Of course, the “best ever” is our labelling having lived in the city for a long time! If you live in Ottawa/Gatineau or are visiting the region, please drive to Gatineau Park or take the special free shuttle from downtown Ottawa. You shouldn’t miss this glorious show of nature at its most colourful! Weather forecast to Monday, October 21, 2019 — splendid!
Its beyond fall colours! This park has so much of the natural world to offer, and should be in everyone’s bucket list. My daughter and I had limited time and made the most effective use of the 15 hours we had which included around 6 hours of driving time from and back to Ottawa. With time management, and inspiration from youth anything is possible! If you are in Ontario and close to the Park, make it this week — even for a day!
On July 16, 1969, astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins were strapped into their Apollo spacecraft on top of the vast Saturn V rocket and were propelled into orbit in just over 11 minutes. Four days later, Armstrong and Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on the lunar surface. We have for our readers a magnificent collection of photos from humankind’s single greatest technological achievement…PHOTO ESSAY
“I encourage everyone to travel and visit the forest, for they are amazing…there will be fewer and fewer in the future. That’s what I say to myself when I take every photograph…In my photographs, I let the animals and trees speak for themselves and hope other people will see the beauty I see.”– Prince Hussain Aga Khan
Wondering where to go for your holidays this summer! To follow up on Prince Hussain Aga Khan’s quote, I have a fantastic destination in mind for families as well as youth. My dad and I have just received a heart-warming photo of the first newborn baby bison spotted in Yellowstone this spring. The photo at top of this post was taken by Jim Futter, a long time supporter of the Park. Yellowstone is the only place in the U.S. where wild bison have lived continuously since prehistoric times, so everyone at Yellowstone as well as friends of the park around the world love seeing new calves carry on that legacy. Yellowstone is the world’s very first national park.
I highly recommend Yellowstone and its beautiful neighbour, Grand Teton National Park, as week long family safari destinations that would also include 2-3 days in beautiful Salt Lake City and Park City, which hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics. Parents, children and youth will be amazed, thrilled and excited with the complete natural environment they will experience during their trip — marvellous mountains, an amazing and picturesque salt lake, incredible geysers and volcanic activity, lakes, rivers, wildlife — including wolves, grizzly bears, and herds of bisons — green forests as well as burnt out forests from the fire of 1988, breathtaking canyons and much much more! The trip will also be highly educational, as there is so much one learns by being in Yellowstone.
Great Salt Lake and Antelope Island at dusk. Photo was taken from the Buffalo Point lookout and picnic area. Photo: Nurin Merchant. Copyright.
Yellowstone’s accommodation and restaurants situated next to the Old Faithful Geyser are fantastic, as are resorts just outside Grand Teton. Old Faithful is so named because of its predictable eruptions. You will remember your trip to Yellowstone for your entire lifetime — I say that with confidence, because I have been there and am longing to go back!
Have a fantastic summer — I bet you will, should you follow my recommendation to make Grand Teton and Yellowstone your choice destinations.
Date posted: April 20, 2019. Last updated: April 21, 2019.
About the author: Born and raised in Ottawa, Canada, Nurin completed her International Baccalaureate (IB) high school program at Colonel By Secondary School before proceeding to the University of Guelph, where she has spent eight years, first completing an undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences and then pursuing a degree in veterinary medicine. A lover of animals and nature since her childhood, Nurin is also an artist whose art work has been featured on this website. Her inspiring mixed media work on canvas entitled “The Nature of Prayer” was featured in The Ismaili Canada magazine during the Golden Jubilee of His Highness the Aga Khan, Mawlana Hazar Imam. She also plays numerous musical instruments such as the piano and flute. She speaks English, French and Spanish as well as her mother tongue, Katchi.
Beef samosas from the Aga Khan’s Museum’s cafetaria. Note the image is of samosas that I froze after bringing the cooked version home. I simply microwave them for 30 seconds and then place them in a toaster oven (toast mode) for 3 – 4 minutes. They turn out to be as delicious as freshly fried ones. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.
