Monday, April 30, 2007

Income tax issues

The last CHAFF Meeting on Sunday 29th April 2007, focused on filling the tax form which has to be submitted by 15th May in most cases.

Besides explaining the way the tax form is constructed, I also gave concrete examples of how it is important to claim the benefits that one is entitled to.

The tax authorities prepare the form based on the information submitted by the employers, banks, etc. They have no clue of the way your money was spent which was related to your work ethic. If you do supply it then you are the loser!

We were especially happy to have Pooja and Mani, with their lovely daughter, Anusha, from Raahe, at the meeting. Besides Unnop, Pailin, Soda and me, Olga, Lauri, Ashesh, Tero, Ildikó and a new young man from Hungary, János Horváth attended. Tony only arrived at 17:10 and hence could not attend.

We also discussed the many jobs coming up for qualified foreigners. I emphasized to all those present to ensure that their latest CVs are sent to me so that they can be shared online the many companies that are now contacting CHAFF.

They later dropped in at home, but they had been filled to brim by Indu that they had to forgo one of Annikki's outstanding cake creations with lemon curd, fresh and delicious mango slices from Thailand and huge strawberries which Annikki had sliced so that they looked like beautiful red tulips!

We really enjoyed their company. We hope the next time they visit Oulu they will spend more time with us!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Taste buds explode! Real MANGOES in Oulu!

(Cross-posted on my major blogs.)

I was at the Pailin Restaurant early yesterday waiting for the postman. Around midday, he arrived, bearing two packages.

I waited patiently while Unnop and Pailin opened them - and then came that delicious aroma of fresh mango.

The name of this fruit comes from the Tamil and Malayalam word, manga.

They packed 5 of them them in a plastic bag and I "literally" scooted home. :-)

Annikki was up reading the newspaper. Before she could ask me where I had been, I was in the kitchen, ripping open the plastic bag and attacking one of the delicious mangoes.

This mango, although looking like what is referred to in India as the traditional Polymango, had the taste of a good Malgova.

The Polymango is what every school child in India knows. At the gates of schools all around the countrty used to sit that old man or woman with a basket of green mangoes, unripe ones. For one anna( less than Euro 0.04), they would cut one open, sprinkle in chilli powder mixed with salt. The kids would walk home eating this delicious spicy salt sour mango!

Even thinking of this makes my mouth water.

But this is not what the mango has been come to be known for around the world. The famous varieties in the western world are "Tommy Atkins", "Kent", "Keitt", "Madame Francis", and "Champagne".

In my humble opinion, all these are quite tasteless compared to the varieties we get in India.

The king of all mangoes, for taste, is considered to be the Ratnagiri Alphonso. As a small boy I used to wait for the day they hit the market in Bombay (Mumbai) in May My mother would get baskets of them.

Not many people in India can probably afford Alphonsos today!

But there are many tens of varieties which are actually considerably tastiers than the Alphonso - Bangalora (Kilimooku), Banaganapalle or Banganapalli (also called 'Banesha' or 'Began), Dusserli or Dasheri, Imampasand, Khaderpasand, Langra, Maldah, Malgova, Neelam, Peethar, Rasalu, Rumani, Suvarnarekha, and many more. each one has his or her own favourite and their favourite way of eating their "mango".

The sweetest mango that I have ever had grew in our garden in Defence Officers Colony in a suburb of Madras (Chennai). This used to be an old mango grove before ot was acqyuired by the army to build houses for retiring army personnel. we were lucky to be able to rent a house for a couple of years in this colony.

It was an old tree and the mangoes that it produced was probably a cross between a Rumani and an Alphonso. Each mango, which was bright yellow when ripe, weighed about a kilo and there was just the right blend of juicy content with fleshy content. I used to be offered a lot of money by the professional pickers for the fruit from this tree - but we never gave them up as they were so delicious.

Our daughter, Joanna, was just a few months old when we had the first crop. This was to the horror of the older folks. They considered the mango to be too "heaty" for a small child - whatever that may mean!

