KARACHI: Asian Games double gold medallist sailor, hotelier, business tycoon, politician and honorary consul of Canada, Byram Dinshawji Avari, passed away after a brief illness here on Sunday. He was 81.
Known better as a hotelier, business tycoon and politician, who represented his community of Zoarastrians in the National Assembly of Pakistan for a number of years, he was also the Chairman of the Karachi Parsi Anjuman. The Avari monogram of a yacht carried the biggest clue to something he held very dear to his heart. As a champion sailor, Mr Avari was not just the Commodore of the Karachi Yacht Club, a position he held in 1976 and 1980, but he was also a gold medallist in sailing.
He bagged his first gold medal in enterprise class yachting first at the 1978 Asian Games held in Bangkok with fellow sailor Munir Sadiq and then for a second time in the 1982 Asian Games in New Delhi with none other than his own wife Goshpi, who he had coached himself.
Mr Avari was also the recipient of the President’s Pride of Performance award for sports in 1982.
A good swimmer, too, Mr Avari as a kid could only be found whiling away his free time in the Beach Luxury Hotel swimming pool. To get him out of there, his father, Dinshawji Avari, who had built the hotel, often had to bribe him with biryani, his son’s favourite dish. The family used to live right there in Khorshed Villa inside the hotel’s compound.
Taking over the family business from his father, Mr Avari also turned his attention to politics.
He became a member of the National Assembly a number of times, and played a significant role in highlighting some crucial social issues about minority rights. But later, he decided to withdraw from politics.
Following that he turned his attention to his hotel business. He was the chairman of the Avari Group of Companies operated by himself with his sons, the eldest of whom he had named after his father.
The group owns and operates the Avari Hotels chain, which include five-star deluxe hotels in Karachi and Lahore and the beloved and historical Beach Luxury Hotel. The group also manages hotels in the United Arab Emirates and Canada.
A kind-hearted soul, Mr Avari had several times allowed use of his hotel halls for free along with free catering whenever there was a need for a good cause.
Mr Avari had been in hospital for the last 20 days for an intestinal infection. He was responding quite well to medication, too, until the last week when his infection levels went up.
He leaves behind his wife and sailing partner Goshpi Avari, two sons Dinshaw and Xerxes and a daughter Zeena.
As the news of his passing became known, condolences and tributes started pouring in from all over. While expressing his grief at his passing, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said Mr Avari was a humble human being, whose work for the country and for his community would always be remembered.
Paidus/funeral prayers will be held at Khorshed Villa, his home inside the compound of Beach Luxury Hotel, at 1pm on Monday, followed by Sarosh prayers at sunset the same day and also on Tuesday.
Published in Dawn, January 23th, 2023