Day 110 - Amteshver (2nd person I approached)
April 20, 2014 - Amteshver was studying when I approached him. He was reading a large text book and had pages of yellow note pad spread over the table where he was sitting. Amteshver was born in Punjab, India. He has one younger brother. Growing up, Amteshver’s role models were his father and his grandfather.
“My Grandfather was a saintly person. He was a dentist and he always worked hard to help other people. He often did his work for free, to help others. Other people always came first with my Grandfather. My father also worked to be like his father. They are both good men and I try to live as they do,” Amteshver told me.
Going to public school in Punjab, Amteshver has been speaking English since kindergarten.
“In some private schools, they don’t learn English until fifth grade. In the public school system, we start learning English in Kindergarten,” he said.
After school Amteshver went to college for two years studying physics, chemistry and biology. These are requirements for pre-med school certification.
“After I completed my pre-med schooling, I went to a Government Medical School in Punjab,” Amteshver said. “In India, it takes five and half years of schooling to become a Doctor, which includes an internship as well.”
For the next two years, Amteshver was a Doctor Medical Officer, similar to a residency here in Canada.
“I worked in the Emergency ward with patients. I also worked in radiology. I enjoyed that very much. I learned quickly and think that I’d like to pursue becoming a radiologist,” said Amteshver. He then decided to travel to the United States to work towards getting his American Doctors qualifications.
“I spent two months in New Jersey, in observation and then the next four months in Texas and Atlanta. Getting the exams and qualifications is rather complicated in the US. Due to a family situation, I didn’t do any exams, and instead I returned to India,“ Amteshver said.
In keeping with the Sikh tradition, Amteshver had an arranged marriage. He smiles widely as he tells me,
”A good friend of our families approached my parents, and my (future) wife’s parents. He knew both of us and felt that we had common interests and beliefs and that we would be a good match. What I didn’t know was that she had been in my class in University. There were 150 students in the class, and I was busy studying and working hard. I never heard any stories about her, and we had never met. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have had my friend introduce us. Our families are very happy!”
Amteshver’s wife studied in the US to get her Doctors certification. After six months in the States, coincidentally she too decided to change her plans and returned to india. That is when the mutual family friend stepped in to make the introductions. Amteshver beamed the entire time he was talking about his wife.
They decided to come to Canada in part because his wife already had her permanent residency. His wife is currently working as a school administration consultant. Amteshver is studying to sit the first of three exams for his certification to become a Doctor here in Canada. The first exam is in just three weeks and then there are two more in September. Depending on how these exams go, Amteshver should have everything he needs in place by the end of the year. Then his wife will sit her Doctor’s certification exams.
Amteshver picked up a some of the pages of yellow note pad that were laying on the table. He said to me
“It is interesting that you would approach me today and tell me you are a writer. I have been writing for a number of years. But today, while I’m studying, I have also been sitting here writing about my own personal philosophies. My life beliefs, as they reflect my father and grandfather, and my religion. As a Sikh, I follow Guru Nanak, who spoke about spirituality and the belief of sharing and equality for all people. Once I am finished with the exams and tests, I want to start my own blog. I think that we need to get back to our fundamental beliefs. Many people follow the words of others and lose sight of what it is they feel. Take for example Guru Nanak. After he died, many others have rewritten his words with their own interpretations, and perspective. It becomes removed from the original intentions. Just as one needs to have a healthy balanced diet to live well, one also needs to have healthy balance in spirit and belief.”
I thank Amteshver for sharing his story with me and ask to take his picture. He flashes his big smile again, telling me,
“As you know, I wear a turban. Today I came into town because I do not like to stay at home alone and study. My wife is at work and I will stay here studying until she finishes work and then we will go home together. This turban that I am wearing is rather informal and casual. I wasn’t expecting to meet you today.” #notastranger