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Arif Meghji

Fathers name: Mohamed Meghji

Mothers name: Malek Meghji

Country of Birth:


Year of birth: 1960

Places of Residence:

Arusha, Kampala, Nairobi, Vancouver

Brothers/sisters: Zainul Meghji (Sister)

Studies: Electronics Manufacturing

Profession: Procurement

Prologue & Contents


This true story is about a young boy whose family was uprooted from the homeland of East Africa and how the president of Uganda was overthrown by an African dictator who was a general in the Ugandan army. He basically announced in 1972 that all non-african people were to get out of his country. This story is an emotional set of circumstances that created fear, anger, sorrow and shame in regard to the racist and tumultious affects on a child who simply wanted to have freedom to be the man he always wanted to be, along with the trials and tribulations of his life....from Africa to Canada.


Source of the Nile - Birth

The Serengeti - Wild and Free

East Africa - Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda

The coup - Idi Amin

Escape - Fear & fleeing for freedom

Canada - True North strong and free

Vancouver 1972. A fresh start

Race, Religion and Relationships

Teenage Independence

Fact of life - Survival

Back to basics - Foundation Family Freedom

Trials and Tribulations

Lessons of Life

Anger, Addictions and Advice, I am human

Gifts of Brilliance - Blessings to count

Futuristic vision - Dreams

It is what it is - What you make it to be

--> Life Shifts adversity and serenity

Giving back - Epilogue

Lecture on the 40th anniversary of project UGX:
End chapter 1

Source of the Nile - Birth

In the heart of Africa, the tallest mountain in Africa, Mt. Kilimanjaro's peak juts out over the clouds around the eastern seaboard of Africa. The night is just giving way to dawn as the sun begins orange and pink hues on the horizon. This is a special time, a birth of a boy, on April 3rd 1960, in a small Tanzanian city called Arusha, Arif Mohamed Meghji was born. The beginning of a journey from the heart of Africa into the unknown possibilities of fate and destiny.

Nestled in the foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the small city of Arusha began the morning with the hustle and bustle of the dusty street as vendors, markets and shops began preparing their wares. Although Arusha was a small town not far from other urban trade cities, Arusha's sights and atmosphere of business and trade was good. The other major cities a few hours drive were Moshi and Daresalaam, where I soon would be visiting and taking precious memories of relations and spirits long into my life.

East Africa is bordered by Lake Victoria, which is the source of the river Nile, the longest river in the world. On the east side of the lake bordered Tanzania and Kenya. On the west and North side of the lake, bordered Uganda. These three countries is considered as East Africa, of which our family had many travels. We lived in Kampala, Uganda; Nairobi, Kenya and of course Arusha & Moshi, Tanzania.

There were many trips the families took as I had about seven aunts and half a dozen uncles and trips to the wild life plains had many adventures including the wild animal game farms. The hot tropical areas specially protected from poachers and hunters provided spectacular safari's for visitors from around the world. One of the trips in which we were in a black & white striped Land-Rover, driving slowly through the African plains, we were close-up to elephants, hippo's, giraffes and even rhino's, one of which was irritated by the vehicles and came up to the Land-rover and hit the vehicle making a large rip in the hood of the vehicle with the Rhino horn. These Rhino horns and elephant ivory tusks are worth a lot of money overseas, which is why the poachers were keen on hunting these animals for their precious furs, horns and tusks.

An overall aspect the "jungles of Africa" was that the lands surrounding most of Africa was untouched and literally true nature of the continent, although on the other hand, the continent itself was being devastated by the animals worst
End chapter 2

The Serengeti - Wild & Free

One of the most spectacular scenes in Africa was the Serengeti. This National Park is famous. It was 1913 and great stretches of Africa were still unknown to the white man when Stewart Edward White, an American hunter, set out from Nairobi. Pushing south, he recorded: "We walked for miles over burnt out country... Then I saw the green trees of the river, walked two miles more and found myself in paradise."

He had found Serengeti. In the years since White's excursion under "the high noble arc of the cloudless African sky," Serengeti has come to symbolize paradise to many of us. The Maasai, who had grazed their cattle on the vast grassy plains for millennia had always thought so. To them it was Siringitu - "the place where the land moves on forever."

