The Great Men Series # 7

Everyone has a special story of their own, and if you only take a moment to listen, they need little prompting to share it. It is my artistic dream, if not endeavour, to share the stories of real people with the world. 

Conversations with Kamal Singh, another fabulous taxi driver – 

“In 2020 the Delhi population is going to be 70 million. At the moment it’s 30 million. There are so many multinational companies there. It’s inviting people to live and work there. The Delhi Heights people are basically Punjabi and business class people, but now you hardly see them because they have had to move outside Delhi. Immigrants from India, Bangladesh, Nepal, China and Pakistan occupy Delhi. It’s sad. When I went there after 4 1/2 years it was a culture shock. I didn’t see any familiar faces. Dad said, “why are you disappointed?” I said “Dad, I hardly see any Delhi Heights people now.” I’m upset, but I love New Zealand now. I wanted to see my friends in Delhi but they were so busy they didn’t have time. Most of them have jobs which are hard to get because there is too much competition. They work seven days. I said to my friend “Bro, how many hours do you work?” He said “until I’m exhausted.” I said “Don’t you have family life?” But he said he was too busy; he can’t even take Sundays off. If he has to take a day off he has to apply for it. In India everything is legal…

 …My wife is from New Zealand but she is also Punjabi. The first time I met her was my wedding day – arranged marriage. My father in law moved to New Zealand in late 70s, and his wife went back to India to look for a groom for their daughter. She gave my mother a photograph and said if she finds a boy for her daughter let her know. I was in my army uniform and she saw me and she said “How old is he?” My mum said “24.” So my wife’s mother took a photo of me and showed the daughter and she was pleased. I never saw the photo of her. I asked to see it but I wasn’t allowed. My dad told me that she was beautiful, and not to worry. I believe in arranged marriages, especially in our culture. We want to marry into the same culture. In my religion I’m allowed to eat everything but in Hindu they don’t eat beef, so my dad told me if I marry a Hindu girl there will be consequences in the future. I won’t force my daughters into an arranged marriage but I will tell them their choices. Just like my dad did. I trusted him. Hardly any parents will make a wrong decision for their children. One good thing about arranged marriages? If the relationship doesn’t go right you can blame your parents!

 …In Auckland I go to a Sikh temple. I’m a bit happy because of my holiday. I didn’t like India but it was a good break. So much change. I’m not very happy but I’m quite happy. If I take my wife and kids and then we had a good time – then I’d be very happy. Half my heart was here, I was missing my wife and children. Next time I’ll take them along with me. I’ll go for five weeks, and I’ll go before it gets to 70 million! My dad is a wealthy man so he has a house in Punjab on the outskirts of Himachil. One of my fore fathers bought the mountain and we have a home on top of it. There’s 2 km of driveway. It’s a nice place. The only problem is the mountain grizzly bears and leopards. They are very dangerous. We take my dad’s seven German Shepherds when we go there. The house is situated at 500 ft above sea level. It’s a good place, I love it.”

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