My Thick Accent

Roadmap to Resilience: The Inspiring Journey of Hemaabh Khurana | Ep. 040

August 03, 2023 Gurasis Singh Season 1 Episode 40
My Thick Accent
Roadmap to Resilience: The Inspiring Journey of Hemaabh Khurana | Ep. 040
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Ever been knocked down by adversity and wondered how you'll ever rise again? Let this episode serve as your roadmap to resilience. Our guest today, Hemaabh Khurana, is an inspiring figure who navigated his path from the humble beginnings in Delhi to the buzzing life of Canada, overcoming physical and mental struggles along the way. Hemaabh's life is a testament to what can be achieved with sheer determination and the power of resilience in the face of obstacles. Listen to his experiences of doing odd jobs, delivering LA Fitness passes, and walking 40 minutes daily to save bus fare.

Hemaabh's journey didn't stop at personal growth; he made strides in his professional life too. Despite facing difficulties in finding a job in his domain, he kept pushing and upskilling himself. He shares his experiences of working at Doctopia as a dog trainer and at Peloton Fitness, highlighting the importance of investing in oneself. Himab's story serves as a stark reminder that success isn't always linear and that the journey can sometimes be as rewarding as the destination itself.

But it's not all sunshine and rainbows. Himab opens up about the darker side of his immigrant experience, addressing instances of racism and how he chose to respond to them. He urges everyone to not give too much heed to hateful comments, but rather focus on finding a supportive tribe and encourages us all to follow our hearts and ask for help when needed. So buckle up and get ready for a rollercoaster ride of determination, resilience, and success with Hemaabh Khurana.

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Gurasis:

Hi, this is Gurasis Singh and you're listening to My Thick Accent podcast. So relocating to a new country can be both an exhilarating and challenging experience. The excitement of exploring new horizons and embracing different cultures is often accompanied by the stress of leaving behind the familiar and stepping into the unknown. As newcomers, we find ourselves navigating a sea of emotions, from excitement to uncertainty, and sometimes even grappling with relocation depression. In the pursuit of new opportunities, we are compelled to adapt and persevere, even if it means taking on various jobs to make ends meet.

Gurasis:

From handing out flyers on busy streets, driving Uber, and from exploring the world of construction to answering calls in a call center, the journey of an immigrant can be a patchwork of diverse experiences, each contributing to a unique tapestry of growth and resilience. And amidst the ups and downs of location and relocation and job exploration, we often discover individuals who embody the true spirit of resilience and determination. And my guest today is one such individual, who embraced the challenges of starting a new inner foreign land and turned them into stepping stones of success, from sales to digital marketing, from tragedy to triumph. His story will leave you inspired and motivated to embrace life's uncertainties with courage and determination. Please welcome Hemaabh Khurana.

Hemaabh:

Hey Gurasis, thank you so much for this introduction. I feel like a celebrity.

Gurasis:

Well, we all are celebrities in our own lives, aren't we?

Hemaabh:

We are Thank you so much.

Gurasis:

Of course, we're happy to have you here on the podcast Hemaabh. So let me start by asking you a question which I asked some of my guests that what is this one habit you have adopted that has changed your life?

Hemaabh:

One habit that I've adopted and has become my second nature is just which is very cliche Just eating right and staying fit.

Gurasis:

Hmm, has that helped you in any way in your maybe more clarity in your thoughts, or maybe it helps you in any other way?

Hemaabh:

Oh, yes, For sure, More clarity. Discipline just gives me a structure. Also, if you're free of diseases, you have energy and other to do other things. So yeah, it has for sure certainly helped me a lot.

Gurasis:

Okay, so let me take you back to the time you spent in Delhi before we get into your Canadian journey. Tell me a little bit about your childhood, a little bit about your upbringing and affirmative years.

Hemaabh:

So my childhood upbringing has been a pleasant one in terms of my family. We had a loving family. Four parents were working, Both of them were working, so we were put in a dayboarding school while growing up. So that was something new. At that point of time in India that concept was upcoming and we were in one of those schools very few schools that had that dayboarding aspect. My childhood was great. I have an elder sister. I'm very close to her. We're very thick. She's in Canada too. It has been great.

Hemaabh:

I wouldn't say that it was amazing all the time but our parents did the best they knew at that point of time and yeah, whatever, maybe I get angry sometimes at a few things. Then after that I just reconciled in my head they were doing what they knew best.

Gurasis:

What was the focus was on growing up? Was it on studies? Was it like a certain path you had to follow? You were asked to follow, Just like many of our South Asians that asked to follow any certain path Dr and Jinder, etc.

Hemaabh:

Yeah, oh yeah, for sure, they had their dreams in their minds but, weirdly, as a kid even though I wouldn't say that I was a rebel, but I just did what I had to, and they let me be I would say they let me be. For example, my dad was a maths teacher at some point of his time and I hated maths and I was not even great at it, and he understood that. And he just let me be. I would say that I'm really thankful for that. So he understood that and I was always closer to the extra-curricular activities. I was dance, music, sports and my mom.

Hemaabh:

I think I get it from my mom because while growing up, she had music as a subject. So, for example, I had commerce with maths. I think during her time she had arts with music or specialised in music or something like that. Yeah, they didn't force anything down my throat. You have to become this, you have to study this. They understood. Now, if I think about it, I think they understood what my strengths and weaknesses like. They tried to nudge me in a certain direction. Okay, we think it will be good here and after. When I completed my high school, my dad actually got me the forms to pursue chartered accountancy, ca, and I was like that's not happening, don't waste that money, just give that money to me. Maybe I'll go out and buy soccer shoes out of that. He did get those forms, but yeah, I ended up not giving that exam.

