We met Tahir Mahmood and Amin Desai, who run the paramotoring adventures, who accompanied us personally.
Before you ask … VERY SAFE 😊!
Leaving Karachi at 6.45am, we reached 3½ hours later (with stops & all)- with the same journey time frame coming back at night.
Taqwa is a simple but comfortable set up, smack on Kund Malir beach. The pictures tell the whole story, just keep scrolling down. We took 200 pictures so, this is just a sampling of that 😊
We were at the end of the flying season due to the winds, so now they will resume in Autumn.
They recommend early morning flying when the winds are low (or dead) because once they increase past a certain force, then it’s not possible to do this activity.
Besides this, the waters, the swimming, the colors were just … outstanding! However, this is beg-April; as you get into Autumn & winter, naturally the waters will turn colder.
When we were up, we saw dolphins, birds etc. Flying over Kund Malir Beach felt like I was over Italy!
The food was just amazing!
Astrophotography is one of the best from here (in some jungle a few km away).
This was followed by a quick visit to the Princess of Hope and the Sphinx rock statues. These two are natural rock formations, over millennia. The Sphinx actually looks like the sphinx I’ve seen in Egypt but here it was high up in the mountains.
I give full CREDIT to Tahir & Amin for this venture; but I also give credit to the Gov’t of Baluchistan for the “tourist-accessibility” to these sites.
With the increase in domestic tourism, the negative effects of tourism will also be visible in Baluchistan; but till then … ENJOY!!!
(Thanks to Twitter for introducing me to the wonders, beauty and marvels that Pakistan has to offer us)
I have had a perennial hatred for motorcycle riders in Pakistan … the impunity with which they get away with breaking the law; their crass method of driving; and their complete lack of knowledge on rules of the road (but the same may also be said of 4-wheelers ☹)
Then one day, Shireen, a young lady in our Community, contacted me about some issue and, in talking, mentioned she drives a motorcycle to work & back – I have seen sporadic women motorcycle drivers – but someone this hit home. (It’s like the time my son in the 2000 decade skillfully used chopsticks in Fujiyama, when I used a fork! – man, that really hit home 😊)
Come end December 2020, I learnt the basics of motorcycle driving through Pink Riders (as you guessed, basically a class for women learners). Besides the instructor, I was the only male in the group … and that too 50+.
So, in 3-4 lessons, I learnt the basics … and soon thereafter, much to my wife’s (and subsequently family’s) chagrin, bought a used, 70cc motorcycle. What she found even more vexing was the price I bought it at – she wasn’t sure if she should be concerned for my safety on a bike OR be concerned for my safety on THIS bike at THAT price 😊😊😊.
Honestly, what I have come to learn is motorcycles are actually fun (I’m still learning by the way in my compound, much to my guards and drivers’ enjoyment) and what I have been against in the past was actually the motorcycle RIDERS. There is no discipline, no system to the way they drive, nor any safety standards they adhere to.
Not only am I self-learning with ALL the help of YouTube but I am taking great care in learning as per the rules of the road. For instance, I ensure I wear the helmet, PROTECTING MY HEAD (where, I think, it’s meant to be 🤔) and NOT on the gas tank, PROTECTING THE BIKE! It’s not easy when you learn by YouTube because there’s no one to tell you when you do wrong – but I think I’m getting there.
So, while I may continue to bitch about others … I have basically JOINED THEM.
Last weekend we were invited by our friends Danilo & Antonella on Karachi’s Super Savari tour – imagine, a couple of foreign visitors inviting us Pakis to explore Karachi, instead of the other way around 😊! (I was born in this City but have not seen its history or heritage … very sad!)
It was a very short ride and not the usual 5 hours because their other guests had other engagements on that afternoon.
What we saw, though, was MIND BOGGLING (and I mean that in the most positive sense).
We started our tour of Quaid-e-Azam Mohd Ali Jinnah’s Mazar (Mausoleum). The main area above was so clean, peaceful and cool, in spite of the hot sun bearing down around us. The last time I ever visited Quaid-e-Azam’s Mazar was in the ‘70s, as a ‘wee kid’.
This was followed with a tour of the Museum below. Now, this is something Pakistani’s must see. In 53 years, I have not seen this type of personal history of the Quaid, his wife Rati and his sister Fatima Jinnah. Photographs are not permitted however on special approval we managed to get one shot of Rati’s bedroom.
