Takeaway from KLF 2020!

March 2, 2020

Closing Ceremony

March 2, 2020

Takeaway from KLF 2020!

There were many interesting sessions at this year’s Karachi Literature Festival; and naturally, it’s just impossible to visit many of them due to clashing schedules.

However, I found a certain “theme” which seems to emanate this year – the NEED FOR QUALITY EDUCATION AT THE PRIMARY LEVEL.  Let me explain in brief with examples of the sessions at KhiLF 2020-

  • Baluchistan: Engaging the Twain
    • Crisis after crisis, our citizens forget the lessons of the past and plod on.  No one questions the status quo.  No one raises their voice against wrongdoings.  Why- because there is no education, hence no one is taught how to work towards accountability; how to raise one’s voice.
    • How can civil servants and bureaucrats from Baluchistan province be nurtured if there is no education system to speak of?  How can the largest province of Pakistan take ownership of its province if there are no Baluchis in the bureaucracy, civil & police service and government?
  • Media Crisis: Who Is Responsible
    • Panelists said teach them to ASK QUESTIONS – in our education system, our kids follow what we TELL THEM.  This is wrong- why can’t they question us, their teachers, their elders!?
    • Panelists identified INTERNAL changes required- besides the standard, belligerent talk shows, no channel has anything else – there are no quiz shows, entertainment shows, kids’ programs, current social subjects, civic topics, environment, etc.  If we can reform our TV channels, it will positively help engage children in ways no school can.

In all these cases, the central solution in my mind comes to educating our children from Kindergarten level.  This will bring about patience, morals, how to be better citizens, civic sense & hygiene (personal and environment).  This will ensure that 18 years from now our children will take ownership of their city, region, province!

“All Roads Lead to Rome” … in Pakistan’s case, all roads lead to EDUCATION. 

Why are we blind to this???

Day 2 at the Karachi Literature Festival

March 1, 2020

The “ills” of our times date back to the 1700’s East India Company!

In yesterday afternoon’s fascinating book launch “The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company” at the Karachi Literature Festival, William Dalrymple identifies the source of global corporate corruption and rot in society … The East India Company.

Darlymple’s style of delivery is OUTSTANDING!  He’s humorous, easy to listen to, succinct and energetic.  It was a pleasure to hear his two presentations yesterday and I hope we have the opportunity to hear more from him in future.  For a Saturday morning session, he had an excellent turnout.

Forgotten Masters – Indian Painting For The East India Company

Starting from “… a five room office, smaller than the Beach Luxury Hotel…” and 3% of global trade, the East India Company grew to cover almost 40% of global trade.  It was, pure and simple, in the business to make a profit.  CSR practices were never on it’s agenda … there being it’s eventual downfall.  It bought politicians, favors, influence and it’s own army of sepoys with the sole aim of emptying the coffers of South Asia and profiting from global trade – and it did this very successfully.

“Enlightening” would be the term I would use to describe William Darlymple’s book launch. 

As an aside, in the 8 years I’ve been a participant at the Karachi Literature Festival, never once have I found it to be an “elitist” event– and I don’t say this just because it’s being held at my family’s Beach Luxury.  Over the years I’ve heard this term over and over but I don’t believe this to be true of KhiLF.  There is absolutely NO VIP culture, you rub shoulders with people from all walks of life, speakers interact with participants freely, the entry is absolutely free and no one is restricted (bar time reasons) from asking questions … with one common objective of enhancing KNOWLEDGE.  For a city of 27 Million inhabitants, it’s an absolutely outstanding weekend!

… At the Karachi Literature Festival 2020 … The Political Character Of Pakistani Middle Class

February 29, 2020

This morning’s session at the KLF with Dr Asad Sayeed, Ghazi Salahuddin and Dr Huma Baqai (moderated very capably by Yasir Qazi), like a lot of discussions on Pakistan’s civil (and social) direction, was pessimistic … unfortunately and, I believe, rightly.

               Several questions emerged from this discussion –

  1. Where is the Pakistani civil voice?
  2. Who is the cause of the destruction/silencing of this civil voice?
  3. Why does the middle class – the backbone of any society – stay silent [numb] over atrocities that are committed in society over and over again … why do we not learn from history?
  4. Is there a capacity to change?

… and finally, what is the solution to fix our civil ails?

               For safety reasons 😊, I will not address the last question in political terms – however, one gentleman in the audience offered a solution – our universities do not address higher education topics like the Humanities, Social Sciences, Political Science, Investigative Journalism ….  While the entire fabric of social service in Pakistan rests with the private sector, no Degree is offered in SOCIAL SERVICE in Pakistan.  (If so, my daughter, would have undertaken her Masters in Social Works here!)

