Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Toothless Tiger

Late Tuulikki Ukkola
(Photo from ALMA Media)

 Today I visited Dentopolis, the Dental Clinic run by the University Central 
Hospital, and had the last of my 7 teeth in the lower jaw removed by two 4th year students who were named, Jaakko and Aino. 

Jaakko is the name of our eldest son and Aino is my late sister-in-law, Annikki's younger sister, who travelled around with Annikki before we were married!. 

The students were  guided by their teacher, Juha. 

It was very painfuld although a large amount of anaesthetic for each tooth was used, but I did not complain. 

On two earlier visits, first to a dental surgeon, who took out 4 teeth,  and then to 4 students, all my other teeth had been removed. 

The first lot of teeth were a problem as I had infection in the gums, but the second, done by 3 students guided by their teacher was no problem. 

As I came from the clinic, Annikki, who had been waiting paitiently for me, asked me whether I was now finally the  "Toothless Tiger”.

This aroused my memory about the famous Finnish journalist from Oulu, the late Tuulikki Ukkola, 

Tuulikki Ukkola, was born on November 28, 1943, in Taivalkoski, Finland. She started her journalism career at the newspaper Kaleva in 1962. Ukkola served as a Member of Parliament for the Oulu constituency from 1991 to 1995 as a member of the Liberal People's Party and later became the leader of the party from 1993 to 1995. She was re-elected as an MP for Oulu for the National Coalition Party in 2007, serving until 2011. Tuulikki Ukkola passed away on May 28, 2019, in Oulu at the age of 75.

In her political career she tried to bring forward the criticisms she had been writing about, but she met a brick wall and achieved very little.

When she came back to the newspaper in 1995 I wrote to her whether she had become a Toothless Tiger.

She thought it was very funny and added Annikki and me to her Christams card list, a great honour! .

Christmas card from Tuulikki Ukkola!

But that comment helped her back to her powerful writing and it was, thereafter, more constructive.

I may be the Toothless Tiger no,  but my friend in Helsinki, Christian Thibault carries on the Annikki and my legacy of fighting for the minorities in Finland. 

Christan Thibault

Christian resigned his membership from the Swedish Party in Finland after the last elections when they compromised their principles and joined the present government  as he felt that it was a violation of his life-long principles.

We value people like  Christian who adhere to their principles rather that follow the power trail to achieve their ends. 

Tuulikki learnt it the hard way! 

Tuulikki learnt her lesson that just by joining a political party and serving in Parliament would not achieve her dreams of improving society. The pen was the mightier power.

The Saacred Trust

The same was true of my grandfather, the late K. C. Mammer Mappillai, who then gave us the Sacred Trust followed by his sons, the late Padma Bhushan K. M. Cherian and Padma Bhushan K. M. Mathew and now followed diligently by his grandson, my cousin Padma Shri Mammen Mathew (Rajen).

1989 Delhi Rajen and Jacob
An everlasting brotherly bond of 75+ years.

Have I become a Toothleess Tiger?

Anatomically yes, but 

hopefully not with my brain! 

Saturday, April 06, 2024

Pre-publication information: Handbook for Survival in Finland (2024 Edition)

We are thrilled to announce the forthcoming edition of our popular "Handbook for Survival in Finland", initially unveiled to readers in 1994. 

Immerse yourself in the splendour and intrigue of Finland with our latest update! 

Cover of the First Edition of "Handbook For Survival in Finland", (1994)

The updated edition, projected for release in the autumn of 2024, promises a renewed and expansive insight into the heart of the Nordic nation.

Highly revered for its humorous, satarical and accessible style, the guidebook leverages our four decades of personal experience and research, offering an extensive survey of Finland's geography, history, politics, economy, culture, language, and everyday life.

This blog post, one of 2000 blog entries by us over 28 years, aims to navigate you through the contents anticipated in the new edition. 

We are proud self-publishers of an array of books, including 

“for the hour of his judgement is come;…”, (1994)

“Seven Years Hard Labour in Finnish Holiday Camp - A Finnish University", (1994)

"Sports as an Effective Tool for Integration of Ethnic Minorities in Oulu", (2001)

"Raising a Child the Montessori Way", (2004)

"59ers Golden Reunion", (2009)

"Edible Art" (editions in both Finnish and English), (2011)

"Freedom of Speech - Whose?", (2014) and


"The Titanic Called India" (2015).

Our comprehensive expertise and four-decade-long research journey have established us as esteemed authorities on Finland. The forthcoming edition is predicted to offer a trove of indispensable knowledge and insights that only we, with our caliber of experience, can deliver.

