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.
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.
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.”
Recently I heard Arif Hasan, planner, architect & activist (http://arifhasan.org/about-arif-hasan), on a Samaa News interview (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCb6OIWWsoo). The interview is an eyeopener and very insightful as Mr Hasan traces the roots of the problem, the history of our formal drainage systems, Karachi’s unchecked sprawl from the 1950s and especially 1970s leading to the drainage & sewer breakdown, we face currently. In identifying these problems, Mr Hasan implicitly provides the solutions too.
There are two courses of action required –
I have already addressed rain water harvesting & recycling;
Alongside this, the city’s RAIN WATER and SEWAGE DRAINAGE systems have to be urgently addressed on a professional basis.
Basically, Karachi needs to “get back to the drawing board” by using independent, non-partisan town planners and architects (like Arif Hasan himself). We have ONE YEAR lead time to fix the city- or at least be able to complete some of the main areas of the City – before the next rains hit us.
There are thousands of little drains – nullahs – (some naturally formed) which should feed into 64 large Nullahs which lead into Malir & Landhi Rivers, which in turn flow into the sea.
PROBLEM: When even one of these nullahs are blocked or stopped, it prohibits rainwater to flow into the sea- and instead, it floods the City. This is the root problem.
SOLUTION: So, firstly, the Entrance & Exit points of all Nullahs should remain undisturbed from encroachments, unplanned structures and debris.
PROBLEM: Next, when roads are being built, their drainage is also part of the scope. However, Arif Hasan points out that when the drains are made, they don’t lead anywhere – they end where the road ends … GO FIGURE! So, when the [so-called] drains fill up with rain – from the road itself – the overflow goes back onto the roads again … and … the “ROADS GET CONVERTED INTO NULLAHS”!
SOLUTION: So, the second action is that road drains must connect to the established nullahs, so there’s a formal route for the water to naturally flow into the sea (more on formal drains below).
PROBLEM: In the 1950s, Katchi Abadis (informal housing settlements) sprang up unchecked. There was no planning for their sewage drains, so the katchi abadis drained their sewage into Karachi’s nullahs…a practice which continues to this day. In the 1970s, when the formal housing schemes and neighborhoods were created, they continued the same practice of draining their sewage into rain water drains because no sewage drains or trunk sewers were planned … again, a practice that continues to this very day!
SOLUTION(s): So, thirdly, TRUNK SEWERS leading into FORMAL SEWER DRAINAGE SYSTEMS (& NOT into the rainwater drains) has to be planned & executed.
When this is done, all current formal Storm water drains must be cleaned off all the sewage sludge; all sewage outlets leading into such rain water drains removed and capped; and new storm water drains built to accommodate the City’s sprawl (it is massive task and a daunting one, at that). Storm water drains must ONLY be used for rain water drainage.
Each of these systems has to be physically separate and independent from each other – no one system should be able to lead into another system in case of a breakdown; each of these systems has to have its own failsafe mechanisms in place; have their own access points for repairs, replacements & maintenance in place; and have their dedicated teams ready to fix and clean them.
PROBLEM: The World Bank funded & completed a successful Sewage treatment plant in the 1990s. However, it never started operations. Why … because there were no trunk sewer systems designed or created to capture rainwater which would have flowed into the treatment plants; likewise, nothing was designed to capture the sewage (which instead was dumped into the rain water drains) to drain into such treatments plants either.
SOLUTION(s): Fourth- once these new Trunk Sewers and formal Sewage system captures all types of drains (be it rainwater or sewage), they should ONLY flow into Sewage treatment plants (plants…PLURAL); and then they should flow into new nullahs connecting to Malir & Lyari rivers.
Malir & Lyari rivers themselves need to be dredged and maintained to accept this drainage.
A recycling solution also lies in utilizing waste from treatment plants (after being treated) for watering the City’s green belts instead of letting it flow into the sea.
SOLUTION(s): So, we need to create large swaths of “green areas”;
We have to breakdown this concrete jungle and rebuild public areas with gardens and trees;
Town planning has to be formalized, professionalized and held accountable;
Katchi abadis may very well have to be relocated (like the successful Lyari/Orangi resettlement project) into new, formal neighborhoods- this can be successfully & mutually negotiated by giving these resettlers title to their new properties, instead of the usurious “pagri” and rental system most of these katchi abadi dwellers have to content with currently;
Lastly, roads and current infrastructure will also have be replanned, replaced or even relocated to accommodate these new services.
