Mahmood G. Ramzan, 7298/Liaquat


Mahmood G. Ramzan, 2011

Mahmood Ramzan Biography

By Kazi Zulkader Siddiqui, 671/Latif

 

 

Mahmood G. Ramzan, kit no. 7298/Liaquat House joined Cadet College Petaro in 1972 and left the college in 1975 after completing his Matriculation.

He was born on 5 June 1960 and got married to Mrs. Khatidja on 25 December 1986. They have 2 children - Murtaza and Saveen.

Mahmood expired at Seattle, WA, USA on 28 June 2012 due to cancer of the liver at the young age of 52.

Mahmood belonged to a highly respectable Aga Khani business family of Karachi.  His ancestors hailed from Umerkot in Sindh. However, Karachi was Mahmood's home from the day he opened his eyes in this world. He was born at Holy Family Hospital, Karachi.

His family was famous in Karachi for their watches business. His grandfather had set up the Royal Watch Company along with his brother. In the 1960s, his father set up the General Watch Company, which became the largest importer in Pakistan of watches between 1982 and 1988. They had their own brand of watches called "Onyx" watches, which used to be a household name. Even the famous Tariq Aziz used to give away Onyx watches (courtesy of General Watch Company) as prizes in the "Neelam Ghar" TV program.

Mahmood was the second amongst his siblings, with one elder sister and one younger brother. He started his schooling in Karachi, and attended the Juflerst High School from kindergarten to 7th class. Although he was short in height, he was also a good athlete. He was the best in school in high jumping, and won several awards. I can well imagine this short little boy with springs in his legs.

Joining Cadet College Petaro in 1972 in 8th class, Mahmood continued to demonstrate his athletic capabilities. Although he left early right after Matric in 1975, he was able to leave his mark by getting college colours in sailing and gymnastics.  He was second to no one in gymnastics at the college, and was always in the lead.  He was also an excellent swimmer, and became the Vice Captain of the house team. Had he stayed on for his FSc studies, he would have made it to a captain.

He was also a member of the Riding Club and the Photography Club. All of his sports and extracurricular activities made up for not being at the top in academics.

Mahmood had to leave Petaro early in order to join hands with his father for his watches business. Thus, returning to Karachi in 1975, while he was fully involved in the business, he decided to pursue his studies as well. He joined Government College of Commerce and Economics at Karachi from where he completed his Intermediate in 1977 and his B.Com. in 1980.

With his involvement in the General Watch Company during the 1970s and 1980s, the company flourished. He remained a director in the company with his father being the Managing Director.

In 1990, the family decided to establish a second company called Pacific Garment Industries Pvt Ltd, in order to get into export of garments. This was a substantial move from their traditional watch business.

Mahmood made his next major move in life in 1997. While the family businesses continued in Karachi under his father and brother, he decided one fine morning to move to the USA, and landed in Houston, Texas. He acquired a gas station and convenience store there and tried to settle down. Within a couple of years though, he suffered heavily in that business, and lost all he had. He packed up his bags and moved to Seattle, Washington State in 1999.

Soon thereafter, he also came to Karachi as the family businesses were also not doing well back home due to various reasons including the adverse economic conditions in the country. He stayed in Karachi for two years until 2001, and the garment export business was wrapped up.

Returning to Seattle in 2001, Mahmood took up the challenge to rebuild his life and established a cell phone sales business. With his keen business acumen, this became a roaring success, and he was back in the driving seat. After nearly a decade in this business, he sold this business in 2010 with a handsome profit.

In the meantime, he had also invested elsewhere. He had acquired a Subway restaurant franchise in 2005, and a Taco Delmar franchise in 2011 in Seattle. The family had also jointly invested in four more Subway franchises in which Mahmood is a partner.

A third business which had also been very successful was computer parts import. His restaurants and trading businesses were his mainstay.  However, he had setbacks as well - as is expected in business. He tried to dabble into real estate and got his fingers burnt, losing over $800,000.  Such setbacks were a good reminder for him that he should never be arrogant in believing that he will always be a winner. Profits come with losses, and one must retain his humbleness by accepting human failings as well.

Towards the end of his life, Mahmood was the President of two companies - Al-Rahim Corporation and Al-Karim Corporation in the USA - which were the holding companies for all of his operations.

I got to know Mahmood relatively recently. I discovered him in January 2006 through my data collection, and inducted him into the Petarians Yahoogroups forum on January 12, 2006. For the first few days he kept on reading messages posted quietly (like most new members). And then on January 17, 2006, he couldn’t resist and sent his first message as follows in response to tit for tat discussion on which football team was going to win:

“Salam to all Petarians

I am Mahmood Ramzan from Liaquat house. Kit No 7298.

