Monday, August 25, 2014

Maan Hamadeh - A musical maestro

The first thing I do when I get to the pharmacy in the morning is of course turn on my laptop and surf the internet for the latest events and news  across the globe. A few days ago I was browsing through the Emirates 24/7 website when I came across a caption that captivated me. " Pianist stuns airport with take on Beethoven". The piano has always been my favourite instrument and I do regret not learning how to play as a child, so naturally I clicked on the Youtube video and oh boy wasn't I left speechless. I was totally taken aback by the way in which Maan Hamadeh played the piano with absolute grace and finesse. At first I thought it was a normal Beethoven track that he was playing but he kept on changing the tempo and the style of the masterpiece taking everyone at the airport by surprise and leaving me bewildered. I thought to myself, who is this man, why hasn't anyone recognized such a talented artist.I really need to know more about him. I then decided to contact him and I must say I feel quite honoured that he willingly accepted my invitation to be interviewed for my blog.

1. Firstly Maan, thank you so much for taking time out to be interviewed by me on such short notice.I am curious to know, who is Maan Hamadeh? Tell me a little more about your family background and life from childhood until present? 
Sumayya, thank you for the great introduction you did. It is a pleasure to be interviewed on your blog as well.Maan Hamadeh from Lebanon, El Shouf grew up in a mountainous village called Baaqline within a small family where he was the youngest among his siblings. He did his high school emphasis in General Sciences and then went to Beirut to continue the Computer Science studies in college.He worked for two years in Lebanon within the field of Computer Science and then moved to Dubai to continue working within his area of expertise. Throughout his life and starting at the age of 4 he started playing the Keyboard which he had the greatest passion for.
2.Do you belong to a musically inclined family?Where did you learn how to play the piano so melodiously?
   No one in our family plays any musical instrument. When i was a kid, my siblings used to have a private music teacher however they did not continue with it. At the age of 4 i requested a keyboard as a gift. When my parents got me one, i started playing it by trial and error and by ear. They decided to get me a private teacher as well and then i learned the basics for one year. I continued afterwards practicing alone until the age of 12 where i also took some private lessons with a teacher. I always did not like to read the scores. I was always passionate about playing a piece of music the way i like and not by reading the scores (notes). So i asked my parents to stop the private lessons and i continued practicing alone and playing any song i hear just "by ear".

3. Do you play for an orchestra? Besides the piano, do you play any other instruments?
   When i was in Lebanon i used to play with a band but not an Orchestra. Besides piano i like the rhythmic instruments but i do not play them as good as the piano or the keyboard.
4. What has been your most memorable performance thus far?
    I don't think any piece I played before can be more memorable than the one i played in Prague Airport.

5. If you could be granted one wish and have any skill or talent in the world, what would it be?
    I am thankful for the talent i have and my wish is to make my talent the only source of living.

6. What are your favourite websites? 
    Whatever website that answers my questions when i need answers from the web! And, thank you for   Youtube :)

7. Where do you see yourself  five years from now? What are your plans for the future?
    This is a great opportunity for me to be sponsored and excel in the music domain to be on higher levels.      There are many ideas in mind, such as recording musical albums and touring the world for concerts.

8. Define success. What does success mean to you?
In the music domain, success is when people talk NOW about a music work you have done 20 years ago and still love it.In general, success for me is when you reach continuous happiness from things you are passionate about and achieve money and time balance ! 

9. You have become an overnight web sensation after the Youtube video of you playing at Prague airport went viral. How does it make you feel as an artist?
Since music is my passion, and i have always wished that i could do something with music that reaches peoples' hearts, i think that this is every artist's dream.

10. Do you teach music? Would you consider teaching music in the future?
   I can teach music, but this is not in my plans yet.

11. They say practice makes perfect. How often do you play the piano? Do you rehearse everyday or do you play as a form of relaxation
    "Practice makes perfect" yes it does! I don't play the piano just to practice, no, piano is my best friend where i translate every thing i feel to music. And therefore it is a great form of relaxation and also a form of relief. 

12.What advise would you give to young aspiring musicians out there?
    Play music and feel happy and when you do, spread the happiness to those around who need it. 

