Archive | October, 2009

Celebrate the Indian Culture :Rahat Virji President of ICA at York

Posted on 28 October 2009 by .

If you go to York University, you have probably heard of the Indian Cultural Association (ICA). Rahat Virji the current President of the Indian Cultural Association at York University gives us an insight of what ICA really does.


Indian Cultural Association’s main goal is to create a platform for students to express their talents. Before Indian Cultural Association was known as Bharatiya at York, it was primarily a social organization. They were known as the Bollywood club; they had pub nights, and Bollywood movie nights. ICA was blamed for not opening up or staying within closed doors. As the word Bharatiya is derived from Hindi, many people did not understand what Bharatiya meant. “It is not even an Indian “Student” Association where we are restricting ourselves to just students, but it is an Indian “Cultural” Association, we are trying to spread knowledge about the Indian culture, we are trying to allow people to celebrate the Indian culture” says Rahat Virji. The Indian Cultural Association holds political, social and cultural events.


The Indian Cultural Association tries to accommodate all kinds of interests which is why they have seven different portfolios including dance, academic, finance, membership volunteers, marketing, webmaster and events. For example the academic portfolio was in charge of a recent movie night event. This time instead of holding a Bollywood movie night, they held a documentary movie night, they showed a documentary titled “Born into Brothels”. It was shot in Calcutta. The documentary is based on a photographer who went to Calcutta and taught children of prostitutes. The photographer showed the children to view the world in a different lens. Then an organization was formed called “Kids with Cameras” that sends children to schools. has fundraisers and a sponsorship program. After the movie night, ICA held a fundraiser and sent money to the “Kids with Cameras” organization. Also ICA came first last year in the dance competition that happens during multicultural week. They have Bollywood dance classes throughout the year, and they performed at many places including Gerrard Festival and Chin Picnic. Great Job ICA!


The Indian Cultural Association currently has more than 400 members. Elections are held at the end of the year. The students are sent out position openings on the listserv. You need certain volunteer hours for certain positions. Multicultural Week at York University is a great time to volunteer with ICA, as they always need people to help out and represent the amazing Indian Culture! You may become a member by giving a minimal fee of $5; this will give access to free events, discounted events, email updates and so on.

Rahat Virji came to Canada for studies from Bombay, India. he is currently doing a Specialized Honors in Financial Business Economics. When I asked Rahat Virji whether balancing academic life and the responsibilities that come with ICA is a challenge, she says, “It is, to be very honest, it is very hard. I don’t only do these two things, but I also work 24 hours a week, but there is so much exposure, I have learned so much from this group.”

According to Rahat Virji, racism still exists in our community. It is the sad reality. “Basically as soon as I came to York University, it was my first year, I did not know anyone , I had family but I was still living on campus. Winter was starting and it was depressing. People were not making an effort to understand me, I was facing covert racism. I had a strong Indian accent, when I said something, it was gone unheard, people ignored it. And eventually I got over it, I am really happy because it made me a stronger person today. There are different groups at York, there are some people who will make an effort to know who you are, and some who will push you to the side and tell you that you don’t belong here. Racism still exists within the community.”

People need to welcome people from different cultures, most of us living in Toronto already know how to do this. But some of us tend to forget that we are all human in the end. Hopefully next time you meet an intelligent, nice individual who just sounds or looks different from you, you will extend your hand to them rather than turning your back on them!

Rahul Bose is coming to York University on Monday Oct. 19th, noon -2 pm at the Health, Nursing and Environment Studies building, room 140.



 Author: Noorah Uddin

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A Reflection of the Rajasthani Culture!

Posted on 28 October 2009 by .

IMG_0126IMG_0128“I am proud to be the Mayor of the most multicultural and culturally diverse city in the country,” says Brampton Mayor Susan Fennell.



Wondering what’s going on?

What does one get to do after Diwali? Probably, sit back and rest? After all, arranging for the festival is itself such an arduous task. Preparing sweets, shopping and other such activities keep one busy days together so much so that many get sapped of all the energy.

But there are quite a few things that one can look forward to immediately after Diwali, which invariably gets missed out due to many such preoccupations.

In most places in North India where the festival is celebrated for a few days, one can always gather at a common place to exchange greetings. That’s what members of the Rajasthani Association of North America (RANA) did a few days ago.

People of all ages and from all walks of life gathered at the Sagan banquet hall and exchanged greetings. The air of informality was visible even as one stepped in. People kept pouring in right from the evening. After sometime the hall brimmed with people. Sagan banquet hall was truly shining like a jewel in the crown of the desert state of Rajasthan.