The Serengeti region encompasses the Serengeti National Park itself, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Maswa Game Reserve, the Loliondo, Grumeti and Ikorongo Controlled Areas and the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. Over 90,000 tourists visit the Park each year.

The Serengeti ecosystem is one of the oldest on earth. The essential features of climate, vegetation and fauna have barely changed in the past million years. Early man himself made an appearance in Olduvai Gorge about two million years ago. Some patterns of life, death, adaptation and migration are as old as the hills themselves.

It is the migration for which Serengeti is perhaps most famous. Over a million wildebeest and about 200,000 zebras flow south from the northern hills to the southern plains for the short rains every October and November, and then swirl west and north after the long rains in April, May and June. So strong is the ancient instinct to move that no drought, gorge or crocodile infested river can hold them back.

These amazing facts and scenes have been hit with various ecological and man-made problems. During those days, the whole area was taken for granted. Our focus from my parents perspective was how to create a safe and stable environment for the family to live in. Looking ahead to which area was the safest, yet providing a path for health, wealth and prosperity. This direction, or path, provided and avenue for our family to move to Kampala, Uganda.

End chapter 3

East Africa - Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda

Although I do not remember much in Tanzania, I do remember our family moving to Kampala, Uganda and we have memories of Kampala, the city with Seven Hills. The main city was flourishing with businesses, city shops, markets and commercial activities. Although, of course many of the suburbs and villages were stricken with poverty and disease, other more wealthy areas were living within more than their means.

Actually, this is no different from western society cities. Good and bad areas are in every country. In East Africa, during those years of late 60's there was a lot of diversity and opportunities, for those that knew people, in the right the right time. Sound familiar?

My father had continued his addition of various Accounting degrees and worked his way up in soon attaining a position in Nairobi, Kenya.

Our new home was massive, set in suburbs of Nairobi. It had a very big lot including a separate building that the caretakers and helpers for cooking and cleaning. The backyard had a lot of trees and flowers, as well as a large outdoor bird cage that was big enough to walk into. There were rabbits, geese and two very big and fluffy dogs that looked more like bears that lived next door and it took a while getting used to them.

One day my parents brought home a puppy and I remember its warmth and energy as it huddled into my arms and was excited to see my sister and I. It was a great to come home from school everyday and help feed him and play with him in the afternoons. One day, puppy Jackie was running across the street and was hit by a slow moving car, luckily he was not run over, was grazed with a very bad cut on his top front leg, I remember the pain I felt for him as well as the sorrow as well as thought how helpless he would be without the care and attention he got.

As time passed, we got word we were moving back to Kampala. Not understanding the reasons, but of course, it had to do with a promotion of fathers work and or relations, in any case, it was soon time to leave. There were moments of similar emotional experience of mixed anger, sadness and frustration of the confusion as to what was in store back again in Kampala. During the last day, we had stopped on the way to the airport to a house in the suburbs, to give away our pet dog Jackie, no longer a puppy, but a beautiful black, well trained adult Labrador. This puppy grew up with me with many playful days, so the sadness was always better after knowing that Jackie would be well loved and cared for in his new home, while we were excited about the airplane trip back to our new home in Kampala!......we had no idea about what was coming with the Idi Amin terror....
End chapter 4

Idi Amin, the Coup

After returning back to the city of the 7 hills, Kampala still felt comfortable. We had moved into an apartment building where I met a couple of friends that also lived in the same building. As boys will be boys, the two brothers and I always got into mischief and we constantly terrorized the security guard, "Askari" known in Swahili, the native African dialect in Kampala, as "police" or "guard". We would be getting into trouble by jumping from one ledge to the other, sometimes as high as three or four floors high. We were playing super hero's or something like that. Once in a while, we would put on our Cowboy outfits and we had plastic toy guns that shot harmless plastic bullets, which we shot at the Askari from hidden ledges up high, broke a couple of windows here and there and so on.