If universities are churning out only MBAs, Engineers and Doctors, there is no learning forum teaching how to address this apathy of civil society.

Dr Huma Baqai identified, correctly, that women will play a very large role in the coming years in shaping what our society will be like – that is good because if there’s any other solution, I believe it will lie in the female gender “fixing things”.

Lastly, my own solution lies with PRIMARY EDUCATION – we must bring civic studies, humanities, social service topics into our primary schools URGENTLY.  If ever there’s a chance of any change in the future, it lies with children just starting out in school and through their formative years.

If there’s “no capacity to change” – and whenever a section of society seem to “rise”, only to be then suppressed – what happens to our future? 

We are who we are because of our Forefathers- 2

(2 of 13)

REPLY ADDRESS BY MR. DINSHAW B AVARI ON THE OCCASION TO COMMEMORATE HIS 85th BIRTHDAY on NOV 5, 1987-

I want to tell you that I was very ambitious and hard-working and I used to go down to an  Irani  Restaurant after office hours, sit at a table and would call the people in the room to come and have Tea and biscuits with me (at my cost of course). Remember that the charges for this was One Anna per person. Round about 10 persons used to join me every day and I used to give them a lecture on the advantages of Life Insurance. Do you know that, by my offering them tea and Biscuits and giving them lectures, seven persons out ten would agree to insure their lives with me and the very next day, I used to take them to Doctor Adi Kohiyar, the leading physician of Bombay in the early morning at 7.00 a.m. for Life Assurance Examination. This tactic of mine resulted in generating the largest amount of Life Assurance sold in any one month, in the whole of Bombay Presidency among the entire field of Life Assurance workers of Bombay.

I never knew the cumulative effect of 30 days work but one fine morning in 1929 Mr. H. Chamberlain, the Manager of the Bombay Branch, came to my Department and asked me to go to Sir Phiroz Sethna.  Sir Sethna was a terror in the office because he would not talk but roar. My body started trembling while I kept standing outside the room of Sir Phiroz Sethna.

Sir Phiroz Sethna called me in and told me that Mr. Chamberlain wanted me to be in the field work as an Insurance Agent. I refused to accept because at that time, I was getting a Commission Income of Rs. 500/- per month plus a salary of Rs 150/- per month with the status of being the Chief Accountant. Sir Phiroz Sethna told me ‘I am increasing your salary to Rs. 500/- per month’. I immediately jumped at it and said, ‘I am prepared to go anywhere in the whole of India’. He gave me three options. Either to be the Unit Manager at Ahmadabad or Nagpur or Karachi.              

I promptly accepted Karachi!

(to be contd.)

(previous post- https://dinshawavari.com/2020/01/17/we-are-who-we-are-because-of-our-forefathers/)

The Romance of Valentines … 27 years on!

February 14, 2020

I surprised my future wife with a romantic(?) Valentine’s dinner the year we were dating; and then for the next few years after our marriage.

…and just as suddenly those romantic dinners stopped J, not for want of trying  … I just “forgot”!

There is no religious significance of Valentines Day to the general public in Pakistan.  However, we all like to celebrate it as a means of entertainment.

Valentine’s occasion brings activity to Pakistan’s society in general.  It’s a means of entertainment- besides eating and drinking, there’s not much more one can do in a large city like Karachi.

I’ve found that occasions like Valentine’s increases market activity; there’s a positive vibe in the City; employment and commerce is generated by eating places.  Besides this, roadside sellers of flowers have a boon.  Patisserie orders increase (…so does your waist line!).

Pakistanis are not celebrating any religious angle with Valentines.  It’s purely an emotional outlet … a release for us.

Hotels go full; restaurants go full; the City buzzes; and people enjoy “just another evening” in the guise of “Valentine’s Day”.

So, get out, take your spouse out tonight … enjoy the lights of Karachi and whatever palate suits you’ll.

                … I’m surprising my wife with a romantic dinner for two at a Bhatiar Khana (roadside diner) J … either I’ll see you’ll tomorrow or, like the title picture, I’ll be in the hospital.

                                    HAPPY VALENTINES !

(Picture credit- author unknown)

“Fun with Parsi Surnames – Cyrus Broacha” 🤣😆🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

February 11, 2020

Our family are Parsi Zoroastrians, a minority so minuscule that we are almost an “endangered” species in our own right 🤣!

Recently I came across an hilarious post purportedly by Cyrus Broacha, a famous TV Personality, Comedian and … Parsi.

So, for a little mid-week humour, let me quote verbatim what I read –

QUOTE

“While most surnames in India reflect caste and lineage, the Parsis had a delightfully modern streak — having landed from Persia without caste, history or context, they created name identities through professions and names of places (cities and streets).

