

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

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

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

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

In Mumbai, we had School Assembly every morning with the reading of the Bible by one of the Prefects and singing of hymns.

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 26, 2010

History of the School

I understand that for this year's Founders' Day, 2010, our Alumni Association is planning to release a definitive history of our school. They would do well take advice from an Alumni member, 57er Ashok (Tony) Jaitly, who produced a masterpiece for our college, St. Stephen's College, Delhi, when it celebrated its 125th year.

Three outstanding Jaitlys have passed through the portals of our school, 54er Ravi, 57er Tony and 60er Jotysna. All three were brilliant all round students.

From Jacob's Blog

All three, including Ravi's wife, Krishna, and Jotysna's husband, Siddarth Singh (who was my Stephanian yearmate at St. Stephen's College, Delhi), were present in the Delhi Cathedralite Reunion organised by 64er Deepak Deshpande (accompanied by his daughter Pallavi) when Annikki and I passed through Delhi on our Bharat Darshan at the end of last year. Others who attended were 49ers Jamshed Desai, Raj Bhandari and Yezad Kapadia (with wife Rati), 54er Rahul Bajaj, Savage House Captain and also a Stephanian, 55er Anil (Bobby) Bhalla, 56er Pradeep Anand, 57er Annelita (née Uttamsingh) Thadani and her husband, Ravinder K Thadani (Baby), 58er Maiti Sayal, 59ers Harmo Rani Malik (née Uberoi) accompanied by her daughter, 82er Priya, and Vijay Nayar, (and myself), and 60er Dellinder Kohli. Dellinder left early so is missing from the photograph.

Like a few others, Tony and I went through the second alma mater. Our years overlapped by just one.. His subsequent brilliant career in the IAS is well known.

I am publishing here the review I did of it a few days ago for my Stephanian Blog, just to show what would be ideal in publication of a history. Any Stephanian would be proud to be associated with such a publication, which should be the target of our school history. Those who are well known are already well known, so why focus on them? Focus on those who are not so well known but have contributed much to society in their own quiet way.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I was certainly not aware that the massacre of Jallianwala Bagh was condemned by, in writing in the Stephanian 1920, by the editor C. B. Young!

As a public institution it is our duty to avoid taking sides on strictly political issues... (but) we are in emphatic agreement with the condemnation bestowed on the action of General Dyer... as Christian missionaries we cannot avoid the duty of forming and expressing a judgement on such a deed of horror as the slaughter in Jallianwalla Bagh.

All the characters that I knew are portrayed with great accuracy throughout the book and it is a credit that Tony was able to write it without causing offence!

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

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

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

Tony went to the right archives, met the right persons and corresponded with all those who could contribute. He did not focus on his years, although those were probably some of the most exciting times of the College. He went to the meat of the matter, such as the association of the College with great leaders as Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore, as well as those Stephanians and staff who held by the values they associated with the College.

The Cathedralite Alumni Association would do well to get in touch with established historians when contemplating such an important document.

I think we 59ers lifted the bar as to the quality of publications with both our CD and the Coffee Table Book which we brought out during and after our reunion. Those that follow will have to really make superhuman efforts to do even half what we 59ers achieved. I am sure that some years will greatly surpass what we did, and I can probably predict now which years they will be.

But let us wait and see!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Pande unwell in Mumbai

In 2008, thanks to Deepak Deshpande, I was able to ring and speak to Mr. Jagdish Pande, who was a teacher in our school from the mid-50s. Not only was he my Marathi teacher, but he was also an outstanding sportsman and was in charge of our school hockey team.

When I spoke to him, he sort of remembered me as I was an absolutely useless student in Marathi. The reason was quite simple. In school I had to study English, French, Latin, Hindi, Marathi and German - besides having had to keep up with Kannada (which I had started while being brought up in Bangalore and Mysore, and Malayalam, our home language).

That was just too much. I had to consciously shut off some languages. Kannada, Hindi and Marathi were the first to get a chop. We were the last batch in school which did not have to Hindi as a compulsory subject for our Senior Cambridge examinations.

I later dropped Latin, as it was also too much for me. Mr. Glynne Howell, who taught us Latin, was a bit disappointed that I decided to drop it!

I stayed with French, despite being taught by the masochist, Mr. Ribi, but later mastered reading German text, enough for my technical studies in England.

