We Are Who We Are Because Of Our Forefathers- 9

Sept 16, 2020

(9 of 12)

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.

(Model of Nedous Hotel – presented to my grandfather by his staff – in our office)

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. 

(Beach Luxury in the 1960s
Picture credit- unknown photographer, with thanks)

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.”

(to be cont)

(previous (8th) post- https://dinshawavari.com/2020/08/18/we-are-who-we-are-because-of-our-forefathers-8/)

We Are Who We Are Because Of Our Forefathers- 8

August 18, 2020

(8 of 12)

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.”

(to be cont)

(previous (7th) post- https://dinshawavari.com/2020/07/31/we-are-who-we-are-because-of-our-forefathers-7/)

We Are Who We Are Because Of Our Forefathers- 7

July 31, 2020

(7 of 12)

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.

(to be cont)

(previous (6th) post- https://dinshawavari.com/2020/06/18/we-are-who-we-are-because-of-our-forefathers-6/)

We Are Who We Are Because Of Our Forefathers- 6

June 18, 2020

(6 of 12)

REPLY ADDRESS BY MR. DINSHAW B AVARI ON THE OCCASION TO COMMEMORATE HIS 85th BIRTHDAY on NOV 5, 1987-

Sir Sidney Ridley confirmed to me that he would protect me and would ensure that the Hotel, if purchased by me, would not be requisitioned during the Second World War for the Army, Navy and Air Force, as was the custom.

So, putting up my entire life’s savings and borrowing the rest, I went to Mr.  Wyseman and purchased the Bristol Hotel for Rs.100,000/-.  Mr Wyseman agreed on one condition- that Khorshed and I learn the hotel business with him for a few months.  So, every morning at 4 a.m. I went to the Empress Market to purchase all the groceries, and the mutton, beef, chicken, fish, vegetables and fruits.

As soon as six months training were over and Mr. Wyseman handed over the Hotel to me and left Karachi – and the Bristol Hotel got requisitioned!

When I went to Sir Sidney Ridley and informed him about this, he phoned the British Provost Marshal of the Army to enquire why this was done. The Provost Marshal said “How can a bloody Indian run an English Hotel?”

Sir Sidney Ridley insisted the Hotel be de-requisitioned and the Provost Marshal accepted only on my written agreement to reduce the charges to Rs. 5/- per room and Rs.7/- for room with all meals. Sir Sidney Ridley said I would go bankrupt, but I agreed. Inspite of all my social status, I was still a “bloody Indian” but I was willing to take the challenge.

Now, the charge for a Chota (small) Peg for a Whiskey was Rs. l/. I immediately doubled it and got the Sargeant at Mauripur Airport to send me as many soldiers as he liked and I would pay him Rs.1/- per soldier, as his commission.

Then, I put 6 soldiers in a room and within one year, with both husband and wife working till 2 a.m. in the morning, we made a net profit of Rs. One Lac in the very first year- I paid up the money I had paid to buy the hotel.

(to be cont…)

(previous (5th) post- https://dinshawavari.com/2020/05/26/we-are-who-we-are-because-of-our-forefathers-5/)

We Are Who We Are Because Of Our Forefathers- 5

May 26, 2020

REPLY ADDRESS BY MR. DINSHAW B AVARI ON THE OCCASION TO COMMEMORATE HIS 85th BIRTHDAY on NOV 5, 1987 –

(5 of 12)

Mahatma Gandhi who made the British leave the Country, by his policy of non-violence, non-cooperation, asked all the Indians to stop insuring any foreign Life Insurance Companies. The result was that my business dwindled to such an extent that I had to make heavy inroads in my capital.  By 1945, I wanted to change the line of work.

Mr Wyseman was a friend of mine, and he was the Proprietor of the Bristol Hotel. My darling wife Khorshed used to like to eat English Food and so off and on, we went and had our meals there.

(photo credit- http://blogs.tribune.com.pk)

He told me that the British had decided to leave India and he would like to sell his hotel. He wanted Rs. 1 Lac for all the stock, name and fame, furniture, crockery, cutlery, glassware, linen, etc. but not the building which was a hired property from a Bori and a Hindu jointly.

In those days, the Home Secretary, which today is the equivalent to the Chief Secretary, was Sir Sidney Ridley, who was very friendly with me and who had appointed me on many Government Committees.   He was also a Rotarian with me, which Club had only 12 members in those days of 1933. The other members were Sir Montago Webb, (The First President of this Club) who was also the Editor and owner of Daily Gazette, Mr. Voegli, Manager of Volkart Brothers, who was the Honorary Secretary and the only Indian Members were Mr. Jamshed Mehta, Mr. Hatim Tayyabji, Advocate-General and Mr. Hatim Alvi along with myself.  I was also the Organizer of Tobacco Fund for soldiers fighting in the Front and hence I was very popular with the British Community. The reason for my explaining you this is to give you an idea of my status because this has an interesting reference later on.