Once again, thank you Maan for agreeing to be interviewed by me . Desert Moon wishes you all the best in your future endeavours!!! This is definitely one of the most inspiring interviews that I have ever done. I am so honoured and proud to have interviewed a man who has made a positive impact globally through his music whilst the world is engulfed in political turmoil and war. Thank you for giving me this opportunity.

Friday, August 22, 2014

No unity, No success

After hearing about the plight of employees working at many Muslim owned companies, I think we should be boycotting these companies first before we decide to tackle Israel..We such a bunch of hypocrites... Many Muslim owned companies function with interest. Whilst the owners of these companies are earning mega bucks the poor employees at ground level are earning meagre non market related salaries. Bribery and corruption is the order of the day in terms of acquiring deals and tenders. I sometimes sit back and sigh with a smile on my face.There are Muslims out there supporting the protests to boycott Israel and boycott Israeli products etc but these same culprits are exploiting their employees. Boycotting this and that makes no difference. The truth of the matter is that the Jews rule and run the global economy. We might as well stop putting our patients at Netcare hospitals as well. After all ain't the major share holders Jewish. The Muslims will always fail because we have no unity. We have thousands of educated graduates but we are too selfish to start up our own hospitals, clinics etc...We too selfish to start up more factories and businesses to create employment. Its all got to stay within the family. The Jews beat us. They have unity. They have organizations in place caring for the elderly, they make sure that every child gets a proper tertiary education. Their elderly is being cared for in specialized old age homes funded by the community...
Muslim communities have no unity. Its all about I want to be better than you. I want to be wealthier than you. I want to have a better car than you.......And then we ask ourselves why are the Muslims being punished all across the globe. We do wrong, we lead our lives contrary to the Quraan and the sunnah and yet we expect Allahs mercy and blessings to fall upon us. We still expect the Muslims to be victorious in the global onslaught we are currently faced with. It ain't happening. Muslims can never and will never attain victory until and unless our own internal affairs are in order. Treat your staff in the same manner as you would treat your family. Win people over into Islam by displaying the character of a Muslim. When you walking in a public space smile. Smiling is a form of sadaqa. Through smiling you can break down the image that the global zionist media has created of Muslims and Islam. I was never a fan of branded clothing especially after visiting the factories where these clothes are manufactured. Some of these factories located in India, Thailand and China utilize child labour. The employees are paid less than one dollar a day. When the clothes return to the USA or France etc a stamp or a logo is attached to the clothing and of course, we , the dumb consumer will pay an exorbitant amount for the garment. I know of Muslim women out there who attended the protest marches in support of Palestine and yet these same women are brand conscious.... We only wear guess, Chanel...etc etc etc. Almost all of the major global brands we have today are linked to Israel.. That is the reality. As Muslims we have failed in creating our own international brands and even when Muslim owned companies do emerge, Muslims will never support that company. We would rather choose to undermine the quality of the product and choose to still buy the same product manufactured by a non Muslim company. We have this warped idea that anything branded or manufactured by a western company is the best and of a far superior quality. That folks is the sad reality of our community....

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Dev travels to Lusaka - Zambia

