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???

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/)

“Mangroves: Custodians of the Coast” (A film by The Dawood Foundation)

March 11, 2020

I was invited by the British Council on a documentary on the ‘Mangroves of Sindh’, directed by Anam Abbas & sponsored by the Dawood Foundation- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AE5V221BvUg, alongwith a group of school children.

One of the greatest advantages of the Mangrove ecosystem are their intricate roots- they slow water flow thus protecting shorelines during storms by absorbing & reducing wave energy and water velocity respectively.

Besides being a habitat for birds and sealife, mangroves act as a natural barrier for land erosion due to currents and wave velocities.

Unfortunately, villagers in Pakistan cut down these life-saving trees for the wood and their rich, mineral-based leaves, as a fuel source and income.

‘Mangroves of Sindh’ identifies a practical SOLUTION – create cheap, alternate fuel sources for villagers. 

To change any ‘evil’, one must change the system from its roots.  While the subsequent discussions asked school children to consider careers in the Civil Services, my thoughts are we should go even further back- to the school level.  You cannot change a system if people don’t identify the threat of devastation, which can more effectively be taught from primary levels.

Malaysia uses the Mangroves forests as an eco-tourist platform, especially during monsoon seasons.  My family took a “mangrove tour” over a decade ago- a mangrove boat ride, eagle feeding and a third attraction I don’t remember now.  The government gave fisherman small engines so that when fishing was banned, they could use small boats for such tourist visits, thus earning income in off-season.

Another fantastic video is ‘The Edge of Delta’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0SJrsc32U8 by Tariq A. Qaiser.

There are small changes within our System, which can be accomplished easily and with minimal cost to the government.  IUCN, British Council and individuals are doing what they can within their resources but isn’t it time our governments stepped up to help the environment and, by extension, our coastal villages and cities?

Sala, what’s your problem, you MC… BC… ! (My Wife’s Going To Kill Me For This Post) 😊🤣🤣

March 5, 2020

We Zoroastrians love to swear … I know, I love it – especially when I’m behind the steering wheel!

For many of us, swearing is part of our life, our idiosyncrasy, what makes us ‘whole’ and ‘completes’ us!

There’s hardly a Parsi I have met to date who doesn’t swear.

You feel good after letting off a stream of expletives … however dirty, vulgar or crude (especially the ones in our local dialect 🤣).

When I’m behind the wheel, my creative instincts take over when I’m blind sided, cut across, signal run or whenever.  It’s just feels so good to ‘have it out at the world’!

However, one thing about our expletives – there’s no vile in it; there’s no malice or intent to hurt; while guttural there’s no mean intent behind it…and that’s a fact.  We do it because we love it and can’t live without it but never with an evil intention nor from the heart!

So, when you are with a Zarthosti and hear a sentence starting with “sala”, be ready for, most probably, a string of flowery, invigorating, interesting train of expletives to follow!

…. Oops, my wife just got wind of my post and I can hear HER expletives all the way down the hall – I need to RUN 🤣🤣🤣🤣!

(Apologies in advance to all Parsis who may be offended by this 🤣)

(Photo credit-
https://images.app.goo.gl/mRnFXtpsr1D9TCdB)

Day 2 at the Karachi Literature Festival

March 1, 2020

The “ills” of our times date back to the 1700’s East India Company!

In yesterday afternoon’s fascinating book launch “The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company” at the Karachi Literature Festival, William Dalrymple identifies the source of global corporate corruption and rot in society … The East India Company.

Darlymple’s style of delivery is OUTSTANDING!  He’s humorous, easy to listen to, succinct and energetic.  It was a pleasure to hear his two presentations yesterday and I hope we have the opportunity to hear more from him in future.  For a Saturday morning session, he had an excellent turnout.

Forgotten Masters – Indian Painting For The East India Company

Starting from “… a five room office, smaller than the Beach Luxury Hotel…” and 3% of global trade, the East India Company grew to cover almost 40% of global trade.  It was, pure and simple, in the business to make a profit.  CSR practices were never on it’s agenda … there being it’s eventual downfall.  It bought politicians, favors, influence and it’s own army of sepoys with the sole aim of emptying the coffers of South Asia and profiting from global trade – and it did this very successfully.

“Enlightening” would be the term I would use to describe William Darlymple’s book launch. 

As an aside, in the 8 years I’ve been a participant at the Karachi Literature Festival, never once have I found it to be an “elitist” event– and I don’t say this just because it’s being held at my family’s Beach Luxury.  Over the years I’ve heard this term over and over but I don’t believe this to be true of KhiLF.  There is absolutely NO VIP culture, you rub shoulders with people from all walks of life, speakers interact with participants freely, the entry is absolutely free and no one is restricted (bar time reasons) from asking questions … with one common objective of enhancing KNOWLEDGE.  For a city of 27 Million inhabitants, it’s an absolutely outstanding weekend!

… At the Karachi Literature Festival 2020 … The Political Character Of Pakistani Middle Class

February 29, 2020

This morning’s session at the KLF with Dr Asad Sayeed, Ghazi Salahuddin and Dr Huma Baqai (moderated very capably by Yasir Qazi), like a lot of discussions on Pakistan’s civil (and social) direction, was pessimistic … unfortunately and, I believe, rightly.

               Several questions emerged from this discussion –

  1. Where is the Pakistani civil voice?
  2. Who is the cause of the destruction/silencing of this civil voice?
  3. Why does the middle class – the backbone of any society – stay silent [numb] over atrocities that are committed in society over and over again … why do we not learn from history?
  4. Is there a capacity to change?

… and finally, what is the solution to fix our civil ails?

               For safety reasons 😊, I will not address the last question in political terms – however, one gentleman in the audience offered a solution – our universities do not address higher education topics like the Humanities, Social Sciences, Political Science, Investigative Journalism ….  While the entire fabric of social service in Pakistan rests with the private sector, no Degree is offered in SOCIAL SERVICE in Pakistan.  (If so, my daughter, would have undertaken her Masters in Social Works here!)

If universities are churning out only MBAs, Engineers and Doctors, there is no learning forum teaching how to address this apathy of civil society.

Dr Huma Baqai identified, correctly, that women will play a very large role in the coming years in shaping what our society will be like – that is good because if there’s any other solution, I believe it will lie in the female gender “fixing things”.

Lastly, my own solution lies with PRIMARY EDUCATION – we must bring civic studies, humanities, social service topics into our primary schools URGENTLY.  If ever there’s a chance of any change in the future, it lies with children just starting out in school and through their formative years.

If there’s “no capacity to change” – and whenever a section of society seem to “rise”, only to be then suppressed – what happens to our future?