As the kids still had school, our activities during the ten days we were in SD, were mostly around the house, sitting around the pool, basking in the sun, the usual lunch at the kid’s favorite Chinese restaurant, watching TV and taking Patches for a walk, armed with a plastic bag to clean up his mess.

The highlight during our stay was the kid’s participation in the Kiwanis Club of La Jolla Junior Olympics, from which both Dhuki and Sukhi Ram came home with a neck full of medals and ribbons. 

Mumtaz left for Vancouver on 17th, to spend time with her brother, while I left for Toronto a few days later, to spend some time with my cousin, Anwar.  

Anwar is very active in promoting our culture in Canada and Canada Pakistan Business Council, which he heads, has always taken an active part in participating in the annual South Asia Heritage month celebrations and as per tradition, he had organized a Art, Music and Dance program at the Bayview Golf and Country Club last Sunday.

The Govt. of Ontario had passed a bill in 2001 and since then the SA Community have been portraying their country’s Heritage and Culture by celebrating the event throughout the month.

The CPBC event had taken place on at the Bayview Club and was largely attended by diplomats, leading businessmen, leaders of the community and other invited guests.

Among the dignitaries present at the event were, Senator Salma Ataullah Jan, Hon. Jim Karygiannis, MPP Dipika Damerla, Acting Consul General, Mr. Imran Ali Chaudhry, Chairman of Canadian Commercial Corporation, Mr. Robert Kay, former Ambassador, Karamatullah Ghori, Councilor Godwin Chan, Mr. Imtiaz Seyid of RBC and Directors of Canada Sri Lanka and Canadian Chinese Business Councils.

Our old friends, Sohail Rana and his wife, Kundi, who herself is a brilliant sitarist and Bud Sayani and his wife, Parveen, were also present.  Andy welcomed the guests and spoke about the Rich Heritage and Culture of the Sub-continent. A short documentary on Mohenjo Daro, the “Cradle Of 5000 year old Civilization”, one of the oldest in the world, was shown to the audience.

The CPBC Chairman, Hon. Bryon Wilfert presented a plaque of Appreciation to Mr. Fahim Hamid Ali, a well-known artist from Pakistan. A Recognition plaque was also presented to Andy by MPP Dipika Damerla on behalf of the Govt. of Ontario.

The program had included an exhibition of paintings by Asian artists living in Canada, including the well known Jaswant Singh, Aveen Ismail from Iraq, Amreena Razvi, Islamic Calligraphy by Salim Khan  and other painters.

The classical dance performances were presented by the talented Hema and her group and an impressive and captivating performance of  ‘Poetry in Motion’ by the gifted Genevieve Beaulieu, who translated the story of a Mogul King and his Queen with her brilliant dances.

We were also entertained by Matt James on sitar and Dave Bansraj on tabla and a solo performance by Anwar Khurshid, the popular and well known sitarist in Canada. The entertainment was a treat for the guests and the event turned out to be a memorable evening.

On Wednesday, we drove to see the Niagara Falls and then proceed to Rochester and catch up with my niece Ruhi and her family. However, due to the long wait at the Canadian-American border, I decided to skip Rochester and instead, spent the night at Niagara. So I checked in at the Marriot Gateway on the Falls and was lucky to get a room on the 30th floor, with a fantastic view of the majestic Niagara Falls, rated as one of the seven wonders of the world. From my room, I was also able to witness the breathtaking light show.  Anwar had proceeded to Rochester, as he had some work there and I returned to Toronto by taking a two hour ride in the comfortable Canadian Coach service, which dropped me off in Downtown. From there, I took the underground train to Finch and then a taxi to the well-known Landmark apartments at Thornhill. It was as simple and easy as American Pie. aThe weather had been kind to us, but on Friday morning, our luck had run out and the weather had reverted to the typical Canadian cold, gusty chili winds, with rain.

The next few days were spent, interacting with Mumtaz’s family, who had migrated from Zaire many years back and were now living a retired life as senior citizens.

But despite the quality of life and excellent health services that Canada has to offer, they still miss the hustle and bustle and the warm sunny climate of Zaire. Such is the paradox of life.

Now, back to real time. Over the years, Andy has brought several, high powered Canadian delegations to Pakistan, but a deteriorating law and order situation and the breakdown of the rule of law, which has forced even Pakistani businessmen to move to safer lands. As such, it is difficult to ask foreigners to invest in our country.

A recent article, ‘Pakistan turning into another Afghanistan’, by Haroon Siddiqui in the Canadian newspaper, The Star, (—pakistan-is-turning-into-another-afghanistan), narrates the sorry state of affairs in Karachi.

‘More people are being kidnapped and killed in Karachi than in the Afghan-Pakistan border areas that provide sanctuary for Al Qaeda, Taliban and other militants’.

‘Karachi is also crawling with other armed political and criminal gangs engaged in turf wars, bank heists and other robberies, occupying properties that are even temporarily empty, organizing labor strikes, shutting down industries and bazaars’.

‘Pistol-waving youth go carjacking and holding up people for cell phones or gold rings, bangles or necklaces. Other state institutions are equally ineffective and corrupt. The downfall of Karachi is tragic’.

And as Shuja Nawaz, a South Asia expert at the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C. has stated, “The future of Karachi is the future of Pakistan. You get Karachi right, you can get Pakistan right. If you fail Karachi, you fail Pakistan.”  How true, for such is the importance and the tragedy of our City of Lights and we, the citizens, seem to be helpless to stop our city from bleeding to death.

Next week, we are off to Ottawa to visit an old friend and then to Montréal, to attend a conference in which our former PM, Shaukat Aziz of the ‘Trickle Down’ effect, is a keynote speaker. I hope that I will be able to ask him a few questions. But for more on that, next week.