Gurasis:

Okay, I think it's so interesting to hear that map that I think for me also sort of. You know, my parents also evolved from asking me to become a doctor because everybody from my maternal side is a doctor and, more specifically, they're all our dentists. And then my father wanted me to get into the business as well, which I never tried. I tried for like a month or so but then I was like no, that's not happening. So it's also amazing to see how our parents have also evolved with time. They have tried their best, I would say, but at the same time, they're the product of their own time.

Gurasis:

I say this all the time on the podcast and they just try to pass on what they were taught all their life. So, but I'm glad to hear that that happened with you and that evolution happened and they were not forcing you anymore and they let you do what you want to. Tell me if you could like spend or relive like a certain childhood memory in Delhi. If you remember something vividly, what would it be and with whom would you like to share that?

Hemaabh:

In Delhi. Vivid memory would be while growing up, just spending time with my friends, without smartphones. That was the simple time. And I still remember those times while growing up. I grew up in Rajori garden, I was born in Rajori garden before moving to Duarka. And you, just the way you'd connect with your friends and even family. We would send out letters, even greeting cards, maybe on the Bali or Christmas, we'll post them to our family.

Hemaabh:

So, technically, technology has made our lives easier, simpler and helped us a lot. It's not like I want to reverse everything, but if given a chance, maybe I would want to relive that moment where I talk to my friend. Hey, before sunset meet me here at that gate. Yeah, yeah, so that was nice.

Gurasis:

Okay, and I feel like you would also like, like you said, you were like a rebel not rebel, but close to the bell and I'm sure it would be very mischievous. Also, do you remember any sort of like a mischievous incident that you did?

Hemaabh:

My parents said that I was mischievous. I don't think so I was. I didn't do anything deliberately to be mischievous. I don't think so I was. But if if you listen to my parents accounts, they would for sure say, oh yeah, he was mischievous.

Gurasis:

Okay. Did they ever share any certain incident or something with you?

Hemaabh:

There were certain incidents that tried to share it that, oh, we gave you bottle and milk. It was in a hotel in Hyderabad and you threw it. It went outside the window. We didn't know where did it go and I was a toddler, then Maybe a strong toddler.

Gurasis:

Okay, well, that that explains the kind of answers my question. So let's just do it towards your passion, for you know soccer and you would always like an athlete used to run like 10 kilometers a day or so, and but then you know, obviously an incident occurred in your life and and that really impacted your life and that also the perspective on things that you had. Tell us about that.

Hemaabh:

So, as I shared that I was into extracurricular activities while growing up I was really good at studies as well. I wouldn't say it was not. I think till the fifth or sixth grade when I was in the day boarding school I was getting regular, like on the regular I was above 90%. Then we moved to another house which was closer to our school to to kind of shorten that commute in the evening and then get off from day boarding and it would be a conventional nine to two PM school timings and it was closer to the school and then it was from a city, it was in a village. That is where I actually, horned by, I would say, my athlete bit, and I would come back from the school I would just be out with my friends playing in the fields, in the farms, trying climbing up a tree or doing something or the other, playing with buffaloes, cricket all the time, playing soccer, playing lawn tennis.

Hemaabh:

I had various. I got enrolled into various lessons. I was in lawn tennis coaching during at that point of time, at some, at a certain point I was also taking, I was training for badminton. So I was doing all kinds of sports there and then my studies took a hit Right. That year, I think I I scored 63. Something percentage, which was a dip from 90 something to what grade was that there was seventh, I think I was.

Hemaabh:

I scored 63, but I kind of excelled into sports. I was in my soccer team in my school and my college. I captained my team and we did really well in our first cup that we participated into and I was doing really well and I was hoping that I would make a career into sports. I was dreaming about it and that's what I thought. But parents are like yo, you need to do your graduation first. That's how they are. Do your high school first. They weren't even really. They had no conviction in me that I would even pass through high school. So they're like we do your high school first. Okay, at least get a degree first and then do whatever you want to do. And then I enrolled into a college which was just nearby my house. That was my criteria, so that I'll just I'll just get to college which is nearby my house, so I can play soccer in the evening or in the morning.

Hemaabh:

So yeah, that was it. But then in 2020 is when I met with a road accident. That was my last year of my college.

Gurasis:

Did it mean 2010?

Hemaabh:

2010. It's been a long time. 2010 was when, yeah, I met with a road accident. I was on bed rest for five and a half months. A truck hit me and then all the bones in my body were broken. I had multiple fractures. I don't know even how many doctors encountered either. My knee was virtually just. They had to virtually make it again. My left knee, right knee was broken. My ribs were broken.

Hemaabh:

I was wearing a helmet, thankfully, but still it got crushed. I had stitches on my head, my arm broke and then they were. These were the major fractures, but then there were several minor fractures, so I somehow survived. I'm really thankful to God and I'm thankful to my family and friends. I would say I just had to lie down in a bed for five months, but they were the ones feeding me or taking me out on a wheelchair or taking my dog out for a walk. So my friends are so nice, three of my Chuddy Buddy friends. They would take turns actually to take my dog out for a walk after their work or after whatever they had to do and then take me out on a walk on my wheelchair.

Hemaabh:

So I'm really thankful, I'm still really good friends with them, yeah. So that's when my life changed and that's when I was like okay, what to do next? I was not job ready, I was not ready for a corporate life after what. I how I completed my graduation, so the only thing was okay, I've done my BBA. What next?

Gurasis:

Before we get into the next part, tell me I remember you were sharing that, yes, it wasn't tough for me because I wasn't that conscious, but it was tough for my family, but but but I feel like definitely, you know, in some way this incident had shaped an outlook on life and maybe the decisions you have made you know after that. Tell me how did that incident really influence that? And and has that experience with you know this overcoming adversity after the incident? You know this this like in any way influenced your approach to maybe problem solving? Has it done anyway?