‘Resham ka roomal’ by Monogya Tekriwal, member of RANA, Ghoomar (traditional Rajasthani dance) by the RANA ladies, and a delicious Marwadi dinner were some of the highlights of the events. Glimpses of a wedding from rural Rajasthan and cultural theme-based song dance performances were the other notable features of the programme.

“We organise this programme every year after. As Diwali it is not possible for all to meet each other on Diwali, we provide a platform for interaction for the members of the community,” says the President of RANA, Yogesh Sharma. Yogesh Sharma is a well-known personality in the Indo- Canadian community. He’s best known to have hosted many a cool Diwali celebration in Toronto and the GTA’s.

“The main aim is to highlight Rajasthani culture. Though the Rajasthanis settled down in the city years ago, they haven’t forgotten their roots. This programme is a testimony to this, and finally I admire and love the Rajasthani culture” explains the Ruby Dhalla, MP and Film Actress.

It was indeed a good time for people to relax and enjoy!

Author: Ramya Maheshwary

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Targeted Networking: a creative way to land your dream job

Posted on 28 October 2009 by .

This statement holds true in today’s economy especially when applied to job search. The traditional methods of job search somehow seem less viable and getting your dream job or one that fits you the best requires creativity and adaptability.  Sending out resumes in response to job postings is a passive way of job-hunting. You need to go after employers and find the hiring managers who have the authority to hire you. So how do you find these decision makers? The answer is quite simple “targeted networking.”


To succeed in targeted networking the first thing you need to understand is what the market or employer is looking for. Think of yourself as a product.  You need to find out if there is a demand for you? What are your skills and experience? What industries should you target? How do you market yourself effectively? The key to all these questions is “Research, Research, and Research!”

Once you have identified the industry or key companies that you would like to work in; the next step is to identify who has the authority to hire you. The easiest tool today is the company’s webpage. Most companies have the names of their senior executives on their website. However you should phone and verify if the information is current.  Directories like Yellow Pages, Scott’s directory or Bell’s Business Directory are good resources to find contact information as well.

The other alternative is to use Google. Use the Advanced Search function and type in the name of the company. Try various job titles to identify hiring authorities. Once you have a few names do individual searches on them. You never know how they may be connected to someone you know. Social media like LinkedIn and Facebook are also very effective tools that can help you make those connections.

Once you have these names, do you call them directly? Yes and chances are you may actually get to speak to them. But they don’t know you and unless you can get their attention in the first few seconds you may not get very far. And truthfully how many of us are really comfortable just picking up the phone and talking to the Vice-President of a company.

An easier way is to get a referral. So how do you find these referrals? Use Google to find the names of people who are currently working or have worked in the company. You need to get creative about your search criteria. Once you have a couple of names call them to do informational interviews.

Remember the key to informational interviews is not to ask for a job but to find out more information about the job. Ask them about the company, your potential supervisor and the industry. Be prepared with questions to ask her/him. An important question to ask is whether you could use their name to connect with the hiring authority. If they say ‘yes’ you have struck gold. If they say ‘no’ you still have all the valuable information that you have gathered about the company.

Assess yourself and see how you can best sell yourself to the hiring manager. Once you have identified the skills that will help you “sell yourself’ make the call or e-mail the hiring manager. You now have far more information than the average job seeker. This is when “targeted networking” works.

If you would like to get services or expert advice from Access Employment’s staff, please log on to their website

Access Employment author pic   

Author: Manjeet Dhiman is the Senior Director, Services and Business Development at ACCES Employment.

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Parichay- A Rising Name in URBAN DESI Music

Posted on 28 October 2009 by .

When we talk about music, Bollywood is one of the biggest industries that come to mind. Emerging on the global level as one of the flourishing entertainment districts, this place gave an opportunity to Parichay as well to discover his talent. When Parichay walked into our office, I had a magical feel as if he had stepped out of my laptop screen (yes, I had been listening to Deewana Tera from his newly launched album No Boundaries). Parichay started from Close-Up Antakshari (a competitive music show on Zee T.V) when he was only 12, but he started his professional career only 6 years ago.  Talking about the time he has invested to prepare himself for this competitive industry, he says, “I spent this long time in the ‘hussle’ to prepare myself and people don’t know about these 15 years. That’s your learning process that takes up most of your time.”

Parichay 27

But this does not signify that he had completely disappeared from the music scene, he was featured in Jadoo and Jay Ho and been doing many other tapes.

