Jas Madhur: We All Have to Eat

Jas Madhur, pictured, sees sharing a meal as a way to remove religious and cultural barriers
Photo: Mike Zenari

Jas Madhur is a Non-Resident member of the Union Club, having joined in 2005.

Eating with others has always been an important feature of Jas Madhur’s life, from the Sikh temples of his childhood, to the meals he enjoyed in the many countries he has lived.

Now the British-Canadian national is importing the concept of Sikh community kitchens, or “Langars”, to Luxembourg by coordinating free meals to encourage “sharing, participation and togetherness”.

“Anyone who wants to come together and sit with us and eat in peace and share ideas, we will do it,” he explains. Madhur, who moved to Luxembourg in 2011 and works as an external consultant, has been a lifelong fan of cooking. He says: “It’s very much a part of my cultures to invite people in. The first thing you say is ‘Sit down. What would you like to eat?’”

Madhur has a good selection of spices and enjoys cooking for friends who, he jokes, like to tell him how he can improve. But his culinary skills were turned to a different purpose when he hosted his first Langar in August 2019 for volunteers at the Aërdscheff, a sustainable construction project organised by Cell in Redange-sur-Attert.

“It was for volunteers who, in my mind, were doing a very noble thing by volunteering their time to work in the circular economy,” he says. “We were invited to celebrate their final dinner. They had all the facilities and were more than willing to help cook the stuff.” At this inaugural Langar, Madhur, whose family originates from India, cooked dishes using lentils, rice and vegetables with blended spices. But he says a Langar meal can consist of anything. The essential ingredients are the selfless act of contributing, sharing tasks and eating together.

The Langar practice is thought to have been started by Guru Nanak, who was born in 1469 in Talwandi near Lahore. 
He reportedly introduced the concept  to encourage equality among all people regardless of religion, cast, creed, age, gender or social status. The Sikh diaspora has since helped to spread the tradition around the world. “The difference between what I’m trying to do versus my father was that his generation was interested in collecting money, buying land and building temples,” Madhur says. “My push is to make it more open and go out.”

Madhur has a rich experience of expat life–he grew up in Kenya and has lived in the UK, Canada, US, France and Middle East. And he sees multicultural Luxembourg as an ideal place to establish a secular version of the Langar tradition. “As an immigrant, one becomes very conscious of the fact that one does not look, sound or even smell like the locals. As such, there is a tendency to shrink back into one’s enclaves and comfort zones and cultivate mistrust,” he says. 
“I think that rather than creating religious fortresses, the time has come to say that we are here as your neighbours and want to share an important part of what we value, wherever we go in the world.”

To be able to prepare a Langar, Madhur needs a location with cooking facilities and people willing to pitch in. He plans to coordinate four Langars per year, for groups of up to 50 people and he hopes to encourage others to embrace the concept. “I’m now trying to encourage friends of every walk of life to take the idea of a Langar and do it for their friends,” he says, adding: “We all have to eat. It’s nice to share your food.”

Prince Harry Arrives on Vancouver Island to Begin New Life

The Duke of Sussex is spotted at Victoria International Airport, Victoria, BC, Canada after he and Meghan agreed a deal to step back as senior royals.

Prince Harry has arrived on Vancouver Island to begin his new life with Meghan and baby Archie.

The Duke of Sussex was whisked away by a car waiting on the tarmac just days after he and Meghan agreed a deal with the Queen to step back as senior royals.

Sky’s US correspondent Greg Milam, said: “It’s only a three minute drive to the house where they spent six weeks over Christmas and where the duchess returned 10 days ago to be reunited with their son.”

Harry had earlier attended the UK-Africa Investment Summit in Docklands on Monday, where met the prime minister in private for 20 minutes on the sidelines.

No aides were present during the informal “catch-up” chat in a room upstairs at the summit.

Meghan returned to Canada earlier in January after the Sussexes issued a bombshell statement saying they were stepping back as senior royals.

Harry’s departure from the UK comes after he told supporters of his Sentable charity that the couple had “no other option” on Sunday.

