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.

Ismailis in the News - USA's Rahim Fazal -iMedia 25: Internet Marketing Leaders and Innovators

iMedia 25: Rahim Fazal

Rahim Fazal 's Profile

Rahim Fazal

  • CEO and Co-Founder
  • Involver
Rahim Fazal is the CEO and co-founder of Involver, an award-winning marketing and analytics platform for social networks. Involver powers branded communities for more than 2,000 organizations, including Us Weekly, Newsweek, Ford Models, and other leading brands and media companies.

Rahim is a top-notch entrepreneur with an unrivaled understanding of the digital marketing scene. His listening skills are particularly striking -- I know few people who are as good at listening, clarifying, and then offering a helpful response or solution."
  • Ben Casnocha
  • Author of "My Start-Up Life"
During high school, Fazal co-founded a web hosting company and negotiated its sale for $1.5 million --while taking his senior year final exams. He then started a web services platform business and eventually took it public, becoming one of the youngest directors ever of a publicly-traded company in the U.S.
Fazal completed his MBA at the Richard Ivey School of Business, the top-ranked business school in Canada. In recognition of his prior achievements, he was the youngest student in the school's 80-year history to be accepted without a prerequisite undergraduate degree.
He is a frequent and popular speaker to high school and college students across the U.S. and Canada. He is also an advisor to the Extreme Entrepreneurship Education Corporation in New York City.
In September 2008, Fazal was named one of America's "Top 30 Entrepreneurs Under 30" by Inc. Magazine.

You can follow him on Twitter at @rahimthedream.

Aga Khan Museum - Toronto 2013

Zee's Notes: View the podcast on this remarkable collection of Islamic Art collected by MHI and his family over the last 2 decades. Go to the AKDN link  and click on:


 Aga Khan Trust for Culture


The Aga Khan Museum, which will open in Toronto, Canada in 2013, will house collections of approximately 1000 items of Islamic art collected by His Highness the Aga Khan and members of his family over the last two decades.

Meet the new Chief Executive Officer of AKF USA - Nov. 2009

The leaves are changing and so are the faces around the office at Aga Khan Foundation U.S.A. This month, we welcome our new Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Mirza Jahani (pictured above on right), who brings with him fresh ideas and energy to strengthen the growing U.S. branch led by Iqbal Noor Ali (pictured above on left) for the past 25 years.  Dr. Tom Kessinger, General Manager of Aga Khan Foundation, based in Geneva, is pictured above in center.

Read his complete Bio

Ismailis in the News - MG Vassanji awarded Governor General Award for non-fiction

Zee's Notes: Moyez Vassanji continues to rack up the awards and his 15 minutes of fame is getting to be 'hours' - but kidding aside MG Vassanji deserves all the accolades - if you read his books you know what I mean. Hey I actually read his books from cover to cover and here is my take on what I thought about his latest award winning masterpiece.


M.G.Vassanji, from Toronto, accepts the Governor General's Literary Award for Non-Fiction for his book "A Place Within:Rediscovering India," at a ceremony Tuesday, November 17, 2009 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz The Canadian Press

Acclaimed fiction writer MG Vassanji wins GG for non-fiction debut

The Canadian Press - ‎Nov 17, 2009‎
MONTREAL — MG Vassanji's fiction has been heaped with critical acclaim, but it was his non-fiction debut that grabbed the spotlight Tuesday as the Toronto ...
MG Vassanji wins 

Ismailis in the News - UBC's Dr. Nazira Chatur

A Catalyst for Change

Photo from Chatur article

Dr Nazira Chatur has been credited with raising the reputation of UBC's Department of Gastroenterology amongst residents and medical students.

Read how she did it here.

Ismailis in the News - Alberta's Raeesa Merali lands Broadcasting Scholarship

Raeesa Merali receives her scholarship cheque from Paul Mason, GM of the Jim
Pattison Broadcast Group’s Red Deer operations

Read News Release Here

Ismailis in the News - Naguib Kheraj closes GPB 2b JP Morgan buyout

Zee's Notes: Morning Chai first caught Naguib Kheraj when the Queens Banker, as he was called, took the top job at JP Morgan Cazenove in October 2008. This week it was announced that Wall St. bank JP Morgan was buying out the balance of the European Investment bank which Naguib is the CEO for GBP 2b giving many of the executives a windfall on their shares and speculation has Naguib being handed a key role at JP Morgan.