Do not fail to take a few dozen samosas home with you when you visit the Aga Khan Museum
Yesterday (April 17), the samosas at the Aga Khan Museum tasted better than ever. Let me tell you why. I have been a Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) football fan since the age of 8, thanks to my late dad, Alwaez Jehangir Merchant (1928-2018). We were in Lourenço Marques (now Maputo), Mozambique, in 1961, when Spurs won the double. Every Tuesday, my dad would acquire a South African English newspaper to see the results of the weekend’s British football games. He would also use the results to predict matches that would end up as draws the following week, and enter his choices in one of the cheaper football pool such as Zetters. Like everyone else who played the pools, his hope was that from his selections of drawn games, 7 or 8 would be correct. It would make him rich overnight, provided of course there weren’t too many draws on the day. If I recall correctly, he spent a good 2-3 hours analyzing the most recent results to make his predictions. I simply wanted him to win so that he would be able to buy me a good box of coloured pencils for 12-15 escudos — times were tough! I asked him one day what team he supported the most, and his reply was “Spurs”; “and second best papa?” And he replied, “Everton.”
Spurs has been in my heart ever since. They haven’t won the English Premiere now for 59 years, and they are not going to win it this year either. Yesterday, though, they broke the hearts of Manchester City players, their highly respected manager and million of fans when in the 3rd minutes of injury time, the goal scored by City’s striker Rahim Sterling was disallowed by VAR (Video Assistance Referee) due to an off-side infringement. Moments earlier, before the VAR review, my heart had sunk to its lowest depth. Now, following VAR review, the referee’s arm went up indicating off-side and the Jumbotron flashed NO GOAL VAR OFFSIDE (watch game highlights, below). I was as excited as every Spurs fan on the face of this earth. On aggregate, the scoreline after the VAR review stood at 4-4 and Spurs eliminated City due to the away goal rule. Spurs will play their semi-finals against Ajax — the club that was made famous by Dutch master Johan Cruyff, who is regarded as one of the greatest players in football history.
I was ecstatic with the Spurs victory. I thought of my dad; a day earlier I had even told my mum about the game and she also remembered that Tottenham “was papa’s favourite team.” DAZN has the rights to show the UEFA games in Canada through an on-line subscription, and it was not televised, so my mum could not watch it.
After that incredible and tense victory, I needed time to recover from a roller-coaster game that saw 5 goals scored inside the first 21 minutes. My point of relaxation, I decided, would be the Aga Khan Museum, which is open until 8 PM every Wednesday. As I set forth from home, I knew what would give me the greatest pleasure — not the fantastic Moon exhibition, but the delicious samosas that are prepared for the Museum’s courtyard cafe by the highly acclaimed on-site Diwan restaurant.
As I reached the cafe counter, I raised myself to discover that the oven trays where the samosas are kept to maintain crispiness were empty. I was disappointed and told the cheerful attendant they should be turning out more of the samosas, at least on Wednesday evenings. I was relieved when he told me he had placed an order for 10 more and they would be ready in 7-10 minutes. “Do you want all 10?” I replied, “Yes, 2 to eat here and the remainder for home.”
Story continues after quote…..
MAWLANA HAZAR IMAM ON HIS FONDNESS FOR SAMOSAS
His Highness the Aga Khan. Photo: John Macdonald, Ottawa.
….Earlier this evening I was struck by how quickly we are all affected by the culture we live in although it’s not our own. Bahadur Hirji, you all know, was taking pictures and he kept on saying to my wife and me “cheese” – in the end I said to him, at least if you had said “samosas” or “biriani”, I would have recognised that he was conveying a message to me — His Highness the Aga Khan, Los Angeles, November 3, 1986
The wait was worth every minute. I found a comfortable chair alongside the museum’s atrium. I did not turn on my Iphone. I had come to relax and did not want any intrusions. It was time to savour the Spurs victory with the best samosas in Toronto.
