Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year !!!


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Fatimid Glory

Zee's notes: The Fatimid Dynasty that ruled most of the Arab World between the 9th and 11th Century is well recognized for it's achievements and here's a video that shows some of it's glory.

Ismailis in the News - Olympic Flame Sparks Food Drive

Residents of the Don Mills community came together today to actively support the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver.

Olympic Torch-Bearer Mr. Mohamed Manji, President of the Ismaili Council for Canada, is shown with the Golden Jubilee Athletes as he completes his segment of the Torch Relay. The athletes, who had taken part in international games in Nairobi, Kenya, in June 2008, remarked that seeing the Olympic Torch brought back their many memories of the Games, which resonated with them as both Games were about the pursuit of excellence and unity amongst peoples.

Read complete article here

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ismailis in the News - Firoz Rasul Profile in the Globe and Mail

Zee's Notes: Firoz Rasul, currently the President of AKU, is from Vancouver. I consider him to be in the top 5 Ismaili individuals - Shafik Sachedina being the top - who interact with MHI as he carries out his vision of lifting millions in less fortunate conditions to a better standard of living. Firoz took a struggling fuel cell provider - Ballard Power Systems - and made it into an world class enterprise which at one point was vaued at over $9 billion dollars. I remember when Firoz was the President of the Ismaili Council for BC and how he moved and motivated those who worked for him - he was a master strategist who let people do extraordinary things and gave them the tools and resources to do their jobs. Here's an interesting story from the man himself on how he took on his current role at AKU in Karachi.

His Highness the Aga Khan with President of the Aga Khan University, Firoz Rasul and CEO of the Aga Khan University Hospital Nairobi, Asmita Gillani.
Photo credit: AKDN/Gary Otte

Read the complete article here

Islam in the New World - Changing Demographics

Zee's Notes: Interesting video on the growth of Islam in Europe and North America - this one is going viral - over 11 million views on Youtube.

Ismaili community celebrates the 2010 Olympic Torch Relay in Don Mills

His Highness the Aga Khan Skiing for Great Britain in the Alps -1960

Zee's Notes: Less then 60 days to my home town hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics in February 2010. If you watch the local news daily one gets a sense of the excitement and the chaos Vancouverites are expecting for the 2 weeks when the entire world casts its eye on the city known as Lotusland. The Olympic Torch recently was in Toronto and our own Ismaili National Council President Mohamed Manji was a torch bearer - see the video and article in

MHI competed in the 1964 Winter Olympic Games for Iran in Innsbruck, Austria. MHI qualified for the Mens Downhill, Slalom and Grand Slalom events - here are his numbers


Glossary ▪ CSV ▪ PRE

1964 Winter
Alpine Skiing
Men's Downhill

1964 Winter
Alpine Skiing
Men's Giant Slalom

1964 Winter
Alpine Skiing
Men's Slalom
30 q

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Ismailis in the News - Meet Dr. Zahra Jamal - Assistant Professor and Postdoctoral Fellow at James Madison College, Michigan State University.

Zee's Notes: Over the years on Morning Chai we've been introduced to some brilliant individuals from our Ismaili Community. Whether they excel in business, sports, academics, art etc. the theme is common - they give back to the community and Dr. Zahra Jamal is no different, This Harvard PHD has been involved as a volunteer going back 17 years since she was a Vice-Captain at her Binghampton, NY jamatkhana. Yes I was blown away at her achievements since then.

Dr. Zahra N. Jamal is an Assistant Professor and Postdoctoral Fellow at James Madison College, Michigan State University. She was previously on the faculty of Social Anthropology at Harvard and MIT, and was a research consultant for Harvard's Islam in the West Program. She has also lectured at Wells, Emory, and Bridgewater State.

Since 1999, Dr. Jamal has conducted fieldwork in the United States, Canada, Pakistan, India, Russia, and Tajikistan and she aims to build on these endeavors especially among Muslims from South and Central Asia, including those living in diaspora. She has published in the Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East Journal; E-volunteerism; The Pluralism Project; The Encyclopedia of Islam in America; and other venues. Dr. Jamal is currently working on a book manuscript on the cultural phenomenon of voluntarism as a religious and civic practice among Shia Ismaili Muslims, followers of the Aga Khan, in the United States and South Asia. Her next project focuses on aging among poverty-stricken South Asians in Chicago.

She has been awarded the Javits, Mellon, Weatherhead, Hearst, Das, Menezes, and other fellowships, as well as numerous teaching awards and accolades at Harvard. Her research and teaching interests include (trans)nationalism and diaspora, citizenship and civic engagement, religion, gender, ethics, and ethnographic methods.

Dr. Jamal holds a deep passion for bridging academic research and nonprofit work. Outside the Ivory Tower, as an appointee of His Highness the Aga Khan to two national boards, she has done strategic planning and management on initiatives on mental health, special needs, inter-ethnic understanding, and social service acquisition in the US, Australia, and New Zealand. As an ethnographic consultant to the Swiss Development Cooperation, Aspen Institute, Aga Khan Development Network and others, Dr. Jamal has advised or led projects on conflict resolution, gender equity, refugees, and civic engagement in North America, Europe, and Central Asia. In academia, she has been a pedagogical consultant and a research consultant.� As a guest of Roland Arnall, the late U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, in 2006, she engaged in dialogues with key American and European leaders on Muslim integration in Western countries through civic participation and voluntarism. In 2005, she designed a project on Muslim Philanthropy in post-9/11 America for the Aspen Institute's Nonprofit Sector and Philanthropy Program. This project has since become a major million dollar effort to educate Muslim Americans, civil society actors, and others on safeguarding charitable giving.

