“When I go to an Indian restaurant I see multicultural communities intermingling. There is definitely more attention on South Asians.”
“We had our regular conflicts. I had to meet my curfews even when I didn’t want to.” He laughs and adds, “It was a typical brown upbringing.”
I reached for the doorknob when I heard a slight knock on my office door on a late Sunday afternoon. I was taken by a pleasant surprise when a handsome young man named Mohammad Taimur extended his hand with a slight smile and naughty eyes for introduction. His computer bag hanging on his broad shoulders, a bracelet around his well-toned fore arm, a necklace teasing the tip of his neckline, his light blue T-shirt revealing his broad shoulders and his slightly jelled short hair put a smile on my face. He did not resemble the entrepreneur-image of a man, clad in a business suit that I had been anticipating, rather he resembled a university student who had just walked out of the library to spend some quality time with his friends.
I offered him some coffee, which he politely declined; this simple gesture made me smile even more, “University of Waterloo student and refusing caffeine?” I joked lightly.
He laughed at my naïve stereotypical generalization about university students.
Taimur was well composed, a bit nervous about the interview as well, but that is expected of any young successful modest person. A recent graduate from university of Waterloo, Taimur is looking forward to start working as a technology consultant at Deloitte this fall but this is not the achievement that makes him unique. He has been involved with an organization called impact.org that encourages young people to take up entrepreneurship as a career.
He shyly mentions that he was the Chair of Impact National Conference last year and dives into explaining the various programs they offer to engage high school and university students in various competitions. He explains that entrepreneurship is a career yet unexplored by many youngsters, the risk factor is exaggerated by common people and that makes people stay away.
During our conversation that had started to inspire me, my curious feminine nature took over and I wanted to know the man behind this successful façade. Taimur is feeling more comfortable in our office by this point, slightly leaning back on the sofa and enjoying our casual conversation. He mentions that he is the first generation born and raised in Canada while his parents immigrated from Pakistan in the 70’s and like every other South Asian family, education is a big deal in his house. His sister followed in his footsteps and ended at University of Waterloo as well. This bit of information captures my attention, I ask him if his parents had a say in the matter. He gives me a look that is questioning my intelligence, “This is a South Asian assumption that elder brothers will watch over the younger sister, you know, the protective behavior. My parents are a lot stricter with my sister. With me they are not as strict. It’s a guy girl thing. She’s the little girl and they are over protective. For example she can’t stay out late.”
I am not surprised; some cultural traditions linger on even in most safe, liberal environments. On the other hand, Taimur himself went on an exchange program to Singapore last year and considers the possibility of staying in an eastern country for a little while in the future.
Mentioning his visits to Pakistan, he says, “Its all about my roots. You feel lucky that you are here when you see storms and floods there and we are not thankful for the sewage system here for example.”
Taimur is very closely tied to the traditional upbringing. He mentions a few jokes regarding conflicts with his parents and says, “We had our regular conflicts. I had to meet my curfews even when I didn’t want to.” He laughs and adds, “It was a typical brown upbringing.”
Taimur considers himself too young to consider marriage seriously but already knows the specific demands of his parents, “The girl that I bring home has to be Muslim, a Sunni Muslim in particular and preferably a Pakistani. I can’t disappoint my parents. That’s a thing in the back of my mind as well.”
Taimur is still trying to balance the concepts he learned from his traditional upbringing and he acquired from his environment; even though he is the only son, he plans to gradually move out of his parents’ house, a topic that is still under discussion at his home.
Taimur talks about entrepreneurship as the new bright idea that is left unexplored yet he himself is pursuing his job at Deloitte this fall. I ask him about the contradictory behavior, he is a bit taken aback, slightly offended by my acquisition as well, “I am excited about working with clients and meeting other people. I do wanna pursue my MBA one day especially with entrepreneurship in my mind. I first wanna build my skills in technological field and see what problems people are having and see what I can do with that. I have talked to different entrepreneurs who start as consultants and see the problems and then find solutions to it. I am open to things that come across like an entrepreneur.”
He gives this advice to his fellow youngsters, “Do what you feel is right for you. Do what you enjoy.” Talking about the South Asian community as a whole, he mentions that there is not enough attention on the South Asian community as compared to let’s say the African Americans on the bigger screen. He proudly mentions the flourishing Indian cuisine, “Indian food is blooming. That is one cool thing. When I go to an Indian restaurant I see multicultural communities intermingling. There is definitely more attention on South Asians.”
This adds a tone of confidence to his voice as he feels that the South Asian community is being recognized as a diverse rich culture, an identity that makes him proud.