Hemaabh:

Oh, yes, for sure. Whatever problem is how big or small, or adversity, let's say, even if it was moving to a new country, or even relocating from one house to another, looking for another job, I remind myself I've been through a lot and actually I don't even have to remind myself anymore I've been through a lot is just a second nature. It just automatically kicks in, which is that's fine. I've seen worse, everything will be okay. I don't even have to tell myself I've seen worse. I just it is how it is now. It's ingrained in me. So it has changed. Yeah, you're right, it has changed my outlook, even subconsciously, even if I don't think about it.

Hemaabh:

Yeah which I would say I've learned a lot that way. One point I thought yeah, I have the world in my finger, on my fingers, in my grip. And then suddenly I was on bed rest from 10 to 15 kilometers, like staying active throughout the day. I was in a row staring at the ceiling, doing nothing. Even if I would sneeze or turn, it would hurt, because my ribs were broken for example, I lost my memory for a bit.

Hemaabh:

So then it took time for my memory to get stronger and stronger and come back to me. So that was also like a six to eight month process, or actually an year long process. Strengthen my memory, because I would forget what had happened a day before, and then slowly, slowly, what happened two days before, a week before, and then all the it came.

Hemaabh:

It all came back to me then. Yeah, it was long ordeal and task to be in a same like physical condition to function at a certain level again. I went through eight surgeries, so even that I even remember one of the surgeries. I think I told my ACL after it was I had been through a lot. I told my parents don't worry about it, and then it was only me. I went in, I checked myself in the hospital.

Hemaabh:

The next day, for the day of the surgery, I checked myself in. The next day or the day after, my parents came in and they picked me up. They wanted to come with me. I was like please don't, because I know you stress a lot. I've been through a lot of surgeries, I think now I can handle it myself. I checked myself in, came back home, they came to pick me up and I was back.

Gurasis:

So, yeah, I think that transition tells you a bit how I progressed, how I started to manage things and how, I would say, dealing with some stressful things, how my approach to that changed how it kicked in, but moving to Canada was a different ball game altogether, though we did talk about it later, yeah, yeah, but you know, at this my second meeting with you, imab, and I can see that how you have really taken all that adversities in a way that you have found the good in it somehow and you feel like it has. It has really shaped you, the person you are today, and I see that you are always like positive and smiling about the things that you talk about. You know, and that's incredible. That's really a nice approach to take.

Gurasis:

Otherwise, people do get bogged down by the things that happen in their life and and especially where you, where you want it to always be like a soccer athlete, you know, like a professional, and then transitioning into something else. But tell me, you know, since you're the right person to ask this question, if, if anybody you know who is listening I hope not If anybody is sort of like in a similar situation where they are facing like an adversity or like a significant challenge in their life, what advice would you give to them?

Hemaabh:

I was very lucky for that. I had a supporting family and friends and they were there. I hope they have the same support. If they do still and it would be tough I would just tell them see it through, hang in there, and there are several other options to explore. It's just not one. There are various other opportunities and horizons that you can explore. Focus on your health first, on recovering, and if anything that would I would suggest differently would be be kind to people around you because they are doing the best they can.

Hemaabh:

I don't think so. I was always the kindest, even though they had nothing to do. But if I think about it now, yeah, I would just be more kind to people around you.

Gurasis:

Yeah, that's my takeaway, I would be more kind to people. Okay, so let's just talk about your transition into MBA. Then Tell us about that. How did that happen? Obviously, you told us it happened because you wanted to do something else after your graduation and tell us how did that prepare you for your move to Canada.

Hemaabh:

As in every household. For example, that's when, obviously, my parents always had the streak as well become a doctor, do an MBA, or do become an engineer or something like that.

Hemaabh:

But earlier I had a say, even though I was not trying to be a rebel, but I was progressing in a certain aspect of life and I didn't really pay attention to much. And they also thought the same way that he's doing well, he's going to be fine, they are doing their part, just nudging me, but even if I'm not following, I'm doing something, or they're not doing well in that other field. And they were like okay, he's trying, he'll be fine. But after my accident and so my life came to a standstill and I didn't know what to do next. I was lost. I didn't know.

Hemaabh:

Then when, the one day I remember, my dad showed me an ad in the newspaper these are the colleges. This is an MBA college, they're just starting up. It was Santa Mute, was Bharati Airtel's training division. They are opening up MBA colleges. It was a PPP-modeled, private, public-private partnership model with Igno. And the ad boasted their pedigree oh, we've trained so many. We have contracts with 60 plus companies. We are anyways a sister company of Bharati Airtel, so a lot of companies will come for placements, et cetera. So it seemed credible. And my dad I could see he was lit up while I was showing this ad to me he's like oh, you've done a BB, I think you should now go for an MBA and just go for further studies, it'll help you.

Hemaabh:

And I also realized somewhere that I was not job ready after my graduation and I was like, yeah, I think that is the right move. After a BBA, what next? I think that seemed like an automatic, fitless go for an MBA. I remember how I was on my walker still at that point of time I was recovering. So that's how I got into my MBA. And then, first day, first class, first marketing lecture. I fell in love with marketing. I was like, okay, this is what I have, this is what I want to do. No finance, no HR, nothing. Oh, I fell in love with marketing.

Gurasis:

How did the decision to move to Canada came up and how long was the process for you?

Hemaabh:

So after my MBA I worked in India for about three, three and a half years. My first job was at a research agency, a KPU, and then I got into lemon tree hotels in the marketing team. Moving to Canada was my sister was in the US and then she was planning to move to Canada. I would talk to her she is my best friend. I would say we were really close. We're still very close. She was moving to Canada. She said I would be, so you should also plan. And then there was another story that I don't think so I told you as well. I was going parallelly with the accident, with me going for an MBA. So after my accident, when things I was like okay, what next? Everything was put into perspective, I actually came out to my parents after my accident and while doing my MBA. So that was again another emotional. I would say that that was a lot of emotional, yeah, roller coaster.

