We Are Who We Are Because Of Our Forefathers- 9

Sept 16, 2020

(9 of 12)

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

God has been kind to me.

I made money from Beach Luxury Hotel and eventually bought a Hotel in Lahore (Nedous Hotel) on Public auction which I converted from Nedous Hotel to Park Luxury – and I was about to convert it to build the Lahore Hilton.

(Model of Nedous Hotel – presented to my grandfather by his staff – in our office)

By this time, my son Byram & I had discussed whether we were content in running the Beach Luxury or wanted to grow (and naturally we chose the latter).  

This then propelled me to say that success does not come without pains or losses… 

The Beach Luxury in the 50s and early 60s (when we spoke), made its money through cash sales which were not recorded because of the high taxation- and actually became our capital.  We agreed that firstly we have to bring all our businesses on the books because without a strong balance sheet we would not be able to leverage our business.  This meant having to pay taxes and have less disposable cash. 

(Beach Luxury in the 1960s
Picture credit- unknown photographer, with thanks)

The second decision we made with this move was to get professionals to join our Company so as to make it grow.  This business dilemma proved a success and is part of the learning discipline we instilled in my grandchildren.

However, the Lahore Hotel got requisitioned (once again for our family )because I had been asked to give a portion of the Hotel, free of charge, to an high official, which I had refused because I believe somebody can  have a free meal or take a pencil from me, but when I have to give away something which is earned with the sweat and hardships of my brow, then I will fight to the end.

Friends, let me tell you life is very difficult.  I have never cheated anybody and God has rewarded me for this.  I have worked hard and honestly with integrity and have never forgotten Ahura Mazda for all his blessings.

I persevered and got the Lahore Plot de-requisitioned and built the Lahore Hilton.

This is to explain to you that persistence and honesty of thought and purpose will always succeed.”

(to be cont)

(previous (8th) post- https://dinshawavari.com/2020/08/18/we-are-who-we-are-because-of-our-forefathers-8/)

We Are Who We Are Because Of Our Forefathers- 8

August 18, 2020

(8 of 12)

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

Beach Luxury Hotel started construction, Partition took place, and the Sind Government once again requisitioned my Hotel. They said that as a Minority Member I will run away and they needed the building for Government Offices. This was somewhere around December 1947, and I gave them a written assurance that I will open the Hotel by our Zoroastrian New Year, 21st of March 1948. One week before the Opening, I had no furniture, cutlery, crockery or glassware.

Always, in my times of problems, God has come to my rescue. I believe in intuition and like the time when I left Quetta the night before the fatal earthquake – because of my intuition – I was once again intuitively led to read every inch of the newspaper that day.

I saw this advertisement of the British United Services Club, which was called the Bus Club. The auction was that day for the sale of the entire crockery, cutlery, glass-ware, linen and furniture. I went and gave my Tender which read as Rs. 1000/- more than the highest offer. The Committee called me and said the highest offer was Rs.8,000/- but they could not accept the type of Tender I had given on the basis of which I would pay Rs.9,000; but if I paid Rs.10,000, I would get everything. So I accepted and opened the Hotel a week later, on 21st March 1948, with the blessings and prayers of Dr. Dastur Dhalla, who was present at that time.”

(to be cont)

(previous (7th) post- https://dinshawavari.com/2020/07/31/we-are-who-we-are-because-of-our-forefathers-7/)

We Are Who We Are Because Of Our Forefathers- 6

June 18, 2020

(6 of 12)

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

Sir Sidney Ridley confirmed to me that he would protect me and would ensure that the Hotel, if purchased by me, would not be requisitioned during the Second World War for the Army, Navy and Air Force, as was the custom.

So, putting up my entire life’s savings and borrowing the rest, I went to Mr.  Wyseman and purchased the Bristol Hotel for Rs.100,000/-.  Mr Wyseman agreed on one condition- that Khorshed and I learn the hotel business with him for a few months.  So, every morning at 4 a.m. I went to the Empress Market to purchase all the groceries, and the mutton, beef, chicken, fish, vegetables and fruits.

As soon as six months training were over and Mr. Wyseman handed over the Hotel to me and left Karachi – and the Bristol Hotel got requisitioned!

When I went to Sir Sidney Ridley and informed him about this, he phoned the British Provost Marshal of the Army to enquire why this was done. The Provost Marshal said “How can a bloody Indian run an English Hotel?”

Sir Sidney Ridley insisted the Hotel be de-requisitioned and the Provost Marshal accepted only on my written agreement to reduce the charges to Rs. 5/- per room and Rs.7/- for room with all meals. Sir Sidney Ridley said I would go bankrupt, but I agreed. Inspite of all my social status, I was still a “bloody Indian” but I was willing to take the challenge.