Rajiv Bhatia, former Alumni President, informed me that Mr. Pande had been admitted for observation to hospital. He later visited him and said he was progressing.

Let us hope for a speedy and full recovery. We all love Mr. Pande, who though tough, is wonderful personality.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Tips to catching a cat burglar

First advice to everyone reading this is "Don't try it!"

However, in 1960, the year after I left school, I had six months to spare before joining college. Along with a few friends, we used to go to the open gymnasium near the Bombay Gymkhanna and do an hour of really tough excercises. I did not do weights as my intention was to keep fit and remain speedy for hockey.

Those who went regularly were my 59er Cathedralite classmates, Arvind Thadani, Noel Ezekiel, Viney Sethi, late Ashok Kapur and myself.

However, as a few of them went back to school to do the HSc, only three of us were left.

I used to pick up Arvind and drive to the gym. Then we would go back to his house, listen to records, have something light to eat, and then I would go home. Noel used to come home with me often and we would play some childish games to pass the time away!

In short, both Arvind and I were physically very fit, both six footers, and we were quite a terrible fearsome sight!

I lived on the second floor of Meher Mansions. It was a beautiful apartment, large, with three bedrooms, and a fourth bedroom, which was a dressing room converted into a bedroom.

I lived in the back bedroom. When I went to sleep, I had my black labrador in the room. I used to bolt the door at night so that no one disturbed me in the morning, even though it was usually me that got up first!

One night, I had been reading quite late, and I swtiched off the bedlight around midnight. I was in a very light sleep, actually, half awake. As I lay in this stupor, I heard a faint sound from the attached bathroom.

I lay still and looked at the bathroom door, which was slightly ajar.

In the streetlight, which was coming through the window, I saw a small figure emerge from the bathroom. I held my breath.

The figure tried to gently open the Godrej steel cupboard. He found it locked. He turned to the large wooden clothes horse where I had hung my clothes. He started to go through the pockets of my trousers.

The initial shock of seeing the burglar in my room had passed. I was breathing very easily and in a flash of courage, I shouted at the top of my voice "Chor" which means "Thief".

The burglar reacted like lightning and jumped feet first to escape through the second floor window next to the Godrej cupboard. I did not think, but jumped, Flash Gordon style, feet first, and got my legs dead centre around his waist so that he came crashing down to the floor just a few inches away from the window.

My hands went round his throat and I got up very quickly, lifting him up along with me. I could feel his greasy body writhing against my sweaty chest, trying to get away from my firm elbow grip around his neck.

The burglar was really short, so that when I stood up, his feet were off the ground. As a result he had no propulsion place to use his energy and power.

People had woken up around the neighbourhood at hearing my cry of "Thief". My parents had come running down the corridor, wondering whether the commotion was coming from within our house.

My mom was almost in panic when I told her through the closed door that I had caught a thief! She was worried that the fellow had a knife or some other instrument to harm me.

I reassured her that I was safe and I would come out in a second. I called my "guard dog, Blitz, who had gone under the bed the minute she had heard me yell! :-)

I walked to the door and pulled down the latch which was at the top. The legs still dangling, I walked with this guy to the living room. The thief was begging for mercy to let him go.

In the light I saw I had seen this guy before. He belonged to the Churchgate street gangster Chotu's gang. I did not say anything to him but told my dad to call the Police. He rang the Police and then asked whether he should go the the garage, about 200 metres away to bring the car.

I assured him that I could manage this guy till the Police arrived.

By this time, many neighbours had come in to see the burglar. The burglar was acting most cunningly. In a desperate attempt to get out of my grip he told all of us that he wanted to go to toilet.

I knew that the minute I let him go, he would be off like a bullet. No one would be able to catch him.

So I told him to do his business on the spot.

Of course, he was bluffing!

It was a good 20 minutes before the Police arrived. Once they saw the guy, they told us that he had already robbed two houses not far from our house and he had got away.

It was third time unlucky.

They beat him on the head with a rubber truncheon asking where he had stashed the loot from the other houses. He was not ready to speak!

They asked me to come to the Police Station to register the complaint. My dad and I drove down to the Colaba Causeway Police Station and I gave my complaint.

The guy was sentenced to 6 nmonths for his attempted robbery.

I joined St. Stephen's College in Delhi in July 1960. When I came home for the autumn holidays in September, as I walked to Marine Drive to meet my friends, at the corner near Eros Theatre, I was accosted by this guy.