Cazenove eyes Europe after £2bn buy-out deal

Naguib Kheraj has successfully landed the £2bn JP Morgan Cazenove deal. Five years in the making, the agreement concludes the US bank's buy-out of the Queen's stockbroker and recasts Cazenove's blue-blooded bankers as multi-millionaires. 

Read complete story here

Thursday, November 19, 2009

MHI in US - November 2009

President Mahmoud Eboo and Vice-President Dr Barkat Fazal of the Ismaili Council for the United States, and President Shaheen Kassim Lakha of the Ismaili Council for the Western United States, bid farewell to Mawlana Hazar Imam as he departs Sacramento. Photo: Zahur Ramji

Read complete story at

Ismailis in the News - Lawyer Jameel Jaffer

Zee's Notes: Jameel Jaffer, 39, was born in London, Ontario, before graduating from Williams College, Cambridge University, and Harvard Law School and serving as a law clerk to Hon. Amalya L. Kearse, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and the Rt. Hon. Beverley McLachlin, Chief Justice of Canada.

He was co-lead counsel for ACLU v. Department of Defense, which released thousands of documents about prisoner abuse in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantánamo Bay.

One of the key figures behind the cascade of documents detailing torture and abuse within America's global "war on terror" happens to be a Canadian-born graduate of Toronto's Upper Canada College.

Jameel Jaffer, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer born in London, Ont., was instrumental in filing and fighting an unlikely Freedom of Information Act request that eventually unearthed thousands of pages of secret documents which illustrated damning evidence of U.S. government complicity in violations of international humanitarian law.

Read complete article here

Ismailis in the News - Shailaz Dhalla - Top 40 Under 40 - Calgary

After graduating from the University of Calgary with a Bachelor of Laws in 2006, Shailaz Dhalla articled and practiced with Fraser Milner Casgrain. And just a year and four months after being called to the bar, she accepted a position as counsel with the Alberta Utilities Commission, a significant move considering the role the AUC plays in regulating investor-owned electric, gas and water utilities, as well as some municipal electric utilities.
As counsel, Dhalla represents the AUC at hearings where the tenuous balance between industry and the hearts, minds and wallets of all Albertans is at stake. Her skill at negotiation and understanding complex issues serves her well when the law books get put away and she indulges her other passion: helping her community.
Outside of work, Dhalla contributes as many as 30-plus hours per week to her community. She has recently been named a board member to the Ismaili Regional Muslim Conciliation and Arbitration Board for the Prairies, which mediates family and commercial disputes. In addition to that, she also contributes to literacy and mentorship initiatives through the University of Calgary and the Calgary Bridge Foundation, all with a view to providing support for immigrants. She is also a member of the Ismaili Muslim Volunteer Corps.
Dhalla says her remarkable schedule, commitment to giving back to the community and her ability to achieve balance is proof the sum of her life is greater for the parts that have made it.
“The two things that have enabled me to succeed personally and professionally are my family and the Ismaili Muslim community, of which I am a part,” she says. “Through its philanthropic endeavours and commitment to pluralism, my community inspires me to direct my energy and capacity to those most in need.
“Both of these elements serve to ground me; they also provide the motivation for me to continue to seek greater growth and success despite any challenges along the way.”
Dhalla is quick to point out volunteering is not a one-way street, and she gains as much out of the exchange as does those she aims to help.
“My involvement in the community, particularly with immigrant youth, provides me with a feeling of fulfillment,” she says.
“Interacting with these children and their families, and hearing their amazing stories of struggle and survival, engenders a deep sense of compassion within me.
“It makes me appreciative of my circumstances and compels me to share my time and knowledge with others.”
Why she’s the top: Beyond her professional success, she is a deeply committed volunteer who lives her beliefs and leads by example.
The key to her success: “My parents have always been my foundation; they have made innumerable sacrifices in order to provide me with the greatest of opportunities,” says Dhalla.

Eid in the Square 2009 - Muslims gather to celebrate in Trafalgar Square

Zee's Notes: This event is celebrated at London's Trafalgar Square and this year the Ismaili Community Ensemble participated - here is the highlight video - you can catch the Choir at the 2:31 mark though it's only a few seconds.