(Incidentally, Rati’s history is almost nonexistent in Pakistan’s history or textbooks 🤔🤫)
What was mind boggling was the extent to which these treasures and history was preserved by the Mazar and it’s trustees. I thought I was in some European museum, with the presentation, preservation, level of ……. Which we experienced in the Musuem. I was truly proud of how, if we put our mind to it, preserve our history, dynasty, culture, etc. If nothing else as to the current state of our Country, at least these three founders of Pakistan can rest in peace knowing that their history will live into posterity.
The Quaid’s 1938 Packard and another one have been completely restored by “National Motors Ltd”. It is amazing to see the level of detail and restoration we have put into preserving his legacy. Personal effects, photos, paintings, etc from Quaid’s collars to coins to his clothes, etc were on display- immaculately preserved.
… A TRULY PROUD MOMENT FOR MY WIFE & I.
Due to change in schedule, we then made our way to Quaid e Azam House Museum aka Flagstaff House (his residence in Karachi) opposite Avari Towers. That’s another “WOW” experience for me! The Quaid’s furniture from India had been brought, restored & preserved here.
Again, I thought we were walking through some foreign Museum. Here too were two cars on display which had been completely renovated- but were actually Fatima Jinnah’s cars.
(Aside- if any of these cars are on the road today, they structure would make mincemeat of any other vehicle which accidentally “bumps” into it 😊)
There are two other places with with this detail of preservation of Karachi (& Pakistan’s) history –
In ending, what I am trying to say is that why cannot Karachi recreate its lost history and culture? There has been some attempt recently of uplifting places (like the Kharadar walking street, etc). I Am Karachi and others try to their bit. However, the majority of our 1800s and 1900s buildings & structures lay crumbling and decrepit; exteriors of old mansions (‘Duarte’ for instance) lie in shambles; the history of Old Karachi (Maripur, MA Jinnah Road, etc) are forgotten. This is not something only the private sector can do.
This can only start if the various of levels of administration starts taking OWNERSHIP of this City!
As we end this terrible year, I had nothing positive to contribute so stayed silent for last two weeks.
Then, in this last week, a family medical condition made us visit the Aga Khan Hospital
and … hello … BRAINWAVE!
We all hear of various rankings- The top five sports cars in the world
The top Brunches in the city
The top Beauty Salons for dogs & cats … (😊)
Well, I would easily place Aga Khan’s food as the TOP HOSPITAL (I repeat- HOSPITAL) FOOD TO EAT 😊😊😊 in Karachi.
While my cousin took the red-eye shift to be with our aunt, my wife took the afternoon shift … I took the am shift, selfishly motivated with the opportunity for their breakfast! Incidentally, I only took the breakfast on the first day.
On day two, I went to the cafeteria for a mixed tea and their walnut cake, both items are “to die for”! (Talk about ‘hospital’ irony 😊).
On day 3, I had their mixed tea and their croissant – so, okay, I’ve had better Croissants but this one wasn’t bad.
Mind you, go to the cafeteria for the mixed tea- it’s much better than the room service one.
Day 4 saw me pick up their mixed tea and Muffin- not too bad.
So, friends, whenever you have a get-together, afternoon tea, maybe even an anniversary, consider the Aga Khan cafeteria – I certainly have on multiple occasions (even one on our 10th anniversary) but my entire family turned against me … WHAT NERVE!!! (So much for surprising my wife 😊)
I joked with my nieces that on anyone’s next birthday, pick up the walnut cake from Aga Khan 😊, which didn’t get me the funny reaction I expected!
I wonder, does this critique make me a “food connoisseur”? 😊😊😊😊😊
With this most frivolous of blogs 😊, wishing you all a very happy & healthy 2021 – may the coming year be much much kinder with humankind (in spite of mankind being very cruel with nature).
Corona has brought regulations upon regulations upon regulations … leading to headaches upon headaches upon headaches for hotels!
Can’t complain though- restricted regulations are still better than a complete lockdown, which we faced April to September.
Now, revised regulations restrict all indoor dining and activities but at least allow activities outside.
My grandfather’s foresight planned large outdoor spaces for our Beach Luxury Hotel by the sea in 1947; the Avari Lahore hotel in 1978; and the Avari Towers in 1985. Naturally, he had no knowledge about the calamity that would hit the world in 2020 then but his idea always was for large, green spaces.
In a city like Karachi, our so-called autumns & winters (whatever semblance of “winter” one can call it in Karachi 😊) make it absolutely outstanding to be outdoors and not cooped up in an a/c environment.
The other day my father and I dropped by for a coffee to Avari Towers. We made our way down to the gardens by the pool, which have been transformed into an all-day dining- menus from Fujiyama, Dynasty & Asia Live are available there. We thought we were sitting in some tropical paradise- with the trees, greenery, plants, tree overhangs, etc. Our Sky Grill restaurant continues operating for dinner on the roof of the Hotel, overlooking the lights of the sprawling metropolis.
