July 22, 2023
John B Monteiro, who is well-known for his illustrative best sellers like Corruption - Control of Maladministration (300 pages, Allied publications) and its update ‘India’s Painful Crawl to Lokpal’ (360 pages, published by Strategic Book Publishing & Rights Co.) 56 years later and 'The history of CASK (Canara Association of South Kanara) and other centenary institutions of Mangalore’ (400 pages) turned 85 years on July 17, 2023.
He is not only a permanent writer on the print and electronic media such as the prestigious website of the Coastal region, daijworld.com but he was actively associated as the permanent panel of writers in daijiworld weekly. Besides, he had his own website, www.welcometoreason.com which is now defunct.
His writings are simple, full of historical anecdotes and carry humanism. Never will you find any vulgarity or negativity in his writings. His love for writing is vocal and heart touching, whether he writes about a celebrity or about a person digging graves at the Parish graveyard. He loves to take care of the English section of Bondel Parish bulletin, 'Bondelchem Bonder' a monthly magazine.
His lifestyle is also simple and very enterprising. He gets up sharp at 5.00. After initial prayers and reading, he prepares tea for himself and his wife Lynette. (Lynette walked across the gates of Heaven on August 11, 2017, yet he prepares tea for her.) Later he walks over to the nearby Bondel Public Grounds and conducts 'Laughter Club' for well over 20 minutes. In fact, it is confirmed news now that Monteiro carried 'laughter' to Mangalore when he moved to the city of his birth after he retired from L & T in the early millennium year 2000.
After the 'Laughter Session' is over, he drives down to the nearby St Lawrence Church and attends the first mass of the day. He is neither interested in making more friends than needed nor fascinated to chit chat on WhatsApp.
John was born on July 17, 1938, in Bantwal, Mangalore to Late Hilary Monteiro and the Late Carmine. He pursued his initial education in the nearby church school, and went on to St Aloysius College, Mangalore to complete his graduation. Then he moved to Bombay to do his post-graduation from Bombay University in economics, political science, and public administration.
Once a post graduate, he started teaching at St Aloysius College for a short stint. Once he moved to Bombay in search of green pastures, he worked for reputed companies including L & T in its Communications Dept for 30 long years. During this period, he started contributing his articles to the then well-known dailies and evening’ers called the Evening News of India and Free Press Bulletin.
Many of us may not even know that he is a ‘Unknown donor’ who contributes to humanitarian causes and follows the dictum in the Holy Bible that ‘the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.” (Mathew 6:3)
I would see in him a few similarities when I compare him with Khushwant Singh, the thespian writer and then the editor of the Illustrated weekly of India. (Now defunct) Both of them enjoyed good wine and whisky besides the company of beautiful women. But his wife Lynette always corrected us saying, ‘he likes to drink vodka because it doesn't smell’. Let us also not forget, it was Khushwant Singh who published a special 'Mangalorean Catholics' in the Weekly’s edition in 1970, in which John Monteiro was assigned to write the lead article, Canara Catholics. John did reproduce the edition again after 50 years to commemorate the golden birthday of his only daughter Primrose (Currently is the Managing Editor of ‘Femina’) in 2020.
At the L&T campus, he discovered a new age phenomenon called 'laughter Club' and after observing its success, he himself became the leader and conducted the sessions at lunch time for fellow office workers in Ballard Estate in South Bombay, where the L & T office was located. When he eventually was retired and returned to his roots in Mangalore, he decided to spend his time in two sectors – a writer as a passion and as a social worker by profession and continued his 'Laughter sessions' on Bondel Grounds.
John & Lynette has two children, Primrose (Prima) and Mohan. Both are settled in life with their spouses, Kevin D’Souza and Neisha Lobo respectively and their children Zach and Maya. It was his children and grandchildren who arranged a birthday bash for the selected guests on the day of his 85th birthday at the sprawling villa at Bondel, 'Johnlyn Cottage', a beautiful abode named after two love birds, John & Lynette.
While I was privileged to raise a toast during his birthday bash, the five minutes given to me were too limited to describe him as a compassionate friend and a prolific English writer hence this article, an ode to a thespian writer, Laughter Guru and a compassionate human being.
May this great son of Bondel live long years with good health and tranquillity.