“WHATEVER HAPPENS, HAPPENS FOR THE BEST”

April 2, 2020

Life is all about experiences and based on those experiences, over time, your outlook towards life and the world forms & changes.

Likewise, I too have become more philosophical, definitely more religious and have come to sincerely believe in (& follow) a saying we learnt from my father–

Whatever happens, happens for the best;

Whatever happens, happens the way God wants it to

   because that’s the best way

So when my sailing friends, Bill & Kate Gover invited me to cruise with them on ‘SY SENETO’ around the world (https://billkatesail.wordpress.com/), I jumped at this opportunity for their Pacific leg.  About four weeks – a leisurely cruise – interspersed with squalls (and calm) – but nothing grueling like it would have been in a Clipper or Fastnet race.

My wife Dinaz did – and my family would’ve – supported this 100%, as they have my other whims and fancies.  Then I remembered my mother-in-law lives with us since 2017, when she had her stroke; and while Dinaz primarily takes care of her, I too help out where I can- especially moral & physical support to Dinaz.  So, it really wouldn’t be right or fair for me to go gallivanting the oceans while my wife solely supported her mom.  Hence my deep regrets to Bill & Kate.

No one knew COVID-19 would hit the WORLD just four months into their ‘adventure of a lifetime’!  Had I gone on the sail, not only would I probably have been stuck in some port; there would have been no flights back; I wouldn’t be with my family; and they and I would be worried for each other while the Coronavirus engulfed the Country (just as Bill & Kate must be currently for their family and vice-versa as they sail the Pacific).

So here’s the punch- while regretting the voyage was the right thing to do, in hindsight I now believe I was never meant to go as it never had been on the cards for me … “whatever happens, happens for the best”!

Likewise, the pandemic we are facing now is happening for a reason and if mankind can just learn and evolve from this experience, we will be the better from it.

WHERE ARE WE HEADING

March 26, 2020

(source- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ongoing_armed_conflicts)

Insurgencies, ethnic violence, civil wars, conflicts and over 200,000 deaths in 2019 alone!

  • Afghanistan conflict
  • Yemen crisis
  • Syrian civil war
  • Kurd conflict
  • Iraq conflict
  • Libyan conflict
  • Kashmir conflict
  • Palestinian conflict

(source- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ongoing_armed_conflicts)

This list doesn’t even touch on intra-country “insurgencies”!

…and now a virus pandemic…

My personal belief is that with the current Coronavirus trajectory, COVID19 has the potential to overshadow all these world conflicts & flashpoints with fatalities.

So, what’s going on? 

  • Is “nature” correcting this Century’s rife?
  • Is this a wake-up call to live within the resources that Earth has given us – not to destroy it?
  • Maybe this is meant to teach us forgiveness & humility towards fellow man – not hubris & greed?
  • Should we encourage education & knowledge for the betterment of mankind – not child labor?
  • If science is to lead the path for a better tomorrow, wouldn’t it be better to do it collaboratively and collectively – rather than conflict & strife?
  • Wasn’t religion meant for our salvation & give a purpose to life – not as a means to power?
  • Maybe the world needs to concentrate on “small government” to help citizens – not big business?  (also refer- https://dinshawavari.com/2019/06/14/what-does-a-government-do-for-us-%f0%9f%a4%94/)
  • Is this pandemic a test to measure the level of universal aid & collaboration – or politics getting the better of humanity?

…OR, maybe the answer is ALL OF THE ABOVE???

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)

The Scourge of Mouth Cancer

November 19, 2019

photo credit- https://www.teepublic.com/t-shirt/2383350-skull-death

This weekend, my family and I visited our driver for a condolence on the death of his young son, who also worked in our Hotel.

The man died of mouth cancer … due to chewing paan (betel nut) and gutka.

Gutka, a tobacco-related narcotic, is truly the scourge of mouth cancer- and it is addictive!

In October, the Provincial Government enacted a tremendous law banning Gutka, with a heavy fine & imprisonment … while the nascent law is a positive step, the government has yet to follow up with effective implementation.

The problem is that for the consumers of this substance it is a narcotic.  You can’t simply turn off a switch.  Like other narcotics and behaviors, it is deeply ingrained in society and part of their lives – so much so that generations of families are consuming it concurrently.  Besides, I don’t believe we have the infrastructure to provide medication, counselling or alternative therapies to “un-learn” this behavior.

