Thursday, May 29, 2008

Africa...the land of my birth..going back to my roots

Zee's Notes: Four weeks to go - it's a strange feeling thinking of going back to the land I last saw as a 12 year old. For those in my generation, though we are steeply rooted in our adopted homeland - Canada, we can never forget the time of our childhood that was spent in the Continent of Promise. Many have told me not to have very high expectations of what Africa is today - they say not much has changed and in some cases things are not better than in the early 1970's. So I have promised myself to go with an open mind and go with the flow - something many of us should do in life - otherwise we miss the the real gift of Allah - life itself. But I gotta say that the atmosphere of meeting my fellow Ismailis from all over the world promises one week that no one who will be in Narobi will ever forget. The games will be played with vigor and competition will be intense - there will be arguments and debates - but at the end of the day some 1,000 plus athletes and thousands more who will be there as spectators will emerge as a family - a family that will remain united forever and for a generation we will talk of the 'week that was' in Nairobi. So in keeping with the theme of all my previous GJG posts here is a video - a little different as it showcases different cities in Africa - so have a look and see if you recognize the city of your childhood - Nairobi, Kampala, Dar-es-salaam, Mombasa, Kinshasa, Durban, Accra, Lagos etc...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Gujarat - Land of my forefathers...

Zee's Notes: As I ran across news and articles on India during the recent visit of MHI it was an eye opener to see what is happening in India - specifically the economic miracle of India.
A while back I featured a video which showed the history of the Ismailis in the Indian Sub-continent, most notably India and specifically Gujarat. For most of us who hail from East Africa our real roots lie across the Arabian Sea in the Indian State of Gujarat. I have listened many a times to my grandfather who spoke of his father coming to Tanzania in a dhow for a better life in Africa. In the course of approximately 60 years India has tranformed itself from a British Colony to a global industrial powerhouse courted by Fortune 500 companies. India today is changing as it's young people proudly shout out their Indian heritage - quite a change from 25 years ago. We've all heard of Indians being recruited by US Tech firms and interestingly enough 33% of all IT management positions in the US are held by these Desi professionals. India is now savvy enough to market it's talent to the world stage. Here is a couple of interesting videos (I love YouTube) of the land which is so deeply rooted in my history. Hope you enjoy them...

Nairobi Mitumba Market - report by CBC...

Zee's Notes: Here's an interesting Canadian take on Nairobi's thriving 'Mitumba' trade. Indeed there are many Ismailis involved in the market as suppliers throughout the world.

Astrophysicist awarded UVic’s highest academic honour

Dr. Arif Babul remembers the exact moment when his lifelong passion for outer space began. It was July 20, 1969, and he was one of millions around the world who were glued to their televisions as Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped down onto the moon and into history.

Read the article here...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Canadians join World Partnership Walk to fight global poverty

11 a.m. on Sunday, May 25th, 2008
(Sunday, June 1st, in Ottawa & London)

News Release

Zee's notes: This Sunday the 24th Annual World Partnership Walk gets underway in major cities across Canada. It is simply mind boggling that this event which was started by a handful of ladies in Vancouver as a way for them to give back has morphed into a global event. The Canadian event alone has raised more than $40 million dollars to help raise the standard of living for millions in the Third World. To me the funds raised is not about giving money to the less fortunate - what is that they say give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day but teach him how to catch a fish and he'll eat for a lifetime - so the work that I see the AKF and FOCUS and all the Aga Khan Institutions achieve is that they provide the opportunity for the destitute to have hope for them and their children.
I remember going to Mumbai in 1996 with a group of 35 cricket mad enthusiasts to watch the World Cup of Cricket and what struck me was watching a family of 5 just outside our hotel. In the daylight the mom and dad would sit on the pavement waiting for handouts while the young kids played nearby. In the evening they would eat in the same place and at nightfall the five would huddle under a blanket and in the morning the same routine would restart - all 24 hours in the same corner. While this may disturb you but you have to remember that this family sees no hope for growth in their future and so every single day is another day to live and survive just to see another day.
So if you consider what the WPW is aiming to do and that almost 100% of the funds are used for programs to give families like the one I saw in Mumbai have a hope for their future then you can only give to your heart's desire and go to sleep satisfied that you were a part of giving that hope and hopefully one day that family will escape that corner of the pavement and their children will get educated and that for them life will hold the same promise as it does for you and me.
Now how many times do you give thanks that you ended up in a country like Canada - not only am I in awe every single day but moreso I cannot fathom the vision of looking a century ahead - simply something to think about in this year of the Golden Jubilee...

