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/)

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/)

#dinshawavari, #avarihotels, #hotelsinPakistan, #oldfamiliesofkarachi, #historyofKarachi, #avarixpress, #avarifamilyhistory, #sunlifeinsurancecompany, #insuranceagent, #petitparsiorphanage, #petitorphanage, #orphanage, #parsiorphanage,  #hotelsinkarachi, #hotelsinlahore, #hotelsinMultan, #hotelsinIslamabad, #hotelsinFaisalabad

TDF Ghar (https://www.dawoodfoundation.org/tdf-ghar/)

March 18, 2020

We Karachiites are foodies!  So, when we received a circular for a Bohri food night, we jumped at it, on the roof of TDF “Ghar” (“house” in Urdu)- super dinner, pleasant weather, outstanding view of Quaid-e-Azam’s Mausoleum, typical Parsi loudness and laughter, great service by our Bohri hosts & excellent value for money!

However, what was just as interesting was TDF Ghar- one of the old, pre-partition houses in the old city of Karachi, wonderfully restored by TDF.  Quoting from TDF’s history –

“TDF Ghar was built in 1920-30’s.  This house was initially owned by a Hindu woman, Haribai Motiram, which she sold in April 1948 to Hajiani Hanifabai for her daughter Aisha Bai Dawood in June 1948 as a residence.

In April 1961 the House was donated to The Dawood Foundation.  In 1965, Ahmed Dawood established Hanifa Hajiani Haji Gani Vocational Training Center for Women.  The training center used to enroll over 150 students per batch and train them in typing, cooking, sewing, painting, hand & machinery embroidery and English language. 

TDF Ghar is open to all to promote informal learning spaces in Karachi.  TDF Ghar is based on a self-sustainability business model- revenues generated from rentals and tickets is re-invested in the upkeep and development of the Ghar.”

With a small café on premises, we experienced families, youngsters & groups socially interacting with each other; playing board games; reading; using the library.  It was an amazing experience.  It was surreal finding such an oasis in bustling Karachi!

Kudos to The Dawood Foundation for yet another public service to the citizens of Karachi … and Pakistan!

(https://dinshawavari.com/2019/08/30/ohthe-clean-clean-not-streets-of-karachi/)

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/)

…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)

BEING BORN IN THE ‘60s!

Rotary Telephone

September 27, 2019

… does that make me old? I think not.

I can unequivocally state that my parents’ generation enjoyed the BEST times of Pakistan – no two ways about it.  However, my generation of the 1960s have evolved through one of the most INTERESTING and EXCITING periods of history – the TECHNOLOGY explosion.  I mean, we have first-hand witnessed –

  1. The change from rotary to touch button telephones;
  2. Analog to Digital services telephone services;
  3. The advent of the PERSONAL computer (my first computer was an IBM machine) in the early 1980s;
  4. Mobile phones – GSM, 3G, 4G, 5G … and all the future “G’s” that are to come;
  5. Laptops, sat phones, VOIP tech, skype, whats app, wechat, tablets;
  6. Newspapers to online news and RSS feeds;
  7. Print media to Social media;
  8. Reel cameras to Digital cameras- in fact, I found one such camera and asked my studio for a 36mm reel only to be told they’ve been discontinued 😊!  So, I’ve started scanning my old reels into digital photos for posterity;
  9. Vinyl records, cassette tapes, VHS & Beta to cloud based music & videos;
  10. Pen cameras, car cameras, CCTV – you name it … it’s out of the old “BOND” movies we used to see!
  11. We used pens & pencils but the latest tablet & phone technology uses a stylus and speech-to-written technology. 
  12. Amazon, Careem, Uber … the list goes on an on.

The generation of the ‘90s has grown up on digital … they never experienced non-digital communication!  It’s online movies, Netflix, cloud-based streaming movies, etc.  Yes, my kids come to the theatre but they don’t need a cable TV set up in their dorms anymore- they are quite content with seeing their content on their laptops.

However, I feel, what technology explosion we saw in the ‘90s was one of the most interesting a generation can witness – notwithstanding what is yet to come! –  and things are still evolving.

It’s only a matter of time when our thoughts will be transcribed to the written-word … I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s already here !

Vinyl Records- https://images.app.goo.gl/SkieMPX4KHK46qpC9

Oh…The Clean Clean (not) Streets of Karachi

Birth_Centenary_1986_of_Jamshed_Nusserwanjee_Mehta-Pakistan

August 30, 2019

I’m visiting “The Big Apple” … and it’s clean!

Jamshed Nusserwanji Mehta was the 1st Mayor of Karachi in 1933.  “…Karachi became the cleanest city in the East. Its broad streets, lights, sanitation and water system, … [ ] … spoke of the city’s progress” (https://www.dawn.com/news/649943/in-memoriam-jamshed-nusserwanji-the-builder-of-modern-karachi).  My grandfather told us how the Mayor ensured the streets were washed twice a day, which he personally supervised periodically.

Look at where we are now … ☹☹☹.  We can have all the latest, mechanized tools but there’s no “system” or “will”, so we might as well [continue] to live in the dark ages.

There is no reason Karachi cannot reclaim this glory.  I AM KARACHI (http://iamkarachi.org/), the social NGO, has proven that keeping city walls clean & painted with street art, ensures no vandalism or defacement of property.  In the same vein, once the city is cleaned & maintained by the Municipality, there is absolutely no reason why we will not maintain the same.  I am not justifying wrong actions but it’s only when our citizens see a clean city will we continue the practice … and there’s no rocket science involved.

Throw out all mechanical tools and go back to Jamshed Mehta’s simplicity – put idle bodies on the roads, give them a broom and bucket each and get them to deep clean the roads, the garbage bins, the nooks & crannies every night from midnight to 6am.  Put a garbage bin on EVERY alternate light pole; on every street corner; at every traffic signal – enabling people a means to throw their daily trash!  Through the day have roving street cleaners who will simply pick up large debris like cans, plastics, etc.  You will create EMPLOYMENT. 

You will give an honest day’s wage to the unemployed and a meaning to their lives.  Infant mortality will increase.  You will eradicate mosquitos, disease and other scourge of pollution.  These are not simply PR words – this can happen!

In return, we will get a clean city and healthy citizens. 

The Real Father of Karachi- https://www.dawn.com/news/1113332

Manora Lighthouse & St. Paul’s Church

August 21, 2019

We live in a City but hardly go to visit the sites therein…and Karachi has plenty to see!

So, off we went some years back to see Manora’s Lighthouse and St. Paul’s Church, both located in the Karachi Harbour and both which we pass regularly when sailing. 

This is not only the second oldest lighthouse (1889) of the British Raj but, we were told, ONLY one of two lighthouses in the WORLD which are still cranked by hand (and not battery operated).  The other lighthouse is apparently in Chennai, India.

There is still a lighthouse keeper … and every 50-odd minutes, he has to physically crank the lever that rotates the light, dusk to dawn!

Crank
Lighthouse steps

Hats off to the Karachi Port Trust in maintaining this iconic structure and the traditional art of operating the lighthouse successfully for the last 130 years.

The still-active 1865 Church, St. Paul’s, stands adjacent to the Lighthouse – and maintains a weekly Mass every Sunday for the Christian residents of Manora Island.

According to https://www.ibiblio.org/lighthouse/pak.htm, the British captured Manora in 1839 and made it their initial base of operations in what is now Pakistan.  The lighthouse & Church are located on the southeastern tip of the peninsula facing the Arabian Sea. 

Not only was this our first visit ever to both these legendary icons but a first for us on Manora Island itself.

Manora Island and Karachi Harbour