July 22, 2010

The Glue That Binds ..... is 2 Years Old

Dear Old Publicans,


The Old Publicans website completes 2 Years of operations today, and I would like to take this opportunity to Thank all of you, as without your support it would not have been possible to create, maintain, and operate the Old Publicans website.


When I launched the website 2 years ago, on July 22, 2008, it only contained information on less than 50 Publicans and a few photographs. Today, with your support and cooperation, the website has information on 785 Publicans, 14 School Magazines, and hundreds of photographs and other memorabilia.


Some time ago, I had written an article titled "The Glue That Binds .....". This article narrates the story of the creation of the Old Publicans website and was published in the 2009 Alumni Yearbook. I have reproduced this article below for your viewing.


I hope that the Old Publicans website will continue to be the glue that binds all of us together, and I look forward to your continued support, as well as, suggestions for improving this website.


Thank You.


With kind regards.


The Glue That Binds . . . . . . . . . . .

by Ashraf Kapadia (Class of 1969)

Dear Old Publicans,


My name is Ashraf Kapadia and I am from the Class of 1969, the first batch of pure unadulterated Publicans. But then I am better known to Old Publicans as the "Administrator", as on July 22, 2008, I launched the Old Publicans Website which has become the glue that binds us together.


This is the story of that website.


However, before continuing with the story, I think I better stop using the term "Old Publicans", with due apologies to some Publicans, especially those from the younger batches of 1961-1968 who take offence to the qualification "Old".


The website (www.oldpublicans.com) which came into being on July 22, 2008 with information on less than 50 Publicans and a few photographs of the old school today has crossed the 600 mark in terms of information on Publicans and has more than 300 photographs of the golden era of our beloved Cantt Public School. In addition, there are hundreds of photographs of the events held since last year and other memorabilia like the Admission Registers, School Magazines, School Certificates, etc.


All this has been possible only due to the support and cooperation of the many Publicans, like you, who have contributed their profiles, photographs and other memorabilia for inclusion in the database and publishing on the website. Creating and maintaining the website is difficult and time consuming work, or as one Publican put it a "Herculean" task, and I would not have been able to undertake it without your support.


So I would like to say a Big Thank You to all Publicans for their support and cooperation.


Now let me continue with the story of how all this came about.


In 2008, the year of the Golden Jubilee of our beloved Cantt Public School, Javed Jabbar and a rag-tag group of oldies (oops! sorry group of Young Publicans), me included, started working on planning the Golden Jubilee celebrations. During one of the very first meeting, held on June 7, 2008, it was discussed that a website will be very helpful in keeping Publicans informed about the plans for the Golden Jubilee celebrations. Therefore, like all efficiently organized groups, we decided that a committee should be formed to take on this responsibility. Promptly one Publican, who shall remain nameless, volunteered and was appointed the Chairman of the Website Committee. Another Publican, who shall also remain nameless, also volunteered. And finally when I opened my big mouth to say that I too have been thinking about a website for our school, I was "volunteered" as part of the Website Committee. So on June 7, 2008, Javed Jabbar formed a 3 member Website Committee.


Actually, I had been toying with the idea of an Old Publicans Website for some time, and in fact some months ago had already purchased the domain name "OldPublicans.com". However, since a committee had now been formed, I waited for the committee to meet and decide on a course of action. I waited and waited and waited, and even reminded the committee chair about the task we had been assigned. And I must record my sincere appreciation of the Website Committee for not holding even a single meeting, as it left me free to take my own decisions and develop my own website as a labor of love for our beloved Cantt Public School.


On June 8, 2008, I purchased a website hosting plan from a good hosting provider in the USA, and started developing the Old Publicans Website. And on July 22, 2008, I launched the first rudimentary version of the Old Publicans website and was highly encouraged by the positive response from some Publicans who visited the website. In particular, I would like to thank Shahid Akhtar (Class of 1961), Mirza Naseeruddin (Class of 1969), and Adil Owais (Class of 1969) whose encouraging remarks kept me going in those early difficult days.



In the week following the launch of the first version of the website, I had to go to Dubai for a business meeting from July 30 to August 2, 2008. That trip became a blessing in disguise as I turned a blind eye to the many attractions of Dubai's nightlife and spent those 3 nights, locked in my hotel room, putting together a comprehensive design and architecture for the Old Publicans website.