Albeit the fun as adolescents in those times, there were serious things going on, that we were not aware of. I am sure my parents were tuned into it and of course told the story later on, but for me, as a young boy just wanting to play and make friends, I had no idea what to make of the city conditions, crime, politics and overall condition of the standard of living. There was unrest and fear of the stability of the current financial and political status of the country. People were on edge, especially the indigenous Africans that were mostly considered as lower-class because the Europeans and Asians were mainly white-collar and business owners. Africans considered the non-Africans as the higher-class society class and that non-Africans seemed to have most of the money and control. There were some Africans who did have higher positions in companies and many did have excellent education with degrees and abilities, however, in the context of business administration and decisions, money was being made by owners and financial investors, mainly from Europe, North America and Asia....the whites, yellows and browns. The blacks, apparently, from the viewpoint of the majority of the population, viewed it as the non-blacks always seemed to have the upper hand and that Africans were lower-class.

The children, did not really understood the issues, in fact, in my opinion, it is the children, the future of the country, that are going to suffer, this, of course is in hindsight, as it is now and also into the future, which is ironical.

One day, my mother, sister and I were waiting at home from father to arrive home from work and we could see from our third story apartment that the lemon-yellow Peugeot 404 pulled into the driveway as my father turned off the engine and clicked off all the locks and parking brake and started out of the car. As I started toward the front door, I heard some shouting and banging on the door as it swung open and two African men, one with a gun were pushing in and entering our home asking for wallets, money and jewellery! I could not hear and see clearly as my heart was beating wildly and so scared I felt stunned and could not move.

I heard my father yelling "Take everything!, whatever you want! Just don't hurt my children!, please, please"

Then I heard in Swahili from the other man who went downstairs with fathers keys, saying something to the effect "won't start, wont start!". As the man pushed us into a closet and ran back downstairs.

We did not hear anything for a while. The next thing I know, we were alone in the apartment, all four us unharmed, still shaking from the past few minutes of terror. The men seemed to have left, leaving the car and the door wide open. We were glad we were alright and that father had a kill switch installed in the car, so that if anyone tried to steal the car, tit would not start unless they knew where the hidden kill switch was. They took a few things, but we were alive! Whew!

After a few months some strange news arrived that President of Uganda, Milton Obote, was overthrown by the Brigadier General of the African Army, someone by the name of General Idi Amin Dada. The man who was sometimes referred to as the black Hitler. He had a look in his eyes of terror and determination with persistence that the people of the country seemed to be drawn to him. The news and announcement soon was coming.....

End chapter 5

Escape - Freedom and Fear

"This is Africa! This is black Africa. All Africans are black. All non blacks are not African!" Idi Amin Dada 1972

I could not understand the issues and why we were being uprooted and of course not having any clue as to where we were supposed to go it was a terrible feeling. I asked my father to contribute to my story about the last few days in Uganda and here is his excerpt (I tried to keep as much of it in his own words):

LAST 4 DAYS IN UGANDA - by Mohamed Meghji

I was working in a key financial position when I was in Kampala. I did not know that the Military Police were rounding up all people in key positions in town for questioning. There was no reason that could come to mind, although it was clear to me that the Africans could see that the Asians, Europeans and English were in key positions and basically ran the commercialized operations in major cities in Uganda.

During one of my days at work in my office, my office assistant boy came to me and warned me that the Military police were after me.

I was terrified and informed my family of the information. With no hesitation, we decided to flee Uganda at once for our safety. My family and I wanted to stay together wherever we went just in case I was picked up. I informed my personal secretary that I had checked into a private hotel pending to go away. Then I got worried that in case my secretary was picked up by Military Police and tortured for information.

I got word that there were Canadian immigration officials arranging for visa for refugees from Uganda. If the points system indicated we had the appropriate skills, experience in a working profession and passed all the medical exams, we could qualify for the immigration program as refugees. I privately informed the Canadian Embassy that my family and I had decided to take the first plane that was leaving Uganda. The first plane was scheduled to leave Entebbe about 4 days later. I did not know at the time that there were only limited number of people that would get refugee status, nor did I know that there was a secret project being set up called project UGX that had to do with fleeing refugees from Uganda, all I knew that I simply HAD to get immigration papers in order to get boarding passes for that first plane. It would take an incredible amount of legwork and paperwork as well as getting past the current military coup and curfews.

