Fri | Sep 30, 2016

Al Niazi's memorable 80th!

Published:Friday | February 26, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Chester Francis-Jackson, Gleaner Writer

Al Niazi is a world citizen. Originally an Indian national, he became Pakistani with that country's separation from India in 1946. Since then, he has lived in Europe, North America and the Caribbean, making Jamaica his home for more than 30 years.

Before becoming a naturalised citizen of Jamaica, Niazi was an integral part of the social, cultural and managerial landscape of this country. His counsel has been invaluable to the many captains of industry who have sought him out over the years.

An avid golfer and raconteur, he has endeared himself to many across the Indian and Pakistani communities here.

Over the years, Niazi (Uncle Al to close friends and relatives) assumed the role of confidant and father figure to businessman Kenny Benjamin. And with his penchant for creating culinary masterpieces, not only found a willing pupil and 'adopted' son in Benjamin, they became fast friends.

On Sunday, February 21, Niazi celebrated his 80th birthday. To mark the occasion, Benjamin and his companion, Aloima Suarez, threw open the doors to their Stony Hill residence and hosted what proved a swelleganza.

Memorable occasion

What's a milestone if not to be celebrated by friends and family? To make the occasion memorable, Niazi's son Rehman and his wife, the lovely Mia, jetted in from British Columbia; for the party.

Cindy Breakspeare decorated Benjamin's famed entertainment cathedral to reflect the mood of the occasion. And with all the talk about redefining age, at 80, Niazi looks more like 60.

And so it was, my dears, with his family and friends, it was all about celebrating the birthday of a true friend and mentor. It turned out to be one sentimental do, and then some!

Guests turned out in their finest traditional garb, for the most part, adding an air of grandeur to the fabulous garden!

Dears, from toast to dinner and more toasts, it was an evening of the finest order, as friends regaled each other with their favourite reminiscences of Uncle Al. Between sips and spills, laughter and the spirit of family, continental Indian and Pakistani fare, topped by delicious chocolate and lychee cakes from Chocolate Dreams, you know it was memorable!

Among those out sharing in the special occasion were: Finance Minister
Audley Shaw
and his fiancée, the lovely
Susan Duhaney
;
Zia Mian
and the tres elegant
Mitsy Seaga
; Judge
Glen Brown
;
Valerie Juggan-Brown
;
Rupert Bent
and wife
Cindy Breakspeare
;
Bev Phang-Sang
, who jetted in from Florida for the occasion;
Craig
and
Ann Marie Phang Sang
;
Harold Brady
; Drs
Dhiru
and
Laura Tanna
;
Patrick Bailey
squiring
Betty Delfosse-Ingleton
; Dr
Lee Martin
;
Rajiv Bakshi
and his companion
Dorothea Gordon Smith
;
Fred Dumetz
and
Sonja Sutherland Dumetz
;
Evan
and
Betsy Williams
and daughter
Enola
;
Robbie
and
Odette Epstein
; EU official
Alex Dropinski
and wife Dr
Saphire Longmore
;
Tariq
and
Sameena Malik
;
Tarun Handa
and
Catherine Craig Handa
;
Miranda Ragbeir
;
Rajan
and
Sonia Trehan
;
Vinay Walia
and fiancée
Sidjae Robinson
;
Rhodd Graham Dillon
and
Sheraine Murray
;
Vikram
and
Aditi Dhiman
;
Shawn
and
Rilla Haq
;
Robert Haughton
;
Ravi
and
Simran Roshlani
;
Sonia
and
Shabaz Allam
;
Hasein
and
Suriya Ahmad
; sisters
Taquise
and
Luciana Gordon Smith
; plus a number of others.

Simran Rochlani went traditional for Al Niazi's birthday.