Parichay also believed in refining his talent through intensive education and musical training and went to school for audio production and took vocal lessons as well.  

 Parichay 1

What is unique about the music that Parichay is extensively working on?

Desi Urban is a genre we don’t find in iTunes category, but this new emerging genre is becoming popular day by day. Parichay sheds some light on what motivated him to find his destiny in music and says, “In terms of singing, Sonu Nigam and Mohammad Rafi have been my biggest influences because I do Hindi music. In terms of production I go very Urban. If you listen to the album its very hiphop- R n B, Reggae, Reggae tone, dace hall oriented, not very Bollywood oriented. I have bee trying to develop my own style but these are the people I have learnt a lot from.”

Parichay 2

With Jay Ho having an international audience, I asked Parichay which audience he was targeting, “I think music has no boundaries and that’s why I have named my new album “No Boundaries.” I think I am not only looking to make music for South Asians whether they are from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, UK or from here. The music is for everybody. Jay Ho went international and I know for a fact that East and West are coming together. I know producers from the mainstream West trying to get into India and vice versa.”

Parichay 107

Listening to his songs, it was obvious that he has put his efforts into fusing the East and the West together. With such fusions, allegations like “wanting to sound like a gora’ are heard commonly from public, I asked him about his intention as he has training in Indian music, he says, “ The whole idea of my fusion music is that I don’t want to sound like a gora singing Hindi music. I want to give each genre its due respect and bring it together the right way. Fortunately because I grew up in India, I have classical background, so I know how Hindi music is supposed to be sung. At the same time, I have lived here (in Canada) for so long, I know the sound of Urban music. The response has been amazing because it’s something new.”

As an emerging artist, I warned him that we always get to hear about the success stories in the music industry, which are few, and we neglect the failures, which are millions in number. So, I asked him how he was preparing to utilize his talent and emerge as a success, “ I have a diploma in Business Administration, so, if you consider this as a pie chart, music is only 30%, I can make a song in a day, but it takes us more than 3 weeks to strategize how to actually promote the song.”

Well, with this reply I was sure that he is well-prepared with his marketing strategies, but this makes us think that if music is about marketing then where does the passion to make beautiful melodies lie, Parichay says, “I want to touch people’s emotions through my music, be able to relate to their experiences through my music. Be able to get them to dance, send positive messages. I am not about gangster rap or violence. I am trying to express that there are no boundaries as far as music goes. As far as lyrics go, all of my songs are based o relationships, some of them good, some of them gone bad. So again no boundaries in love.”

Talking about the future of Urban Desi music Parichay says that his intention is to make it to the mainstream map, so when we tune into Z 103.5, we listen to Urban Desi as well. He says, “Desi urban music and Bollywood combined is probably the largest chunk of musical genres active in this world today. But guess what, we don’t have any recognition today.”

Currently Parichay is living an ‘artists life’ but he is practical enough to end our conversation by casually saying, “It’s about making revenues from different avenues.”

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Ontario government has an excellent 5-point economic plan:MPP Amrit Mangat of Mississauga-Brampton South

Posted on 28 October 2009 by .

Ms. Amrit Mangat came to Canada as an immigrant when her husband sponsored her. She worked as a teacher in India and later obtained her Ontario College of Teachers certification. In addition to teaching occasionally, Ms. Mangat managed several small businesses. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, Master of Arts in Economics, a Bachelor of Education, a Master of Education and she is a member in good standing of the Ontario College of Teachers.

Elected in October 2007, Amrit Mangat is the first woman of South Asian heritage to serve as a Member of Provincial Parliament in Ontario. Representing the riding of MississaugaBrampton South, MPP Mangat was appointed by the Premier of Ontario as the Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister Responsible for Seniors in 2007. She also serves as a member of the Justice, Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs Policy Cabinet Committee and she is a member of the Standing Committee on Estimates.

She is committed to the issues related to healthcare and community. She has introduced a Bill which officially recognize November as ‘Diabetes Awareness Month.’ It will help to raise awareness of diabetes and ensure individuals of the resources available to prevent, manage and treat the disease. Mangat also hopes to educate others on the challenges that those living with diabetes face on a daily basis.

By 2010, it is expected that more than 1.2 million people in Ontario will be living with diabetes. It is estimated that treating diabetes and its related complications – including heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and blindness – costs the Ontario government more than $5 billion annually.