The first task was for me to go to both the schools that my 2 kids were attending and get the certificates of leaving. This would enable my kids to get into the schools in Canada and would not interfere with their education.

During those 4 days we hid in a hotel pending the arrival of the first plane. We were together all the time. We were never to let anyone out of sight of each other. We were really terrified. During the days, we went to pack what we could at our home. During the nights we stayed in the hotel. When we were at home during the last day, our neighbors told us that there was a Military van was in front of our house. They had waited for a while and then went away. If you can imagine the terrifying tension that my whole family went through during those 4 days and nights, the fear, the occasional shots of gunfire in the distance and the anxiety of not knowing what happens next made us shiver.

Finally the day had arrived. The Canadian embassy had hired a special bus to take us from Kampala to the airport. The bus was to avoid all the military check ups on the way. There were about 6 to 7 military checkups. The terminal was closed for us. We were taken to a special hangar which the military had erected for us before our departure. We were allowed to carry cash only $100.00 per family (not per person). All bags were searched by the military police. Any valuables were taken away. All men and women were individually searched. There were people at random that had their paperwork taken away and citizen-ships cancelled. It was the Canadian UGX operation that had arranged a way to get the applicants that passed their immigration point system, passed the medical tests and obtained the Canadian visas, without their help it would not have been as successful as it was. They had arranged a special convoy of vehicles with flags in front of their sleek black pace car followed by buses with Canadian flags. With the manner of pride and freedom that motorcade showed, we passed by all the checkpoints and directly into the airport and these Canadian officials, stayed with us guided us all the way until we boarded the plane and they watched us take off. That was the love, care and attention they HAD to take for us to get away.

When we boarded our plane and when the plane took off, there were people who advised us they were with the Canada Government with a small glass of champagne that each of us received, they announced their welcome to Canada and to our freedom with open arms from Canada. We were happy and were incredibly relieved of all our tension. I noted that the Canadian plane was manned with the special MALE air-hostesses hired by Canada.

We were to land in London or Paris for refueling and then to Montreal, where the Military were to take us to a special army barracks where we were going to get more instructions in our preparations for a new start in the new land, the true north strong and FREE.

We were very sad that we were thrown out of a country, which we treated as our home. All of us were very excited and we were welcomed by a country that we never knew. Thanks to prime minister Trudeau....and Idi Amin.

* Note you can click the video url link at the end of the chapters to view the actual story from the Canadian officials in charge of the operation on the 40th anniversary of the 1972 Ugandan refugee (Operation UGX). The lecture tells an amazing story of how the Canadian immigration and manpower administered the rescue of Ugandan refugees from Kampala and how this was the start of a legacy from the first plane that left the Entebbe tarmac carrying the first refugees of the 6000. It later became a stepping stone of experience for thousands of future immigrants into Canada. This link to the video (1-1/2 hr long show)
End chapter 6

Canada the True North strong and free

At twelve years old, my sister at 17, our first flight on a "jumbo jet" was a long flight but is hard to remember details. Some memories always stood out, for whatever reason. I remember the army barracks, which was somewhere near Montreal, a place called Longue Pointe, Quebec. It had lots of jeeps and military trucks, I do remember seeing a tank amongst the metal buildings, although a lot of dark-green canvas covered certain areas.

There were a lot of people, just like us in the bedding quarters trying to settle in to rest from the big trip to Canada. We were brought jackets, parkas, gloves and other clothing and were directed to the mess-hall, the canteen tent.... There was tea and ham sandwiches which caught a lot of strange looks, because most of the refugees were Muslim and did not eat pork or ham! In actual fact there was a special arrangement from the owner of Marajah restaurant in Halifax that came to teach the cooks in the camp to cook Indian food for us. It was like they arranged in detail how we would feel, and we felt very welcome and with such courtesy, it was a community where we were served. The food choices was a smorgasbord of "thali". It is served in stainless steel trays and round metal containers of various kinds that contained lentil curries, Marsala's (spice curry), potato and vegetable sauces, along with roti or naan bread. There were no utensils, it was customary to use the fingers with bread and rice and eat with the hands. It actually tasted very good indeed.

