This evening we gathered in this beautiful facility, Devonshire, to celebrate the 75th birthday of a man, who in his own way, has made an impact on other people and this world. We also honor his faithful and loving wife, Vijaya, who has constantly stood beside him with support and love for so many years.
Besides this, we are celebrating their citizenship in Canada, and to honor their wonderful family who are visiting this week from the United States.
On June 19, 1940, Somayya Kasani was born into a family of agriculturists in southern India. It was a world of turmoil recently torn open by world war. India was still in British control while Gandhi was a towering force for tolerance and change. Somayya grew up and became the first in his family to receive a higher education, which allowed him to become a successful teacher, passing on his skill and knowledge for 33 years until his retirement in the 1990’s.
First visiting Canada in 2000, he and his wife, Vijaya, moved to Canada in 2006, becoming Canadian citizens several years later.
I first met Somayya in 2008 when he was completing an Administrative Professional Program at Campbell College. At the college, Somayya demonstrated his interest in innovation and his commitment to new technological tasks such as working with computers.
Also, in 2008 he joined the Alberta New Democratic Party and has served as a board member of Whitemud Provincial Constituency and Edmonton-Leduc Federal Riding. Since then he as has attended several provincial conventions in Edmonton, Calgary, and Red Deer. In addition he worked on elections campaigns in 2008, 2011, 2012, and 2015. He served as vice-chairperson of the NDP Multicultural Standing Committee in 2010.
Somayya also attended several political, social, science and art conferences in Alberta, Seattle, San Jose and India, and is a member of the Ankur Cultural Society, serving as vice-president from 2010-2011.
Somayya has dedicated his life to learning more about people and improving the world. He enjoys reading and reciting the great minds of both Western and Eastern philosophies. In 2011 he joined Life Long Learners Association, taking courses at the U of A.
But his first priority is obviously his lovely family: his wife, son, two daughters, their spouses, and especially his beloved four grandchildren.
Somayya has many interesting hobbies. One is taking pictures at meetings, parties, and social gatherings. If you see someone taking photographs in a group or asking you to take a picture that he can flash over Facebook, chances are you have run into Somayya. Don’t refuse. Just do as you are told. He will show you the marvelous results later.
Somayya loves to attend meetings so he can socialize and hear about new ideas involving politics, literature and philosophy. So he loves attending any gatherings whether it is a party, meeting, or special event. For example, he has had a commitment to Daughters’ Day celebration and even helped once with the Cari-West parade in early August.
Another activity that Somayya enjoys is meeting for coffee with our esteemed coffee group comrades or with me or other friends. Once at McDonald’s, Second Cup, Tim Hortons or Starbucks, Somayya will listen intensely to the discussion going around the table, contribute a few pertinent points, ask for some advice on some project, and use his I-pad to show others his numerous pictures of his family, friends and acquaintances whom he has encountered.
I’m afraid, however, Somayya does not seem to enjoy our cold, snowy northern climate, for he is a snowbird who flees south at the first sign of winter and stays a good portion of the time until the birds return. He does have another reason and that is to visit his precious children, his beloved grandchildren and their families who live in the United States. Once in Seattle or Atlanta he continues to do what he does best here: visit people and sites, attend meetings and parties and take pictures that he forwards to us who are freezing back in Canada.
As stated before, Somayya is the first person in his family to pursue a higher education, having worked as a successful teacher in India until retirement. His great contribution is serving as a mentor and role model for his children who have obtain higher education and excellent jobs in India and now the United States. Now they will pass on this wonderful gift to their own children. What a legacy for the future! Thanks to Somayya and his dedicated wife, Vijaya!
Happy 75th birthday, Somayya!
Bob Price 780-437-9694 firstname.lastname@example.org