MHI In Bangladesh...May 19-22

Prince Karim Aga Khan shakes hands with President Iajuddin Ahmed during a courtesy call at the Bangabhaban yesterday. Photo: PID

Monday, May 19, 2008

GJG - Road to Kenya...

Zee's notes: We are now just 5 weeks away from the Opening Ceremonies of the first ever Golden Jubilee Games in Nairobi June 22-29th, 2008. It goes without saying that this will be the biggest sporting event in the history of the Ismaili Community. Just to give you a perpective this will bring together over 1100 athletes from the four corners of the world to Nairobi - probably the city that has seen the most visits by MHI in his 50 years as Imam. I think of it as his favorite place and so it is most fitting that such a global spectacle takes place there. From what I have seen and heard the organizers have dotted their i's and crossed their t's to make this a most memorable event - no, a once in a lifetime event for the Ismaili Community to remember. While this is just one event of many to commemerate the Golden Jubilee of MHI, I sincerely believe it will be one that will truly unite and display the strength of the diversity within our community. And as you also watch the Beijing Olympics this year you will agree with me that sports has a canny way of bringing together people of different backgrounds and creating lifetime friendships - something I have no doubt the Golden Jubilee Games in Nairobi will deliver...hope to see you there - i'll be there, inshallah, wearing my Canadian !

I've become a bit of a buff of YouTube lately - it's also like life - once you start on the journey you never know where it takes you...Enjoy the marvelous pictures of a Nairobi that I don't recognize from 35 years ago...

UK loves Suleman Mirza's talent

Zee's notes: Here is an amazing example of what life can offer if we are open to it. I look at life as a gift to be grabbed by both hands and if one is lucky enough - by the way you do believe that you make your own luck - life can be a magical journey. Now what does this have to do with the video you are about to see ? Simple - be open to all the surprises that confront you day by day - some come as problems and some make you feel good all over - the two are no different - they are simply that - gifts from Allah. Enjoy...

Prince Aga Khan to arrive today in Dhaka

Unb, Dhaka
Prince Aga Khan, spiritual leader of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims, arrives in Dhaka today on a four-day state visit.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

In the news in May 2008...

The acclaimed groundbreaking documentary AN ISLAMIC CONSCIENCE makes its Africa debut in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on May 28!

Dedicated Service Results in Emory's Top Honor 14 May 2008

Debris of collapsed schools still haunting Balakot mothers Associated Press of Pakistan, Pakistan - 14 May 2008

Once upon a time in Hunza Valley WWF International, Switzerland - 14 May 2008

Hashoo Museum opens Daily Times, Pakistan - 13 May 2008
The Hashoo Tharwani family history in Pakistan stretches over 150 years...

Get rid of racism by treating all equally: author Edmonton Sun, Canada - 12 May 2008

Gilani lauds AKF for uplift in rural areasThe News - International, Pakistan - 12 May 2008

Zarkava a cut above Skynews 12 May 2008
Aga Khan Studs thoroughbred continues winning ways...

Educating the neglected north The News - International, Pakistan - 9 May 2008

Scouts mean the world to us Welland Tribune- 4 May 2008

Producers hope to help kids deal with social diversity Vancouver Sun, Canada - 3 May 2008

MHI in India

President Nizamuddin Ajani of the Ismaili Council for India welcomes Mawlana Hazar Imam to the country. Photo: Gary Otte

More Coverage:

Aga Khan focuses on madrassa reforms, heritage monuments (Lead)

Aga Khan meets President Patil

The Aga Khan is back in city after 16 yrs

Muslim spiritual leader Aga Khan meets PM

Aga Khan meets India's junior Foreign Minister - video

Sunday, May 11, 2008

More Ismaili Sports Legends

Zee's notes: Thanks to all those who emailed and called on my comments on some of the Ismaili sporting legends a few days ago. Here are some more:

Amir Esmail: Amir was a soccer star who was good enough to play in the big leagues in Portugal. Though he passed away a few years ago, I had the opportunity to know him as he lived in Vancouver. I knew him to be a tremendous teacher of the game and he always had the time to impart his knowledge to a willing listener. Amir also loved to sing ginans in JK and truly was a humble gentleman. His son Karim also was a star soccer player in the Vancouver High School scene and he coaches youngsters in the Ismaili Youth Soccer Camp.

