SF Bay Area Community Leader Tashie Zaheer Honored
By Abdus Sattar Ghazali

The South Asian community held a colorful cultural event on December 5, 2014 to honor the services of Tashie Zaheer, a distinguished and prominent community leader. The event, held at the Chandni Restaurant Fremont/Newark, attracted a large crowd of Tashie' friends and well-wishers, from far and near.

The multi-colored program included a thrilling performance by an acclaimed Kathak dancer Farah Yasmeen Shaikh and musical renditions by prominent Bay Area singers. A host of speakers paid rich tributes to Tashie's services to the community in various fields. His most visible community service seems to be the Urdu Academy of North America's regular monthly literary sessions at the Chandni Restaurant which are attended by 60 to 100 people but the speakers unveiled his other leadership qualities.

The speakers included Dr Agha Seed, President of American Muslim Alliance; Corelia Camacho (CEO Tap Reality), Dena Lawless (Strategy Business Consultant), Imran Jaffar (CEO Total Wealth Solution), and Summan Dhamija (banker).

Other speakers were: Ali Hasan Cemendtaur, Jafar Shah, Abdus Sattar Ghazali, Nagesh Avadhani, Khalid Rana, M. Naazir Khan, Falak Singh, Neelofer Khan and Amar Zaheer. Arshad Rashid was MC of the program.

Many speakers recalled their first encounter with Tashie and how his help and guidance led to success in their life and excellence in profession. And how he inspired the people. John Quincy Adams, the 8th US President once said,  “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” For Brian Moran, leadership consultant, at least four traits are required for a leadership role: Character, Credibility, Integrity and Vision.  Perhaps Tashie has all these qualities that attracted a large crowd of his admirers and got rich tribute from the speakers hailing from different walks of life.

His wife, Naheed Zaheer, ended the string of speakers with her reflections on their 39-year relationship. "To me, Tashie’s life is much like his poetry.  He is a humanitarian  and his respect for human relations, adhering to traditions and values, and his deep compassion for people, is a gift, a value deeply ingrained in him," she said adding, Tashie has this gift of spreading love and peace around him; he has this innate ability and a deep desire to console the hurt souls. Recently, Professor Abdul Jabbar Sahib introduced Tashie as a “Community Healer,” at the Kamran Educational Foundation fund raiser.  

Musical Renditions: Tashie Zaheer is the founding President of the Urdu Academy of North America. He is a well-known poet with one published Diwaan (anthology of poetry) Shaam Kii Ahat.

The musical renditions of the event were dedicated to his poetry singing. Among those who presented Tashie's popular ghazals were: Syed Sarwat, Tina Mann, Talat Khan, Nagesh Avadhany, Atiya Hai and Almas Shabwani.

Interestingly Tashie had composed musical tunes for his ghazals. Ali Shahab Uddin on keyboard and the young Mr Singh on tabla provided superb support to the singers. Vijey was on the sound system.

Earlier Khalid Rana, the spirit behind the colorful and vibrant program, welcomed the guests on behalf of the Bay Area South Asian Community. A plaque was presented to Tashie Zaheer on behalf of the Community to acknowledge his services. The Bay Area Cricket Alliance (BACA) also presented a plaque. Abrar Ahmed, Iftekhar Khan and Yasir Farooqui of the BACA presented the plaque.

Tashie Zaheer, in his concluding remarks, thanked all the guests for sparing some of their precious time to grace the occasion. He particularly thanked Syed Sarwat, the owner of Chandni Restaurant, and Muzna Sarwat for their services to the community and taking personal interest in this event. He also thanked Sameera Sarwat who arranged the beautiful decoration of the stage.

Tashie Zaheer also thanked Amjad Noorani and Najma Noorani for arranging the fascinating Kathak dance of their beloved daughter Farah. He also thanked Farah to perform despite her clashing commitment.

The program, which began at around 8.00 pm, continued till 1.45 am.

Kathak dance: Kathak dancer-choreographer Farah Yasmeen Shaikh, stole the show with her breathtaking performance. She transported her audience to the 16th century Mughal India with her performance of “The Twentieth Wife,” the acclaimed novel by Indian American writer Indu Sundaresan. Fara's 45-minute Kathak rendition brought to life the epic story of Mehrunnisa, famously known as Noor Jahan, the wife of India’s Mughal emperor Jahangir. While playing several characters, both masculine and feminine, Farah transformed herself into the embodiment of the struggles and triumphs Mehrunnisa faced during her life, before she became the Mughal Empress of India. The dancer was accompanied by Salar Nader on tabla, Ben Kunin on sarod and Pankaj Mishra on sarangi.

Based in the Bay Area, Farah is one of the best-known soloists in the Kathak tradition, which has an ancient and rich history of storytelling through dance.She spent nearly two decades training under her guru, the renowned Pandit Chitresh Das. In 1998 she joined the Chitresh Das Dance Company and toured internationally. Later, she began her current successful career as a soloist. She is the recipient of numerous awards for her exceptional performances.



Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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