Sunday, November 23, 2014

Turkey 2014- Day 4

As we had a really long day ahead of us, we woke up just before sunrise. We packed our luggage the night before as we were checking out of the hotel. We were all excited and enthusiastic about the road trip and the rich heritage the country had to offer us.  But before our road trip began, we first needed to visit the majestic Blue mosque. We did not visit it completely the day before, as it was Friday and hence extremely crowded. As we headed for the Blue mosque I was stunned by the number of tourists that had already made their way to this building of grandeur even though it was so early in the morning. I always thought that the early bird catches the worm, but I was proven wrong. The queue was horrendous. Nonetheless whilst waiting in line, we had an opportunity of chatting to tourists from other countries. I was quite shocked at the level of ignorance and disrespect that many of the tourists had with regards to visiting a place of worship. You would think that a person coming from a first world country would be educated enough to know about other people’s culture and religion. Yet again I was proven wrong.

 Many travelers pitched up at the mosque in shorts, sleeveless tops and mini-skirts. Whilst scarves are provided at the entrance of the building to cover up in the case of indecency, I honestly think that a good traveler is one who respects the law and culture of the country.  I was quite annoyed with an American woman who told us that her family called her to check up on her. They told her that she needs to be very careful as she is in a Muslim country. Muslim people are uncivilized and anything can happen to her. Of course, I could not simply turn a deaf ear to her statements and so I retaliated. This is what I said to her,
“ My dear, with all due respect, do you see people walking the streets with guns and grenades. Your government, through the media have brainwashed you people into thinking badly about one billion people who follow a religion of peace. You should be more afraid of the American government than worry about innocent Muslims who are content with their daily lives. The west invades other countries, rape those countries of their wealth, minerals and oil due to greed. What business does your government have to poke their noses in the internal affairs of other nations? Do you honestly think the world is so stupid into believing everything your government showcases on television?”  The woman stared at me with a stunned look on her face. She then told me that she works for a department within the American government and that she does agree with me wholeheartedly. It was the first time that she actually visited a Muslim country and she was taken aback by the kindness and hospitality displayed by the Turkish nation towards foreigners. She promised to return to the USA and change the mindset of her family and friends towards Muslims people.

Words cannot explain the beauty of the 17th century Blue mosque, a strong reminder of how mighty and powerful the Ottoman Empire must have been.  After spending an hour inspecting the architecture of the building, we then headed back to the bus to commence our road trip through Turkey. Our first stop was Tekirdag, a two hour drive from Istanbul. Tekirdag is a small countryside farming community. Most of the meat in Turkey comes from this farming community. At Tekirdag we stopped at a filling station for lunch.W e enjoyed fresh Gosleme’s , a Turkish cheese pancake. After lunch we headed towards Gallipoli. “The Gallipoli Campaign, also known as the Dardanelles Campaign, the Battle of Gallipoli or the Battle of Çanakkale (Turkish: Çanakkale Savaşı), was a campaign of World War I that took place on the Gallipoli peninsula[6] in the Ottoman Empire between 25 April 1915 and 9 January 1916. The peninsula forms the northern bank of the Dardanelles, a strait that provides a sea route to what was then the Russian Empire, one of the Allied powers during the war. Intending to secure it, Russia's allies Britain and France launched a naval attack followed by an amphibious landing on the peninsula with the eventual aim of capturing the Ottoman capital of Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul).[7] The naval attack was repelled and, after eight months' fighting, with many casualties on both sides, the land campaign also failed and the invasion force was withdrawn to Egypt.

The campaign was one of the greatest Ottoman victories during the war and a major Allied failure. In Turkey, it is regarded as a defining moment in the nation's history: a final surge in the defence of the motherland as the Ottoman Empire crumbled. The struggle formed the basis for the Turkish War of Independence and the founding of the Republic of Turkey eight years later under Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who first rose to prominence as a commander at Gallipoli. The campaign is often considered as marking the birth of national consciousness in Australia and New Zealand and the date of the landing, 25 April, is known as "Anzac Day" which is the most significant commemoration of military casualties and veterans in those two countries, surpassing Remembrance Day (Armistice Day).”

