- Does intention define rape?
- Should we dam auto promotion?
- Is Getting Elected the Best Investment?
- Are you stuck with wrong spouse?
- Why not bury E-mails with the dead?
- Balance Sheet of our Lives
- Now, Laugh Your Way To Good Health?
- Bondel Laughter Club - Spreading Happiness
- This Website Has Heritage Roots
- Adieu Pus-Pus (Cat)!
- Does Power Beget Wealth?
- Mother’s day:: Mothers Don’t Care How Famous You Are!
- Eco-friendly Coffee – Book by Dr Anand & Geeta Pereira
- John Monteiro - Like old wine, he gets better with age
- Prison Reforms..!
- Difference between Mechanical engineer and Civil engineer
- “Drugs Are No Unqualified Panacea!” – Prof. B. M. Hegde
- Drug Banks for poor patient
- Teacher and pupil
- Husband and Wife
John Monteiro - Like old wine, he gets better with age
By Florine Roche
Nov 9, 2009
Old wine that gets better with age - I find this a perfect phrase to describe our own familiar man, the quintessential journo, John Monteiro. At 72, he bubbles with energy and the enthu levels of a teenager. His writings in various publications on a wide gamut of topics at regular intervals stand testimony to the above-mentioned phrase. A happy-go-lucky, bindaas man who finds pleasure in doing things his own way, John demonstrates that age does not wither the zest for life. Given the right frame of mind and a positive attitude, life can be bliss, a challenge and adventure with each passing year.
“Anything beyond 70 is said to be a bonus,” says John, quoting the Bible, and he is bent upon making good use of the generous bounty of this bonus. Where most people call it quits soon after retirement and settle down to a quiet life, John has gone a step ahead to demonstrate that age is no bar when it comes to giving vent to the passion he cherishes most – ie, to work the brain. He strongly subscribes to the adage that ‘an idle mind is the devil’s workshop’; there is no place for the devil in his active brain. Indeed, every year John sets himself new challenges to keep his mind agile and alert. His 70th birthday in 2008 was marked by the release of a docu-film-CD titled “Laugh Your Way to Health – A Laughter Club Manual”, which he authored. He began an interactive website, Welcome to Reason (www.welcometoreason.com) on July 17, 2007 to mark his first `bonus’ year. The ‘young at heart’ man, who knew nothing about the technical aspects and intricacies involved in maintaining a website, went on to present an array of subjects to generate debate, discussion and action on issues of public interest and concern in the public domain, to challenge the cerebral power of the human mind.
Welcome to Reason has been a huge hit outside India -- a sizeable chunk of its readers have been NRIs. “The main idea of the website is to have an original topic dissected in such a way that it is laid open to all possible avenues of argument and the reader is led to draw his own conclusion,” says John. He wants this website to be a forum for discussion, giving people an opportunity to express their views. He does not regret that running the website has depleted his bank balance, though he does rue the fact that he had to send it into brief hibernation. Now he is once more enthused with the challenge of running the website in its new avatar, providing tantalising topics to tease the brain.
Welcome to Reason returned to the Net on November 10, 2009 to coincide with the 40th wedding anniversary of the Monteiro couple – Lynette and John. Although Lynette recognises that the website has been a ‘cost centre’, she has been like a pillar of strength in his venture, efficiently uploading content to the website for the last two years.
How they met makes an interesting story. One weekend in the carefree days of bachelorhood, John headed to Lonavala, a hill station about 100 kilometres from Mumbai, to a friend’s farmhouse as an uninvited guest. Needless to say, there was a petite girl there, a relative of the friend, and John was requested to escort her back to Mumbai when his friend extended his holiday. In an interesting twist to the romantic saga, he was oblivious to the fact that the girl was carrying a ten-kilo bag of rice, a controlled commodity in the 1960s. Halfway through the return journey, there was a raid on the train to catch rice smugglers, and John came to the rescue of the damsel in distress by taking responsibility for the rice and flashing his Press visiting card. Which proved to be his trump card.
A few weeks later, his friend brought him the proposal. Lynette has now been his life partner for 40 years. He credits her with tying up the loose ends of his bachelorhood and bringing some semblance of discipline into his life. Lynette, who had done her BSc, worked as a Marketing Officer at the corporate office of the cement giant ACC in Mumbai. They were married at Milagres on November 10, 1969. One could call it co-incidence that in 1970, John joined Larsen & Toubro (which has also grown to be a cement giant), thus forever cementing their relationship.
The couple has two children who are settled in Mumbai. Daughter Primrose is a journalist working for a Times of India Group publication, while son Mohan is Senior HR Partner with Johnson & Johnson.
Doing things differently
John has always been adept at doing things differently rather than doing different things. Becoming a journalist was not what he aspired to after his graduation from St Aloysius College, Mangalore, and his post graduation from Mumbai University. His first career was a disastrous one. For the sake of taking up a job, he began teaching at St Aloysius College at a young age of 22. With his boyish looks, he was taken for granted, and he started telling jokes to keep the students engaged. “Some of them were not clean,” he admits candidly. The news reached the principal and John was politely asked to look for a new job. Which took him to Mumbai, the dream city. There, he worked with the Maharashtra Post and Electricity Board, until he committed a faux pas -- he signed 350 circulars just above his superior’s signature, which resulted in his being transferred to a remote location. When he failed to be the ‘yes man’ to the higher-ups, he was sent to an even more faraway area. John found this unbearable and went on long leave; his name was published in the gazette for his long absence from work. “I became a gazette officer without the required qualification,” he quips with a chuckle, recalling those initial days of his chequered career.
With nothing else to do, John got into writing and journalism, which proved to be the right avenue for his talent and temperament. He started off as an Editorial Assistant (1962-‘63) with the Journal of the Indian Institute of Bankers, a part-time assignment. Later, he was the Junior Research Officer at Financial Express and began freelancing in 1964, which he continues even now with aplomb. Since then, John has written on varied topics for a number of daily newspapers, weekly magazines and publications, including daijiworld.com and Daiji Weekly. In 1966, he also authored a book Corruption: Control of Maladministration, which won critical acclaim.
It was in 1970 that he joined Larsen & Toubro as a Public Relations Officer; his work entailed press relations, planning, writing for and production of 18 internal and external house journals and other prestigious publications of the company. He worked with L&T till his retirement in 1998. In this period, he also wrote another book, Some Current Issues for Debate. Since his retirement, John has settled in a beautiful cottage in Bondel, but continues with his writing, which, he says “keeps him alert and attuned to the latest developments.”
Good health for all… through laughter clubs and drug banks
John has a sense of humour which cannot escape the attention of any keen observer. He realised the health benefits of laughter in the early 1990s. He anchored the Gateway Laughter Club in Mumbai, when the concept was very new in the country. He also initiated the first and only lunchtime laughter club for officer goers in Ballard Estate in Mumbai, going on to introduce laughter sessions in the Lighthouse Hill car park in Mangalore in 1998. In 2002, he started the Bondel Laughter Club, which goes on full throttle even now with some committed members laughing their way in the early morning hours for about 20 minutes six days a week. John himself laughs his way to good health every day, come rain or shine.
John started a drug bank in Mangalore to mark the second anniversary of his website. The drugs collected are given to a dispensary for the poor. Such diverse activities keep John on his toes.
Here’s wishing his re-launched website the very best of luck – may it continue to create a flutter in intellectual circles by promoting rational thinking and the exchange of healthy ideas. We also wish John and Lynette many more years of marital bliss and togetherness.