LUSAKA – Zambia
Update: 12 August 2014

Greetings from Lusaka- it has been a rather hectic 4 days since my arrival here to be involved as Tournament Referee at the Pepsi ICC Africa Div 2 U/19 Cricket World Cup Qualifier.
6 countries are participating ( Sierra Leone did not get the go-ahead because of the Ebola virus issue) – Zambia, Ghana, Tanzania, Rwanda, Swaziland & Mocambique with the winner getting promoted into Div 1.
Over the past three days we have had the matches being played at 3 venues-
Metropolitan Sports Club & Lotus Sports Club are adjacent to each other with the 3rd venue being the Leopard’s Hill Polo & Cricket Club- this venue requires a 40 mins drive from the hotel.
Thus it has been a very hectic three days of cricket for me and trying to move between the venues to see as much of the matches in progress as is possible.
Today has provided a welcome rest day and this afforded us the time to get into one of the malls- although the Manda Hill Mall turned out to be a replica of any South African Mall or Shopping Centre with favourites such as Nando’s, Wimpy, Woolworths, Truworths, Game, Shoprite, Hungry Lion, Spur, Exact, all having a presence- we then popped over to a local craft market which also carried pretty much what our regular beach vendors display to tourists in PE. Still, it was a morning out and did get the match officials to spend some time together in a social environment.
The Southern Sun Ridgeway Hotel is conveniently situated in the city centre region of Lusaka- traffic congestion at certain times seems to now be endemic of major African cities where the development or improvement of roads does not keep pace with the influx of cars on the road.
The hotel has a lovely big pool which has naturally been used by me each morning – the one area outside the rooms and leading to the reception or dining areas has a water feature with some baby crocs present- today I witnessed staff feeding these little animals – overhead the finches were busy going about their seemingly endless task of building immaculate nests to please the vigilant and fussy female!
The cricket itself has delivered a mix of some very good matches as well as some that have ended early with convincing wins for the more fancied countries- at this stage ( after 3 matches) Tanzania and Rwanda have come through unscathed and their clash on Thursday could provide the tournament winner.
The venues have all provided excellent playing conditions and the Leopard’s Hill ground is an exclusive polocrosse as well as cricket club. Pitches have been consistently good and the outfields all even and good paced.
The local organising committee have done an excellent job in putting together a good event and the Africa Cricket Association (ACA) is responsible for the event under the auspices of the ICC.
The weather here in Lusaka has been very good- the chill in the early morning ( it is mid-winter after all) is quickly replaced by warm sunny days with temperatures reaching the high 20’s on each day.
Think that’s about it from here- can here the birds twittering outside and also a good time to enjoy some afternoon tea and then prepare for the matches to be played tomorrow.
As always my hope is that this update finds you in good health and as always I shall await news from wherever you find yourselves.
I am scheduled to return to PE on Sunday but with a rest day scheduled i am hoping that this will be brought forward a day or so.

I remain as always


                                    Welcoming water feature outside the hotel. — in Lusaka, Zambia.

Our driver took us to a mall - the MandaHill Mall- dominated by the typical SA chain stores with the familiar names. — in Lusaka, Zambia.

                                  The unusual design of the MandaHill Mall. — inLusaka, Zambia.

Bumped into the Zambia Cricet Union officials Martin Mutono (2nd from left) ZCU Pres Reuben Chama( 3rd from the right),as well as the RDM of the Africa Cricket Assoc Mr Cassim Suliman ( 2nd from the left.) Umpires Patrick Makumbi & David Odhiambo also in the photo.— in Lusaka, Zambia.

getting to visit a Arts/Craft centre - large variety f goods on display - take home a souvenir of Zambian craft. — in Lusaka, Zambia.

The umpires enjoying the day off after the 1st three days out in the middle. David Odhiambo ( Kenya), Andrew Louw ( Nam) Wynand Louw ( Nam) Patrick Makumbi ( Ugan) Rockie D'Mello ( Ken) Front: Ravi Angara ( Bots) — in Lusaka, Zambia.