Samosas come in numerous varieties — ground beef and chicken as well as vegetarian. The Aga Khan Museum makes the beef and vegetarian kinds which are spiced splendidly. The version it prepares is with a thin pastry covering, not the thick and much heavier pastry that is served in the majority of Indian restaurants and supermarkets around the country. The thin pastry has always been my preferred choice. I often refer to such samosas as Ismaili samosas, like the lentil based Ismaili bhajias, and fried muhogo (cassava), because the East African Ismaili community created its own versions of appetizers and curries (such as kuku paka, the equivalent of a Thai green/yellow/red chicken curry), pilaus and bhirianis which can be found in many restaurants across Canada run by East African Ismailis. In Vancouver, for example, restaurants such as Safari, Kilimanjaro, Simba Grill, James Cafe, Agra (across from James) come to my mind immediately. In Ottawa a trio of Ismaili sibblings, with the support of their parents, have established a magnificent catering unit under the name All Seasons Indian Catering on 2285 St. Laurent Blvd, with an East African emphasis. Of course, in addition to restaurants, many Ismaili ladies make outstanding samosas and some even cater for private parties.
As much as I have loved the fusion food at all these East African Ismaili outlets, the samosas at the Aga Khan Museum are among the finest in taste and quality. The crispiness of the samosa with its thin outer pastry, the spice level of the beef and the fact that the exterior pastry doesn’t have an oily feel to it have made me their fan. Moreover, there has never never a hint that the oil that the samosas are cooked in has been used over and over again. The samosa is slightly smaller in size than what you get in restaurants and the Museum sells them at a $1.00 each, with a 10% discount if you are a member of the museum .
Samosas are generally served with a slice of lemon that you squeeze over onto the meat after taking the initial bite. Many restaurants provide different types of chutneys such as amli (tamarind) chutney, a spicy chutney made from green chilies and coriander or even a white coconut chutney. But I am not a believer in these extra chutneys when a food item tastes delicious on its own. Two drinks that I enjoy the most with samosas are a cup of hot chai or a a can of coke. The chai sold at the Museum is a tea bagged version, which is never as satisfying as a chai that is prepared with tea leaves or tea bags combined with cinnamon sticks, elchi (cardamom pods), cloves as well as other spices, that are all boiled for a few minutes in water and milk. I make it a point to occasionally take a dozen samosas from the Museum for my afternoon tea. I freeze them, and whenever I am in the mood for samosas, I warm a couple in the microwave for 20 seconds before placing them in a toaster oven for about 3-4 minutes (in toaster setting — just as you would toast bread). Really, the result is outstanding and the previously frozen samosas come out as crispy and tasty as the freshly cooked ones.
I am generally a fast paced eater but yesterday I spent over an hour finishing two samosas and a cup of chai latte. That’s how relaxed I felt at the museum’s magnificent confines. It has a peaceful atmosphere, a fact that was noted by two new visitors to the museum as they walked by me. My mum who admonishes me for eating rapidly would have been pleased. I felt relaxed. I was savouring the samosas and I considered the time spent at the Museum as one of the finer moments in my life — with that Spurs victory. Thank you Aga Khan Museum for the best samosas in town and its founder, His Highness the Aga Khan, for building a museum that not only has incredible exhibits and programs but also provides a truly peaceful and healing environment when you need it the most.
To the Museum staff at the cafe and the chef at Diwan I say: “Thank you for making delicious samosas. I hope to see you over again and again, and definitely when Tottenham qualify for the finals after victory over Ajax of Amsterdam.”
I urge Torontonians and everyone visiting the city to see the Aga Khan Museum. It is fantastic and caters to every age group. The Moon exhibition (until August 18, 2019) is magnificent and highly educational, and every member of your family will love it. Then treat yourself to the samosas and take some home with you.
Date posted: April 18, 2019. Last updated: April 20, 2019.
