Hari Kumar is the kind of success story every new Canadian aspires to be. But what makes his case truly interesting and even inspirational is the fact that unlike many new immigrants, he didn’t come to Canada for a better future. On the contrary, he had everything going for him when he decided to make the move to the country of maple leaves and icy winters. Following a degree in Electrical Engineering from India, his home country, he worked in Iraq and Singapore. Generation Next recently spoke to this successful professional who is also an accomplished writer.
Kumar’s family, comprising his wife and two sons, had a steady and comfortable life in Singapore. However, it was Kumar’s brother, a Canadian living in Toronto, who encouraged them to move to this country. Recalling the days leading up to their immigration, Kumar says, “Although winding up our Singapore chapter was painless as far as the process went, it was emotionally difficult. Eighteen years is a long time to build strong relationships. We have more friends there than anywhere else in the world. Even now, my wife spends the first two hours every day chatting with her friends in Singapore.”
As gratifying as life was in Singapore, Kumar felt something was missing. “Over the years in Singapore, the familiar and comfortable routines had caused a growing sense of emptiness within me. I had uneventfully crossed the age when men bought race cars and went on bungee jumping holidays. Canada was perhaps my bungee jump. And so in late October of 2010, my family and I decided to take that one way ticket out of Singapore,” he says.
Luckily, finding his feet here professionally wasn’t difficult for Kumar. While still in Singapore, he qualified for a position in a leading organization in Canada through a telephone interview. That was the only resume he needed to send out. As he explains, “My long experience in Singapore was a perfect match for my local employer’s requirements. It was as though the position advertised in their website a month prior to the interview, was tailor-made for me.”
When Kumar and his family were in Singapore, friends there had done their best to dissuade them from coming to Canada. When he told them that he planned to migrate to a cold country half a world away at a time when he should have been planning for his retirement, they thought he was crazy. Some even warned Kumar wouldn’t survive Canada’s harsh winter. “My flesh would freeze and my bones would crack, they had warned. And within months I would return to thaw in the tropical climes of Singapore, which I have been so accustomed to, they laughed,” he recalls. This only made his resolve stronger though.
And so far, he hasn’t had to complain. Life in Canada has been a delightful revelation for Kumar and his family. Even the winters they had so dreaded once weren’t all that bad, he tells Generation Next. “My family and I had fallen in love with Canada’s vast expanses, open skies and truly wonderful people. The cyclic pulse of the Earth revealed through its changing seasons was a new and delightful experience for us,” he says.
Before coming here, Kumar had done his homework to ensure a smooth transition for his family. Through the MLS website, he had selected a townhouse to rent, emailed the agent and finalized the deal in September 2010, a month before he and his family flew in. He made sure the location was close to his new office and the school for his younger son. Things were made easier by the presence of his brother who helped out a lot in the initial days. As he says, “My brother and his family helped tremendously in getting us settled in this magnificent country. We quickly became part of his circle of friends. Before I secured my G2 driver’s license, my brother would take us around during weekends for shopping.”
At work too, Kumar’s supervisor and colleagues proved to be friendly and pleasant. Talking about his days of initiation into the Canadian way of living, he says, “We quickly became accustomed to the electric switches that were “upside down”, to the “right is right” driving, to checking the outside temperature before we stepped out. Canada had seeped into our bloodstream faster than we expected!”
Having lived in Singapore for nearly two decades, Kumar is no foreigner to cosmopolitan culture. What does he think of Canada’s claim to multiculturalism? Although he hasn’t travelled extensively across Canada, he has a fair bit of praise for Toronto’s diversity. “From what I have seen of Toronto till now, I can say for certainty that it is perhaps among the most multicultural of all the global cities I have visited. Singapore too is a very cosmopolitan city, yet in some ways Toronto seems more multicultural since the ethnic mix here is much more diverse than in Singapore. I think this is essentially because the immigration policies of both countries are different,” he says.
An accomplished writer, Kumar is a man of diverse interests himself. He is deeply drawn by the philosophical questions of life. In order to disseminate his views on science and spirituality, he set up a YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/user/harismind), which has gained worldwide popularity. He has 15 videos on the channel, with more than 2,500 regular subscribers and over 600,000 video views. His videos have been translated to several European languages by other viewers. The embedded videos along with their transcripts and a few additional essays can also be found at his blog www.urbanyogi2012.blogspot.com. He also mentors people from across the globe, something that gives him tremendous satisfaction.
Puzzles are another area that both intrigue and attract Kumar, to the extent that he has gone on to create some himself. An excel based All-In-One Sudoku application that he created over a weekend of intense coding, was among the first of its kind in the world. “I named it All-In-One Sudoku, due to its ability to create unlimited number of Sudoku puzzles, solve Sudoku puzzles, and also use as a helper to solve the puzzles,” he says, adding, “I have also written an entire book of unique puzzles that is yet to be published.”
Speaking of publication, Kumar has already tasted success with his literary writing. While in Singapore, he was reasonably prolific and had been published by Penguin, Monsoon Books as well as some local publishing houses. He has penned hundreds of poems, several short stories, and even three novels in English. Samples of his work including excerpts from my novels can be found at his website,www.harismind.com.
Recently, Kumar also formed a writer’s workshop in Toronto as well, which recently had its first meetup. Given his enterprise to unlock latent potential, both in himself and others, one hopes both the workshop and writer will script fresh success stories in their new home—Canada.