Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The seamier side of my life

Yesterday, I told you of my first love - my Miss Universe who has been at my side for 44 years and as my partner for 41 years.

But alas, man is weak, and there have been several women, besides my wife, who have shaped my life.

My latest love affair is just 9 days old, and is a girl who has not yet got a name. She is a great bundle of joy. I call her "Kochmol", which means "Little Girl".

She is the latest addition to our family, born on Sunday, the 20th of January (9 days ago) here in Oulu.

Our new granddaughter, whom I am calling Kochmol,
till her parents decide on a name for her!

She joins a beautiful young lady, Asha, who has been a great joy in my life for the last 10 and a half years.

Asha in 1998 (Photo by Susanna).

Asha in Newcastle in 2008. (Photo by Susanna.)

Asha entered my life 10 and a half years ago, and there is not a day when I do not think of this beautiful baby who has grown to be a poised young and highly talented lady and, above all, a loving granddaughter.

When I think of my grandchildren, I must say that the two ladies, my gorgeous daughters, who have "ruled" my life started as similar beautiful babies:

Susanna 1968.

Joanna 1971.

Joanna 1989.

Susanna 2006.

Although one of them describes me as an "anarchist hippie" and the other as a "workaholic", I still love both of them dearly. If they love me even 10% of how much I love them, they remain the apples in my eyes. (Fact: I have not ever been and am not an anarchist, hippie or a workaholic!)

Nalini as a baby in 1938.

Nalini with the British Queen Mother in 1960,
at the Opening of the new wing YMCA in Fitzroy Square, London,
just a few months before her demise.

Another lady, who has by her very absence, been a lasting influence on my life is my late elder sister, Nalini, who died after childbirth in 1960. I know her spirit in my heart has been watching and looking after me all through these last 48 years.

The lady who has most influenced my life was one so simple and kind and yet so powerful that no one realised her shrewdness. An only daughter and the only sister to 8 brothers who loved their sister dearly, she held them together to control them to build the huge family publishing and industrial empire from the time her parents passed away in the early 1950s till her own demise in 2000.

Ammachi in 1934 when she graduated from
the Women's Christian College, Madras.

Ammachi with her dog, Tippu, in 1976,
after returning to Bangalore.

My mother, Ammachi, inherited her kindness and gentleness from her mother, Valliammachi, my grandmother, and her shrewdness and business acumen were from her father, the late K. C. Mammen Mappillai.

One personal example will show you the nature of my maternal grandmother.

In 1950, when we were visiting Kottayam, the family of uncles and cousins, several tens of us, decided to go on a trip to Periyar, the Elephant Sanctuary. The day before, I ate too many jackfruit causing me severe colic pains. I was really ill. It was decided by the powers at the top that I should be left behind as it would be too dangerous to take me on such a long trip.

I was heartbroken as only a child of 7 could be. I was left in the custody of Vallammachi. I was feeling as fine, but was really feeling emotionally upset. Valliammachi had been instructed to keep me on a total light liquids diet.

In Kottayam, in her home, such an atrocity was just not possible.

Within minutes of the family members leaving for the elephant sanctuary, I was treated like a little Prince and given every delicacy she could summon, including a healthy dose of the offending jackfruit which had caused the colic problem initially.

I could not have had a better day in my life than that in the company of such a grand lady!

And this remained a secret between us till today!

The last lady who played an immense effect on my life was my paternal grandmother. A tiny woman, no one would have suspected the powerhouse that she was.

She brought up her 10 children, 5 boys and 5 girls with a whip hand to make all of them outstanding students and the 5 boys became top professionals during their life time. (One was a senior administrator in the Mysore Government, the second headed Tata Consultancy Engineering Services, another worked for the Shri Ram Group as their senior Administrator, one headed various sections of Indian Railways and also the Intergral Coach Factory in Perambur, and the last ended his career as the Chairman of the Life Insurance Corporation of India!

As the wife of one of the Mysore Maharaja's senior administrative officers, she was formal enough to run her household in accordance to all the rules laid down by the aristocracy. She ruled her dining table with such firmness that children knew they were children to be seen and not heard.

Yet she was a mellow as a lamb outside of her hours of duty. In her later years she was a loving character who could not have enough of the company of her grandchildren. She outlived her famous husband, Dewan Bahadur Mysore Matthan by over 20 years.

During that time she was respected and adored by all her grandchildren.

My love affairs with these 9 women are what made me what I am TODAY:

They say that behind every man is a woman.

I am proud to say that behind this poor human being there have been 9 outstandingly great ladies.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Secret revelations: The women in my life

Annikki in 1964. at her favourite pastime -
chalk crayon drawing on the green grass of Woodchurch Road (Photo by Josey).

Annikki in 1966 , the day we announced
our engagement at Woodchurch Road, London.

When I was courting my Miss Universe, one would think there would never be any other women in my life!

January 1967, The most beautiful bride of all time
arrives at St. Mary's Cathedral, Shrewsury.

As a married couple, 41 years ago to this day, we leave the church
to embark on our difficult journey through life.

Annikki became my Mrs. Universe.

1967: Annikki becomes a mother for the first time.

Annikki's brood in 1974, Madras (Chennai)

Then Annikki became my Mother Universe. A more capable mother there never has been. She brought her children up in the most difficult of circumstances with never a complaint!

March 1997: First grandchild, Samuel.

Annikki with her first grandchild, Samuel.

January 2008: Annikki with latest grandchild.

