A sister website of www.simerg.com and www.barakah.com, this website's emphasis is on expressions in art, culture, faith, travel, sport, food, heritage and exploration of the world in all its aspects through photos and videos taken by Ismaili Muslims as well as friends of the Ismaili community
Beautiful and Scenic Calgary: The Greatest City in Canada, and One of Top Five in the World!
By MALIK MERCHANT
It was not in my wildest dreams to move to Calgary at my current age but after my dad Jehangir died 4 years ago, I had hoped that my mum “Mrs Merchant” would be able to relocate to Toronto and be closer to me as well as the remainder of her family. Alas, that unfortunately — and very sadly — did not materialize, and with the health challenges she was facing it was felt that a move to Calgary to the Multi Generation Care facility would be her best option, and that I would stay at an independent seniors facility nearby. How could she live in isolation all by herself? But Covid-19 came along and my mum’s move was put on hold. Then, all of a sudden, she had Covid-19 and passed away in early 2021 on the same day she was admitted to a hospital. Meanwhile, my application at the seniors building where I had planned to stay close to my mum remained active, and when a vacant unit was offered to me later in autumn 2021, I decided to accept it. I moved to Calgary in January 2022, having taken all my challenges into consideration, about which I hope to write one day!
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I have lived in more than a dozen cities around the world, so this move to Calgary was kind-of another challenge, and another hurdle to overcome. The start of a new life from scratch can be daunting but I have always kept one Farman (guidance) of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, from the mid 1960’s in mind. It used to be read in Jamatkhanas in Gujarati in the 1980’s and 90’s and, paraphrased, it says: “Faith (Iman) will give you the courage (himat, shakti) to begin life anew (navin sharuat) even a hundred times if need be”. So with that in mind, and of course the fact that Mawlana Hazar Imam’s blessings are with each one of his murids (followers, or “spiritual children,” as he addresses them) ALL THE TIME and every second of our lives, I boldly and courageously moved here.
I had visited Calgary on 3 or 4 previous occasions and never thought of the city that much other than it was located close to the Rocky Mountains and that it hosted the wildly popular and world renowned Calgary Stampede during the beginning of July. So that’s the impression I came here with. In Toronto, the Aga Khan Park and the Museum on Wynford Drive were virtually my 2nd-home. I also visited other parks and gardens close to me and around Toronto, and published several photos pieces in this blog. With Calgary, my main thought was about driving to Banff on a regular basis, and that would be my inspiration. But NO, that has not been necessary as Calgary offers wonderful parks all around the city.
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The view of the Rockies from Calgary on any sunny day is spectacular. The sunrise and sunsets that take place in the city are different for scientific reasons. The multi-cultural aspect of this city, the number of ethnic communities and restaurants as well as shops is phenomenal. The art scene in the city is astonishing, with plenty of fascinating murals. The malls (Market, Chinook, North Hill Centre, and CrossIron) are superb, and Yorkdale in Toronto in comparison doesn’t come close to anyone of them. Yes! One feels one is walking on a boulevard.
Health care is very efficient, and Alberta Health Care and its physicians as well as health care workers are all high tech driven — the electronic reminders of forthcoming appointments as well as follow ups are impressive. What else? I would propose that you read — and this is from a report published only recently — why Calgary has been named the 3rd best city in the world, overtaking both Vancouver and Toronto which are also appear in the top ten list.
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I am forgetting a couple of things! Just as Halifax is the Donair capital of Canada, I wondered whether Calgary was the Car Wash capital of the country. Wow, there are countless of them throughout the city offering car wash options at very competitive prices. But then, Calgary is the also the windiest cities I have ever lived in. So all that sand blows onto your washed car, necessitating another trip to the car wash within 3-4 days.
What about its people? I have found Calgary to be a very people friendly place. Ninety per cent of the time, I get a nod and a smile when I am walking along the pathways of the city’s incredible parks. And during my encounters with the wonderful residents who live here, I have realized how much Nahid Nenshi — the first Muslim mayor in Canada, who like me, is a follower of His Highness the Aga Khan — is still respected and loved by everyone, and also well known outside Alberta. Indeed, I encountered two BC residents during my walk on River Park a fortnight ago after the heavy rains we had. They were being shown by a local resident a marker on a pole that indicated the level the river waters had risen to during the 2013 floods. Just as they took his leave, the visitors told him, “In Nenshi you had the best mayor in the world. How is his successor?” The response, “We will give her [Jyot Gondek] a chance!”
That then ends my story, and leads you to the remainder of the photographs. I hope you enjoy them.
Date posted: June 26, 2022.
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Before departing this website, please review our Home Page for links to our fantastic photo essays. We welcome feedback/letters from our readers. Please use the LEAVE A REPLY box which appears below. Please share this article link with your friends and family members. Please also visit this blog’s sister websites Simerg for Insights from Around the World and Barakah for pieces on His Highness the Aga Khan, members of his family and the Ismaili Imamat. To reach the editor, please write to Malik at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Malik Merchant is the founding publisher and editor of Simergphotos (2012) as well as its two sister websites Simerg (2009) and Barakah (2007). An IT consultant for 40 years in the UK, USA and Canada, he now engages in small family related projects and is passionate about his websites. His interest for literature and community publications began in his childhood years through the work of his late parents Jehangir (d. May 2017, aged 89) and Malek Merchant (d. January 2021, also 89), who both devoted their lives to the service of the Ismaili community, its institutions and the Imam-of-the-Time, His Highness the Aga Khan, as missionaries and religious education teachers. In the UK, Malik edited the flagship Ismaili magazine, ILM, with his father. The internet encouraged him to launch his first website, Simerg, in 2009. A resident of Ontario since 1983, he relocated to Alberta in January 2022. He has an animal loving daughter Dr. Nurin Merchant; she is a vet and practices in Ontario. Malik can be contacted by email at email@example.com. He can also be reached — and followed — @twitter and @facebook.