Hollywood in San Francisco - CSI’s 40th Annual Party
By: Ras H. Siddiqui


Computers and Structures Inc. (http://www.csiamerica.com) or CSI, with its headquarters in Walnut Creek, California, is a powerhouse in the realm of software for structural and earthquake engineering. Founded in 1975, it has had quite an impact worldwide as its products are now used in over 160 countries, including on some very famous buildings like the Taipei 101 Tower in Taiwan and the One World Trade Center in New York. The company celebrated its 40th year of existence on Saturday, April 11th at the San Francisco City Hall Rotunda where it hosted close to 1500 people with a night of tasteful extravagance with a Hollywood theme, in which The Wizard of Oz movie classic featured prominently. CSI’s 40th Annual Party was a continuation of its founder’s vision, as President/CEO of the company Ashraf Habibullah is certainly a unique figure in our community. If there was ever an individual who knows how to mix business with pleasure, it is Ashraf.

A graduate of the NED Engineering College (now NED University of Engineering and Technology ) in Karachi, Pakistan, Ashraf Habibullah has supported the activities of NED Alumni across the United States (and beyond), and is a frequent speaker at their conventions. He also knows how to do business and has quite an amazing ability to network. Being an Engineer and promoting his company software have never held Ashraf from promoting the arts.

This writer first met him while he was the leading supporter of a bay area ballet company (Diablo Ballet) which he co-founded. Exactly how many other people from Pakistan do we run across who not only start technology corporations but also ballet companies? We already know that answer! If there is ever a gathering that one can call “Party of the year” in the San Francisco Bay Area, it is this CSI annual event. In the past the themes of CSI parties have included Bollywood and Las Vegas, and this year it was Hollywood. And on can point out here that Ashraf has now become a victim of his own success.

As he said during his welcoming speech (dressed in a flashy red jacket). You guys are the people that make it (this party) wonderful. Every one of you wants to be here, and you want to bring everybody you know. If you send out a thousand invitations and nine thousand people want to come, it can be a problem. That is the real definition of true love. He said that people have come here from other parts of the world. Thank you so much for being here tonight, he said. A nice presentation from The Wizard of Oz followed to continue with the Hollywood theme for the evening. “Somewhere over the Rainbow” was sung beautifully, the Witch, Dorothy and the Tin Man (minus the Scarecrow or the Cowardly Lion) made quite an impression as the Emerald City backdrop impressed the packed hall. As mentioned earlier the success of this annual party has become problematic because it has almost become almost standing room only. The dance floor for the live musical performance was so crowded that many transferred to the DJ music being played in a separate room. The food was amazingly good both in selection and quantity as were the plentiful beverages. Ashraf Habibullah is a member of our community who dares to be different. His patronage of the arts, the promotion of the Urdu language in the San Francisco Bay Area and his parties are indicative of where the CSI vision originates. He is a Pakistani-American success story and Nadirshaw Edulji Dinshaw (the Parsi/Zoroastrian founder of NED Engineering College) would have been proud of him!


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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