On the floor of the Ontario Legislature, Mississauga-Brampton South MPP Amrit Mangat publicly condemned the heinous terrorist attacks that took place yesterday in Mumbai, India. “On behalf of my constituents in Mississauga-Brampton South, I condemn this terrorist attack and urge all Canadians to stand united with the people of India against this act of cowardice,” she said.

As a woman from South Asian community, MPP Mangat understand not only challenges that South Asians face but difficulties of all Canadian in tough economic times.

Following are excerpts of our conversation:


GN: Was it hard for immigrants back in 90s than it is now?

Back then there were a lot more challenges, now we have many systems in place. When I came here I wanted to continue with teaching profession, so I had applied for accreditation. I applied to Ontario College of teachers. I had two MA degrees and 10 years of teaching experience. Do you know what they told me? Go redo your whole graduation.

GN: They still do that.

No they don’t. Depending upon how many years of experience and a kind of degree you have…it varies from case to case. They told me to do bachelors in arts, and then bachelors in education and then come back. When I applied, they evaluated, and told me to do some courses which I did from York University. In three months I did everything. At that time, my husband and I thought about what we should do. I had led a very active life in India. So we opened up a business which gave me a great deal of satisfaction because we were providing jobs to people. This helped me understand tax system. It was really fulfilling.

GN: So did you teach here at all?

Occasionally only.

GN: Why?

Because I was involved in other businesses and also because I started taking care of my husband’s business.

GN: How do you manage this – from being a teacher to a businesswoman to a politician?

Well, we women should be proud of ourselves; we are multitasking. And credit goes to my personality that I can adapt to all environments.

GN: When you open a business, you need to know about credits, loans and all that. Was that hard for you?

To tell you the truth, I was educated; all I had to do was to read the terms and conditions and follow them.

GN: Has it changed now?

It has. We’re going through extraordinary situation; people are worried about their homes, jobs, credit lines, pension plans. And the whole world is going through it, EU, South of the border and so on.

GN: But the government insists that Canada is in a better position?

It is. Our banks are well-regulated. But look at Ontario. It has been hit hard because of economy. We have lost quite a few jobs in manufacturing sector.  What we are looking at the federal government that it should step up to the plate. But Ontario government has a very good 5-point economic plan: 1) eliminating business taxes, 2) partnering with businesses, 3) supporting innovation, 4) investing in infrastructure and 5) investing in skills and people. It is prudent plan and it is working.

GN: How will it help people who have lost jobs?

In Mississauga we are doing okay. This summer we have partnered to give more than $9.5 million to create jobs, so we are helping people. Similarly we have billions of dollars invested in next generation of jobs.

GN: You have a South Asian background. What are the things that you’re hearing from the community regarding economic crisis?

I haven’t met any South Asian who have complained about economic crisis. I have gone out to events, people come see me at my office, but no business has so far told me anything about challenges.

GN: What does this say about South Asian community? Are they resilient?

They’re hardworking people.

GN: Do you find any differences within South Asian community?

I don’t see there are any differences.

GN: How active are they politically?

Ohh..They’re very very active. I was blessed enough to be raised in a multicultural country India and I’m fortunate enough to adapt to a country that is diverse – Canada.

GN: How do you see India as a country?

It’s role is enhancing on the world stage; it’s becoming economic strength, and we can work with it as partners.

GN: What are the issues that you hear from South Asians?

They are very satisfied.

GN: How about immigration issue?

They are not happy with Bill C-50 that can be used both ways. We have our own program, but we can’t really influence the federal government.

GN: Are the needs of South Asian family different from other communities?

When you come from another country, the needs are a little different, for example language and professional skills. Ontario government helps people in settlement and language training so that people can retain their skills and can make use of their skills and talent.

GN: How will cut in art and culture funding affect Ontario?

Art and culture is important part of our life. It’s important for all individuals, because society reveals itself through arts and culture, but our provincial government has done quite a bit in this area.

GN: What is your message to South Asian community?

I am proud of you. They are entrepreneurs and that they should continue to work hard, stay focused and things will come together.

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Taking Action on Darfur

Posted on 28 October 2009 by .

Approximately 400,000 people have died and more than 2,000,000 displaced in the brutal conflict taking place in Darfur, the western region of the African country of Sudan.  Although people around the world have worked to raise awareness of the desperate humanitarian situation, far too little is being done by governments to help those in Darfur struggling for survival.