Our updated edition pledges an in-depth analysis of Finland's myriad facets, from profound geography to intricate politics. This ambitious endeavour aligns perfectly with our proficiency and the guidebook's core objectives. As we unmask new details, we understand readers' anticipation and skepticism, which we hope this announcement will address.

In the world of cultural guidebooks, a new edition generates thrill and intrigue. The promised extensive exploration of Finland's nuances presents a beacon of hope for readers longing for enlightenment. For now, readers can only hypothesize the wealth of knowledge concealed within the forthcoming edition.

When assessing the credibility of our updated "Handbook for Survival in Finland", it's vital to recognize our qualifications. With 40 years of dedicated research and understanding, we are proven authorities on Finland. This profound knowledge lends credence to the potential value of the new edition for readers seeking comprehensive insights into this captivating country.

From our inception as founders of the global Findians (Finns and Indians) Community, we have offered a distinct perspective on Finland. 

First Issue of “Findians Briefings” (1992)

We have been publishing “Findians Briefings” from 1992.

As readers eagerly await the release of the new edition, they can expect a cornucopia of updated information and fresh viewpoints on Finland. Be sure to watch for updates on the availability and pre-order details for this highly anticipated guidebook.

The forthcoming edition is reputed to be a comprehensive guide, offering a wealth of information on Finland's diverse aspects. As we draw from our extensive store of knowledge and experience, the credibility of the new edition remains indisputable. Our dedication to unveiling the mysteries of Finland has earned us recognition as authorities in this field.

We promise an enriching journey into Finland's heart, converging information about the language, daily life, and cultural tapestry. The promise of updated data and new perspectives underlines our commitment to enhancing the reader's knowledge of and experience with Finland.

As the anticipation builds for the autumn 2024 release, readers can look forward to diving into a wealth of meticulously curated information. We take pride in our profound understanding of Finland, and our commitment to accuracy and authenticity shines through in our work. Our upcoming edition of the "Handbook for Survival in Finland" is a must-have resource for anyone interested in the intricacies of this Nordic nation. 

With us as your guides, readers can trust they are in skilled hands, steered by experts genuinely invested in showcasing the best (and worst) of Finland. Our unique viewpoint and commitment to sharing the richness of Finnish culture make us stand out as guidebook authors.

The forthcoming edition is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the wonders of Finland from two dedicated and passionate individuals. We invite you to stay tuned for more updates on this exciting new edition!

Monday, March 18, 2024

Finest Recipes of “Kerala’s leading cookbook author”

 I was fortunate to be the recipient, today, of a new cookbook from Kerala.

Cover of late Mrs. K. M. Mathew’s 
Finest Recipes” 

The late Mrs. K. M Mathew’s eldest daughter-in-law, Prema, has curated a book of the finest recipes produced by my aunt in her lifetime. 

I have been fortunate in my life to have tasted many of them produced by Mrs. Mathew and then, by what I think is the the only cook in India that I know, her protege Vasu, who received an EU 9000 certificate for  his cooking skills!

In a recent blog entry about a Gujarthi evening I had enumerated the publications of late Mrs. K. M Mathew.

I have been brought up on enjoying the variety of good food from all over the world. 

I love most types of food, various Indian cusines, Chinese, Thai, Fusion, Continental, cordon blue, and "even British” as Roast Beef with Yorkshire pudding and Welsh rarebit. 

I am, however, not a fan of fastfoods as the Macburger!

I was introduced to Finnish cuisine by Annikki starting with meatballs and meat loaf and many other exotic dishes, especially various preparations of fish. 

But Annikki became a master cook with her own versions of Indian cooking as Massla Dosai made in a Finnish style with Finnish ingredients.

Annikki ran the first cooking class of Indian recipes in Ylivieska polytechnic, and introduced the first Chinese cooking class in Oulu when she was the Chairperson of the English Club of Oulu!

I was introduced to cooking by Mrs. K. M. Mathew when I left India to study in London when she scribbled some great recipes for me and taught me the basics of cooking.

However, when Annikki married me in 1967, she quickly threw me out of the kitchen, despite my very good skills as producing Roast Lamb, as she found I was not to good at keeping the kitchen clean.

I have been through the new book and I give here the detailed Contents and the items contained in each of the Sub-Sections.

All the best recipes from my experience of Kerala cooking are in the book, especially my very favourite, Karimeen, the masala fried White Fish!

One anecdote tells the story of the hospitality of Mrs. K. M. Mathew.