Dr. Jamal received her M.A. and Ph.D. in Social Anthropology and Middle Eastern Studies from Harvard, and she holds degrees in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies and Slavic Studies from Rice. In her spare time she enjoys globe trotting, hiking, cultural tourism, music, and spending time with family and friends.

Read her complete CV here 

King of Curry - Vancouver

By Justin Beddall - North Shore Outlook

The food critic was perplexed. Why had she been dispatched to a hole-in-the-wall video store on Pemberton Avenue?
Once inside, she discovered that Bollywood films weren’t the spicy item for sale.
Welcome to Ace Video & Grocery, the original headquarters for the popular line of spice blends Ace Curries to Go, now available in more than 400 retailers across Western Canada.
Of course Virkram Bajaj’s curry empire began slowly, in the back of the video store, with just a coffee grinder, some spices and memories of his mom Balam’s mouth-watering Kheema Masala curry.

His Highness the Aga Khan receives "Prix de l’Entrepreneur philanthropique de l’année 2009"

Prince Amyn, Princess Zahra and Prince Hussain joined Mawlana Hazar Imam at the Le Nouvel Economiste award ceremony, where Hazar Imam received the Prix de l’Entrepreneur philanthropique de l’année 2009 (2009 Philanthropic Entrepreneur of the Year Award). Photo: AKDN/Gary Otte
Prince Amyn, Princess Zahra and Prince Hussain joined Mawlana Hazar Imam at the Le Nouvel Economiste award ceremony, where Hazar Imam received the Prix de l’Entrepreneur philanthropique de l’année 2009 (2009 Philanthropic Entrepreneur of the Year Award). Photo: AKDN/Gary Otte

Video of Ceremony

Monday, December 21, 2009

Aga Khan (wasfy Mola ) Ginan with music

Zee's Notes: Yet another composition paying tribute to the Mowla.

The Aga Khan, Women and Development: The Path of Education

Rahim Kanani

Rahim Kanani

Research Associate, Hauser Center for Nonprofits, Harvard University
Posted: December 21, 2009 02:10 AM

"I believe the message of Islam is the dignity with which we must treat women in society...and I think it is correct that education dignifies women," His Highness Karim Aga Khan, spiritual leader of the world's Shia Ismaili Muslims, explained to a BBC reporter at the turn of the century. Like his grandfather, Sir Sultan Mohamed Shah, who was once President of the League of Nations, the Aga Khan has been an ardent supporter of educating women in the developing world for decades. Recently celebrating his 73rd birthday, the 49th hereditary Imam and direct descendent of the Prophet Muhammad is still tireless in his effort, pragmatic in his approach, and strategic in his vision. As a religious leader, his moral obligation, rooted in the principles of Islam, holds him to both interpret the faith and improve the quality of life within the communities and societies in which his followers live. In his dual role, the Aga Khan is also founder and Chairman of one of the largest private development networks in the world, the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), active in over 25 countries and employing over 70,000 people.

Read complete article in the Huffington Post

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Ismailis in the News - Canadian singing sensation Farahri debuts single

Zee's Notes: Ottawa born Farahri (Farah Mitha) is the new hip-hop sensation with her debut single 'Dance the Night Away'. She's performed for audiences in many cities across the globe and now is making her way up the charts in North America.

Fusing Indian, African, Latin and Caribbean flavours with mainstream pop, rock, hip hop and R&B, Ottawa native Farahri brings a rare mix of fresh sound and a multicultural embrace to the Canadian music scene.
Farahri's debut single, Dance The Night Away, is a feel-good dance track featuring Canadian rapper Choclair. With pop melodies, a Hindi interlude and a remix track with a reggae-dancehall beat, both tracks are fusions of diverse genres, languages and sounds.
"I want to create a platform where it's okay to mix cultural influences with accessible music genres, like pop," says Farahri. "I think the world is ready for this now."
Raised as an Indian-Canadian in an English- and French-speaking home by African-born parents, Farahri wants her music to promote diversity and encourage people to truly embrace other cultures, not just tolerate them.
Fluent in French, English and Kutchi, Farahri also sings in Swahili, Spanish, Hindi, Arabic and Jamaican Patois.
In addition, Farahri is also involved as a donor and volunteer for the Aga Khan Development Centre, an international NGO that conducts relief programmes in historic cities regardless of citizens' faith, origin or gender.
Farahri also recently renewed her 2010 watch endorsement campaign with AMA Swiss Watch Company.

Check out her video and interview

Friday, December 18, 2009

Aga Khan III - Tribute Video

Zee's Notes: New video on You Tube on the contributions of Sir Sultan Mohamed Shah to world politics and the eventual formation of the nation of Pakistan.

If you understand Urdu you will enjoy this - otherwise some great pictures as well great footage of a Jubilee Darbar.

Aga Khan Foundation East Africa CEO Arif Neky at Madrasa Resource Centre milestone

Coastweek-- Seen [from left] MRCK National Board Chairman Omar Lali, Chief Kadhi of Kenya Sheikh Hammad M. Kassim, Minister of Transport Honourable Chirau Ali Mwakwere, Deputy Director of Basic Education Shaaban Mohammed Digo, Aga Khan Foundation, East Africa CEO Arif Neky.

Coastweek-- On Thursday, December 3, 2009, Madrasa Resource Centre, Kenya (MRC, K) celebrated the launch of its 25th anniversary publication.

The event was graced by honourable Chirau Ali Mwakwere, minister for Transport.

The publication, entitled “The Madrasa Early Childhood Programme: 25 years of experience”, was developed to highlight the history, progress and lessons of the programme since its inception in 1986.