This is my 1st time in Forum anyways. I am in Seattle Washington and i will pick my winner team which definately is Seattle.

Khuda Hafiz

Mahmood"

There was no turning back after that. He became one of the most prolific writers on the forum. And he and I started interacting through emails in Jan 2006 and got talking on the phone on a regular basis. And whenever he would call me, and I would get the sense of his love and humbleness for a brother whose only mutual tie was Petaro.

Over these years, he had virtually become a part of my daily routine and an essential adjunct to my life. We would talk for hours on the phone. And then we finally met at Petaro at the foundation laying ceremony of the A.M. Nizamani-TCF Secondary School in November 2009.

He was visiting Karachi and I invited him to come over to Petaro. It was an amazing feeling to meet him finally. It was such a happy meeting and occasion. Despite all the activity and rush for time, it was such tremendous feeling to have eventually met this great man. We didn’t get much time to spend with each other that day due to the ceremony. He had brought also along with him a very dear old friend (non-Petarian), who had been known to me for a few years through my business contacts.

Mahmood continued to be the joy of Petarians and of this forum. Ever since Mahmood became a part of the Petarian Yahoogroups in Jan 2006, he had been one of the most active participants. His jokes, short stories, and instantaneous quips in response to others kept us amused and alive. He was a prolific writer and would dig up information and postings through the internet that were most amazing and amusing, and forward them to all of us to keep a balance in our moods. Without his postings, the groups would become very dry. And his stand was always with the right and seeking to steer all of us on the right path.

He was humble and straightforward, and would steer away from extremes. And if at any time he felt he had gone overboard, he would immediately come out with an apology. One could feel that the man didn’t have even an iota of arrogance in him.

There were many occasions when he would find out that someone in Karachi was sick and was not getting due attention at Aga Khan Hospital. He would immediately call his relatives / friends working at the hospital for help and then tell them to contact me. At the same time, he would call me to talk to his relatives / friends there to help the patient.

Mahmood was in the forefront of trying to help others first. He didn’t care about himself as much. He derived tremendous pleasure out of service to others.

Over these six years that I knew him, he was so vibrant and exuberant at all times. Never once did it occur to me that this young man could depart from this world so suddenly.

I had planned to go to the Petarian International (PI) Golf Tournament at the end of April 2012. Mahmood told me that he wanted to give everyone a surprise and would also show up there. I was certainly looking forward to meeting him. But then he didn't come. He made an excuse that he was tied up. Little did I know that he was not well, and he chose not to reveal his problem to anyone.

Apparently he had contracted Hepatitis C as far back as 2004. And over the years, he took the matter very lightly and never bothered to get proper treatment. Eight years later, it had affected his liver badly, and it developed into a cancerous tumor that could not be cured. We finally got to know about his condition in the middle of May. By that time, doctors had given up hope on him.

Many of the Petarian friends including Wasif, Adil, Ashar, Bhibekshan, Abid Akbar, Khursheed and others scrambled to find assistance. Wherever they turned for help, it was a brick wall. The disease had spread beyond imagination.

Mahmood and Khatidja Bhabi kept on hoping that there would be a miracle. He never gave up hope until the very end and kept his spirits high. Despite all efforts and hopes, Mahmood finally left this world on June 28, 2012.

I often think of him and of his amazing love and feelings of brotherhood. He had no angle. All he had was just simple love for everyone. I always looked forward to talking to him on the nearly daily long phone calls despite our physical distance as he was settled down in Seattle, and I was in Islamabad.

For weeks after he was taken away from us, it seems like there had been a complete void in my life. I was distraught and depressed and have not been able to overcome his loss from this world. He came into my life like a comet and a shining star for just these past 6 years and left as quickly. I cannot express what he took away from my life and how that wonderful ray of light is gone. I lifted my pen to write about him several times, but just couldn’t do so. I then realized what a massive impact he must have had on all those who have known him or lived with him for decades.

The outpouring of sorrow and grief amongst the Petarians is a true witness of the greatness and simplicity of the man.

While I kept on praying for him, I just couldn’t come around to even express my feelings of pain and anguish at his departure. His face, his voice, his image kept coming back to me throughout each day. And when I would lie in bed at night, I would think of him and of his amazing love and feelings of brotherhood. He had no angle. All he had was just simple love for everyone.

Mahmood’s condition during the last few weeks and his loss seemed to be a replay of the loss of my own youngest 29-year old brother Dr. Kazi Uzair back in January 1989. He too died of cancerous tumor, and he too left this world so quickly after contracting his disease. When he died, it occurred to me that he should have been the one to carry me to my grave. Alas it was not to be. And here was Mahmood at the prime of his life – barely 50 years old. And he is gone. It is like another candle has been blown out of my life.

