Friends Travel

Mahira-Rea and I, after 41 years – (Part II)

Hi, Everyone!

I’m sure you were waiting for this post. You know, while being in Halifax I watched many videos on health and how to keep one’s brain at it’s best. It is all about having good relationships. As you know, my trip to Canada was surely about that!

Did you read my last two blog posts, how I’ve reconnected with my close childhood friend Mahira-Rea here, and my mother’s relatives here.

My stay with Shib (this is Mahira’s pet name, which her close family members have used.) I don’t know how Shib managed to pack in another lifetime’s memories into just five days, we met on 5th Oct 2019 at  5.30 pm and they saw me off at Calgary airport around 11.00 am on 9th October 2019.

Trip to Banff:

Shib put me on the front seat, ‘you must have the best view.’ She insisted. Don would explain things to me. The trip itself was literally out of this world. We loved every bit of it.

Don had his own plans of taking us for a boat ride, but as we reached, there was a terrible wind blowing, and all boats were anchored, even the deck had fallen a bit. Here is a video I made on the way:

So, Don took us for a tasty lunch at the ‘castle’ on the hill top. No, it is not a castle but I’d like to believe so.

These pictures can be enough to describe the time we had:

Cement sources from Rocky mountains:

I learnt something interesting on the way; the cement for city of Calgary is supplied by using the material from one mountain sacrificed for the purpose. Instead of cutting an entire mountain range in bits and pieces as we have done on our precious Margalla Hills in Islamabad, one is selected and sold to highest and most competent private company.

It is hoped that we can do the same in Pakistan, where currently our natural resources are destroyed mercilessly.

This mountain range is called the ‘Three Sisters’. My girls know what that means!


Earlier, when we were leaving for Banff, Don pointed out the Chanook cloud to me. He said, it brings warmth to Calgary when it is freezing too much. It takes the temperatures from far below zero up to ten or twenty degrees. It often comes as a savior.

Snow in Calgary:

I love snow, so I was hoping for another snowfall. That night, I literally prayed for snow. Next morning I woke up to a beautiful snow covered Calgary and it continued snowing, bringing the temperatures to – 5 Centigrade!

I was thrilled. Shib took me out in the snow, having ice-cream and going over a charming bridge, having fun in the snow.

Exchange of gifts:

Shib took me over to Michaels as planned. I wanted to frame the painting I took for her and her family. It was a painting I had done on a canvas bought in 1978, but then I did a new painting on the same canvas. I brought it rolled up, so now it needed framing.

I loved the way the Michaels sales girl showed us the different styles on the huge computer screen. As we had placed the canvas on the table, it was already photographed and on the screen. She asked us to choose the frame, then showed us how it would look. She inquired about the color of the wall on which it would be hanging, so the background was adjusted.  As usual, Shib didn’t let me pay.

We went shopping, I wanted to get gifts for Adam and Aisha. (I prefer to make sure the recipient will really like what I get.) So, she told me what her children would like, and she bought a gift for my mother. (Her mother and mine had been great friends.) Unfortunately, Aunty Sarwar passed away when Shib was just twelve years old, in Lahore. That was a great tragedy.

Shib already had a huge pile of gifts for my two grandchildren, so literally, more than half my suitcase was filled with gifts from her to my family and myself. These, included a cute teddy bear for me!

Somehow, I had forgotten the gifts I was to give them, on my table in Halifax, so I had already texted Nadiya to send them. Haaris, my SIL posted them, and soon they arrived. Thank goodness, I had brought the roll of painting, so it was given for framing.

When Don saw the book, Tulip of Sinai, the look on his face, and his words gave me so much happiness and strength. He said, ‘I’ve always heard so much about Iqbal, but there was nothing in English to give me a true flavor of his work. This book is finally going to do that job!’

All of them were so happy with it, I got copies for Shib and Don, Adam and Aisha.

Ice hockey match in Calgary:

Even children had a mini-hockey match during one break.

‘You cannot know about Canada, unless you have seen an ice-hocky match!” said Shib. So she insisted that I watch the game. She and her husband arranged the tickets, so in freezing cold with bitter winds in – 5 C, we went for the match. The watched the snow become a crackling film of ice on the windows and windscreens of the car.  Adam and I were given the front row seats, in the covered and heated stadium, so we could really enjoy it.

Loved the smooth and efficient way, the snow was ‘cleaned’ during short breaks of the match.

The stadium was packed with over 20,000 fans. I was already wearing the Flames shirt given to me by Adam. We saw the match from the best seats. We were so close to the rink, that the players often came close, banging the glass hard, shaking everything. The Flames of Canada were facing the Kings from Los Angeles, who ended up winning the match. The experience was out of this world.

‘Till we meet again,’ my friend

Next morning, Don again took leave from work at his Insurance company, to be with us, and see me off.  I was happy to meet  Aisha again on that last day. Loved meeting Aisha, Shib’s daughter who is starting out on her own these days. She has chosen a place near her parents, just like her brother Adam. It had been great having chats with Shib’s kids at her home.

I could see how Shib had built a life for herself and her family, through her hard work. She has been teaching for last thirty years. They’ve done a lot of charity work here, in Islamabad, through my social work. – Now you know, they are some of my  ‘secret donors’ .  I’m sure they’ve done a lot there too.

In the end, this is all that matters in life, how we bring happiness into other’s lives.

Shib, you certainly gave me so much happiness.  I really need you to know that having had a sad beginning to this year, you and your sweet family,  have healed me completely. 🙂

Now, I’ll look forward to having you and rest of your adorable family over here some time soon. ? Suddenly, I feel, anything is possible.

Stay blessed! 🙂


My last sight of Calgary.




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  1. Amazing amazing trip. I love every bit of experience you share with us all. I love to see your beaming smile gets more radiant when you were there. I love the matter of fact that you had the time of your life.
    I guess that’s a gift of Allah to your hardship you faced in life.
    I pray you always stays happy blessed healthy and content.

    1. Shireen Gheba Najib says:

      Love you Kiran, for always boosting me up. i’m so glad you liked it too.
      Looking forward to meeting you soon.
      Stay blessed.

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