75th Independence Day of Pakistan celebrated in Sri Lanka
The High Commission of Pakistan and the Pakistani community in Sri Lanka celebrated 75th Independence Day “The Diamond Jubilee” with traditional fervor and resolve to make Pakistan a strong, dynamic, progressive, tolerant and democratic Islamic welfare state.
The women were in all their splendour in mostly green to represent Pakistan flag colour.
The High Commissoner in the opening remarks, highlighted the achievement of the government in the spheres of security, economy and culture.
The High Commissioner Maj. Gen (Retd) Muhammad Saad Khattak hoisted the national flag of Pakistan in vibrant and colorful ceremony at the Pakistan High Commission in Colombo.
Ms. Ayesha Abu Bakr Fahad, Second Secretary (Political) read out the message of the President of Pakistan, H. E. Dr Arif Alvi, quoting, “Pakistanis are a brilliant and brave nation, that has made tremendous successes in various fields making the country distinguished from other nations.
The message of the Prime Minister of Pakistan was read out for the audience by Ms. Asmma Kamal, Commercial Secretary. The message included: “As we hoist our national flag to mark Independence Day, we must reiterate the firm resolve to uphold our national values of unity, faith and discipline as envisioned by Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. We have surmounted monumental challenges during the course of our history to emerge as a united, peaceful and resilient nation. Even today, the changing regional dynamics along with some domestic issues continue to test our resolve. Like each time, we will also overcome these obstacles with our characteristic determination and come out stronger as a nation”.
In his remarks, the High Commissioner of Pakistan, paid tribute to the forefathers of the nation who faced insurmountable challenges and gave unparalleled sacrifices for achieving the dream of Pakistan.
On Sri Lanka-Pakistan relations, the High Commissioner said that Pakistan attaches great importance to its relations with Sri Lanka, based on mutual respect, understanding and close cooperation. He further said that Pakistan has always extended unconditional support to Sri Lanka at all fora and will always continue to do so.
The event was well-attended by a good number of participants including members of the Pakistani community, officials and families of the High Commission, local dignitaries, journalists and friends of Pakistan.
Chef Sanjay Brings the Flavours
Despite Sri Lanka’s proximity to the Indian Sub-Continent and a plethora of similarities between Indian and Sri Lankan culture, there is a distinct difference in the cuisines of the two nations. The vastness of India makes way for cuisines among the nation itself that are unique in its methods of preparations, use of spices and other ingredients, and even the way they are eaten. Culminating years of experience in the culinary world, Chef Sanjay joins Cinnamon Lakeside Colombo to bring the flavours of our neighbours.
Chef Sanjay began his culinary career in Mumbai in 1996 and had his first stint at the Hotel Retreat Bombay. Thereafter, he moved to Sri Lankan to take on the role of Assistant Indian Chef at the Holiday Inn in 1997 and was promoted to Head Indian Chef in 2003. For the next 12 years he continued to function as the Head Indian Chef of key properties in Colombo before moving to Cinnamon Lakeside.
With a rich culinary heritage passed on by his parents and ancestors, Chef Sanjay specializes in a variety of Indian cuisines including North Indian delicacies that are favourites among Sri Lankans. His culinary prowess spans starters, mains and even delectable desserts that will be on display at the Dining Room, Cinnamon Lakeside Colombo for breakfast, lunch, and dinner buffets.
Chef Sanjay also brings in his expertise at a time when the Indian travel market is opening to Sri Lanka and specific dietary requirements like Jain vegetarianism and veganism among others are becoming increasingly popular food choices among international and even local visitors.
Special Exhibition on India’s rich Buddhist Heritage
Exhibition on India’s Buddhist Heritage during Poson Poya underscores the millennia-old Buddhism connect between India and Sri Lanka
High Commission of India, Colombo organised a special exhibition on India’s rich Buddhist Heritage as a part of the Homagama Poson Zone recently from 3-4 June 2023. The exhibition was inaugurated by Minister of Transport and Highways and Minister of Mass Media, Bandula Gunawardana, in the presence of members of several dignitaries including members of the diplomatic corps.
The Exhibition showcased a series of photographs depicting some of the prominent Buddhist pilgrimage sites in India including Dhamek Stupa in Uttar Pradesh, Mahabodhi Temple and the Ashoka Pillar in Bihar, Sanchi Stupa in Madhya Pradesh. Photographs of over centuries-old sculptures and carvings were also exhibited.
A special attraction of the exhibition is a lantern depicting the arrival of Arahat Mahinda to Sri Lanka on one of its panels. The other panels depict ed the strong linkages between the four virtues of Buddhism i.e Metta, Karuna, Mudita and Upekka and the theme of India’s ongoing Presidency of the G20 i.e. One Earth, One Family, One Future.