We were on a trip through Kerala and Mrs. Mathew asked us to stopover at her home in Kottayam. When we arrived she had been called out for some work but she had organised lunch for us with her husband as our host.

The tablespread was fantastic as anything one could hope for was on the table. 

Our eldest son was having a problem and called one of the staff and whispered something in his ear.

This caused a great concern as the staff member went to speak with our host.

My uncle appeared greatly disturbed as he apologised to Jaakko that they had prepared chicken, beef, lamb, and an array of vegetarian dishes but was sorry that he had not included "pork".

We all split our sides laughing as, we as a family do not eat pork as it is forbidden by Annikki's religious belief. 

So we asked Jaakko what he meant to which he replied that all he wanted was a "FORK"!

We used to tease Mrs. Mathew's husband that the enormous circulation of the Malayala Manorama newspaper was because every Keralite housewife bought  the newspaper so as to produce the food which her husband would appreciate! 

A Keralite woman (and Annikki) knows that a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach !

I am yet to meet a lady from Kerala who does not know the contribution of Mrs. Mathew to her day to day life, not only with the daily recipes she produced for the newspaper but also for the best selling ladies magazine in India, VANITHA, which is now also published in Hindi.

Annikki and Thangam (Cochin 2014)

Here is a picture of my dear cousin, Thangam, at her boutique “The Weavers” in Cochin and Annikki when we visited her in 2014, our very last visit to India.

The front cover of the new book describes Mrs. K. M. Mathew's standing in the eyes of the New York Times. 

The back cover has a short note expressed from the very heart by the daughter of Mrs. K. M. Mathew, Thangam.

Thank you Prema and Thangam for sending us 
this wonderful gift.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

I learn a new sport theoretically -,Cage Cricket

 Last Friday I got an invitation to watch on YouTube a demonstration Cage Cricket match between two sports teams from Jyväskylä.

This was followed  on Saturday and Sunday by a men’s snd women’s tournament called  Cage Cricket.

Most Valuable Player of the Tournament - Ritu Ghanghas

I had not encountered this form of cricket earlier  and even an AI Search did not yield much data. However, it did say that the  Finnish Cricket Association was organising a tournament on Cage Cricket as part of its schedule! 

With great interest I watched the first demo match. Not knowing the rules of the game,it seemed a very messy game to me me. Having been a  Cricket buff all my life,  I soon worked out the issues with the sport.

As two Oulu teams were taking part in the tournament, I did send a message to a friend who was attending the event that if Oulu weanted to do well, they had to develop a new startegy in keeping with the rules of this game.

For instance, I noted that if a bowler bowled a perfectly good ball, it could yield between 3 and 7 runs for the batting side, whereas, if the bowler bowled  a wide ball, it would yield just 2 runs. So the incentive on the first four overs of every batting pair would be for the bowler to bowl wides and give away just 30 runs.

As I watched the games unfold, there was just one lady captain who had understood this and I could hear her telling her bowlers  to bowl wides to good batters!

There were several other inconsistencies in the rules showing that this sport was in its infancy and would have to be developed condiderably to be considered to be an interesting sport! 

Of the teams, only one player, a young lady from Oulu, Ritu Ghanghas, was head and shoulders above everybody else.

I had seen the cricketing genius of Ritu Ghanghas  when I had attended the launch of the Oulu Women's Cricket inauguration last year. Her skill was not because of cricket but because she had a super eye based on her skill at frisbee.

Others may play Cricket but this is a new sport and it is not  traditional  cricketkng skills that are important,

I hope that organisers of cricket understand  this and make their decisions of choice of teams and leaders based on the skills necessary. Even in normal cricket there are totally different skills that are required by players of T20, one day Cricket (T50) and 5 day test matches. Even the selectors have to have different skills. The Cricket Boards should  understand that no size fits all.

Me sitting on the floor!!

Cage Cricket in Finland

The Jyväskylä tournament was well organised and my congratulations to the Jyväskylä Cricket Club which won the Men's Cage  Cricket Trophy. 

The last time they visited Oulu, the whole team turned up, after the game, at my house with flowers! Thank you guys.


Sunday, March 10, 2024


With the advent of artificioal intelligence (AI) and my superficial association with it, I have decided to launch a new Project - which I have named as PROJECT MORECROFT.

 ( I apologise for the misspelling in the title! It should be Morecroft and not Morecroft!!  Unfortunately it cannot be changed after publishing!)

Late Arthur D. Morecroft

Those of you who were my clsssmates in 1955 when we were in Standard VII in the Cathedral and John Connon Boy’s High School, Mumbai, will probably recognise the significance of why I named this project such!