He told those gathered at a dinner on Sunday night: “It brings me great sadness that it has come to this. The decision that I have made for my wife and I to step back is not one I made lightly.

“It was so many months of talks after so many years of challenges.

“And I know I haven’t always gotten it right, but as far as this goes, there really was no other option.

“What I want to make clear is we’re not walking away, and we certainly aren’t walking away from you.

“Our hope was to continue serving the Queen, the commonwealth, and my military associations, but without public funding. Unfortunately, that wasn’t possible.

“I’ve accepted this, knowing that it doesn’t change who I am or how committed I am.”

Harry added that he hopes “that helps you understand what it had come to, that I would step my family back from all I have ever known, to take a step forward into what I hope can be a more peaceful life”.

He continued: “I was born into this life, and it is a great honour to serve my country and the Queen.”

The Queen held crisis talks with Prince Harry, Prince William and Prince Charles on after Harry and Meghan statement on 8 January.

A deal was later agreed where the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will lose royal funds and no longer use their HRH titles from spring.

They will also repay £2.4m of taxpayers’ money spent on renovating their Frogmore Cottage home.

They will still use the property as their base when in the UK, but it is believed they will spend the majority of their time in North America.

It is not yet known who will foot the bill for the couple’s security, but justice secretary Robert Buckland told Sky News there must be a clear “line of delineation”.

“I think there is an issue about how public money is spent.

“Quite clearly there have already been arrangements made about how that family are going to live and how they are going to be able to get private income but there clearly has to be a line of delineation.

“I think we all want a family like that to be safe, but at the same time I think what really needs to happen is they need to understand how their lifestyle is to adapt and what their needs might be.”

Private Clubs in Canada Are Letting Go of Old-School Rules and Turning Their Spaces Into Modern Places for Business

Private clubs such as the Rideau Club are revamping both their decor and their membership policies in a bid to attract a fresh crop of younger members. THE RIDEAU CLUB/HANDOUT

At first glance, the Sun Life Financial Centre in the heart of Ottawa’s business district looks the same as virtually any other office building in any other Canadian city.

However, there is one telling detail. As you enter the lobby, there is a bank of elevators, but one is set slightly apart from the rest. It has only one button. Next to it, on a discreet wooden plaque, the words “Savoir faire” and “Savoir vivre” are imprinted in a rich bronze hue beneath the engraving of a crown surrounded by leaves.

This is the elevator to the Rideau Club, long renowned as one of the most exclusive private settings for Ottawa’s elite.


These days, however, even a storied institution such as the Rideau Club is in the process of revamping both its decor and its membership policy in a bid to attract a fresh crop of younger members.

“The board realized through a whole bunch of indicators that we needed change if we wanted to be relevant and be around for another 150 years,” says Carol-Ann Goering, the first woman in the club’s long history to assume the mantle of general manager and chief operating officer.

“If you’re under 40 and coming in, you’re not going to want to sit in your grandmother’s study,” Ms. Goering says. “But we still want to maintain as much tradition and history as we can.”


As an integral part of Ottawa’s history since being founded by Sir John A. Macdonald and other Canadian luminaries in 1865, the Rideau Club came into being just 22 months prior to Confederation. In the many years since, it has occupied five different locations in the city, including the prestigious Wellington Street building, just across from Parliament Hill, where the club occupied for 104 years. Tragically in 1979, this landmark building was lost to fire, along with most of the club’s original documents.

A short time later, the club became both owner and tenant of the space it currently occupies – the entire 15th floor at 99 Bank St. But the challenge, Ms. Goering says, is that the Rideau Club, unlike many private clubs across Canada, lacks curbside appeal.

The Rideau Club aims to make its spaces more inviting to modern workers.THE RIDEAU CLUB/HANDOUT

“When you walk by some of these other clubs, they have this almost storefront call-out, like, ‘Wow that’s a cool place, maybe I’d like to see in there.’ We don’t have that. I think that’s a drawback about where we are located. We can’t showcase a beautiful heritage building,” Ms. Goering says.

However, the club is looking to add a rooftop terrace – which would offer unprecedented views of Parliament Hill – as well as fully renovating most of the rooms, with the goal of making the existing amenities more attractive to the modern worker.