May Allah have Mercy on Mahmood Ramzan. Our solace is that he is now out of his pain.

It has been truly a pleasure and honour to have known Mahmood as a brother.

Mahmood, I will miss you for sure. I will miss our daily conversations and your exuberance. But I suppose time flies and we will be together again before we know it.


Mahmood G. Ramzan, 2007

 

Passing of an Era - Mahmood Ramzan Bhai

by Wasif Malik, 7402/L

It was a hot, sunny, late summer day in 1974 as we meandered through the narrow undivided “highway” in the barren semi-desert of Sind. My parents were taking me to Petaro for the first time at a tender age of 13 years to start my education at this esteemed institution. As we turned left from Jamshoro on the old Dadu road, all I could see was a vast emptiness – sand, rocks, and nothing else for miles. Gradually a green dot appeared on the horizon and it grew in size as we got closer. Soon we could make out an oasis of greenery in this desert that would stand apart in contrast to the surrounding starkness. This oasis would be my home for the next 5 years. This place would be my protector, my provider and my Alma Mater which literally means 'Nourishing Mother'.

We drove straight to Liaquat House, where we were greeted by the very kind and gentle housemaster Moinuddin Ansari Saheb. We were shown my room upstairs and I moved the luggage to the room. As I bid final goodbye to my parents, standing outside the dormitory building waving my hand until the car disappeared, I could visualize my mother wiping her tears of her face. Suddenly it hit me that the two people who had protected and guided me all my life had left me in an alien place surrounded by strangers.

The first few weeks are the toughest in Petaro, and one has to earn the right to be called a Petarian. Each room in Liaquat House had 3 cadets. Thus, I found myself sharing a room with 2 total strangers, who would become my best friends within few weeks. Then there were seniors bullying and hounding the freshly entered cadets, coming up with new and ingenious ways and excuses to punish the juniors. All outside food was snatched as soon as our relatives would leave. The room and the uniform had to stay in top shape without even a spec of dirt on them. Cadets would hide their small pocket radios under the bed and listen to some music, whenever the opportunity arose.

It was during those trying times I would sometimes question myself whether it had been a mistake to come to Petaro. That was when Mahmood Ramzan Bhai entered my life as a breath of fresh air. I don't remember the first time that we met. But I do remember the peculiar mischievous expression that he always had on his face. He was always ready to do something rebellious, break the rules, pull a prank, or teach us new ways to bend the rules. We would always share with each other any food coming from our homes, go to canteen for samosa and chai or fruit shop to eat Anaar with the proprietary masala of the food shop.

Being the eldest of my siblings, I never knew what it was like to have a big brother. I was the big brother. But now I found one who I could look up to. He was a totally cool elder brother. I would always look forward to hanging out with him. His only priority was to take life easy with no stress, have fun, break the rules, accept the punishment if he got caught, and move on to the next challenge. This was his agenda. He never went after any appointments, politics, backbiting, or honor committee positions. There was never a mean or malicious bone in his body.

Petaro was a lot more than just buildings, roads, and facilities. The place had a vibrant soul. It was the kindness of people like Mahmood Bhai, Ansari Saheb, and other seniors and teachers that made it the ultimate 'Nourishing Mother'.

Due to our compatible chemistry, our friendship grew with time, until Mahmood Bhai left Petaro after Matric at the end of the very first year of our friendship in the summer of 1975. That was way before the age of internet, Facebook, cell phones, computers, email, egroups etc. We lost contact completely after he left Petaro and we moved on with our lives. Even though I could not establish contact with him, I would find myself every once a while thinking about him and wondering where he might be and what he may be up to. The mischievous expression on his face would immediately pop up in the back of my mind whenever I would think of him.

Fast forward to 2003-04. I am settled in Texas, USA. Thanks to internet, God's biggest blessing, I have re-connected with the global Petarian community via the web forums. One can post a message, and instantaneously hundreds would read it immediately. My life has been transformed due to this forum. I have found new and old friends who are just like my brothers and I know I can trust them with anything.

One day, I noticed a new application to join the Petarians forum. The name was Mahmood Ramzan from 72 entry Liaquat House. I felt little excited to see this. I did not remember his last name, but the entry and house were clear clues. I shot an email to him right away, asking if he was the same Mahmood Bhai. His reply came back with positive affirmation followed by a phone call. As I talked to him that day, I could envision that mischievous face on top of the telephone. We talked for a while reminiscing about good old times, seniors, teachers, friends, activities etc. The broken connection had been re-established.