Kidnapped Canadian Journalist Amanda Lindhout thanks Aga Khan for help in release


CALGARY – Journalist Amanda Lindhout is thanking everyone involved in her rescue from 15 months of captivity in Somalia — from the Canadian government and the Aga Khan right down to her family and the ordinary Canadians who raised money to fund her release. “I am so proud to be a Canadian,” Ms. Lindhout said in the written statement — her first public statement since her release from kidnappers last month.
“My faith in human decency was sorely tested at times during my captivity. However, after my release, I am humbly reminded that mankind is inherently good by the tremendous efforts and support of fellow Canadians.
“The belief I would one day be reunited with my family gave me the strength to endure a difficult situation that often looked hopeless. I find it hard to express the depth of my gratitude to my mom, dad, and Perry, who each put their own lives on hold and sacrificed everything so I may live to return home. They never gave up and I am blessed to be so loved.”
Ms. Lindhout also praised the efforts of the Canadian government — even though Ottawa has repeatedly said it does not pay ransoms for kidnapped citizens.
“I know there’s great debate about the role government should or shouldn’t play in a situation such as mine, and I understand the Government of Canada is being criticized both for what they did, and didn’t do to support my family,” she wrote.
“I accept they did what they could within the confines of Canadian policy, and for that I am grateful.”
Ms. Lindhout and Australian photojournalist Nigel Brennan were kidnapped in Mogadishu in August 2008, along with local journalist Abdifatah Mohammed Elmi, who was released in January.
For more than 12 months, Ms. Lindhout– a 28-year-old from Sylvan Lake, Alta., southwest of Edmonton — survived in captivity the African country, enduring death threats, fluctuating ransom demands, lurid speculation about her situation and heart-wrenching pleas to television stations for help.
Ms. Lindhout has said she was beaten numerous times and forced to sit in a corner by herself during her captivity. The room she was kept in was windowless and without light, she said, and she had very little food.
Ms. Lindhout thanked the staff of the Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi “for providing Nigel and I with excellent treatment and care during our stay” and singled out the Aga Khan, the Imam of the Nizari Muslims, “for personally supporting our recovery and ensuring we were well taken care of.”
Ms. Lindhout thanked the Canadian High Commissioner in Nairobi, Ross Hynes, “and his wife Vanessa, who are not only exceptional representatives for our country abroad, but inspiring examples of selfless, kind human beings. Thank you for providing my family with such wonderful support after my release.”
Source: National Post

Karimabad - Hunza

Zee's Notes: Continuing on the journey of Shangri-La where people live in harmony and old age here is a pictorial of Karimabad, the capital of the Hunza Valley.

 See it on Flickr here

Karimabad is the capital of Hunza in Gilgit-Baltistan by khalilshah.
Karimabad (Urdu: كريم آباد) is the capital of Hunza in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. Karimabad is also known as Baltit. It is named after Prince Karim Aga Khan, the spiritual head of Shia Ismaili Nizari community. It is one of the most beautiful places in Pakistan and it swarms with tourists from all around the world during summers. It provides spectacular views of many beautiful mountains like Rakaposhi. The Guardian ranked it as the 4th Best Tourist Site in Pakistan.

Bollywood star brings boyish charm to Canada

Zee's Notes: The Olympic Torch trek to Vancouver is gaining momentum, with less than 60 days to O-Day, when 60,000 lucky fans will gather at BC Place Stadium for the Opening Ceremonies. In the meantime some serous celebrities are making the run in the torch's cross Canada run including our own Ismaili Council for Canada President Mohamed Manji.

The Globe and Mail 
TORONTO -- Moments before the arrival of Akshay Kumar - the most famous torchbearer whom many Canadians have never heard of - organizers were gazing at the eager crowd of thousands swelling Yonge Street and worrying if the Bollywood star had enough security.
"I don't think they comprehended this," said Andrew Clark, vice-president of market development for the Canadian Tourism Commission. "I think it's going to be a little chaotic."

Read complete article here

Ismailis in the News - Bilal Rajan carries Olympic Torch

December 18, 2009

Last night, I carried the Olympic flame through the streets of Toronto!  My journey started at Sick Kids Hospital with thousands of onlookers and media.  It was a bit chilly, but the incredible Olympic spirit kept everyone warm and in a celebratory mood.  It was so great to share the moment with my parents and friends who were present. 

I can’t begin to tell you how much of an honour this really was.  I am one of more then 12,000 torchbearers who are carrying the flame throughout our great country.  The Olympics has such an important message of international peace, unity and friendship, and I think the spirit of these games will inspire people of all backgrounds to work together in creating a better world. 

Thanks again for all your support.  Talk to you soon!

Warm Regards,

Bilaal Rajan
“Together We Can Make A Difference”

US Consul General visits Ismaili Jamatkhana and Center in Burnaby, BC

The Burnaby Jamatkhana

The Burnaby Jamatkhana by US Mission Canada.
Consul General Phil Chicola is given an orientation by members of the Burnaby Jamatkhana, or Ismaili Centre, on December 17, 2009. Burnaby, British Columbia. 


Ismailis in the News - Faranaz Keshavjee

Zee's Notes: Bookmark this blog on your favorites - I love her slogan - In Search  for Salaam. Faranaz Keshavjee writes in a Portuguese paper - Expresso.

Ismaili Community Inpires - Editorial Comment

Zee's Notes: Interesting editorial reply in a Dallas newspaper.

Ismaili community inspires

For the last 45 minutes of each weekly, three hour, lesson students go leave while parents get a chance to meet with teachers. During this time, students participate in a variety of activities, including yoga, and spanish lessons. Here, students, Saarim Khakwani, center, and Aahil Ajani, left in orange shirt, of the advanced level, 5-6 year old group, close their eyes and focus on the lessons they learned that day as part of cool-down exercie. Photographed on Monday, November 20, 2009 at the Ismaili Jamatkhana & Center in Carrollton. JEFFREY PORTER/Staff PhotographerRe: "Involved, inspiring -- Program lets Ismaili Muslim parents share learning experience," Thursday news story.