Ms. Goering says the influx of tech companies in Ottawa has brought in members who are interested in making use of the club as a downtown workspace, and, as a result, the club already has private spaces for interviews or meetings, and the casual dining menu is being expanded to account for the fact that most tech workers don’t even wear a suit and tie, let alone make time for a three-course lunch.

With construction soon to begin on light-rail-transit service in the city’s core, and a downtown condo boom well under way, the Rideau Club’s location is becoming more relevant than ever. The club’s makeup is also becoming more reflective of Ottawa’s evolving identity as a whole. Not only are membership numbers an average of 184 per cent higher over 2018, but 60 per cent of the club’s new members in the past three years have been under 40, and 30 per cent have been women.

“It’s a really different look to the club,” Ms. Goering says.

The Rideau Club’s casual-dining menu is being expanded to account for the fact that most tech workers don’t even wear a suit and tie, let alone sit down for three-course lunches.THE RIDEAU CLUB/HANDOUT

The changing vibe and look to Ottawa’s private club is reflective of other, similarly steeped-in-history social clubs across Canada.

In 2010, the Vancouver Club (formerly the Granville Club) used the influx of money it earned for playing host to the International Olympic Committee during the Vancouver Olympic Games to renovate and update its existing home, a building originally constructed in 1913.

Megan Rollerson, the Vancouver Club’s marketing manager, says the past decade has seen the club – which is also located in the heart of that city’s business district – modernized at the behest of members who are looking for more co-working space. For example, the updated facilities turned a ballroom that wasn’t used during the day into productive working space.


Ms. Rollerson also points to the well-known Soho House as one of the key influences driving so many of these legacy clubs to upgrade and modernize their facilities.

Founded in 1995, Soho House is a hotel chain and group of private members’ clubs. There are 23 locations around the world, including a Canadian Soho House that opened in Toronto in 2012. Located in an 1840s heritage building in the city’s Entertainment District, the 10,000-square-foot club launched during the Toronto International Film Festival. Despite being only seven years old, Toronto’s Soho House holds its own against legacy clubs such as the Albany Club (founded in 1882) and the National Club (founded in 1874) and is thriving thanks to its youthful membership and focus on creative industries.

“What started in 1995 as a bar and restaurant for people to hang out in has changed since prospective members have changed and what they want in spaces for their spare time and business time have merged together,” says Peter Chipcase, the chief communications and strategy officer for Soho House & Co., based in London.

Although there is just the one club in Canada for now, Mr. Chipcase says workspace will play a key role in Soho House’s next big initiative, just as it has for the Rideau Club and the Vancouver Club. He alludes to the creation of a workspace that will be connected to a Soho House location, but not actually situated in the house itself.

“It might be in the same building, but we want to create a very specific Soho House version of shared workspace. That’s the next step,” he says about the concept that is set to launch in London this fall, then again in New York and Los Angeles later this year and in Toronto at some future point in time.

Shawn Hamilton, the senior vice-president and managing director of CBRE in Ottawa, says it’s not surprising to see this bleeding of the lines between a private club setting and a co-working setting.

Private clubs have younger groups of members that are acting as the lifeblood of the club, he says. They want a club to be a place they can work, where they can entertain, and where they can exercise – all under one roof.

“Private clubs are changing,” Mr. Hamilton says. “It’s no longer like walking into an Agatha Christie novel.”

These days, private clubs are about providing all the amenities a member requires to work, live and play. Shared workspace and live-work clubs may just be the next commercial “growth industry because people just seem to want it,” Mr. Hamilton says.

Queen Agrees to let Harry, Meghan Move Part-Time to Canada

The figures of Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, left, are moved from their original positions next to Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip and Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, at Madame Tussauds in London, Thursday Jan. 9, 2020. Madame Tussauds moved its figures of Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex from its Royal Family set to elsewhere in the attraction. (Victoria Jones/PA via AP)

SANDRINGHAM, England — Queen Elizabeth II agreed Monday to grant Prince Harry and and his wife Meghan their wish for a more independent life, allowing them to move part-time to Canada while remaining firmly in the House of Windsor.

