Photo of the Day: From Magnolias on Tree #049 at the Aga Khan Park in Toronto to Cherry Blossoms at the Ismaili Jamatkhana and Centre in Vancouver

By MALIK MERCHANT
(Publisher-Editor, BarakahSimerg and Simergphotos)

Tree 49 at Aga Khan Park Simergphotos Malik Merchant
Magnolia flowers on tree #049 at Toronto’s Aga Khan Park, behind the Ismaili Centre building. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simergphotos.

I have travelled from Ontario to Vancouver to pay my respects to my mother, “mummy” as I would fondly call her, who passed away on January 21, 2021 at the age of 89 — the same age my beloved dad (“papa”) died on May 27, 2018. Mummy passed away suddenly — she was admitted to the hospital very early on the morning of January 21 and died 16 hours later. I could not attend her funeral and watched it on-line on February 4. So, as you can imagine, I am deeply emotional to be here at this time. I have to be also very careful about Covid-19 pandemic which is showing signs of a third wave in Canada.

There is a tremendous amount of work still to be done while I am here to close up matters, so to say, related to my mum and dad. My sister-in-law, Shellina, spent a lot of time organizing my mum’s belongings, and this has made my task easier. With all the contacts I have established before arriving here, I think I should be able to pack and move the family’s belongings which are mainly books, books and more books. Among the most important are their handwritten waezes (sermons). My parents would pen down their complete sermons in Gujarati and English before their delivery in Jamatkhanas. My mum, believe it or not, would deliver it as written, word by word! My dad, not so. Due to their relocations during their lifetime of service, several of their books of waezes delivered in Africa are missing.

Sermons delivered by Mr. and Mrs. Merchant
My parents prepared well for their waezes. They wrote them down before delivering them in Jamatkhanas. Shown in this image are pages from my dad’s (left) and mum’s waezes. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simergphotos.
Life of Jehangir
The original poster “Life of Jehangir” painstakingly collected and prepared by my mum as a tribute to her loving husband. Regrettably, the poster was damaged recently after she passed away. Photo: Jehangir Merchant Family Collection.

I am happy to be at my mum’s home, and I plan to visit the cemetery in the next few days to reflect on her great life, and to pray for her and my dad, not forgetting their friends as well as all other ruhanis (deceased individuals) who have left this world. As I entered her home, I see the beautiful poster “Life of Jehangir” that she prepared out of love for my dad.

I feel the emptiness in my mum’s unit but she would not wish me to be sad and gloomy. I uplift myself. I remember her daily favourite question, “what did you publish today?”, and I would reply, “But mummy I published something just yesterday, please give me a break.” So this kind of sincere questioning, would motivate me to get working on a new post sooner than I had planned. So here I am with a new post, after having published two since my arrival here. My mum’s high work rate of me keeps me on the go.

Nurin and Mrs. Merchant
My daughter Nurin sleeps peacefully in the arms of her dadi (grandmother) “Mrs. Merchant” shortly after her birth at Ottawa’s Civic Hospital. Photo: Jehangir Merchant Family Collection.

Wow, what a lucky week for me. Firstly, I found the photo shown above upon my arrival in Vancouver of my daughter Nurin in the arms of my mum.

Then, a week ago, just before my scheduled departure from Toronto on Sunday April 11th, I received an email from Air Canada telling me the flight was almost full, and that if I wished I could fly out within 3 days of the original departure date without extra costs. I rang Air Canada immediately, and a very kind agent confirmed the validity of the email. He then offered me a flight on Tuesday, April 13th, that appeared to be lightly booked. Yes, it turned out to be a flight of luxury. No one around me, plenty of room to stretch legs and I was free of Covid-19 anxiety! I had already taken the AstraZeneca vaccine 19 days earlier.

Upon landing in Vancouver after a very comfortable 4.5 hour flight, I was met with incredible weather. It has been warm and sunny ever since. Close to my mum’s place is the beautiful Burnaby Mountain Conservation Park, with a magnificent Japanese Garden containing native Japanese sculptures by famed Ainu Japanese artist Nuburi Toko. The theme of the sculptors is “Playground of the gods,” and it is a gift to Burnaby from its Japanese twin city of Kushiro.