Friday, August 8, 2014

The great samoosa run experience

                                                    Picture courtesy

Had a hilarious conversation with a friend of mine residing in Jeddah. He hails from an aristocratic family and is the father of two gorgeous children but is divorced for the last five years now. His family are urging him to settle down again. I was trying to explain to him the concept of the “samoosa run” that we have here in South Africa . He burst out laughing uncontrollably. For those of you who do not know what the samoosa run is, it is a strange way of finding yourself a bride. Usually a third party would initiate the whole thing. The groom’s family would meet at the potential brides home where tea and samoosas are served. The boy and the girl get a chance to interact and chat with each other and if they click on some level they continue chatting until a final decision is made with regards to marriage. In Saudi Arabia marriages are usually arranged with the immediate as well as the extended family playing a significant role. The parents would usually decide who their kids should marry. Usually alliances are formed to keep the wealth in the family or to allow for business expansion. The bride and the groom usually have no say in the matter. Whilst chatting, Abdullah asked me if I’ve ever been through the whole samoosa run experience.
‘Yes, of course I have. But not in the conventional way it should be done.” I replied. My family knows I’m not in favour of the samoosa run experience but I was always told to please be at home at a certain time as we would be expecting visitors. Personally, I did everything opposite to what should have been done lol. Usually the potential bride would come out with a tray of tea that she would serve to the potential groom and his family. My take on this idiotic practice is this, if the tea messes and she is unable to balance the tray with the tea cups she ain’t gonna be a good housewife. If the tea is served immaculately, she passes the test. Lol. As for me I failed the test miserably. 
“ Sarah, won’t you please pour the tea for our guests.” You can imagine what the boy’s family must have been thinking at that point in time. I can never forget some of the funny questions I was asked.
“So tell me, you do work. Do you earn a good salary? How much do you earn? Nice to work but in our house you must be back at five o’clock. You have two hours then to make supper because we eat at seven o clock sharp. Hope you wear headscarf every day. My son won’t tell you anything but me, I like the girls must cover the hair. You dress pretty. I can see that. But if you marry my son, I will make you dress smarter. I will dress you like a doll.”My eyes popped at hearing that statement considering that the lady herself had no sense of style and fashion. There was no concept of colour co-ordination and overall she lacked finesse. Whilst the mother did all the talking, the poor son played the role of being deaf and dumb. He simply smiled acknowledging whatever his mother said with a subtle nod of the head. Needless to say I refused to be in a relationship where I was marrying his mother rather than him. Whilst the mother did all the talking, the father devoured the plate of samoosas with a nice hot cup of tea.
On another occasion I was scrutinized like an object. “She’s not too fair and not too dark so she will suit my son. Oh my word you work. What’s your profession? Oh so you a pharmacist. Do you have your own car. Definitely not a good match for my son. You too independent. My son runs a business and you will dominate him. Thanks a lot for the lovely afternoon. By the way the samoosas were so tasty.”

I’m generally a very outgoing extroverted person and hence in my line of work and through travelling I have met many people. I love making friends and I have no issues if a friend of a friend wants me to meet a potential beau. A few months ago I was introduced to a professional gentleman who is also looking to settle down. Unfortunately he was too serious and stiff for my liking. We met at a coffee shop in a mall and whilst window shopping I was stopped by a family who recognised me from facebook and my blog. So naturally I stopped to chat. Then we stopped at a curio shop selling gimmicky items like masquerade masks and so I had no inhibitions in trying on a mask. It’s all part of having fun. Eventually we landed up at the coffee shop. Placed our orders and continued chatting. His first question shocked me “Tell me on a more serious note. Are you substance abusing?” I choked on my cappuccino and said “What!! Yes I am. I am a peddle pusher by profession.” 
Whilst staring at me with a stern look on his face he said that I was too bubbly, happy and jovial for his liking. The fact that I have huge eyes gave him the impression that I was taking drugs and hence on a high. I could n’t keep a straight face and wanted to burst out laughing at the ridiculous assumptions he made about me in less than an hour. After sipping the last bits of cappuccino we bid each other farewell knowing quite well that we have starkly opposite personalities.
For me , life is a beautiful journey. I spend my entire day being happy and I do love kidding around. I can never be surrounded by serious, unhappy people. The whole concept of the samoosa run just does n’t cut it for me. Whilst it is an opportunity to meet your other half the fact of the matter is that you will never fully know someone by chatting to them over an afternoon cup of tea with piping hot samoosas. Friendships and relationships progress over time. Its takes time to develop love, care and trust for someone. Relationships are not about how dark skinned or light skinned a person is. It is not about how tall or short she is. It is not about what she owns or has or how educated she is. It is all about how two people communicate with each other. If there is love, respect and excellent communication between two people the marriage union will succeed but if the outer appearance is more important than the communication factor, the marriage will land up in divorce. Unfortunately in this day and age, members of my community still seem to miss this point.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Dev travels to Zimbabwe

International cricket match referee, Devdas Govindjee shares his travel experience to Zimbabwe with all the blog readers. Dev was recently in the African country for 4 one day international cricket matches between Zimbabwe and Afghanistan. I was joking with Dev, that he has in fact become a travel correspondent for this blog.I am so blessed to be acquainted with such a wonderful human being who loves to impart and share his knowledge and experiences with the rest of the world. Read on to find out more in his words.