So, what is the STARTING POINT of all these actions?
A long term City & infrastructure Plan has to be created, agreed by all political stakeholders and implemented & monitored professionally. This Plan will continuously need amendments and updating, which cannot be done without a non-partisan, political approach to addressing Karachi’s problems professionally by the Chief Minister, Government AND Opposition parties working together, instead of the politics of destruction – the destruction to the City of Karachi!
(Comments by Dinshaw: The Author of this piece is unknown to me. I do not take credit for it. While it is written by an Indian Parsi, it’s a lovely, warm and, I believe, a very true-characteristic of our Parsi Community worldwide – and very well representative of us Parsis in Pakistan 😄. If the original author comes across this blog, please do let me know and I will happily place your name in the credits 😄).
I have often wondered: Are Bawas really mad? Of course this question only lasts for a nanosecond. Because even a cursory glance at some of my brethren is enough to convince me of the answer.
I mean, what else would you call someone who parks his beloved motorcycle in his third floor living room? Or someone who has three-tier armrests on his commode so that he can read his morning newspaper more comfortably? Or someone who makes a large loop of his pajama string and slips it over his head every time he has a bout of diarrhea, for quick release, in emergencies?
Of course we’re mad! In fact we inspired the famous Jack Nicholson movie. It was originally going to be titled: One Flew over Cusrow Baug. What remains to be understood is why exactly are we like this?
This is a question that has bothered me on many hot summer afternoons when I feel the insanity bubbling up inside me like some slowly fermenting Dhansak.
After all, I too have felt the urge on occasion: To donate umbrellas to all the Parsi statues in Bombay so that their dignified phetas (traditional Parsi head-gear) are not exposed to the callousness of pigeon.
To run around Dhobi Talao trying to change as many double-Decker bus numbers to 66 (or whatever your most used bus number) as is humanly possible in one entertaining hour.
To convince my poor friend Rustom (name changed to protect his insanity) that they were going to ask him to recite the entire Bombay Telephone Directory in his English Poetry Oral Exam.
Most of the time I can put this predisposition towards madness down to “having a slightly different sense of humor.” But when I delve deeper, I find that there are other dimensions to our madness as well. Like my granduncle who would only wear a shirt once and then give it away to the poor (The Madness of Charity).Or the man who returned a gold brick during the harbor explosion at Bombay Docks (The Madness of Honesty). Or the aunty who thought the TV repairman was trying to throw rays at her (The Madness of Paranoia). I also wonder about other dimensions to our oddness.
Like why are there so many grown Parsi men who live with their Mothers and why are there so many grown Parsi women who prefer not to live with grown Parsi men who live with their mothers? Like why are we so obsessed about cleaning our cars and motor cycles? And where on earth did we get our accent? And why do we cover our fish in banana leaves? Is it to protect their modesty? Or is it to prevent them from hearing the scandalous gossip at our traditional Parsi lagans (weddings)?
Whatever the dimension, there is no doubting one thing. Our madness is a gentle, harmless, twittering kind of madness. The kind that makes other people smile and twirl their index finger at forehead level indulgently.
But after years of introspection and self-analysis I find I am still unable to answer that essential question. “Why are Bawas mad.” Perhaps it is simply to entertain ourselves? After all, we haven’t got Parsi TV yet.
A scientific friend of mine thinks we are mad because of inter-breeding. He could be right, but sometimes I think the answer is too boring for the Parsis. I prefer my more romantic friend who claims “we are mad because if we were not, we would be truly insane, I think we are mad to protect us from the sane.
The word ‘Parsi’ is derived from the word Pars or Persia. Hence, Parsi literally means ‘people who have come from Persia’. And what progress we have made since then! From coming as humble refugees from Iran , to building great empires like Tatas and Wadias; from being persecuted in our own motherland, to carving a niche for ourselves in other’s hearts in a completely foreign country, Parsis have truly come a very long way.
Today, Parsis are one of the most loved communities in the world. Every Hindu, Muslim or Christian is bound to have at least one Parsi friend. And boy! Do the good times roll when Parsis are around! Right from their long noses and fair complexion, to their unique Hindi and witty wisecracks, Parsis are a pleasure to have around you, and are the life of any party.
And oh! Do we have our own unique identity! A Parsi can be easily spotted even in a crowded place. All you have to do is find someone whose petticoat is longer than the dress, who has a scarf on her head and a smile on her face. And trust me, it is so heartening to bump into one of them and hear them ask ‘Arre dikra, kem che? Baccha kem che?’