At Beach Luxury, a full day conference (with social distancing, I might add) took place on our Seafront restaurant- the only open air, floating restaurant in Pakistan – which we use for our buffet dinners. In the past, we have used this venue for our breakfast and lunch buffets also – it is a sight for sleepy morning eyes to see the seagulls swoop down in Chinna Creek; school-going rowers in the first morning light (albeit being grumpy at having to awake at 5am 😊) on their Sculls, Doubles, Fours and Eights; the first morning fisherman throwing his net out in the dirty, still creek- to get small fish he can then sell to the large trawlers to use as bait … and if you come early enough, one of the best winter SUNRISES you can experience! Our Casbah restaurant, the freshest seafood grill, has had outdoor dining 365 days.
At Avari Lahore, our large lawns (which houses a small aviary too) now host our outdoor restaurants – Tollington combines Kims, Lakhnavi & Tollington menus; Dynasty & Fujiyama are combined at an adjacent garden venue. With ample space to spare, the other parts of the lawns are used for weddings & related events.
I may be proudly boasting but we are really happy of what our GMs & teams’ have created within the parameters of these Covid regulations & restrictions.
So, I tell you friends, we don’t look at the glass as “half empty” … rather, look at it as “half full”; these days shall also pass – maybe slowly, but pass they shall ! As my father quotes “Smile, & the World Smiles With You … Cry, & You Cry Alone”.
(End note: fat lot me giving such advice … by nature I’m one of the world’s greatest pessimists 😊 😊 😊)
… remove MONEY (in letter & spirit) as the operating policy of life as we know it!
From the beginning of time, when barter used to be the means of exchange, humankind understood the a physical item or service had a certain value attached to it. Barter exchange evolved into money exchange and the importance of commerce and economy developed.
However, what if money is not the defining aspect of life? Why can’t ALL goods & services be available freely to anyone? The value of special interest groups, big business, wars for “oil”, smuggling & exploitation, etc will become inconsequential & redundant! The concept of exploitation of the world’s natural resources would be over. Beggary would stop. There would be no such thing as Poverty – because every ‘social class’ will have access to the same services & facilities as everyone else.
The idea of a community, in my book, should not be defined by what economic or monetary benefit each can give the other. No siree bob! Under this [fairy tale’d] ‘poverty-free society’ concept, a community would provide each other goods & services with no monetary benefit because each and every one benefits from the exchange. There would be a 1 to 1 exchange – there would be no value attached to an item or service anymore.
The person providing a good or service is doing so for the community at large; she would be using her trade & knowledge to provide for her own family and others; and in turn would receive goods & services required by her family completely gratis. If I become sick, I go to the hospital and get the same medical care, treatment and medication our prime ministers & presidents would get with no concept of compensation.
As the World Bank’s Pakistan Country Director, Ilango Patchamuthu, puts it “60% of women in #Pakistan cite transportation cost as a major issue which hinders their #mobility. To bring real change, we have to step out of policymaking & address the basics.” Well, Salman Sufi Foundation is doing just that … addressing the basics!
Cyril Almeida comments “According to the international charity WaterAid, about 40 percent of Pakistan’s population of roughly 210 million lacks decent toilets.“
I first came across this concept of a “public toilet” in Mumbai – that too, smack adjacent to Mumbai’s iconic “Gateway of India”. What struck me was the concept of a public toilet – and I thought it was fantastic. We even went in – it was relatively clean (quite smelly) but the fact that such a facility was available to the passerbys near Colaba was awesome.
This public toilets project is long overdue … and should not have been initiated by a private citizen or NGO – but like the rest of the [lack of] public & services infrastructure in Pakistan, it’s the private citizen who comes forward to implement what should be government-led projects.
I don’t see any government in Pakistan ever looking after the social needs of the people on a micro level – it will always be private NGOs and citizens who not only take the initiative but implement public health, education, philanthropic & other social services projects – whether the Edhis, the Salman Sufis, Agha Khans, TCFs, UNICEFs, ABSAs or the I Am Karachis of Pakistan (to name just a few of the myriad of NGOs doing so much good in Pakistan).
A humble thanks to Salman Sufi for helping to ease life for the citizens of Karachi!