It has been my privilege to work with members of this Ismaili community for almost 30 years. These first-generation Americans have readily incorporated their lives and their families into our social and economic fabric. During the annual Partnership Walk event, there are American flags flying. Their children come dressed in their Boy Scout and Girl Scout uniforms.
I have seen many of these children grow up to pursue their dream careers as businessmen, professionals and even a racecar driver. Several of these young people have interned in our law office prior to becoming lawyers themselves.
The outreach of the Ismaili community to the population at large is notable and laudable. Their members encourage inclusiveness in their community activities.
With such great potential, it is sad to see daily reminders of the dangerous world in which we live. Perhaps our greatest collective failure has been to cast all members of a community or a religion as extremists, occupiers or terrorists, based on the acts of a few disenchanted and disenfranchised fanatics.
Rather than the daily deluge of stories of terrorism that evoke fear and prejudice, our community, and especially our children, would be better served by stories that provide hope and inspiration for our way of life.
Marcel M. Weiner, Dallas

Pamir Mountains, the Crossroads of History -- NY Times Travel

Zee's Notes: A while back I wrote of the land of the Pamir Mountains as being the inspiration of the movie Shangri-La- where people lived in peace and were healthy well into their 100's. This is an interesting look at what's happening along the Tajik-Afghan border from a travel writer.

Published: December 20, 2009
BY 9 in the morning, the bazaar on a rocky island in the Panj River was a frenetic scene of haggling and theatrics. Afghan traders in long tunics and vests hawked teas, toiletries and rubber slippers. Turbaned fortune tellers bent over ornate Persian texts, predicting futures for the price of a dollar. Tajik women bargained over resplendent bolts of fabric. All were mingling this bright Saturday at a weekly market held throughout the year and, in one form or another, for thousands of years here in the Wakhan Valley, which divides Tajikistan and Afghanistan.

Two faiths, one tree: the holiday negotiation

Farhana Alarakhiya and Rob Parker are teaching their daughter Sarra the common elements of their faiths.

Farhana Alarakhiya and Rob Parker are teaching their daughter Sarra the common elements of their faiths. PAWEL DWULIT FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL

OTTAWA From Friday's Globe and Mail

For Farhana Alarakhiya and Rob Parker, the biggest issue was what to put on the top of their Christmas tree.
Mr. Parker was accustomed to a star - it had been part of his childhood since his family attended the United Church in his home town of Dundas, Ont. But that symbol made Ms. Alarakhiya uncomfortable as an Ismaili Muslim who immigrated from Kenya with her family when she was 9 and takes her faith seriously. Islam sees Jesus Christ as a prophet, she says, and she felt the star was connected too closely to the image of Jesus as the Son of God.

Read complete article here

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Salegrah Mubarak to our Morning Chai Family

Zee's Notes: MHI turns 73 tomorrow - December 13, 2009. Soon we'll get reports of Ismailis celebrating throughout the world and it's simply mind-boggling that MHI continues his rapid pace of mapping out his vision of lifting millions of people out of their impoverished living conditions and we can only be in awe of his energy and drive - yes quite inspiring....

PS: Someone sent me the above and I thought it was really neat - I would love to know who did it so I can give them credit on the site.

Salgirah message from The

May Allah continue to bless you and your loved ones and that your din and duniya journey be filled with joy, happiness and immense barakat.

Here is a new version of my favorite ginan I found on Youtube....

Program lets Ismaili Muslim parents share learning experience with their children


Asad Bhimani (right) works with his mother, Asfia Bhimani, on spelling while Sinaan Bardaie (left) and his mother, Rozeen R. Ali, team up on the lesson at the Learning Center for Parents and Children in Carrollton. 

Aga Khan Academy in Mombasa honored as one of 12 MIcrosoft Mentor Schools in the world


Coastweek -- Head of Aga Khan Academy, Mombasa, Peter J McMurray [centre] is seen while being presented with a Microsoft 'Mentor School ' recognition certificate by the Global Vice President of Microsoft's Innovative School's Programme, Michael Golden.

Coastweek -- The Aga Khan Academy in Mombasa has been honoured during a recent ceremony in Salvador, Brazil, by being invited to become part of the prestigious 'Mentor School' programme initiated by Microsoft Corp.
The Academy becomes only the 12th school in the world to join the programme.
The honour is part of the Microsoft Innovative Schools Programme which currently has 30 'Pathfinder' schools recognised for special achievement globally.

Here is an interesting video on the Microsoft - AKF partnership...

Bollywood on Ice

Zee's Notes: Incredible how Bollywood is now becoming mainstream in America. Meryl Davis and Charlie White are the defending US Ice Dancing Champions. Enjoy....

Friday, December 11, 2009

Aga Khan University - Pakistan - Convocation 2009

Zee's Notes: AKU graduated 328 more students at their recent Convocation at the Karachi Campus. 20 years ago  I was lucky enough to be in Karachi to play with the Canadian Ismaili Cricket Team at the World Ismaili Cricket Festival organized by cricket enthusiast Aslam Jindani, who was a Director at the AKU hospital at the time.  Aslam arranged for the cricketers to attend the convocation and is what I call a 'once in a lifetime' type of experience - yes MHI was there as Chancellor. Twenty years later MHI's vision of creating a better life for millions of people chugs along at a jet speed pace.

Convocation 2009


Surrey couple returns after long visa wait with adopted Nepali child

By Doug Ward, Vancouver Sun November 27, 2009

VANCOUVER — A Surrey cardiologist returned to Vancouver on Thursday with her newly adopted 15-month-old daughter after nine weeks of waiting in Nepal for Canada to issue visa documents.