He smiled and greeted me. He told me that it was the first time he had been caught by a victim! He congratulated me, shook my hand and said no one would ever try to rob our house again!

Word was around that there was someone who was a professional cat burglar nabber. ME!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Orbituary of Mr. Nagia

Former President of our alumni, Rajiv Bhatia, informed me that Mr. Nagia, who was once the physics teacher in our school, had passed away.

 Mr. Nagia was obviously well after my time in school.

I have conveyed the condolences of Seventh Heaven readers to Rajiv to pass on to the bereaved family of Mr. Nagia.

If someone could tell me about this worthy gentleman, I would be pleased to publish his bio on the blog.

I have great respect for both Physics and Chemistry teachers, especially from our school, as it is they who gave me my lifetime profession by their enthusiasm and drive in teaching me these subjects.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Illustrious Cathedralite?

Sub: Cathedral alumni who have made a difference

Dear Alumnus,

You may be aware that an encyclopaedic history of Cathedral School, is, currently a work in progress - scheduled for release before November 2010.

We would like to include the names of alumni who have made a significant contribution in any way to Society, in any field.

We would love to have your inputs as to who in your decade you feel should be included in an illustrious list which covers JRD Tata, Salman Rushdie, Zulfikar Bhutto, Yusuf Hamied, Rahul Bajaj, Fareed Zakaria, Ratan Tata, Geeta Anand, Sharda Mukherjee, Mirai Chatterjee etc.

Please do write to us with names and a small profile on their achievement at cathedralhistory@gmail.com Your contribution will be invaluable in the creation of this book.

Your inputs will be very valuable to make the book as interesting as possible

Look forward to hearing from you,
Sincerely yours,

Mridula Maluste ('73) & Viral Doshi('75)

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Your very first day at school

Some join a school in the KG, some join somewhere along the way.

How many of you remember your very first day at school? Cathedral School!

I remember that I joined school in the 6th Standard in 1954. I had shifted from Bishop Cotton Boys' School in Bangalore, which had a different system. I had been promoted from the 4th to the 5th Standard, which was equivalent to the 7th Standard in Bombay.

Mr, Bernard Gunnery was the Principal. I went for an interview. My cousin, Peter, was in the 7th Standard, being a few months younger to me. Also Peter's brother, Sen, had been the Best Academic Student in 1953. So it was Peter's father, Mr. K. M. Philip (now 97, attending office daily, and still playing bridge daily at the Willingdon and also occasionally playing a hole or two of Golf ), who accompanied me and my dad, to see Mr. Gunnery.

For some reason, which Mr. Gunnery explained, there was absolutely no room in Standard 7, so I would have to drop a year and be in Standard 6.

My parents were not very happy, but I was quite oblivious to the implications of dropping a year, except that I was a bit disappointed that I would not be with my cousin, Peter, who was a great friend.

So, I joined in Standard 6 in the first week of February 1954.

It could not have turned out better, as I probably walked into the best ever class our school has produced - the 59ers!

But that is another story.

When I arrived at school on my first day with my dad, I was welcomed by Mr. Timmins, the Class Teacher, who later became a dear family friend. My dad did not stay more than a couple of minutes as he saw I was quite happy and he knew I was an extrovert and would make friends quickly. The class was next door to the Physics Laboratory. (The hidden Chapel was not discovered at that time!)

Mr. Timmins was a wonderful person. He sat down and talked to me explaining to me that dropping a year was not going to be a problem as I would probably find all the stuff very easy and I would be able to fit into the class quickly.

He got me a seat right in the centre of the room. I cannot remember who was my neighbour, but within 5 minutes, I was part and parcel of the class in all respects. After the attendance register, we were off to Assembly and I was fully part of the school and my class!

Mr. Timmins took special interest in getting me adjusted. He fired arithmetic questions at me which he knew were simple, as I had already studied them the previous year in Bangalore. This was a real ice breaker, as the other kids did not know that I had dropped a year.

The biggest disappointment was to learn that the school had no playing fields. In Bangalore we had almost 10 pitches - one for each XI!

But I was told by Mr. Timmins that sports was compulsory and that we would be playing sports at different pitches.

On the very first day we were taken to the CCI, where we were told to practice for the School Athletic meet. I was good at High Jump and soon showed my talents, crossing the bar at 4', more than any other classmate! But I was over-shadowed by my elder brother, who was a good high jumper and long jumper. He jumped 4' 3" and later set te record. Although I had been All Round Sports Champion in Bangalore, and had won a few medals and cups, I was not a good runner. But that did not stop me from attempting everything, as my mom's philosophy was to teach us to try everything and do our best!