After visiting the cemeteries at Gallipoli,and paying our respect to all those soldiers who died during the war, we then headed towards the Eceabat ferry landing.  After a twenty minute ride on the ferry, crossing the Dardanelles Straits we found ourselves in the university town, Canakkale. We checked in for an overnight stay at the opulent Kolin hotel. Over the years, the hotel has received numerous awards for service excellence and thus played host to many diplomats and dignitaries including Prince Charles and his current wife. After enjoying a five star dinner at the hotel dining hall, we retired to bed.

For more pictures, simply click on this link: 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Turkey 2014 - Day 3

After waking up at the crack of dawn, we made our way to the restaurant for a sumptuous breakfast overlooking the Bosphorous river. I was particularly impressed with the fresh honeycomb blocks at the breakfast buffet. After breakfast we headed for a day tour to all the major attractions in Istanbul. It was also the first time that we met the rest of the tour group. Having arrived late at the hotel the day before due to flight delays and the rainy weather conditions, we missed the initial group meeting with our guide Ajay.  We were altogether 38 passengers on the luxury bus from all parts of the world. We met people from Canada, America, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and the UK. We were the only Muslims on board the bus and hence we were the centre of attraction. We could sense a certain degree of racism from some members of the group and believe it or not some of the American tourists literally thought that we resided in a jungle setting with animals roaming by.  Whilst a fully kitted out tour is convenient and takes into account hotels, food and tours, it is not for the faint hearted as you need to be able to interact with many different kinds of personalities on the bus. I was quite shocked at the level of childishness among grown up adults who literally fought for a particular seat on the bus as though they were school kids.  I found that South Africans are quite timid, complacent people as opposed to our loud mouth bullying American counterparts.  Nonetheless we tried our best to be the best we could be.

Our first stop was the Topkapi Palace , the home of the Turkish Sultans for four hundred years. We marveled at the grandeur of the majestic Ottoman buildings and admired the Treasury and Porcelain collections. What fascinated me the most was the Islamic artifacts dating back to the time of the Prophet Muhammed (saw). Unfortunately we were not allowed to take pictures in the building. Frames depicting the collection at the Topkapi palace can be viewed at the exquisite gallery at the Turkish mosque in Midrand, South Africa. Turkey is definitely a tourist destination and the Turks must be complimented on mastering the art of hospitality. Never in my life did I see so many tourists and buses. At the Topkapi Palace mom and I were stopped repeatedly by tourists from other countries wanting to take pictures with us. Some tourists found the sight of the hijab fascinating. I was intrigued with the group of Chinese Muslims that we met. We spent a few minutes engaging in dialogue with them. It was fun, fascinating and captivating.  After spending some time at the Topkapi Palace we then made our way to Haghia Sophia. Hagia Sophia is a great architectural beauty and an important monument both for Byzantine and for Ottoman Empires. The mystical city Istanbul hosted many civilizations since centuries, of which Byzantium and Ottoman Empires were both the most famous ones. The city today carries the characteristics of these two different cultures and surely Hagia Sophia is a perfect synthesis where one can observe both Ottoman and Byzantium effects under one great dome. It is the only building in the whole world that served three religions, namely paganism, then Christianity and finally Sunni Islam. Today the building stands as a museum in the Turkish Republic. .

After marveling at the beauty of the Haghia Sophia and snapping up a few shots, we then took a lunch break. We made our way to a quaint little roof top restaurant that had breathtaking views of the Blue mosque and surrounding areas. The cheese pizzas and salads were delicious. Turkish people love fresh food. They prefer eating  organic grown vegetables. The women are very hard working and domesticated.
With regards to food, we preferred having vegetarian meals only as many restaurants served ham and alcohol. Even though the locals told us that all the meat is halaal, we were not comfortable with eating any of the meat products.

After lunch we made our way to the Hippodrome which was the scene of the horse chariot races during the Byzantine Era.. We then headed off to the Grand bazaar. With over 6000 shops to choose from, your head doesn’t work. At the grand bazaar, you will be able to find anything and everything from leather jackets, souvenirs, ceramic plates, branded clothing, shoes and jewellery. The one item that fascinated me most at the bazaar was the blue eye. All over Turkey you will find a blue eye, either as a key ring, frame or necklace. The symbol of the blue eye originated from ancient Mesopotamia and continued into modern Turkey. Turks believe that it is a symbol of good luck and also wards off the evil eye. The time we spent at the bazaar was too short and so we planned to re-visit this shopping paradise on our last day of vacation which was a free day of leisure.