Joanna was brought up on the juice of thee mangoes, and I think there were no ill effects!

I digress.

The mangoes we received from Thailand were really delicious. There were 5 and together they weighed 650 gms.

As the photographs below depict, I consumed mine, traditional style, with juice dripping down my palm, in less than a couple of minutes!

I sliced it open and to smaller pieces the way I had been taught as a child.

I cleaned the pieces to the skin, hardly leaving anything on the skin or the seed!

I cannot wait till next week when our next consignment arrives. Hopefully a nice ripe Papaya will also be there.

Yes, we can get anything we like to eat here now in this small town of Oulu!

Thank you Unnop and Pailin for this great service.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Sharing this with you

I thought I would share this with you;

Hello Jacob,

You are getting this e-mail because last May you took the time to thank Stephen Colbert for speaking out at the White House Press Corp dinner. Thank you for that!

A dream has finally come true. After four years of hard work, the first of what will someday be thousands of the most trustworthy portals on the Web, is about to launch. It will be free of corporate/commercial bias, and FREE to the public forever!

Earth Portal ( is the result of 650 of the world's top scientists in 49 countries (so far) coming together to produce the highest quality, non-commercial, non-profit resource for information about our planet anywhere in the World.

Please go there and enjoy the vision video announcing the official launch this Friday.

Tomorrow (Thursday), we will webcast, the press conference in Washington DC at the Press Club beginning at 1 p.m. featuring Jane Goodall, Robert Corell, and Ambassador Richard Benedick among others.

And after the launch, please go back and register there to show your support for this breathtakingly ambitious effort.

Our children deserve no less. Our planet deserves no less.

Please also pass this on to everyone you know who cares about science and the environment.

The Earth Portal is a non-commercial destination on the Web for news, learning and debate about the state and future of our environment. There will never be any advertising on Digital Universe websites and it will always be free.

The Earth Portal will facilitate the emergence of a new community to emerge, directly connecting scientists, journalists, policy makers and you.

Join us and bring your children on April 27th at Earth Portal (

More soon and thanks!


Cliff Lyon
The Digital Universe
ManyOne Networks
Salt Lake City Office

You may also view the Vision Video at:



Wednesday, April 25, 2007

I misspoke! Sorry!

Last weeks CHAFF Meeting, at the later time of 14:00 - 16:00 hours, had some of the old folks and some of the young folks. Besides Pailin and Unnop, Pentti, Matti and myself, Cats-Monday and Tero Haaraniemi were present.

This week, on Sunday 29th April, we will have a small group session at the Pailin Restaurant (Kenttätie 9, Kasarmi Area) at 14:00 hours as usual. If possible, weather permitting, we can enjoy a bit of sunshine on the patio!

Those of you who received my last CHAFF email have been misled by me.

The Multiculture May Day Eve Celebration at Walda on Monday 30th April will unfortunately not have the participation of our Australian musical maestro, Benjamen Hayes, with his smooth talking guitar and his sentimental voice.

I had given Ilmi Dibrani of Walda Benjamin's phone number to establish contact. But Ilmi Dibrani is so over-worked, it completely skipped his mind.

When Benjamin received my email, it was the first he had heard of this event .

He was shocked, as he had already made a programme for that evening which, unfortunately, was irreversible!

I must apologise for this but the Walda band will perform with all the others and a stand-in for Benjamin.

Sorry Benjamin.

The Pailin family is again in the news.

Soda with his Volleyball Gold.

Young Soda who has been sponsored by many CHAFF participants, has excelled in yet another sport - Volleyball. (He has also played for the school in basketball!)

Soda's two Gold Medals!

He added to his first Gold Medal in playing for the Tervarit Football side last year by playing for his Merikoski School Volleyball side for the first time. Soda helped them (and himself) get the Gold Medal in the Inter School Volleyball Tournament.

This is the first time that Merikoski School has featured in the Medal frame for this sport. Soda played a role in this, as informed to me by his father, Unnop Khungrai. (I was unfortunately not able to attend the tournament which was held in the Oulu Sports Dome last week.)

