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My parents migrated from Jalandhar City, Punjab, India. I’d like to think they immigrated here because all my dad’s cousins were already here and well established. Growing up, I was fortunate enough to go to a catholic school as a kid in India, where English was mandatory. But even then, I still got made fun of my pronunciation; and I was left out of “work happy hours” or “birthday parties” because people just assumed I’d not want to attend those. Stereotypes like Slumdog Millionaire came out around the time I was growing up. It really annoyed me that everybody I met; my co-workers, patrons at the store - all would weigh me like the same poor kid that was in Slumdog; and make sarcastic comments about how I’m so lucky to get out of the slums in India. It bothered me but I laughed it off because I didn’t want to cause drama. Separation Anxiety- I came to the states when I was 16; so, I had a huge circle of friends that I left behind. It was traumatic leaving everything behind and starting from zero. These were the ‘pre-phone internet’ times; so, if I had to talk to them, I had to be in front of a computer screen in the middle of the night on skype. I grew up in a Hindu family, but the majority of my friends were Sikhs; so I was basically raised up as a hybrid. That puts me in an interesting spot because I learned good things from both religions. 

Being multi-faith and spiritual gives me a different perspective on life; I believe in Karma, but I also believe that life is hell and death is the ultimate road to heaven. My journey has been interesting and challenging at the same time. My parents went back to India because they had to take care of my ailing grandmother. That left me, an18/19-year-old kid by myself so I had to figure out a lot of things on my own. Then I had to make the move to KC for a job when I knew nobody here; so, I had to find fellow Indian people on Facebook and be that “creepy fob guy that sent friend requests to random strangers”. Then I got laid off from my job, my car broke down and my best friend/roommate left for India all in the same week. I'm the kind of person that loves to make mistakes and learn from them. I think that is the key to me overcoming obstacles in my life. I did stupid things, I messed up, I learned from them, and I came back stronger. Having a good support system helped; my friends, my now-wife; were all there for the highs and lows of my life. Cultural fit was very interesting, I think being an immigrant makes you give your 200% to fit in, just because you must mold yourself to a new situation, a new circle of people, new circumstances, etc. 

I’m not a very religious person but when I moved here, I tried to attend as many religious festivals as I could so I could make new friends have a new social circle. This does not apply to everybody but in my case, coming from an immigrant background taught me financial knowledge; being street smart and that hard work does indeed pay off. This country (USA) has limitless potential, but if you aren’t smart with your life and choices, it’s easy to get carried away. I think on a daily basis, I live on two simple principles:

  1. “You were born empty-handed, and you will die empty-handed”

  2. “Sukh Vele Shukrana, Dukh Vele Ardaas (During times of happiness, practice gratitude| During times of hardship, practice prayer)”\

I love Bhangra, and I’ve always competed in events when I was in India and in NYC where I went to school. KCBhangra started off as just a fun activity for kids on Sundays, but I quickly realized it is way more than that. I wanted to give Punjabi/Indian kids a platform where they all feel a sense of belonging. We have kids join us super shy, unsure, and insecure about their identity. Slowly they open to us saying how they're bullied at school for their patka or their skin color. They feel a sense of pride hanging out

with kids like them, speaking their mother tongue, and doing a dance together. The love and support I receive from my students and their parents keep me motivated to continue KC Bhangra. It melts my heart when I hear parents telling me that kids look forward to Bhangra Sundays and they’re mad when I take a week off. My goal is to someday have a professional Bhangra & amp; Giddha team so we can compete in competitions around the Midwest and I will give my 100% to make that goal a reality


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