The violence in the region began about eight years ago with the suppression of non-Arabs by the Sudanese regime, based in the capital city of Khartoum.  When two rebel groups, the Justice and Equality Movement and the Sudanese Liberation Army, began to fight back, the regime responded with deadly aerial bombardments of the Darfur region, while the government-backed Janjaweed committed major human rights abuses and war crimes, including the systematic burning of villages, looting and murder of primarily Christians, Black African Muslims and other non-Arabs.

Only 7,000 poorly equipped African Union (AU) peacekeepers were stationed in the area with a mandate to observe, but not necessarily protect.  Three years ago, the United Nations (UN) Security Council passed a resolution calling for 26,000 UN Peacekeepers to replace the AU troops.  In 2008, prosecutors at the International Criminal Court filed charges of war crimes against Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir, which included three counts of genocide and five of crimes against humanity.

There has been a stunning lack of attention on the tragedy by the mainstream media.  Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times reports that in one entire year, CBS Nightly News ran only three minutes worth of coverage on the issue. 

This is where we come in.  History illustrates that when people come together and work for a common cause, they can do anything.  The reason why there isn’t enough being done to help Darfur is because those in positions of power aren’t pressured to.  And the reason why they aren’t is because not enough people are aware of the tragedy taking place.

This is where raising awareness – even in Canada tens of thousands of kilometres away – can make a difference and literally save lives.  There are organizations, such as Save Darfur Canada (, that you can get involved with.  They are currently undertaking a campaign to send 300,000 postcards to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, asking the Canadian government to provide greater humanitarian relief.

There’s a variety of ways you can help in your very own town.  You can write a letter to your community newspaper or invite a guest speaker to talk about the Darfur conflict at a local school or civic centre.  Be sure to invite media to cover the event.  If you want to take a more direct approach, get together with friends in your neighbourhood and schedule a meeting with your member of parliament to discuss what they can do. 

In addition, you could also hold an event to raise funds for the Red Cross, Red Crescent or other Non-Governmental Organizations that are presently working in Darfur.  The prophet Muhammad once said that a person’s true wealth is the good he or she does in the world.

When it comes to Darfur, there’s a lot more good to be done.



 Author: Bilal Rajan

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Making Money

Posted on 28 October 2009 by .

Diwali is over and so seems to be the feeling of celebration and abundance around. During Diwali it is easier to keep prosperity consciousness but what about after Diwali? We go back to our busy schedule and forget all about the celebration and go back to our mundane activities; living the same way and getting the same results.


Lets change the story a little this time, let the celebrations not finish on the day of Diwali but give everyday at least 5 mins in your life to some activity that will feel like celebration.

ü       It can be as simple as lighting a lamp everyday; Whenever you look at the flame it reminds you of the abundance in your life bringing you more abundance.

ü       You can do something so small as burning an incense in the morning and waving across your main door with the intention that Joy, Wealth, Happiness, Opportunities enter from here.

Diwali month is the month of Goddess of Wealth, I am sharing with you a powerful money attracting process.

The Mahalakshmi Money Display is by far the most powerful technique you will come across. This technique is very simple and can be done by the whole family.

Process: Get up in the morning, take a good shower and wear fresh clothes. Locate a suitable place which is pure, preferably the Pooja Room. Take a big plate preferably made of china clay, or copper (not plastic because plastic has very poor energy).

Take crisp currency of any denominations and start spreading this in the plate in a circular manner. Do it very slowly with awareness and joy.  Allow the whole family to place the currency notes and create a wonderful display. The plate should become full of Money. It is like overflow of Money. You can choose to mix any denomination currency. You can also add foreign currencies if you so wish. You can add coins at places to make it more appealing. Use any creative ideas that appeal to you.  The objective is to create a plate full of currency which is good to look at.

You could choose to make a rangoli on the floor, have a good flower decoration on which now the plate can be placed.  You can keep a small statue of any god you like, or the laughing Buddha in the plate as a reminder of support and help from a greater power. You could also keep some Flowers symbolic of the Universal Support and Purity. Please do light a good incense stick.  Light a Lamp or candle alongside the plate. (Please be careful that the flames do not reach the paper currency that you have displayed).

Now take some Tulsi leaves or some loose flowers about 108 of them. All the members can sit around the plate of Money and just with open eyes admire the currency, feel the energy of money and pray that Money flows in abundance in their life. Take each small petal or tulsi leaf and drop it on the money plate saying this powerful mantra: Om Shreem Mahalakshmiye Namaha.