Dr. Salima Shariff and her husband Aziz Nurmohamed arrived with Sophia at Vancouver International Airport where they were greeted by family and friends.

"I just feel so happy," said Sheriff during the emotional reunion. "You know, all she's known is an orphanage and a hotel room and now she has an entire family and community waiting for her here."

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Bollywood in Times Square

On August 4th, 2009, dozens of Bollywood dancers suddenly began to dance in the middle of Times Square to support Bollywood Hero, a 3 part mini-series on IFC. Bollywood Hero stars Chris Kattan, Neha Dhupia, Pooja Kumar and the show's choreographer Longinus Fernandes (Slumdog Millionaire) were in attendance. The mini-series was shown August 6th, 7th and 8th at 10pm on IFC.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Eid Mubarak to our Morning Chai Family - Ismailis celebrate Eid-Al-Adha

Uganda woos Canadian Ismailis it chased out decades ago

Zee's Notes: My friend Vali Jamal wrote this article a month ago when the Ugandan VP passed Vancouver to speak at the Ismaili Centre in Burnaby. So having been in Vancouver for the last 3 decades this really hits home as it's true there is a lot of Ismaili's who can be called millionaires and are thriving in Canada. Again the  amazing thing is that only a handful, like the Lalji (Larco), Magan Mawji (real estate) and Pirani (hotels) family, had money when they arrived in the early 1970's. The majority of the Ugandan Asians in Vancouver started out working in menial jobs such as parking lot attendants for Imperial Parking while they raised their families. Most of the 'rich' Ismailis at the time were from Kenya, Tanzania and Congo. The Eighties and subsequent real estate boom lasting to today created the business opportunities and wealth for most of the Ismaili's and their children have prospered prepped with their University educations and high paying jobs over the last 25 years - see BC Business article in 2006 The Ismaili Success Story in BC

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Oxford Joins With Aga Khan University, Nairobi

Coastweek -- The University of Oxford has collaborated with the Aga Khan University, Nairobi to establish a centre in Africa for an international study of fetal and newborn growth.
This “Intergrowth - 21st” project will create a worldwide database of the growth and health pattern of babies before and after birth.
This project is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and coordinated by Nuffield Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of the University of Oxford.

Ismailis in the News - Eboo Patel at White House State Dinner

 Zee's Notes: The event of the season on Tuesday night was the State Dinner at the White House in honor of Indian PM Manmohan Singh. The power brokers at the event included Eboo Patel, who's a member of Obama's White House Office of Faith, and his wife Shehnaz Mansuri, a litigation lawyer - she is also an adjunct professor for Loyola University's Child Law Trial Practice Program.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

White House Dinner - What ! bollywood ?

Zee's Notes: While we thought yesterday the State Dinner would have Bollywood Royalty present it seems the 'A' list was mostly the business and political elite though there were some celebs which included wellness guru Deepak Chopra, filmmaker Manoj Night Shyamalan, Sanjay Gupta and Fareed Zakaria of CNN fame and actor Kal Penn (Modi). Hollywood was represented by director Stephen Spielberg, actor Blair Underwood and Dreamworks Jeffrey Katzenberg. So sadly apart from entertainer AR Rahman, who was one of the performers along with Jennifer Hudson, there was no Bollywood royalty as expected though you know that when US Pres Barrack Obama goes to New Delhi it will be a Bollywood party. And yes First Lady Michelle Obama did choose Naeem Khan's dress and now the designer's popularity should go through the roof.

Read article on who was there 

White House Photos

Time Magazine's Photo Gallery

What you needed to wear to crash the State Dinner...

In this Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2009 photo, Michaele and Tareq Salahi, right, arrive at a State Dinner hosted by President Barack Obama for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the White House in Washington. The Secret Service is looking into its own security procedures after determining that the Virginia couple managed to slip into Tuesday night's state dinner at the White House even though they were not on the guest list, agency spokesman Ed Donovan said. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Hollywood to meet Bollywood at State Dinner tonite at White House

Zee's Notes: The big question is will Michelle Obama surprise with a sari at the state dinner when Indian PM Manmohan Singh pays a visit to the White House. Seems designer Naeem Khan, who also counts Princess Yasmin Aga Khan as a client,  is dressing up many of the celebrity guests and now speculation is now on what the First Lady will wear for the party. As well, the menu will feature (see below) some Indian fare and A.R. Rahman and Jennifer Hudson will also perform. Look for all the Indian Asian heavyweights (see list below)  to be there including Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal , CNN's Sanjay Gupta, Abhishek and Aishwariya Bachchan, Deepak Chopra and billionaire Mukesh Ambani - many of the richest Indians in the US are heavy Obama supporters - I wonder if Bollywood superstar Madhuri Dixit now living in the states will make an appearance.

By: Nikki Schwab and Tara Palmeri

Washington Examiner
11/23/09 9:00 PM EST

Naeem Khan eager to find out if first lady will wear Indian-inspired submission
When first lady Michelle Obama keeps her closet on lockdown before major events, fashion greats and rookies feel anxiety and hope she will pick their design.
Even for the first state dinner Tuesday in tribute to fashion-forward India, the first lady has maintained her code of secrecy.
"With her you never know what she's going to wear, and I hope that she's wearing something from me," said Indian-American designer Naeem Khan, who was among the designers chosen to submit pieces for the first lady. Khan described the two dresses he submitted as very modern, but based on Indian fabrication.