“Playground of the gods” sculpted by renowned Japanese native artist Nuburi Toko; the sculptures are a gift to the city of Burnaby from its Japanese twin city of Kushiro. April 16, 2021. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simergphotos.

There are also incredible views of the snow covered Coast Mountains, especially those towering above the ocean inlet. This is also a beautiful season to watch the plentiful Cherry Blossoms all around the park, with other magnificent trees such as the Weeping Willow tree. I visited the park on both April 16 and 17 after grabbing a bite on Simon Fraser University’s High Street pharmacy and grocery store Nesters Market that makes delicious sandwiches, extra large muffins as well as serves fresh coffee. I picked up a box of my favourite Ataulfo mangoes for the special price of $8.99.

Cherry Blossoms at parking area of the Ismaili Jamatkhana and Centre Vancouver, with a view of the Jamatkhana façade. April 17, 2021. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simergphotos.

After the mountain walk and picture taking on April 17, I visited Bruno Freschi’s masterful building, the Vancouver Ismaili Jamatkhana and Centre, the first high profile Ismaili building in North America, and the second in the world after the Ismaili Centre in London, England. At the Jamatkhana compounds, I met a Japanese gardener with his wife who confirmed the two beautiful flowering trees that impressed me the most: The Cherry Blossom, that I had already photographed at the Burnaby Mountain, and the Japonica, a shrub that is underestimated for its beauty.

Burnaby Mountain Park Weeping Willow Simergphotos Malik Merchant
A Weeping Willow tree at the Burnaby Mountain Park. April 16, 2021. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simergphotos.

So please enjoy the photos scattered in this post, until my mum asks me again, “what did you publish today?” I beg my mum to continue motivating me, and she will, Inshallah, for the rest of my life. My dad wouldn’t tolerate my typos but I will eventually correct them. I thank my parents for their love and affection for the entire family. May their souls rest in peace. Ameen.

Ismaili Jamatkhana and Centre Vancouver

A Cherry Blossom by the main car driveway entrance of the Ismaili Jamatkhana and Centre Vancouver. April 17, 2021. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simergphotos.
Cherry Blossoms at the Ismaili Jamatkhana and Centre Vancouver. April 17, 2021. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simergphotos.

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The fountain (no running water yet), the courtyard and the facade of the Ismaili Jamatkhana and Centre Vancouver. April 17, 2021. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simergphotos.

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The beautiful Pieris Japonica at the Ismaili Jamatkhana and Centre Vancouver. April 17, 2021. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simergphotos.

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Some of the domes of the Ismaili Jamatkhana and Centre Vancouver, designed by Bruno Freschi. The building was inaugurated in September 1985 by Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, and the Prime Minister of Canada, Brian Mulroney. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simergphotos.

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A view of the Ismaili Jamatkhana and Centre Vancouver from a street pavement outside the Jamatkhana compounds. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simergphotos.

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A Cherry Blossom in front of one of the main windows at the side of the Ismaili Jamatkhana and Centre Vancouver. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simergphotos.

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Burnaby Mountain Park

Cherry Blossoms at Burnaby Mountain Park.
Visitors to Burnaby Mountain Park enjoy the shade provided by the beautiful Cherry Blossom trees. April 16, 2021. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simergphotos.

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A view from the Burnaby Mountain Park of the ocean inlet and snow covered peaks of Coastal Mountains. April 16, 2021. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simergphotos.

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A plaque at Burnaby Mountain Park featuring details about the Trans Canada Recreational Trail that passes through the park. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simergphotos.

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Cherry Blossoms at Burnaby Mountain Park. April 17, 2021. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simergphotos.

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A close-up of a series of native Japanese sculptures with the theme of “Playground of the gods” at the Burnaby Mountain Park, with a jet flying over under clear blue skies. April 16, 2021. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simergphotos.

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A view from Burnaby Mountain Park of downtown Vancouver, straight ahead in the distant. April 17, 2021. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simergphotos.

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A view from Burnaby Mountain Park of sunset in Vancouver. April 18, 2021. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simergphotos.
A nigh time view of Cherry Blossoms at Burnaby Mountain Park, illuminated by a nearby spotlight. April 18, 2021. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simergphotos.

Date posted: April 18, 2021.
Last updated: April 20, 2021 (typos).

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