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October 7, 2009

Why?  Why India?  In order to explain why I’ve chosen to come to India I’ll break this up into two parts.

The Why

What is it that brings someone in the midst of it all to change everything and venture to India?  Like many Indo-Canadians, I have been twice removed from our motherland.  For some, this means India-Guyana-Canada or India-East Africa-Canada or India-UK-Canada.  For me, my Grandmother was born in Surat, Gujarat and my grandfather was born in Durban, South Africa.  In 1950 and 1951 respectively, my father and mother were born in South Africa.  Looking to escape the aftermath of the Apartheid, find a new life experience and come to a land filled with opportunity, my Dad came to Toronto, Canada to study his MBA at Schulich School of Business.  He, along with his brother were the first of my family to settle in Canada.  My dad and mom would write to each other in ways I can hardly conceive – post mail.  In our world today, where there is an overkill interconnectivity and people are instantly accessible via phone, cell phone, fax, E-mail, online messengers, social networking, VoIp services and more, writing hand-written letters almost seems archaic.

Perhaps it was just that, the personal touch of a written letter and the anticipation of the response which romanced my mother into ultimately moving to Canada to start her life with my father.  In 1977, they were married and a couple years later my sister would arrive.  Without any further ado, I was introduced to the world in the fall of 1983.  Born a tubby baby boy, I had more ripples on my body than the kilos I weighed!

I'm the fat one on the bottom.  My cousin is above.

I'm the fat one on the bottom. My cousin is above.

The first language which I spoke was Gujarati.  Admittedly, I can hardly speak any Gujarati today.  As I grew – moving house to house and school to school, there was always one consistency, my Indian culture.  Although I was 12,000 KM away from Gujarat, strong Hindu values and cultural traditions were embedded in my upbringing.  On the one front, I identified with being a proud Canadian living in a city known for its multiculturalism and high standard of living.  On the home front, traditional Indian food was the cuisine of choice, prayers were an integral part of our day, I participated in cultural community events, and I learned to play the tabla (a traditional Indian percussion). Over the years, I constantly found there were conflicting schools of thought in this collision between eastern and western values.  These conflicts extended from areas as profound as the belief in God, the purpose of humanity, the origins of our existence, the merits of science, the duty to ones family; to areas as ordinary as music, dietary choices, alcohol consumption and sex to name a few.  It isn’t a question of right and wrong or black and white, it is more to do with lateral differences in culture neither for the better nor for the worse.

This is why India was the natural choice as the place I wanted to extend my life to.  I knew I wanted to submerse myself in my roots and live on the same soil which my ancestors walked.  It only seemed appropriate that I would give my motherland a deserving chance.  Of course, like any yearning, it is one thing to imagine what such an experience might be like and quite another to get the guts to pick up and go for it. Therein lies…

The Motivation

Life is filled with opportunities that I believe are intentionally placed just outside of our grasp.  In order to seize those often involves jumping a few hurdles and pushing yourself.  For me, my motivation was what I like to call “The YES”.  Since the time we were children, we were taught the word NO.  That parental voice would dictate, “no you can’t go there, no you can’t do that, no you can’t eat that, no you can’t watch that movie, no no nocan’t can’t can’t.  This negativity has been instilled in our very being and while sometimes there is merit in the NO, if we lived our whole lives convincing ourselves that we can’t because we’re too young, or we can’t because we’re too old, or we can’t because we can’t; then that can’t be living at all.

The moment when "Hell Yes" paid off

The Moment When "Hell Yes" Paid Off (Bandra, Mumbai)

Too many of us, myself included, get caught up in this syndrome and the only way to breach this cycle of negativity is to branch out and shout, “I CAN!”  This was my motivation.  When I first thought of the idea to go to India, all the natural programmed responses came to mind.  In my instance, the heavy contenders were, “I can’t because of my mortgage and car payments, I can’t because I have my life here,” and, “I can’t because I need to have a steady stream of income”.  As it turned out, as soon as I changed my perspective, I found there was a solution to nearly every hurdle.  Without those hurdles in place, India was in my sights.  I challenge anyone reading this to say yes, or better yet, HELL YES! Maybe if we all had listened to that inner child, the world would have more firemen, astronauts, actors and rock stars and less bankers, lawyers, or any other common place professions …more dreamers instead of schemers.  It doesn’t have to be a drastic opportunity such as a career change, but be sure to say hell yes to any opportunity which makes your heart skip a beat.  You may or may not find what you are looking for, but at least for that one moment of spontaneity you will have escaped of the captivity of negativity.

Stay Tuned:  With a ground-base now in Mumbai, dubbed the New York of India, this will be home for the next few months.  As I travel through North and South India, I vow to push myself, exceed my own limits and chant Hell Yes every step of the way.  Next Stop – Matheran!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. sachin kapadia permalink
    March 23, 2011 6:10 pm

    amazing …….. it takes lot of guts to do or achive what u have…..
    i am one of ur many fans….
    bad luck u left india …..
    would love to meet u …
    maybe someday will catch u…
    byee …


  1. Mumbai Mubarak « Slice of Life

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