Pailin regularly carves vegetables which adorn almost every Thai dish they serve at the Pailin Restaurant.

Ann Pollanen with one of her outstanding embroidery creations.

Inspired by the outstanding Thai/Finnish artist, Ann Pollanen, whose work of soap carvings and artificial flower displays, and embroidery is available exclusively from the Pailin Restaurant, Pornpailin has entered a new field. Carving soap, Thai style.

An artificial floral creation by Ann.

Pailin is now revelling in her success with new art form. She is working with local materials whereas Ann works with high quality high texture soaps which are specially imported from Thailand.

It is so encouraging to see so many cultural aspects from around the world coming into daily life in Finland as soon they will be seen, hopefully, as part and parcel of Finnish culture.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

An Update

(Cross-posted on my main blogs.)
(Click on images to see enlarged versions.)

I have not been ill or otherwise indisposed. Just very very busy, happy, sad, and going through every emotion that man or woman is capable of.

Over Easter we were especially blessed to know that our three children, Susanna, Jaakko and Joanna, in the UK, were able to get together with their families and also join up with us over the telephone.

This has been recorded on several entries on Susanna's Billinghay Blog with beautifully emotional pictures of all members of the family. They especially enjoyed a buffet lunch at the Lahore Restaurant in Birmingham. Joanna, who has really become quite trim, did say that she did overeat on that occasion. (I must also note that Susanna has also become quite trim - but just wait till they arrive and start consuming their mum's cooking, when they will bloat, like me!)

The grandkids were in their element. Susanna has recorded and put up a few short video clips, using effectively the UTube service.

This has prompted Joanna to think seriously in investing in a better digital camera and to start her own blog - which would be just wonderful for us, the grandparents. Maybe, even Jaakko can be persuaded to start his blog once he gets the old iMac that Susanna is thinking of passing on - Old Macs never DIE. I had promised them my old software, but unfortunately much of te old system software discs are corrupted. Jaakko being an outstanding photographer would certainly add a new dimension to blogging should he decide to take it up.

Last Friday brought Annikki and me much grief when we lost a wonderful friend, a Cathedralite by the name of Behram Badhniwalla, who went by the nickname of Budni. Budni was a couple of years senior to me in school. He stood out as he had been afflicted by polio and was the only boy in school who was on crutches. But that did not stop Budni being one of us. During the latter half of our school years I had an excellent relationship with him.

When I left school, our paths diverged. It was not till 2005 when they came together again. He had been doing almost exactly what I had, in finding his classmates and then making sure that they were kept together.

Introduced to me through our former school Physics Teacher, William Shiri, living in Toronto, Canada, Budni wrote in his first email to me:

from: Behram Badhniwalla
date 21-Oct-2005 10:15
subject Fwd: Hello again

Dear Matthan,

My name is Dr.Behram T. Badhniwalla (Wilson House Batch 57), in school I was 'Budni'!

I used to walk on crutches during our green years.

Of course, I left my disability behind in 1959-60 (Praise be to the Good Lord).

Today my Wife, Carmie and I, have retired, and live in Pune.

From all the Cathedralites of our generation, and many have met u. the common factor is we both are holding on to our flocks!

I am forwarding a message from our teacher Mr Shiri, and I hope we communicate more often!

We have regular get-together of the Pune Cathedralites and shall revert later with more information!

Cheers for Now


From that day we have exchanged many hundreds of emails on topics ranging from sharing pictures of our school friends, sharing our email lists, finding new alumni, our common interests in music, organising class reunions, his idea of forming a health foundation of retired staff and elderly alumni who were not so fortunate financially, and many more. Budni bounced ideas off me. If I gave him the go ahead, he went about his task of rousing the masses.

Not only that, both of us got on like a house on fire. We assisted each other sharing our ideas, agreeing and disagreeing on issues, but above all promoting our "school spirit". Although our styles were different, but the objectives the same.

Budni made everyone feel loved and happy and part of a beautiful family.