Read article here 

Naeem Khan's designs

Tonights Table Setting


Whats on the Menu:

The State Dinner Menu


Potato and Eggplant Salad
White House Arugula with Onion Seed Vinaigrette
2008 Sauvignon Blanc, Modus Operandi, Napa
Red Lentil Soup with Fresh Cheese
2006 Riesling, Brooks "Ara," Wilamette Valley, Oregon
Roasted Potato Dumplings
with Tomato Chutney
Chick Peas and Okra or Green Curry Prawns
Caramelized Salsify
with smoked Collard Greens
and Coconut Aged Basmati
2007 Grenache, Beckmen Vineyards, Santa Ynez, CA
Pumpkin Pie Tart
Pear Tatin
Whipped Cream and Caramel Sauce
Sparkling Chardonnay, Thibaut Janisson Brut, Monticello, Virginia
Petis Fours and Coffee
Cashew Brittle
Pecan Pralines
Passion Fruit and Vanilla Glaces
Chocolate-Dipped Fruit

Rising star designer Naeem Khan
Posted on Wednesday, November 01, 2006 (EST)
His father and grandfather designed clothes for the royalty in India, he designs them for celebrities in the US. Naeem Khan shares his views on style and couture, as well as his future plans with Sawf News Fashion Editor Ruchira Haldar.

Read Article Here  

Entertainment for the Dinner 

Tonight's entertainment also includes elements from India as well as from the United States.

Kurt Elling, an eight-time Grammy nominee ad American jazz vocalist and composer will perform. Chicago born, Jennifer Hudson, winner of the third season of American Idol will sing. In addition the guests' will hear from the National Symphony Orchestra, with Marvin Hamlisch as the Conductor, and the United States Marine Band.

A.R. Rahman, an Indian composer, musician and singer who wrote the  "Slumdog Millionaire" Score will also perform.

Expected Guests:  

The President & First Lady Michelle Obama
Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister, India & Ms. Gursharan Kaur

The Honorable (Rep) Gary Ackerman, United States Representative
Mr. Sant Singh Chatwal (Guest)
His Excellency Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission of the Republic of India, Indian Delegation
Mr. Mukesh D Ambani
Mr. Tim Dutta (Spouse of Ms. Pia Awal)
The Honorable (Mr.) David Axelrod, White House Communications
Mrs. Susan Axelrod
Ms. Preeta Bansal, OMB - General Counsel
The Honorable (Ms.) Melody Barnes, Domestic Policy Council
Mr. Marland E. Buckner
The Honorable (Rep.) Howard Berman, United States Representative (D/California)
Mrs. Jane Berman, Spouse of United States Representative (D/California)
Mr. Om Prakash Bhatt
Mr. Hunter Biden
Mrs. Kathleen Biden
The Honorable (Vice President) Joseph R. Biden, Jr., Vice President of the United States
Dr. Jill Biden
Mr. Robert O Blake, Jr., Assistant Sec for South and Central Asian Affairs, State Department
Mrs. Sofia Blake
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York, NY
Ms. Diana Taylor
The Honorable (Mr.) John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Deputy National Security Advisor for Counterterrorism, Homeland Security Council
Mrs. Katherine Brennan
The Honorable (Ms.) Lisa Brown, Office of Staff Secretary
Mr. Kevin Cullen
Mr. Donald Browne
Ms. Maria Junqera
The Honorable (Ms.) Carol Browner, Energy and Climate Change
The Honorable (Mr.) Tom Downey
Mr. William Burns, Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Department of State
Ms. Lisa Carty
General James E Cartwright, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Mrs. Sandee Cartwright
The Honorable (Senator) Bob Casey, United States Senator (D/Pennsylvania)
Mrs. Terese Casey, United States Senate Spouse (D/Pennsylvania)
Mr. Rajiv Chandrasekaran
Mrs. Julie Chandrasekaran
Mr. I.S. Chaturvedi, Personal Secretary to the Prime Minister of the Republic of India, Indian Delegation
Senator Satveer Chaudhry, State Senator
Colonel Ravi Chaudhry (Guest)
Ms. Rohini Chopra
Mr. Deepak Chopra
Mrs. Rita Chopra
The Honorable (Secretary) Steven Chu, Secretary of the Department of Energy
Mrs. Jean Chu
The Honorable (Secretary) Hillary R. Clinton, Secretary of State
The Honorable (Rep.) James E. Clyburn, United States Representative (D/South Carolina)
Mrs. Emily Clyburn
The Honorable (Senator) Kent Conrad, United States Senator (D/North Dakota)
Ms. Lucy Calutti, United States Senate Spouse (D/North Dakota)
Mr. David Cote
Ms. Katie Couric
Mr. Brooks L Perlin
Mr. Greg Craig, Assistant to the President and Counsel to the President
Mrs. Margaret D Craig
Mrs. Paula Crown
Mr. Jim Crown
The Honorable (Rep.) Elijah Cummings, United States Representative (D/Maryland)
Mrs. Maya Rockeymoore
Senator Swati Dandekar, State Senator
Mr. Arvind Dandekar
Mr. Rajesh De, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice
Nancy Ann DeParle, Office of Health Reform
Mr. Jason P DeParle
Ms. Bhairavi Desai
Javaid Tariq
Dr. Vishakha N. Desai
Robert Oxman
The Honorable (Senator) Chris Dodd, United States Senator (D/Connecticut)
Mrs. Jackie Clegg Dodd
Mr. John Doerr
The Honorable (Mr.) Thomas Donilon, Assistant to the President, Deputy National Security Advisor, NSC
Ms. Cathy Russell
The Honorable Anita Dunn, White House Communications Director
Mr. Bob Bauer
Mr. Ari Emanuel
Mrs. Sarah Emanuel
The Honorable (Mr.) Rahm Emanuel, Chief of Staff to the President
Ms. Amy Rule
The Honorable (Mr.) Jon Favreau, Assistant to the President and Director of Speechwriting
Ms. Sarah Feinberg, Office of the Chief of Staff
The Honorable (Mayor) Adrian Fenty, Mayor of the District of Columbia
Mrs. Michelle Fenty
Ms. Michelle Flournoy
Mr. Thomas Friedman
Mrs. Ann Friedman
The Honorable (Mr.) Mike Froman, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs, NSC
Dr. Ashok S Ganguly
The Honorable (Mr.) Patrick Gaspard, Office of Political Affairs
Mrs. Raina Washington
The Honorable Robert Gates
Ms. Charlene Gaynor
Mr. Richard Heiss
Mr. David Geffen
Mr. Jeremy Lingvall
The Honorable (Secretary) Timothy F. Geithner, Secretary of the Treasury
Ms. Carole Sonnenfeld
The Honorable (Mr.) Robert Gibbs, White House Press Secretary
Mr. Anish Goel, Acting Senior Director, South Asia Affairs, NSC
Mr. Senapathy Gopalakrishnan
Mr. Mark Gorenberg
Ms. Wendy Wanderman
Mr. John Gorman
Mrs. Tamra Gorman
Representative Jay Goyal, State Representative
Kiran Goyal
Representative Raj Goyle, State Representative
Mrs. Monica Arora
The Honorable (Governor) Jennifer Granholm, Governor of Michigan (D)
Mr. Daniel Mulhern, First Gentleman of Michigan
Mr. Earl G. Graves
Mrs. Barbara Graves
Ms. Geeta Rao Gupta
Mr. Arvind Gupta
Mr. Raj Gupta
Mr. Rajat Gupta
Mrs. Anita M Gupta
Dr. Sanjay Gupta
Mrs. Rebecca Olson Gupta
Mr. Lee Hamilton
Mrs. Nancy Hamilton

