Enlightenment Productions | And Now a Word From On High…
Enlightenment Productions is an award-winning film and TV production company based in London and founded in partnership between producer Hanan Kattan and writer and director Shamim Sarif.
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And Now a Word From On High…

And Now a Word From On High…

Namaste, now that we are back from glorious India where we were winding down 2011 and getting ready for 2012.

This is Hanan here, writing my yearly blog for Shamim, as I promised her and I am good at keeping to calendar tasks!

Like India itself, I was conflicted as I left from Delhi with a heavy heart as my wife stayed behind for a few more days while I headed back to my boys in London and to make just it in time to Luca’s school Christmas carol service (he is in the school choir) and to then take Ethan at 4 am to his school for his ski trip as he made it to the school ski team. His school won last year’s UK school races (we are the proud mommies) and years ago I stopped trying to keep up with him on the slopes.

I left Shamim at 4.30 am at the hotel to get a car to Delhi airport only to find a big wedding was still in full swing and the lobby was crowded with wedding guests.  My car for the airport, which we booked the night before, was nowhere to be found and after making a big fuss for over 20 minutes and being assured  “2 more minutes Madam”, the driver finally shows up, relaxed and without a care in the world.

I thought it might be a good idea to close my eyes during the drive to the airport but within 10 minutes the car abruptly stopped in the middle of a very busy highway with traffic flying by, even at 5 am. When I asked the driver what had happened, he replied:

‘Fog, Madam.’

I looked outside the car. There was the usual pollution haze of Delhi but nothing special to cause a sudden stop in the middle of a busy highway.

The driver saw my confusion and pointed to the windscreen that was fogged up. He put the hazard lights on and sat back to wait in the middle of the road as cars zoomed past us. I took off my safety belt and lunged to the front of the car to press the steam button and explained that it would help clear the fog. He eyed me suspiciously but as the steam vanished he proceeded to the airport driving as if we were in a formula one race and ignoring any red lights along the way.

It reminded me of my car drive from Delhi to Jaipur a few days back when we arrived in India. I flew to Delhi, while Shamim went to Mumbai (possibly to take a 10 hour break from being nagged to work on the plane) and I met Liat at Delhi airport at 1.30 am. Instead of waiting for the 6 am flight to Jaipur, our dear friend Aseem kindly arranged for a car and a driver to drive us there.

Many years back, in my haircare days, Shamim and I had visited Dharamsala. I asked the hotel receptionist to reconfirm our flight. We had flown in on a tiny little plane that looked like a reject from the War, with the seats around us lurching forwards and backwards.

The hotel receptionist had then informed me:

‘Madam, we are not sure the plane from Delhi is coming this week’

I calmly informed him that we need to catch our flight back to London and the plane not coming was not an option.

‘Don’t worry madam, if there are passengers next week, the plane will be coming to Dharamsala’

So I immediately asked him to arrange a road trip with their professional hotel driver only to have two young kids show up in their uncle’s beat up air-condition-free car to drive two women across India to Delhi. It turned out they had never left Dharamsala before. I am not sure anyone truly recovers from a straight 11 hours journey on Indian roads and one day Shamim will have to write a blog about our adventures in India.

Earlier this week and as we were driving from Delhi, Liat thought we were on the set of Harry Potter, dematerialising just as a crash seemed imminent. At 2 am the streets were crowded with trucks and buses and our driver merrily continued to drive at full speed towards the gigantic trucks, somehow always managing at the last minute to squeeze between the trucks while zigzagging and beeping throughout the 6-hour car journey to Jaipur.

But what a wonderful way to end the year – in India to see dear friends, to meet new amazing people, to experience amazing talks at INK and to reflect on the year.

Having made the decision to sell our flat and move from central London to Wimbledon was a big decision for us after almost 15 years in Chelsea and away from our friends, our city life and our office. I thought of it as moving to the country even though Shamim assured me it was only 5 miles away from where we lived.

When Shamim and I moved in together as a couple and started our own family, we decided to do so in Chelsea as we both loved the village feel, the beautiful brick buildings and living near the river Thames and opposite Battersea park where we shot parts of I Can’t Think Straight and where we went each week with our boys to enjoy the park and where Shamim would go for her morning run in and come back with great ideas and stories for her books , films and music.

But now for our boys, it was time to move closer to Ethan’s school to remove his daily school commute and to put Luca in a new school close to our new family home.  So we sold the flat, bought a house and ended up spending the year living with Lebanese and Polish builders who are still in the house working away. We tried to explain to the Polish builder that he is not re-creating Versailles and we would like to have our home completed to spend our first Christmas without builders and boxes. Unfortunately he informed us that we will have this Christmas boxed in and that his Polish window supplier has let him down. I suppose we will just have to paint pictures of a garden onto the plywood.

2011 was another amazing year full of changes, challenges and wonderful things and amazing people. We completed The House of Tomorrow (inspired by TEDxHolyLand) after a follow up family trip to the HolyLand, we completed the music sound track, Shamim was invited as the closing panelist to the DLDWomen in Munich, she then condensed my marketing book from a thousand pages to two hundred pages, putting aside her fourth novel temporarily, we moved to Canada for the summer for Shamim to become Canadian and we took on the challenges of moving to a new house, a new part of London while learning to live with builders for almost a year.

And of course it took me a year to convince Shamim that we should publish her blogs from last year as a book, which we hope to have ready soon. We are working on many exciting projects for 2012 including the amazing and talented Leonie Casanova’s first album.