Amin Bhulji: No words can describe 'Bhulji's' passion for the game of soccer. I have heard legendary tales of his soccer prowess when he dazzled crowds as a forward for the Young Africans (Yanga) Soccer Club in Dar-es-salaam. He moved to Vancouver in the early 1970's and impressed scouts to be given a shot at trying out for the old Vancouver Whitecaps of the NASL - a professional league. Though injuries and age worked against him Bhulji continued his passion with the Ismaili Soccer Club in Vancouver which has been in existense now for 30 plus years. Many young Ismailis, who owe their early development to Bhulji, went on to play for their Colleges and Universities across Canada. A few years ago he started the very successful Ismaili Youth Soccer Camp. Bhulji will be 'going home' for the Golden Jubilee Games as Coach of the Canada Ismaili Mens Soccer Team.

Shiraz Sumar: 'Sumar' was another cricket legend - in Tanzania. He is the only Ismaili ever to play in the World Cup of Cricket - 1975 in England for East Africa. Shiraz's exploits on the field were always the talk of the town and moreso he was known for his leadership skills which earned him the Captainship of the Tanzania National Team. I remember one year he came to Vancouver to play a few games for the Ismaili Club, then known as the Aga Khan Cricket Club, and the stories he told us of his experiences over the years you had to appreciate what he had accomplished in his sporting life. Sadly Sumar could not make it to Vancouver for the CIG games due to family commitments and he was sorely missed.

If you are a cricket fan and from Dar click here for a trip down memory lane - did you know that in August 1946 (year of the Diamond Jubilee) at the annual Aga Khan Cup Tournament Mowlana Sultan Mohammed Shah sat through the game and presented the trophy to the winning team at the Dar-es-salaam Gymkhana. Wow - wouldn't it be something if history repeats itself at the Golden Jubilee Games in Nairobi in 6 weeks !!!

Friday, May 09, 2008

India history...Sidhpur Foundation

Incredible 2 part look at a little history of Ismailis in India and the struggles to educate children...

Ismaili Student recognized for Ryerson Leadership Award

Navroza Alibhai (Leadership Award of Excellence – Program Development) works for International Services for Students at Ryerson, organizing events for new international students to help them assimilate into Canadian life. She is an executive member of the Ryerson Ismaili Students' Association, a member of the Ismaili Volunteer Corps for Ontario, and a volunteer with the Aga Khan Education Board for Ontario. She also works as a religious education teacher and organizes after-school programs for children from low-income immigrant families.

McCord museum hosts Historic Cities

In a world where modernity pushes forth our collective systems at stifling speeds, art exists as rare moments of reflection, commenting on where we are, where we came from and where we are headed.
The Muslim world has a rich cultural and artistic history and a somewhat turbulent present. Rapid change has taken its toll on monuments of the past. One third of the UNESCO World Heritage sites are located in the Muslim world. The Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) is working towards revitalizing ancient monuments from the rubble and dust of centuries gone by, through interventions focused on the physical, social and economic revitalization of historic sites in the Muslim world.

Revitalization of UNESCO Muslim World Heritage sites showcased

Texas A&M Ross Volunteers - Aga Khan Sabre Arch Salute

April 11 - Sabre Arch Salute-Arrival of the Aga Khan - Austin:

Governor Rick Perry, who was a member of the Texas A&M Aggie Corps Of Cadets, requested the Ross Volunteers to do a sabre arch salute at a special ceremony for the arrival of the Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of 16 million Ismaili Muslims worldwide. The Ross Volunteer Company played a key role in the elaborate red carpet ceremony to honor the Aga Khan at Austin Bergstrom International Airport. The event signified the first stop in the United States for His Highness on a tour that marked his 50th year as the Aga Khan. Governor Perry has been a long-time supporter and friend of the Ismaili community as Texas is home to tens of thousands of Ismaili Muslims who contribute to the social, economic and cultural fabric of the state.