Hemaabh:

It took an emotional toll on me. I was anyways recovering physically and I was like and I decided to come out. And then there was another like different stress and tensions in around the house and my sister helped me a lot there as well. My parents, even though they come from, I would say, like educated backgrounds, they've had those. They had that awareness about, you know, homosexuality, people from the LGBTQ community my brother was relatives who attended my sister's marriage. I remember they were like one of them was a gay couple. They came up with the surrogate daughter. The mother was fine with them but when I came out she wasn't. She took her time but she was trying her best to. It was out of love. She was trying her best to. She was in her, I would say, adversity mode. She was like how to overcome this?

Hemaabh:

I will fix it. My son will be fine Because she knows what the world is cruel and he just had this experience where he met with an accident. He's broken physically. Oh, she needs to take, because I was always bullied while growing up as well, even my school years. So she was like, oh shit, I need to protect her. So her motherly instinct, I think, kicked in and that's why it was, but it was coming off as in she's. Yeah, she was not on board with it, but it took some time.

Hemaabh:

I stuck to my guns. My sister helped me a lot, and then she, and then that was also one of the major factors for me to move to Canada. My sister is here and she said your life over here, which I understood. After a while I was like, sure you are there and okay, I'll just do what everybody's telling me to do. I think that was a bit of a difference. I, after my accident before, I would just do what I want to do After that. If somebody's telling me my, my, if, like trusted person is telling me you know this will be a good thing for you, then I would at least evaluate those options and then take my decision.

Hemaabh:

I think, that's what changed after my accident.

Gurasis:

Yeah, but but tell me, Amab, like what, what happened in that moment? Why, after that, after that certain adversity, you thought of coming out? Tell me about that.

Hemaabh:

Earlier, my life was just go, go, go, go, go. Like I wake up in the morning, maybe I'll go to play soccer, maybe not, maybe I'll just go to the college, walk there, play soccer over there, study, come back, play soccer, go to the gym late evening or just be on the go I would. I never had that time to think, even though, even though I was bullied all the time, I was called names, but then still I thought I don't know what's happening, like I was living my life. I was still living my life. If I had to sing, I would sing. If I had to be in a dance performance, I would do that and I would do. I would be one of the top ones, like great ones, doing that. If I have to play soccer, I would play soccer and I will be so great that I'll I'll become the captain of my college team. Sure, why not? But it's not that. What. What?

Hemaabh:

When I decided, then I put back when I was on bed rest and I kept thinking, oh, my God, okay this. And then I thought about it like, oh shit, I've been gay all my life. Oh, that is what it is. Oh, that is what it's called. Oh, that is what other people when they were bullying you, that's what they were doing and then slowly coming to terms with it, coming to terms with the, with my accident. Then I went into therapy for a bit and then she helped me a lot, and here as well, I would say I have to thank my sister Because she nudged me. She took advice from a lot of other people my brother-in-law's relative, who is actually gay. She took advice from them as well, like what should be done next. And then then I went to therapy. I came to terms with my sexuality, about my life's truth now after the accident, and what are the options. So I actually had to work a lot on myself physically and of course and mentally, yeah, and then I was around with the right people.

Hemaabh:

I was lucky. My friends, they all. They've been really nice to me since. And my family, they've been accepting. But yeah, I wouldn't say it was easy, for sure I stuck to my guns. I stuck to my guns and I saw it through. I'm happy about that, and that's when I decided okay, let's, let's move to Canada my sister will be there anyways and LGBTQ rights here are way better than what they were in India at that point of time, and it could be an easier relatively easier life. That's what I thought.

Gurasis:

How, how, how long after that your parents were okay with that. But I also feel like in that moment I think, finally since you said you were always on the go, I think during that accident that one year or so you got the time to really introspect and question the things you never questioned before and you were maybe having that in a dialogue to really face your thoughts or, you know, face a devil, so to say, and really come out with conclusions. That's going to benefit your further years of your life. And you did that. But tell me, how long did your parents take to really accept that?

Hemaabh:

My dad, I think, took six months, or that's what I believe.

Gurasis:

My mom.

Hemaabh:

I remember clearly it was two years or something. There was constant battles, constant fights, and it's not even that I wasn't like living in a different house, If we were in the same house.

Hemaabh:

I used to come at a boiling point sometimes. Sometimes he would ask me to go to a doctor or something or the else, so he, that doctor, can say let's go to the Pundit G or something or the other. But yeah, she was trying to, she was trying to just do whatever best she could. She was trying to protect me and everything was coming out of love. Maybe it not, maybe it was coming out, yeah, concerned, and it was coming out of love. She was grieving the loss of her daughter in law. That never happened, so, but now she's, she's like, it has come to like. It is just complete 180. She's super fine she. So yesterday it was her birthday and we were all together Me, my partner, my extended family. So now it's just a happy time. I'm glad I saw it through and it's just. I could have never imagined the life that I have now, that I will be able to live this life.

Gurasis:

In India.

Hemaabh:

It's yeah, it's just beautiful, yeah, and in India anywhere I think in India as well. When I came out, I was. After that, I was in India for quite a bit. I actually started exploring there as well and at certain points I was. At some point I was actually performing in India at KT Su in LGBTQ parties. I was singing there 2017 New Year's. I was in Kolkata Lalit Hotel. I was performing in the New Year party there. So I was singing in a queer event over there. So I was actually living my life there as well. I got a chance to perform at the Pride stage in Delhi and I did that. So it was fun, I was living my life. But yeah, it would be. It is relatively easier here. When the government and the constitution recognizes that as well, it makes your life easier, for sure.