Now, the charge for a Chota (small) Peg for a Whiskey was Rs. l/. I immediately doubled it and got the Sargeant at Mauripur Airport to send me as many soldiers as he liked and I would pay him Rs.1/- per soldier, as his commission.

Then, I put 6 soldiers in a room and within one year, with both husband and wife working till 2 a.m. in the morning, we made a net profit of Rs. One Lac in the very first year- I paid up the money I had paid to buy the hotel.

(to be cont…)

(previous (5th) post- https://dinshawavari.com/2020/05/26/we-are-who-we-are-because-of-our-forefathers-5/)

We Are Who We Are Because Of Our Forefathers- 5

May 26, 2020

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

(5 of 12)

Mahatma Gandhi who made the British leave the Country, by his policy of non-violence, non-cooperation, asked all the Indians to stop insuring any foreign Life Insurance Companies. The result was that my business dwindled to such an extent that I had to make heavy inroads in my capital.  By 1945, I wanted to change the line of work.

Mr Wyseman was a friend of mine, and he was the Proprietor of the Bristol Hotel. My darling wife Khorshed used to like to eat English Food and so off and on, we went and had our meals there.

(photo credit- http://blogs.tribune.com.pk)

He told me that the British had decided to leave India and he would like to sell his hotel. He wanted Rs. 1 Lac for all the stock, name and fame, furniture, crockery, cutlery, glassware, linen, etc. but not the building which was a hired property from a Bori and a Hindu jointly.

In those days, the Home Secretary, which today is the equivalent to the Chief Secretary, was Sir Sidney Ridley, who was very friendly with me and who had appointed me on many Government Committees.   He was also a Rotarian with me, which Club had only 12 members in those days of 1933. The other members were Sir Montago Webb, (The First President of this Club) who was also the Editor and owner of Daily Gazette, Mr. Voegli, Manager of Volkart Brothers, who was the Honorary Secretary and the only Indian Members were Mr. Jamshed Mehta, Mr. Hatim Tayyabji, Advocate-General and Mr. Hatim Alvi along with myself.  I was also the Organizer of Tobacco Fund for soldiers fighting in the Front and hence I was very popular with the British Community. The reason for my explaining you this is to give you an idea of my status because this has an interesting reference later on.

(to be contd)

(previous (4th) post- https://dinshawavari.com/2020/04/26/we-are-who-we-are-because-of-our-forefathers-4/)

We Are Who We Are Because Of Our Forefathers- 4

April 26, 2020

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

(4 of 12)

Next day I went to Dr. Kanga’s house for lunch and I was surprised to find that his wife had a boutique from which she was earning Rs. 100/- per month. After lunch, I asked her if she would instead like to earn over Rs.300/- per month. I trained her as an Insurance Agent for only one day. The next day, she brought insurance of Rs. 50,000/- from Sir Shahnawaz Bhutto (Grandfather of Miss Benazir Bhutto) and earned a commission of Rs. 1500/- at the first shot. I had Punjabi and Parsi Agents in Karachi working for me and all did very good business and made very good money.

I sent for my younger brother Rathan from Bombay to come and stay with me where he was attending a College, and as my Father had asked me to look after him because when my mother died he was only One year old. I got a two-bedroomed flat at a rent of Rs. 50/- per month and bought a Wolsley Car for Rs.1000/. The furniture was hired from Jagus & Co.

In those days I used to earn not only Commissions on my own income, but 5% commissions on all the sales of the whole of Karachi, Sind, Baluchistan, Afghanistan, Punjab and N.W.F.P., of which I was in-charge.

Dr Kanga introduced me to a Parsi Dhansak Club situated opposite the Empress market, behind Bomanshaw Minocher-Homji Parsi Hospital. The fee of the Club was Rs 5/- per month and we used to have a lunch for Rs. 2/- only which consisted of  Murghi, Dhansak, Kabab, Rotti Fried Pomfret and Pudding and Hot Drinks including Beer. The Members of the Club were Sir Cowasji as the President, Khan Bahadur, Ardeshir Mama, Burjorji Wacha, Hormusji Khajurina, Dadiba Mehta the ex-Judicial Commissioner, etc., I was the youngest member.  I also have the honor of becoming the FIRST Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) in Asia.

(to be continued)

(previous (3rd) post- https://dinshawavari.com/2020/03/13/we-are-who-we-are-because-of-our-forefathers-3/)

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We Are Who We Are Because Of Our Forefathers- 3

March 13, 2020

REPLY ADDRESS BY MR. DINSHAW B AVARI ON THE OCCASION TO COMMEMORATE HIS 85th BIRTHDAY on NOV 5, 1987- (3 of 12)

I accepted Karachi because I used to read articles on the Late Mr. Jamshed Mehta in the Jam-e-Jamshed and was highly impressed. He asked me in how many days I would like to go over and open the Karachi )Office. I told him within 48 hours I would go to Karachi, as I require one day to go to Udvada and Navsari for Prayers and for meeting my relations and friends and the next day I would go to Karachi. He told me that the Manager’s Agreement require  at least 8 days to be made ready, signed, stamped and completed and therefore, I could go within 10 days. This Offer was a God sent gift to me.