Like the law, we have had strict rules restricting betel nut on the job (let alone gutka!)- but, like the law, we cannot effectively implement our own rule.  We do physical checks and entry pat-downs – yet it makes its way into the staff canteen and staff areas.  In spite of knowing their colleague’s cancer (which was in its final stage when diagnosed), no one has even reduced this consumption.  Our own house maid, her mouth STUFFED, refuses to accept she’s chewing it – her mouth so full that she cannot even verbally defend herself!

On our condolence visit, not only was our driver’s wife consuming betel nut but their entire family was chewing away on it … nary a care to the reason behind reduction of their family’s size!

If the finality of death is not enough to scare such consumers to stopping this narcotic, what will ☠?

Farm … to Market

November  6, 2019

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elXGOeS8EUQ)

One of the best investments this Country ever made in the ‘90’s was development of the new Motorways in the Punjab.  Let’s analyze what it has produced-

  • Poverty- Whether it’s the “CPEC” development of roads network, rail links or other transport modes or it’s internally developed, tying city to city and province to province will uplift rural areas and give them access to commerce, trade, emergencies, etc.;
  • Commerce – you’ve shrunk the time, eased the availability and given smooth access to farmers and trade from their villages to large towns and cities;
  • Mobility- Punjab has become MOBILE.  With a maximum travel time of six hours, people can work in one city while their home is in another- very much like cities in USA;
  • Transport- network and infrastructure has increased and become better;
  • Employment- you’ve created new means of income & employment- whether new buses ply the motorways, staffing these buses or opportunities for shops, outlets, offices, etc. (more on this below*)
  • Tourism- you give immediate access to develop internal tourism opportunities (more on this below*).  This summer, my brother, sis-in-law and our families drove from Karachi to Nathiagali, in one of the best overland adventures they have had!

*Tourism & self-employment- Local towns, villages and populace on the road network should be helped & encouraged to put up small, clean, 2-3 star lodgings & cottages– the economy of that area is being developed indigenously.  Pakistani hospitality is one of the best the world has ever seen (but few can experience it in the face of negative publicity ☹).  You don’t need the “Avaris” and the “PCs” & “Serenas” – let it be the “Khan Motel” instead.  One, 10 room lodging will give DIRECT income & employment to a family of 5-7 people minimum; they in turn will employ others to help run the show; producers will sell food stuff, cleaning, linen and other items to these lodgings; the benefits go on down-stream and are never ending; and on & on.  The ancillary developments that take place are another story all together – shops , retails, malls, organized tours, etc.

(http://dunyanews.tv/en/Pakistan/416339-Motorway-opened-for-all-kinds-of-traffic)

There may be no international empirical evidence suggesting an increase in road networks necessarily helps an economy but I see actual, on-the-ground benefits we have gained in Pakistan.  If travel time between Karachi and Lahore can be reduced from almost 24 hours to 12 hours, what’s not to like?  If a series of motorways links the length and breadth of Pakistan, what’s wrong with that?

(As I post this, the new M7 – Multan to Sukkar- just opened!)

…and the Naatak entertained us this weekend!

October 15, 2019

(In Gujrati, “Naatak” = “play”)

Mix Breed”, based on a Parsi family who have to face “intermarriage” issues, is a light portrayal of the real-world issues our Community is facing.   With double meanings and inflections, the cast (90% of whom learnt Gujrati “on the job”!) entertained the Gujrati speaking communities of Karachi.

The Script was written by Mrs Huzan Wadia, who has successfully acted & directed it in Mumbai; and selflessly extended the script on a gratis basis to Natalia Karanjia in Karachi, this play being the latter’s directorial debut.  Yay to Natalia!

This is what Karachi, and Pakistan, lacks- ENTERTAINMENT.  We have food & drink and ………… hmmmmm.  Play and theatre is picking up in Pakistan but to a very restricted market.  The mainstream citizens do not get to enjoy theatre on a regular basis- whether drama, comedy, musical.  Our cast explained to me the ‘power’ of theatre – they get their rush when the crowd reacts with them- it’s a powerful, intoxicating feeling; there are no second chances for a mistake; and when you make a mistake, you have to think on your feet and keep going.

In the 2000 decade our media was opened – creating a new source of employment – for budding theatre artists, actors, directors, writers, film makers, etc.  It’s a growth market but we have to create more facilities for this talent to be nurtured, taught, portrayed – AND WITH IT allowing us citizens to enjoy these productions and enriching our lives.  Kudos to the NAPAs, Arts Councils and other such facilities – but we need more!

(The naatak was sponsored by the 109 year-old Young Mazdyasnian Zoroastrian Association (YMZA) and the Karachi Parsi Anjuman- however it is not meant to be any endorsement or official or unofficial stance of the Anjuman, the YMZA or any individual thereof)