The festival markied the arrival of Arahat Mahinda to Sri Lanka with the teachings of Buddhism from India, commemorating the age-old ties between India and Sri Lanka. In order to further this civilisational connect, Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi had announced a special grant of USD 15 million for promotion of Buddhist ties. Work is underway to carry out solar electrification of hundreds of temples across Sri Lanka under this grant. Last month as a part of the sacred Vesak Festival, High Commission of India had organised a Special Exhibition at Seemamalakaya, Gangaramaya Temple in Colombo.
Nicky makes Sri Lanka Proud in Canada
Nicky Bin Sadoon is a Sri Lankan entrepreneur operating an award winning bed and breakfast property overlooking the picturesque Niagara Falls in Canada. She has won many Trip Advisor’s awards for best B&B. Nicky shared her thoughts on how she rose to the top and how she is above others in running this competitive business.
Tell us about how you got into the business of becoming B&B?
We were introduced by a close friend to this concept to utilize our talents, diverse and professional experience in the industry. We were lucky to get this It also gave us the opportunity to operate a business from the confines of our home…
How do you ensure you stand out from the others amongst competition?
The cutting edge is to provide service excellence consistently and deliver our promise above and beyond. We also never say “no” to a customer until we find an alternative. To quote, “in the quest for excellence there is no finishing line”
Since you have been in the hospitality industry do you feel the guests expectations are high in Bread and Breakfasts?
Of course,our guests always want the best and they expect full value for their money. They want to experience the best comfort and Graystone. Guests forget what we have offered but will never forget how we made them feel. So, it takes a major effort to ensure their arrival and departure is a memorable journey. After all at Graystone we live by the adage that hospitality is part of our business.
A little bit background, about Graystone and what made you to run a B and B?
Nicky and Bin have been in the hospitality industry for innumerable years in Sri Lanka, we both worked for international brands in many countries as well. We can proudly boast of over 62 years in the industry. We were inculcated from the very onset that the cornerstone of this industry is “Guest Care” which we closely nurture…
You definitely hit the ground running by winning awards every year. What type of personality would you say it takes to run a successful bed and breakfast?
You need to be intuitive, savvy, transparent, socially and emotionally intelligent,friendly and always anticipate guests needs. We firmly believe our guests are special and make sure we give them a home away from home
Who would you say are your main customers?
We have a mix of baby boomers from the US (we live close to the US border the closest city being Buffalo) our guests are avid fans of the Shaw Theatre and wineries, domestic tourist’s comprising mainly of millennials who are lured by wine tasting, Casino’s, and bike trails. We also have international travellers from UK and other continents.
Give me an example of when you thought outside of the box?
When the pandemic hit us unexpectedly we had to think quick since the business landscape changed overnight. For a couple of months our occupancies took a “nose dive” but domestic tourism started to pick up. However we made ways and means to attract numbers by giving them the much needed confidence to return. We took drastic measures towards their personal health and safety. We promoted Graystone as a safe haven and made it compulsory that all guests complete a COVID questionnaire prior to their arrival in order to protect all of our patrons. All guests were compelled to wear face masks in public areas of the property, hand sanitizers were placed in all rooms, body temperatures were checked upon arrival and social distancing during breakfast etc. These pro- active preventive measures went viral on social media and guests were enticed by rave reviews in social media and newspapers. Personal health and safety of our property went viral and our rooms were full always.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
To maintain consistency, and give our guests the best always and meet thier needs and challenges at all times.
Is owning a bed and breakfast was your dream?
It never was a dream until we migrated to the Great White North 20 years back and then by chance, got this opportunity. We have not looked back since then and we have grown from strength to strength. .
You have a unique style at Graystone. What influenced your design?
Ours was a turnkey operation when we purchased this property. We give credit to the previous operators for maintaining high standards, and of course the architect for his unique ambience. All bedrooms are in the ground floor and there is a large patio for guests to relax and unwind. Weather permitting we serve breakfast in the patio which is well received by our guests against the tranquil and scenic surroundings…
How does the self service work for you. Do you work around the clock to make your guests happy?
Yes ,I enjoy what I do. I love my guests and I am a firm believer of the cliche “do what you do, do well”. It has obviously paid rich dividends and the journey so far is nothing short of being enriching and fulfilling in the lens of an operator.
What is your B&B best known for?
My attention for impeccable cleanliness in all areas especially bedrooms, my home cooked gourmet, the flexibility we exercise to make our guests feel at home. Our ultimate satisfaction is when our guests arrive as strangers and leave as friends. We always create a memorable experiences for our guests to come back.
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