Thus you will be chanting this mantra 108 times and each time as you chant this mantra loud drop the flower on the Money Plate. This completes the whole ritual. Now you can keep the Money Plate for the whole day if you can or for some hours.  Thank money, god or anyone else you would like to. Then remove the Money and the flowers. 

The whole process should take about 20 mins to 30 mins max.  This is a very powerful mysterious esoteric process and one gets very powerful money results in life.  Do this on each day for the rest of the week till you will come across a new technique from our side. Do keep a note book for writing your good experiences as the week passes by.

Till then Happy Celebrating…..

Ma Prem Neelu   

Author: If you have any questions for Neelu, Please write to her at

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Baba Bulley Shah, York University & The Environment Within

Posted on 28 October 2009 by .

These days the time, we are told, is for a discussion the environment. Theek hai. When discussing the environment, we have to locate the subject of our discussion. The theme for this issue is, in the literal sense of the word, all over the place and our mental maps testify to this dispersal.

Consider, if you will, the location of the environment: is it embedded in the soils of the nature or is it reified in the bricks of the constructed? Or is it somewhere else?  Approach this issue by reading what is not written in the theme of the environment. After all, as York U Professor Dr. Arun Prabha Mukherjee, “ What is not on the page ( and in this case the theme ) is precisely what you should be reading.” It is such a practice of reading  that equips writers like Manju Kapoor and Khushwant Singh with the words to give us an ear for the voices that elitist control successfully muted.

So, what, where, who, when, why and how is the environment? I will let you choose your location and answer this question without gauging wrong from right and right from wrong. However, this act of choice, when thinking of the environment, underscores your, rather our, responsibility to propose change where the lack of it is constant. The point of discussing the environment is to point at the idea that change is to be implemented where you see the need for change. And the first sight of change is when you get people to see what you are seeing. Change is when we see to be seen to grow and thus the moral lens is not the paradigm of this piece’s vision. Hence, spare me that saintly satanic eye and let me share what I see. Hopefully, we will grow.

In this piece, I offer a reading from my own map and encourage you to take us all on a journey through a reading of your own. My reading begins by taking us to Kasur, Punjab, where a 17th and 18th century Punjabi Sufi Poet, Baba Bulley Shah, rests in the peace of his poetic pieces. His words I see and I hear about an environment. He writes :

“Dasseyn hor, tey hor kamaaweyn.
Andar khot, baahar sachyaar”

(You preach something and act inversely.
Inwardly, you are corrupt, but, outwardly, you are pious – a liar hidden in the garb of truth)

* Taken from Baba Bulley Shah’s poem “Ilmo Bas Kareen o Yaar” ( Enough of Learning, My Friend ).

 This is a reading on an environment, an environment that is the condition of all that shines and storms inside of you. Perhaps the reading is a little obscure. And there is a reason for this too.

A word like environment is a word that can mean one of many words. Yet, under the rule of the popular, particularly the rule of the capitalist coin,  the populace often attaches itself to only one of its many meanings. We follow a command to sort neatly. We keep things in their places. We manifest destiny. And this followership was the leader of my understanding of the environment : I sorted the environment neatly to mean this and not that, I located its place and discussed its destiny. Pardon the generalization, but when I dug through the theme of the environment, we found ourselves plunging our spades into something that was external, something out there. But is it really out there? Is it not in there, in here, Baba Bulley Shah asks? Can we not plunge into our self, ourselves, my self, myself?

For a moment, turn the gaze from the external into the internal. Take a critical peak at what lies within you. If an environment exists outside of you, is it not right to propose that an environment exists inside of you? This is not a mere web of words. Within you are the seeds of your thought and within you are the fruits of you action, n’est ce pas? And whether this garden gives rise to a forbidden fruit is precisely the narrative of Baba Bulley Shah. He speaks to the conditions that we foster within ourselves and his words are as valid now as they are in the pages of history. Baba Bulley Shah invites us to consider the impact of knowledge, perhaps through education at York University, on the thoughts and actions that find a condition inside of us. He did, in his own time, consider a similar relation.