(to be contd)

(previous (4th) post- https://dinshawavari.com/2020/04/26/we-are-who-we-are-because-of-our-forefathers-4/)

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

Don’t Let COVID Consume Other Social Ills!

April 29, 2020

COVID … COVID … COVID!  We will PREVAIL

but that doesn’t mean we forget all other social ills ☹.

I don’t recall the source or location of this Twitter picture but KUDOS to the inventor for this simple ‘garbage collector’ system to capture debris, rubbish, flotsam, etc.

So much of Karachi’s industrial waste, rubbish & sewerage finds its way into the Sea through its identifiable & controllable outlets & nalas (nala = stream). 

There are manifold advantages to this simple model-

  • It’s cheap & easy to make – really, all it is, is a modified fishing net! 
  • Easy to set up & operate – the way I visualize it is that you place it over the city sewer and “stormwater drain” outlets where they discharge into the creeks & canals leading into the sea. 

Not only will it contain all the debris, stopping its passage into the sea on the ebb tide; but debris coming into the City on the flood tide will be contained.

  • It will lead to employment – let the villagers on the cusp of these drainage outlets be responsible for the operation of this system.  They capture, collect and bag all such debris & flotsam; the City pays them; and KWSB simply schedules its collection thrice a day from each of these spots.

Take for example the stormwater drain (built in the ‘80’s by the World Bank) which passes Mai Kolachi into Chinna Creek.  Over the last four decades, it morphed into a sewer.  If you place one of these collection nets at the discharge outlet point (where it drops into Chinna Creek), you will effectively capture almost ALL plastic bags, Styrofoam and other floating debris.  This can then be bagged and collected by KWSB or KPT. 

Other such outlets are at – Shireen Jinnah Colony, Lyari River & it’s various streams, Moosa Lane Nala (fish harbour), Korangi Creek & it’s various nalas, Budnai Nala (Sandspit), Gogni & Nalas (Hawksbay), Hub River, nalas near HUBCO, Kanupp & Port Qasim.

WHERE THERE IS A WILL … THERE IS A WAY to clean up this City!

We Are Who We Are Because Of Our Forefathers- 4

April 26, 2020

REPLY ADDRESS BY MR. DINSHAW B AVARI ON THE OCCASION TO COMMEMORATE HIS 85th BIRTHDAY on NOV 5, 1987-

(4 of 12)

Next day I went to Dr. Kanga’s house for lunch and I was surprised to find that his wife had a boutique from which she was earning Rs. 100/- per month. After lunch, I asked her if she would instead like to earn over Rs.300/- per month. I trained her as an Insurance Agent for only one day. The next day, she brought insurance of Rs. 50,000/- from Sir Shahnawaz Bhutto (Grandfather of Miss Benazir Bhutto) and earned a commission of Rs. 1500/- at the first shot. I had Punjabi and Parsi Agents in Karachi working for me and all did very good business and made very good money.

I sent for my younger brother Rathan from Bombay to come and stay with me where he was attending a College, and as my Father had asked me to look after him because when my mother died he was only One year old. I got a two-bedroomed flat at a rent of Rs. 50/- per month and bought a Wolsley Car for Rs.1000/. The furniture was hired from Jagus & Co.

In those days I used to earn not only Commissions on my own income, but 5% commissions on all the sales of the whole of Karachi, Sind, Baluchistan, Afghanistan, Punjab and N.W.F.P., of which I was in-charge.

Dr Kanga introduced me to a Parsi Dhansak Club situated opposite the Empress market, behind Bomanshaw Minocher-Homji Parsi Hospital. The fee of the Club was Rs 5/- per month and we used to have a lunch for Rs. 2/- only which consisted of  Murghi, Dhansak, Kabab, Rotti Fried Pomfret and Pudding and Hot Drinks including Beer. The Members of the Club were Sir Cowasji as the President, Khan Bahadur, Ardeshir Mama, Burjorji Wacha, Hormusji Khajurina, Dadiba Mehta the ex-Judicial Commissioner, etc., I was the youngest member.  I also have the honor of becoming the FIRST Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) in Asia.

(to be continued)

(previous (3rd) post- https://dinshawavari.com/2020/03/13/we-are-who-we-are-because-of-our-forefathers-3/)

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“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???