We ended off the day with a magical sunset cruise on the Bosphorus river where some of the most expensive properties in the world can be found today. We traveled towards the old city from close to the Black Sea where the scenery complimented the grandeur of the Ottoman palaces, old mansions and fortresses. 

To view the rest of the pictures click on the link below:

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Abida's Frail Care Centre

22 October 2014

I returned to the pharmacy a while ago shattered and heartbroken. My colleague and I cried inconsolably as we left aunty Abeida’s frail care centre earlier this afternoon. I have heard about the old age home and read articles about the good work aunty Abeida does but it is only after visiting the home myself did I realise the seriousness of the situation and how strong minded a person has to be in order to look after 17 old people. Aunty Abeida and her caregivers look after the elderly with a smile day in and day out but only they know what they going through on a daily basis. I have no words to praise the love and dedication that she shows towards the elderly. Her paradise is truly made in this world.
When a family friend passed by the pharmacy last week telling us that the facility requires donations in order to survive and continue, my colleague and I decided that we were going to visit the frail care centre ourselves. I got mom to make some cupcakes and cookies and off we went this morning. There are two homes, one for the males and one for the females. The home where the females are living belongs to aunty Abeida. She converted her home into a frail care centre. In the past she use to also reside in the same home. But now due to space issues, she has moved out into a flat that she rents. Arriving at the home, we were greeted by aunty Abeida and the well trained care givers.
Then we walked into the lounge where the women were sitting watching television. Zee Tv seemed to be their favourite channel. Whilst there was a fake smile on their faces, their eyes were filled with an inner sadness. Dorianne and I greeted all of them and we then decided to have tea with them. Over a cup of tea, they each had a turn to talk about themselves. They felt happy that someone was giving them a hearing, someone actually cared and bothered to visit them. As we heard their stories, Dorianne and I broke down literally. We tried hiding our tears, but we couldn’t. They wanted to be hugged, touched...All they crave for is a little bit of love. Our hearts broke when I was confronted by a frail middle aged lady asking me if I’m here to take her home with me. I smiled and told her that I will take you soon to my home for lunch or a picnic. She held Dorianne’s hand and then she broke down, “Why did my children do this to me? After everything I did for them why do I deserve to be here?”
What shocked me most was the fact that many of these women were from well known wealthy families. I was quite disturbed to hear that the one woman is actually the mother of a well known Muslim television presenter. The man is always on his high horse acting proud and full of himself on television. He is always at every charity and community event and yet he and his family have dumped his mother in the old age home and have never visited her in years. The poor 88 year old woman is dying inside from pain and hurt. She told me that every day she watches her son on television. She becomes so emotional that sometimes she walks towards the television and hugs it as though she is hugging her son. Having known this gentleman on a personal level, I have lost all respect for this man and his family. With all the knowledge and education that he has, how can anyone be so heartless towards their own mother? It is because of his mother’s prayers that he is where he is today. The saddest part about the whole thing is that when aunty Abeida calls the family to ask her for funding to look after their mom they always have excuses. They never have money yet they are the big shots at every community event. They keep on telling her that the money is in the account yet it is never transferred. Aunty Abeida showed us text messages as well as financial statements related to the frail care centre. An animal has more feelings for their siblings and parents then these bastard children who have no shame to dump their own flesh and blood in an old age home for someone else to look after their parents.

There was one lady from Roshni. She also hails from a well known wealthy family and her daughterin laws have refused to look after her yet these same tarts are looking after their own mother’s. A few of the lady’s were never married and so they always resided in their parent’s home. When their parents died, their brothers literally threw them out of the house wanting the house for themselves or for their kids. The one lady hailed from a wealthy family residing in Laudium.
Almost everyone there had a sad story to tell. Last week apparently a gentleman in a sports Audi rocked up at the old age home. He simply got off of the car and dumped packets of nappies into the caregiver’s hands for his mom. His mother was a few meters away from him but the asshole did not look at his mother, neither did he greet her. Her heart was shattered. She was heartbroken.
After spending time with the ladies, we bid them farewell and made our way to the frail care home for the men. At present there are eight men living in the house. The rental at the house is R12 000 per month. At present it is Aunty Abeida’s biggest concern. She requires funding and donations to be able to sustain both the homes. In addition to the rent, she needs to pay her staff, buy their chronic medication as well as buy groceries, nappies etc. Her salary bill is in the region of R35 000 per month.