Frisco's glimpse into the Ismaili community - Dallas News

Mon, Nov 23, 2009
Jessica Meyers/Reporter

The Enlightenment Dome is the first indication. This is not an ordinary conference at the Frisco Convention Center.
It isn't a conference at all but a religious exhibit, whose venue selection indicates as much as the information inside.

Ismaili Memories - The Life and Seva of Mohamedali Amarsi

Zee's Notes: Morning Chai is not only a personal blog for me share a Canadian Ismaili experience or viewpoint but I think moreso it is a sharing of what it is to be an Ismaili and of our rich heritage from the time our forefathers climbed on dhows to make the treacherous journey across the Arabian Sea from the shores of Gujarat to what we know today as East Africa and then approximately 50 years ago the migration started to Europe and North America. Mohamedali Amarsi is one of these incredible stories - what I love about this is it is a perspective from a lifelong Volunteer or as we refer now as a Sevadari.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Ismailis in the News - Adil Lalani (Twitvid) has the hottest start up in Silicon Valley

Zee's Notes: I love finding young Ismailis making a name for themselves - whether it be in business, academics, sports or any endeavour where their efforts create value. One such youngster is Adil Lalani, a University of Waterloo graduate, who created  SurfYourWork- an online student information/school management system while he was in school and sold for a cool $1.25 million. Since then Adil has moved to the Start-up capital of the world - Silicon Valley - and with a friend has the hottest start-up with his company - software that lets you send videos via Twitter. If you have not been paying attention in the last 12 months this message delivery system (Twitter) is being touted as the breakthrough idea in the Social Networking arena.

 Adil Lalani a video uploading and sharing service,  which has a patent-pending streaming technology is founded by  Mohammad Al Adham from Jordan and Adil Lalani from Pakistan. It’s funded by venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson and a group of angel investors, including Stanford’s Rajeev Motwani (early advisor to Google), Amidzad, former Google employees Georges Harik and Aydin Senkut, as well as XG Ventures, another group of former Googlers.

About is produced by EatLime, Inc., a technology company uniquely capable of helping consumers take advantage of the convergence of social communications, mobile smart phones and video. The company was founded in 2008 by Waterloo University students Mo Adham and Adil Lalani in their dorm room. They wanted to share videos with friends, but were frustrated because other websites and services couldn’t upload fast enough and weren’t developed to ensure the highest quality experience for online social interaction. They envisioned a peer-to-peer model for fast and easy video sharing. As a result, they developed the Instant Media Engine which is the only server-based software to allow high quality media files to be viewed by recipients as soon as the uploading process begins. delivers the fastest, highest quality video to be viewed on either a mobile device or any computer platform. TwitVid can be found at

Begum Inaara Aga Khan

Zee's Notes: Video from the Princess Inaara Foundation Youtube Channel.

Aga Khan Golden Jubilee - One year later

Zee's Notes: It was exactly one year ago MHI landed in Canada for his Darbars to be held in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver. Last Friday in all JK's across Canada we celebrated and remembered the magical week that was in November 2008. Here is another tribute of the magical year of the Golden Jubilee and what I love about this one is it showcases the Ismailis throughout the world in celebration. As well check out some of the Canadian Visit Videos - Enjoy - I really did !

His Highness Aga Khan among “The 500 Most Influential Muslims – 2009"

 Georgetown University Professors John Esposito and  Dr. Ibrahim Kalin have recently published their first edition of  “The 500 Most Influential Muslims – 2009"

The publication highlights people who are influential as Muslims, that is, people whose influence is derived from their practice of Islam or from the fact that they are Muslim. It further aims to offer valuable insight into the different ways that Muslims impact the world, and also shows the diversity of how people are living as Muslims today.

Ismailis in the News - Fez Meghani and Aftab Ali release Oh Allah Nasheed Song - from the Album From One Soul

The first Music Video for the upcoming album, "From One Soul" was released this past weekend. The song is called "Oh Allah" and it was shot on location in Cairo, Egypt, with much of the filming done at Al-Azhar Park along with Islamic and Downtown Cairo.

