Ehtesham U. Raja: September 11, 2001

This is part of Project 2996 

raja.ehteshamEhtesham U. Raja of Clifton, NJ was 28 years old when he died in the World Trade Center. He’d gone there for a conference and was in Windows on the World. He was a 1996 graduate of The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science at Columbia. He had his MBA from Goizueta Business School at Emory. His last call was to his girlfriend. As far as I’ve been able to find, his mother and brother live in Pakistan.

Occupation: TCG Software http://www.tcg-software.com/About%20TCG%20Software.php

Location: World Trade Center

mother: Asmat Fatima

nickname: Shamu, from his friends in Pakistan

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 14, 2001:

NO FAN OF FUNDAMENTALISM

Ehtesham Raja loved to party and loved his $70,000 BMW 740iL. He was a Muslim from Lahore, Pakistan, and worked for TCG Software in Bloomfield, N.J. Like many Muslims from India and Pakistan, Mr. Raja, 28, loved Hindi music. He sang it in the shower, and was also crazy about the Hindi movie star Amitabh Bachan.

His best friend in the United States was Maneesh Sagar, a Hindu from India. Mr. Raja talked about how some friends from Pakistan had become fundamentalists. “He hated how fundamentalism rears its ugly head,” Mr. Sagar said. “To all of us, religion is more a spiritual and personal thing than dogma.”

Recently, said Mr. Sagar, Mr. Raja was thinking of giving up partying and marrying his girlfriend, Christine Lamprecht, an American.

On the weekend before he was to attend a conference at the World Trade Center, he and Mr. Sagar went partying. They talked about their dreams, and at 5 a.m. ended up at an Indian restaurant for tea and tikkas, skewered lamb. “It was a guy’s night out,” Mr. Sagar said. And that’s how he would always remember his friend.
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HIs favorite celebrity was Amitabh Bachan http://bigb.bigadda.com/

His birthplace: Lahore, Pakistan http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lahore

His car: BMW 740iLBMW-740iL

Comments from the 911 Memorial:

“He was very dedicated to his work, following up quickly and thoroughly, and I know that the dedication he demonstrated was apparent in all things that he took on.”

“worked at a start up in Connecticut – he was the best guy – encouraging everybody even in the worst hour!”

“My college years at Boston University were spent dashing back and forth from Boston to NYC on weekends only to go partying with Raja jee when he was an undergrad at Columbia…We explored New York City together…then LA.. then Vegas ..Hell even during High School at Aitchison we explored all of Lahore.”

“One time a famous movie star came to visit Aitchison she was beautiful… As we feasted our eyes suddenly Raja thanked me for being there to share that moment with him because he was of the view that any other person would be unable to understand the excitement that goes with seeing an attractive women. We being high school and then later college buddies had a strange bond and a level of understanding very rare in people of such different backgrounds. Raja was a big Sangeeta Bijlani fan and Later Raveena Tandon….and from his days at Columbia i had to suffer through all his girl friends and later before making a decision to marry Katherine he had a lengthy discussion with me. Trying to recollect that discussion i realized, if anything, he was an embodiment of the true spirit of America… devoid of any racial inclinations…a true beliver in freedom of expression and militant proponent of a diverse and global world view. A master politician and a shrewd business mind…he would research his material to the minutest of detail and had an amazing ability to market his ideas and convince people.His was the death was a global citizen. A 22nd century mind struggling with 21st century problems.”

http://www.newsline.com.pk/NewsOct2001/cover7.htm:

The last to hear from Lahore-based Ehtesham Raja was his girlfriend. The 28-year-old financial analyst phoned her from the Windows on the World restaurant and said there had been “a bomb blast and that he had been thrown 10 feet.”  He said he was trying to get out.  He has not been heard from since.  Raja, a graduate of Columbia University did his A levels from Aitchison College, Lahore, before moving to the USA.  He  lived in New Jersey and had gone to the WTC  for a meeting that fateful day.  Raja’s family members have flown in from around the world in an effort to find him.  His parents  and younger brother  flew in from Lahore, his uncle from Canada.

They have trekked wearily across Manhattan looking for clues, any scrap of hope. His uncle Javed Rai says, “We have been to all the hospitals, the Red Cross and every New York City agency.  We have given in his  DNA sample. Hope is fading; it has been more than 12 days.”