At the men’s home, we were welcomed by old middle aged men basking in the morning sun. They all had their own life stories yet they appeared more happy and jovial than the women. They begged us to join them for a cup of tea and when we decided to leave they insisted that we make a promise to visit them again. The one gentleman’s story broke my heart. It reminded me of the story “Bhaagban.” The children separated their parents. The man resides in the old age home simply because his wife is too old and sickly herself to look after him. She resides alone in a flat in town. Their children do not wish to have anything to do with them. Another man hailed from Mpumalanga and when he recently got critically ill, it took his family two days to come to Jozi to visit him. Aunty Abeida thought the man was dying. When his family returned home, they sent aunty Abeida an email telling her that if he dies, she must go ahead and bury the man. She must not wait for them to arrive.
A few months ago there was an sms circulating by a moulana who visited the frail care centre. The only thing the man sadly noticed was the fact that the elderly are looking at zee tv and that Islamic channels and radio stations needs to be introduced into the home. DSTV has Islamic channels and radio but the elderly love watching zee tv. It doesn’t mean that if you old you are suddenly dead. You are still alive and kicking. You still have dreams. You still allowed song and dance. You still allowed entertainment. I am surprised at how narrow minded this moulana is. Did he not notice that these people are in dire need of love and tender loving care? Did he not notice that they require paint on their room walls and a bigger garden space to enjoy the sunshine. On the topic of Moulana’s I was shocked to hear that another well known preacher’s son took a loan from aunty Abeida years ago when he was in financial difficulties. Years have passed by and the man refuses to return the money. When aunty Abeida approached his father, a respected preacher who talks about halaal and haraam etc on television, preaching night and day to the whole world, she gets told a mouthful. “My son will commit suicide because of you. He does not have the money. He will pay you on his time”. She asked for the money not for herself but to continue sustaining and maintaining the frail care centre.
At present the two homes are located quite a distance apart from each other and it is becoming increasingly difficult for aunty Abeida to manage both homes. She is looking for a premises whereby all 17 people can be accommodated under one roof with a big garden area outside. This is where the Christian and Jewish communities beat us by far. They have proper frail care facilities with their own ambulance services etc. The old people are entertained throughout the day. Why can’t the Muslim community do the same? Muslim business owners need to get together and embark on this kind of a project as soon as possible. There is a dire need for it now. The team at Medix pharmacy have pledged our support to aunty Abeida’s frail care centre and we will assist wherever we can.
As I type this short account of my visit to the frail care centre, the tears continue to roll down my cheeks. To the public and youth out there who are reading this article, I am not urging you but rather I am begging you to visit the home. These old people are longing for love and care. Stop by with some goodies and take a few minutes to chat to them. Crack a few jokes with them. Make them happy. Show them that they are still loved, valued and cared for. Make them feel special. Go pick them up and take them to your home for an afternoon lunch or a picnic at the zoo lake. They don’t go anywhere coz aunty Abeida does not have a minibus vehicle. She only has a car.
I am truly blessed to have been raised by parents who have always welcomed anyone and everyone to our home who required help and assistance whether they were friends or family. By helping someone else and by visiting the elderly, God Almighty opens up our doors in ways that you cannot imagine. He engulfs our own home with blessings, joy and happiness.
To the kids of these middle aged men and women this is my message to you:
Whilst I pray for you and hope that God Almighty changes your evil wicked dirty hearts towards your parents, I also feel pity and sorry for you. Why, because God sees the pain inside the hearts of these old men and women. He sees the hurt and you know what, in the same way that you have hurt your parents, Gods punishment will strike you one day but ten times worst. I have not realised that such despicable human beings exist on this earth until today. At the same time, I thank Allah for opening my eyes and softening my heart towards humanity. After today’s experience I will only strive to be a better human being towards everyone around me especially my parents who have sacrificed their lives for my happiness. I love you mom and dad with all my heart and it is only because of your prayers and hard work that I am who I am today.

