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Kantibhai and Jayaben

Sobhag Haria, a visionary philanthropist

Me the writer Nisha Hiten Shah, daughter of Kanti Punja Haria have the privilege of writing this on behalf of my Fathers and Jayaben’s Family. I currently live in Mumbai, INDIA.

Sobhag Raichand Haria, we fondly call you Sobhag Kaka. The immediate words that come to my mind as I take your name are ‘a lot of energy and a great depth of knowledge’ and an. Extraordinary personality defying the myth that “Good looks don’t go with Great brains”.

I don’t remember when I first saw you as I was a kid, but my father clearly remembers. My father Kanti Punja Haria, your first cousin, clearly remembers the first meeting. It was in the year December 1965, when you had come to India on your Boarding/school trip and he was in Mumbai, struggling to start his life here. He had come to meet you at Shivaji Park. Although you were a teenager, about 15 year of age, but you had an amazing personality.

Jaya Faiba, Jaya ben Chandulal Gada was the first person from our second generation to visit Kenya. It was in 1972-73 when she was in Kenya for about 13 months. She has very pleasant memories of time spent in Nairobi with you and other members. She was straight from our native village Kajurada, but she was welcomed very warmly by all. She considers herself very lucky that she got a good chance to learn contemporary trends and techniques of Afro -British good life. And it was possible only because of very warm and welcoming people there

She remembers how you would take her around to visit people and places and made her feel extra comfortable. You also wished that she would get married and settled there, but destiny had something better for her in form of Chandu fua.

She still rejoices memories of her one and the only foreign travel so far.

My earliest memory about you is of my early childhood when you visited our house in Goregaon. Before leaving, you gave some money to my father and we bought a TV set. For us, the TV set was our proud possession. Having a TV at one’s home was a very big sense of honour in those days. Then next year when you visited us we bought our refrigerator. They were not mere gadgets; they were giving us the sense that our quality of life was upgraded. Only a person in our shoes would understand it. This routine continued for some years and every time you visited us; we had a step higher in our lives. For you, it may have been a small gesture of help, but for us, it would always be a life-changing act.

Unfortunately, somehow the link was broken, and we lost your contact. Time flew fast very fast and in the year 1991 when I was to get married , It was on January 20th or 21st when I was getting ready for the Mehendi, there was a commotion in the house, there was a phone call from London. It was your call to wish us for my wedding. On my one request of attending my wedding you actually fulfilled my wish and were here, the very next day. It was the biggest surprise you gave us.

Till date you have continued and made it sure that you attend each wedding in the family inIndia

All these years, you were our NRI Kaka who would always bring cool gifts, but only after your visit during my wedding, we started knowing you better and deeper. Now you visit us more often and for longer period of time and we would talk more and our respect for you would grow even stronger. The routine still continues.

My parents, Lakshmi and Kanti Punja Haria, who never had any time to think of their own likes and wishes were overwhelmed when they were invited by You to visit the UK. They had not even dreamt of visiting Europe. But it became a reality because of you. Jaya Faiba and Chandu fua were invited too. Chandu fua was very eager to visit UK. But because of other family priorities, they could not make it. Fua regretted it till the end.

For my parents, you not only invited them to the UK but took detailed care of their each little. requirement. It was only because of your efforts that their UK and Schengen visa were approved.You made them feel so comfortable and gave them a lot of honour in front of all our UK family.

You made it sure that they could visit each of our family and friend in London. The Europe tour has been the best journey they ever had. You had also taken Chandra faiba and Jayanti fua on the tour along with my parent’s my father Kanti bhai was extra lucky to celebrate his milestone

50th birthday in Switzerland. You made it even more special by distributing drinks and delicacies to all tour members that day. It was his best celebrated birthday ever. On returning to London you also organized another party to honour my parents. It wasn’t any ordinary party, it was ‘The Boat Party on the River Thames ‘ It was a heavenly feeling for my. parents. You also arranged as many cakes for each co-tourist who had Birthday during the tour time and celebrated their Birthday as well. The Indian music played during the party still echoes in my mother’s ears. She remembers the Thursday party and many other occasions. when you and your friends met and had fun in all possible ways These were not just fun moments, but they also learnt many new ideas and thoughts of good life during their long stay with you. We are so thankful to you for taking such good care of them and giving them some best days of their lives It’s actually very difficult to express in words.

