Who are the NOBLES?
NOBLES is the acronym for Ninety-One Batch Loyolites. It is an informal grouping of students from the 1991 ICSE, 1991 SSLC, and 1993 ISC batches of Loyola School, Trivandrum (Kerala, India). Batchmates who left Loyola before 1991 (Xth Std) are also part of the Nobles community.
The Rise and Growth of a Brand Name
The term 'Nobles' was coined for use during the first reunion. Organisers who wanted to put up a poster at the reunion venue, felt that "1991 Batch Reunion" would make an unimaginative notice. On the fool's-cap paper poster, "1991 Batch Loyolites Reunion" would be a mouthful. Juggling around with words, Ashok hit upon 'Nobles' -- a pronounceable acronym. Thus, contrary to popular belief, 'NOBLES' was not coined to signify a band of nobles (the chaps you find in a King's court) or to denote exclusivity.
Over the years, the group engaged in various initiatives to strengthen alumni relations. And thanks to the fact that the word rolls off the tongue easily, "Nobles" grew into a recognisable 'brand' within the Loyola fraternity. Quite a journey from where It all began -- when Ajith Sojan and Binoy Mathew hurriedly sketched a notice on white paper and pasted the sheet on the yellow door of Sutter Hall in 1993!
After finishing school, Nobles first came together at Loyola in July 1993. Since then, through reunions, get-togethers and the Internet, the group has been quite successful in ensuring sustained contact among its members. The most recent reunion was in April 2001 at Trivandrum.
On leaving school, Loyola gives a cyclostyled list of batchmates' addresses. Before the advent of e-mail, alumni contacts depended on how up-to-date this list was. Nobles realised this early on and regularly updated its Directory. It provided a strong foundation for arranging get-togethers, tracing friends, and connecting people. The Directory (now available online) provided a wealth of information that also helped to keep track of batchmates -- what they were studying, what firm they joined, etc.. While the online version is updated throughout the year, the most recent printed version was distributed in April 2001.
Another pioneering effort was the setting up of a discussion list (email@example.com) by Prakash Kartha as early as in 1997. Within a year, the Internet caught on in India, and batchmates started working in computer firms. As e-mail became the primary means of communication and contact, firstname.lastname@example.org was waiting on the tarmac -- ready for take-off. Once in a while, a special campaign is launched to rope in those who are yet to join the e-group. The most recent was in early 2001.
The Nobles website has been one of the most striking efforts of the group. Triumphs and failures of this venture are discussed separately below.
In July 2002, Nobles set up Loyolamod - a discussion group for moderators of Loyola alumni egroups. Loyolamod helps in communication across batches, and ensures that information from OBA regarding events reaches Loyolites quickly and efficiently.
Reaching out to senior and junior friends, Nobles have actively contributed to the functioning of the Old Boys' Association since 1991, as members and office-bearers. Three of them -- Ashok, Jayanth, Vijayaraghavan -- have been Joint Secretaries of OBA. Nobles' reunions and regularly updated webpages have been praised by the Association for strengthening bonds among the alumni. The Association had also declared the OBA webpage on this site as the official webpage of the organisation, till LOBA set up its own website in 2002.
Acclaim for NOBLES
For promoting alumni relations, Loyola OBA honoured Nobles with the Best Batch Awards in 2000 and 2001 (the latter shared with the 1988 batch). The Nobles website and e-newsletter have invited words of praise and encouragement from Loyolites around the world.
External recognition came in February 1999 when Rediff.com selected the website as 'Homepage of the Month'.
In October-November 1998, the Nobles' e-group was debating the nuclear text explosion by India. As e-mails flew thick and fast, there was agreement on one point -- nobles@coollist had never generated so much heat before. Ashok - a newcomer to the Net -- felt that this verbal energy had to be sustained. And setting up a debating board on the Internet seemed the obvious thing to do. Having a soft-copy of the carefully-nurtured NOBLES directory meant that it could be added to the Web. Within a week, a rough homepage was up and comments were invited.
Days and nights of December 1998 were spent on improving content and style. Webpages were reformatted using MS Word! Though software professionals fill the ranks of Nobles, webmasters so far have been a physicist and an economist.
In January 1999, NOBLES on the Net was formally launched with four pages - Homepage, Directory, Debating Forum (X-Change), Bulletin. Anil Shaji took charge of the site in April 1999.
To broaden the appeal and cater to a wide spectrum of Loyola alumni, the site was revamped in April 2000 when Ashok returned as webmaster. The name was changed from 'Nobles on the Net' to 'Nobles Webpages'. Alumni News, Loyola OBA page, and Lighter Side were added. Publicity via LOBA (meetings, newsletter) led to contributions from senior Loyolites. Consequently, Business Network page was introduced in June 2000.
Special Articles, and Quiz sections appeared for the first time in the 2002 edition of the website. For informing alumni, of site updates and alumni events, a low-volume mailing list was also introduced.
Beginning April 2000, the theme was Strengthening Bonds Among Loyola Alumni. In May 2002, this was changed to "A Virtual Feast for Loyola Alumni."
Ironically, what inspired to set up NOBLES on the Net -- X-Change debating forum -- failed the test of time. In the exchanges of ideas and emotions on four topics, non-alumni participated too. But by February 2000, the debating email list was de-listed for being inactive. Consequently, X-Change is no longer the showpiece at NOBLES Webpages. However, it has been retained on this site for archival purpose. (See the ruins).
Response of Loyolites to the Website
Like many Netizens, many who visit these pages do not bother to send in comments or suggestions. But some of them spread the word. In fact, one of them copy-pasted the content onto his personal website (Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!). Still, by March 2000, only eight-ten Loyola alumni mails had been received.
After the website was re-oriented towards all Loyola alumni, there was a marked increase in feedback. As more Loyolites started writing in, Nobles decided to bring out an e-newsletter. In September 2001, the first Loyola Alumni E-Newsletter was e-mailed to Loyolites across continents.
Today, the Nobles Secretary receives messages every month. Loyolites send in news as well as suggestions for improving the website. It is a Nobles policy to respond to every mail received at email@example.com.
Major Contributors to the Website
Sanjai Basheer (1991)
News from School
Deepak M (1996)
Pradeep Kumar (1974), Vivek Krishnan (1997), Vishnu Dattan (2001)
Lighter Side of Loyola
Rajkin G (1993) arranged for the poem on Fr.Pulickal
Arun Narayanan (1993) served as indexer for 2002 edition
Jayanth Sankar (1993) and Arun P Varghese (1993) served as indexers for 2002 edition
Sandeep K (1994)
1999-2000: Anil Shaji (1993)
1998-1999, 2000 onwards: Ashok R Chandran (1993)