If you wish to make a donation to aunty Abeida's frail care centre kindly contact her at: 082 554 0223

23 September 2014

I would like thank those facebook friends who have taken the liberty to contact aunty Abeida and offer their assistance to her after reading the article that was posted yesterday. May Allah reward all of you in abundance. There are a few other points I forgot to mention. The kids of these frail men and women have the nerve to come to the frail care centre and make their parents sign off their belongings to them under duress. I think it may be a good idea if a lawyer visits the home to lend a helping hand when it comes to these issues. These old people are also entitled to their own pension money. The kids need to bring that pension money to their parents. It is so disgusting to think that whilst these rich kids with their wives are enjoying a life of luxury, their parents do not even have a medical aid. These asshole children refuse to get their parents onto a proper medical aid facility. I can not believe that you get women out there who come from low class homes, then marry into wealthy families and before you know it they call the shots, throwing the queen of the home on the street. It tells me a lot about the upbringing of these kind of women. Their aim and goal in life is to acquire wealth, name, fame and money.. But the day the tables turn, I feel these women really sorry. I would also like to clarify and put an end to the false rumours that have been making rounds with regards to Abeidas frail care centre. There are gossip mongers in the community who can not do anything for another human being and yet find it perfectly alright to slander those people who are trying their level best to do good towards others. When aunty Abeida expanded the frail care centre by acquiring another home to house the men, there was a rumour flying around saying that through all the donations she acquires she has bought another house for herself. She is gone rich and abusing funds. How can you slander and accuse someone of doing wrong without finding out the facts. I seen the facts yesterday in black and white. The home that is used to house the men, belongs to a woman by the name of Sharifa and aunty Abeida has to pay a monthly rental of R12 000. I hope this information will now put that rumour to rest once and for all and shut the mouths of aunty Abeida's critics.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

International Cricket Referee, Dev travels to Malaysia

Friday 24 October 2014


It is Friday morning and I am finally able to settle down at the Kinrara Oval before the start of Day 2 of this ICC World Cricket League Division 3 Tournament here in KL.

It has been a very busy time since our arrival into KL from South Africa on Sunday evening- bearing in mind it is 6 hours later here – so by the time we had traveled from the KLIA to the Istana Hotel and settled in we were totally exhausted.

Thankfully Sunday was a free day to allow time to get familiar with the splendid hotel centrally situated with wonderful shopping malls and a myriad of restaurants available – all within a walking distance of the hotel- already it is clear that the city comes out each night to enjoy the international choices of cuisine and there is quite a special vibe that brings the city to life.

We were welcomed with a few days of heavy rains as well and this was a worrying factor- being very close to the equator KL is known for many days of rain each month- thankfully Day 1 came along yesterday and all three matches were completed without any interruptions- it is hoped that the same happens today which will then mean that the reserve day set aside tomorrow can be used for some sight seeing!

Already the impressive Petronas towers has been observed but not visited and the KL Tower is also a prominent feature in the KL skyline. Hopefully the other nearby attractions shall be visited depending on the reserve days not being taken up by playing matches affected by the weather.

I have been most impressed by the high degree of professionalism displayed by the hosts- The Malaysia Cricket- their offices are here at the Kinrara Oval and it is clear that they run a very good organization.

I have now visited 2 of the three venues and all of them are outstanding- the pitches are well prepared by competent Curators and the outfields in lush condition with the venues all having the necessary facilities necessary to host international matches.

Catering here is certainly another aspect worthy of mention- with the Asian population forming a vital cog in the Malaysian whell, there is always an abundance in Indian dishes available- even the hotels have Indian cuisine served during breakfast!

The local match officials appointed as reserve umpires and D/L managers ( Duckworth – Lewis for the uninitiated!) are top class in the execution of their duties- it is evident that taking pride in what you do is a hallmark of their character.

Daily transport and logical issues have been quite special with attention to detail making sure there have been no lapses for officials or teams.

Well, before I get too caught up in the cricketing issues, let me get this update off – as an aside- Diwali is a public holiday here and was observed on Wednesday. The hotel as well as public places and malls had beautiful décor with lamps and lights forming the central theme for this auspicious Hindu occasion.

Hopefully I shall send off a 2nd update before flying out on the 31st- there has now been a change of plan and I shall be staying over in Jhb to attend a workshop of CSA on Saturday next and be on duty at the Wanderers on Sunday 2nd where the triple-header of the Ram Slam event will be played.

Until then may I send good wishes in the hope, as usual, that there shall be news in the form of a response-

Take care always



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