Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Happy Diwali to Dear Friends & Family

Happy Diwali Dear Friends and Family. We wish you all good health, happiness and success on this occasion.

Diwali literally means ‘row of lights’. It has become popular as ‘Festival of lights’ all over the world, now an international festival.

Celebration of festivals brings us all together, share happinessi and encourage us to be kind, helpful and loving.

Diwali signifies ‘Victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance’.

Let’s all celebrate Diwali, exchange greetings and affection with one another and enjoy the special food and delicacies. Happy Diwali.

Happy 25th Marriage Anniversary Dear Shailaja and Raghuram. Congratulations and we wish you all the best.


Sunday, November 08, 2020

Prabhat plays Piano for Diwali celebrations

Happy Diwali - The celebrations this year are done remotely due to Covid. Enjoy Prabhat's Piano melody.

Tuesday, November 03, 2020

My experience talking to voters in US Presidential election 2020 - Pragathi

Today I made calls for Joe Biden’s Campaign for President. We had done this previously for Bernie Sanders during the 2016 primaries. We talked to voters in Pennsylvania, a battleground state. We spoke with people with multiple different political views - some had already voted democrats (blue) down the ballot, while others voted republican (red). We spoke to a mother who is from Wuhan, China. Her extended family was quarantined in Wuhan and she was worried that the US could become like China in terms of state-repression. While her children were voting blue, she chose to vote red. We spoke to another voter who was sick in the hospital, she wanted to vote democrats but was not able to due to her current situation. We encouraged her to vote via mail. We also spoke to a mother who was a registered democrat. She said that she and her family were “disgusted” by the Democratic Party today. Due to technical difficulties we could not discuss more with her to find out the issues that upset her, but she planned to vote Republican. We also asked the registered voters how they planned to vote. Some chose to vote by mail or vote early, but the majority planned to vote on Election Day November 3rd in-person. There were also some undecided voters for whom we presented the case for Joe Biden. There were voters who did not plan on voting as well, we urged them to vote due to the importance of this election. We were also met with a lot of hang-ups. Some because we mentioned the Democratic Party.

From the calls we conducted, it is fair to say that Pennsylvania is truly a battleground state. There was no clear majority of red or blue voters from our limited non-representative sample set. I believe that the Democratic Party has an opportunity to make a better case on why their policies would benefit the American People. 

               Pragathi, 7th Grade, 28th October 2020

Pragathi, Thank you for sharing those interesting examples of the many calls you have made in support of Joe Biden"s Campaign for President. Pennsylvania is a very important state in this election. I assume you may be calling this evening because your phone number was busy when I called. I'm sure you have encouraged many people to vote and make the difference we need. I need to do more of this type of outreach and to not be frustrated when so many people either hang up or refuse to answer their phones.  Thank you for all your great work now and know 2016!

 Jeanne Large

Somayya and Pragathi,

Somayya, tell Pragathi that it is a very important thing that she is doing.

It's good to get young people involved in politics.

Great summary of her calls.

Bob Price

How exciting, middle school. I remember when she was born. How time flies. Kinnera is a junior in college now.

John Inman

Timberline Middle School - Always Believe in Yourself

Friday, October 23, 2020

Some Good Habits for Students to Practice Every Day

  1. Write down the three to five most important tasks to accomplish for the day.
  2. Update your calendar with key dates and events.
  3. Work on your most challenging task during your most productive time of day.
  4. Read your favorite inspirational quote.
  5. Get five minutes of sun.
  6. Spend time with like-minded people whom you want to learn from.
  7. Exercise for at least 15 minutes.
  8. Get at least eight hours of sleep every night.
  9. Follow a bedtime routine. 
  10. Read a few pages of your favorite book
  11. Journal for a few minutes
  12. Create a study plan for any upcoming tests or exams.
  13. Be at least five minutes early for every appointment.
  14. Review your homework list.
  15. Focus on one task at a time; don’t multitask.
  16. Before you get down to work, remove all distractions.
  17. Break down a big task into several smaller ones.
  18. Check through your homework after you’ve completed it.
  19. Organize your notes and assignments.
  20. Clear your study table at the end of each day.
  21. Learn something outside the syllabus.
  22. Spend at least 15 minutes talking to your family.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Vinod's Boomilever Science Olympiad - Virtual Event during Covid times (2020)


