Surabhi - the Indian Student Association aims at providing a social
platform for people of Indian origin as well as those of other
backgrounds to appreciate Indian culture through performances and
social activities. The group also sets out to help incoming students
from India adjust to the new environment.
SURABHI (fragrance, sweetness in Hindi) became an official organization in Fall '98. But, it has been existing un-officially for the past few years (10 to be precise) as UCI-Indians.
It all began when Sanjiv Narayan and Arjun Kar Roy landed in UCI in 1988. Due to the harrowing time they had initially in settling down, they mooted the idea of forming an association, that apart from having social get-togethers would also help incoming graduate students by sending them important info and also helping them acclimatize once they landed here.
The first formal get-together of Indian graduate students was in 1989. The first "Calling Newsletters" were mailed out in 1990. This year also saw a massive increase in the number of guys coming in. More frequent get-togethers (Diwali, and one in the spring were usual times). The usual organizers were rotated but mainly consisted of Sanjiv Narayan, Logie/Champka, Hari/Lata Asuri, Raghava Kondepudy, Pradip Jha, Ruman Ghanta, Sreenivasa Rao, Hussein Bhatia among others.
By 1992, we had a well-oiled machine of people volunteering to
help new students, playing basketball 2 days a week (12-15 guys would show up), regular driving lessons on rented cars on weekends get-togethers with some entertainment program.
Cricket had slowly made a beginning and matches with local univs were played. By now a couple of faculty members had also made an appearance (Jay and Nick). From 1992 end onto 1994, a lot of UCI-Indian activities was concentrated around SPIC-MACAY concerts - a joint So. Cal chapter with UCLA, USC, CalTech and CSUF had been set up.
From 1994 onto 1996, the main enthu guys were Raghu Subramanian, Umesh Krishnamurthi, Balaji Ramanathan, Pradip Jha, Prashant Mundkur, Amit Jain and Hartej Singh. By now cricket was on a firmer footing due to the efforts of Mohan Gupta and the Cricket Club at UCI made its beginning. Graduating folks were given a send-off party (basically to bribe them to tell us how they managed it :-)). Amit was instrumental in getting the famous "Mundi's Initiation Rites" compiled with the help of others.
There was a lull in activities for a brief period due to the graduation of many guys. Then it all got going again with the arrival of Gaurav Aggarwal (the saint) and Arun Parimi (godfather). Gaurav got the UCI-Indians webpage going that had some very useful information for incoming students (with the by now famous Mundi's Initiation Rites Veda) and also stuff for the local junta. Preeti Ranjan Panda (the don) did a wonderful job of compiling the UCI-Indians directory and posting it on the webpage.
1997 saw an influx of students and the social scene improved considerably. A lot more get-togethers were planned with some wonderful musical performances by faculty members during these meetings.
With the number of students growing, a need for an official organization was felt. SURABHI was born as a result on the 10th of May 1998. SURABHI is open to all UCI students, members, alumni (despite giving the impression of a graduate students only organization).
Disclaimer: All names are real. Any mistake in spelling the name is inadvertant. Any persons missing from those mentioned above shouldnt feel slighted. Just a case of amnesia on the part of Sanjiv Narayan and Prashant Mundkur from whose account the history was compiled. All cribs may be addressed to them :)
(Compiled by Sreeram Jagannathan.)