In 1997 she became my Grandmother Universe.

Annikki, besides being the most beautiful woman alive, is also one of the most principled persons you are likely to see on the face of ths earth. In all my 44 years with her she has never been able to tell a lie, not even a white lie! She would rather say nothing than tell a fib! And what gave her all these Universe titles are her creativity in so many ways - from cakes to interior decor and creating art from rubbish, and even in her novel methods of educating her children.

To see her in her fullest glory, do visit the website A Tribute

So one would suspect with that string of "Universe" titles, there would be no other women in my life!

How wrong can you be, as I expose all!

But you will have to wait till tomorrow, as it would be shameful to tell this part of the story on this our 41st Wedding Anniversary. :-)

Monday, January 21, 2008

Pleased as punch?

Posted on my Jacob's Blog, the Oulu CHAFF Blog, the Mumbai Cathedralites Seventh Heaven Blog and the Delhi Stephanians Kooler Talk Blog.

Does the term "pleased as punch" refer to the condition after drinking an ample amount out of the Punch Bowl (remember Annikki and I are teetotallers) or is it some condition of Punch in the "Punch and Judy" Show?

However, Annikki and I were pleased as punch yesterday, whatever the origins of this phrase.

As was conveyed to most of you by "Manorama JM" yesterday, our younger daughter, Joanna and her husband, Tony, have produced their 3rd child, 3.49 kg in weight, 52 cm in length, at 15:35 on Sunday 20th January 2008.

Samuel and Daniel are very happy with their new baby sister, who is our second granddaughter, and just as beautiful as lovely Asha in England.

Our new granddaughter.

Daniel with his sister.

Samuel and Daniel with their sister.

Samuel with his sister.

Joanna watches her brood after the proceedings of the day.

I took these pictures (with my camera which is held together by sticky tape) at the hospital for Annikki, who cannot leave the house as she is looking after her mother. Grandmom was so pleased to be part of the event! And greatgrandmom was also quite thrilled to hear the news.

Annikki is the only one, who from the time she saw Joanna in mid-December, has been saying that the baby would be a girl!

Knowing Samuel and Daniel, this little girl is likely to grow up as a tomboy!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Back again to our teeny weeny world

Posted on my Jacob's Blog, on the Mumbai Cathedralites Seventh Heaven Blog, on the Stephanian Kooler Talk Blog, and the Oulu CHAFF Blog.

Glad to get back to regular blogging.

The next CHAFF Meeting will be at 13:00 hours Sunday 6th January at The Coffee Shop, Isokatu (inside Hotel Arina). Welcome.

The last two weeks were a delight in that we were were not snowed under by snow, but with love and affection and greetings from all over the world.

(Sadly, as an aside, this is the first time in the last 23 winters we have been in Finland (and Annikki's some 40 winters she has been in Finland out of her 63 winters) that we did not have snow in this near Arctic location. Remember we are just 200 km from the Arctic Circle! A sad reflection of the effect of global warming!)

Into our 10 email addresses, 5 Blog Accounts, 3 Google Groups, our mobile phone number, our landline phone and our snail mail postbox, a total of just around 70000 (YES 70000!) season's greetings poured in.

I had a task sorting them out and then updating mailing addresses in our numerous mailing lists, grouping them into the various groups, i.e., family (Maliyakals and Kandathils), friends (Indian, Finnish, world), Mumbai Cathedralites, Delhi Stephanians, Bishop Cottonians (Bangalore), Findians, CHAFF Participants, O-Indians, past colleagues, present colleagues and others - making sure we were not sending out duplicates or to dead addresses and then send our greetings to all on our lists. (If it was not for 3 trustworthy Macs working round the clock this task would have been impossible for just one computer idiot!)

Out of a total 37000 postings (the last ones were today), I am glad to say that this year we had hardly around 300 returns! I had taken out all those who had university addresses in the US and UK, and that had cut the mailing list from the 80000+ to this more manageable figure.

We are sorry to all whom we may have missed.

But this is proof that we have a teeny weeny world of our own. But this teeny weeny world is even smaller than we thought!

A few weeks ago I had about 6 emails, all with the same attachment - some pictures of the Old Bombay - a truly great collection of pictures. Most of the emails were forward.

One of the persons who forwards me great emails is Cathedralite from Mumbai) 56er Ubi (HS Uberoi). (Another is Cathedralite 49er from Mysore, Naval Patel.)

When I looked at the forward I noted that it was from his daughter-in-law, Anahita. Besides Ubi, she had forwarded it to one Farookh Mehta.

I sent an email to Ubi asking him whether this "Farookh" was the same "advertising" Farookh who was married to a great Maharashtrian stage actress, Vijaya. I explained to Ubi that we had sailed together from Venice to Bombay in 1969, round the Cape, and Farookh had beaten me in the Table Tennis final on board the ship. Farookh played well on a tilting and listing ship!

Ubi's reply was swift as it was amazing. Yes, this was the self-same Farookh, who was also a Cathedralite of the 47 era, married to the Maharashtrian stage legend, Vijaya, and whose daughter, Anahita, who had been a few months on that voyage was Head Girl in Cathedral School in 1985, when Ubi's son, Samir, was Head Boy, and the two were married!

A year or so ago, Farookh and Vijaya's son, Ravi Khote, had passed through Finland and I had talked to him about his parents.

Since this exchange of emails I have had emails and photographs from Farookh, which I will blog soon.

But the moral is that our teeny weeny world is much much smaller than we thought!