Vinod created the Boomilever that weighs 10gm and can carry the weight of 12.4kg sand.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Congratulations Pranay and Mounika

Congratulations Mounika and Pranay Ram. We hope your marriage is full happiness and good surprises - Family & Friends 

Sunday, September 06, 2020

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Democratic National Convention - 2020 Highlights

National Anthem


Her Dad's pre-existing condition was believing in Trump

50 State Roll Call for the Nomination

Friday, June 19, 2020

Happy 80th Birthday, Dearest Grandpa

Loving messages from Family & Friends - Grandpa's 80th Birthday Celebratiions

Hearty thanks for the loving messages for 80th Birthday from Dear Family and Friends 

Zoom Celebration - Pictures from 80th Birthday celebrations

Greetings from Justin Trudeau, Canada PM.


Hearty thanks for the greeting and best wishes, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. We appreciate it.

Washington Senator Manka Dhingra greets on 80th Birthday

Thank you so much, Senator Manka Dhingra. We all really appreciate your affection and message on Dad's 80th Birthday. Thank you for representing Washingtonians in the Senate so well.

80th Birthday Celebrations

Dear Family & Friends,
Hearty thanks for celebrating 80th Birthday of Grandpa Somayya Kasani with all of us. Grandpa and we all felt we were in the midst of you. We loved all the messages, poems, best wishes, greetings and video messages that we received. They are very loving, kind messages based on Grandpa's life and friendship with you. Grandpa and we all will cherish them forever.
Meeting over Zoom is new to many of us. Our celebration included family & friends joining from 15+ cities and villages globally including Grandpa's birth place Devaruppala, India. Our world is truly a small village now.

Short video about Grandpa: https://youtu.be/uQEkFRfCb-Q

Messages received for Grandpa: https://youtu.be/pzghpVueKKc

Zoom celebration pictures (thanks Dear friends for capturing these and sharing): https://youtu.be/dis0WKOlvjE

Vikram, Vinod, Pragathi, Prabhat


Happy Birthday, Somayya! Now you have joined the ranks of octogenarians like me! Somayya Kasani is one of the best friends I have ever had.  Somayya possesses some very outstanding qualities that I and others admire in him. First, he is a very affable fellow, friendly to everyone and willing to make contact with new people. Secondly, he’s extremely loyal to his friends and loves his wife, children, and grandchildren dearly. He is always talking about his grandchildren, sending them photos he has taken and giving them advice. Third, he is very inquisitive, always wanting to learn more about any possible subject whether it be politics, other cultures and customs, philosophy, religion, among many others things. When he first came to Edmonton, he went back to school to learn about Canadian society how to use as computer, keeping a I-Pad with him at all times.

I first met Somayya at a NDP political meeting around 2006 in South Edmonton. Somayya and his wife, Vijayalakshmi, came to Canada in 2000 from India, sponsored by their three children. He is only about a month younger in age  than me, so the two of us were going to celebrate a double 80 birthday sometime in June, except that the coronavirus got in the way. Somayya and his wife are snowbirds who spend the winter in United States, visiting their children, their spouses and their grandchildren and usually returning to Edmonton in spring to enjoy some of the amazing activities going on. He and his wife recently celebrated their 52nd wedding anniversary in early May, 2020. I now thank him for sending me a 80th birthday gift. I really appreciate the thought.

Like me, Somayya is a former teacher and enjoys his retirement in a variety of ways. Once he returns to Edmonton in spring, he and I are involved together in many activities. Our most popular meeting place is Tim Hortons Doughnuts, with shops, sprinkled throughout this growing and progressive city. Our favorite one is on 23th Avenue and Rabbit Hill Road near his home. Here we drink coffee and discuss a variety of topics including politics, religion, culture, and philosophy. Somayya always carries his handy I-Pad to take pictures of friends, other people and sights, often walking up to other tables, introducing himself, talking to other people, and, of course, snapping pictures. This demonstrates two of his unique qualities: his friendliness and his inquisitive nature, showing his desire to learn more about people and society. In his search for knowledge, Somayya often turns to  the Internet and copies quotations of famous people from Aristotle to Einstein, which he sends out on Facebook to family and friends so they can comment on them. This shows his desire to continue to learn about life through the ideas of others.