And while others may turn a deaf ear, the Parsi ‘maaiji’ is ever ready to dole out advice on the common cold, cough and backache, and hand you generations-passed-down, home-made recipes to cure them, which, though awful smelling and tasting, are twice as effective as any medicine in the market. On the other hand, her Parsi husband will come and declare all the ‘drama’ is unnecessary; stating that ‘ek peg Brandy’ will cure all your illnesses!
Parsis by nature are very inquisitive. Visit any Parsi ‘baug’ and you will know what I mean. Scores of Parsi ‘maaijis’ will be sitting in the garden, gossiping about how ‘Framroze in dikri pela Jehangir na dikra saathe fari raheech.’ or ‘Mare, aaje Veera NE toh moti toran che. Kai lagan che su?’
And who can ignore the early morning bargaining with the ‘goshwallo’ and ‘macchiwalli’, old Parsi ‘maaijis’ in their nightgowns and ‘bawajis’ in their ‘Sudreh-Legha’, arguing in their half-broken Hindi, loud enough to wake up the entire colony – ‘Arre kaiko itna bhav bolech, jara kami kar. Lootva bethach.’ or ‘Surmai taazi che ke? Jara barabar dev. Chori mat kar.’
Another distinguishing feature of Parsis is a clean, well-kept house… Because for Parsis, Cleanliness is not next to Godliness. It is as important as Godliness itself. And the doorstep will always have ‘chalk’ and ‘toran’. The bigger and more colourful the ‘chalk’ and heavier the ‘toran’, the bigger the occasion.
And speaking of occasions, no one can celebrate weddings and Navjotes with more fervour and gusto than Parsis, who believe in making merry and living life King-Size! Attend a Parsi wedding, and I am sure you will not leave until you have eaten to your heart’s content, had the traditional ‘chaato paani’, danced like there is no tomorrow, and made friends with every invitee – be it women resplendent in ‘garas’ or men in spotless ‘daglis’. A common sight at these functions are ladies trying to put their match-making abilities to the test by finding out if there is any ‘kuwari chokri’ in the family who cannot find a better boy than ‘aapro Jamshed’!
Another thing Parsis are known for is their cuisine… Ask any non-Parsi what the first thing is that comes their mind when they hear the word Parsi, and pat comes the reply ‘Dhansak and Patra in Macchi’.. ‘Akuri’ is a favourite among many of my non-Parsi friends, and the ‘Lagan nu Custard’ is a delicious end to any sumptuous meal.
Parsis are the only community who are traditional, as well as modern. Only in Parsi households will you know who Elvis Presley is, and also hear old ‘monajats’ and ‘garbas’. Only in a Parsi household will you know that Tulsi was thrown out of the house in ‘Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi’, at the same time knowing about Adi Marazban’s Gujrati ‘nataks’.
Yes, we do have our share of problems and controversies (more than enough actually!) but at the end of the day, we all belong to one religion. We all believe in Zarathushtra and Ahura Mazda. We all believe in the power of … our prayers. And that’s what finally matters. Being proud of our glorious past, living in the difficult present times, and believing in the bright future awaiting our community.
On a lighter note – yes, we are eccentric, yes, we are loud and yes, we will voice our opinion on everything under the sun (whether it concerns us or not). But finally, it’s the warm, loving nature that we all have that sets us apart.
Love us, or hate us, you just CAN’T ignore us! And all said and done, I’m very proud to be a Parsi.
(If you are a Parsi reading this, Aren’t you too?)
Weather patterns have changed for Pakistan, especially Karachi. We are seeing colder winters, hotter summers … and heavier rains! The last I remember of these types of rains were in the 1970s.
Karachi is facing severe monsoon rains for the first time in decades. It’s a good thing too – it cleans up the city; there is more greenery; the temperature drops; and life is so much more pleasant; and the three major reservoirs supplying water to our City get filled.
Yet, with the rains upon us there is no drinking water in sight! Like South Africa’s current problem, Pakistan is heading for a water crisis in the coming decade.
Rain is God’s gift to Earth and we are rebuffing this free resource!
The time to act is NOW … with no POLITICS or partisanship involved, through micro & macro means. The provincial & federal governments cannot do this on their own- we as citizens have to help out too.
