What is my ideal day? Like all innocuous questions, it was easy to ask and difficult to answer. I think of all the things I love doing – like travelling, eating out and hiking – all of which are not possible right now because of the Coronavirus.
Apprentice-style learn-by-doing is a trademark of Gujarati businesses. I had learnt under a master from the day I emerged from the womb. Business school felt trivial and theoretical in comparison. During my first year, I gave my lecturers a hard time by misbehaving and sleeping in class. My good grades came as a surprise to them. Who needs school when life is our best teacher?
I finally get up and get changed. Not that I had any interest in getting ready. I put on some casual pants and a shirt that I didn’t care much for. The thundered roared outside. I didn’t use to like rain much – but ever since my very first Chopda Pujan at Sri Mariamman Temple, I have a new found respect for rain. Mariamman – or Mother Mari – is the Rain Mother. She is a pre-Vedic Tamil folk goddess. In agricultural societies, abundance was contingent on adequate rainfall. Without rain, crops cannot grow healthy and strong.
Courtesy of the coronavirus, many of us are on lockdown – spending unprecedented hours at home. As someone that’s accustomed to being in professions where people are the heart of everything I do – this lockdown has urged me to slow down. To zone in and figure out what really matters to me.
Sometimes it takes a serious blast from the past to make you realise how far you’ve come from where you first started. Two nights ago, I unexpectedly found myself in Singapore’s Holland Village. I hadn’t been there in years – not since I was an accounting student. It was a popular date spot and I had many flashbacks of my life in my late teens.
We have a responsibility towards our ancestors. To receive an inheritance is not merely about property and assets, but also comes with a corresponding spiritual legacy that includes their vocation, their belief system, and their way of life.
I’ve been a minority my whole life. In Singapore, I’m Indian. In India, I’m Singaporean. In Britain, I’m Asian. In Japan, I’m a gaigokujin. Foreigner. The essence of who I am is truly lost in all the labels that people keep giving me. I went to the National Gallery in Singapore last weekend, and the docent told me – ‘Enjoy the rest of your stay here’. No, the comment did not annoy me. To be honest, I thought it was quite amusing. Our preconceived notions about who and what people are can be startlingly different from the truth.