The next day was a bright, clear autumn day, crisp and cold. I remember seeing my own breath in the cold for the first time in my life. It was fun to crunch the light snow while walking. Snow?! Oh the snow was just lightly scattered and some new flakes of snow in the wind came just as we heard the mega-phone announcer advise that we were all getting together in the main yard as the Canadian Immigration officers were there for the refugees future plans immigrating to Canada.

The officials were questioning each of the refugee families where in Canada they would like to immigrate to and when it cam time for our turn, they asked my father and he looked at the snow, the sky, to us teenage children and finally to my mother, then asked the official:

"What city in Canada is the warmest of all the cities?"

The official said "Vancouver, British Columbia."

"Then, that's perfect, we have relatives there, we would like to go there" said my dad.

Next thing I know, we were on the way further west, all the way to the shores of the Pacific ocean, Vancouver! At many points in our travels, we saw a lot of people watching ice hockey. It was Canada vs. Russia, a series that seemed to have a lot of interest and televisions everywhere had people cheering the country's team, but the Russian's had a very good team as well, this was Canada, truly patriot love.

End chapter 7

Vancouver 1972. A fresh start.

Our first few days in Vancouver was quite interesting as we were assisted by Canadian Immigration department called Manpower that arranged for us a place to stay in downtown Vancouver. The name of the place was called Buchan Hotel. It was not really a Hotel, but more like a heritage apartment dwelling, a well kept multi-level building with aged Mahogany wood frame trimming with solid foundation of stone bricks and mortar. I remember the character home where the four of us shared the small apartment as we started to get settled in. In a few days we had appointments to get directions how to prepare to get jobs for my father, mother and sister, starting with getting us each our Canadian Citizenship and SIN cards.

My father got an Accounting job at the Rembrandt Hotel where during the interview had told the story of the Africa to Canada journey and when asked regarding the job details if he could do the job, he confidently said yes even though he did not and ended up getting the job! My mother got a seamstress job and my sister got a cashiers job at a grocery chain store. My sister and I had registered at schools nearby and we moved for a brief time to a motel on Robson street and then moved to a high-rise apartment building on Cardero Street, right across from Lord Roberts elementary school where I had my first set of friends in Vancouver.

There was an indoor pool in first floor of the apartment building! This was my first introduction to the doggie-paddle as suggested by one of the boys living on another floor of the apartment building. He and I met at the pool from time to time and he was the one that pushed me into the deep end one day and was the day I felt the harsh comments of the color of my skin not being deserved as well as the laughter I heard over the sputtering of wet breathes as I splashed in panic to the side of the pool. It actually felt pretty thrilling that I could at least swim to the side. With a little practice, albeit the coaxing from my pretending-to be friends, I managed to learn to swim and dive off the board as well as the must-have, the cannonball!

My daily routine during the week for school began with the morning breakfast of cereal, toast & tea with eggs and lunch was either a sandwich or $2 which I mostly opted to go the corner store to buy a coca-cola, a doughnut and a few candies instead of buying a normal lunch at the cafeteria. I still had change for the penny-candies which were 2 for 1 penny. He shoots he scores!

The subjects at class seemed to be pretty easy at first as this was grade 7. Back in East Africa, I was at form I, which is equivalent to grade 9 in Canada, however, by age at 13 was supposed to mean I had to be at grade 9 and not in junior high yet. I got to know the lay of the land in a few weeks. There were areas of the playground that were meant for certain circles of students and others were for the sport fanatics, who always seemed to have some ball game going, basketball, football, baseball, something new, called tether-ball. This ball game had the ball tethered to a rope with was connected to the top of a pole and the ball was hit one way around, hard enough for the other player to try to hit it back around to you as hard he he could. Sometimes two players on each side made it more challenging. It was fun and you had to "earn" your way into the game.