The following piece has been adapted from the NASA website; see notes  and  for links
One of the most successful and enduring feats of interplanetary exploration, NASA’s OPPORTUNITY rover mission came to an end in February 2019 after almost 15 years exploring the surface of Mars and helping lay the groundwork for NASA’s return to the Red Planet.
The OPPORTUNITY rover stopped communicating with Earth when a severe Mars-wide dust storm blanketed its location in June 2018. After more than a thousand commands to restore contact, engineers in the Space Flight Operations Facility at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) made their last attempt to revive OPPORTUNITY in February 2019, to no avail. The solar-powered rover’s final communication was received June 10.
“It is because of trailblazing missions such as OPPORTUNITY that there will come a day when our brave astronauts walk on the surface of Mars,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.” And when that day arrives, some portion of that first footprint will be owned by the men and women of OPPORTUNITY, and a little rover that defied the odds and did so much in the name of exploration.”
Designed to last just 90 Martian days and travel 1,100 yards (1,000 meters), the rover vastly surpassed all expectations in its endurance, scientific value and longevity. In addition to exceeding its life expectancy by 60 times, the rover traveled more than 28 miles (45 kilometers) by the time it reached its most appropriate final resting spot on Mars – Perseverance Valley.
This image taken by the panoramic camera aboard the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity shows the rover’s empty lander, the Challenger Memorial Station, at Meridiani Planum, Mars. The image was acquired on the rover’s 24 sol, or Martian day. Time. This mosaic image consists of 12 color images acquired with the camera’s red, green and blue filters. The color balance has been set to approximate the colors that a human eye would see. Opportunity is celebrating its seventh anniversary on the Red Planet, having landed on Jan. 25, 2004, Universal Time (Jan. 24, Pacific Time), for what was to be a 90-day mission. Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell
During one of its drives on the surface, the rover examined soil targets that were designated as “Mobarak” in honor of Persian New Year for a period of 3 sols between March 25 – March 27, 2005. (The term sol is used by planetary astronomers to refer to the duration of a solar day on Mars. A mean Martian solar day, or “sol”, is 24 hours, 39 minutes, and 35.244 seconds).
OPPORTUNITY had its head down in a trough trying to figure out what the trough soil is made of. Two days later, the rover studied two other targets, “Norooz” and “Mayberooz,” again studying the soil properties.
It may be of interest to note that several craters on the moon are named after famous Muslim scientists including Fatimid astronomers Ibn al-Haytham (Alhazen) and Ibn Yunus, Ibn Sina (Avicenna) and the Alamut scholar Nasir al-Din al-Tusi.
Excerpts from NASA
Sol-by-sol summaries: Sols 415 to 417 (March 25-27, 2005):
Zeroing in on a soil target called “Mobarak” in honor of Persian New Year, Opportunity has had its head down in a trough for three sols trying to figure out what the trough soil is made of. During an observation like this, it uses all of its in-situ instruments taking microscopic images, alpha particle X-ray spectrometer readings and Moessbauer spectrometer readings.
After Opportunity had looked at the soil in the trough, it was time to examine the soil at the top of the ripple. The rover planners perfectly executed a 7-meter (23-foot) drive that placed the rover right at the top of the ripple. Opportunity deployed its arm once again and inspected the soil.
Sols 419 and 420:
Here, Opportunity has the chance to look at two targets, “Norooz” and “Mayberooz,” again studying the soil properties.
Cover Page of Prince Hussain Aga Khan’s Diving Into Wildlife.
It is with tremendous pleasure that we inform our readers that we have received directly from the offices of Prince Hussain Aga Khan, an additional supply of signed copies of Prince Hussain’s book Diving Into Wildlife. The book comprises a collection of extraordinary underwater sea animal photographs taken by Prince Hussain Aga Khan in recent years. A collection of seven of his sea animal photos were displayed in Lisbon last July during the Diamond Jubilee of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan. A much larger exhibition is currently underway in Nairobi, Kenya. The Prince and his fiance, Fareen, attended the exhibition recently.
