Salman Ahmad and Desihungama in the San Francisco Bay Area
By Ras H. Siddiqui

Pakistanis, Indians, old “Junoonis” along with their young and restless kids, all made their presence felt at the Desihungama 2012 gala Eid Show on August 25th bringing the very worthy cause of the Salman & Samina Global Wellness Initiative (SSGWI) complete with Sufi rock music and glittering South Asian fashions to the San Francisco Bay area at Chandni Restaurant in Newark, California. The event was produced/organized by area luminary Rizwan Elahie (aka Rizzi) who had been working hard at putting Desihungama 2012 together for the past couple of months along with his co-producer wife Zilehuma Elahi. Creative director and choreographer Farah Ghatala and catwalk choreographer Pooja Kaur added their finishing touches to the event, a joint Pakistani-Indian effort.

Emcee for the evening was Ausaf Masud and event formalities were kicked off with a raffle of an I-Pad. Next, Dr. Samina Ahmed took the opportunity to introduce everyone to the SSGWI with a short speech and a video introduction and slides of the work of this New York-registered organization. SSGWI believes in the “Apni Madad Aap” (Self Help assistance through Peace, Jobs and Education) and is currently zeroed in on two main projects of which one is a school in Mansehra and the other a village in Sindh province by the name of Suleman Mallah that it has adopted. Villages in the province impacted by recent floods and acute poverty certainly need help.

Samina believes in that Nike slogan “Just Do It”. She said that social work in the households that she grew up in was very much expected and that she pursued medicine as a profession and worked at hospitals in both Lahore and Karachi. On the challenges faced by doctors practicing in Pakistan, Samina said, “I think that God was just making me stronger day by day.” Having two children in the same hospital bed and making decisions on which one to save first was not easy. She said that Salman’s success with Junoon just became a plus when they decided to try and help the community. She said that when one partner (Salman) is making money, the other partner (Samina herself) should give back. She said that Salman and she also used art and culture to promote interfaith dialogue after they moved to the United States in year 2002. She said that in post- 9/11 America they have tried to improve the image of both Muslims and Pakistan. She said that in 2008 SSGWI was started and used the umbrella slogan of “Pakistan Hai Hamara” and the acronym A.R.T. or Aman-Rozi-Taleem. She also mentioned the team of qualified individuals that currently helps SSGWI and thanked partners and sponsors both in the US and in Pakistan whose valued support has been instrumental in helping to continue their work.

The entertainment segment of the evening was kicked off by Chinu Shera and Aminder Singh dancing to the haunting beat of “Mashallah, Mashallah” from one of the latest Bollywood movies starring Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif called “Ek Tha Tiger”. It was followed by a superb fashion show featuring local designers Ambreen Zehra, Maria Shah and Sonali. A round of congratulations for all the models is in order here for a job very well done. The stage lighting, sound and catwalk co-ordination was also professionally done.

Salman Ahmad with his guitar came to the stage along with Samir Chatterjee on tabla to close the formal show. Salman is soon to star in a Bollywood film and has even been invited to India to play music for the PM’s birthday. He praised the message of the film “Ek Tha Tiger” for better understanding and peace between India and Pakistan. The superior musicians that they are, Salman and Samir presented a fine bouquet of songs including (just to name a few) Junoon favorites Sayonee, Yaaron Yehi Dosti Hai, Bulleya, Jazba-e- Junoon, a wonderful medley of Saeen and an encore presentation of the Punjabi “Yaar Bina”. Salman also took the opportunity to thank the local Pakistani and Indian media for their support.

In conclusion, special words of thanks are in order for Lisa Ahmad of Mirchi Restaurant for holding a private fundraising brunch for SSGWI at her home earlier in the day. Event sponsors along with Lisa were Naeem Wahab, Zulki Khan, Dr. Hamesh Kumar, Naeem Akram and Paul Singh. And finally one has to acknowledge Rizwan Elahi who proved once again that some Desis are prone to doing fine work and really know how to celebrate Eid in style!

(Readers can visit http://ssgwi.org/ to find out more on Salman and Samina’s efforts and to contact them if they want to hold fundraisers in their cities for this great cause)

 

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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