The British monarch said in a statement that the summit of senior royals on Monday was “constructive,” and that it had been “agreed that there will be a period of transition” in which the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will spend time in Canada and the UK.”

The summit at the queen’s Sandringham estate in eastern England marked the first face-to-face talks with Harry since he and Meghan unveiled the controversial plan to step back from their royal roles.

“My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan’s desire to create a new life as a young family,” the queen said in a statement. “Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working members of the Royal Family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family.”

The meeting came after days of intense news coverage, in which supporters of the royal family’s feuding factions used the British media to paint conflicting pictures of who was to blame for the rift.

Buckingham Palace said “a range of possibilities” would be discussed, but the queen was determined to resolve the situation within “days, not weeks.” Buckingham Palace stressed, however, that “any decision will take time to be implemented.”

One of the more fraught questions that needs to be worked out is precisely what it means for a royal to be financially independent and what activities can be undertaken to make money. Other royals who have ventured into the world of commerce have found it complicated.

Prince Andrew, for example, has faced heated questions about his relationship with the late convicted sex offender and financier Jeffrey Epstein. Andrew, the queen’s second son, has relinquished royal duties and patronages after being accused by a woman who says she was an Epstein trafficking victim who slept with the prince.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex also face questions on paying for taxpayer-funded security. Home Secretary Priti Patel refused to comment, but said safety was a priority.

There were signs earlier in the day that the House of Windsor had moved to unite. Princes William and Harry issued a joint statement criticizing a newspaper article on the severe strain in their relationship, calling the story offensive and potentially harmful as they embark on talks regarding the future of the British monarchy.

Though the statement didn’t name the newspaper, the Times of London had a front page story about the crisis in which a source alleged that Harry and Meghan had been pushed away by the “bullying attitude from” William. The joint statement insisted that the story was “false.”

“For brothers who care so deeply about the issues surrounding mental health, the use of inflammatory language in this way is offensive and potentially harmful,” the statement said.

Retailers Name Victoria Running Business Store of the Year

Victoria business Frontrunners Footwear, was named 2019 Store of the Year award by its peers. (Photo courtesy the Canadian Independent Running Retailers of Canada)

Frontrunners Footwear recognized by the Canadian Independent Running Retailers of Canada.

Victoria business Frontrunners Footwear was named 2019 Store of the Year by the Canadian Independent Running Retailers of Canada.

The award was presented to owners (and UC members) Rob Reid and Nick Walker by New Balance, Boston at the annual North American Running Retailers Event in Austin, Texas – a gathering of 300 retail owners.

“This is a great honour for the store and our staff. We pride ourselves on being local and supporting community events,” said Reid. “Membership of the Independent Running Retailers has grown to 30 stores from across the country and it continues to grow every year, which proves that there is a demand for local retailers.”

Established in 1988, Frontrunners has three stores in the Victoria area and one in Nanaimo. Reid founded the independent Canadian running retail group 14 years ago to share best practices, and grow the sport in Canada. The Best Canadian Running Retailer of the Year Award is given to the top store in the industry for its service and community work.

“We strive to be a leader in community development by supporting hundreds of local charitable organizations and events every year,” said Walker.

Frontrunners sponsors events such as the Oak Bay Half Marathon, GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon, The Victoria Goddess Run, the Vancouver Island Trail Series and the Vancouver Island Race Series. It also supports the Every Steps Program at Cool Aid, and founded Shoes for Youth in 1996 providing more than 2,000 pairs of shoes to underprivileged youth on Vancouver Island.

Frontrunners also promotes a healthy and active lifestyle to more than 500 runners each year, through running clinics at all four stores.

Sir Richard Branson: Make 2020 the Year of Trying New Things

Sir Richard Branson ponders the landscape for 2020.

It can be really easy to get comfortable in life and to only do things inside your comfort zone. You’re unlikely to get hurt here, you might get really good at doing the one thing you know you can do, and your expectations are likely to be in line with what goes on around you so you’re not disappointed.