Ismaili Community Ensemble in collaboration with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Ismaili Community Ensemble in collaboration with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

The Ismaili Muslim Community in the UK comes from all over the world, resulting in a truly cosmopolitan outlook in its musical and cultural expressions. The Ismaili Community Ensemble, in collaboration with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, aims to encourage, nurture and showcase musical talent in the community. Comprising of semi-professional and amateur musicians, the Ismaili Community Ensemble draws its inspiration from the rich tradition of poetry and literature in Islam to create a unique musical harmony between east and west.

Princess Yasmin Aga Khan in Dallas for Alzheimer Gala

Alan Peppard: Margot Winspear, Phyllis George and Princess Yasmin Aga Kahn attend Alzheimer's benefit

12:00 AM CST on Monday, November 16, 2009

Aga Khan in Kabul for Karzai swearing in ceremony - November 19, 2009

Zee's Notes: MHI joined world leaders such as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Pakistan President Asif Zardari at the swearing in ceremony for Afgan President Hamid Karzai.

World Partnership Golf - Atlanta

Zee's Notes: The WPG which started in Vancouver has morphed into a North American phenomenon and the Atlanta event even had a few Atlanta Falcon professional football players. Great video by Akber Ukani of La Bella Studio.

Canadian PM's excellent day off in India

Opening Ceremony by Prince karim Aga Khan of the Ismaili Centre Dushanbe

Aga Khan in Kenya - July 2009

The Aga Khan Visits Pakistan - 13th October 2009 - Naushad Charania

Must Watch - Qawwali

Zee's Notes: Wow, this one just blew me away so if you got 5 minutes to spare - enjoy !

Ismailis in the News - Haji Manji wins Business Award

Haji Manji, with wife Jenny and son Farouq, won the Business of the Year award for 1-20 employees Wednesday at the Richmond Business Excellence Awards.
Rob Newell photo

Haji Manji and his father Abdul Manji founded Sleep Shop in 1979 in Richmond.
The company started a as specialty mattress, foam and bedroom furniture retailer. Sleep Shop now has six locations and 21 employees serving Greater Vancouver. Sleep Shop is committed to customer satisfaction and offers both a price and comfort guarantee to all their mattresses.
Haji Manji said operating a successful business is more than analyzing the bottom line.
"It is all about how you get there: your supporting cast, your front-line troops, and in my case, my wife and my son. This is what brings success."
The company’s flagship store, head office and warehouse are all located in Richmond.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Microsoft initiative helps people seek info under RTI

By Ahmedabad Mirror Bureau
Posted On Thursday, November 12, 2009 at 02:57:14 AM

Software giant Microsoft has joined hands with three Gujarat-based welfare organisations to give IT training to people who don’t have access to technology, mainly computers.

The American company, through its division Microsoft Community Affairs, has tied up with Aga Khan Foundation, Mahila Sewa Trust and Saath Charitable Trust. One of the key objectives of the initiative, called ‘Project Jyoti’, is to teach people how to obtain information under the RTI Act.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Vintage Video - Aga Khan III speaks to press India reforms - 1934


Vintage Video - Aga Khan III Golden and Platinum Jubilee

Aga Khan visits Bombay with Begum




Vintage Video - Aga Khan IV Wedding - 1969


Vintage Video - Prince Aly Khan and Rita Hayworh






Vintage Video - Aga Khan III Wedding - 1929


Vintage Video - Prince Sadrudin Wedding


Vintage Video - Shah Karim Aga Khan IV is enthroned





Vintage Video - World Mourns Aga Khan III 1957



Selected Originals - AGA KHAN LAID TO REST

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Aga Khan III - A great leader and a social reformer

Monday, November 02, 2009
By By Dr Jan-e-Alam Khaki

Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan-III (1877-1957) was a renowned nineteeth and twentieth century leader of international stature. Born in Karachi on November 2, 1877, he became a world statesman, “guide, philosopher and the friend of the world of Islam” (Qayyum, 1969).

Through his intimate knowledge of Eastern as well as Western cultures (K.K Aziz, 1998), he was uniquely placed to play a significant role in the international affairs of his time, and his long public career had many dimensions. He was a member of the Indian Imperial Legislative Council from 1902 to 1904, president of the All-India Muslim League from 1906 to 1913, and founder of the All-India Muslim Conference (1928-29).

Read complete article here