Gurasis:

Well, that's awesome. I'm very happy for you and very, very happy for you genuinely. You know, because I know especially people who come from those South Asian nations. It's kind of hard for them to come out and come into these terms with things. Okay, so let's just pivot towards your journey in Canada in 2018. You landed, you were telling me, before January 2018. So tell us about your first day, your initial thoughts and your initial emotions.

Hemaabh:

It was a shock because that was the first time I actually left my nest ever. And then it was just. I was just. I kept saying that to my cousin who came to pick me up at the airport Like what did I do? Why did I come here? Because my sister was still in the US. It would be another one and a half years till the time like she would move to Canada. I was thinking, shit, what did I do? Because I couldn't see at that point of time. Okay, it'll all be for the good, it'll all be for the best. I was thinking I had a really happy, disabled, satisfied life. I didn't have to pay rent. Whatever I was earning, I was I was spending it all. Maybe end of the month asking 500 rupees more from my mother because I spent all my money.

Hemaabh:

I was like I was doing well, I didn't have to cook, you outsource your ironing and it's just. You don't have to do anything. There's help for dishes, for cleaning the house. You have to do everything by yourself. It's like what have I done to myself? I have no clue. And then I started applying for jobs. That was my first day. It was. I was numb. If I think about it now, I was not thinking anything. I was just complete blank. I was like Okay, what next? It feels different. It's cold, it's snowy. That was my first time I actually saw snow in my life as well. I'm like I don't know. I don't know how will it go. But I knew in my hearts of hearts that sure I'm here now. Obviously I'm not going back. I will see it through. But the first day I was like what did I do? I don't know how it's gonna end up. It was just another chapter, yeah.

Gurasis:

What was something that you were not prepared for, that this is going to happen, like for me, for instance? I've said this before in the podcast. For me, it was a combination. I was just sure that it's gonna take forever to find a house. Did you have anything similar that you were not prepared for?

Hemaabh:

So I am very fortunate that way that I found a place nearby, like Miss Sagar downtown, so nearby that, and it's a very. It was a clean place, clean placement. The landlords were really nice. I've heard horror stories about landlords, what they do. Oh yeah, I've been and I still live at that same place. I've been really lucky. I'm really fortunate. They are such kind and general people. So I was lucky in those regards.

Hemaabh:

Finding a place was nice, but finding a job I didn't think that it would be that tough. The credentials that I had, the work experience that I had in India, even though while before moving here I did a digital marketing course, because I recognized that fact that digital marketing was the way to go, like offline marketing, even demographic, psychographic change from North India to South India and I'm moving countries who would really trust me and give me their offline marketing assignment. It wouldn't be that easy and I don't know anybody in the country. I had zero networking skills. So yeah, but I thought that I'll just do some a course in digital marketing that cuts across borders. The platform behind the system is the same, the concepts is the same, and then that is what I was aiming for, but I never really thought that it would be that tough to find a job in my domain, the kind of job that I would want and it took me.

Hemaabh:

I would say from that point of time it took me year and a half to land a job that I would want to pursue and I liked is in line with my skills and my study education. Before that that one and a half years and then in the middle I did, I would say, n number of odd jobs, different jobs, exploring the other jobs.

Gurasis:

Yeah, yeah, you know, usually the transition from one job to another is, anyway, different and it's always obviously challenging, but you would up for that challenge. You did all kinds of jobs. You started with that sales job that you did, you know, at this company called like LA Fitness, I believe, and you were telling me that you know you used to like go on the streets and hand out those coupons or trials that tell us about that. What was that about?

Hemaabh:

So, yeah, that was my first job in old Toronto, so I used to commute from my place. It was an hour 45 minutes. I didn't have a car, so the public transit, yeah, it takes time. I wanted anywhere between one and a half to one hour 45 minutes and I would be there every day. I would go out with my bag, with my water bottle, heads, giving out, handing out seven day trial passes, getting those leads and getting them coming back to the gym, punching them in the system in RCRM, calling them trying to sell memberships, and I would.

Hemaabh:

I'm really glad for that work experience. I'm really thankful because I got to explore every other summer event that was happening in Toronto at that point of time, because I was on the streets all the time. Yeah, on the street, yeah, I was giving out passes. I would be on the street for hours walking and I would say somewhere, me being fit, for example, really prioritizing my fitness and my sports background, I would say, helped me. Because my peers I would see they would, you know, make some leads up false names, false numbers. They'll punch it in, maybe they'll be out for a few hours, but they can't take the sun, they can't take the heat, they would come back to the gym, but it wasn't the case for me. I was also enjoying it exploring places, walking, being on the street, getting those names and numbers, and two and a half months I had two 69 leads for guys.

Hemaabh:

I had the highest number of leads and they were all true leads. So I was having a great time at Elevateness and selling those memberships sales. You get to interact a lot with the people. You get to see it was like a seamless, I would say, entry into the Canadian culture and experience and how they talk, how they walk. What are the words that they relate to? If I say, if I call somebody, hey, buddy, how are you? My, my fellow sales executive say, hey, don't call him buddy, Buddy is like, so, like as if he's not your friend. It's just informal, Very informal. No, it's like it's not authentic. You call them hey, bro, don't call me buddy.

Gurasis:

Like he's not authentic.

Hemaabh:

That's the pop culture. You get to know the pop culture in and out. For example, that was fun Little differences how they carry themselves, how it is cultural nuances. You get to pick up from those sales jobs and I'm really thankful, thankful for that.

Gurasis:

Can you think of any other examples similar to this one in terms of the cultural shock?

