Here’s a lovely write up by Rodney Waples on his recent visit to Chennai and his determined effort to get in touch with our old class mates from St Mary’s
To all the Old Boys,
15th Dedember, 2010
It’s been some time since I last wrote, however I thought I’d better update you on what’s been happening.
In mid to late November, my wife Glo and I spent 7 days in Chennai. I thought it would be a good idea to catch up with some of the old boys. The following is a brief write up of these meetings and telephone calls.
Even before I arrived Russell Nicholas had gone across to where we were going to stay, to make sure he had the correct place. On the first or second day, I received a call from Russell and he very kindly made the effort to come out and visit me. Russell is quite spiritual, and very much involved in the “Jesus Saves” movement and volunteers at their Call Centre each week. The “Jesus Saves” call centre receives many calls from overseas and well as local residents, and Russell seeks to comfort these people. Russell also took us to his big house in Neelangarai (on the road to Mahabalipuram) where we met his wife Pam a quiet and a nice lady. Russell rears pigeons (I also spotted a catapult to ward of rogue pigeons) and devotes a fair bit of his time with his army buddies. Russell has two children, a boy and a girl and both of them are overseas. Russell’s dedication to sports, his body building and his rigorous life in the Army means that in his latter years, he has a bit of soreness in his joints, but apart from that he enjoys a relaxed and retired and relatively care free lifestyle
I also received a call from Prabhu Lazarus and he organised to take us out to lunch on the Saturday. My recollection of Prabhu at school and later on at Loyola, was of a quiet, soft spoken guy and most of all a gentleman. Though years may have dimmed our eyes, and changed the colour of our hair (in my case what little I have left!), the one aspect which remains the same is Prabhu. He is the same affable and likeable Prabhu. On Saturday afternoon, he arrived with his wife Jacky and went to great trouble organising a tourist taxi, took us to a wonderful banquet (I had never seen such an array of yummy dishes in my life!). Jacky is a wonderful lady and a most charming person. Both Glo and I felt very comfortable in their company. I guess the defining moment for me was that we were able to pick up the pieces despite the hiatus of not being in contact with each other since 1969. Prabhu retired from MRF holding a Management position. After he retired, he decided to dabble in the real estate / property developing business, building some 2 or 3 apartments in St. Thomas Mount. However, the stress caused a few heart problems and he decided to give away this project. Prabhu has since taken up writing and has penned three books, and is eagerly seeking a publisher so as to reach a bigger audience. Jacky & Prabhu have two children a boy and a girl, their son is not married, and their married daughter has one daughter. Jacky and Prabhu spend a lot of time looking after, and no doubt spoiling their only grand daughter.
I also made contact with Bernard Jayaraj and had left a message as he was unavailable. I was in a car when he called back, and the traffic noise was quite intense, in between cars sounding their horns – I was able to pick up on some background info – Bernard also worked for MRF but in the technical side. Bernard retired on his 58th birthday and I think spent his entire working career at MRF. Bernard spends his spare time supervising the on going construction of a local catholic church. In between the building process the church ran out of funds and their priest had to make a special appeal to all the faithful to dig into their pockets a bit deeper. Unfortunately due to the short duration of our holiday, I was unable to meet with him. Perhaps next time Bernard.
I also rang Hari Baskaran from Haryana . Hari’s son and his girlfriend had flown down from the US the previous week, and Hari was busy trying to juggle corporate responsibilities with mandatory family requirements. Knowing Hari, for the professional that he is, I am sure he must have passed both tasks with high distinctions. Yes it was a long time since I last spoke to Hari, and once again the tyranny of time and distance was comfortably and easily overcome. A little known fact is that Hari, Cedric Surrao, Brian Jones, and yours truly all attended the same primary school all those years ago at St. Kevins, apart from the fact we all lived in Royapuram. I am glad to advise the bonds of friendship are still as strong as ever.
I also got a call from Kenny Rebello. Kenny and his wife frequently visit Melbourne, and he was able to reel off the names of our local suburbs. He visited as recently as last year and caught up with Peter Kelly. Kenny’s sister is married to Fred Bourne, who runs the Bourne Bathroom and Kitchen centres (an iconic name to all those who live in Melbourne) – a speciality plumbing store based in Melbourne with 5 or 6 outlets strategically located all over sprawling Melbourne. We had a long conversation and reminisced about old times. We need to make a concerted effort to get a lunch or dinner organised the next time Kenny visits his sister in Melbourne.
It was also good making contact with Aubrey Roberts who lives in Punjab. Aubrey and I go back a long time, and we spent many a happy memory growing up in Royapuram. Aubrey had all good intentions of flying down from Mohali to catch up, but with an unexpected eye operation in mid November kind of made it impossible to fly down. We had a long conversation and I also spoke to his Mum Coral, whom I remember as being a very kind and affectionate lady. Aubrey has given me an ultimatum, in as much the next time I visit India, it is compulsory we visit the northern part of India. Judging by the heat and humidity and congestion that is the norm in Chennai, we will give it some serious thought. Unfortunately, my wife and I have not been further north than Delhi and I assured him that we will make amends in 2012.
I also had a brief conversation with Jayachandra Morale, who now lives in Nungambakkam, and pretty close to Loyola College. Unfortunately, he too has lost contact with the old class mates. Jayachandra retired from State Bank of India a few years
ago and spent some time building or renovating his house. It was good catching up with him albeit briefly. He mentioned briefly that Dawood also used to work at the SBI.
Finally, I had the good fortune to be given phone details for Charlie Yourey. Charlie migrated to the US many years ago, revisited India where he sadly lost his wife and decided not to return to the US. Charlie now lives in India for good and opted to be with his children in Vyasarpadi in Chennai. Charlie too is retired, and as he says he had the good fortune on his return to find a full time job looking after kids in return for boarding and lodging, in other words he looks after his grand kids and appears to be enjoying the interaction and bonding which occurs. I spoke to him about the Old Boys and he is very positive about the movement and is keen to join. Accordingly, I have included his details in our master list. So, Charlie a warm welcome and glad to have you aboard.