We are so grateful for the continued support and generosity from fans from all over the world. When we started on this journey of films, books and music, we had no idea that we will create an Enlightenment community that is growing each year. It is touching to know about the many friendships that have been formed directly between fans from all over the world and as a result of their passion for our films and books and music.

Here is to another amazing year for everyone and may 2012 continue to be a journey of discovery, new experiences and love.

Hanan and Shamim find a new companion for their next Indian road trip

Hanan and Shamim find a new companion for their next Indian road trip

Shamim Sarif
shamim@enlightenment-productions.com
17 Comments
  • Chutneyz
    Posted at 09:31h, 22 December

    “She walks in beauty as the night” in this case, two walk together. So my beautifull ladies have a Happy Holiday and a Sucessful( and I know it will be) New Year.

  • Lauren
    Posted at 19:07h, 20 December

    Great account of your recent and prior trips, Hanan! I like how your writing style is always heavy on the details. Felt like I was sitting in that cab with you while I read it.

    Your cab ride scenario sounds mile for terrifying mile like a trip I took to Beijing in 2002. The cab driver careened in and out of oncoming traffic with four people packed into the back and myself pressed tightly against the plastic dividing wall in the front, my face a lovely shade of green (if I do say so myself), an iron grip on the door handle while peeking between the fingers of my other hand every time I felt us narrowly miss side-swiping someone as evidenced by the rattling passenger side door! Oy vey, I was never so happy to step onto solid ground! But he got our whole group to an enchanting little Italian restaurant atop a lovely downtown hotel with white Christmas lights strung all about and that night remains one of the quintessential memories of my life… a bit like a dream, in fact. And in the end I forgave the cab driver so as not to acquire any bad travel karma (which is the ABSOLUTE worst kind!).

    Glad you survived, Hanan, and that you're both safe and sound. Neither of you are allowed to depart from this planet until you're both well into your 100s… or until Hanan's marketing books gets published, whichever comes first. 🙂

    Merry Christmas & a joyous New Year to your family…

  • Et A Présent Un Petit Mot Des Cieux | Le blog français de Shamim Sarif
    Posted at 10:19h, 18 December

    […] Article original : And Now A Word From On High […]

  • ShamimSarifOfficialFrenchBlog
    Posted at 09:32h, 18 December

    VF : 
    http://shamimsariffrance.wordp… . Here's to great and unexpected frienships inspired by the Enlightenment Team. 🙂

    • Maureen
      Posted at 20:27h, 20 December

      I second. 🙂

  • Lemonwoodcourt
    Posted at 13:57h, 17 December

    “Fog, Madam.”  Loved this part the best!  How many times have we refused to move forward, citing the fog around us as an excuse, when the fog is really inside of us, created by us?  The next time that happens to me, I'll ask my internal Hanan to switch on the internal fog-clearing machine and urge me to move forward!  No excuses allowed!  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Geedip, Chip, and all your friends at Lemonwood Court!

  • Liat Aaronson
    Posted at 13:55h, 17 December

    Wonderful Hanan! Perhaps you should write a book!

    • shamimsarif
      Posted at 16:13h, 17 December

      great idea, Liat 🙂 BTW, Hanan is asking how many chapters you've written…

  • anjumdar
    Posted at 12:31h, 17 December

    Happy New Year 2012

  • Claudia
    Posted at 12:02h, 17 December

    Wow and whew!! First, welcome Hanan and much thanks for getting the old heart racing this morn! 🙂 We would enjoy your blogs more often as they certainly offer journey highlights from the task master's perspective! 🙂 New project thought for Hanan: Publishing of a digital, “if, then, not an option” task calendar/organizer/project manager! 🙂 Thanks for the joys we feel from the stories of the Sarif-Kattan clan, and wishing you much happiness in 2012!

  • flintsuter
    Posted at 05:43h, 17 December

    Hanan, your sum up of 2011 nearly wore me out with laughter at the “Perils of Pauline” nature of your road tripping in India…why do drivers of tiny cars believe if they drive faster they cannot be crushed by huge lorries? Your zest for life, love of family and patience with putting up with the legions of us fans wanting to share bits of your life is amazing and I say blessings on you and yours!  Here's to 2012 and may it quickly be free of builders and bothers! In your honor I am drinking a frou frou coffee, but fear I may need a double shot of espresso soon to keep my heart going! 0430 on Saturday…I need to have the “let's sleep in!” talk once again with the dog;) Happy Christmas to youall at Enlightenment!

  • Nell Aucoin Naquin
    Posted at 04:38h, 17 December

    Hanan!  Hanan!  You are forgetting the “ace up your sleeve”  when dealing with travel problems in India…Cousin Muna!  Take her along next time and I bet you'll get from “here to there” in a heartbeat (and with whiplash)!

    Thanks for the 2011 adventures.  They did not disappoint!

  • Teedee1969
    Posted at 02:56h, 17 December

    maybe a holiday down under to oz is called for in 2012 guys u will love it

  • Pamela Keogh
    Posted at 02:56h, 17 December

    What an amazing year! Wow, we should try and meet up now that you're just down the road?! Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas and every blessing for 2012!

  • Roma
    Posted at 02:47h, 17 December

    Thanks Hanan for sharing….your writing is also too good….I enjoyed a lot…plz start writing regularly….all the best

  • AminaHarjan
    Posted at 01:47h, 17 December

    thank u for sharing. 🙂

    • can you guess?
      Posted at 18:31h, 20 December

      Hey Amina, can you guess who this is?

      Here's a hint: #tweepover LOL