Hemaabh:

There were many, I would say it's been a while. On my last day they got a cake and then we cut that cake, for example. And then how we do it in South Asia you'll feed that cake first to everybody and then eat it. And then I was trying to give that piece of cake to somebody else. Oh, have it. And they're like what? No, what's wrong with you? Have it. No, I'll take my own piece of cake. Like stop. They were so new to them. But one of the one of the personal trainers over there, obviously born and raised in Canada, I think he had a lot of South Asian friends while growing up in Windsor he understood. He's like no, no, it's in their culture, that's, it's fine. It's like let's eat it. Because they don't eat it first They'll have to feed you and then only eat the way everybody else resisted. I was under a shock. I'm like did I do something wrong? Like what?

Gurasis:

are you doing?

Hemaabh:

What are you doing? Are you okay? But that was one there. There are several like. These are the two that I could think on the top of my head, but there were several. Yeah, yeah, I enjoyed my stint over there.

Gurasis:

Yes, but that's true. That's true that in India we do cut the cake and give it everybody, rather than putting in plates and give it to everybody.

Hemaabh:

It's yeah, I like that actually.

Gurasis:

It's pretty something. This is something we knew. I've heard from people. You know I haven't actually experienced myself, but yeah, that definitely happened in India a little different year and then after that, obviously you know, you even drove Uber for some time. You also worked in construction for some time. You also got a call center for some time and then you were also a doc trainer. Yes, I want to. I'm very curious about that job. How did you get into this job and how was that experience like?

Hemaabh:

So at LA Fitness, I did the job for about three months. I was working hard on that job because I was trying to save money for this course, which was through access employment. It was a bridging program in sales and marketing Because nothing was helping. I don't know what I was doing wrong. Why am I not getting a job in my domain? I'm like, okay, this is my way to go. I need to do this course. Maybe that will help. Maybe those credentials will help on my resume.

Hemaabh:

And then I saved enough money for my operational cost for the next two months or I would be doing that course and also save some money for the course as well, Because I didn't want to ask money from home. I, when I moved to Canada the first three or four months, I asked money from my home because I didn't have a job and even though my parents didn't say anything, but the whole exchange rate etc. What they were transferring here, I knew I was taking a toll on them and it just didn't feel right.

Hemaabh:

I was upset about that. I didn't really enjoy that fact. So I was like I need to work hard If I need to do that course. Sure, that course starts in August. I need to save money till then for my living expenses as well while I'll be doing the course, and for the course and maybe a month after when I'll get another job. Then also I thought I'll get a job like after that, I thought I'll get a job instantly, but that was not the case. Then again I found it a bit hard to break into my domain. Then I was like shit, what should I do? And I was looking something near by my house so that I have time to cook, to stay active and to apply jobs side by side.

Hemaabh:

Then I saw this opening at Doctopia for a doctor, and growing up I've had a pet. I love dogs. I've always been around animals. When I moved from the city to the village I was surrounded by other domesticated animals cows, buffaloes, dogs, all of the whole thing. Then I interviewed there. It was a 40-minute walk from my place. I used to walk to that place again because if you take a public transport you'll have to change two buses, you'll be paying $6 and it'll take 35 minutes anyways. So I thought by walk it's 40 minutes I'll just save money. I'll just walk.

Gurasis:

So just to save money, you were walking 40 minutes.

Hemaabh:

Save money also because that made the logical sense because there was no direct bus to that place. Even though it's now, I think about, in the car, it's like five minutes drive or maybe four minutes drive.

Gurasis:

But then if?

Hemaabh:

you'd want to take a bus. You'll walk to the bus stop. You'll wait for the bus. It'll leave you somewhere and then wait for another bus. It'll be like 35 minutes. The whole process and walking was 40 and. I was saving money, I'm like why not? That's a win-win. And then my background obviously in sports, and I've always been like walking all the time.

Hemaabh:

The willpower was in you, yeah, walking to the college or walking back from the college or playing sports or running all the time. So I was fine with that. I was like, sure, I'll walk 40 minutes, why not? It's doable and manageable. Which was fine with me.

Hemaabh:

Then I interviewed a dog Topia and I became a dog trainer over there. So it was mostly like a dog handler. So there was a point of time where I handled actually 44 or 45 dogs in a room. It was a great experience. I still have videos from that experience that I cherish. I'm singing to a dog, I'm taking care of them, training them. It was fun. Yeah, it was a good time because I was thinking like, what next should I do? Okay, what are my strengths? What am I good at? Okay, so I'm like I'm good with dogs, I'm good at anything fitness related. So that's how I landed my job at a gym, first in sales. So I was trying to marry my skills with what I really like by passion or what I'm good at. So I'm like, okay, sales, marketing, and then good at fitness or dogs or something or the other. How do I marry and mix them and try to find like a perfect balance?

Hemaabh:

I'll be happy and earning money until the time I land something that I really like. Then that's how I worked with Dr Topia. That was such a physical, demanding job I would be famished. When I'll come back home after that, I'd be tired. You'd find me sleeping on the couch because I just sat there for a few minutes after coming home, removed my shoes and then the next I would remember is my landlord waking me up. Hey, she know, you're okay, because I would be sleeping on the couch because I was so tired. I did that for, I think, two and a half months or so or maybe other. And then I got a chance to work in sales again at Peloton Fitness because they were just entering into Canada. They were such a huge brand, viral brand in the US, so I took up that opportunity.

Gurasis:

Then, finally, you got this you call it like a turning point which was the digital marketing specialist job that you got, and I think this is a great testament to the indomitable spirit of immigrants. You did like eight jobs, like seven, eight different jobs before you actually get into your own industry, and I think this is something I think listeners should really pay attention to that when you come to a new country, it's not that easy. You really have to go through all this hurdle. Then finally you get something, and of course, every story is different, but tell me, what is something different that you did? You think, after all these experiences from all these jobs, what else something that you did that really helped you to finally land a job?