SIGNED COPIES ARE MUCH DESIRED
A specimen of Prince Hussain Aga Khan’s signature in his photo book of sea animals Diving Into Wildlife.
Signed copies are much desired by book lovers and collectors, and, in this particular instance, the signature of Prince Hussain Aga Khan makes his work “Diving Into Wildlife” a truly unique and treasured item for any book collector, or for anyone receiving the book as a gift.
Viewers of this website will recall that some eight years ago we offered both signed and unsigned copies of Prince Hussain’s book of animal photos entitled Animal Voyage. Prince Hussain had dedicated the book to Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan (1933-2003), and the proceeds from the sale of Animal Voyage went to the Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan Fund for the Environment.
Prince Hussain’s “Diving Into Wildlife” is published under the auspices of a newly created organization by the Prince called Focused on Nature (FON, http://www.focusedonnature.org), whose mission is to “assist in the conservation and protection of threatened and endangered species, as well as habitat conservation efforts when and where possible.”
FON will fulfill the mission by providing grants to projects around the world which the FON team has identified and vetted as having immediate impacts in wildlife conservation, protection, preservation, and education. The money that is distributed by FON to deserving organizations is raised by either direct contributions to FON or from the sale of unique and fine objects including limited edition photographs, art, clothing articles and books such as “Diving Into Wildlife.”
Simerg is thus delighted to support the work of FON by offering to our readers the following two versions of Diving Into Wildlife:
As of the posting of this announcement we have exactly 19 signed copies, and each is being offered at $US125.00 plus $US25.00 to cover expedited shipping and postage. GST/PST or HST as applicable will be added to Canadian orders. This initiative to ask a premium for signed copies and to submit this premium to FON has not been requested by the author or the publisher, but is a personal one. The signed copies are only available for shipping within North America. Each shipment will be trackable via the website of Canada Post.
We encourage interested individuals who are not able to acquire a signed copy to consider purchasing the unsigned copy of this beautiful volume by Prince Hussain Aga Khan.
Unsigned copies are sold at US$30.00 plus $25.00 to cover expedited shipping and postage. GST/PST or HST will be added to Canadian orders as applicable. The books are only available for shipping within North America. Each shipment will be trackable via the website of Canada Post.
Request for orders for delivery outside of North America will be considered and will be forwarded to FON for shipment from Europe, provided the book is still available.
HOW TO PURCHASE THE BOOK
Paypal: Simergbooks has been verified by Paypal. To purchase a copy, please send a request to Simergbooks@aol.com, and an invoice will be generated from Paypal provided we have the book in stock. In view of the limited quantities payment should then be received within 24 hours after the invoice. Canadian orders will be invoiced in Canadian dollars based on an exchange rate of $US 1.00 = $C 1.30.
Email Transfer (for Canadian orders only): Once we have confirmed that a book is available, we will request you to submit a payment via email transfer. In view of the limited quantities payment should then be received within 24 hours after the invoice.
SIMERG’S EXCELLENT CUSTOMER SERVICE
My son was delighted with the excellent photography by Prince Hussain. We as a family will cherish this volume (Animal Voyage) for a long time. Once again, thank you http://www.simerg.com for making this book available in North America and your outstanding customer service and support. Shamim Rajan, Richmond Hill, Ontario
This is a beautiful piece of work!! The service was excellent. Very quick, safe and efficient turnaround and follow up. I recommend everyone to have a copy. Nazir Alibhai, Markham, Ontario
“Outstanding customer service, superfast delivery, and the book is great addition to any library.” Yaar, Toronto.
[Numerous reports in the Iranian media in November 2014 announced that Iran was planning to offer the castle of Alamut to UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The historical significance of the fortress dates back to 1090 A.C. when the Ismaili dai Hassan Sabbah chose the Alamut region as the headquarters of Ismailis following the Nizari-Musteali split in Fatimid Egypt. But four years after the announcement, Iran Daily reports that numerous factors have prevented the registration of Alamut as a World Heritage Site site.]