As I have already covered this incident in more than one blog entrty, I am linking you to one of them if you are interested in the more intricate details. of why I have chosen this as the name for this project.

At the top pf this blog entry is a picture of Arthur Morecroft for which I used AI to enhance and colourise from this picture below.


The transformation is quite unique as this is the individual who gave me a second life, revived and restored to wholeness 69 years ago!

Here is the list of the staff members of our School in 1958. You will see the name of Arthur there with his qualification. He had the Army Certificate for Physical Training and it was his quick action that revived and restored my life at Vasind.

As I restore old and scratched photos from the past, I dedicate my work to the man who gave me back my life.

I do hope this project will rejuvenate the lives of many.

If you have a photograph which you think needs to be restored and colourised, send them to me and I will try my level best to get it into the best shape I can. 

To give you a few examples of what I have done, I am showing below a few of the results that I have obtained from my past archives.

Viney Sethi, my dear school friend produced a black and white photograph of us on a class picnic in 1959 at Anil and late Ashok Ruia’s seaside resort Silver Sands at the very end of Juhu beach. 

During Viney’s visit to Oulu a year ago, I cleaned up his black and white version with some degree of success. 

Now, with the use of AI I now have this result.

That is me in the white vest, second from the left in the foreground. The earlier version had so much shadow that most of us were indiscernible.

Here is a photo from 1944 of me in my mother’s arms with my elder sister sitting on the floor.

Amazing result and one which makes me happy with the power of AI.

In 1971, late Basu John, who was an expert on photographic lenses, developed a camera with me, where I contributed to the plastics outer design and moving parts. The first camera was prototyped with these plastic pieces joined together. The total cost in 1971 was just Rs. 20 (€0.10). 

The first photograph was taken at our son’s birthday party on 1st November 1972 at our home in Defence Officer’s Colony in Nandambakkam in Madras.

Basu John enlarged the picture and found no breakdown of the image even at the edges. A tribute to his lens design and the power of glass and plastics technology.

However, as we were working on the final designs at my home, he received a phone call that his photographic shop on Mount Road, called Klein and Peryl, was on fire. We dropped everything and rushed there to save as much as possible.

This was considered by Basu John as a bad omen and we dropped this project.

Given above are the colourised version of the enlarged version which hung in his shop for many years and the close up of the AI revamped image of our two children, Susanna and Jaakko.

I would like your views on this project and would welcome all those who feel they can contribute to it in my areas of interest, 

These include my relatives around the world, alumni from my alma maters, Bishop Cotton School, Bangalore, Cathedral and John Connon School, Mumbai, St. Stephen’s College, Delhi and my colleagues from my professional and other life around the world, as I recover and restore photographs, just as the dedication of late Arthur Morecroft!

Vive la memory of 
Arthur Morecroft.

Saturday, March 02, 2024

History repeating itself?

Annikki and I were enjoying our regular Friday buffet lunch (with a speacial spicey chicken vindaloo) at The Royal Garden restaurant in Oulu when a young couple walked in. 

Michelle showed them around and they settled at a table. (Obviously they were new!)

MG University, Kottayam (School of Chemical Sciences)
(Photo from Mahatma Gandhi University website.)

As they came to the buffet table I asked the young gentleman where he was from. He was from India, then Bangalore. 

Having established our primary connection I dug a little deeper and found out he was a Polymer Chemist, and then came the shocker, when he said that he did his degree from Kottayam.

I had to travel 7000 km to do my studies in Polymers. At that time only London and Akron, Ohio, USA had reputed courses in polymer science and technology in the English speaking world. Although there were excellent courses in Germany, France and Italy, those were not an option for me.

As my brother was already in London, the choice was automatic, as Ohio seemed to be a little too distant for me.

When I did a little digging I found that the director of the Dept of Chemical Sciences at the Mahatma Gandhi University is a Prof. Dr. Anitha C. Kumar. She had done her Polymer Science degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, with which I was actively cooperating with in the early seventies when Prof. Guenter Menig from Germany was there to start the department. 

Prof. Menig and I had worked on similar research areas, especially the use of the Brabender Pladtograph to characterise the processing behaviour of polymers.

When Prof. Menig left back to Germany, we took his maid, Susheela, to look after the children as she spoke English. Annikki was at that time just starting to learn Tamil.

I hope to share a few evenings with Anupam, just to catch up on what is happening in the polymer field. I have more or less stopped reading stuff in my primary area of work for almost 15 years!

The only subject I do keep abreast of these days is the controversial topic about Polymers and Recycling technology.

