Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Road to the Games...Pamirs or is that Hunza

Zee's notes: One of Morning Chai's goals was to bring together Ismailis thoughout the world so we could meet one another and really see the real strength of our diverse Community. What the Golden Jubilee has done is to bring forth numerous initiatives, mostly institutional, but now moreso personal labors of love in celebrating this incredible moment. During the Darbars in the US, Dubai and East Africa we got to know more about ourselves and with the GJG in Nairobi even more expressions of who we are. Today you will meet some very interesting and bright students halfway across the world who are using the internet in the same way as Morning Chai - to unite and bring will love this site:

In keeping with the theme of the GJG in Nairobi meet a couple of soccer (ok...Football) from the Pamir mountains who will represent Dubai at the games.

Road to the Games...Go UK Go !!!

Zee's Notes: One of the great things about the Internet is that it makes it very easy to create a community of like minded individuals - hey that sounds like Morning Chai - and to have as narrow focus as you like - hence the phenomenal growth of sites like Facebook, MySpace and so on. With the Nairobi games - we came in touch with a UK site run by Kurban Chitalya which is a support group for all the athletes from the UK going to compete in Nairobi. Great information and seems like these guys are going to have a lot of fun as a team representing the UK. I wish them well and my hats off to Kurban for his initiative. If you want to see the UK GJG support site click here:

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Road to the Games...Soccer or is that Football !

Zee's Notes: Soccer is another team sport that promises to be closely contested in Nairobi. With Euro 2008 well underway - though it is sad not to have England there - it will be a much talked about competition. Soccer, like cricket to an extent, is in our blood. In Africa we played the game in the streets, the parks and in the alleys - as long as there were more than 2 guys and a ball it was Game On. So let's consider the teams:

Canada: Coached by Amyn Bhulji, one of Tanzania's soccer legends, this team is led by some wily veterans who should provide experience and leadership. Elnur (X) Ladha, who captained the University of BC in his days there, and Karim Shivji will balance the enthusiasm of the youngsters and solidify the midfield for the Canada squad. Soccer in North America is a huge participation sport until the age of 16 - then it tails off with only the most serious continuing at higher league or college levels.

England/Portugal: With soccer being such a huge sport in the 2 nations you can't help but think that they will be the squads to watch. If they have first generation players who have played in the school leagues then watch out - they will be the team to beat. I remember in the early 1980's we had a London team visit Vancouver and the games were dynamite and the skill level of the Londoners was quite impressive - expect the same in Nairobi.

Tanzania/Kenya/Uganda: I also think the East African countries will compete well - with the home advantage - though I'm not sure if there is a pool of youngsters to draw from like the days of yesteryear when Soccer was 'The Game'.

USA : Again, like in any other sport, you can never consider the US out of any competition and they may surprise some of the favorites. Keep an eye out for these guys. Remember when we talk of the US it also includes Australia/new Zealand/Papua New Guinea.

Afghanistan/Tajikistan: No word yet if these countries will field teams in Soccer. But if they do it will be a treat to watch as the boys play with passion and play to win. I say this because during the Canadian games the Montreal squad - with many Afghani players - delighted the crowds with their attacking game and with a lucky bounce here or there may well have taken the trophy.

I hope to catch some of the Soccer matches as they always provide some memorable sporting moments - particularly in Ismaili tournaments.

Ismaili centre: Fostering social connectivity...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Road to the Games...Cricket

Zee's notes: The game of cricket today to some has become too commercialized and equally to some has become one of the most exciting and watchable spectator sport. The 5 day Test (yawn) gave way to the 50 over one-day game and now the Twenty-20 format has brought more fans into the fold. The game has had to adapt to the demands of the sponsors who want to capture viewers in a shorter time frame and also by fans who want a more faster and exciting experience. The other phenomena has seen the Indian Sub-continent gain control of the advertising dollar and hence the power of calling the shots at a global level. India now provides 70% of all the sponsorship money in the game today - witness the spectacular success of the IPL Twenty-20 league which just concluded this month with record crowds combined with all the glitter of Bollywood - did you know 2 of the owners of teams in the IPL include Shahrukh Khan and Preity Zeinta.

So the punch line to the intro above is that Cricket will be one of the headline sports at the GJG next week in Nairobi. So here is my 2 bit primer on what to expect at the GJG cricket tournament.

Canada: First because I know it so well. The 17 lads who will represent Canada come from a land where the sport is played only in the 4 summer months. However many of them have been at the game for most of their lives. Shaheed Keshvani is a promising all rounder with ambitions of a spot on the National Team - indeed he represented Canada in the U-19 Youth World Cup held a few years ago. Canada also has former U-19 National Team members and brothers Jamil and Shafiq Kassam. Another highlight of this team is the veterans (old guys) who bring a lot of experience - Captain Taj Mohamed has won a few national club championships in Canadian Cricket.