Soon he became one of the most active members on the forum. His fans would look forward to his jokes and funny emails. So many times, I remember reading his jokes to my wife and sharing a laugh. As a fellow nature lover, he would send me fantastic nature pictures from all over. He would take picture of a lake, sunset, Hawaii and send them to me right away.

He took the Petarian spirit to a new height that very few achieved. Every night he would call Petarians all over the world. He became their best friend even though he had never met any of them. He would always make one feel special with his gentle demeanor and well mannered style. I remember his first greeting on the phone very distinctly, 'Wasif Sahab Kaisay hain aap'; and immediately I would envision the mischievous face on top of my phone. He would rarely fail to call me even though I may not have called him back due to my personal laziness. Whenever I would be under stress, I would make it a point to call the mischievous face and would feel better instantaneously.

Masha Allah, due to tremendous hard work and successfully crossing many hurdles since he moved to the USA, he had established his own business. Things were fine, until one fateful day, the cruel and jealous sickness decided to attack him and wipe that smirk off his face. He put up a fight that revealed to me a new dimension of his character. It was his inner strength to carry on as long as he could. He was not the one to give up so easily like any other normal person. In the end no one can fight against fate and the multi-pronged attack that he endured. While facing bone crushing pain, he did make sure to survive long enough to meet his parents before his final departure. His love for his wife, children and parents was beyond imagination. He introduced both of his children as “tukras” of his “jigar”. Khatidja Bhahi jee proved to be no less of a fighter, leaving no stone unturned in her attempt to find a cure for him.

Ashar and I flew to Seattle to meet him on Sunday, 24th of June 2012 – four days before his last journey began. He did not know that we were coming over to meet him. We knocked on the door, bhabi jee opened the door, and I saw a total stranger sitting on the bed. He had become a ghost of his former self. The face had shrunk and to my horror, the mischief was gone.

As soon as he saw us, his face immediately lit up, and he said, my Petarian brothers are here. We stayed with him all day. Later two other Petarians – Ali Siddiqui and Kashif from Seattle – showed up as well. Here we were five Petarians sitting in a hospital room, and the conversation was taken over by Mahmood Bhai with old episodes from Petaro days about bunking, getting extra drills, teachers’ altercations, friends etc. We were thoroughly enjoying as the audience. Finally the dreaded moment arrived when I had to ask for his permission to allow us to leave and catch the flight back home. With a heavy heart we all hugged him, shook hands and said the final good bye. Leaving the room, from the corner of my eye, I could sense him wiping a tear or two. Had I stayed a moment or two longer, I would have broken down myself. Our 37 year long association was coming to a painful end.

A couple of weeks before this meeting I was watching Sonu Nigam in live concert in Dallas as he was singing a classic song of Kishore Kumar. A text message flashed on my phone from another friend, 'Ramzan Bhai kidney failed, he is in ICU'. It was a jolt to my system. As I tried to recover, the words from the song started to echo in my mind,

Zindagi ik safar hai suhana

Yahan kal kya ho kis ne jana

Maut aani hai, aayegi ek din

Jaan jaani hai, jayegi ek din

Hanste gaate yahaan se guzar

Duniya ki tu parhwa na kar

Aisi baatoan se kya ghabraana

Yahan kal kya ho kis ne jana

I knew this was his song. This song belonged to my mischief face and my big brother.

I would like to leave you all with the final post that he left on Facebook.

"I hate that feeling you get, when you're trying your hardest not to cry in front of someone, but as soon as they ask you, 'are you ok?', you just lose it.", Mahmood Ramzan, June 24, 2012, 11:17 am.

Say a prayer for him and cherish his memory with a smile and mischief.


We will miss you

by Sohail Malik, 83140/Q

It is ordained - from Him we come, to Him we shall return. One day we shall all make the final journey to our maker. Nevertheless, a loss such as this still comes with a heavy burden and leaves a void that cannot be filled. Words fail to convey the true feelings. We as a community have lost a gem today; and for some of us who became good friends with Mahmood Bhai, we lost a friendship that cannot be equaled.

My first personal interaction with Mahmood Bhai was an altercation on the virtual world. I had written an inconsiderate response to a forward he had posted on the forum. Instead of him squaring up for a tit for tat, he called, shared a few laughs and told me not to take life so seriously. That call started a very cherished friendship. During his last visit to Dallas in March 2012, he reiterated the same message. I will indeed heed his advice.