Bulawayo Zimbabwe Wed 23.07.2014

Greetings on another beautiful morning in Southern Africa – it amazes me that I have been in this city for over a week already and that I only have two more days here before the flight back to PE via Johannesburg.
I had trouble getting my previous update through so this time I am not taking any chances so have opted to send this as an attachment in the hope that it shall be read with the same enthusiasm as all previous mails sent out.
Let’s dispense with the cricket part of the trip so far- after all that is the main purpose of my being here in Zimbabwe.
The 1st of 4 One Day Internationals (ODI”s) took place last Thursday with the 2nd one on Sat and yesterday the 3rd was played – all at the historic Queens Sports Club.
Zimbabwe had comfortable wins in the first two match but Afghanistan came back with a vengeance yesterday to record a pulsating win chasing down the required 267 with the 2nd last ball of the match which was hit for a 6 with only one more batsman left to bat.
It was a significant win as one has to bear in mind Zimbabwe has Test playing status whilst Afghanistan are part of what is referred to as an Associate playing nation. Both teams will play in the World Cup in Feb next year which is jointly being hosted by Australia & NZ.
Afghanistan do have ODI status in World Cricket so these matches are fully fledged Internationals.
With the series now still wide open and Afghanistan with an opportunity to level matters, the final ODI tomorrow takes on new significance.
Trust you have survived all of that!
The trip to Zimbabwe has been totally different than my normal cricketing trips- I did mention that I have close family here as well as friends – this has resulted in a flood of invitations to join families for meals or snacks etc – in between all of that and during the free days ( as matches were played on alternate days) Johan Cloete ( my friend and umpire from SA) and I have frequented every coffee shop and most of the restaurants in this city- the close proximity of most places to our hotel makes this possible and where necessary the designated transport has always been there for our convenience- they have however hardly been called into duty because of all the trips we have made with the family members.
Today we are using our transport (with the appointed liaison and security officer) and leave at 9 this morning for Matopos – this is about 30 km away and has much significance for any South African who has an interest in History like I do- it is the final resting place for Cecil John Rhodes who we all know played a significant role in
Southern Africa- his Cape to Cairo vision was a colonial expansionist dream an in the process he not only made contributions in road and rail links but left a lasting legacy in the field of education where even today the now Rhodes-Mandela scholarship is a prestigious one which only the very best of students receive.
Looking forward to visiting Matopos as the rock formations in the region have been well documented over the ages.
Naturally I am excited by the photo opportunities the trip to Matopos shall present and shall use my fb pages to display.
On Monday Johan and I played a round of golf at the Bulawayo Golf Club- the Zim Cricket Union kindly planned this for us- I have not played in a long time so it was a timely reminder that I should get back onto the golf course- not so much for the playing but more for the wonderful opportunity it affords the casual golfer of just walking along the fairways and taking in such healthy fresh air in open countryside. The body did of course take a bit of a beating and required much rest to regain normal functions!
Bulawayo is just so quiet and devoid of traffic and congestion and everything else thjat we normally associate with major African cities – this made the daily presence of our two BMW police cars and the manner in which they blared their sirens and blocked off poor startled pedestrians and the slow driving local commuters was so amusing- but protocol had to be observed and three minutes later we would in any case reach our destination either way!
Until my next update from PE – or it might be from Zambia – I remain
As always

Just Dev

Bond Nyaota & Gary Nyumbu (ZCU) were on hand to meet Johan Cloete and myself at the newly revamped airport in Bulawayo upon our arrival yesterday at noon.— in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.

                                                Nesbitt castle - charming and enchanting

Unusual street lamps seem to be curtsying to the impressive bronze statue of "Father Zimbabwe" Joshua Nkomo in downtown Bulawayo. — in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.

Well Cecil John Rhodes did have a vision of the CtoC - the Cape to Cairo route - at this point it shows the distance to Cairo - this was spotted on our way to the hotel. — in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.

My nephew Dash Vaghmaria played for Matabeleland and Zim B - great to see this pic in the clubhouse at Queens with two legends of the game Wasim Akram & Waqar Younis of Pakistan — in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.