USA: Cricket in the US has fluorished in the past decade due to the Indian and Pakistani influx and did you know there are Ismaili/Aga Khan Clubs in Atlanta, San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, Chicago and California. Such is the enthusiasm for the sport that word is the US is sending 2 teams to Nairobi. The US teams could provide many a highlight as, though I do not have names, there are many stars who have played at a high standard in their home countries.

Pakistan: Clearly the favorites to win the whole shebang. In 1989 when super cricketer Aslam Jindani, at one time the Director of Outpatient Services at AKU- Karachi, organized the Ismaili World Cup of Cricket, Pakistan defeated Kenya (with Steve Tikolo) at the Aga Khan Gymkhana in Garden. Cricket in Pakistan is like Ice Hockey for Canadians, NFL football for Americans and Soccer for Europeans - it is played with passion and many a conversation at the water cooler centers around the shenanigans of Shoaib Akhtar, the fastest bowler in the universe, and the rest of the team. The Pakistan team at the GJG will be good and you'll see many stars from this squad. Did you know that fast bowler Salim Jaffer of Karachi is the only Ismaili to ever play for Pakistan's national team at the World Cup and Test level in the late 1980's. Salim is now a selector for Pakistan's national Cricket team - an honor for sure.

Kenya and Tanzania: In the late 80's and early 90's Ismaili cricket almost disappeared when most of the stars left East Africa for better opportunities in North America and Europe. Over the past decade there has been an influx of players, like in the US, from India and Pakistan so the East African teams won't be regarded lightly by their opponents.

India: With the sport so huge in this country, little is known about what to expect from the Indian team. The only news has been that a team from the Gujarat won their national tournament. They may be the darkhorses as not much is known about them except they are from a country where, like Pakistan, the sport of cricket is King !!!

The UAE: Again, dominated by immigrants from the Indian Sub-Continent, they could provide a challenge to some of the favorites.

The UK: The English may surprise if they bring some of the players who have gained exposure with the game at the high school and university level. Though the English have pretty well lost their top level status in the game to the likes of Australia, India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan - they do have a formidable coaching system and we may see some talented players in Nairobi.

So over the course of a week if you are in Nairobi head over to the local cricket grounds and catch some fast and furious action - oh did I tell you the games will be played under the Twenty-20 format - as my Gujarati tailor tells me - 'That too much fun !!!'

Award season for Canadian students...

Zee's Notes: June is Grad month in most Canadian provinces and it's usually this time we start to hear of the achievements of our brightest students in high schools, colleges and universities. For the next few weeks Morning Chai will highlight the Honor Roll Class of 2007-2008. Here are 2 heading to Med school who have previously made our honor roll - albeit 4 years ago - proves that if you are focused the pats keep coming throughout your life.

1. Naheed Dosani of Toronto was, in 2004, among eight Ontario recipients of the TD Canada Trust Scholarship, valued at $60,000 over four years. The award is presented annually to 20high-school students across Canada, recognizing not only their academic achievements, but their exceptional community involvement. This year he will be attending medical school at McMaster University.

Naheed Dosani

2. Shaqil Peermohamed, also another overachiever, will be attending the University of Calgary medical school. Four years ago he was recognized as one of the 2004 Top 20 Under 20 in Canada for his academic and voluntary accomplishments. 2004 was a remarkable year for Shaqil as he was also inducted into the Alberta Volunteer Wall of Fame and nominated for the 2004 Star of Alberta in the youth category.

Ashly Larson and Shaqil Peermohamed, 2004 Top 20 Under 20 Award Recipients making opening remarks

Friday, June 13, 2008

Road to the Games...

The Vaishalinagar Scouts and Guides honour athletes at the Closing Ceremony of the National Sports Tournament. Photo: Courtesy the Ismaili Council for India

Road to the Games is a series of articles profiling Ismaili athletes from countries around the world, and the journeys they have undertaken to reach the Golden Jubilee Games. The series is being published in the run-up to the Games, which will take place between 23 – 29 June in Nairobi, Kenya.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

In the News - June 2008

Mombasa premiere for 'An Islamic Conscience' - June 13th

he French government, the Afghan government and the Aga Khan sign a letter of intent on medical projects in Afghanistan - June 12th

Movie Review: AN ISLAMIC CONSCIENCE: the Aga Khan and the Ismailis - June 12th

Friends of the environment : Aga Khan Planning and Building Services holds art competition - June 10th

Why the world needs more Canada - Jun 12th

A look at Afghan conference pledges - June 12th

By The Associated Press
Some of largest donations at international conference for Afghanistan, where total of $21.4 billion pledged:
_ United States: $10.2 billion, over 2 years.
_ Asian Development Bank: $1.3 billion, over 5 years.
_ Britain: $1.1 billion, through 2013.
_ World Bank: $1.1 billion, over 5 years.
_ European Union: $770 million, through 2010.
_ Germany: $653 million, through 2010.
_ Canada: $600 million.
_ Norway: $500 million, over 5 years.
_ United Arab Emirates: $250 million.
_ Australia: $234 million, over 3 years.
_ Italy: $195 million, over 3 years.
_ Saudi Development Fund: $118 million.
_ Aga Khan Development Network: $100 million, over 5 years.
_ Denmark: $84 million.
_ Iran: $50 million in aid, $300 million in loans, over 3 years.
_ South Korea: $30 million, over 3 years.
_ China: $2.2 million.