My parents were the first among their respective siblings to visit Europe. You took intricate care in arranging their memories in London in form of photo albums where you yourself arranged each picture in proper chronological order. We all also toured through those pictures. The albums are treasured by us and we all visit and revisit Europe through them.

Pintu, my sister’s in laws, Mohan bhai and Mani ben Bid, who are also your second cousin also visited and stayed with you in London for a couple of weeks along with their vevai and vevan, Zaverchand bhai

You were an extremely caring and warm host to them. You guided and made their Europe visa little easier. Also, you took extra care when Zaverchand bhai was down with Malaria. It was only with your efforts that he got proper treatment and care.

The more we met and interacted, the more we got to know about different sides of your personality. Your passion for knowledge, Indian culture, healthy routine for fitness have been very inspiring and it motivates us to implement some discipline in our life.

As Sonu and Dipesh say that they enjoy long discussions with you. They have mixed feelings of pride and sometimes chills when they hear your life stories. They were awestruck to see how traditionally Vrush’s wedding was organized. In spite of living in India, they have not had chance to experience such traditions followed in this great details. They are very impressed by your perfections in each work

Youngsters have a special place in your mind. You want them to be hardworking and focused.

You take a lot of care to see that “they get their deserved opportunity so that they can rise to the fullest and make their lives more meaningful”. You have helped many by providing them with laptops, smartphones to ease their education. These are just few of the many efforts that you have taken apart from funding their education. You have taken extra effort to promote Indian culture and ideology of Indian leaders in the west by organising special exhibitions and theme gatherings, publishing and distributing books. This is a very rare gesture

Family bonding is very precious for you. The family tree created by you is the perfect example of it. One cannot even imagine the amount of research and hard effort that would have gone into it. The money put into it is totally another aspect.

You always take care that our family in Mumbai comes together at least once in a year through your fun-filled parties. We all got a chance to have a great time with great food, music and a lot of dance . It actually de-stresses us and has played a vital role in keeping us united.

Your surprises never end. Each surprise is bigger than the previous. In the year 2014, you announced Vrush’s wedding and gave an open invitation to each one whoever wished, could attend the wedding in London. This was a totally unbelievable invite,
An all-expense-paid tour to London, Scotland and most of the beautiful cities of Europe.!! Whoever heard of this announcement was in Awe of your commitment. The lucky nine members of our family got the opportunity to be the part of the grand wedding and an exotic Europe tour. You took care of each and every requirement of the Mafia just as it is your basic nature. We heard endless numbers of stories of their wonderful experience of over 40 days. The kind of care you took of them each and every day was just beyond praise. You are so great yet so grounded.

You felt that people of West should get to come closer to the people of East, and you organized the ‘West meets East’ trips to Lonavla, Alibaug and then Damman.

These trips have a special place in our life. For most of us, a 5-star resort is only to be seen in pictures but because of you we got the chance of spending some best days of our lives in 5-star resorts, not once but twice. This has been possible only and only because of you. You also made sure that each of us enjoy the trip to the fullest, we all were hesitant to indulge in

adventure activities but you actually forced each of us to explore and experience them. We had amazing fun at Go kart parasailing, banana boat rides for the first time in our life.

It is because of you that most of us had many of our “First time in life “experiences. On a serious note, you are too concerned about the wrong roads some of our misguided youth are taking. You have been doing a lot of work to help them to come out of it. You have been encouraging them and their families to come up and speak about their issues and seek help.

This is a social work of totally another level. When talking about it is considered by people a taboo, you have taken them out of the misconception. You have that inborn or maybe an acquired talent of reading people’s mind as you can easily know what a person is going through or needs and you are always there to help and guide them.

You are a very successful businessman, but you didn’t stop there. You have also helped and guided others to start and sustain their businesses, as you believe in not rising alone but also take others up. You are not only a good educator but also a great learner. You keep learning from each and every possible source that comes across.

You are a great friend. You have friends across all ages as you know to change your mental age with time and situations. You have taught us to open up our minds to share our ideas and our resources. It would have been incomplete without talking about Anju khaki. She silently and with immense patience supports you in each of your endeavours. She is the moon which reflects your light quietly, calmly and very soothingly.

Even if 1% of the people of the world would adopt your ideology, how wonderful the world would be!

Your words,

“Let me know if you need anything” are not just mere words, they are a huge support to us, they give us a lot of confidence to move ahead in our lives.

We all members of Punja Vidha Haria (our grandfather) family wish you a very good health and a very long life.

We thank God for giving us ‘You ‘ in our lives! Please accept a bow from us.

Thank you.

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