But being at the CCI with many of my classmates quickly broke the ice as I was immediately part of the sports group as well.

I do remember that when I had sat down with Mr. Timmins that morning, he told me that I had been placed in Savage House, for which he was the House Master. I was glad, as in Bangalore I was in Pettigrew House, whose colours were Green and Black. So I had retained the Green in Savage.

From Cathedral School, Mumbai

So started a wonderful 6 years in Cathedral School where everyone of our class became dear friends. I was not a brilliant student, but a very average one, just enough to get  First Class in the Senior Cambridge Exams. (Ashok Kapur and I both got 15 points to get First Classes!)

Life in school was full and varied. I played all the sports for my House, even attempting the impossible tennis. I was in the Church Choir, I took part in the School Operas a couple of years, was School Hockey Goalkeeper for two years running, And in 1959 I became Savage House Captain, crowning my wonderful years there. (I am second from the right in te photograpgh above.)

But yet, that first day in Cathedral School where I made so many friendships which have lasted for the last 56 years, are still is fresh in my memory! Thank you School! Thank you Mr. Timmins!

Monday, March 08, 2010

Most unusual Cock House picture!

Recently, when I asked for data about Cock Houses from my readers, I had an interesting email and some photographs from 68er Ravi Nangia (Singapore).

Like me, Ravi belonged to Savage House [Apology: Ravi corrected me - he was in Palmer, not Savage; or was it that he changed his colours? :-)].

After finishing at Cathedral, like me, he also went to St. Stephen's College. (Ravi - just to tell you the Stephanians in Singapore are getting together - contact Ashok!)

So we have much in common. Ravi is a regular reader of my blogs and also a regular correspondent.

Among the photographs he sent me was this one.

I have quickly tried to improve the quality of this picture using my photo enhancement tools. But much more can and will be done.

From Seventh Heaven

Can anyone out there, excluding, of course, Ravi, tell me what is unusual about this picture?

And, for those who notice the unusual character, has this ever happened, in their memory, before or after this year?

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Welcome this new day, Holi 2010

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

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

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

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

From 2010 Photos February

From 2010 Photos February

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

From 2010 Photos February

From 2010 Photos February

From 2010 Photos February

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

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

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

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

(All these above photographs are by Annikki.)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

10% response!

When I put up a request on my blog or ask for info my very very occasional "Newsy Notes", the response that I usually get is about 2 to 3 % of the circulation.

I was amazed when I got a huge response to the last blog posting - nearly 10 %, as about 300+ of you fed me with your latest data.

If you spread the word, maybe we can get another 10% to feed me with their data.

The reason why this is important is that several of you are searching for information about your friends and loved ones.

I recently had a request from the amazing 56er Joan Austin, who is one of my dearest sweetest correspondents, cheery despite all the major health blips in her life. She had asked me for information about some of our alumni for a friend! (Please say a prayer for her as she goes in for yet "one" more major surgery very shortly!

When I put out the request, privately, through email, I was able to dig up information about a couple of the 50 - 52 ers, but still there was much missing info.

The network is so good that we can find usually data about friends from 1945 right up to the present day.

One important feedback that is now requested is the list of Cock Houses.

My outstanding photographer classmate, 59er Hasnain Chinwala (Chinnie), a few years ago, had fed me the photograph of the of Head Boys from 1955 to 1972, and McDonald Medal winners from 1943 to 1960. There was an error on the board for the year 1960, as 59er Vijay Nayar's name was missing!

From Seventh Heaven

Because of our intervention, prodding and teasing of Vijay (!), this has been corrected! (See photo of new Board, below.)

On Hasnain's recent visit to India, he sent me photographs of the latest Boards of Best Student (Academic) Medal Winners from 1918, Head Boys from 1937 and Head Girls from 1943.

From Cathedral School, Mumbai

From Cathedral School, Mumbai

From Cathedral School, Mumbai

I was under the impression that I had a picture of Boards which listed the Cock Houses. But I am not able to locate it in my files.

If someone can send me the picture of this Board(s), or even if you can send me the names of Cock House of YOUR YEARS in School, which you are sure is accurate, I would be grateful.

