From left, Mazhar Husain, pakistanli forever ( Mohammed Ali Khan Sr), Tahir Akram,
Fareed G. Rabbani.
I arrived at Mazhar's home at 10 am on Sunday, September the
4th, 2005. As usual it was a bear hug. After 4 years, this is my second visit.
So there were lots of anticipation. I told him, I have not sat in a Mercedes
since I left Ankara some 40 years ago, so before we enter his home, I want to
take a ride. He brought in the keys, and we took a ride in his new
dark-blue colored baby. The verdict, well, the Mercedes Benz is still MB, and people do
pay that high price for a reason- it is a great car. The ride, of course, is
ride of your life.
In a little while, the rest of the Toronto-Gang came in. You can see the 6 pounds of Fistikli Baklava I
brought in. The reason I brought in the Baklava, was not that, I have become
"sensitive" or anything, I was hoping that may be I'll get to "borrow" either,
Mazhar's Mercedes or Mir's new Lexus during my stay in Canada...but that did not
materialize. Mazhar's wife said, yes I could take it, but I was not sure if Mazhar
will have a heart attach on the day I take the car, or one week later when my
trip get extended.
Rukhsana (Mazhar's other half) brought in nice, hot tea and
Baklava. While drinking tea I was muttering out loud that, as much as mehman
nawazi, he does, if I were to do that, after a few guests, my guests will be
thrown out of my house, including myself.
Mir Arshad Ali Khan did not come as he had snapped his leg at
the end of their big vacation (Mir and Mazhar and their wives) went to Amir Ali Hemani
in Calgary and than Vancouver. Somebody was telling me (the name
shall remain secret for ever) that Mir, was too cheap to give a big tip to the
taxi driver, and hence had to pull his luggage from the taxi, and his leg
snapped while pulling luggage. Mir, my advice, please get a new leg, and while are at it, get a new face as well.
From Santa Rosa, California to Detroit in Michigan to Sarnia, Canada
Now prior togetting to Mazhar's house, I started my journey from Santa Rosa. I landed in Detriod at 6 AM. After a Ford factory tour, I drove around in Dearborn, the Arab town in heartland of US. There were many, many Arab "pastry shops" in that town. It seems that, in
Pakistan, the way we have many restaurants, Arabs, rather have pastry shops instead.
But, I was looking for a particular one. It is called,
Shatila. It is located on 14300 W Warren Street. They have huge factory and
they supply to all over US. Finding this place was surely worth all the efforts.
I bought 6 pounds of Baklava just for the fistikli-baklava-hungry metupaki
Toronto-Gang. Another good source of real Turkish baklava and other good
stuff, at reasonable prices is Tulumba.
From Detroit to Sarnia, Canada
The drive from Detroit to Sarnia in Canada was pretty uneventfull. It takes
about 2 hours, so I was home with my nephew and family at 4 pm, that is about 33
hours, after I left home for work the previous morning in Santa Rosa,
California. Need less to say, at my age, I was a bit tiring.
After tea and Baklava at Mazhar's home, we drove towards the
Niagara Falls. Fareed took the challenge of driving all day. He surely is a
cool driver. Due to long weekend (Labor Day), the traffic was heavy and it
took us a long time, but, we were talking all kind of none sense, about the old
days. Matter of fact some of it was so nonsensical, that I dare not mention it
here. But, the time did fly. We parked in at the "Falls View Casino" in
Falls. As we were walking towards the Casino, a man, without any safety net was
slowly walking on a rope, towards the top of the Casino from another building
quite far away. It was quite a site.
We sat in and had a hearty brunch. The brunch was quite
extensive and elaborate...must have cost a few dollars, but since the
Toronto-Gang paid for it, I did not pay much attention to it. I kept my
energies focused on eating all the good food they had. The view of the Niagara
Falls from our table was fantastic.
After the food, I thought, they
will have to carry me on a stretcher, but, after some rest and more food,
and more desert, surprisingly I was able to start walking. We walked out, looked
at the Falls from several angles.
On the road to The Niagra Falls stopped at a few wineries. Here we are, in front of a winery. Note at the pose
of Tahir on the left. Tahir is the youngest member of this group (started ODTU in
1969). Rabbani (1964) in the middle was a year ahead of me (1965). Mazhar (1969)
took this great shoot, but you can see his shadow as he is taking the photo.
Pakistanli, Rabbani and Mazhar.
On the road to The Niagra Falls we talked about--had Rabbani's new bank branch in Turkey gone through, that he
had already paid all for and hired the staff and consultants, we all may be
working there, and may not have come to Canada or US. Well his bank got bought
and the new owners were not so thrilled about the branch in Turkey and the
person (Rabbani) who had spearheaded it.
