A Silver Lining!?

December 10, 2020

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.

Chinna Creek, Karachi

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.    

Avari Towers, Karachi
Skygrill Rooftop Restaurant

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.

Seafront Restaurant, Beach Luxury, Karachi

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.

Avari Lahore, Lahore

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 😊 😊 😊)

Avari Lahore

Avari Towers
Beach Luxury Hotel, Karachi
Avari Lahore gardens

“Lockdown or Not to Lockdown – That Is The Question”

(Further Harangues of a Layman [COVID]- 3)

(photo credit- webmd.com)

May 30, 2020

(This is a long article)

Since my last “diatribe” on this topic (https://dinshawavari.com/2020/04/19/imitation-is-the-sincerest-form-of-flattery-further-ramblings-of-a-layman-covid-2/), we have opened a lot of our lockdown sectors, retail outlets, business, etc. 

Now comes the question- has lockdown helped or not.

Personally I believe that lockdown was an important strategy at the outset of this pandemic- however, it should have been all encompassing and stricter.  Our businesses have been closed for last two months instead of 2-3 weeks – and that is due to a “hybrid” system instead of “total” lockdown.

However, dynamics have changed.  Two months without income cannot sustain any economic band of society- it’s just not possible.  Giving credit where it’s due – to the State Bank and the Federal Government for supporting companies and businesses – is important but it isn’t enough for someone to feed 4-5 mouths on a daily basis in a population of 250 Million!

(1) Part of the problem lies in partisan politics. 

Australia, with its diverse political structure and strong provincial autonomy, banded together like no other in this crisis.  Partisan politics were set aside for a country-specific policy.  Consensus-based decision making was the norm.  The PM and the coordination committee with representatives of all provinces made JOINT decisions.  This is not so in Pakistan!

(2) As long as citizens of a country do not cooperate with the government, no amount of the “stick” or “carrot” will work.  The administration can beat their head against the wall creating SOPs but if in our own heart we don’t follow them, then it’s as good as a failed policy.

Sweden’s “partial lockdown” system worked due to the Swedish people’s sense of responsibility in social distancing.  They took it upon themselves to ensure they followed the government’s policies in return for a more open society.  This is not so in Pakistan!

(3) Successful countries have followed the advice of scientists and doctors.  Government policies, politics, [maybe] some personal freedoms have been set aside to listen to, and implement, actions recommended by “virus experts”.

Here again, Australia, Korea, New Zealand, etc followed what experts in this field advised them.  It may have run contrary to their own thinking or policy but they listened to people who knew what they were talking about.  This is not so in Pakistan! 

(4) I do not support pollution or lack of hygiene & sanitation!  However, can a fair case be made that in countries like Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, while there is a high Corona Virus count, the death rate [to overall COVID cases] ratio is not as high as in the developed world?  Why?

Let’s look it like this- the pollution, smog, vehicular emissions, sewerage, slums, lack of sanitation, etc in the general populace is the “norm” unfortunately; food is prepared over open sewages; generations are born and die in slums in the center of our cities; 50% of the population drink polluted tap water directly; flies are our regular lunch & dinner dates; mosquitos thrive on our blood … whose immunity will NOT be built?  These are the living standards in Pakistan!  However, this should not be the case in Pakistan!

All these factors and more – cash economy, daily wagers, population density, public transport, education levels, etc – play their share on a macro basis in determining whether to lockdown a country or not.  We lack in so many of these areas that I do not believe Pakistan can afford to lockdown the country further. 

Smarter policing is required – political partisanship has to be shunned – geographical and economic aspects should be accounted for – and based on these aspects an all-inclusive, sustained policy be devised.

Can Pakistan please band together!?

(photo credit- sciencemag.com)

A Case for … Not Working from Home!

May 20, 2020

Yawn … Yawwn … YAWWNNNN

It’s almost two months for our lockdown in Pakistan and working from home.

The first month went well, working from home I mean.

Started waking up at 7am, instead of 6

You find the time to exercise more

                              Lounge in your shorts and socks

                                             No shirt, just your vest (in my case, Sadrah)

                                                            Come 5pm, put on your shirt and shoes (stay in your socks) and sit in the garden

                      It’s fine as long as you keep working, keep at it, stay busy!

But now, now, now …. YAWNNNNNN ….

(Photo Credit- thelabradorsite.com)

               (forgot what I was thinking!)

Oh yes, I’VE TURNED LAZY!

Today, as I write these words, I realize that working from home is NOT AN OPTION.  There is no such successful concept as “an office at home”.  The novelty wears away.  So does one’s creativity.  Office interaction.  Office dynamics.

Actually, now to think of it, it felt good going to office – sometimes even being first to open the doors – sticking to a ROUTINE.  You then actually enjoy your weekends at home more. 

Go figure