Aga Khan set for seven-day India visit

May 9th, 2008 - 11:09 pm ICT by admin

New Delhi, May 9 (IANS) The Aga Khan, spiritual leader of Shia Ismaili Muslims, will arrive here May 12 on a seven-day, four-city visit to India. He will be in the capital for two days, during which he will meet President Pratibha Patil, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Vice President Hamid Ansari, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Leader of Opposition L.K. Advani.
The Aga Khan will then move on to Hyderabad, Mumbai and Ahmedabad and leave for Dhaka May 19, the ministry of external affairs said here.
The visit marks the Aga Khan’s 50th year as imam of over 25 million Shia Ismailis worldwide.
The 70-year-old leader - also known as Prince Karim Aga Khan IV - succeeded his grandfather, Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan - at age 20 in 1957, becoming the community’s 49th imam.
The Aga Khan last visited India in September 2006, when he laid the foundation of the Aga Khan Academy for Excellence in Education in Hyderabad.
Earlier, in 2004 the spiritual leader gave away the Aga Khan Award for Architecture at a presentation ceremony at Humayun’s Tomb here.

TheIndian News...

Alwaez Abualy Aziz...1919 - 2008

Zee's Notes : It is with great sadness to share with our readers the passing away of a true Ismaili Hero. Alwaez Abu Aly spent a lifetime in the service of his community and his oratory skills are indeed legendary. Such was his thirst for knowledge that he obtained his Phd at the age of 82 and never tired of passing on his knowledge right to the day he passed away.

My recollection of the Alwaez was his booming voice but as I got to know the man at Darkhana JK in Burnaby over the past few years his most becoming trait was his smile. As a youngster in Dar-es-salaam I was more scared of facing him but when I got to know him I found him to be genuinely kind and a true leader.

Much will be spoken over the next few weeks as word spreads across the Ismaili Community but let me leave you with some words from:

Mehboob Kamadia - Scholar, Lecturer & Researcher

May 4,2008


If fame and influence are yardsticks to measure success, then Missionary-author Rai Dr. Abualy Alibhai Aziz ranks highest in the history of the 20th Century Ismaili da`wa, a teaching and proselytizing organ of the Ismaili movement. His spectacularly successful career and achievements are inextricably linked to two Holy imams: our majestic and supremely charismatic Lord Sultan Muhammad Shah and our most beloved Hazar Imam. Throughout his brilliant mission career, Missionary Abualy never failed to defend the interests of Imam Sultan Muhammad and the Imam of the Time. His two books, Radde Batil and Zahoor-e-Haqq, are a glittering testimony of his courage, boldness, knowledge and debating skills. In the 60's the Imam of the Time had dispatched Missionary Abualy to South Africa where the dai (missionary) roared as the lion of Ismaili Islam.

