If you have a problem, fix it. But train yourself not to worry, worry fixes nothing. - Ernest Hemingway

Thursday, 11 April 2013

An email from Joe

I have written a couple of memoirs on my friend Joy Joseph Manimury, who was known and loved as Joe. This morning, as I was cleaning my mailbox, this missive from Joe (dated 10 August 2005) narrowly missed being exiled to oblivion. I think it's worth sharing with my readers. But first, let me give you the background.

Joe wrote this after reading an article of mine in the Statesman. I had written the piece after reading some tall claims in an advert by a mutual fund, an advert in which the copywriters conveniently forgot to mention that lakhs of investors had lost money by investing in their funds earlier.  

I haven’t changed anything much in the mail except deleting some personal details and masking the names of Joe’s wife (C), and two daughters, (A) and (N). 

As I read this again, I laughed out silently several times. And along with silent laughter were invisible tears. Joe needn’t have left us so early. 

Happy reading! 


Dear Santanu,

What a pleasant surprise! I read the mail more than a week back but I was in Ernakulam that time and couldn’t reply. But I had half cmpleted a rebuttal to the Statesman but left the draft in N’s computer. Incidentally, the article was really good and C and N enjoyed it very much.

To bring you up to date, A passed her BA History with a creditable 70% … So [she] is in Hyderabad since July 12th. N is in class X now.

C and N are at Ernakulam since 2002. C is in the College of … and drives a fantastic 11 kms to work every day. She is happy, since she is the Head (& tail) of the Dept of English. No office politics like in [her earlier college], no great fear of somebody with influence ‘ousting’ her as the term is, and the students really need her – these talented kids are mostly from rural and rather poor families and can hardly spell their names in English.

Centurion Bank has a new management and a lot f new top executives have joined – deadly combination f Citibank and others. So we all became pariahs and I decided to quit. It took some time to get a job but finally something in Nairobi, Kenya has come up. It is a small bank but I will practically be No.2 and the money is decent considering the country and the distance. What the hell, I ran thru SBT, IndusInd and Centurion salaries regularly and I expect to do the same here too, so it doesn’t make much of a difference. C was quite realistic about it. As she says, I am never there when she has a problem so it doesn’t matter whether I am in Mumbai or Timbuktu. Realism is alright but I wish she hadn’t put so much enthusiasm into it. Anyway she has no plans of joining me immediately. With us, Love at A Distance works better.

Why I wanted to write a rebuttal was this – some time back C had dusted up some share certificates, mutual funds, etc. and given them to me. I took them to Mumbai and promptly forgot about them. Once I decided to go to Kenya, I had a look at them – lng disappeared companies and even funds like Apple Starshare, IDBI Bonds, the famus Mastergain 92, mutual funds bught mainly as tax shelter, but they turned out to be sheltering at my expense. I also had things like Indusind shares ‘allotted’ in staff quota at Rs.45 which promptly stabilized at Rs.11. Anyway when I looked up the prices I had a very pleasant surprise. Mastergain 92 was 19.60! Indusind 77!! Some company called Hexaware which apparently had bought some forgotten company I had invested in, also doing extremely well!!! Mastergain in C’s name came back because the signature differed. By the time we got the bank to attest her signature and re-lodged it, the price was 24. All in all, about 60,000 invested between 92 and 98 is worth 150,000 now. I am cashing them as fast as I can sign. So my advice to all is to invest in stocks more and more and stay invested till I get out.

You will find a lot of missing o’s in this mail. Like all Malayalees and their relations, my computer keyboard also has a problem with O.

How’s Arundhati? And Doel and Tatai? Write in detail. Do yu publish a lot? C does a fair bit of creative writing in Malayalam & English, mostly short stories but couple of one-act plays too. A story of hers had come in Antara Sen’s ‘The Little Magazine’ also, apart from a translation of a Malayalam story by N.S. Madhavan. A story came in an anthology by OUP. 

I am making a cc to Damu also. Poor fellow had tried a lot to get me into his company. Luckily for his reputation, they finally decided not to fill the post now.

Reply in detail.


P.S.: In case you need anything from Kenya, let me know. I believe spears, drums and shrunken heads are quite cheap there.


  1. Santanu. Got to read this post only now. Memories hit me like waves - one after the other - and they won't stop. I remember this mail quite vividly, although it is 8 years old. Humour was Joe's middle name.

    How all of us miss him - such a wonderful person.

    May his soul rest in peace.

  2. First of all, the word/name/surname struck me for one Briton 'Joe' Winter came to India, rather Kolkata, on a particular mission. He translated Geetanjali in full and Jibananada Das in part, in addition to his own in English. Secondly your beloved friend seems to be a gentleman from Kerala. I had a number of friends from Kerala and Tamil Nad while I was in the Indian Air Force(1970-1987). Thirdly, I have read a number of letters to the editor and articles by you in my beloved daily, the Statesman. The Statesman was kind enough to publish many of my letters to the editor. As I find the word 'rebuttal' in your friend's letter and I find repeated errors/mistakes/typos/syntactical mistakes etc. almost daily, I sent some letters to the editor and comments in the disqus pointing out verbosity/circumlocution in the reportage and articles making the contents redundant. Probably the management did not like that. However, I envy your love for your friend. Only a loving heart can love another. Thanking you.

  3. Saw this by accident just now, Santanu.smiled with tear dimmed eyes.Praying he knows at least now how much love lay behind my realistic exterior.

  4. Dear Catherine,

    I am happy that you you read this. Joe certainly knew. Otherwise he wouldn't have joked about you!

    Keep well, all best,



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