Baba Bulley Shah wrote at a time when the embryos of India and Pakistan were inching towards their births, a time when differences divided people and similarities simply sunk into the depths of difference. Muslims and Hindus saw red in each other and a strict governance of bodies was the call of the hour. Baba Bulley Shah was particularly disgusted at the treatment of non-heterosexual bodies and often pondered over what knowledge gave rise to such ignorant treatment. He wondered of how such an internal, poisonous brew acquires such a popular and respected taste amongst the masses. He wondered of how vice came to be dressed in the garments of virtue. He stopped to meet who was not in the masses and in his search he comes to understand the impact of knowledge on one’s psyche. From scripture to law, Baba Bulley Shah desired to set each of these to flames. He  ultimately begged those around him to let go of their books and dissolve themselves in a single letter of love. Perhaps then, he hoped, we would be the same within and the same outside the within: we would be true to our being and true to the being of others. There would be no moral compass. Instead an endless acquiring of knowledges, knowledges that brought Baba Bulley Shah to preach the doctrine of “ I do not know”. In essence, in not knowing, he believed that the self would always change, change and forever grow.

So how much does your education at York University get you to think that you know? Are you really a specialist at any point? Weather this weather within. Baba Bulley Shah asks us today to consider the impact of what we consume as “knowledge” on the environment that is within us? Are we one being to the world yet another in our own world? Let us ask President Shoukri to ask himself this : the answer is not at Bell, Rogers or Google.

I hope that you have seen what I see. Baba Bulley Shah is leading us to create an environment that resists. Perhaps I may sound stupid, but there is fun in being so. Perhaps this is why many sing to Baba Bulley Shah and weep, “ O Bulley Shah, Let’s go where everyone is blind, Where no one knows our caste and where no one acknowledges us.”


Bulleh Shah (1680 – 1757) whose real name was Abdullah Shah was a Punjabi Sufi poet, a humanist and philosopher

Bulleh Shah (1680 – 1757) whose real name was Abdullah Shah was a Punjabi Sufi poet, a humanist and philosopher

I have been pierced by the arrow of love, what shall I do ?

I have been pierced by the arrow of love, what shall I do ?
I can neither live, nor can I die.
Listen ye to my ceaseless outpourings,
I have peace neither by night, nor by day.
I cannot do without my Beloved even for a moment.
I have been pierced by the arrow of love, what shall I do ?
The fire of separation is unceasing !
Let someone take care of my love.
How can I be saved without seeing him?
I have been pierced by the arrow of love, what shall I do ?

O Bullah, I am in dire trouble !
Let someone come to help me out.
How shall I endure such torture ?
I have been pierced by the arrow of love,
what shall I do ?
I can neither live, nor can I die.


You alone exist; I do not, O Beloved!

You alone exist; I do not, O Beloved!
You alone exist, I do not!
Like the shadow of a house in ruins,
I revolve in my own mind.
If I speak, you speak with me:
If I am silent, you are in my mind.
If I sleep, you sleep with me:
If I walk, you are along my path.
Oh Bulleh, the spouse has come to my house:
My life is a sacrifice unto Him.
You alone exist; I do not, O Beloved!


Remove duality and do away with all disputes

 Remove duality and do away with all disputes;
The Hindus and Muslims are not other than He.
Deem everyone virtuous, there are no thieves.
For, within every body He himself resides.
How the Trickster has put on a mask!


Ali Abbas pic - pic crop kar lein   


 Author: Ali Abbas

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‘Nightlife Fun’ under Cultural Constraints

Posted on 28 October 2009 by .

Every metropolitan city is assumed to have nightlife, and Toronto is no exception to this rule. We know that restaurants close at 11p.m. in GTA (with an exception of a few), so nightlife in Toronto starts early and ends early as well. So what exactly is there for Torontonians to enjoy in those weak dusk hours apart from food and drink? Theatres, movies, orchestras, operas, festivals; the choices are scare and they become more limited when they are subjected to cultural constraints.

One is forced to think that ‘having fun’ falls under cultural preferences as well. In my teen years, I would disagree with this statement that implied that culture says a lot about having ‘fun.’ But when I went to university, and ‘having fun’ no longer meant merely having a birthday party at a friend’s house, or having a slumber party over the weekend, I realized the impact of cultural values in my life. This put me in a dilemma when I started observing those thin invisible lines that divided the cultures and impacted my daily decisions.

I still remember, living off campus with several other students, from various countries and cultures. ‘Multiculturalism is great,’ I thought at that moment, but when I was invited to a birthday party with a theme ‘let’s make-out,’ I was not only speechless but had to politely leave after ten minutes because of my growing level of discomfort. I deeply thought about the diversity of cultures at that moment, things, which are right in one culture, are completely unacceptable in another. The thought of making-out with my housemates was not welcoming at all.
I also remember telling a house-mate that my brother is engaged to my first cousin, she was not only shocked but had a look of disgust on her face, “incest’ she had shouted aloud, which obviously had offended me. This again emphasized the differences in values based on cultures.