A Short Biography

In the end of 1915, Mawlana Sultan Muhammad Shah instructed Mukhi Alibhai Aziz to perform a second marriage and predicted that this matrimonial union would bless him with a son who ought to be named “Hakam Abualy”. As prophesied, Khadija Jafer Sadiq gave birth to Hakam Abualy in Amritsar, Punjab, on August 21, 1919. Hakam Abualy, in the annals of history, has become acclaimed and venerated in the Ismaili world as “Missionary Abualy”. His remarkable active and eventful life of 88 years is a glowing testimony of his profoundest love, unquestionable loyalty and unflinching dedication to the House of the Prophet Muhammad and Hazrat Ali - Peace be upon them.
At a very tender age, Missionary Abualy imbibed religious education from his knowledgeable grandfather with an uncompromising focus on the study of Ginan-e-Sherif, a unique sacred interpretation of the Holy Qur’an. At the age of four, Missionary Abualy preached among his Hindu classmates; at seven, he deeply plunged into the study of Qur’an-e-Sherif under the supervision of a Sunni Qur'anic scholar; at eleven, he commenced preaching in jamatkhanas; at twelve, he travelled to Afghanistan with his father where he came into contact with Afghan centres of Ismaili population. In 1938, Mawlana Sultan Muhammad Shah ordered the young charismatic preacher to forever end his medical career and become “His” missionary. In instant obeisance, the 20 years old Abualy joined the Aga Khan Re-Creation Club and Institute, a predecessor of the Institute of Ismaili Studies. In 1946, the Imam made Missionary Abualy the director of Ismaili da’wa for Tanzania, Kenya & Uganda. During one of his very privileged Imam-Dai mulakats, the Imam placed Missionary Abualy's head on his knee and blessed him. The Imam placed His Hand on Missionary Abualy’s head and commanded him to speak the truth without fear. The Imam emphasized that His Hand would be upon him at all times. In retrospect, this was an unmistakable prophecy: the Imam’s dai would triumph in spite of impediments and all forms of opposition throughout his mission career. Armed with divine blessings, Missionary Abualy continuously preached in overcrowded jamats around the world for ¾ of a century.
As a genuine mujahid, a warrior for the religious cause, Missionary Abualy courageously and effectively served as a torch-bearer of Islam in general and as the 20th century spokesperson of the Ismaili Nizari da'wa in particular. In the entire history of Ismaili movement, no dai or Imam's agent has traveled as much as Missionary Abualy: He visited one hundred and twenty-three countries and delivered around twelve thousand waez (sermons) and lectures in Jamatkhanas, mosques, churches and temples. In his pioneering efforts spanning 76 years, he championed the cause of Ismaili Islam even in the remotest areas of Ismaili presence. In one of the Imam-dai communications, Mawlana Hazar Imam made a particular note of this. In the early sixties, the Imam of the Time had wished that He had 50 missionaries like Missionary Abualy in our Jamat. Bearing the foregoing Holy wish in mind, I should note that in the late 60's, Mawlana Hazar Imam had expressed in writing that He was very happy with His murids of Bombay who had taken keen interest in listening to Missionary Abualy's waez. In one of the talikas addressed to the Mukhi of Bombay, the Imam had explicitly desired that Missionary Abualy visit India every year for at least one month if not two. Three years ago, the jamats in India, Pakistan and Dubai thronged to listen to Missionary Abualy's waez. The intense craving and keen interest in listening to Missionary Abualy's waez remain undiminished in our jamats.
Through Missionary Abualy’s sermons, we discover a profoundly impressive voice and truly an exceptional intellectual, philosophical and mystical mind. In addition to passionately assisting thousands of Ismailis to ascend the ladder of salvation, this legendary giant also enhanced the material lifestyle of thousands of Ismaili murids living around the world.

The Ismaili Community has sustained an immense loss with his passing away.

May his Soul Rest in Eternal Peace

Please leave a comment with your well wishes to make it a tribute from all the readers of Morning Chai - I know all of us in one way or another have been touched by the soul of Rai Abu Aly in his lifetime.

Canadian Ismaili Games - Diversity is Strength...

Zee's notes: The CIG's were not only a celebration of sport but I think moreso it brought the community together in ways we can not imagine. If you consider first the diversity of the regions and then move it up a notch as to the diversity of the countries we all came from it boggles the mind as to the oneness of the Ismaili Community. MHI keeps reminding us that Diversity is Strength and these games brought home this point. I met Ismailis not only from the different provinces but from many different countries and the punch line is that at the end of the day it is good to be an Ismaili.

On Sunday standing at the famous line up for the BBQ (I have a story on that too in a few days) I stood next to 3 youngsters from Quebec and they were all speaking French - fluently. One of the boys I found out was from Kabul, Afghanistan. He told me his family had moved to Germany many years ago and he spoke fluent German as well. Then I asked him what he did in Montreal - well he is in Law School.
Another youngster I met, also from Afghanistan, has a different story but no less interesting. This young man since an early age - 20 I believe - had to be the breadwinner of a family of 6 - including his parents - and he worked 2 jobs for 5 years teaching himself to sleep 3-4 hours a day so he could pay the rent and put food on the table. Anyway he managed to save enough money to buy a small body shop where he continued to work his tail off and as he said to me 'With MHI's blessings' managed to snare a painting contract with one of the larger Taxi outfits in town though he still sleeps 3 hours a day.

The punch line here is this: If you give a man the opportunity - the world is his oyster provided he is ready to work for it. Just as 35 years ago when a group of refugees were given an opportunity for a new life in a new country and they took the bull by the horn and made it work for them - so history now gives us a new set of immigrants this time from the other corner of the world taking on the same challenge - my father keeps reminding me that the vision is not of a decade or a generation but of centuries - that is the legacy he says we must remember in this year of the Golden Jubilee - I can only be in awe...