I also noticed there were quite a few boys that would gather around the newspaper shack that was near the school and they had paper routes, earning money delivering newspapers. I wanted to also have money so I got a job as a paper carrier for the Vancouver Sun, and got a start at the very same shack. This should be a piece of cake I thought, pretty easy dropping off papers at the front door of a few houses for a few minutes work a day. A few things I did not know about. The Vancouver Sun was the thickest and heaviest news paper in the city. Friday and Saturday papers were even thicker and heavier. The other thing I did not know, it was not just a few newspapers to deliver, it was a couple hundred! To find that many addresses and not knowing the city, I prodded ahead, a skinny brown kid struggling along the city towers with two very heavy newspaper sacks straining the weight as I tried to make out the differences of the addresses and signs. At one point I decided I was getting lost and could not carry the heavy sacks anymore and decided to leave the bags at the lobby and just take a handful of papers and go up and drop some off and come back and get the bags after.

In coming back I could not locate where I left the bags and actually got more confused running from lobby to lobby to find the sacks and eventually gave up, went home with tears rolling down my cheeks saying that I lost the newspapers and could not finish the route. I remember later the shack supervisor and I found the sacks at the address on my list in backtracking and finished the rest of the route. Amazingly there were only a few customers who were upset at getting their newspapers hours late, but there were even more very surprised customers who were happy to see free news papers being delivered to them even though they never ordered them. It was obvious to me at the time, that it did not matter to me what the addresses were on my list, I simply gave everybody papers on my route because it would be quicker to get rid of them that way!

Let's move to South Vancouver!
End chapter 8

Race, Religion and Relationships

Soon after finishing grade 7, the family moved to an apartment building in south Vancouver which also meant that my school would be changed to the nearest one to our home, so it was time to begin another adventure. It seems now that those times go so fast, along with the great memories and emotional spot-welds that reunite our true selves, coming from-the-heart so to speak. Some of the strongest emotions for me came from the lack of understanding why the color of my skin being brown and distinctly "different" that white skinned. The experience developed over time starting with utterances of "paki" or "punjab" forcing me to simply look down and walk away, as a skinny brown boy by myself was no match for these big boys.

One day, walking home from school, carrying my text books and bag with what I thought was a good day in Drafting, where I answered a few key questions correctly, with well received compliments from the teacher, of which my pride was of course engaged. Nearing the street which was close to my home, I noticed a boy following closer and closer to me and seemed to have been following me. He had bright blond hair and was about my size but had a frustrated look about his face. Suddenly, he hurried close to me, kicked my on my behind and then dropped back a little. I grabbed my books and started running forward away from him and he ran up behind me and kicked me again, but much harder. Trying to protect my books and satchel, I was afraid of him taking them or hurting me, I didn't know what to do or say, but yelled, this is my house here! I will call my parents, you get out of here, I will get you!

After hearing this and seeing me run into a yard a close the front gate, he ran off yelling "you paki, you paki, dont think you are so smart. It was then clear to me that this boy was in the drafting class in which I was and that now, I know and will remember his face. I began wondering if this Canada was after all a better place than Africa, because, there the black-skinned people were supposed to "own" the land and in Canada some people really hated non-whites for some reason or the other. Ironically the same racism that we had to escape in Africa was here as well, although only in certain circles of people and where they were from.

In the 1970's, there were many instances in the news that racism is a hot topic and people were generally stereo-typing others and that we were to open our eyes and hearts to respect people of all skin and cultures. In began to shape into acceptance and gradually respectfully although sometimes challenging, the fight for quality began to take shape.

By 1973 or 1974, we had moved once again to another area of the city, called Richmond. The land was actually reclaimed from the sea and is technically considered as such, an island, which also had the international airport at the western side. This was the same airport we had landed as refugees a few years back. I had to settle into junior-high school, had to make new friends, hopefully none that would kick my behind as I walked home from school! It was a nice area, where our townhouse in a place called "Mariners' Village", they had an indoor pool a hot tub and certain playground areas. A short drive away the schools and we learned how to use the bus system and began to explore the new freedom that Independence or purpose in our lives.