Raja’s family says the Pakistani embassy has helped them a great deal but they have not been contacted by any Islamic organisation to date.  Raja’s grandmother who raised him is shattered.  The family prays for a miracle.

FROM COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY:

Ehtesham Raja, SEAS ’96

Ehtesham Raja didn’t believe in planning ahead. A party animal at heart, Raja loved his car, a BMW 740iL; his girlfriend, Christine Lamprecht; and the excitement of New York. According to Shahab Alam, human resources head for TCG software in Bloomfield, N.J., where Raja had worked since February 2000, Raja believed only ”in laughing and smiling–[he believed] life just happened.”

In fact, the only pressing plans in Raja’s near future were to fully devote himself to Lamprecht in the early half of 2002, finally giving up his “male activity” to marry his love. With laughter Alam recalled Raja as “a hell of a naughty guy.”

He once got into trouble by asking two ladies to call him at the same time,” Alam said. “He loved that situation!” Raja’s freewheeling spirit often took comedic turns, which he shared with those around him in his normal good-natured, self-mocking way. His deft maneuvering after angering a girlfriend by calling her by the wrong name was the source of much office laughter. “He was that kind of guy,” chuckled Alam, “all over the place. [And he] loved being in the company of women.”

Raja’s nature included and infused those around him. Often, after working late, Raja would pool together his coworkers for a late-night romp in the city. He loved to dance and stay out as late as humanly possible. He worked as hard as he played, though, and after such evenings would show up at work on time the next morning without a problem.

“Guys loved him for his competitive attitude and for the fact that he loved having people around him”, Alam said.

Raja, who did his engineering work at Columbia University and his management at Emory, loved playing cricket with his office buddies. Raja was the creator and captain of the cricket team while he attended Columbia.

He took pride in crafting his own identity as distinctly separate from religion. He was a self-proclaimed atheist who detested fundamentalism and was quick to dismiss conversation on it. “He felt it [religion] was useless, he wanted to maintain an identity that wasn’t tied to religion in any way.”

Raja was an original in the workplace as well, one of the architects of Internet banking. Before coming to TCG, Raja worked for IMG in Amsterdam, Bank 1 in Delaware, and a Connecticut company called Neweius.

He is survived by his mother and his brother, who are currently living in Pakistan.

FROM EMORY:

Ehtesham Raja

“He was a very kind, caring, compassionate, loving, and intelligent person,” says his mother, Asmat Fatima. “He was respected and admired by those who knew him. His talent and sense of humor made him standout in any crowd. But it was his loving and caring attitude that always made me proud.”

Raja, born in Lahore, Pakistan, worked for TCG Software in Bloomfield, N.J. After graduating with a bachelor of science in industrial engineering from Columbia University in New York City, he worked as a security engineer at Citibank on Wall Street, then, according to his Goizueta Business School application, he returned to Pakistan to work for Citibank Lahore, take the GMAT, and apply to business school.

“He was in the best years of his life,” says Fatima. “Everything seems to be going in his favour. After years of dedication and hard work he finally achieved this status. He had all the plans to pursue his career in finance. He was full of hope for his future.”

Raja also enjoyed sports. He was a swimmer and played cricket, squash, soccer, tennis, and polo while at Columbia.

A memorial service was arranged by TCG Software. “They were proud to have him working for them,” his mother says.

“It is still very hard to believe that he is missing and lost forever,” she continues. “I have to be emotionally strong as Ehtesham has a younger brother, who is at a very impressionable age.

“[Ehtesham] knew life and lived life. His time was limited but in that time he touched so many people. . . . May peace be with him now and forever. He will stay in our hearts and memories forever.”

Emory Magazine:

EHTESHAM U. RAJA ’98MBA, an Oxford University-educated economist, had worked as an adviser to the Ministry of Commerce and Trade in Islamabad, Pakistan; a security engineer at Citibank on Wall Street; and a staff analyst for the city of New York before coming to Emory.

“I can assure you of a perfect score during my study at your prestigious university,” he wrote on his Goizueta Business School application.

Raja, twenty-eight, died September 11 while attending a conference at the World Trade Center. He was a Muslim from Lahore, Pakistan, but friends say he had embraced the American dream.

Rest in peace, Mr. Raja.

Never Forget.

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