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Golden Jubilee Games - Ismaili Sporting legends

Zee's Notes: Being at the Canadian Ismaili Games brought back a flood of memories for the likes of me - I played in many of the Triangular Games in the 70's and 80's -back then there were no restrictions on what sports one could participate in. I remember playing soccer, basketball, International Volleyball and Cricket. What transpired was that this weekend I met with so many of the friends from those days - from all parts of Canada. So personally for me it was all about the reconnection of friendships going back some 30 years.

One aspect we always forget is the pioneers who indeed were legends in their respective sports. But the interesting thing is the stories that come as time progresses and it never seizes to amaze me that each individual has his or her own unique story. Here are some I met this weekend:

Fayaz Hasham (Keshvani) - a Kenyan cricket legend who now lives in Toronto. In the early eighties he first lived in Vancouver, where I played on the AK Club with him,before he moved to the Centre of the Universe (Toronto). I found out his son Shahid is a very promising cricket player who represented Canada at the Under-19 level and is currently on track to try out for the Canadian National Cricket Team - I hope he gets there.

Kamru Shamasdin - another cricketer fom Nairobi also in Toronto. Kamru is one generous human being - I remember one year 5 young Vancouver cricketers showed up in Toronto without a place to stay and without hesitation he took us to his home in Pickering and it was one of the most enjoyable weekends that I can remember - better than any 5 star hotel. His sporting genes have carried on famously with his sons - son #1 Jamil went to Harvard University on a Track scholarship and son #2 Irfan went to Brown - also an Ivy League University - on a Tennis Scholarship. Irfan and a third son Adil were at the CIG games playing tennis.

Badru Jinnah (Bhamji) - if you were from Dar-es-salaam then this man needs no introduction. Bhamji was Ismaili Cricket in Dar. He was one of those leaders that when they stepped on the field you felt your team was safe - no matter what the circumstance Bhamji would either hit some boundaries or bowl out the opposition for the win. Now his son took a different turn - seems Bhamji for years owned a farm in the Vancouver suburb of Chilliwack and since there is no cricket there Hanif decided to be a rodeo star and a few years ago he was almost the Canadian Calf Roping Champion at the nationals.

Aziz Meghji - probably there has never been any Ismaili athlete in the last 50 years to compare to this gentleman. Aziz Meghji stands alone in stature and he has been called, by those who watched him perform in his heyday, as the greatest Ismaili athlete - EVER ! Aziz had the unique ability to master any sport he tried - people still talk about the cricket games he won for the Aga Khan Club in Nairobi in the 1960's and he was the first Ismaili ever, I think, to represent a country (Kenya) at the Olympic games in Mexico City where he played Tennis. After coming to Vancouver in the early 70's he started playing golf and in his late 60's this amazing legend was a scratch golfer - something people never achieve in their lifetime - truly a master athlete. His niece's 19 year old son Adam won the CIG golf tournament this weekend.

In the days to come I hope to highlight some more stories from the games....

Road to Kenya - or back to my roots...

Zee's Notes: Inshallah in 6 weeks i'll be joining the athletes and spectators on the Road to Kenya as part of the Golden Jubilee Games to be held in Nairobi. Now for me it's going to be 35 years since I left as a young lad with my family. Though I am born and spent much of my childhood in Dar-es-salaam, it is Nairobi, where I spent just 2 years, that has forever stayed etched in my heart as being the best place I ever remember in Africa. I vividly recall the Hirani Estates in Parklands where we lived, I can never forget the Aga Khan Academy where I studied and I hope that ice cream place run by the most kindly gentleman from South Africa is still there. My dream as a youngster was to play for the Aga Khan Cricket Club and many afternoons after school I would go watch the likes of Fayaz Hasham, Kamru Shamasdin and Shamshu Allidina, to name a few, practice at the Parklands facility - heck sometimes they would even let me bowl a few at them. The irony is that many years later I would play cricket in Canada with these very same legends of East African cricket. Life was simple and when I go back I hope to connect back to that time when the world seemed so conquerable and Africa was a land of great optimism and promise. I look back and consider myself darn lucky to have the opportunity to grow up in Canada but going back will bring back those days - well you know the feeling - it's not going home but it's going back to your roots...Here is something I saw on the net yesterday - hope you like it...