But the magic doesn’t happen here. Nothing good in my life has ever happened from the safety of my comfort zone. It’s all those moments where you feel challenged, where you think ‘ahhhh, maybe this wasn’t such a good idea’ and then ponder giving up – if you can get through this stage of doubt and make it out the other side – I promise you, this is where the good stuff happens.

If life is starting to feel a bit samey and there’s a bit too much routine – try something new. This is the perfect time to start. It’s a New Year, a fresh slate, a chance to change it up. At Virgin we are always trying new things – this year we’re opening new hotels, launching new airline routes, pushing the envelope further with our space companies and beginning sailing our new cruise line, Virgin Voyages. I’m sure there are many new things waiting around the corner for me.

Virgin Voyages

If you need a little inspiration, the theme of my autobiography, Finding My Virginity, is all about how we should never lose the thrill of trying something new for the first time. The book starts out where Losing My Virginity left off and tells the story of my life and the growth of Virgin over the past 20 years.

It reveals how my home moved from a houseboat to a paradise island, while my company has grown from a UK business to a global brand and my focus has shifted from battling bigger rivals to changing business for good. In this time I’ve experienced joy, heartbreak, hurricanes, business highs, grief, records, doubt and my toughest ever crisis.

Everything that has happened over the past two decades has happened outside my comfort zone – and it’s been an incredible journey. I hope you get out there and try something new in 2020.

All the best for 2020!

Sir Richard Branson

With ‘Megxit,’ Harry and Meghan Aim to Control Media Image

In this Tuesday, July 10, 2018 file photo Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, and Meghan the Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry watch a flypast of Royal Air Force aircraft pass over Buckingham Palace in London. In a stunning declaration, Britain’s Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, said they are planning “to step back” as senior members of the royal family and “work to become financially independent.” A statement issued by the couple Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020 also said they intend to “balance” their time between the U.K. and North America.

The relationship between Britain’s royals and the media is awkward, mistrustful — and seemingly inescapable. But now Meghan and Harry want out.

After years of growing tension with the press, the prince and his wife have announced plans to quit their senior royal duties, move part-time to North America, seek financial independence and withdraw from regular media scrutiny.

The couple — who have complained of intrusive media coverage and accused some British media commentators of racism — slammed the country’s long-standing arrangements for royal media coverage, saying they prefer to communicate directly with the public through social media.

The British press was stung by the snub, reacting Thursday with articles, columns and editorials that ranged from disappointment to fury.

The Daily Mirror said in an editorial that the couple’s failure to tell Harry’s grandmother Queen Elizabeth II about their plans “shows shocking disregard for a woman whose entire life has been ruled by a sense of public duty and honour.” The Times of London accused Harry of “petulance and hot-headedness,” while the Daily Mail said the couple wanted “the status of being ‘senior’ royals but the privacy and freedom of being private citizens.”

The Sun and the New York Post both described the departure as “Megxit,” a play on Brexit, Britain’s impending departure from the European Union.

The 93-year-old monarch moved Thursday to take control of the situation. Britain’s national news agency, Press Association, reported that the queen had ordered officials representing the monarch, Charles, Prince William, and Harry and Meghan to meet and find “workable solutions” within “days not weeks.”

Harry and Meghan’s shock announcement drew comparisons to the abdication of the queen’s uncle King Edward VIII, who gave up the throne in 1936 so he could marry divorced American Wallis Simpson. Once again, waspish commentators noted, an American woman has caused a ruction in the British royal family.

But the relationship between royals and the media has changed dramatically in the intervening decades. Before the abdication, the romance between Edward and Simpson was headline news in the United States but went largely unreported by a deferential British press.

The trauma of World War II and the social revolution of the 1960’s demolished that tradition of deference to royalty. For decades, the U.K. media has proclaimed its reverence for the queen while treating the travails of her family as fair game, from the divorces of three of her four children to second son Prince Andrew’s troubling friendship with the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

After Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer in 1981, the media charted every twist in the marriage: the births of sons William and Harry, Diana’s glamour and charity work, the slow public crumbling of the relationship.