A winter view of the unassailable rock of Alamut and the famous castle of Alamut nesting on top of this huge mountain of granite stone. This was the Capital of a Confederation of the Ismaili State founded in 1090 AC, by a great genius of all times, Hasan-i Sabbah which lasted for 171 years against formidable enemies and ultimately surrendered before the Mongols in 1256 AC. The Ismaili State was defended by a string of castles, over one hundred in number and Alamut being the capital of the State. This photo of was taken on December 31, 2011 by Alireza Javaheri. Photo credit: Wikipedia. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported.
By CULTURAL HERITAGE DESK, IRAN DAILY
Alamut located in the northwestern province of Qazvin as an untapped and historical region deserves to be registered on UNESCO’s World Heritage List but various factors have prevented the goal from being reached.
Director General of Qazvin Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Department Mohammad Ali Hazrati said that a limited number of foreigners travel to Qazvin Province because it doesn’t have any registered site on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
He added efforts are underway to send the dossier of Alamut natural and historical site to UNESCO for world registration.
Hazrati said Alamut with beautiful natural landscape has several ancient structures including Hassan Sabbah Castle and Pich Bon Caravanserai.
A number of regulations should be observed for registration of any site on UNESCO’s List.
“Illegal construction of buildings within the boundary of the historical structures, including Hassan Sabbah Castle, is among the problems faced by Alamut in this respect”, he said.
He added that a decree was issued for destruction of structures located in Alamut historical texture, but the resistance of local officials as well as some social considerations prevented it from being enforced.
Hazrati said the registration of Alamut on UNESCO’s World Heritage List would help the ancient site to be recognized more internationally, draw a large number of the visitors to the province and boost tourism and employment in the region.
The Former head of Iranian Center for Archeological Research, Hamideh Choobak, said all ancient sites located worldwide are of high value but international recognition would help increase the governments’ responsibility to protect and maintain them.
“Specific funds will also be made available to the sites by the government and international organizations”, she added.
Choobak, who is the head of Alamut Cultural Heritage Site, noted that Alamut deserves to be registered on UNESCO’s List but it is not enough.
She stressed that a number of conditions should be provided to help realize the target.
The Milky Way extends across the sky above the mountain fortress of Alamut in this all-sky view from Iran. The light dome at the lower right is from the capital Tehran, over 100 kilometers away to the southwest. The light on the upper right is from Qazvin, the closest major city to Alamut. Photo: Copyright. Babak Tafreshi/Dreamview.net.
The official said Hassan Sabbah Castle has been registered on the National Heritage List in the year to March 2002, adding some organizations failed to perform their responsibility toward the structure.
She reiterated that related organizations should raise the local people’s awareness about the benefits of the site’s registration on UNESCO’s List and encourage them to cooperate with officials in this respect.
“Sabbah’s rule from Alamut is shrouded in mystery and enigma…partly because most Ismaili records of the era were destroyed by the Mongols while the writings of their detractors survived. Fused with the half-truths and fanciful tales of European travelers including Marco Polo along with the sensationalist confections of pseudo-scholars, the Ismailis were long cast in lurid light”…MORE ON CNN: A PHOTO TOUR OF ALBORZ MOUNTAINS
Click on image for CNN article and photo gallery
PIECES ON SIMERG: SPECTACULAR NIGHT TIME PHOTO OF ALAMUT AND ESSAYS ON THE MYTH OF THE ASSASSINS
In this spectacular starry night scene of Alamut published on NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day and the National Geographic News, a meteor’s streak and the arc of the Milky Way hang over the imposing mountain fortress of Alamut. Photo: Babak Tafreshi/Dreamview.net . Copyright.
With 8,500 thousand people visiting the Alhambra everyday, it is Spain’s most visited monument. Muslim and Nevin Harji made it a point to see Islam’s crown jewel in Spain when they visited Lisbon to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of His Highness the Aga Khan.