Our family moved to Bombay (now Mumbai) from Rawalpindi during the partition in 1947. We came as refugees, but the family soon settled down and by 1953 my father had started playing golf at the Willingdon Club. I was eight years old and would walk 18 holes with him every Saturday and Sunday.

The three Parsi gentlemen, who made up his regular four-some were uncles Poonawala, Coorlawala and Colabawala. Very soon they had rechristened my father Mr Pindiwala (from Rawalpindi – get it!).

Uncle Colabawala did not live in Colaba, but in a house on Malabar Hill. Maybe his ancestors had lived in Colaba.

I used to spend hours searching the telephone directory to find Parsi surnames and stories around their families.

There was prohibition in Bombay in those days. So to get liquor, you had to find Mr Dalal, who would introduce you to Mr Daruwala, who in turn would get bottles delivered to your home by Mr Batliwala (bottle person), who would be accompanied by Mr Sodawaterbottleopenerwalla (the longest Parsi surname I have come across).

Other surnames, whose ancestors were in the beverages trade, were: Mr Fountainwala, Mr Ginwala, Mr Rumwala and Mr Tonicwala.

We used to have two delightful Siamese kittens in our flat and these were gifted to my mother by her friend Mrs Billimoria. My mother spent hours knitting tiny cardigans for them, with wool she bought from the Unwala family.

My uncle ran the air force canteen in Cotton Green and his partner, yes, you guessed it, was Mr Canteenwala. They had this fantastic cook, Mr Bhajiwala

Their mild and meek manager, Mr Jeejeebhoy (Jee – jee bhai)  nodded his head and agreed with everything everybody said.

My grandfather was the Sheriff of Bombay. Being Sheriff, it was only natural that he had Mr Bandookwala and Mr Golimar as his constant companions.

My grandfather had many Parsi friends, who were in politics. There was this squeaky clean khadi-clad Mr Ghandy, and the not so clean Mr Gandabhoy — who was invariably being hounded by Mr Kotwal. But he never left home without his friends Mr Barrister, Mr Vakil, Mr Lawyer and their Munshi, Mr Mehnty.

My grandfather built Hotel Waldorf on Arthur Bunder Road in Colaba. So for this, he naturally used the services of Mr Contractor and Mr Mistry. Yet… he never went to the conservative moneylenders when he was short of money, but borrowed it from his Parsi friend, Mr Readymoney.

Our neighbour and family physician was Dr Adi Doctor. He lived with his in-laws, Mr and Mrs Pochkhanawala. My sister swears they ate only poached eggs for breakfast.

I remember going to Dr Adi Doctor’s sister’s wedding. She is married to one Mr Screwwala.

No. He is not a carpenter or a mechanic, so I dare not guess what he does for a living!

Cyrus Broacha Comedywala”

UNQUOTE

Thank you, Cyrus, for the laugh 😊!

(https://www.whosdatedwho.com/dating/cyrus-broacha)

THE BIG BANG THEORY

January 30, 2020

This must be one of the most hilarious sitcoms I’ve ever seen!  After an hectic day, my wife and I watch episodes from Big Bang and your laugh comes from deep within you … but you ‘gotta’ have that sense of humour 😊 !

Each of these genius NERDS have their own idiosyncrasies, moods, humour, gall and idiocy… and, oh yes, let’s not forget their FASHION sense…

… but they are the fastest of friends…yet would kill each other [figuratively] when given a chance!

… they enjoy each other’s company.

(Photo credit- https://images.app.goo.gl/7a5UaSuSEyvTUjsG8)

… they enjoy their own mind games and their idiosyncratic humor.

… they live in their own little world.

… and, yeah, they enjoy their comic bookstore, collector-edition comics and Comicons!

So, what does this gut-spilling, hilarious comedy tell me – One can be a nerd and yet have friends from within that social group.  They don’t hide that they dislike confrontation.

They are not trying to fit in.  As far as they are concerned, their world revolves around their room and mutual activities.

This reminds me of my July 2019 post https://dinshawavari.com/2019/07/12/keep-up-with-the-joneses/

In our world, we try to fit in; we want everyone to like us; we have to live upto the expectations of our society.

… BUT DO WE REALLY HAVE TO?

Like the Big Bang characters, can we not be happy with ourselves and who we are, instead of what we should be or look like in the eyes of society?

Leonard, Sheldon, Rajesh & Howard were marginalized growing up but found their own social & work group and don’t feel compelled to follow society’s lifestyle or rules.

Isn’t that a more peaceful & contented way to live … not “keeping up with the Joneses”.