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When they understood the growing but scattered alumni strength of the University of Southern California (USC) in India, Ranjit Nair, President,USC Alumni Club, India, along with its other graduates, felt the need for a big event — a reunion of sorts — to bring them all under one roof.
"Previously, we used to have events like a football match attended only by about 30-40 people, even though there are about 400 USC alumni in Mumbai alone," said Nair, "We realised there are more alumni we are not able to reach out to. So we decided to come up with a big event that would draw most of them," he added.
In what may be called its first, full-scale reunion, graduates — from the '70s batch to the fresh degree holders — came together at "Celebrate USC event," held at Mumbai's Comedy Store on Sunday. The fun-filled evening was also attended by the spouses and families of former USC students. It started at 7.30pm with an hour-long casual mingling between students over cocktails and snacks followed by the evening's centre-act of stand-up comedy show at the auditorium.
After a short introductory talk by Nair and a video-recorded message by the Dean of USC Engineering Department, comedians Vipul Goyal, Atul Khatri, Amogh Ranadive and Keshav Naidu took over. From taking digs at one's own communities, to the audiences seated in front row, the stand-up act kept the those present hooked for over two hours.
Around 11 pm, the proceedings shifted upstairs to sprawling dance floor-cum-lounge in Canvas, where dance, drinks and dinner awaited. The elaborately decked-up place was in perfect sync with the trademark USC colours of cardinal and gold, right from its sofa cushions to the lighting.
However, the purpose of it all goes much beyond its synchronised colours, said Amar Agrawal, the USC alumni and Comedy Store owner. He was also one of the co-organisers of the event. "You would still trust your college-buddy more than others wouldn't you? USC students in India hold huge prospects as a network that would help the alumni and faculty alike," he said.
Agrawal's voluntary decision to sponsor the venue, food and drinks eased most of the event's cost according to Nair. With the help of a few others, the entire event became free of cost. "The event is the first step towards building a formalised network for students," said Kamaldeep Chadha, director, USC India.
The event attracted guests from outside Mumbai even though they had to re-schedule air tickets and hotel bookings (the event was originally slated for November 18 and got cancelled because of the city's shutdown following Balasaheb Thackeray's demise).
"The Indian students are such an integral part of USC, and this sort of an event was waiting to happen; it means quite a lot for both the students and faculty," said Sudha Kumar, director of USC's India office in Bangalore.