Hemaabh:

I kept applying, I kept upskilling myself. I didn't just spend money frivolously. I would save, invest that money in a course, take a digital course, like on LinkedIn, like up, keep upskilling myself, keep doing the courses that I did again just to refresh my memory, to be ready for that interview when I land that opportunity. And that's what happened, actually, between all those odd jobs, I did construction, I did something, I did call center doctopia. I still kept upskilling myself whenever the chance came, Whenever I thought it is the right thing to do so, and kept brushing my skills, kept brushing my courses that I'd done before, so like preparing myself, because I kept applying for jobs parallelly as well. So I was like, whenever I get the jobs like get a chance to sit in front of the interviewer of a job really want I need to be ready. So that was the thing that I would say I kept doing. What I would do differently now is would network more. I did the best, what I knew doing that time.

Hemaabh:

Everybody's journey is different. I wouldn't scare anybody. It's just that some people take more time, some people just land a job within two weeks, within a month, within two months, maybe a few years. I know somebody from my batch who was a area head, some manager, in India for a very reputed company like one of the big FMCG companies. But he didn't find a job here, he just completely switched his career to something else. That's also happened that also happened.

Hemaabh:

So that is also fine. Yeah, that is also fine. So, yeah, everybody's journey, because I didn't have those really Ivy League credentials Ivy League college credentials from India as well, so nobody really knew what, which college, what has he done? What is that? So that was different. In my case, I would say, but yeah, I took some time and I just, yeah, I would, I prepared myself within that window. When I landed an interview for the Digital Marketing Specialist role and I cracked it, that was the best job ever. I would say that I've never done up until.

Gurasis:

Wow, why would you say that?

Hemaabh:

Great boss, great boss, great mentor. I hope he's listening, hey.

Gurasis:

Max, I love you.

Hemaabh:

He was the best. My colleagues, they were amazing. I learned so much the quality of work that I did over there. I'm always thankful to him. I would thank my. Whatever success I've had up until. I would really thank him for that. He, yeah, under his guidance, mentorship, leadership. So, yeah, I was very lucky.

Gurasis:

Yeah, so this one thing, mabhi, you were telling me earlier and which really stayed with me and I want you to expand more on that, and which was, like you were telling that in Canada, the more you put in here, the more you get back and just have like trust the process. I want to expand on that a little bit.

Hemaabh:

So what I was noticing? Either you come on a PR here or you come as a student. The more time you put in this country, the more you get out of it was what I was getting to. It is getting to know how the country works, how the culture is different. It takes time. So the more time you invest, either being studies or through work, the more you get out of it. This country rewards you. It's not that it doesn't. This country rewards you, recognizes that. Yeah, I am in love with this country. I am. I worked hard. It's not that it's gone unnoticed and unrecognized. It gives you the fruit in some way or the other.

Gurasis:

Yeah, definitely, I think it's going to be five years for me, like we were discussing before, and I have seen the, the evolvement in me myself. I feel like now I'm like a good at C's 2.0, you know where I was when I landed because it really prepares you, polishes you, and I think it really prepare you to hone your skills for the future years to come or whichever the field you want to get into. But, yeah, definitely, I think that's the best part about Canada. Of course, they are like very welcoming to people from all around the world and getting that exposure to people who are here from all around the world which you might not get back in India.

Hemaabh:

Yeah for sure. This is what I tell to everybody now. Like the experiences that I've went through here, I wouldn't ever have come across our experiences if I was living in my own safety of my parents. I wouldn't really have to do all those things that I've done here Now. I sometimes joke around with my partner. I'm like yo, you throw me anywhere, in the most remote part of the world, I'll survive. I'll survive. I know I'll survive wherever you throw me. If I don't know the language, I don't know the people, I don't know what to do, there's no industry there. If I have to fend for myself, I think I can survive.

Gurasis:

Yeah, definitely. I think this one thing I always used to wonder when I was in India that how do these people just go on these solo trips all the time? I was always wondering that how is that possible? You know, they don't know anybody, they don't know the language, all these remote areas, how to do that? But I think now, myself I have been to. Just recently I went to one solo trip and I was pretty okay with it. So I think this is just.

Gurasis:

I think I would have never been able to do that somehow in India. I feel like I might have like tried somehow, but it won't be the same experience or the same information I'm equipped with right now, which I might not be if I would be in India, that's for sure. So you also talked about you know I'm up experiences. Just recently you were telling various experiences, like we're just talking about experiences that you get to be get here in Canada. Tell me, I'm sure there would be experiences, since you have done, like this, numerous jobs. There would be situations where people might be, you know, questioning, questioning you, or maybe your accent, or maybe maybe just the way you look, because there have been situations where you know I could see where. When somebody is genuinely curious about the colors of my turban or somebody is being bluntly racist, I can see that and always give people the benefit of the doubt. But I want you to share if you have any similar experiences.

Hemaabh:

Oh yeah, undertones of racism, or even like somebody being blunt racist. I've experienced that as well, but I would like to put it out there. The experiences that I've had, which of have been that nature, the good experience that I've had are into two or into four of those Absolutely.

Hemaabh:

The experience that I had was when I was leaving one of the jobs and my first job, and the manager over there said because I think he was not happy about me leaving that job or I don't know, maybe it was my last day and I was taking it a bit easy and he said be thankful, you people, when you come to Canada, you work in warehouses. And I didn't know what to say at that point of time. That was my first like experience of like upfront somebody being racist and I was shocked because I gave my heart to that job and I was like, oh shit, what am I supposed to do? What should I do? And I was wait, I didn't say anything. If I would, I do something differently. Now I don't think so. I could be the same. I just avoid move, yeah, and then, yeah, I don't really want to confront, even confront, that situation. Maybe now that I've grown into a different individual, maybe I would confront it, maybe not, but it was just not worth my energy and absolutely just for that one person, one bitter person.