On the morning of Friday 13th April 2007, I had two emails from him in the space of just 10 minutes, te first telling me that he would be away from Pune for 10 days and he would take up an issue I had requested as soon as he got back. The second email was about school, pushing the joint working of my Seventh Heaven Blog to be linked with the official school alumni site.

Budni was thinking of what wonders could be achieved if we all worked together.

By evening I received a message from a common friend in Pune that Budni was no more.

When such tragic news reaches me, I become immobile, unable to speak or do anything constructive. Annikki was at my side when I read this email. She comforted me, as she too had learnt to know Budni and his spirit. I was roused to work furiously to let "our flocks" know of the demise of someone who had become my right hand just so much as I had become his left!

The sorrow, grief and the tributes poured in from every corner of the globe. For the past week I have been composing a web page which I will call "A Tribute to Budni". It is difficult, as each time I enter some text or put in a picture, the sadness that flows through my veins makes me realise the frailty of life.

On the same day, we got news that our granddaughter, Asha, who will be 10 in August, had passed her Grade 3 Piano Examination with distinction, 134/150.

Budni, on the extreme left, is crooning at a CAT bash in Pune a few weeks ago.

Susanna put up a clip of Asha playing the piano on her blog, which helped me greatly to face the sorrow of losing a friend, as he was a great musician.

CEO of Codenomicon, Isaac Sundarajan, has been really jet setting. He flew to Cannes to collect the Red Herring Award, flew in to Oulu, flew out to spend Easter with his wife and elder daughter in London, flew back to the US (San Francisco) to prepare for his next year's strategy meeting, and was here, back in Oulu, yesterday.

Royal Garden Menu

We spent the evening together at Michelle's new Indian Restaurant, The Indian Cusine Section of Royal Garden. The last time he had been there, he had said he wanted food as hot as "Jacob's". Michelle and crowd only address me as "Mr. Matthan". So Isaac was a bit disappointed.

This time, Michelle's brother, Philip, dished out a really superb Chicken Vindaloo and a spicy lamb off the bone curry, which both of us relished. This was followed by some Guju Tea, which is laced with Indian spices.

I think the levels of spice in Michelle's Indian and Chinese restaurants will have to have new labels - "Joanna's level" (which is our daughter Joanna's taste buds saturation point and super not), and then "Mr. Matthan's level", which is only slightly lower, but does bring a fair amount of sweat onto the forehead.

Isaac and I sat and chatted well into the evening. Michelle and Philip regal led us with stories of their life in restaurant business. they were surprised to hear from Isaac that "Indian Chinese" is the "in thing" in California - so Philip has promised to dish this up for us on our next visit!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Finally uploaded: UN Anti Racism Week Oulu 2007

The UN Anti Racism Week was between the 19th and 25th of March 2007.

Usually, we are very quick to upload the blog with the details of an event. However, the Organising Committee held the Closure Meeting only on the 3rd of April, and our Finnish Red Cross representative, Päivi Jurvakainen, was away on a well deserved holiday the following week.

We had to wait till Päivi's return to get hold of the CD full of photographs taken with the Finnish Red Cross camera.

We have now uploaded a web page of the whole programme. There is brief report of all the events that were organised. You can click on any image on this web page and see a slide show of the images.

Teams that took part in the "snow" football tournament.

Hope you enjoy this programme in which CHAFF was one of the primary organisations helping to organise it.

CHAFF participants who were very visible were Soda, Tero, Ildikó, Lauri, Kamu, but many more took part.

Thank you for all the help given by so many of you to us in helping to organise this successful programme.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter morn 2007

(Cross-posted from Jacob's Blog.)

Nothing is more pleasant for grandparents than to talk to their grandkids on Easter. It is not like Christmas, where it is the act of giving, but with Easter it is the rebirth of new life.

Joanna, Tony, Samu and Daniel decided to drive down from Newcastle to Billinghay in Lincolnshire. After spending the Saturday there, they went on to Birmingham to meet up with brother Jaakko and friend Joy. Chris could not accompany Susanna and Asha and the others as he was practicing for a recital.

