Hari Sekhar's Reunion Recap

Dear Friends,

The Mace 95 global reunion hosted by our batch mates in the UAE was a grand success, a lot of fun, and brought sweet tears of nostalgia to all of our eyes. The event was superbly organized and the two days flew by too quickly. Seeing everyone’s faces and talking to so many long lost friends was a once in a lifetime experience. It’s really difficult to describe the joy we all felt in meeting again after these last 10 years. Faces forgotten, names recalled, friendships renewed, and new families met, the event was a riot of laughs, remembered memories, new beginnings and fun activities. I’m writing this on behalf of the organizing committee, to recap what happened during the reunion for those who got to attend, and to share the experience as much as an email can, to those who couldn’t make it. Photos have been uploaded to our website at http://www.mace95.com/album Also, the whole event was taped by Asianet Global, which will air a 30 minute recap in February (we’ll send a mail once the date is finalized, around the 1st week of February 2006)

Week before the reunion
The week leading up to the reunion was an exciting one for all those involved. Our UAE coordinators were in constant touch with everyone attending the reunion, making sure flights were departing on time, accommodations arranged, special needs met. As each of us landed in Dubai airport, we were met by a party from the UAE and helped to settle in to Dubai.

This was my first visit to Dubai and it certainly surpassed all my expectations. Dubai combines the best of all worlds – the infrastructure and neatness of a modern city, with the friendliness and at home feeling of a Kerala metropolis. The shopping is great, the food is superb, and the sights are breathtaking. I certainly intend to go back, not only to visit my batch mates again, but to get better acquainted with this fantastic city. Choosing Dubai as the reunion place was a very good choice.

Day 1 of the reunion
The reunion officially started at 6 pm on Thursday the 15th, at the Al Masah hall in the Deira Sheraton in Dubai. I arrived there at around 5:45 to see quite a few people had already arrived there. The hall was laid out like a reception for a dignitary, very formally done, but warmly decorated. Since this was a formal event, everyone was in formal attire, which led to many jokes of how Stanley got to wear his wedding suit twice. Stanley got revenge for those jokes throughout that night, as he was one of the MCs (along with Binu Ninan) and never lost a chance to lay a wise crack at every victim that came within range of his well known tamasha skills

As people trickled in, shouts of joy and expressions of surprise could be heard everywhere at meeting old friends again, and seeing their expanding waist lines and receding hair lines. Most of us confessed to having studied the website photos intently the previous night, as much as we had ever studied for our finals in college, to make sure we matched names with faces that day. The mixer continued until 8 pm that night, with the bar levels getting lower and lower. Refreshments were served throughout, with waiters hovering at every table waiting to refill glasses and plates. Everyone got a chance to get re-acquainted and get some long kathi sessions going.

The organizing committee had thoughtfully provided an area off to the side for the kids, with a couple of clowns to keep them entertained while the parents caught up on their college life. This was just one of the many small things that were thought of that went towards making this a world class event.

At 8, the formal ceremony started, with a welcome speech by Sunil Kassim, followed by an introduction speech by Girish Variar. Both of them touched on the events leading up to the reunion, and gave everyone a short look at the organization that went into bringing this event together. Just like the other alumni that followed them, they reminisced about our college life, alternating the audience between laughs and tears.

The chief guests were then invited to the stage by Bijith Sadananth & Maya Odunghat.

This was then followed by some heartwarming speeches from our chief guests:

Mr Hussain P (Founder president MACE Alumni UAE Chapter)
Mr Mohan Joseph (Ex president & current KERA vice president (All Kerala Engineering college alumni Association)
Mr Mathew Kavalam (Ex secretary- MACE Alumni UAE)
Mr Biji M Thomas (Ex secretary- MACE Alumni UAE)
Mr John Emmanual (Ex secretary- MACE Alumni UAE)
Mr Jayasuria (Ex treasurer- MACE Alumni UAE)
Mr Mathews Eapan (current MACE secretary MACE Alumni UAE)

We then heard from the members around the world, who delivered a short speech and greeting and felicitation from the various alumni units represented at this reunion:

Hari Sekhar (North America)
Eldo Cherian (North America)
Dinesh C (Europe)
Rahoof PP (Saudi Arabia)

Finally, we heard a touching best wishes message from Anish K Thomas, from the ’96 batch.

Audio messages from Rajiv Nair (who was stuck in transit in Italy) and Anand Mohan (who couldn’t make it due to passport issues) were played. Also, personal messages to the alumni from Sethu Raj and Suresh Babu who could not make the reunion were read out. Jinoy Viswan then gave the vote of thanks.

