Recently our local newspaper had the obituary of Bharat Gajjar who was our neighbor for a few years back in the 1980s. He was born in India, but had been in America for perhaps forty years.
He worked for DuPont as a textile engineer, and we would occasionally eat lunch together since our offices were in the same complex, although we worked for different companies. I once asked him if he ever wanted to go back to India. “Oh, no,” he replied. “I’ve been here too long. Wherever your children grow up becomes home.” Interesting insight.
His hobby was what we now know as flipping houses, although back then it had no name. He mentioned his biggest project was upgrading and managing an apartment building containing six units. It was too expensive for him to handle alone, so he asked several of his American colleagues at DuPont to go in with him. All declined, but he readily found some fellow Indians to join him. In India, he explained, it is almost impossible for an ordinary person to own property, so they were eager for the opportunity. The Americans just wanted to put their money into CDs.
Then his wife unexpectedly died and he moved away to a smaller place. She was the keystone of the family and held Hindu classes in their home. The children had moved on with their own lives; he no longer needed such a large house, and I suspect it was painful for him to remain there. I was moved to another office complex, we lost touch, and I never saw him again.
Many years later he retired and began a weekly Yoga spiritual program on our local TV channel. The TV schedules just listed “Local Programming” for most of the weekdays and I only came across it by accident. He looked different wearing a dhoti instead of the business suit I remembered, but he still had the same gentle manner. He was on the floor with his small granddaughter helping her read the Hindu equivalent of our Bible stories. She would stumble over a word and he would help her read the sentence. I was embarrassed for him when I saw how amateurish his program was, but later I realized he was teaching us as well as his granddaughter. What more could anyone say about the meaning of life than sitting on the floor teaching your granddaughter about her religious heritage?
Thanks, Bharat. I learn slowly, but I learn.