However, before they left Billinghay, Susanna put up some wonderful photos and also two videos of hers which she has uploaded to UTube.

Instead of linking to them, I thought I would post one of them on my blogs as not many go across regularly to Susanna's blog. But visiting her blog is well worthwhile as she is also a fits and starts blogger like me, and usually our fits and starts come in different bursts!

Here is the first of the videos, which was entitled "Hello Grandpa and Grandma":

To see more videos and pictures, do go over to Susanna's Billinghay Blog where there are great pictures of the families and, hopefully, soon after Birmingham, we should also have pictures of Jaakko and Joy.

They are at the moment enjoying a Chinese buffet in the city that all of them know well from the 80s and 90s.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Social Anthropologists

(This week's CHAFF meeting: Those who wish to be at the Pailin Restaurant (Kenttätie 9, Kasarmi Area) this Easter Sunday are welcome, but there will be no buffet. Also, the meeting time will be at 14:00 hours as the restaurant is rather full between 12:00 and 14:00 hours. So join us an hour later than usual. Soon, if the warm spring air persists, we can revert to our older times as we meet sitting out in the sunshine!)

And now to last week's programme as a CHAFF Participant.

I was persuaded by Emilia Frantsi to come out of hibernation and give a talk to the Social Anthropology students at the University of Oulu on the subject of my impressions of the problems faced by migrants and ethnic minorities in Oulu and Finland. having held many official positions over the years and having been an activist on the subject for almost all the time Annikki and I have lived in Finland, cooking up a lecture was not difficult, except I did not know from when it should start and to which time it should cover. So I covered the entire life span of Annikki and myself (some 120+ man/woman years)! :-)

My host: Emilia Frantsi, a lovely personality.

My lecture was preceeded by one by Päivi Pelkonen, whom I have known for several years, but not met for a long time. I was quite surprised that she remembered me after all these years.

She is a product of the Education Department of the University, probably a little junior to our daughter, Joanna.

After graduation from the M.Ed. programme in 1999, Päivi continued working in the Faculty of Education teaching courses in intercultural studies. She worked in administration developing student tutoring and counselling.

The following year she started to work in the Kosovo Education Centre, Prishtina, Kosova as part of an agreement between the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the KEC. Her tasks included contributing to planning different projects together with the local staff, for example programmes for in-service teacher education, or planning and building didactic centres in the Kosovar regions, as well as seeking funding for the projects from different donors. She also took part in implementing the programmes as well as monitoring them. Päivi was a contact person with some foreign education institutions, for example, the South East Europe Education Cooperation Network.

The following year, she was recruited to work in a bilateral development cooperation project between the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Serbia-Montenegro, which aimed to reform teacher education. However, te research team here at the University of Oulu had been successful in applying research funding from Academy of Finland, and after less than one year in Serbia-Montenegro, it was time to return to work as a researcher at the University of Oulu, in a research project connected with development studies.

Päivi's research area is intercultural learning both in theory and practise, and currently with topic is intercultural learning for international cooperation. She is also working on a case study focusing on intercultural learning within a multidisciplinary student/teacher exchange project between Finland and Kenya. She visited Bolivia in a researched exchange programme.

During fall 2003, she was asked to establish a Finnish researcher network on education and development. They have around 70 persons in the network, working around similar questions and meeting at least twice every year.

Päivi's talk was about very global issues related to policy as they are applied in situations in the global environment as well as, to some extent, in a small town as Oulu.

The room was packed for her lecture - so I got myself a good audience!

I approached the subject from a completely personal viewpoint and based all the subject matter around the personal experiences and knowledge of Annikki and myself.

I usually judge the pulse of my audiences as I speak, by focussing on four individuals, if possible, of quite different age groups and also dividing them between the sexes. I can judge from the facial and physical reactions of the audience whether I need to tone up or tone down my rhetoric.

It was a plrasant surprise to see the audience sitting there in pin-drop silence taking in my words.