When coming to Karachi, I travelled by Steamer ‘VITA’ in the first class, and I became acquainted with Mr. Pesi, Solicitor of Bombay who was the son-in-law of a well-known Karachi photographer called Jalbhoy Sethna. Pesi was friendly with Dr. Kaikobad Kanga and he requested me to make Kaikobad as the Doctor of the Company, so that when the Insurance cases are examined, he could make some money.   Dr. Kanga had come to receive Pesi at the Seaport of Karachi, where I was introduced to Dr. Kanga who took me to Jehangir Baugh, which was a Dharamsala for the Parsis.

It was 13th December 1929. In those days Karachi winters were so cold that people used to keep ‘Angithi’ even at 12.00 noon to keep themselves warm. A manager of the Dharamsala was Dadi and he told me ‘O Bombay ka Parsi, if you do not take Brandy and put on a heavy overcoat, you will be dead by tomorrow’. Mrs. Kanga took me to a shop in Elphinstone Street where I bought an overcoat and bottle of Hennessy Brandy for Rs.3/-.

(Angithi- Photo credit- http://www.dsource.in/resource/kitchen-products/stoves/angithi

(to be contd.)

(previous (2nd) post- https://dinshawavari.com/2020/02/21/we-are-who-we-are-because-of-our-forefathers-2/)

We Are Who We Are Because Of Our Forefathers

January 17, 2020

On several occasions I have written extracts about my late grandfather, Dinshaw B. Avari, who was the patriarch of our Group.

I recently came across a “REPLY ADDRESS BY MR. DINSHAW B. AVARI GIVEN ON THE OCCASION OF THE FUNCTION HELD BY THE PARSI COMMUNITY OF KARACHI TO COMMEMORATE HIS 85th BIRTHDAY on NOVEMBER 5, 1987 AND FELICITATE HIM”.

I also sincerely believe that “we are who we are because of our grandfather and my father’s” sincere, hard and untiring efforts and work ethics.

I thought the best way to share the hardships and tribulations that my grandfather went through to establish his family is to reproduce his speech – in short blogs over the course of this year.

There are some life’s lessons to be learnt from his words and I hope my family can emulate even a fraction of what he has done, for our children and future generations.

Dinshaw

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January 17, 2020

(1 of 12)

REPLY ADDRESS BY MR. DINSHAW B AVARI GIVEN ON THE OCCASION OF THE FUNCTION HELD BY THE PARSI COMMUNITY OF KARACHI TO COMMEMORATE HIS 85th BIRTHDAY on NOVEMBER 5, 1987 AND FELICITATE HIM

Dear Colleagues and Friends – When I lost my parents at a very young age in Navsari, I was admitted to the Petit Parsi Orphanage in 1912 as a student. I was regarded a brilliant student in those days, as I used to stand first class first in all subjects. I passed my Matriculation Examination with great success and then joined the Sydenham College of Commerce & Economics, at Bombay.

Incidentally, a few days ago, I received a letter from Sir Dinshaw Petit, Baronet from Bombay, stating that the Petit Parsi Orphanage is having its Centenary in September 1988 at Poona. He wanted me, as the oldest student of the Orphanage, to give a lecture to the present students. Mr. Naval Tata who was also in the orphanage with me and whose son is now successor to Mr. J.R.D. Tata has also requested me to attend the Centenary Celebrations, and I have accepted the invitation to speak on this occasion.

I used to give tuitions to youngsters and continued my studies till I passed the Bachelor of Commerce Examination in October 1928. The desire was to join the Imperial Bank of India whose Officers Grade for B.Com Graduates was is 150/- per month but there was no vacancy. At every office which I applied for a job, they asked for references which I could not produce because except for the Teachers of the orphanage nobody else knew me.

Thereafter, I came to know that there was a vacancy for a Clerk in the Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada at Bombay whose General Manager was Late Sir Phiroz Sethna.

When I went to see him, he called me into his office and told me that there was no vacancy. While I was waiting to be called in, I heard from the Head Clerk that another Clerk had resigned and that there was a vacancy available.   When I reminded him about this, he immediately appointed me on the same salary of Rs. 75/- as the other clerk was drawing. When I told him that it was a principal of the Imperial Bank to give a minimum salary of Rs. 150/- to B.Com Graduates who would get the Officers Grade, he at once said,  ‘Take the job or Leave it’. I said ‘I accept the job because I am a needy person’. You will be surprised to know, that Sir Phiroz Sethna doubled my salary within three months and promoted me as Chief Accountant.”

(to be continued)