Charles and Diana both used the media as a weapon as their marriage foundered, giving TV interviews to present themselves in a sympathetic light. But Diana — a global megastar, followed by paparazzi wherever she went — was never fully in control of the media attention. She was killed in a car crash in Paris in 1997 while being pursued by photographers.

Diana’s death provoked a crisis for the monarchy — which was portrayed as remote and cold at a time of national grief — and for the media, accused of hounding a vulnerable woman.

In the wake of Diana’s death, the palace and the press reached an uneasy truce. The British media left young William and Harry alone in exchange for carefully staged interviews and photo opportunities as they grew up. That practice has continued with the three young children of William and his wife Kate.

Harry, however, still blames the media for his mother’s death, and since meeting his wife — the former actress Meghan Markle — he has become less willing to play the game.

In 2017, the prince accused the media of directing “a wave of abuse and harassment” at the biracial Markle, including “racial undertones” in articles. Last year the couple launched a lawsuit against the Mail on Sunday newspaper over its publication of a letter written by Meghan. Harry said he feared “history repeating itself. … I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces.”

Yet using the media has been a key part of Harry and Meghan’s strategy, just as it was for Diana. When they wanted to make their unhappiness public, the couple gave an interview to a sympathetic journalist from broadcaster ITV.

In that interview, Meghan said that “very naively,” she had been unprepared for the intense media scrutiny she would receive once she married into the British royal family.

“I never thought that this would be easy, but I thought it would be fair,” she said.

Harry and Meghan now want to use the media on their own terms, dropping out of the “royal rota,” a pool system that organizes media coverage of the royal family’s public events. On a newly launched website, they said the system hampered their ability to “personally share moments in their lives directly with members of the public” via social media.

They said in the future they would “engage with grassroots media organizations and young, up-and-coming journalists.” They also slammed the “misconception” that the British media’s royal correspondents were “credible sources” of information.

Freddy Mayhew, editor of the Press Gazette, a newspaper industry trade publication, said the royal couple was aiming for a “much more controlled, much more private” approach to the media, drawing on Meghan’s experience as a U.S. television star.

“I think they are perhaps seizing an opportunity with the decline of print media to break away,” he said. “That’s something they couldn’t have done before, when papers were at their full strength. But now that a lot of it is moving online, there’s the ability for people like Harry and Meghan to take control of what they put out there.”

Harry, 35, is Elizabeth’s grandson and sixth in line to the British throne, behind his father, brother and his brother’s three children. With his ginger hair and beard, he is one of the royal family’s most recognizable and popular members and has spent his entire life in the public eye.

Before marrying the prince in a wedding watched around the world in 2018, the 38-year-old Meghan was a star of the TV legal drama “Suits.” The couple’s son Archie was born in May 2019.

Less than two years after that fairy tale wedding, the couple was enmeshed in an uproar that began Wednesday with a statement from Buckingham Palace, described as “a personal message from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.” It said Harry and Meghan intend to become financially independent and to “balance” their time between the U.K. and North America.

In a subsequent statement just 90 minutes later, though, a difference of opinion was laid bare. The palace said many issues still had to be worked out before the couple’s plan could be realized and discussions with the couple “were at an early stage.”

That communique suggested that Harry and Meghan’s statement had caught the royal household by surprise.

“We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through,” it read.

The announcement left a slew of questions: Where exactly do Meghan and Harry plan to live, and how will they earn private income without tarnishing the royal image? At the moment, they are largely funded by Harry’s father, Prince Charles, through income from his vast Duchy of Cornwall estate.

The move dominated the news in Britain, and divided opinion. Some blamed Meghan for the troubles. A social media storm compared her to Yoko Ono, the widow of Beatles singer John Lennon, who was blamed for the breakup of the famous band.

Madame Tussauds, the famed London waxwork attraction, moved the couple out of the royal section, where they had previously stood next to the monarch and Prince Philip.

Others offered sympathy for the queen, who remains a revered figure.

“We don’t mind them having an ordinary life. What we don’t like is the queen not being informed about nothing,” said royal super-fan John Loughrey, adding that the British public did not want to see the royal couple “isolated” abroad.

“It is a crisis,” he said. “We have got a crisis here. Seriously.”