I know for sure that Wilson was the Cock House in 1956 and Palmer in 1959. as I have photographs of these years. I do have other Cock House Photographs but am not able to pinpoint the exact years. Maybe with the info that you now provide I can now code these old photographs.

Do not hesitate to send me scans of the photographs in your possession. They are always welcome.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

We now reach 3500

Cathedralites, CATS; I am pleased to anounce that our list of regular readers has just touched 3500.

Sadly, I do not have the email addresses (updated) of all of you, and I certainly do not have any data about most of you. But from the spread I see that you come from all continents (yes, including a few from South America!)

Please send me an email of whatever data you want included in my database, which is completely private and not shared with ANYONE.

However, the information contained in my database is used to be able to provide YOU news about your classmates, etc.

I know that there are several people operate their own class groups and email circuits, but they are not doing it on a day to day basis but rather on an event by event basis.

The database also allows me to check facts as several of you are my information base.

Without this base, the Seventh Heaven Blog is quite meaningless and would be the equivalent of a tabloid rag.

Now that we have moved into our 14th year online, longer than any other online school publication, if you want me to continue this effort, please do participate more in its creation by providing me with the content.

At the moment I have about 50 regular contributors, while the rest of you are silent observers.

Although I like silent observers, I much prefer active participants.

I can be nostalgic about the years that I have been personally at school, but only you can be nostalgic about your years at school.

The 56ers (led by Meena and Ubi) are doing a great job as are the 64ers (led by Deepak, Rajiv and Rustom). We 59ers are more atuned to our own Parallel Seventh Heaven Google Group.

Although our alumni association tend to use their own channel of communication, previous Presidents always kept me in the loop as they found they could reach a wider readership through my network. Also they could get valuable feedback as I tend to push and prod!

Present co-Presidents certainly value this Seventh Heaven Blog but they are not sending me the news on a regular basis.

Also, the School could be more forthcoming in its communication with this vast readership of many senior alumni members, who always have the best interest of our alma mater in their hearts.

Hopefully this co-operation picture will change as this year progresses.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I used to wonder

When I was in college, we had a small cinema theatre at Delhi Gate, just about 20 minutes walk from college across the Ridge.

When the movie "Love in Simla" (I think) hit the theatre, with Joy Mukerji and Saira Banu in the key roles, it was as a huge wave had hit Stephaniand and the college.

I went to see the movie, which was in super duper colour and with a lot of song and dance. I cannot for the life of me remember anything about the movie itself, except the two young stars sang everywhere.

However, I noted several of my friends went to that movie, some every day, some five times a week, and some two times a week.

I did not understand how anybody could go and see the same stuff so many times.

I have been watching the DVD of our Class Golden Reiunion for breakfast and dinner, every day since I received it.

It is so emotional to see it that as soon as it is over, I want to press replay, but Annikki's watchful eye sort of says, "Next meal, please!"

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Why I cried yesterday

Yesterday, I sent a text message, mid-morning, to Gopa (daughter of Cathedralite 54er Sadhana (née Shah) in Keravaa, that Annikki and I were looking forward to receiving the CD / DVD sent from India.

She replied me in a flash that she had sent it the previous day.

When I was leaving home for the office, after lunch, I looked in the post box. There was an envelope, prominently marked that the CD and DVD were inside.

As I tore the cover open, two wonderful group photos, of our class and another with our spouses, at the Cathedral Church before the Founders' Day Service, fell out. I could hardly contain myself.

I had my portable LG DVD player at the office. I set it up and ran the DVD.

From the very first shot to the end, I was an emotional wreck. The DVD had recaptured almost all of the wonderful moments that we had experienced at the 50th Reunion of our Class of 59 in November 2009.

Viki giving me the T-Shirt and Cap as a token of appreciation.

I was deeply touched by the few words spoken by Viki Savara just before he handed me a cap and T-Shirt with our class logo printed on it. I wear it proudly and take it off when Annikki tears it off my back!

And even more moving was when Jangoo proposed the period of silence to honour those who were no longer with us.

Yes, I have been nagging, I was persistent, I was shockingly forthright, in getting as many of our class to be at this historic reunion.

My failure was that I could not get so many of them to attend, as personal issues had denied us the chance to meet many of our classmates. The loss is ours!