Hemaabh:

I had like 10 nice people around me, so it didn't pay any attention, like I wanted to give it any heed and focus on the good things. And then there was one instance where there was somebody in the leadership level. He was used words like Oriental or something or the other in his emails. Whenever you talk to him or the other colleagues would talk to that person in the leadership role. You know right, it's undertones of risk, how he's questioning you, but then, yeah, you, but then that was I was just, that was the place I was talking about. I learned a lot there as well. So I for that one person, I had five different individuals who were as kind and as beautiful, as nurturing as possible. So, yeah, so I've had those experiences as well, but I've had plenty of good experiences as well.

Gurasis:

But I think that's the right approach to take a map, that a focus on the good, rather than these hateful comments, because I feel like these comments, if you really focus on that and keep them with you, really stop you from your goal. The reason that you have come to Canada is not really to give answer to these people or to apply to these people, is to focus on your goals and focus on the milestones that you have for yourself. But yeah, that's definitely the right approach to take.

Hemaabh:

You find your tribe, you find your people, and it didn't even bother me that much. I think it's wrong to say didn't bother me that much at that point.

Gurasis:

I don't know why?

Hemaabh:

Because I was enjoying, I was having a time of my life and that one comment is like yeah, whatever, I didn't pay any. Yeah, if you move, I was enjoying my life still.

Gurasis:

So now he might be in the final segment of the podcast. I call it beneath the accent. I'm going to ask a couple of questions. You can answer them in one word or a sentence, or however you feel like. The idea is just to know more about you. So ready, yes. So first is, what's the best piece of advice someone ever gave you?

Hemaabh:

Don't think, just live. It has been summarized into don't think, just live, but yeah, it has a lot of background to it and how you come to that state where you're not thinking what, we're just living.

Gurasis:

Any worst piece of advice someone ever gave you.

Hemaabh:

A few people that I was networking with. I thought they are my network and they're actually my friends, but they were not and it took me a while to figure it out. They gave me a lot of bad advice is how to network or whom I should network with, how to go about it. There were a lot of bad, negative advice that they gave which made me question myself my skills. Just coming out of that, I would just say that just always believe in your skills and, yeah, listen to everybody, but do what you have to do.

Gurasis:

But what, then, is specific they were telling you to do?

Hemaabh:

Nothing. They were just setting up, setting me up for failure. So, with the set of advice is that they were giving me?

Gurasis:

I just like we just have to gauge whether it is really for your benefit or not, because sometimes we are so vulnerable in that situation. You end up listening to everybody and doing everything that they are saying. But be a little mindful of your next test before taking them.

Hemaabh:

For sure you put it beautifully. Actually, that is what it is. Because you are in such a vulnerable situation, you do whatever. Because your hoomans are whatsoever, whatever. Somebody tells you you are ready to do that, and I was in that mindset.

Gurasis:

Yeah, okay. If you could travel back in time to your first week in Canada, what advice would you give to yourself?

Hemaabh:

You'll be fine. All those life instances, experiences that you've been through have been preparing you for this moment. And, yes, start applying for jobs ASAP.

Gurasis:

So is this something you recently bought and you now regret?

Hemaabh:

I haven't bought anything. That I regret.

Gurasis:

Okay, so you are saying you are like a very mindful buyer.

Hemaabh:

For sure yes.

Gurasis:

Okay, okay. So what's next on your bucket list?

Hemaabh:

The next on my bucket list is it is just to grow in my career. Actually, not something like a bucket list, but it's like a goal.

Gurasis:

So if you could have one superpower, what would it be?

Hemaabh:

To give everybody those basic needs food, shelter and clothes everybody should have it.

Gurasis:

Who's your go-to person when you feel stuck?

Hemaabh:

My sister.

Gurasis:

So are there any movies that you like to watch over and over again?

Hemaabh:

Kung Fu Panda.

Gurasis:

Okay, is this something you're watching recently?

Hemaabh:

I am waiting for the season two of Heartstopper. I think it lands on Netflix in a few days.

Gurasis:

Okay, I'm not sure about that. Sure, what is it about?

Hemaabh:

So it's about a kid in middle school, I think, or high school, who is coming in two terms with his sexuality, and this other guy who's in the football team he's the captain and he was also coming in terms of his sexuality is coming out and they're growing relations. Season one was, I think, one of the top most watched series in Canada, so I'm really waiting for season two. Yeah, it's been a year.

Gurasis:

So describe Canada in one word or a sentence Home, okay, so finally, if you could leave me with one piece of advice, what?

Hemaabh:

would it be, just keep doing what you're doing. You're doing great. And this podcast that you have, how you've developed this podcast, how you've come to it, how you're investing time and it with your regular job, I think it's your passion. I hope it grows and grows, and grows. So I just say, keep doing what you're doing.

Gurasis:

Perfect, thank you. Thank you, marv, for being on the podcast and adding value to my listeners. Thank you.

Hemaabh:

Thank you so much. It was, yeah, I hope I did justice to it 100%. Thank you so much for having me.

Gurasis:

Hey listener, thank you for making it to the end. I highly, highly appreciate you listening to the podcast. Subscribe to the podcast if you haven't as yet, and please share with your friends or anybody you think would like it. And, like I always say, we encourage you to follow your heart but also ask. On Instagram, the handle is my thick accent. You can also leave us a review or write to us at hello at my thick accentcom. So stay tuned and let's continue knowing each other beneath the accent.

Immigrant Journey and Resilience
Overcoming Adversity and Finding New Opportunities
Coming Out and Moving to Canada
Transitioning to a New Life Abroad
Overcoming Job Struggles and Finding Success
Experiences of Racism and Career Goals
Advice for The Podcaster