The things I know I took for granted now, were not readily recognized by me at the time, I would soon find out that the same racial culture that I thought I saw were only personal to me and did not see that there was much more to it than that. In order to survive, everyone needed to have an advantage. Any advantage to succeed, to be better, the best, or even the most powerful. It became that it didn't matter which race or color, it was which group, or what type of club or gang you belonged to, that determined the value of you as a person in this teenage Independence along with the tough choices we are about to make.
End chapter 9

Teenage Independence

The public school system had a good system in place and I learned to fit in, however, there were several students who seemed to stick together, others in various groups of age, ethnicities as well as certain trend-setters depending on musical interest or clothing outfits that they wore, seemingly to show their colors or pecking orders. This of course what the true school system for the students, not just the way the school boards operated.

It was just about time at the age of 16 that we were able to get drivers licences to legally drive and of course I needed to keep up the pace of trying to be cool with the world so I had to get a licence and a car. In those days it was much easier to get a licence, you simply had to take a written test along with eye-checkup and then a drivers test, within two weeks you could be driving. The thrill of being behind the wheel and having the freedom to drive anywhere with friends was a rush. I remember taking the driving test at that time and everything was going well, including the changing of lanes, parallel parking, reversing and we were heading back to the drivers licence office with my instructor in the passenger seat, marking his clipboard to pretty much give me a passing grade, we were turning left at a traffic light, waiting for the passing drivers to go before turning, the traffic light turns yellow and I proceeded into the turn and noticed the instructor marking an "x" on the clipboard while he said too bad you turned on a red light, so you failed!

That did not stop me as a few days later I went to a different drivers licence office and took the tests and passed no problem. I had eyes ion a car that I could afford, a rather large Dodge Polara, big enough to fit 6 teenagers in the car aloing with 4 more in the trunk for those Friday night drive-in escapades to the rear of the theater where the tail-gate parties and fun began to warm up. After all, those that had a car could go places and my circle of friends expanded because of that. My beast-looking car cost $650 at that time, it was a pig on gas, but it provided an avenue of adventure and of course, speeding tickets along the way. I knew I soon had to change vehicles as a driver and cook for a local pizza restaurant offered me a job but I needed a smaller car to use for deliveries. I quit my job as a gas attendant earning $3.75 an hour to preparing pizzas and lasagnas as well as take-out deliveries which provided additional cash from tips that in some nights was very good and my spending habits began to change.....shoot from the hip, ask no questions, see what happens!

End chapter 10

Fact of life - Survival

The mid-seventies had one of the most moving influences to young teenagers, generating the change was nothing physical, nothing animate, it was music. Music was the fuel to freedom in many aspects. The generation-x moved in tune so to speak with the disco era, the rap, break-dances, R&B, soul, blues and the club scenes were hot with dance beats and rhythms.

We had moved to a strata facility which was technically below sea level, on an island, on reclaimed land from the sea, part of the many areas around the Vancouver mainland was surrounded by the water. Richmond had a dike surrounding the island and on many occasions the junior high students would slide out of boring subjects from school early to spend afternoons having a good time. Or, they would head to the beach, soccer fields or basketball courts. I remember specifically noticing the different ranges of ethnic groups seemed to cluster and do "their thing" and some had different attitude or chemistry around them.

The good thing about living in a strata was that there were always neighbours and some who went to the same school so although most of the time I walked alone to and from school, there were the occasions when we would cross paths sooner or later again so one day, I had the courage to a guy who near school was in a station wagon in the driver seat, engine idling, had large 1970's sunglasses on and a lit cigarette hanging from his lips.

"Hey man nice car, you look cool with those glasses, mind if I ask you a question?"

I asked why there were so many different people from different skin colour and religions and why some were seeming to hate each other or congregated in groups that constantly challenged each other in fights or something.Just at that time, three or four students jumped into the station wagon and the driver said

"It's a pecking order of some sort, get in!"

I didn't have time to think and just got in. This was my first 'cruising' and listened and learned, that having a car and hanging out with cool kids was the only way to survive this so called pecking order, which was not violent or gang-related but more like an set of attitudes and how one deals with or carries himself as well as having a group to belong to and get into trouble with together. My timing happen to be perfect, it was Friday afternoon and we were going to the dyke, along with some beers, a ghetto blaster that boomed bassy Funk and R&B....which attracted attention...the pecking order begins.