Three CHAFF participants had taken the trouble to attend, and although Pentti was trying hard to keep up with the speed of my talk (i English) and the mass of matter that I covered, assisted by Matti sitting next to him, I know I left him quite far behind.

The audience was amazed at the range of experiences of discrimination that Annikki and I (and our family) had been through since we met in 1963.

The question posed by me was whether the level of racism had increased or decreased since we moved here in 1984. Can anyone guess the answer to this?

The theme of my talk was that even two minor and unknown individuals can make a difference in changing viewpoints, even if they have to face suffering and dilemmas in their personal lives. I urged them to be activists like a few of the audience I had come to know, Heikki Mankinen, Eija Isoviita, Emilia Frantsi, and Henna Juusola - who had done wonders along with Paivi Jurvakainen of the Red Cross, in organising the successful UN Week Against Racism.

In the 45 minutes I used for my talk, I did manage to cover a few of our experiences, but it was only a very very small portion of the matter in my possession.

Maybe it is time for a new book about the subject of "migration" as our sequel to the "Handbook for Survival in Finland"!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Yesterday and today...

(Cross-posted on all my main blogs.)

It was a great day, as all days are great these days.

Birthday greetings started pouring in from 4 am Finnish time starting from Toronto (59er Hasnain Chinwalla) and Australia (nephew Chacko Kovoor, son of Malli and Thamban) and reverberated around the globe - Chennai (Anand & Shalu), Mumbai (56er Ubi, 59ers Ashok Kapur, Ramesh Mirchandani, Piloo Tata, Percy Mistri, Nihal Kaviratne, Naubir Mohindar, Elijah Elias (Ooky), etc.), Billinghay (Susanna, Chris and Asha), Hewcastle (Joanna, Tony, Samuel and Daniel), New York (59er Ellis Hayeem), Milano (69er Barbara Mont Ros), Washington D. C. (59er Arvind Thadhani), Serbia (62er Ranko Ivancevic), and ended ending back in Toronto when 59er Viney Sethi, in the company of our Physics Teacher, Willie Shiri and his wife Pushpa, and 59er Hasnain regaled me with the happy birthday serenade.

The quartet thought I would not recognise their voices after so so many years. But Viney's was so identifiable and crystal clear (but not quite the old Elvis-like) as also the rich tenor-bass voice of Willie was easily identified, as he had sung behind me in the choir stalls of St. Thomas's Cathedral in the 50s.

These greetings were combined with hundreds of well-wishers from all across Scandinavia.

Such beautiful messages, such beautiful cards, such beautiful email greetings.

I felt awed by such an outpouring of love and friendship - that makes living one more year waiting for the next birthday, really something to look forward to!

The first to wish me was Annikki, who stayed up till 4 am, just so that she could show her appreciation of our ageing together as I woke up.

And the last to greet ME was again Annikki, who prepared a delicious cake - fruit salad and cream, which was being watched over by our most hawkish cat, Iitu! She (the cat) licked the platter clean. (I was out most of the day attending various public events and only got home around half past nine in the evening for our evening together!)

Michelle, the Chinese Calcutta Restaurateur opened her new Indian Restaurant (The Royal Garden) today. I enjoyed my super spicy Madras Curry for lunch and later brought home a Rogan Josh for Annikki and Mika.

Pailin carved me a watermelon as a gift.

Pailin gives me the carved watermelon as my present.

In between, the many Thai families who have adopted me as their father and grandfather, celebrated my birthday with Pailin carving a beautiful watermelon as one of their many gifts to me.

Heikki, Emilia and Päivi.

Eija, Eric and me.

Päivi, Eija, Eric and Heikki.

The organisers of the UN Anti Racism Week helped celebrate the public occasion by toasting the successful week with a closure meeting with a raspberry cream cake!

Old and young friends kept my mobile phone ringing, making it a day that I will remember for many years ahead.

Thank you to all of you, many whom have gone unmentioned in this blog entry - but I do remember all of you and your good wishes.