Freddie Castelino-Second batch student who excelled in Forex

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By Eugene Moodubelle

Moodubelle, 07 December 2009: “Sincerity, dedication to work, taking challenging tasks head on and a bit of luck saw me through these past many years of my life and career. Today as I look back, I feel content with my achievements for these lessons of life, I owe a lot to my strong foundation as a student of the primary and St. Lawrence High School in Moodubelle.” These were the opening sentences articulated by Freddie Castelino as I interviewed him at his residence in Bandra.

Freddie was attached to the Foreign Exchange Department of the Canara Bank for 23 years and presently works as the Forex Adviser/Consultant with Mecklai & Mecklai Foreign Exchange and Finance Brokers in Mumbai.

Freddie Felix Castelino was born on 1st October 1945, the fifth among the eight off springs (four boys and four girls) of the late Vincent and Rosy Castelino of Puthrottu in Moodubelle. His eldest brother, Commodore Jerome Castelino Has been a well-known personality in Moodubelle. Freddie had his primary and higher primary education in the Church Aided Higher Primary School and continued his studies in St. Lawrence High School as the second batch student.

When quizzed about his student days in the high school, he narrated some of his memorable experiences. He recounted how Deju Uchchil, who was the Head Master at that time, was a task master but nevertheless a disciplinarian. Freddie fondly reminisces some of the teachers in the high school who were instrumental in shaping the life of the students. As we went down memory lane, he remembered that Edward D’Sa taught Social Studies, a subject in which Freddie had great interest, actually managing to be the highest scorer in the class in that subject. He also remembers the efforts taken by Mukunda Puranik, the Kannada and Hindi teacher who laid great stress on hand writing by insisting on daily copy writing exercises.

Freddie’s close friends while in the high school were Wilfred D’Souza, Alex Noronha and Peter Paul Martis who have excelled in their respective fields. Freddie had his share in the arena of school politics and was the School Pupil Leader for one year. He was also the Prefect of the Altar Servers. He vividly remembers the days during the tenure of Fr. Abundius D’Souza as the Parish Priest, when the high school students rendered voluntary service in removing the tiles of the church, cleaning them up and applying anti-termite oil to the wooden structure of the church and re-fixing the tiles again. In fact, it was an adventurous and thrilling task. Freddie also has the memories of the manual work that they had to undertake in order to widen the ground in front of the high school. He maintains that all these factors helped in instilling a sense of the dignity of labour in the minds of the students which helped them to a great extent in their future life.

After passing the SSLC examination in 1963, Freddie decided to pursue further studies and joined the Poorna Prajna College, Udupi for the Pre University Course and a degree in Commerce. While in College, he joined the NCC and acquired C certificate at the end of the three years of training.

Subsequent to his BCom examination in 1968, he spent some time at home assisting his father and brother in agricultural activities. Meanwhile, Fr. V.G. F. Rego, who had come to Moodubelle as the Parish Priest and Head Master of the high school persuaded Freddie to join as a teacher since there was an acute shortage of teachers. Thus, Freddie became the first student of his alma mater to take up the teaching where he taught Economics for nearly a year. As he had been a good Volley Ball player, he even participated in the Inter-School Teachers Volley Ball Tournaments.

Fr. Rego meanwhile discontinued the practice of the voluntary labour to widen the ground and decided to hire a tractor bulldozer to clear the hillock in front of the high school. In order to find out about the tractor bulldozer utility, Fr. Rego deputed Freddie to Belve Mission centre near Kundapur. The tractor bulldozer was later brought to level the ground in front of the high school thus providing a proper playground for the students.

After being a teacher for about a year, Freddie shifted base to Mumbai in search of better prospects in 1970 and joined the Canara Bank. As a career advancement step, he cleared the CAIIB Banking examination in the first attempt. Later, he appeared for various promotional examinations achieving success at every stage.

On the professional level, Freddie rose to become the Chief Forex Dealer of the Canara Bank International Division’s Dealing Room dealing with 18 major currencies of the leading countries of the world. Gradually, he came to be recognized as one of the leading Market makers during his tenure. He was the founder member of Forex Association of India and was the Committee member of the Association for many years. This association is affiliated to the International Forex Association headquartered at Paris.

For some years Freddie had been giving Foreign Exchange Reviews practically on daily basis on the CNBC channel. Additionally, he was a regular guest faculty member at the Bankers’ Training College, Reserve Bank of India and training institutes of other nationalized banks.

After serving for 23 years in the Forex department of the Canara Bank, Freddie resigned his post and joined Mecklai and Mecklai Foreign Exchange and Finance Brokers as Adviser/Consultant and still works for the company.

On the socio- cultural scene, he also became one of the founder members of the All Banks’ Catholic Staff Association in 1972 which undertook a number of social service activities. He was also one of the founder members of the Citizens’ Credit Cooperative Bank which is a major financial institution of the Catholic community in Mumbai. It was here that he met his life partner, Millie an Executive Assistant in the Standard Chartered Bank They were married in 1976.

Freddie, a resident of up market Bandra, is currently involved in various associations on the Parish level. He has been a member of the Parish Pastoral Council of the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Bandra, and a member of the Finance Committee for the last 13 years. He is also the member of the organizing committee of the Carmel Mela fundraiser during the annual feast of Mount Mary in September.

Freddie has a happy and contented family life. He maintains that his wife Millie has been giving him unstinted supported in his career even as they painstakingly brought up their two children. Millie is extremely artistic, a flair which is manifested in their well maintained home. She also has a passion for English literature and a penchant for writing.

The couple’s two children, daughter Giselle and son Giles have settled down in marriage. After completing her graduation, his daughter Giselle migrated to Canada where she worked for 6 years. She subsequently returned to her motherland to be close to her family. She has since happily settled down in Mumbai with her husband Nash and an adorable 13 month old son named Tristan.

Freddie’s son Giles treads in his father’s footsteps, opting for a career like his father. He has been working in the IndusInd Bank as Chief Manager, Structured Derivatives and is simultaneously completing his final year of MBA in Finance. He has recently married Giselle Rego who is working for Macquarie, the largest Australian Merchant Bank as a Client Relationship Management executive.

On the occasion of the Golden Jubilee celebration of St. Lawrence High School, Freddie feels overwhelmingly proud that his school has reached the golden age of 50. He will always cherish the days he spent in the high school both as a student as well as a teacher. The memories of struggle and pain, the joys and ecstasy will continue to sustain him in the years to come.


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