Sikandar Raza recieving the Mand of the Match award at the post match presentations. — at Bulawayo Golf Club.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Inciting hate and violence is not the way of a Muslim

So last night I got unfriended by a well known member of society for commenting on a status that I thought was absolutely ridiculous. The status said that the next time you walk past a Jewish store in Sandton and at ORTIA, you should scream out loud " Heil Hitler" How can any Muslim person on a public platform utter such nonsense and incite hate and animosity between people.Take note that whilst this person is calling out for Muslims in this country to behave like a bunch of idiots, this same person is well connected in Saudi Arabia. The question I posted was this," Why are you not gunning down the Saudi regime for they are the biggest supporters of Zionism being the strongest ally to the USA. Why haven't you called for the Arab nations to send in their troops into Gaza to defend the Palestinians." The person got offended and unfriended me. See the worry in my eyes.

Alhamdulilla here in South Africa we have religious tolerance. We allowed to practice our religions freely. What will you achieve by calling on the public to behave like hooligans. What is happening in Palestine is wrong and unacceptable, but it is equally wrong to display appalling behaviour towards another nation. The Prophet (saw) displayed exemplary behaviour in front of his enemies. You do not win a nation over by hate and slander. You win a nation over by intellect and knowledge. By displaying good character based on the sunnah. I have said this before and I will say it again Muslims will never achieve victory unless we sincerely follow the ways of the Quraan and the sunnah.

Sheikh Abu Muawiya Ismail Kamdar acknowledges this point quite correctly based on the verses of the Quraan.

Theme of Juz Eighteen – The True Believers

The 18th Juz begins with Surah Al-Muminoon, a Makkan Surah detailing the qualities of a true believer. It then shifts to a Madinan Surah, Surah An-Noor which focusing on the laws related to morality, chastity and its link to true faith, and the Juz ends in the middle of Surah Al-Furqaan, a Makkan Surah which focuses on the correct beliefs and ends with the qualities of the true servant of Allah.

In Islam, claiming that you have a pure heart and that you believe is not enough. True faith is coupled with righteous deeds and these lead to victory for the ummah. The current state of the ummah is primarily a result of our lack of morality and righteousness.

In Surah An-Noor, after listing all these important rules and qualities, Allah has promised the following:

“Allah promises those among you who truly believe and do righteous deeds that He will make them the successors (Caliphs) of the earth, like how He made those before them successors (Caliphs), and He will establish for them the religion which they are pleased with, and He will change their state, after one of fear, into one of safety. So worship Me, do not ascribe anyone as partners to Me! And whoever disbelieves after this, they are truly rebellious,” (24:55)

The promise of Allah is true, and this is the only road to victory for the ummah, a return to true faith and its practice.

Surah Al-Muminoon lists the following qualities for the true believers: (23:1-9)
1. Concentration in their Salah
2. Abstaining from things that waste their time
3. Fulfilling their Zakah and social responsibilities
4. Guarding their chastity and honour through marriage
5. Fulfilling their trusts and promises
6. Praying all five Salahs on time properly

Surah An-Noor discusses the following important laws of Islam, the fulfilment of which are necessary for the ummah to attain victory:
1. Avoiding all forms of immorality, be it fornication, adultery or anything that leads to these sins
2. Guarding the honour of others by abstaining from gossip and slander
3. Lowering the gaze and observing the Hijab
4. Observing the etiquettes of privacy in Islam, within one’s own home and when dealing with the homes and lives of others

Surah Al-Furqaan lists the following qualities of the true servants of Ar-Rahmaan: (25:63-76 – 19th Juz)
1. Avoid disputes and maintaining a peaceful demeanour
2. Making Qiyam Al-Layl a habit and a means of connecting with Allah
3. Thinking about the Afterlife and asking for protection from the Hellfire
4. Spending in the way of Allah with moderation
5. Avoid the major sins (Shirk, Zina and Murder) and repenting if already committed in the past
6. Avoiding things that waste one’s time
7. Heeding the reminders of Allah and the message of the Qur’an
8. Praying for the guidance of our families and working towards it

We complain so often about the state of the ummah, but let us introspect and be honest about how many of the above qualities describe who we really are. It is no coincidence that the ummah is in its current state of weakness and fear, at a time when the majority of Muslims have no interest in observing the laws of Allah. Change starts with us, in our own lives and our own homes and it grows from there.

The theme of this Juz is simple: victory and Caliphate will only be given to a generation of true believers and these are the qualities that a true believer needs in order to earn the Help of Allah.