Having observed these cultural differences, one is inclined to think about opportunities that give South Asians a chance to have fun. During a conversation with several attendees at a South Asian musical party, I had a chance to inquire about South Asian nightlife in GTA.

Seeme Ali, owner of a travel business says that there is a need to have more South Asian events. Having musical events is a good idea but she would prefer events with more people interaction, such as a picnic organized at a park, “I have seen Guyanese community do that, it would be fun.” Her partner, Malik Shaukat was satisfied with attending musical parties to have a good time. Talking about the frequency of attending such events, he says that it really depends on the number of weekends that he can manage to take off from work.


Talking to Haris Najmi, a student at UOIT and his friend, we were told that there is more demand of events such as concerts and musical nights among the youth. They enjoy dancing and dining out with friends. Haris also pointed out that it would be a great idea to invite Bangladeshi actresses to perform here, as well as international artists from India and Pakistan.

Several other attendees reflected the same need, more south Asian events catering to South Asian community. One thing was clear; South Asians enjoy cultural events to a great extent and participate with extra zeal.




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Tips to Protect Yourself from H1N1

Posted on 28 October 2009 by .

Step 1

To protect yourself from H1N1, do your part by washing your hands and maintaining a sanitary environment. H1N1 can be spread easily. If you cough or sneeze and do not have a tissue close by, follow government safety suggestions and do so into the elbow of your shirt sleeve.


Step 2

Wash your hands frequently, especially after coming in direct contact with others. You never know who may be infected with the H1N1 virus. It can be helpful to buy a small bottle of hand sanitizer to carry with you incase you do not have access to a sink to wash your hands.

Step 3

Avoiding unnecessary contact is important to protecting yourself from H1N1. While you may be diligent in washing your hands and maintaining a sanitary environment, that doesn’t mean everyone else will be. This is where that hand sanitizer can come in handy!

Step 4

Help your body fight H1N1. Keeping your immune system strong by maintaining a healthy diet is the next step to protecting yourself from H1N1. A diet that is filled with fruits, vegetables, and lean meats will help your body maintain its defenses should you come in contact with H1N1 or any other seasonal virus’. Also be sure to stay well hydrated; drinking plenty of water and fruit or vegetable juices. While even after following these steps, you can still get sick, this step may lessen the severity of your illness, and also aid in a quicker recovery.

Step 5

If you feel ill, seek medical attention. H1N1 and the common flu are serious illnesses, and are dangerous. There have been many documented cases of death attributed to H1N1 and if you develop any signs of the illness or have any reason to think you may be in danger, visit your local doctor.

Stay healthy!

Who H1N1 is For?

  • People under age 65 with chronic health conditions
    (such as diabetes, asthma, cancer or a condition that aff ects the heart, liver, lung, or immune system)
  • Pregnant women
  • Healthy children aged six months to less than five years
  • People living in remote and isolated settings or communities
  • Health care workers
  • Household contacts and care providers of infants under six months or persons who who may not respond to vaccines
    Note: Children from six months to nine years of age age should receive the vaccine in two half-doses, given at given at least 21 days apart. Individuals 10 years of age and older should receive one dose of the vaccine.
    H1N1 flu vaccine can be given at the same time as seasonal flu shot and other vaccines.



The following groups of people should NOT receive the H1N1 flu vaccine:

  • Children under six months old
  • People who have had a previous anaphylactic (severe allergic reaction) to any element of the vaccine, OR
  • People with a hypersensitivity to eggs ( e.g. hives, swelling of mouth and/or throat, breathing difficulty); OR
  • People experiencing a high fever, OR
  • People who have previously experienced Guillan-Barré Syndrome within 8 weeks of receiving a seasonal flu vaccine

In October, the seasonal flu vaccination is offered to people over the age of 65 and residents of long-term care facilities. The seasonal flu shot can be received at these community clinics or at your physician’s office.

Early Clinics for priority groups:

  • People under 65 with chronic health conditions *
  • Pregnant women
  • Children 6 months to less than 5 years of age
  • People living in remote and isolated settings or communities
  • Health-care workers involved in pandemic response or the delivery of essential health care services
  • Household contacts and care providers of persons at high risk who cannot be immunized or may not respond to vaccines
  • Populations otherwise identified as high risk

* Early clinics are for residents under 65 years of age with chronic medical conditions (asthma, diabetes, heart, lung or kidney disease or those receiving treatments for cancer or other illnesses that might affect the immune system) and their caregivers.



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