Let’s go back to school – literally – and immediately start teaching water saving to all nursery, kindergarten and primary school children! (Long Term Goal)
Water faucets can and should be changed to modern fittings which save water. I saw a very interesting concept at https://www.alteredcompany.com/ . Their water aerators/nozzles give a mist giving the same cleaning effects but at a fraction of the water wastage. Why can’t our domestic companies follow suit and make it mandatory for all faucets to be of this type?
Implement recycling “domestic” water for kitchen & clothes washing and swimming pool top ups;
Implement “waste” water recycling (from WC’s and urinals) for gardens and exterior washings (can be used for washing cars, external patios, etc).
Implement drip irrigation for all gardens, plants & farms –Middle Eastern countries are proof that such systems work – and theoretically it should be even easier for us to do!
All watering for gardens & plants should be done at/after sunset;
Domestic staff HAVE to be taught to conserve water (for that matter all our utilities);
On the macro side, our federal & provincial governments –
Have to put aside “-1 sum” politics (in this case “-1” referring to provinces) in favour of the citizens of Pakistan.
Like Hawaii, we need to create water catchment areas for rainwater in each province – NO RAIN WATER SHOULD BE WASTED.
Mini DAMS is a must – starting from the north of Pakistan’s main rivers down south to the Arabian Sea – so that our fresh water does not drain into the sea and is instead used productively. Politicians (not us citizens!) have concerns that water from such dams would not be used equitably – but if Pakistan & India’s Indus Water Treaty of 1960 can withstand the “test of time”, I’m sure our own provinces can also reach comprehensive, equitable & binding agreements.
Not a drop of fresh water in Pakistan should be allowed to flow into the Arabian Sea and instead equitably diverted East & West to all provinces as it flows southwards!
Desalinization plants – this is a macro project and while some smaller units have been set up in Karachi, they are not being used. Besides rainwater, ocean water is an absolutely FREE resource- why are we not using it? We take loans to pay off other loans … and loans for building our arms … why can’t we take loans & grants for providing drinking water to our population?
There is a great need for our governments (plural!) collectively to lead the way in collecting & storing rainwater; promoting households & commercial buildings to create water catchments & reuse rainwater; and teach & implement water saving techniques to the population!
THE WATER IS FREE people … we just need to optimally capture this very very scarce resource and utilize it correctly in & for our Country.
… Conflict & strife being at one of the highest points that I can remember in my conscious life.
It basically comes down to “governments” and national policies-
Why are nations encouraging conflict with other nations?
Shouldn’t they be looking at the welfare of their own citizens FIRST!?
Why are nations increasing arms spend?
Shouldn’t they be spending on education & health of their own citizens instead?
What is a “government’s” purpose to come to power?
Is it not to enhance the poor and downtrodden out of poverty instead?
How does a country’s attempt for currency & world domination/hegemony help the citizens of that nation?
Doesn’t it instead dilute the energies & efficiencies of the government from internalenhancement?
In today’s era, how does land acquisition through war & conquest help a nation prosper?
Doesn’t it instead divert resources from otherwise more critical LIFE purposes?
The words in the United Nations’ charter is the ONLY KPI on which governments should be judged & held responsible for by its citizens –
“…committed to maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights”
– and not on how strong a country’s currency is or how many wars it is fighting or how influential it is in world affairs.
Let’s end this diatribe with a quote from Ronald Reagan’s Acceptance Speech at the Republican National Convention on July 17, 1980 [please replace “Americans” with “citizens”] …
“…millions of [Americans] find themselves out of work. Millions more have never even had a fair chance to learn new skills, hold a decent job, or secure for themselves and their families a share in the prosperity of this nation. It is time to put [Americans] back to work, to make our cities and towns resound with the confident voices of men and women of all races, nationalities and faiths bringing home to their families a decent paycheck they can cash for honest money. For those without skills, we’ll find a way to help them get skills. For those without job opportunities, we’ll stimulate new opportunities, particularly in the inner cities where they live…”
…This is what worlds’ governments should SOLELY strive towards…FULL STOP!
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.”
