There are certain events where the dates and times are forever etched in your mind. It was 9th of July,2016 around 1:30pm, I was sitting at my desk in the office when the phone rang. I answered and a very familiar voice at the other end announced: “Hello, Munir, I am Jamila Salahuddin calling”. There was not a moment’s hesitation on my part in recognizing my old classmate. In utter disbelief I asked her how she found me. She explained that she and Humayoun Jawaid, another classmate, had launched a project for tracking the NED 1970 alumni and develop a website to document the information about them. The two had found me on LinkedIn, and looked up the company I worked for, and debated who was to call me. In the end they decided that most likely I would remember Jamila better than Humayoun and their conclusion was on the mark. When I received the call they were barely a month into the project. Since then our collective efforts have been quite successful. Many thanks to both for their idea and untiring efforts in bringing the 1970 Nedians together along with the NEDians from other years.
This was the beginning of the NED caravan. I called Humayoun and he gave me further details as how it all started with the help of other classmates. Jamila and Humayoun had established contact around April 2016. Shortly thereafter they came across this picture of a reunion of a small group of 1970 NEDians where a large poster-size enlargement of the 1970 Civil group laid on a table in the foreground. The picture instantly grabbed their attention and a search for a digital copy of the picture began. They were already in touch with Sibte Mujtaba 'Mohsin' Kazmi who provided them preliminary info about several of the fellow alumni in Pakistan, North America and elsewhere. In a subsequent trip to Pakistan in late summer 2016, Mohsin contacted several other fellow alumni and brought back the information. He remains somewhat averse to using communications tools such as emails and texting but his help in developing information for these pages are very much appreciated by Jamila and Humayoun.
The first digital copy of the image 1970 group photo was very poor and of limited use. It was not until Jamila tracked down Salahuddin Sheikh, our CR (class representative)- the most organized person in our group, who provided a high-resolution copy of the C70 group photo which played a key role in helping all of us refresh our memories. Salahuddin also sent copies of other pictures from our NED years. More info came when they established contact with Shaukat Farooq who led them to Khalid Tanwir Choudhary in Calgary. Khlaid had resided in the Sevakunj Hostel and provided quite a few pictures, stories, and actively pursued other leads, thus becoming a key contributor. Hanif Karim - the table tennis star of our NED years sent his copy of the 1970 NED annual magazine to Humayoun from which many pictures and articles were copied for use on the website. Hanif also helped contact other former classmates in Southern California and in Pakistan.
Around mid-July, Jamila contacted Mazahirul Islam, the loud voice of the class, and I learned that he was living in Canada in close proximity to where I reside. We are now in contact with each other and hope to continue rebuilding our relationship. Mazahir was another source of valuable information about other fellow alumni, specially those living in Canada.
During the summer of 2016, Zaheer Qadri - the Sha'ir (poet) was visiting Canada and US where his daughter and son are living. He called me to inform being here in Canada. Zaheer and (late) Mansoor Jabbar were some of the most humble persons I have ever seen, and were the classmates with whom I was in regular touch as I would meet them whenever I was on vacation in Karachi. We all miss Mansoor and talk about the times we had with him. I contributed a story about Mansoor.
Zaheer also got in touch with Humayoun and assisted him to contact other former classmates. It was through Zaheer that Humayoun got hold of Abdul Muqtadir - the singer, debater and orator. In time I also contacted Muqtadir and we rekindled our friendhip that had been dormant for a long time. Muqtadir also became an active contributor and found several other fellow 1970 alumni, notably Mahabat Khan Yousufzai, the tall handsome Pathan student with his beautiful smile. Mahabat Khan resides in Northern California and in late summer 2016 Humayoun went to visit him in California.
Around mid-summer, Humayoun and Jamila were able to track down Ramchand Oad who had obtained the first position in our final year. Dr Oad is a professor at a Colorado University. He provided updates about a few classmates, including the news of Sanwal Dass and Nawal Rai Oad having departed this world.
Iqbal Memon, then known as Iqbal Abdul Rahman, quiet but most outstanding athlete NED ever had, and who brought laurels to our college had been known to live in the New Jersey area but efforts to track him had not been successful. It was Muqtadir's persistence and efforts which paid off. We connected with Iqbal and rekindled our friendship. Back in the NED years we had studied together at times and after graduation worked in the same place for a while.
Then there was Noor Chowdhry who was the life of the class. His quips, jokes, and other mischiefs which had livened up our NED years. It was through Zaheer Qadri's Facebook friends that a contact was established with Noor. Soon he was sending us some stories about his deeds. Noor lives in Lahore and I have already spoken to him several times.
Zaheer's Facebook friends yielded another lead, and soon contact was made withh Qasim Akhtar Rizvi - the soft-spoken, gentle person always with a smiling face. Qasim lives in Houston, was visiting his children on the east coast. Muqtadir, Qasim, and Zaheer had the opportunities for some get-togethers during July 2016.
The notable found was our most genius friend Syed Sajid Zaidi. He was the brightest student in the class, always pleasant and on the quiet side but had a sense of humor. It had been known for a long time that he had moved to Canada but his contact information could not be found. One evening Mazahir mentioned to Humayoun that Sajid's last known address was Mississauga, Canada, and a Facebook search brought up Sajid's page showing him with a humongous beard but the face and the smile were very recognizably Sajid. Contact was soon made, the thrilling news was shared with the friends, and I am thrilled that he is living about 80 miles from where I am. I have spoken to him several times, and as always I am delighted to talk to him and listen to his wise sayings. He is now in communications with several classmates. He is fond of sha'iri (poetry) and is sharing his poems on these pages.
Along the way, we also established contacts with other classmates such as Mustafa Ahmad Shah, Waheed Uddin, Ziauddin Qureshi, Abdul Halim Mollah, Iqbal Qureshi, Pervaiz Anwar, Zaheer Baig, Arshad Viqar, Muhammad Hasan, Ashraf Tayyab and a few others. There are still quite a few classmates to be tracked down and the work will continue.
Not all discoveries end on a happy note. Just as we were all getting excited that we had nearly located Shaid Naseem Burney, a very soft spoken person with already having the knowledge of the NED (as most probably, he did his engineering diploma from there), we heard the news that Shahid had passed away just 3 months earlier in Arizona. The news was hearbreaking for all of us.
Just thinking either the world is too small or the technology is so advanced that its not too hard to locate your friends if there is a will to do so and this has been proved by our two determined classmates (Humayoun Jawaid and Jamila Salahuddin).
We hope we will remain in touch to remember the golden era of the NED life. I also hope many more names would be unearthed in the coming days.
Shortly after this page was published, Sajid Zaidi sent us the following short poem in Urdu. The poem beautifully reflects our feelings about rekindling our connections with our classmates: