The Ninth PANA Reunion, Minneapolis, MN, USA – 25 June 2011
PANA Reunion 2011 – A Memorable Memoir
By Adil Baloch, 7993/Ayub
Someone, somewhere wrote and I remembered to the extent that I can modify it and still make some sense out of it, as follows:
Enter to grow in wisdom and depart to serve better thy countr(y)(ies) and thy kind.
I did enter to grow in wisdom in 1979, Raza Bhai in 1973, Aziz Bhai in 1969, Mansoor and Kamal in 1989 and 1988 respectively. Where all of us are in life today, gives us the advantage to prove the point that something along the lines of wisdom and growth might have happened along the way.
Throw in a weekend in Shakopee, MN and it becomes almost impossible to keep that argument alive.
UNTIL, we all sit around a fire pit and realize that we have been walking too long so let’s bring our steps in-synch, like we did every step of the way back when we were going through the process of growing in wisdom. This is how far I’m gonna go with the intellectual gibrish. Stay tuned for more from the elders of the community on what this means for us – Petarians who call North America, Home.
On the insistence of one, maybe two, Liaquatians (you find them everywhere, huh!!) DC area Petarians decided to hop on the 6:00 am flight to Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN Friday morning. What that meant was to try and catch as much sleep as possible, so as to not feel the pain of starting the scramble at around 4:00 am Friday morning. We decided to gather at Mansoor’s place the night before because his house is closest to the airport, which means we get a little more time to sleep.
Most of us got to Mansoor’s that Thursday night. Shahbaz Malik, who is visiting from Pakistan these days joined us as well that night. Well, the only person who went to bed that night was Khursheed Bhai and that too at 2:00 am, old age you know. The rest………………I slept through the flight, just so you get the picture.
We got in to the town of the reunion, with BIG plans so we went straight to the nearest IHOP grabbed a bite, went straight to Anwer Kalim Bhai’s Super 8 and slept until late afternoon.
Since the “BINGE” some of us are on these days has to do with diet and exercise, we all went to Rehan’s gym after we woke up while making a quick stop for a snack on our way over, that afternoon.
Next event to follow was the BAR BQ at Rehan Subhan, 7968/LQ’s house. I would like to have praised the perfect Chicken Tikkas, but Rehan being a ’79er has made it very easy for me. All I am going to say is that REHAN IS NOT ONLY A GOOD HOST BUT A GOOD COOK AS WELL.
After dinner, we got together around the bonfire in Rehan’s backyard in a relatively cold Minnesota night for some Kulfi/Faluda and quite a few rounds of hot tea (I lost count). Aziz Bhai, ’69/LF joined us late that eve after he was picked up from the airport by Faisal who brought him straight to Rehan’s house from the airport. It was not until the usual sneaking in and out and nervous back and forth between the bonfire spot and the GHQ was noticed amongst some senior Petarians that we decided to call it a night so everyone could sleep indoors.
Many thanks to Mona Bhabi and Aunty for such a nice party. It was a blast and completely out of this world. Rehan: you already got your complements multiple times, but here it goes one more time: Tussee Cute Ho!!
We all got together the next morning at a park that was very strategically placed, at a walking distance, from Super 8. Registration desk was very professionally manned. An attractive registration packet that included a t-shirt, a mouse pad, a coffee mug all inscribed with the reunion logo and a CCP tie was given to all the participants.
Even before everyone registered, the Petarvi jokes were in full swing indicating that the growth of wisdom had stopped abruptly.
We all then proceeded to the wide open grassy field to re-live the memories of yester years when we were all in our early and mid teens.
We had a volley ball and a soccer match. I am a humble person, so I am going to say that both the games were a tie although Aziz Bhai might have a different interpretation of these results.
The point that we really should take from the two games is this, in my opinion:
Razaullah Nasir Bhai and Rauf Chaudhry Bhai played both the games with their sons. At one point, when Raza Bhai was standing outside the volleyball court I asked him to come back in because we needed the “Khadda” back in it’s place, he pointed towards Haider (his son) and said, “my son is covering for me now”. I don’t think that leaves any doubt that PANA has evolved into a family and not only our’s (Petarians) steps should be in-synch but our next generations should pretty much be on board as well.
A great “admiral’s feast” to include Shawarma, Hummus, Greek Salad, Pita Breads, Saffron Rice, Baklava and much more was then served to be followed by hot tea which we obviously ate and drank a lot of.
It was then time for some fun for the big bosses. A very competitive musical chair competition took place. Rifaquat Bhai played the music. Mrs. Shahnaz Cheema and Sidra Cheema were among the first ones to go out……………….Rifaquat Bhai, I hope you got your bed back by now? I’m not sure who the winner was, but the amount of energy and fun that was generated by this activity did not need any prizes or any recognitions.
The musical chair for the Petarians was littered with elbows, knees, jumping, pushing and shoving……………………need I say more.
We then had some serious discussions around future PANA reunions. We were amazed at the level of interest shown by Petarian ladies on who should arrange the reunions in the future. Mrs. Petarians were asking for the opportunity to organize future reunions before their husbands. I can see a lot of good things happening in the future reunions.
Please wait for a separate note, not from me, on the outcome of that discussion.
It was, then, time for us to disburse only to reconvene for the grandest of the fusion/ghazal musical evening with the above average food quality and quantity to enjoy.
I am, once again, going to hold off on the different messages sent by different personalities related to Petaro and Petarians. All I would like to say here that the food and hot tea coupled with the fusion (classical plus rock plus pop) music and some awesome Mehdi Hassan, Jagjeet and Ghulam Ali ghazals certainly raised the bar to a higher level this time, yet again.
We all got together the next morning on the patio of Super 8 to enjoy some Halwa Poori that was being cooked right there in front of us. That cooking in itself was something to remember as it brought back memories from times far away for some of us.
Overall, it was one of the best reunions that I have been to. Thank you to all the organizers! Let me make Charles Dickens a little sick in the stomach here:
It was the best of times, it was the best of times!!
I have tried to not mention any names as much as possible so you can get the story behind the names from the pictures and videos put together by the one very talented Petarian.
Please stay tuned for some serious stuff on PANA’s future from the elders of the community.
I am your proud Petarian!
Long Live Petarians and the Petarian Brotherhood!!
Reader’s Digest Version of the Reunion 2011
By Rifaquat Cheema, 722/L
I have just arrived home from one of the best organized Petarian reunions and from the company of some of the most dedicated Petarians for example, the dedication of Aftab Baloch who drove from Toronto, Ontario, Canada and Dr. Rauf Choudhry, who drove 24 hours with his four children from New Jersey. Abdul Aziz came all the way from Saudi Arabia. The dedication award went to Razaullah Nasir, who re-scheduled his dialysis at 5 AM Friday so he could rest for a few hours before driving to the reunion.
I strongly believe none of us travelled such long distances just for food or a music program, but to be in the company of fellow Petarians, which has its own special charm. Most of us arrived on Friday the 24th and checked into the same motel. As that motel was owned by a fellow Petarian brother, we all felt like the owners for a couple of days. The lobby was like an ante-room, always a group having gup shup, with fruit and snacks to share. The lobby was the camping area at all times; a sign in the lobby reading “Quiet Area from 10:00 PM to 6:00 AM” was first covered and then removed, so other guests wouldn’t complain. Thanks go to management for excellent cooperation in accommodating us. Since we were all together for a few days, we had ample time to enjoy each other’s company, as well as time for some serious brain-storming (I will return to this at the end).
Rehan was the host for Friday evening, with a BBQ at his house. As the weather wasn’t warm enough for mosquitoes to scare us, after dinner we stayed outside and sat around a bonfire, with kulfi, chai, and serious discussion about the PANA mission. Nothing was agreed upon, until everyone provided their input on the departing day at Halwa Puri breakfast. Even though the host team planned everything well, it was a daunting task to keep everyone on schedule.
Continental breakfast was not our priority, knowing that bagels, donuts, and sweets would be available at the park. We all arrived in the park between 11:00 and 11:30 AM. After registration we each received reunion t-shirts, which we all appreciated and used as a second layer to protect against unexpected cold weather. Petarians from Southern USA, particularly Dallas, had to borrow jackets. A photo session was held, and volleyball teams were formed. Younger Petarians were hesitant to join the senior Petarians’ team, fearing the humiliation of defeat. However, experience prevailed, and the senior team won. Abdul Aziz (young at heart) joined the young Petarians’ team, and was the target of every ball (khuddha). Thanks Aziz, for helping our team win.
Lunch pulled us away, actually the Ladies commanded us to eat while the food was warm. The food was excellent; the Middle-Eastern menu was perfect for everyone’s taste. There was enough food for a group twice our size (lack of dedication on the part of those who didn’t show up). After lunch, we had enough energy for a round of soccer, a real test of physical fitness. The proposal of a smaller field, and rotating players in and out was floated around, but eventually killed. The end result was a 1-1 draw, but the winners and losers were quite obvious.
Thankfully, food was available throughout the day so everyone could keep their energy up. The musical chairs competition was entertaining with teenage girls pushing Aunties to grab a vacant chair. Eventually, Dr. Najeeb’s daughter occupied the last chair, and won first prize. To get even, the ladies wanted to see the competition among Petarians. Our real competitive spirit returned and nobody was moving until the next chair was available. Efforts to win at any cost were made, but in the spirit of reunion, cheating was ignored.
The evening’s musical program was scheduled for 6:00 PM, so we had to leave and get ready. There was just enough time to take a shower and get ready, but some of us tried much need qailula, and came back with a few aches and pains. We arrived at this beautiful community center as a group, and could not resist a quick tour of the facilities. I wish that more Petarians could have attended the musical program, as you enjoy it much more in a larger setting. The fusion band played a few songs for the younger generation. The children enjoyed that but during dinner, decided to leave the Mehfel-e-Ghazal for adults.
After Maghrib prayers, messages from the Principal CCP and the President of Pakistan, which were sent for this occasion, were read. The PANA coordinator, Shahid Mian Bhai, expressed his views and gave us until the next morning to come up with action items before we left. Petarians with dedication were recognized and awards were given for their commitments.
During the Ghazal program, I found out the Petarians have a real interest in poetry and Adab. I have met Great Khan a few times, but I never knew that he has memorized Dewan-e-Ghalib. I was impressed. We collectively thanked the organizing committee for a job well done, announced the next two locations for the reunion, and folded flags to be delivered to Khalid Khan in Toronto to arrange the next reunion. After Canada, the flags with be handed over to the D.C. group for a reunion in Maryland. Adil Baloch will coordinate that one. My wife wanted to bring it to Chicago, so she does not have to travel, but the dedication of the D.C. group won it.
Even though we had to leave the community center by midnight, the lobby at the motel was used to brainstorm for the next step in PANA evolution. We had many ideas and eventually agreed to make PANA a legal entity by registering it. It will be registered as PANA (Petarian Alumni of North America) in the state of Maryland. Registering it as an Alumni body will help in the next step when we change it to a non-profit entity.
Under PANA, we will have six regional chapters/groups: Northeast, Midwest, South, West, East Canada, and West Canada. Bylaws will be written and sent out for comments before registration. We understand that PANA will not be a NGO that solves all of the world’s problems. However, it should have some financial resources to help fellow Petarian related issues in North America. A committee of elders will be formed to monitor and decide where and how to spend that fund. The committee will have at least one member from each chapter, with a maximum of 9 members total. All Petarians in North American are encouraged to register with a registration fee of $10 per month, or one payment of $100 per year. An account will be opened, and all donations will be divided into 3 categories: General Membership Fund, Zakat Fund, and Sadaqa Fund. Proper bookkeeping will be maintained by the Treasurer, for all of these funds. The Treasurer will maintain an extremely transparent log of all activities.
I am writing this on the drive back home, so consider this a rough draft. All input is welcome before registration.