Prince Aga Khan arrives May 19

Unb, Dhaka

Prince Aga Khan, Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims, will arrive in the city on May 19 on a four-day state visit to Bangladesh.His visit marks the golden jubilee of his Imamat. Prince Aga Khan became the Imam on July 11, 1957.Habib Hirji, president of the Aga Khan National Council, told reporters at a local hotel that during his stay, Prince Aga Khan will call on the president and the chief adviser and hold meetings with several advisers.Prince Aga Khan will lay the foundation of the Aga Khan Academy at Basundhara and a permanent Jamat Khana of the community.The Aga Khan Academy was built on 21 acres of land at a cost of around US$ 50 million to teach brilliant students from the primary to the secondary level, and impart training to teachers. An official of the Aga Khan Foundation said some 750 to 1200 Bangladeshi students will be admitted to the Academy on the basis of merit. The medium of teaching will be both Bangla and English.


Thousands of Ismaili Muslims from across the country gathered in Vancouver this weekend to celebrate the 2008 Canadian Ismaili Games. The games, which celebrate 50 years of the Aga Khan’s leadership, take place May 2 to 5 and involve about 1,000 athletes. Winners will represent Canada at the Golden Jubilee Games in Nairobi, Kenya, in June. Some of the athletes are Olympic hopefuls and compete at the national level. The Canadian Ismaili Games are a National Golden Jubilee program and part of the first-ever global Ismaili sports festival. The theme of the games is Celebration Through Sport, reflecting the spirit of commemorating the Golden Jubilee and showcasing excellence in athletic accomplishment. Pictured here is the Calgary Spirit Squad performing at the Games Village at UBC.