Rafat Jan Rukanuddin receives distinguised service award from U. of Iowa - Jun 7th

Volunteer at African games - June 5th

Monday, June 09, 2008

Bridges That Unite...Exhibition opens in Vancouver

Exploring Canada's Global Leadership
What is Canada’s role in a world where poverty and hopelessness thrive?

With this provocative question, BRIDGESTHATUNITE, an interactive travelling exhibition, invites visitors to consider Canada’s role in the world through the lens of a remarkable 25-year partnership with the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN). Built on a set of common values, such as pluralism, democracy and peace, this unique partnership is transforming lives around the world.

Click here for info on this AKFC initiative...

Bridges that Unite: Exhibit locations and dates

The exhibitions are free and open to the public.

Vancouver, BC
June 11 - 22, 2008
Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre
181 Roundhouse Mews
Vancouver, BC V6Z 2W3

Hours of operation:
Monday - Friday: 11am - 7pm
Saturday -Sunday: 9am - 5pm

Zee's notes: In the next 2 weeks close to 300 Canadian Ismaili athletes head to Kenya for the GJG to be held in Nairobi June 22-29th, 2008. They may very well run into these two Canadians in Nairobi and Zanzibar on this AKFC initiative.

Arno – Nairobi

Kent - Tanzania

And 10 more Canadians in various global locations

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Unbeaten Zarkava continues to shine...

Zee's notes: Will Zarkava prove to be one of the best ? Only time will tell - here is her latest victory at Chantilly - watch the entire video.

Zarkava team eye Arc mission

Zarkava appears likely to challenge all-comers in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe later in the year after furthering her reputation as the outstanding filly of her generation in the Prix de Diane (French Oaks).
Her owner and breeder the Aga Khan nearly ran out of superlatives to describe his latest star following her three-length success at Chantilly.
Christophe Soumillon settled her at the back of the field before moving her into contention, and she was cheered from the rooftops as a burning run down the centre of the track proved too good for Gagnoa and Goldikova.
It was the fifth time her owner had teamed up with trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre to win the race and the unbeaten Zarkava was completing a French Oaks-1000 Guineas double.
"Petite Etoile ran for my grandfather and she only had one filly, called Zahra, who I named after my daughter," said the Aga Khan. "Breeding from that filly has been the sole reason the family has come back to the strength it is now.
"Shergar is in there, and now Zarkava. She is without a doubt one of my best - an exceptional filly and the perfect example of breeding continuity."
De Royer-Dupre added: "We will consider the Arc de Triomphe with a run before that, although I am not sure the Prix Vermeille would be the best preparation race.
"Christophe said he only had to hit her once, just to keep her on a straight line, and we don't see any reason why she couldn't stay a mile and a half."
The Aga Khan added: "There is a staying pedigree and I believe fillies progress more than colts between the summer and autumn, so I think we will see more progress from her between September and October."
Jim Bolger was unable to add to his Derby success as Prima Luce made a bold bid from the front but was swallowed up in the home straight.

The Press Association

Zee's Notes: Here is a photo from last October of Princess Zahra and Prince Amyn after Zarkava's win at Longchamps

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Honorary degrees awarded at Commencement - Harvard University

Prince Karim Aga Khan (L) and British author J.K. Rowling hold their honorary degrees during the 357th Commencement Exercises at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts June 5, 2008.REUTERS/Brian Snyder (UNITED STATES)

More Commencement pictures here:

Zee's Notes: MHI was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws at his alma mater Harvard University on Wednesday June 5th, 2008 . The local media was abuzz with news when MHI's plane landed at Augusta airport in Maine on Tuesday June 4th. MHI was amongst 11 honorees including US Senator Edward Kennedy and JK Rowling, the creator of the Harry Potter tales and also the commencement speaker. Here is a Time Magazine picture from 50 years ago when MHI was a student at Harvard. I also found this video on YouTube - wow - what a tribute !!! Interesting to see Professor Ali Asani, originally from Nairobi, who celebrates his 25th year of teaching at Harvard in 2008.

By: Hank Walker
Time & Life Pictures