We also discussed the dilemma, with no real solution, Tahir is in. He wants to buy
a new car, but if bought either Mercedes or Lexus (as one is owned by Mazhar the other by Mir), he will be in huge dodo. We
could offer him no good solution, except no matter what, but, do not buy either
of those cars.
After the brunch and walk around the Niagara Falls, Rabbani drove us on the "Wine
Road", which is QEW west towards Niagara. The scenery was just out of this world.
After this huge trip to Niagara and back, we thought it would be good time to attach Mir at his home.
After he showed his beautiful house, (Mir and one of son is on crutches...bad
timing for them, but they joined in with the gang anyway).
In the photo,
We are sitting at Mir Arshad Ali Khan's patio. In the background is his pool.
From left Mir, Mazhar, Rabbani (sitting), pakistanli (sitting), Tahir.
I sat in his new Lexus. No I did not got to drive it. He drove.
beautiful car. I have recently traveled on one
of the newest Boeing 777, but this Lexus GPS system was much more elaborate and
just plain fancy than B777: another engineering marvel. As soon as the car moves, even an
inch, the GPS re-adjusts, you can see the map moving to the new location and start giving you polite
commands as what to do next. Wha bhi wha. Mir Bey, arabanize gule gule kulaniz.
Next day, Monday September 5 which is Labor Day holiday we went out for lunch in a Turkish restaurant in Toronto. It is called Memo Pizza, and is owned by Nihat Erderim (ph: 416-564-3654). This restaurant looks like nothing, but the food is great. Not reflecting bad on the Chicago-Gang, Tipu and Arif, did take me to a quite fancy Turkish dinner, but I thought the food was not all that good. I took Asad Ullah Sophie to a Turkish restaurant in Berkeley, again the food was pretty mediocre, but this Memo Pizza had great Lahmachuns. We stuffed ourselves quite heavily. You can see in the photo my stomach is bulging out.
In the restaurant, Anwar ul Islam walked in. I am seeing him first time since Ankara. That was really momentous occasion. We immediately re-connect. He looks good, despite the beating we all have taken over the last 40 years or so. He brought with him a very nicely kept album from Turkey Years. These are truly classical photos. He is going to scan them and send them. I do not have any of them.
From left, Rukhsana (Mazhar's wife), pakistanli, Tahir, Yasmeen
(Mir's other half), Salman (Mazhar's son), Mir and Mazhar.
After all that heavy brunch, I pleaded with the Toronto-Gang
to not eat dinner, but, they wanted to eat dinner, no matter what. First we went
to "BombayChopstic". It must be good place, as it was full. While waiting
for our table, I mentioned, that I do not eat oriental food. We cancelled our
order and went to the Pakistani restaurant "Tandoori Kebab/Apna Pizza" in
Mississauga (ph: 905-567-7744). The owner, Shahid, is a friend of Mir, so not
only we had great service, but also, we were served Nehari on the house. The
food was good. We were told Pizza is also good, but we had no room for that.
If anybody does not
know, Mazhar and Mir are hum-zulf. You can tell from our faces in this photo,
that, we are having good time...may be not like Ankara good times, but really
great times. Life can be good, even at our old age.
After that all days hectic program, late in the night,
Rabbani's wife Attiya, and his son came, already packed, he and Mazhar's son
were moving that night to Waterloo University, start of college year.
This is another reality that in US and Canada life is real busy. Mazhar,
Tahir, Rabbani and Mir when they spend 2 days with me or other MetuPaki guests,
that have to try real hard to make it happens. I am sure same is true for
Pakistan as well. Any way, after all days driving, Rabbani got into the driver
seat of his car and they drove of to Waterloo to drop off their son, and next
morning he came back, again to continue with the hospitality.
Me and Tahir slept at Mazhar's home. We talked about Tahir's
company, OSiTech.com, which is pioneer in Communication and Wireless hardware
manufacturing. They have been in existence for many years and have seen several
ups and down. His main market is in US, but most of the manufacturing is done in
In front of Mazhar's house from left: Tahir, Mir, Pakistanli, Mazhar, and Rabbani.
After Turkish lunch, we drove to Lake Shore Lakes. Walked
around the lake, had some good time. Then, we came to Mazhar's home.
Inside the house, we had tea, and more Baklava. Tahir talked
about the virtues of Kala Namek (Black Salt) in orange juice. We all went to Indian
grocery and bought some Kala Namek. Now all of us are using great deal of this
strange stuff. After one year, if the whole gang appear to have some strange
unknown disease, than blame it on Tahir.
Everybody had things to do. It was such a pleasure, we were
having hard time calling it quits. After some more Juices and teas, we finally
parted. This was a another memorable union. All of us seems to be committed to
Ankara 2006 visit, Insallah.