So Far, Yet So Near!

By Zahir K. Dhalla, Toronto, July 11, 2019 

Yes, indeed! Ever since Canadian media guru Marshall McLuhan coined the term “Global Village” in 1964, the world steadily ‘shrank’ as communication technology improved, so that today, getting in touch with anyone anywhere in the world is only a smart phone away!

This warm story begins with an email I received, out of the blue, from one Steve Groombridge of Peterborough, England. It contained this image:


This was among the collection of his father, the senior Groombridge (an ex-Spitfire pilot in World War II), seen on the right, then a station manager. It is a 1958 photo taken inside the fuselage of an East African Airways (EAA) aircraft. In the middle is Everitt, a steward.

Steve was hoping I could help locate the air hostess on the left, Shirin Meghji, and unite her with this image. She is seen in the image holding a live lion cub which was part of the cargo!

Right away, I shared this with my fellow author, S. Giga Patney in the B.C. interior. Inside of seven hours, he had tracked Shirin down in Vancouver, B.C.! It was as if he metaphorically strolled through the streets and alleys of our global village showing around Shirin Meghji’s photo. He also found out that she was originally of Nairobi, Kenya, of the Meghji Ahamed family, and by sheer coincidence, he was related to the family by marriage. So next, I turned to another fellow author, Shariffa Keshavjee, in Nairobi. She too, in a matter of one-to-two days, gathered more info e.g. her full name, Shirin Gulamhusein Meghji Ahamed, and that she resided in a seniors’ care home in North Vancouver, B.C. Shariffa also got her sister-in-law in Vancouver to pass on the image to Shirin. When she saw it in North Vancouver JK (jamat khana), she was just thrilled, and very flattered that someone remembered her after 60 years.

Next, with help from one of the seniors’ committees of our community in Vancouver, I called Shirin, who filled me in on a number of things:

She was born in 1936 (same as Aga Khan IV, only a month apart). She was spotted at a ShirinMeghji.pngsocial gathering in Nairobi, after which EAA approached her with a job offer, on its Nairobi-Aden-Bombay route. She was barely out of her teens (in the photo, she is 21).

Fast forward to the present: she spends time mingling with fellow residents. Evenings, she goes to JK, where she also engages herself in sewa (voluntary service) and reciting Ginans (pious hymns). All this, in her early 80s – and counting!

“I feel most blessed and fortunate”, says a confident Shirin.

Thank you, Steve Groombridge, for your thoughtfulness :-)


Author: ismailimail

Independent, civil society media featuring Ismaili Muslim community, inter and intra faith endeavors, achievements and humanitarian works.

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