Fez is…

a Muslim singer, songwriter and producer, whose music focuses on conveying a message of Peace, Hope, Generosity, Kindness and Love – all of which are core values of Islam.

Born in Karachi, Pakistan, brought up in Dubai, U.A.E., Fez has resided in the United States of America since the age of 17. As a student in College, he produced and released his first album titled “Aag” in 1997. Although financed and undertaken on a considerably small budget, the project amassed humble sales of over 2,000 copies and helped Fez in obtaining experience in the music industry and defining his musical style of today.

In 2002, Fez, along with Shams Soomar, produced an album, titled “City of Light”, which sold over 5,000 copies. The feedback was extremely positive, and Fez realized that his music, with a religious message, was able to resonate with those looking for a combination of modern sounds and values of faith.

Fez also produced an album titled, “The Evolution of Creation” for Shams in 2006. This was an instrumental album that traversed a musical landscape covering Creation, revelation to the Prophets, and the quest for personal search to get closer to the Creator. The album received rave reviews on music websites such as Amazon and CD Baby.

In February of 2008, “A Golden Sunrise” was released, which has motivated Fez to go further beyond the scope of the album. When Fez started producing the album in 2005, he did not expect to see such strong positive feedback. The album was especially able to connect with the Muslim Youth, and that is perhaps what helped it in garnering sales of over 13,000 copies just in the United States of America alone.

Fez has also been featured as a lyricist for the title song on the album, “Frontierless Brotherhood”. He has also performed in many cities over the last few years including Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Seattle, Austin, Orlando, Los Angeles, Toronto and Calgary.

Inspired and encouraged by the support he has received on his last project, Fez – in conjunction with his musical partner, Aftab Ali, and his record label, PlanetUnity Records – is currently working on a new mainstream album. The album titled, “From One Soul” is expected to go on sale November 27, 2009.

Princess Zahra Aga Khan at Louis Vuitton Trophy – Nice Cote d’Azur 2009.

Princess Zahra Aga Khan cheers as Azzurra wins Louis Vuitton Trophy -  Stefano Gattini/Azzurra   

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Morning Chai Family - where you live.

Zee's Notes: Every now and then I like to share with you a look at where all the visitors to Morning Chai come from and recently I added this feature - CLUSTRMAPS - which gives a visual of the cities and countries where Morning Chai visitors connect. So click on the map at the upper right hand and you will be taken to the map and listing...

So a huge thanks for being here...

Hunza Valley - Ismaili Shangri-La ?

Zee's Notes: The Gilgit-Baltistan area in Northern Pakistan has for centuries been of great geo-political interest and it also is home to the Hunza Valley. Straddling the borders of China, India and Afghanistan it is home to thousands of Ismailis and the serene land has been said to be the setting for the mythical kingdom of Shangri-La. Here's an interesting article on the current political landscape and the role of the people living there.

Shangri-La is a fictional place described in the 1933 novel Lost Horizon by British author James Hilton. In the book, "Shangri-La" is a mystical, harmonious valley, gently guided from a lamasery, enclosed in the western end of the Kunlun Mountains. Shangri-La has become synonymous with any earthly paradise but particularly a mythical Himalayan utopia — a permanently happy land, isolated from the outside world. In the novel Lost Horizon, the people who live at Shangri-La are almost immortal, living years beyond the normal lifespan and only very slowly aging in appearance. The word also evokes the imagery of exoticism of the Orient. In the ancient Tibetan scriptures, existence of 7 such places are mentioned as Nghe-Beyul Khimpalung. One of such places is mentioned to be situated somewhere in the Makalu-Barun region.

A popularly believed inspiration for Hilton's Shangri-La is the Hunza Valley in northern Pakistan, close to the Tibetan border, which Hilton visited a few years before Lost Horizon was published. Being an isolated green valley surrounded by mountains, enclosed on the western end of the Himalayas, it closely matches the description in the novel.

Reference : Wikipedia

Friday, November 20, 2009

AKDN in the News - Afghan Enclave Seen as Model for Development - New York Times

Five years ago, The Aga Khan Development Network spent more than a year trying to persuade a mullah to allow a girls' school. Today, the village of Fargamanch has a girls' high school.
Photo: Holly Pickett for The New York Times

JURM, Afghanistan — Small grants given directly to villagers have brought about modest but important changes in this corner of Afghanistan, offering a model in a country where official corruption and a Taliban insurgency have frustrated many large-scale development efforts.

Read complete article here 

Watch Slide Slow here

Kings of the World and their Royal Residences

Aga Khan Palace

Zee's Notes: While this one caught my eye as it had MHI listed (though the story does say the Aga Khan Palace in Pune, India was donated by the Aga Khan to the Indian Government) what struck me was some of the opulent palaces of Royalty.

Forbes Magazine back in June 2009 also ran a list of the Worlds Richest Royals if you want to see:

Interesting article - Travel Blackboard

Zee's Notes: Sometimes when surfing the net one comes across interesting articles or stories which we can relate to and this is one of them - and it goes back 50 plus years  - if you find it interesting let me know and if you don't find it interesting let me know.

Ismailis in the News - Amin Virani - Success Coach

Zee's Notes: Amir Virani is a Success Coach - his message is to follow what you love and the money will follow - I like that message  - he was recently in Toronto - see the who what and why of Amir at the link below and watch the video.

With Masters Degree from London University in Education and Human Resource Optimization, Amin Virani has traveled across the world for his workshops, seminars and speaking engagements. More than 10000 people have benefited from his programs and written testimonials are received from hundreds of individuals and multinational companies. He has also volunteered extensively for Aga Khan Development Network, reaching out to the people from all walks of life.