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.”
Hotels [rooms] marketing used to be so much easier- you put an advert in the newspaper or magazine to promote your product or facility or promotion. That’s IT!
TV was around but one of the most expensive mediums to market a hotel- and only the large Hiltons, Hyatts and Sheratons of the world used it.
Then came the ‘90s email usage on a commercial basis, so we started emailing clients and guests.
Close on its heels came the WWW … followed by our “friend”, SOCIAL MEDIA in the last decade!
Very very confusing … not only to customers – with the JUNK being posted daily – but also to hotels.
Where & who do we market to?
When will our customer be “online”?
Who will see our advert in the clutter & junk of the information
available on the Web & Social?
Newspapers officially have a shelf life of 24 hours … in practice, it’s a few hours – the moment the paper is put back on the coffee table, that’s it.
Magazines fare a little better (with their “official” shelf life of a week or month- depending on its publication).
We dabble in WhatsApp and SMS content too … not very satisfying!
…and SOCIAL … the amount of information explosion taking place is phenomenal and mind boggling. A tweet is literally lost in seconds. Few years back I actually experimented one day to see how many tweets used to go through on my account – I lost count after 800 or so! Say a 1000 tweets in 9 hours! That was when I had just started on Twitter. I don’t even want to try a similar experiment today.
What’s the best platform for hotel services marketing then?
I REALLY DON’T KNOW
Only time will tell how to really market the hotel industry. For now, we dabble in FB, IG or Twitter; maybe an advert in a newspaper; some messaging from time to time – but I am at a complete loss as to what is the future of advertising & marketing a hotel is in the 2020s and beyond!
I am a Parsi (“bawa”) – and I love the eccentricities & quirks, we, as a community, display…and I love poking fun at ourselves (as do most of us bawas)! Those Parsis who disagree, my humble apologies in advance.
I received this by email and it was too funny not to post. Read on for a ‘deep-belly’ laugh and if you know us Parsis, you too will tend to agree with our idiosyncrasies, accept them and take them in stride 😊.
(I don’t claim credit for this masterpiece- and I give full marks to the unknown author! “Mumbai” based and minimal gujrati language knowledge may be required 😊)
This is hilarious stuff, especially for people who have exposure to it’s Parsi culture.
Whoever wrote it, thanks bawa….
I, Tehmuras Tehmpton Tarkariwalla (alias T3), being of sound mind [one and only time] and solid body [Dara singh no baap], do not wish to be kept alive indefinitely by artificial means. Under no circumstances should my fate be put in the hands of pinhead politicians who couldn’t pass 9th grade biology if their lives depended on it; or doctors, who can barely treat my pet Bruno, but are interested in simply running up his bills.
If a reasonable amount of time passes and I fail to ask for at least one of the following:
Char Double fried eeda with crisp [jalela] brown toast
Bhida par eedu
Marghi na farcha
Ek dajan taajah boomla
Akoori on toast
Dhanshak anne Kachumbar [tarela kabab sathe]
Kolmi no Patio
Chai with leely Chai & Fudino
Sali-ma-gosh with fresh chokah ni rotli
Duke ni raspberry
Lagan nu custard
Kulfi from Parsee Dairy Farm
Scotch with soda
Patra ni machi
Kayani ni pastry
Victory na wafers
Paris Bakery ni butter khari biscuit…
…Then it should be presumed that I won’t ever get better.
When such a determination is reached, I hereby instruct my appointed person [“BOY” – the kalia who has been my faithful Man-Friday from Billimora] and Soli, my solicitor, to ensure that the attending physicians pull the plug, reel in the tubes and call it a day.
I have lived a good life and am looking forward to meet my Maker… Boy should go to the Cama’s at Mumbai Samachar and ask them to print my departure. And don’t forget to inform all the Ghelchodiyas & Gadheras who I used to drink with at the Parsi Gymkhana, otherwise they will curse me all the way back to Behram Baug.
A dinner must be organised at Dotiwalla Baug for my carrom gang with Godiwalla’s catering and whisky from Parson & Co. [the 1st licensed liquor shop in Bombay, license No.1] and call apro Gary Lawyer [who is not a lawyer but a besooro singer] and ask him to sing “Besame Mucho” for me at the dinner. Most of the carrom gang are deaf and don’t have an ear for music anyway.
Boy should continue to look after my Bruno from the money I leave behind in Central Bank nu khatu.
My Morris Tiger  should be given to Soli, my solicitor and my horse “Knightsbridge” should be sold to a ghorawalla from Matheran and not to a ghoragariwalla in Mumbai or a ghorawalla in Mahabaleshwar as I don’t want the poor animal to gallop on daamar [asphalt] na rasta.
The furniture and fixtures should be given to Pundole’s to auction and the sale proceeds to be donated to the Bai Sakarbai PetitAnimal Hospital.
The Rani no photo should be sent to apro Prince Charles, who is now the husband of Kamaal ni Camilia.
T3. [i.e. Tehmuras Tehmpton Tarkariwalla]
(In the presence of salo dukkar doctor Soli Saklatwalla and fatakadi nurse)
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.”