After this, we started out on a round of introduction, with Stanley and Binu Ninan introducing each member who attended the reunion, while their college photo and current photo were projected on the screen setup at the front of the auditorium. They didn’t miss a chance to recall some funny incident for each person from college, while the member came up to the front with his or her family and introduced their family to everyone. This was a really nice ice breaker for everyone to meet and greet each other’s families and to see the change that everyone has gone through in the last 10 years. A very nice memento of the reunion, designed and put together by Joby Jacob, Padmakumar & Jomy K Jose, was given to everyone who attended (you can see a picture of it on our home page)

An interval of 30 minutes was declared as everyone went to the buffet table, and the ganamela was launched with a very talented live band from Dubai. They played some hits from our college times, including hamma hamma and usulampetty, with the videos from the video choreographies from our arts festivals playing on the screen in front. Jinoy & KrishnaKumar P did a fantastic job editing and timing the songs and skit videos. The participants of the original dances went up as each song was played, and danced with their images in the screen, trying to duplicate long forgotten steps to the general merriment of the onlookers. Seeing those college videos brought back another rush of memories and explanations to spouses that “yes, that is me 10 years ago, and no I wasn’t always this fat “. One big change that we did notice is that it’s very difficult to dance the same steps from 10 years ago, especially wearing a suit and holding on to a much larger waistline J

The next item was a satirical skit on life and family today for an average MACEian in the UAE, directed by Stanley, acted out by Biji Kuruvilla, Hari Sekhar, Dinesh C, Sunil Kassim & Girish Variar.

This was followed by more songs by our live band, and then the post dinner session started.

Games for couples and assorted games for the audience followed and finally the whole party went onto the dance floor to end the night with dancing, the ubiquitous train dance and of course some singing. The night continued with an American Auction, which saw some fierce bidding. At first individual bidding raised quite a bit of money, but then like usual North America and UK joined forces to try and outbid the UAE. Alas, oil money always wins in the end, and the gorgeous dinner set (arranged by Rajnath) went to Biji Kuruvilla's Brother in-law M J Ittan from UAE.

The show ended with a gift to all the kids who attended.

Finally, at around 1 am, everyone reluctantly went home to prepare for the desert safari the following day.

Day 2
At 2:30 pm the following day, everyone met in the large parking lot outside one of the huge supermarkets in Dubai. At around 3:15, the Land Cruisers from the desert safari that Renjit Thomas had arranged for the reunion arrived, and the reunion attendees piled into 13 Land Cruisers. This convey was indeed a sight to see, barreling down the Dubai highways towards the desert.

After a short break before entering the desert in order to let most of the air out of the tired of the SUVs (to get more traction in the desert sands), everyone was buckled in safely and the convey took off into the desert. What followed was a rider no rollercoaster in Disneyland can come close to. The desert safari drivers were a fearless and talented bunch, launching off high sand dunes with all wheels off the air, driving up 70 degree sloped dunes and sand surfing their vehicles down steep sand embankments sideways! The drive to the camp was one that’s not likely to be forgotten anytime soon by everyone who was there. After taking a break in the middle of the desert in order to service one of the vehicles that boiled out its radiator due to the extreme driving, the party arrived safely, and ready to hit the bar/bathroom depending on their state of mind

The desert camp started with camel rides, and had a well stocked bar, buffet and a stage for the belly dancer. Another group of about 40 bachelors were also at the camp, and we made arrangements to keep our two groups separated – having been drunk bachelors at one point in our lives we knew what was coming, but more on that soon…

After a delicious dinner, and hours of lying around the Arabic style tables and couches, participating in the hookahs that were setup, and the women getting mehndhi art on their hands, everyone settled in for the grand finale – the belly dancing. The lights were dimmed and an exotic belly dancer started the show, dancing alone at first, and then inviting the women to join her which they did. As time went by, one of the afore mentioned bachelors, seeing only us poor family men decided to take advantage of the situation and made a move on one of our women. Unfortunately for him, he hadn’t reckoned on meeting a bunch of hot blooded Kothamangalam guys, and before his friends could pull him away, got a severe beating from 4 of our guys. The dance was stopped and the bachelors were told to leave before more of them got their teeth handed to them. It was quite a vivid flashback to our college days and for one second I think most of us were back in the college ellipse, fighting over whose banner went up in front In fact, some of us still think that Sunil Kassim organized this fight as a grand finale to the reunion. It certainly brought everyones spirits back up after being down for a while thinking the reunion was almost over.

When we got back to Dubai from the desert, we had a final photo session, and everyone said their long goodbyes. It was certainly sad to bring an end to a fantastic two days, but all good things must come to and end, so we bid adieu and parted ways.

I hope this email gave you a small peek into our reunion, I really enjoyed myself and I’m so happy that I was fortunate enough to make it and experience again, even if for only two days, the joy and exuberance of our 4 years together all those years ago….


PS I’m sorry if I forgot anyone, or anything that should have gone here, but I’m sure other reunion attendees will chime in if I have.