We also have a coffee club that meets at McDonalds on 23rd Avenue every few weeks, where we spend hours sipping coffee, eating pastries and discussing the topics of the day. That club consist of four members, Somayya, Charan, Cynthia and me, but is open to all comers if they would like to join. COVID-19, has put a damper on these visits,and now even the libraries and museums are temporarily closed.

Once I moved to Edmonton in 2003, I began to attend the various festivals.  After I met Somayya, we began to go together to as many activities as possible. Edmonton is Festival City during the summer, but unfortunately most of the festivals have been cancelled this year, and I’m not sure if he will be able to make it back this year. So this a reminder to you, Somayya, of what we have been doing and would be doing this summer if not for COVID-19. Imagine!

The Heritage Festival, held on the long-weekend at the beginning of August, is a multicultural event, consisting of booths sponsored by the over 70 ethnic communities in Edmonton. The groups set up individual tents to display their culture, sell a few hand-crafted goods, and particularly sell delicious foods from their ethnic cuisine. Also, each group might have a stage out front where dancers, singers and actors performed to the large audiences. It was an enjoyable experience, but there usually were a couple of problems. You could purchase food tickets, but to fully appreciate the choices available, you had to walk round along Hawrelak Park, and let the delicious sights and smells of the foods sink in to make your decision.

During the last few years (2010-3019) I went early with my friend, Somayya. We left our homes at 9 am, caught the LRT at Heritage Centre and took it to the University where we caught an express bus to Hawrelak Park, on Edmonton’s Southside. We arrived around ten just as they were opening up. We might drop off some donated food in the large bin at the entrance. Once inside, we walked to a ticket booth and purchased food tickets.

Then we started our journey. As we visited the various booths, Somayya was armed with his I-Pad camera and constantly took photos, which he sent on Facebook to relatives and friends. The whole trip from tent 1 to 75 usually took a couple of hours, as we spent time inside the tents to view the historical and cultural displays. Somayya would take pictures of us, the participants in ethnic dress and the various  displays as well as sometimes purchasing the hand-crafted products that each group had for sale. The  huge Chinese dragon was one of his favorite shots as well as the Russian and Indian dancers.  Also, the hats. Somayya favored  the Mexican sombero. Somayya liked to try one on and then get someone to snap a picture of him. We bought food and drinks along the way, but when we reached the end and started our long journey back, I had to stop at various tents, after I decided what I wanted.  Somayya wanted to reach the Indian tent, which was usually near the far end  of the grounds and take pictures of people he knew there. After that, I wanted to go back and buy some food, perhaps at the Taiwan, Italian, Caribbean, German, or Welsh booths. After another hour, we were exhausted, hot, and ready to leave as the crowds grew larger. As the line-ups got huge, the waiting time for food increased. Or we could go  to the park area with trees, grass, and flowers and sit down either on the benches, chairs or grass to rest awhile.
All in all, we had a very good time, refreshed ourselves with water, pop and  Italian ice cream, before strolling back to the buses to return home.

Somayya and I also attended The Taste of Edmonton,  usually at City Centre Square, where different restaurants sold some of their favorite dishes, whether it was onion cakes, chocolate-covered strawberries, deep fried shrimp inside a tasty batter or various steak or chicken dishes.

Another big event we visited was Cariwest, which celebrated Caribbean culture. We always went early on Saturday morning by LRT, meeting under the “Globe”,  grabbed two cups of Tim Horton’s coffee at the shop on 108 St. and Jasper and then watched the colorful parade. It always started late, but there were so many participants, large trucks with West Indian bands playing, and, of course, the costumed competitors from the night before. Armed with his camera, Somayya  ventured into the parade, getting amid the marchers and snapping pictures of them. Then we would go to the grounds at Churchill Square and buy some jerk chicken or some other spicy Caribbean delicacies and drinks. One time, my friend, Ann, who was originally from Trinidad-Tobago, won the prize as the Queen of the Carnival for her wonderful, special costume, so we had to get some pictures of her.