Welcome Anupan and Juyel to a great city, Oulu, Annikki and my  home for the last 40 years

This is indeed a very small world!

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Obituary: My oldest professiinsl Friend / Tragic news

A few hours ago I received the  tragic news of the passing away my oldest professional friend who was dear to both Annikki and me - Mohammad Noorani of Mumbai.

Mohammad (far right) and me (second from left) at a party
in Mohammad’s house in Leverkusen, Germany, in 1964

In 1964, when I went to Leverkusen in Germany to do my internship at the Farbenfabriken Bayer Rubber Research centre, I was greeted by an Indian, Mohammad Noorani, who was assigned to take care of my programme. 

Mohammad was a leather technologist who had shifted to the field of Rubber Chemicals. 

MRF Ltd. was one of the largest buyers of Rubber Chemicals in India. My uncle, K. M. Mammen Mappillai, Chairman and Managing Director of MRF Ltd.  thought it appropriate for me to be trained in Bayer for my professional life in India. 

I had just completed a year at the National College of Rubber Technology in London and needed to be exposed to the ins and outs of industrial rubber processing and research.

It was a training that changed my life in many ways, being supervised by Mohammad, as he took care of both my education and my social life and also ensured I could play hockey with the Bayer Leverkusen hockey team. He also took time to teach me German.

Mohammad was not a complete stranger because, as a student, I had been an addict to the writings of his brilliant journalist elder brother, A. G. Noorani, who wrote a powerful political column in The Indian Express. 

I was greatly moved to meet and become a friend of the younger brother of my favourite Indian journalist.

On my return to India in 1969, our friendship continued as Mohammad was given the responsibility of looking after MRF Ltd. as a customer. 

As soon as he landed in Madras, he would make a beeline to our house with small gifts for Annikki and the children. 

Later, during his visits, we would always have a private dinner.

When Nirlon launched its nylon fabric for tyre reinforcement, it was Mohammad who made sure that MRF Ltd. was given the topmost priority amongst the tyre producers in India. He set up private meetings with the Directors of Nirlon so I had all the information at my fingertips which I was able to communicate with the purchase and technical team in MRF. 

In 1973, my father was stricken by pancreatitis which took him to the doorstep of death. I had flown in from Madras for the final farewell.  

I told Mohammad the situation. 

Mohammad told me that Bayer had developed a new drug for pancreatitis and he would bring it immediately from Germany for my father. 

My father recovered from this very dire situation.

Later, I introduced my old school friend, Viney Sethi to Mohammad and they became fast friends. 

Mohammad's wife, Sartaj, is the daughter of a Hyderabaadi Nawab, who worked for the Indian Railwdys. He was also a professional dog breeder who trained Doberman Pinschers as guard dogs for the railway yards. One dog could do the work of 10 people

Sartaj was a classmate of my sister. Elizabeth in Cathedral and John Connon School in Bombay.

Sartaj'a elder brother, Zafar Hai, was one year my senior in St. Stephen’s College, Delhi. He is a film and art director. Zafar went on to be the best short film director in India, producing films for Air India and other leading companies. 

Through Mohammad I also got to know another of his brothers, Mushtaq, who was managing a leading hotel in Bangalore. 

After a distinguished career in Bayer India as the Head of the Rubber Chemicals Division, he became the Editor and Publisher of the Indian Rubber Journal. Mohammad made the publishing of rubber news something which is his legacy to India.  

Photograph by Farzana Contractor

I was fortunate to speak with Mohammad a few weeks ago when he was discharged from hospital after a severe illness. He sounded terrible on the phone. His ever prevalent love still 
came through the phone lines. 

Ever since I have been saying a prayer for this dear friend.

Mohammad and Sartaj have been very private people.

I did come across one artcle, A Royal Repast,  by Farzana Contractor in a magazine called The Upper Crust, which defines what a wonderful, accomplished and distinguished couple Sartaj and Mohammad have been. 

I had my treasured photograph with Mohammad in Germany from 1964 (which graces the top of this obituary), but had no subsequent photos of him in my extensive photo archives.

Mohammad has been the finest example of a gentleman that has ever crossed my path. He was a fun person with an enormous sense of humour. He was always smiling and was an extremely loving caring personality.

Mohammad: 25th June 2023
Photo courtesy Viney Sethi

I will miss Mohammad deep in my heart. 

Our deepest condolences to his entire family.

I hope our Lord will bring comfort to his family members, his wife, Sartaj and their two children, Aida and Tabrez.

May our dear Mohammad rest in peace.