Hollywood North: Producers hope to help kids

Ward Perrin / Vancouver Sun

Sanjay is a kid who has just moved to North America from Mumbai. He is a sarcastic comedian who loves Bollywood. He also wants everybody to agree with him.
Damaris is Cuban and Spanish-speaking but she has been living outside of Cuba for most of her life. She is a shy loner who escapes this world through books, making her the exact opposite of the typical Spanish cartoon character.
These are two of the eight lovable characters from around the world who make up the eclectic, colourful cast of a new animated television show for kids being produced here called Mixed Nutz. Its aim is to make kids curious about different cultures through entertainment.
"This business is something we believe can help change the world," said Shabnam Rezaei, who launched it with her husband, Aly Jetha. The pair, who have just moved here from New York City, come from as diverse backgrounds as their characters.
Rezaei, who speaks five languages, was born in Iran, but moved to Austria when she was 10 to attend an international school. She and her brother were sent there to avoid the Iran-Iraq war.
At the age of 18, she moved to the U.S. to get a degree from the University of Pennsylvania in computer science and literature.
"When I graduated, I went to New York to get a good job like a good Iranian girl would in a good solid field with a good salary. That was in financial software," she said in an interview in a trendy Yaletown warehouse where the pair have set up an animation studio.
She cruised through various companies like Deloitte Touche, also setting up shop for a company called Exis in London for three years. Each company tried to hold her interest but she quickly grew bored each time.
Jetha was born in Ndola, Zambia. His family lived in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, for two generations. His forefathers are Indian from Gujarat and Ismaili. He moved to Vancouver when he was two.
Talk about multicultural.
Like his wife's, his professional background is about as far from the entertainment industry as Bambi is from hip-hop. His curriculum vitae sounds more like a high-flying serial entrepreneur than a maker of film: graduation from St. George's private school, an undergraduate degree in political science from UBC, two years with the United Nations as a representative of the Canadian government on various international political matters, law school at Berkeley, a member of the California bar, management consulting for Bain & Co. which is a consultant to Fortune 100 companies, launching a semi-conductor computer chip company in 1998, becoming a founding member of a New York-based telecommunications and transaction processing company called Via One. He remains that company's chief executive officer.
In 2003, he married Rezaei and moved to New York, putting a new spin on life.Despite the pair's heavyweight business backgrounds, their passions obviously lie elsewhere.
That became clear when Rezaei, while working for a company that produced trading and operational accounting software for banks, started a website called the Persian Mirror. It was phenomenally successful, drawing around five million hits a month.
Because there was so much interest in Persian culture, she and Jetha aimed to make the equivalent of a Charlie Brown's Christmas for Persian kids. But instead of Christmas, which has no status in that culture, they settled on the Persian new year.
The result, Babak and Friends, which has both English and Farsi versions, screened in more than 30 museums in the world. The response was great from Persians and non-Persians alike. Non-Persians wanted to know where they could buy special goat cheese and bread to feed their kids for breakfast. The kids were asking for it. They had seen it in the show.
The success of Babak and Friends just fuelled the fire. The couple wanted to do bigger and better things. That drove them down the nutty road of making Mixed Nutz.
By the fall, they hope to have completed 26 22-minute episodes that will be dubbed into five languages to be shown around the world. It's all originating from here.
The pair hastily set up shop over a two-week period over Christmas and New Year's. Big Bad Boo Studios, as their headquarters is called, has a makeshift look about it but it is a cauldron of creativity. You can hear the faint squeak of pencil on paper and the steady click of computer keys as this mini animation factory works out the nuts and bolts of Mixed Nutz.
A glimpse into some of the episodes show a delightful romp into the lives of a group of fictitious children from around the world who the animators bring to life. The show turns the daily stuff of a kid's life - schoolyard squabbles, food issues, fights with parents, trying to fit in - into grist for a grander message about everyone from everywhere getting along.
Norooz Productions, as the couple's company is called, has 20 people working here, four in Los Angeles and two in New York. Why, you might ask, did they set up shop here?
Jetha has no problem answering that. Having grown up here, he loves Vancouver. Both he and Rezaei found that in Canada, pluralism and multi-culturalism are a much greater part of daily life than in the U.S. "When I moved to the States, I realized people were not as geographically or culturally aware of anything outside their borders," said Jetha. In that sense, locating the studio here has helped raise the bar for Mixed Nutz. While many here might not realize it, the Vancouver area is a world hub for animation.
Finally, the government's tax credits proved a powerful magnet. They made setting up shop here viable.
On a recent trip to their studio, Rezaei and Jetha played snippets of their show. Each has their favourites.
For Jetha, it's one where Sanjay gets a childhood crush on his teacher. He envisions her in a Bollywood film.
For Rezaei, it's when the character Sousanne has a fight with her mother and decides to run away from home with Damaris who lost her mother when she was very young. Damaris wonders why Sousanne is running away when she is so lucky to have a mother.
"I really identify with Damaris because I think anyone who has been displaced or has had parents missing from their lives can really identify with her situation," said Rezaei. "She is a very sweet character."
To avoid getting cheap laughs on the backs of ethnic stereotypes, the pair have brought in cultural advisors. "That makes the show smart," said Jetha. "We don't want to portray cliches. We want to stay away from on-the-nose lessons."
The pair have taken a decidedly different route than the makers of most animation productions who usually go to a network and pre-sell to fund the show. "We are pretty passionate about what we are creating," said Rezaei. "We wanted to just fund it ourselves. So we raised money from private investors as well as some foundations."
The pair knew, too, that their success depended on getting the right people into place and creating a team.They brought on board Emmy award winner and composer Randy Rogel, who has written music for shows like The Legend of Tarzan and Batman.
Alfred Gimeno, a real icon in the animation industry, has won three Emmys, worked on shows like Madagascar and the Smurfs and for companies like Disney, Warner Bros. and DreamWorks. He, too, was brought on board.
The animation director is Glen Kennedy who trained under Hanna-Barbera, the old Hollywood behemoth that produced many successful cartoon shows like The Huckleberry Hound Show, The Flintstones, Top Cat, The Yogi Bear Show and The Smurfs. He has been running animation production studios in Asia for about 22 years.
Together with their talented staff, Jetha and Rezaei are on a mission. "Anything that brings people together, especially kids, is a good thing," said Jetha.
"It's important to realize," said Rezaei, "that at the end of the day, we are all the same."

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Walk to fight global poverty set for May 25

The Province; News Services
Published: Sunday, April 27, 2008

The 24th annual World Partnership Walk raising awareness and funds to fight global poverty is being added to the list of B.C.'s 150th anniversary celebrations, the B.C. Ministry of Tourism, Sport and the Arts announced Thursday.
The Vancouver walk will begin at Lumberman's Arch in Stanley Park on May 25, and in Beacon Hill Park in Victoria the same day.

Since the walk was founded by the Aga Khan Foundation in Vancouver 24 years ago it has raised more than $40 million, and last year alone $5 million was collected to fund education, improve health care, increase rural homes and build community organizations in Asia and Africa.
To register for the World Partnership Walk, visit

To check out more B.C. 150 events, visit