Next to Whyte Avenue. Edmonton puts on the second largest Fringe Festival of theatre productions in the world after the famous Edinburgh’s Fringe, with close to 200 plays,  and with street performers such as jugglers, clowns, stilt people, and musicians. Also more food booths!

We also attended the famous K-Day Parade in the middle of July, at the start of a ten-day celebration, followed by a carnival, exhibition displays, various artists, and even dragon boat races. We always watched the downtown parade and a couple of times passed out leaflets for Daughters’ Day in early September.

Daughters’ Day is a special annual celebration in Edmonton, sponsored by several ethnic communities in honour of women and girls for their achievements in life. The organization is dedicated to advancing human dignity and gender equality. Several women are selected as Daughters of the Year. The celebration is held at City Hall with speeches by community leaders and politicians. Then the Daughters of the Year are presented and given awards for their contributions towards society. Entertainment with singers and dancers follows, along with plenty of refreshments, most of it East Indian food. Both Somayya and I have played an active part, attending meetings, setting up chairs and tables, and working at the booths, handing out pamphlets and selling T-Shirts. He’s always willing to help out. As usual he is also armed with his ever-present camera.

Another activity that Somayya and I were involved in was politics. I am a long-time New Democratic supporter, while Somayya  joined the New Democrats in 2006 thanks to a mutual friend, Bohdan, also a long-time member and professor at the U of A. Since then, Somayya had been very active attending meetings, serving on the executives of two ridings, taking part in party rallies and marching for societal changes for the better. The NDP has been dedicated to social justice and was the leader in developing Public Medicare in Canada. He campaigned in several key elections by knocking on doors, handing out pamphlets, attending meetings, and joining rallies on street corners or near public buildings like the Terwillegar Rec Centre.  In 2015,  our candidates, Richard Feehan and Bob Turner  won in their constituencies and our leader, Rachel Notley, became Premier of Alberta. This shows another great side to Somayya, his dedication to social justice and his desire to improve the lives of others.

If there was an activity, Somayya was sure to attend. Rachel put on a good pancake breakfast in her riding in conjunction with an art show, so there we were, eating pancakes and sausages, with wonderful Canadian Maple Syrup on top, and taking pictures of our fellow supporters and the artists with samples of their work in their private tents.

We also attended the pancake breakfast on Canada Day, July 1, on the grounds of the Provincial Legislature, and Somayya was , of course, taking pictures  of our politicians who were serving out the food. Somayya was our constitutuency’s official photographer, so if we needed a picture, we could count on him. It was a great time, and I know you enjoyed it, Somayya!  He always checked with me during the week to see what activities we would have to go to, so he kept me on my toes.

One of our favorite activities was going  together to political conventions. We went to several in Edmonton, one in Red Deer and two in Calgary. The first one in Calgary, Somayya had recently joined the party. I went down with a group of people and Somayya caught up to us, going by bus. We had a great time listening to the speeches, going to the party afterwards, and enjoying a great banquet on  Saturday. When asked to choose a hotel room partner, Somayya chose to stay in my hotel room those two nights, but  in his excitement, woke up earlier than usual, well before any activities began, including breakfast in the restaurant!
Somayya is a great friend who  keeps in contact, always encouraging me  to write, which I have done,  currently writing my autobiography as well as many articles, particularly during the last few lockdown months.

Somayya and I also visit the various markets in town, one in the theatre district off Whyte Avenue and another in Terwillegar. Here, we have met our local MLA’s, talked to them, and enjoyed free ice cream!

Two physical activities that Somayya is engaged in on his own is walking constantly amd swimming to keep healthy.

When you return, Somayya, we will have to plan some more trips such as to the Royal Alberta Museum, the Edmonton Zoo,  the Space Science Centre and  another trip to Fort Edmonton (next year as it is currently under renovation).

I appreciate your friendship greatly, Somayya, hope you and your wife and family are doing well. Have a joyous and marvellous 80th Birthday. Enjoy the cake, food and speeches while being surrounded by your loving family and friends. I am definitely one of them.

Robert Price