The alumni association of Queen Mary’s is pulling out all the stops to make the upcoming centenary celebrations of the college memorable. Liffy Thomas meets the old students

Sitting at the entrance of a classroom at Queen Mary’s College, on a chair that is paired with a desk, 72-year-old N. Uttara Prabhu rifles through a stack of letters that have not reached intended recipients.

These are the invites to the annual general meeting of the Old Students’ Association (OSA) of the Queen Mary’s College, conducted recently.

“Looks like many have moved to new addresses,” says the former principal (in-charge) of QMC, even as she flips through an address book and strikes out outdated addresses.

Uttara Prabhu is putting herself through such painstaking work for QMC’s centenary celebrations, which kick off on July 14. She is assisted by many old students and the present faculty, who meet at OSA’s office every Wednesday afternoon to plan for the event. The planning has already translated into visible results. At the staircase of the administrative building, V. Kanthimathi, principal of the college and president of OSA, oversees those fixing a huge board with names of former principals. In many other parts of the sprawling QMC campus, on Kamarajar Salai, there is such activity geared to the centenary celebrations. The OSA, which is taking the lead in organising the celebrations, has an interesting composition: some of the members are in their 70s and 80s, the majority in their 60s and a few in their 40s.

Around 10 committees have been formed to look into the preparations. Senior committee members include Kumara Rani Meena Muthiah, Mano Bhakthavatsalam, Nirmala Thiagarajan (alumni and former Principal), Malathy Rangaswamy, Prema Dhatattri and Eugenie Pinto (former Principal).

Work undertaken by the various committees include liaising with government departments to preserve heritage buildings ensuring cleanliness around the campus, registering old students, printing souvenirs and bringing out a coffee table book. As the majority of OSA members are not tech-savvy and the Association works on a shoestring budget, these tasks are hardly easy for them. And then, QMC being a government college, there are a number of protocols to be followed.

“We have sent a report with the budget requirement to the Minister for Higher Education,” says Nithya Balaji, an active member. “Most OSA members are over 60 years. Some of them are too old for leg work. We want students who passed out in the 1980s and the 1990s to join us,” she says. While July 14 is the D-day for the college, OSA is planning a series of events to keep the celebrations going at least until December. It wants the alumni who are artistes to do fund-raising events. “QMC has one of the oldest music departments and many veteran artistes have graduated from the college,” says Kasturi Eswaran, a student of the 1971 batch.

The Chennai Weekend Artists have drawn sketches of the heritage buildings in the college. “One could sell the sketches to raise funds,” says Nithya.

Visit or call Geetha Karthikeyan (9841437790), Nithya Balaji (9841496723) and Uma Maheswari (9841299272).