(So, the final part of my grandfather’s history and advice on life- I’ve amalgamated last two parts together)
REPLY ADDRESS BY MR. DINSHAW B AVARI ON THE OCCASION TO COMMEMORATE HIS 85th BIRTHDAY on NOV 5, 1987-
“I am now 85 years old. Since twenty years, I have delivered my three hotels and my other businesses to my son, Byram, to run for our family for the last 20 years but he brings the Report to me very day about it their progress. What I and my family have learnt with the Hilton Hotel incident/case is that Never Ride a Horse Who’s Reins you Do Not Control. So my friends, my advise to you is that Never give your business away to somebody else to run for who’s losses you will be responsible.
Also remember, whatever happens in this world, happens for the Best, because it is God’s Wish that it happened that way; but Man makes his own Destiny and it is up to you to change your life and to make it or break it, so don’t blame others as you are solely responsible for what you want to become.
My life’s Philosophy has been always to give a helping hand.
Listen to everybody because even the beggar has something to say from which you can benefit if you keep an open mind. So keep your mind alert and assimilate fresh ideas thrown to you.
To all my old friends I strongly recommend that you make your Will without fail. For Parsi Wills, no probate is necessary. Whatever jewelry and other items you have you must specify what goes to who so that there is no misunderstanding or fights later on among your loved ones. For each jewelry piece, you must write the description in Gujrati or English and specify in your Will who this would go to.”
“Don’t demand respect- command respect; reflects the life I have lived. This comes from not letting my past dictate who I am, rather letting it become a part of who I will become.
My last advise to you is that you must always pray to God without fail. Remember what Tennyson said: “More things are wrought by prayers than this world dreams of”. The real secret of my success in life has been my sincere selfless prayers to God.
At this function I can only say that my success has also been because of my kind wife, Khorshed, who stood by me through thick and thin and together we grew from humble beginnings to this happy stage today. If it were not for her, I do not think I would have been able to achieve the same extent of success. I must say that my son, Byram, and his family are looking after me very well and we do not have a father-and-son relationship but have the relationship of two good friends.
I must thank all of you once again for having come to wish me for my 85th Birthday and for all the years of affection, friendship and love shown to me and my family and all I can wish you with the sincerity of a man 85 years old is that May God Bless You, may He, in his Infinite Kindness, look after all of you and your families and may you have health, prosperity, happiness because HAPPINESS IS UNTO HIM WHO GIVES HAPPINESS TO OTHERS.”
So, friends, it’s only because of our forefathers’ hard work, sweat, determination, vision, perseverance that “we are who we are” today. Sole credit goes to my grandparents (Khorshed & Dinshaw) and my parents (Goshpi & Byram) for what we are today … Thank You!
REPLY ADDRESS BY MR. DINSHAW B AVARI ON THE OCCASION TO COMMEMORATE HIS 85th BIRTHDAY on NOV 5, 1987-
“My instructions which are today even being repeatedly conveyed by my son Byram to all our Executives and our Organisation, are that sometimes you may be short of money, so call the persons and explain to them about this and even pay interest on the delay but never deduct a bill wrongly by even One Rupee and if a supplier has made a mistake in his calculations, then correct it and pay the sum but do not pay One Rupee even less as you will have to pay a thousand times more because remember ‘KHODAI KI LATHI NU AWAJ NATHI’.
In life, you must do Charity but Charity always begins at home and you must never give up your money which is yours by right nor should you try to take undue advantage of claiming monies which are not yours.
In my life, I have found that being practical has made me successful. Adjust to the times and do not fight the situation.
At one time in the Hotel, we found that in the Washing department, we were suffering losses through theft of Silverware. My Managers told me to put on Chowkidars and Security Guards. Instead I increased the salaries of the staff by Rs. 25/- per person. In the 1950’s this was a lot of money. The Chowkidars were not needed, the thefts stopped and the staff were happy. This was yet another example of being practical.
I learnt long ago to be humble. My first example was when I was the top insurance agent in Sun Life Insurance, I became proud that nobody could do my job and submitted my resignation to Sir Phiroz Sethna (thinking I am irreplaceable). He immediately accepted and I learnt my lesson. I eventually withdrew my resignation but this example of humility I have learnt & subsequently practiced and I have taught my son and my grand children.
I followed the noble examples of great Parsis of Karachi like Late Mr. Jamshed Mehta, Khan Bahadur Ardeshir Mama, Sir Cowasjee Katrak, Edulji Dinshaw and family and more particularly my friends Hoshang, Minoo and Dinshaw Dinshaw, Mr. Shapurji Supariwala, Mr Minoo Spencer, Mr Jehangir Punthaky and Mr Cyrus Minwalla, who were the pioneers of the Parsi Community.”