When I landed, bleary eyed and exhausted in Karachi on August 2, 2008, Honey, my lovely wife, had her doubts as to what I had been upto in Dubai. But when I showed her the newly designed Old Publicans website, she bought my story and was very supportive. Here I have to say that without Honey's support, the website would have remained a dream. Honey, herself a Young Publican (Class of 1971) is always there to support me and is always there to help in any Publican event that the Publican Alumni Trust has organized.


Now that I have made Honey happy with this praise, let me continue with the story.


The redesigned and revamped Old Publicans website was launched on August 3, 2008, and the response was absolutely overwhelming. Publicans from all over the world started registering on the website, sending in their photographs for sharing, and giving suggestions for improvements.


But not everything was smooth, there were some difficulties, and not everyone was happy. And sometimes I would get some 'not-so-pleasant' emails. For example, one Publican sent an annoyed email saying "I sent my information yesterday and it has still not been updated on the website" wanting his information to be updated within 24 hours, while ignoring the fact that he himself had taken more than a week to reply to my email inquiring about his year of matriculation. Another admonished me for cutting and pasting his designation, from his email and not correcting the typo that was there, saying that "You should have known that Chef Executive Officer is wrong and corrected it before putting it on the website".


But then, I would get an email saying "it is a wonderful website and I couldn't control my tears when I saw it", or "Wow, what a fantastic website. I simply cannot express my feelings", and it would make it all worth it, and as such I continue to enhance, maintain, and operate the Old Publicans website.


On December 7, 2008 I fulfilled another of my commitment and added a section on the website containing a class wise "Directory of Old Publicans" which could be downloaded and kept as a handy reference.


The facility of a discussion "Forum" was added to the Old Publican website on February 15, 2009, where Old Publicans could interact with each other. This had been a long outstanding suggestion by some Publicans, and responding to their demands, I created separate forums for each class, as well as a general forum for all Publicans. So far 80 Publicans have registered themselves on the Forum, but I regret to say that no discussions are taking place on the forum. I request you to let me know how the forum can be made more useful and user friendly so that discussion can be generated.



Now it was time to make another group of Publicans happy, because when I originally designed and launched the website, I had only included classes from 1961 to 1978, and the Publicans from Class 1979 onwards were rightfully upset at not being included. So on May 26, 2009, I purchased additional capacity from the hosting service provider and expanded the website to cover the classes from 1979 to 1999. And I am pleased to say that the Young Old Publicans are now participating fully on the website.


As I mentioned earlier, I keep getting numerous messages of appreciation and support from Publicans and sometimes you say "Kudos to those who took the initiative to create this website", or "Congratulations to the team on such a well designed website". Such statements really make my day as the website is really a one-man band, as I am the Project Manager, Architect, Graphics Designer, Developer, Quality Engineer, Administrator, and Owner of the website. All rolled into one neat package.


The Old Publicans Website is a tribute to our great Cantt Public School, but it is also a means of bringing long lost friends together again. So when I get an email from an old friend who I have not seen for 40 years saying "Yes, Ashraf I remember you very well", all the hard work, all the long nights, and all the criticisms pale into insignificance, and all I can think of is that it was all worth it.


I will end with a request to all of you to keep it coming. Your information, photographs, memorabilia, and above all suggestions for improvement are the only way that the Old Publicans website, and with it the glue that binds us all together will continue to exist.


Good bye my friends; Au revoir mon ami; Arrivederci mio amici and above all Allah Hafiz. This is Ashraf Kapadia (Class of 1969), better known as the Administrator, signing off.


About the Author: Like all good articles, I thought that I will end with a blurb on the author. So here it is.


Ashraf Kapadia is a very senior IT Professional with over 38 years of experience in the IT Industry. He is currently working as the Administrator of the Old Publicans website. During his spare time he likes being the Managing Director of Systems Limited which, with over 900 employees worldwide, is the oldest and one of the largest IT services company in Pakistan. He has also served as the President of the Pakistan Software Houses Association (P@SHA), member of the Board of Directors of the Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB), and Chairman of the Computer Society of Pakistan (CSP). But above all he is a pure Publican and proud to be one.