Besides those who have moved on to a better life above, we especially missed these 59ers, amongst others, Bobby, Biju, Deepak, Delbar, Geeta, Jeanette, John, Mario, Mark, Matilda, Narayanan, Narsys, Nergish, Pravin, Sigrun, Sujit, Trevor, Vikram, Wabhi, and and the many spouses who could not make it.

Some of my tenants joined me to watch this as I played it through a couple of times, before I loaded the CD into my computer and watched the 350+ pictures so painstakingly put together by Hasnain (Chinnie).

A classic shot by Hasnain of Annikki and me.

After finishing a few chores I rushed home. Annikki was pleasantly surprised when she sat down and watched the DVD. As I watched it for the umpteenth time, I openly wept. (I got up twice at night and watched it again!)

I knew then what tears of joy really mean. The heart was filled with a great outpouring of love for all my wonderful friends who had made it to our reunion, as well as those who could not.

There has never been a Golden Reunion like this in the history of our school. It will be a long time before there will be another Golden Reunion to match that of the Class of 59!

Thank you Shivi, Piloo, Viney, Ooky, Vijay, Geeta, Madhu (w/o our late Ashok), Ashok, Anil, Armeane, Adi, Ratan, Anjali, Arun, Arvind, Asha, Atul, Bulsara, David, Farhana, Harmo, Inderjit, Jangoo, Ketty, Naubir, Noel, Parvin, Percy, Peter, Ramesh, Renuka, Robert, Saroj, Seeta, Sheryn, Venkat, Viki, Vikram, Vinay, Ellis, Zarin, Zenobia, and all the wonderful spouses, those staff members who made it a point to attend - John Billington, Bill and Pushpa Shiri, Jo D'Souza, Mehta, plus, above all, Chinnie, who, together, made this such a memorable event happen and helped preserve it in our hearts and minds for posterity.

I am looking forward to sharing the DVD and the photographs with our children and grandchildren as they too will treasure the moments captured here.

And now only one more step needs to be completed - the mailing of the 59ers Golden Directory!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Dilemma! What do I do?

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

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

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

Everybody was happy!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A tribute to each and every one of you

I do receive many emails from all over the world every day.

Today was a special day as I received an email from the current President of our alumni, Viral Doshi. In a way it is special, no, not to me, but to each of you who have contributed to the enormous success of this web page / blog over the last 14 years.

Yes, it is just under 14 years since I started the Seventh Heaven Web page, thanks to a then very young Cathedralite alumni, Vikram Somaya, son of another adorable 64er Brinda Somaya (née Chinappa). At that time I did not know that Vikram was the son of Brinda, whose family have been friends of our family for many generations, from our Bangalore days together. And Brinda and her husband made a trip to Finland just last year. Annikki and I drove down 600 km from Oulu to spend a couple of hours with them.

Over these last 14 years, this web page / blog has had many ups and downs. At one point we even hit rock bottom because Annikki and I were forthright in our views about happenings in this world.

That down had nothing to do with our school, but it came to a point where I thought I would have to say goodbye to keeping any of our web pages of alive.

However, we survived that because of the perseverance that was imbibed in me by my alma mater. The real fruits of our efforts were seen in the 2009 50th Year Reunion of the Class of 59, which was a tremendous success.

I can see the 64ers, headed by Rajiv Ved, Rustom Dadabhoy and Deepak Deshpande, driving their class team in almost the same direction. They are galloping along to overtake the Mother of All Reunions. Let us see what they come up with!

I do wish them all success as they have started their efforts 6 years ahead of D-Day! As they say "Rome was not built in a day!"

Our School by 59er Hasnain Chinwala

Let us get us back to this email I received:

Dear Jacob:

We are happily, reaching the Gunnery years in the Cathedral Book Project, and there is of course, no better person than you to assist us at this stage.

You have contributed immensely to the sense of community, identity and history of the Cathedral School through 7th heaven and your blog.

It was indeed a pleasure meeting you at your reunion, which I must say was very spirited and informative. Events like this are an impetus to do more and more for the school we are so privileged to be part of.

Jacob, we wonder if you might help us in two ways:

1. We request your kind permission, to use your website and blog as source material for the book. We will of course give a hefty acknowledgement in 'Acknowledgements'.

2. Also, we would like to write about the FACT OF THIS SUSTAINED EFFORT TO MAINTAIN A WEBSITE, which knits together a community of "Cathedral believers" and students. So we would like to chat with you about that. We were possibly the first Indian school to have an unofficial alumni website, ( a tribute to you) long before the official one, or indeed the school website was launched.

3. We would like to speak to you about your reminiscences. How do you suggest we go about this? a)Phone? b)email questionnaire? c) would you like to just write out your recollections in a "stream of consciousness" style that we could draw on? For the last we could send you some nudging questions. And also if you would have any priceless photographs of the 40s or 50s that you would feel will add value to the book...teachers, school building, boxing in action, school social etc. it would be marvellous.

Look forward to hearing from you, Jacob, and for your collaboration on this project

Warm regards

Mridula & Viral

I hope my reply was appropriate.

Dear Mridula & Viral,

Do you really have to ask this?

For me, it is taken for granted!

What I have done is for my dear friends. What I have done is for a school which allowed me to enjoy a second life.

Is there anything more I can do, within my very limited capabilities, for the school. That is what I ask myself, daily!

And what a reunion we 59ers had!!!

Annikki and I have launched a new project which should result in a Coffee Table Book by the time of the 150th Year reunion. I have just announced it today on my blog and things are rolling in faster than I thought. There are prizes to be won!!!

I suffer from mild form of dementia, so a telephonic contact would result in chaos. Email is the best and that way I can link several information sources from around the world who are the many many real people quietly behind the Seventh Heaven Blog. 49ers Yezad Kapadia and Naval and Armaity Patel, William Shiri, 54ers Gracie Hayeem & Sadhana Shah, 56er H. S. Uberoi, 57er Tony Jaitly, 59er Hasnain Chinwala, 64ers Deepak Deshpande, Rajiv Ved and Rustom Dadabhoy, and many more.

I have to also thank many wonderful friends as Vikram Somaya, Rohit Tolani, (most of whom I have never met) and one computer whizz kid whose name I cannot even remember, when Rohit was planning the original alumni web site.

I was prepared to hand over Seventh Heaven then, but sadly or maybe for the best, it did not happen!

I will send you the final version of the 59ers Coffee Table Book when it is off the press shortly. The one I gave you was the prepublication version.



Remember, your submission of your "Most Poignant Moment" associated with Cathedral School will reach every Cathedralite who takes part in celebrating the 150 years history of Our School. Get cracking to send those notes to Annikki or me - and win some fabulous prizes. (Annikki is already on the hunt for some really great stuff.)

And thank you Mridula & Viral for that very lovely email.

Cathedralite Poignant Moment Contest

The Cathedralite Seventh Heaven Blog is the foremost Blog for our school. It is meant for Cathedralites living all around the Universe.

What we do today, others copy tomorrow.

So here is another first for our Blog.

Cathedral Detention Centre for Delinquents. Photograph and caption by 59er Hasnain Chinwala, Toronto, Canada, 2006.

We have started a "Cathedralite Poignant Moment Content".

The submissions that we casually asked for of your most Cathedralite Poignant Moment have started to come in. Some of the submissions are really great.

As a result of this response, Annikki and I have instituted a set of three prizes for the three best poignant moments of your relationship with our school submitted to the Seventh Heaven Blog by March 31st 2010.

You can submit as many entries as you like. Try to keep the submissions to less than 3000 words, if possible.

The Judges will be chosen from our Cathedralite Seventh Heaven Blog Readers and will cover 7 decades of Cathedralites. We are not announcing the names of the Judges so that everyone has the right to take part. The Judges will be chosen from our panel of really "great" Cathedralites who are regular readers of this blog.

There will be three prizes.

We are now working out what they will be. We promise you that they will all be wonderful as Annikki hunts around for some things which are truly truly unique.

No entry fee.

Submissions should be sent to either

jmatthan at gmail.com


jmatthana at gmail.com


" at " should be replaced by @. (In Finnish we refer to this sign as "MUIKKU MAUKKU")

We are writing our email address like this so that those robots which harvest email addresses on the internet and which then either attack the email address or put the email address onto a spam generating CDs does not take these addresses.

If you prefer, you can also send your entries by snail mail to

Annikki & Jacob Matthan
Vesaisentie 11 A
FIN-90160 Oulu

Our intention is to prepare a lovely Coffee Table Book, like the one we produced for the 59ers 50th Year Reunion with the collection of the best of the great inputs.

This will be in time for the 150th Year Founders' Day celebration in November 2010.

So get to work on recording your favourite memories of our school!

And to make this universal - Please spread the word amongst all your Cathedralite friends.