Days on weeks passed by with sort of mini adventures of learning about various activities after school and weekends, usually sports that competed with other high schools especially within their own region, which was a rivalry of sorts. Incidentally sometime between junior high school to senior high, we had moved to a different area of Richmond, so the friends I had went to a differnt senior high than I did, although we stayed in a touch a bit, however, I had to realign my "pecking order" group to the other side of the battle so to speak.

One day, I was walking home after school and passed through a soccer field where some brown boys practicing soccer shooting at an empty net when a ball came flying towards me, with quick reaction, I caught the ball high over my head and threw if back to the players. One of them shouted

"Good catch mate! You wanna play, we need a goalie" He had a Fijian accent or strong Indian accent, but a touch of British

"Uh no man, I don't know how to play really" I yelled back.

"You'll never learn until you try, question is do you want to?" said a different young, quite thin and short man, who skillfully used his feet to kick the ball up in the air, from foot to foot, then to thigh, up to a few headers, then let the ball drop and side-footed a wicked shot toward the empty goal, which went top-corner.

With that, there was no way I was going to turn away, with at risk of seeming a weakling I shouted back

"Nice shot Pele, I'll give it a try if y'all buying beers after practice?!"

With that, in a short few months, I practiced with the new found friends and played quite a few games against other teams. I had picked up the game very quickly and became a very good goalie for my size and height, but was accrobatic and agile in handling the ball, therefore, began my initiation to a new group of east Indian, Fijian, Punjabi and east African group of friends.

The association that began many soccer tournaments in various parts of the north-west. Along the travels, oh, yes, there was homework and school subjects as usual, fortunatley for me, I was a B average in most of my subjects, although I skipped out many social studies, math and english subjects, I excelled in chemistry, drafting, mechanics, electronics and yes, PE....which also had a soccer team that I had enrolled in had taken a life of its own and during the summers, our team was in a soccer leauge, in some cases more thn one, so we played a lot of games. Sometimes the entire day or weekends were spent of soccer fields and friends, families & supporters were often sitting picnic blankets, coolers and ghetto-blasters played awesome dance tunes which really captured the fun in the sun.

In one specific tournament, we had a played the semi-final and won the match, after a penalty shot was awarded to the other team but I had made a game tie save and put the ball over the bar with a fast dive to the top left of the net. We had squeaked by with a 1-0 win against a very tough team, that were knocked out....our win took us to San Francisco, where the final match for the cup was to played a week later.

The man on our team who scored our goal and I shared the same birthday were walking up to a shady tree where a couple girls were sitting on a blanket having a beer, gave us a couple of compliments about our win and offered us a beer. We looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders and said sure. It was black and white, a new adventure was begining. We had cheerleaders. There were fundraisers that were being arranged for the trip and there was a dance that the team had arranged for a night coming up so within a few minutes, we both had dates for the event. Ironically, the music that was playing in the girls ghetto blaster, was a mix that I recorded during one of my side jobs as a DJ. Over the years I had hundreds of records and tapes and remembered carrying the rental amp and speakers along with the heavy milk-crates of records. Ironically, parents always told me that but it didn't make sense, I wanted to do my own thing and music, soccer, clubs and hanging out with my people is all I wanted to do.

The night had come and I had a beat up little Datsun station-wagon, but great tape-deck, amplifier and speakers, booming the Disco-pop, we were on the way to pick up the girls, not sure which girl would pick which one of us as theirs, although we didnt care either way, there was a twinkle in the eye of one of them that I secretly wanted to be with....but that is the tip of a much bigger ice berg. My Datsun was patched with bodywork half sanded and had fat tires on the back, a Let's Boogie! front licence plate and red and green lights inside the floorbed, people would know it was me coming from a mile away. Here some Let's Boogie! I was on the way in becoming Stellar Sound, DJ dance services!
End chapter 11

Back to Basics - Foundation and Family

It is the beginning of the 80's and the music turning from disco and R&B, Rock and Pop made the radio airwaves filled with grooves that were usually much anticipated, much more amplified and bassey at the clubs. The club was one of the getaway or escape for the generation born in early 60's that teenage life and paths with multiple forks in terms of direction that we take that sets the path of life for us.

End chapter 12