Abu Dhabi Indian School's class of 1992 to reunite after 30 years

People who are now in their late 40s will relive childhood memories from the early years of the UAE

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Former pupils of an Abu Dhabi school set up just a few years after the UAE was formed are jetting in from all over the world for a special reunion.

The 45 Abu Dhabi Indian School alumni from the class of 1992 are to reunite in the capital from Thursday to Sunday.

Established in 1975, the school is one of the oldest institutions in the country, and the class of 92 started their kindergarten in 1977.

Arriving from Europe, the US, Canada, India and the GCC countries, the celebrations will include a nostalgic visit to the school, a dinner and a sightseeing trip around the capital.

Counting the days to the reunion is Hansika Kulur, 48, who works as an education assistant at the Yorkson Creek Middle School in Langley, British Columbia, Canada.

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When I joined the school as a kindergarten student in 1977, it was just a huge hall at the Indian Social Club, partitioned into small classrooms
William Langford, Abu Dhabi resident

“This will be my first trip to the UAE in 22 years. I am very excited and looking forward to reconnecting with my classmates,” she said.

Ms Kulur, who was born in Mumbai in 1974, moved to the UAE in 1982, and studied at the school from 1986 to 1992.

Along with her former classmates William Langford, Nithya Ramamurthy, Ajit Mathews and Sumeet Chaddha, she is part of the organising committee.

The school first operated from the modest premises of the India Social Centre — a space for the Indian community on Mina Road.

Later, the UAE Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan gifted a larger piece of land in 1980 to relocate the school to its current address in Shabia Muroor, which later became the New Airport Road.

"When I joined the school as a kindergarten student in 1977, it was just a huge hall at the ISC, partitioned into small classrooms,” said William Langford, an Abu Dhabi resident and member of the reunion committee.

“I remember our PE classes were held in the tennis courts of the ISC. In the evening, the centre turned into a thriving club where my parents and many other Indian expats met and socialised.”

Mr Langford said moving to the new sprawling campus with an auditorium, a playground and a swimming pool was a major milestone in his school life.

Meeting childhood friends after decades

Of the cohort of 100 pupils, Mr Langford is one of the few who continue to live and work in the UAE. He is also an active member of the 3,000-strong ADIS Facebook group and has been preparing, along with other organising committee members, for the reunion for the past year.

The classmates have been in touch with each other through social media, but this is the first time they will meet in person after decades.

Seeing the school’s newer buildings and athletic tracks are top of the list for Deepak D'Souza, 48, a manager at Phillips 66, an oil refinery and marketing company in Texas.

A former head boy of the school, Mr D'Souza was also an athlete and won many trophies.

“The foundation of all my memories of ADIS was being part of a school that allowed us to thrive in academics, sports and other extra-curricular activities,” he said.

One of the highlights of his school life was when the ADIS team won the 8th UAE boys inter-school athletic championship in December 1991.

“Competition was stiff that year as well. In the 4x100-metre relay, I was the anchor leg and up against an athlete from a Dubai school, who was a fierce competitor. The way we ran as a team clinched the championship for us,” he said.

India's Republic Day celebrations in the school in the early 1980s. Mohan Jashanmal, head of the board of governors of the school, speaks at the event. Tessy Koshy

Mr D’Souza said his teachers were encouraging.

Kavitha Srikanth, another alumnus and now a physician in Falkirk, Scotland, fondly remembered her teachers.

The English teacher, Mary Mathews and the chemistry teacher, Ms Soundari, were a major influence in her life.

“A lot of our spare time in school was filled with music. One of the girls would bring her guitar to school every day. I still cherish the happiness we felt when we all sang together in class,” Ms Srikanth said.

And then there was the Rock Bus, a school bus hired by a few rock music fans to play heavy metal, Mr Langford said.

The former pupils said life in Abu Dhabi in the 80s and 90s was fairly simple. They all lived close by, even met each other after school to play cricket and football and sometimes met again in the evening at ISC, where their parents played bingo and celebrated all the Indian festivals.

“I lived in the early 80s near Khalifa Street and later on Salam Street. We played soccer in a field in the Tourist Club area and cricket behind the ADCB building on Salam Street and trained for athletics on the Corniche,” Mr D'Souza said.

Ms Kulur lived in the Tourist Club area and said that she frequented the Volcano fountain on the Corniche, as it was everyone’s favourite hangout spot.

Immensely proud of the progress of the UAE, the former classmates said they follow news about the country.

“The UAE has changed tremendously. But I believe a lot of the old places still remain. I feel very nostalgic just thinking of those places I used to frequent, and I hope to relive my childhood through this reunion," Ms Srikanth said.

"I still consider myself a UAE watani [native], because I spent my formative years here, and that has made me who I am today.”

Updated: December 07, 2022, 3:25 AM
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