The Eighth PANA Reunion, Mississauga, ON, USA – 26 June 2010
PANA Reunion 2010 – Mississauga, ON, Canada
by Ishrat Hasan, 7110/Latif
There could have been no better place for an informal gathering of Petarians than the beautiful Erindale Park in Mississauga. The park is a small valley in the middle of the city with beautiful huge grassy playgrounds and the Credit River flowing through the valley.
After a long search and many weekends of driving through Mississauga and adjacent cities, the reunion organizing team selected this location last year. A place like this has to be booked at least six to eight months in advance.
On the day of the reunion, the organizing team members were there by 9:00 AM to make arrangements, decorations and layout. The tables were covered with Petaro flag colours of red and two shades of blue. The banners, flags of Petaro, Pakistan and Canada added colour to the place.
The guests started arriving on dot at 10:30. Aftab Ali Baloch(8511/Iqbal), Shaharyar Jami Ansari (7111/Iqbal) and Abdul Rauf Chaudhry Bhai (6974/Liaquat) were amongst the first guests to arrive. By around 11:30 most of the guests were there. They were served with the warm welcome of Petarians and hot Tim Hortons coffee. Tim Hortons is the symbolic brand name for coffee in Canada same as Starbucks in US or Pathan ki Doodh Patti in Pakistan. As the Petarians and their families kept coming in, the enthusiasm of Petarians kept going up. Meeting old friends after a long time or giving face to a name on the talk group meant a lot for all. One word kept coming up from everywhere and that was Bhaijan. This word means everything in the Petarian spirit of respect for elders, love for youngsters and brotherhood for all. We were fortunate that Sir Iqbal Haider, Physics teacher in Petaro from 1962 to 1968 joined us in the reunion. He is now retired and lives in Cambridge, a small city about 50km from Mississauga. Although he was in Petaro for only 6 years and left 42 years ago, he still had Petaro so dear to his heart that he accepted the invitation to be there.
Our original program was to have some sports events in the morning pre-lunch session and stress out the bulging bellies of Petarians. Cricket bat and soccer ball could not come out of the covers due to heavy down pour and everyone stayed under the shed. As we can say that “Barish nay sharam rakh lee” but it also provided extra time to the Petarians to talk, network and recall the good old times. I will not do justice to this report by not mentioning the ladies, who were equally active and participating. After seeing each other in last 7 reunions, most of them know each other very well and had a lot to catch up since they last met. However, the rain was not able to restrict the children in the shed. The beautiful grassy field was inviting enough for the children to go out and play soccer, cricket or simply run in the rain and get soaking wet.
After zuhr prayers the lunch was served at around 2:00 PM. It was already a little late and the stomach was crying for food. A Petarian Syed Sajid Hashmi (69122/Qasim) is the Sales Director in a popular Pizza chain and Hashmi Bhai has been sponsoring pizza for the Petarians since we started these gathering. Warm and tasty pizza was served to the children. The food was catered through a locally famous Pakistani chef and was simply excellent. The pulao, quorma, chicken roast, veggie curry and other side dishes were very delicious. No complaints were heard from anyone; in fact quite a few appreciated the food, the taste, the quantity and variety and above all the setting. Lunch was followed by tasty baklava from Michigan, kheer and cake. The cake was to celebrate the 24th wedding anniversary of Shoaib Alam (N-55/Iqbal) and his wife Shehla which falls on 26th June.
We started the formal part of the occasion after lunch with tilawat of Surah Ma’un and translation by Abbas, son of Rauf Chaudhry Bhai (6974/Liaquat). In the words of welcome, on behalf of the organizing committee I thanked all the Petarians who attended. Special thanks to those who came from places like Tennessee, Dallas, Atlanta, Wisconsin, Maryland, To extend the message to all Petarians, the surah reminds us to remember the day of judgment, treat the orphans with love, urge to feed the poor, remember the prayers and not to withhold the necessities of life. In order to act on the message of the holy book we need an organized effort and a platform. Petarian forums provide us that platform and our collective efforts to help the victim of natural calamities or to help individual Petarians or otherwise is following the teachings of Quran. May Allah bless those who step forward to actively support those in need.
All Petarians introduced themselves and their families. It was a relaxed and fun-filled activity. Interesting remarks were heard from many as the introductions went on and everyone enjoyed the comments. We had a large number of prizes that were given out through lucky draw. There were 6 boxed prizes for Petarians, 8 bags of 10 lbs rice sponsored by Falak rice, 4 special prizes for the Petarian wives, pizza coupons and gift bags for all the children. Thanks to the Petarian Association in Karachi, who arranged and sent polo shirts for the participants with Petaro logo. Certificates of recognition and thanks were given out to Ilyas Dhami Bhai 217/Latif for being the senior most Petarian in the gathering, Kashif Khan of 9998/Liaquat being the junior most and Rifaquat Cheema Bhai (722/Liaquat) for attending all eight reunions so far.
In the closing comments, Abrar Mani (7181/Ayub) thanked the participants, read a letter of invitation from Shahid Mian Bhai (666/Iqbal) who will be the host for the reunion in 2011 to be held in Minnesota on Saturday Jun 25. Rifaquat Bhai (722/Liaquat) spoke on behalf of Shahid Bhai endorsing the 2011 offer. Abrar thanked his team for making the event successful. We ended the formal part of the day with a group picture at the end. Some Petarians left at that point while others stayed back to continue more gup shup.
It was a simple ceremony, no formalities and equal participation from all. The smiles on the face of the Petarians, the relaxed and ever chatting ladies and above all happy mood of children was the take away from another memorable event of PANA. The efforts of the organizing team was commendable. Special thanks to the following who spared their time to attend several meetings on the weekends to plan the event, Fahed (7942/Qasim) who travelled almost 100 kms to Mississauga many times to attend these meeting and Abrar’s wife who cooked delicious breakfast for the committee meeting attendees.
Abrar Mani (7181/Ayub) – PANA Coordinator
Ishrat Hasan (7110/Latif) – Event Organizer
Javed Khan (7405/Iqbal) and Nasir Awan (7739/Ayub) – Food
Fahed Riaz (7942/Qasim) and Khalid Qasim Malik (7561/Jinnah) – Invitations
Ikram Ghani (7236/Qasim), Sohail Gul Mirjat (8344/Liaquat) and Yaqoob Raja (8208/Liaquat) – Day planning, set up, funds collection, registration, clean up etc
Those who attended this gathering
In total 47 Petarians attended, with house wise distribution of
Liaquat – 16
Iqbal – 10
Ayub – 9
Qasim – 6
Latif – 3
Jinnah – 3
Batch wise distribution was,
and sole representations.