….Hey! Hold on! I’m now a COVID expert!? No but here are some practical tips for travelers to consider-
Wear the COVID N-95 or K-95 face mask on board;
(If you are really paranoid 😊, add a cloth or surgical mask over that)
Carry on board-
Wear mask continuously
Disposable surgical mask- (tie-on type- not behind-ear type)
Hand sanitizer & hand wipes
Some paper disposable bags
Before initially sitting, use the hand wipes –
Wipe down both arm rests, seat cushion & back
Wipe down outside of overhead bin and latch
Wipe down the tray and TV if it is one of those seat-retractable ones
(If you are on a window seat) Wipe down side of the plane (where you would put your head to sleep) and window shutter
Use a fresh hand wipe to sanitize your hands and bin all the wipes into a paper bag and dispose in lavatory (see below)
Use moisturizer on hands
Going to the bathroom-
Carry hand wipes with you
Use one hand wipe to open the door, get inside and lock the door and wipe the lock and door latch
Use another hand wipe to wipe the lid of the disposable bin and and flushing mechanism/button
Wash hands with soap
After using the bathroom, use hand wipe or sanitizer for a final clean.
Continue wearing mask during entire trip
Whenever you walk around, go to the food galley, open the overhead bin, etc, on returning back to the seat, use hand sanitizer and moisturizer
Eating (my favorite experience on a plane! 😊)-
Why I’m suggesting using the tie-on type of face mask is so that you keep the top portion tied on and open the bottom two ties, allowing you to feed yourself (and drink) without removing the mask portion covering the nose
Use hand wipes to wipe down all cutlery (we use hand wipes to wipe down thermometers, so I presume it’s safe for cutlery too)
Wipe down the plastic and foil covers of the food and drink
EAT … DEVOUR … ENJOY! 😊
Enjoy the food … Enjoy the movie … Enjoy the flying experience … and most of all, Enjoy the sleep!
If you have any further suggestions, please do share.
REPLY ADDRESS BY MR. DINSHAW B AVARI ON THE OCCASION TO COMMEMORATE HIS 85th BIRTHDAY on NOV 5, 1987-
“As Mr Wyseman used to only show a profit of Rs.18,000/- per year, I showed Rs 19,000/- by cooking the accounts and got them passed *. Next year I again made a net profit of well over Rs 1 Lac because this was the only hotel not out of bounds for American Soldiers.
(*more on this later)
In order to reduce the Souvenirs being taken away, all my Crockery and Ashtrays, which were imported, had the words ‘Stolen from Bristol Hotel’ on them. This made all the soldiers buy these items by paying fat sums to me and I put a board so that other Souvenirs would not be taken from the Dining Room. This big board read ‘KNIVES AND FORKS ARE NOT LIKE MEDICINE TO BE TAKEN AFTER MEALS’.
Deciding to build my own hotel, I went to Mr Bushby, Chairman of the Port Trust for a plot of land on the seashore. He asked me how much whiskey I could sell. I told him I could give him a case of Whiskey and sent him Black Label. He gave me this whole plot where we are today.
At the Governor’s House, my wife Khorshed heard my friends speaking to each other that ‘Avari is a damn fool – building a hotel where even the dogs will not stay’. She was most upset and did not eat or drink anything at the party and came home and cried to me that all your dear friends say you are making a mistake and why won’t you stop throwing all your life savings away.
This property, which I have got on 100 years lease, will be useful to my son Byram and to my Grandsons and we will never give it away.”
COVID-19 struck and we did not lay off our staff or executives. We did this openly, with our hearts in it, and fully mindful of the economic impact to our family & group.
Our reasoning … where will these people go, how will they live, eat, buy medicines – especially our Associates – as there’s no social network or institutionalized setup to support them. It was (and is) our responsibility to look after them and their family.
We didn’t do this expecting anything in return – because that’s not what “helping” is about.
Trust & a helping hand is given implicitly – one should not do charity expecting anything in return.
Little did we know, there always are the bad eggs … the back stabbers … those few people who would take advantage of this good will ☹ … and “stab the hand that feeds him”!
After several months of this closed period, we decided to call back team members in batches from their homes & villages so as to continue – if nothing else – training programs so that people remain more productive.
What excuses did we get when we started …
Some pretend to be ill and don’t submitting any medical proof so as to skip training;
For some, they or their “dependant” were ill – for the last 2 months! – and so could not attend the job;
Some responded that they are out of the respective city or in another province and due to Covid they can’t get transport … (hmmm, last I remember, Inter-province and Inter-city transport started before last Eid);
This last one is classic – “schedule our duty for a continuous 2-3 weeks and then let us go back to our village”! So, not only do we pay them their salary but, it now seems, they will even schedule their own work hours while on our payroll. I’d like a job like that 😊!
My point is, why do we give our trust to others, our hearts to others, our energy and resources for others, only for these “others” to stab us in the back?
It’s sad actually …
it does shake the trust we put in humanity and in our team members