After our first exchange, we have stayed in touch. He visited us for the first time in 2004 when we had our semiannual golf outing in Dallas. Adil Bhai has shared some pictures from that first meeting. Recently in March 2012, he graced us with his presence again and we had another memorable gathering in Dallas. All the Petarians, seniors and juniors stayed at my house, we played golf, ran around town and visited a few local restaurants. In between the laughs, the stories, we discussed our responsibility to Pakistan and Petaro. Mahmood Bhai's patented response was to count him in whatever we do. He did not want to be bothered with the details; and only wanted to know who and when to write his check.

Mahmood Bhai's favorite pastime was to stay in touch with his Petarian friends. He called, texted or sent emails to each one of us. When I was in Pakistan in December, he called me there to ask if I needed help with anything. His generosity was not limited to his Petarian friends in USA. He regularly called Petarians in Pakistan, Europe and Middle East. I will surely miss his jokes and funny text messages - a void I am sure many of us will feel.

Mahmood Bhai came from a very respectable and well established family in Pakistan. At some point he decided to venture out on his own. Though he struggled at times but with perseverance and hard work he established a good honest business. He worked long hours to ensure his children have a secure financial future. He shared some of his stories, his trials and tribulations, and his eventual triumph with us. This journey will always serve as inspiration to those who were privileged enough to hear it from him.

Let us pray collectively and individually that Allah grant him eternal peace. May he be amongst the guided, his sins are forgiven and his good deeds earn him a choicest place in Jannah.

Mahmood Bhai you will surely be missed. It has been an honor and privilege to know you and I shall never forget your friendship.


An unfulfilled promise

by Adil Baloch, 7993/A

On Tuesday, we promised each other that we will meet in Seattle by or before July 10th, 2012. He encouraged me to take care of all my immediate engagements and then visit him such that I go and see him with a little bit of time to spare as opposed to a same day up and down trip. After our conversation, I realized that Mahmood Bhai was all about the convenience of others as opposed to his own.

When I asked him how he was feeling compared to yesterday he said, "Adil Sa'ab: mein buhat mehnat kar rahah hoon, aap fikar naa karain.....mein idhar hee hoon aap aaraam se 2-3 haftay baad aa jana"..........that was Mahmood Bhai, on a hospital bed, thinking about my concerns and worries but not his.

My Dear Mahmood Ramzan Bhaijaan: It is not fair that you did not keep your promise. The first promise that you did not keep, ever. So harsh are the consequences now for me. I will not get a chance to look at you and shake your hand again. I understand you wanted me not to have any inconveniences and pay you a visit only after taking care of my own personal engagements; but you promised! You promised, you are working hard and will continue to do so and will look forward to our meeting.

You still are as large as life...actually larger than you ever were; and I am proud to have some fond and fine memories of the fun times we spent together. It has been a pleasure knowing you and even more so, being a near and dear friend of yours. Just as the sun will continue to shine, your smile will continue to inspire many of us. You have raised the bar way to high for us.

I have learned quite a few valuable lessons from you in the past month or so. Therefore, I have no bad feelings for you for not keeping your promise. As you always said, let us forgive and forget.

You will be missed dearly and so will you always be in our prayers. May the Almighty be asking you, "What do you need?" up there right now, Amen. Just do us a favor, when you look down.........please don't forget to give us that lovely smile of yours.

It has been a pleasure to be on your phone's speed dial for past half a dozen years. You were a true gem with a softest heart I ever came across. This is a personal loss that is hurting pretty bad right now.


The Fighter

by Bhibekshan Chowdhry, 7837/J

Mahmood Bhai truly loved life and had such a zeal for it. Many of us who showed his medical reports around to doctors would hear that it’s over but this man and his wonderful companion tried till the end and knocked every possible door to seek a cure. They would give us hope that there has to be something out there and we would begin our search again with renewed energy. If they have such a confidence then somewhere there is bound to be a miracle.

Alas, it was not meant to be but in this 40 days journey since he found out that he has a terminal disease this man really showed us all how to live life and how not to give up so easily. Even in pain he wore a smile and even in agony he was calling people around him and laughing with them.

When the first time he was hospitalized, I was also in hospital with a cardiac condition. And he called me from his hospital bed asking me how I was feeling. Now I know that all along he knew that he had cancer. Yet he was so upbeat and was telling me to take care of myself.

The last conversation I had with him was on Sunday, June 24th. He spoke with me in Sindhi and he was so enthusiastic that one could never tell that Mahmood Bhai had only 4 more days to live.

I wish he had not gone but his time on this planet was limited and he truly did live his life beautifully. He has left with us so many wonderful memories that the pain we are all feeling now is nothing but his love and joys he shared with us. In this short life, there are few who leave behind so many people in pain in such a short time?

Mahmood Bhai you are a champ and we shall always remember you, fighter.