My Thick Accent

Breaking Barriers in Canadian Media: Story of Former Host of Badhai Ho (One of The Best Talk Shows In Ethnic Media in Ontario) | Ft. Geetika Bhardwaj Ep. 043

August 24, 2023 Gurasis Singh Season 1 Episode 43
My Thick Accent
Breaking Barriers in Canadian Media: Story of Former Host of Badhai Ho (One of The Best Talk Shows In Ethnic Media in Ontario) | Ft. Geetika Bhardwaj Ep. 043
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Imagine if your cultural identity could be a form of resistance. Geetika Bhardwaj, a renowned media personality, is our guest today and she'll share how she's effortlessly preserved and cherished her Indian cultural heritage while living in Canada. This episode is a beautiful blend of shared stories, from cooking to language to festivals, that will remind us of the importance of preserving one's cultural roots in a foreign land.

Bhardwaj’s journey is not just about cultural preservation, but also about resilience and determination. She takes us through her immigration experience, her struggles and triumphs in breaking barriers within the Canadian media industry, and how authenticity played a role in her award-winning shows. She also highlights her lifestyle, her habit of listening, and how she uses her voice to reach out to immigrants through her podcast.

Join us as we traverse Geetika's fascinating life, from her childhood experiences to her pursuit of dreams in a foreign land. This episode is set to inspire, enlighten and reassure you that staying true to oneself can lead to immense success. Get ready to experience the power of gratitude, the magic of authenticity, and the importance of cherishing your cultural roots.

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Stay tuned for the exciting new episode every Thursday and let's continue knowing each other Beneath The Accent!

Want to share your story? Or know someone I should invite next on the show? DM us or write to us at Hello@mythickaccent.com


Gurasis:

Hi, this is Gurasis Singh and you're listening to My Thick Accent podcast. So breaking into the world of television or any media industry can be an uphill battle, especially when you come from a foreign country. The challenges of adapting to a new culture, navigating different accents and understanding local norms can make it seem like an impossible feat. But today we have the privilege of welcoming someone who not only conquered these obstacles but also left an indelible mark in the broadcasting landscape.

Gurasis:

A remarkable individual whose journey in the media industry is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Hailing from India, she had always dreamt of having her own show, a platform where she could address societal issues that often remain unspoken. Little did she know that her path would lead her to become one of the chosen few from an India-wide selection by zee news as a zee news anchor in 1999. Through her career, her voice and presence became synonyms with professionalism and captivating storytelling. As the Hindi proofreader and narrator of CBC's Gemini award-winning documentary Canada A People's History, she introduced audiences to the rich tapestry of Canada's diverse heritage. And then, in 2002, she became the launching face of Omni2 in Toronto and was offered to anchor News Magazine show Badai Ho, which ran for nine years and became one of the best talk shows in ethnic media in Ontario, and her journey extends beyond that. Let's learn more from her. Please welcome Geetika Bhardwaj.

Geetika:

Thank you so much, Gurasis, that was a very kind introduction. Thank you so much. I'm humbled.

Gurasis:

Of course! Well, It's an honour to have you on the podcast. So I'm going to start by asking you this question I asked some of my guests tell me what's this one cultural aspect or tradition from your home country that you have managed to preserve and cherish still in Canada?

Geetika:

Cultural or traditional? You said right. Yeah. Indian cooking. All my three boys love it. They're two, nine and 10-year-old, and my husband, who's actually Jewish. We have Dal roti. Dal Chawal and Saag Paneer straight from home and Achar with it Tahee Boondi. These are our top things that we eat normally every week.

Gurasis:

Okay, well, all these things are kind of making me hungry now. But yeah, so do you also like try to do the fusion cooking or something else, or is it like just the Indian cooking?

Geetika:

Yes, we do so. Boys will celebrate Hindu festivals, but they've been raised as Jewish kids. But we do things both at home, like Hindu things and like, for example, they're going to an event and then they love wearing the kurthas. So they'll do that and they will so. In terms of cooking, yes, we will do fusion cooking close to Jewish festivals. We'll do something like that, for example, latkes. We prepare them for Passover and we will make I'll give it an Indian twist with Indian spices in it. So it's kind of latkes, slash potato pancake, but Indian style. Okay, so something like that.

Gurasis:

Okay, and do you make that conscious effort to instill the Hindi or Punjabi language in them or no?

Geetika:

You know, Gurasis, actually during the pandemic I realized so I was doing all sorts of these little things like here and there, introducing them, making them realize that mama is from India, and so I'll do little things like other Hindi stories, hindi words that match up, like, for example, both Jewish and Hindu cultures. In our culture we have festivals that are related to lights. Festival of lights, like Diwali is called festival of lights, so they will. So I started something called Ima writes. So the first word as a mom, my first one was taught to say, instead of mama, I taught him to say Ima.

Geetika:

Ima is ma in Jewish language, so but if you actually write the word, it's E ma, ma beyond that. So you can hear the mother ma word in the word also there. So so that's why I named it as E ma writes. I thought I'll start a blog and kind of write about what we do as a family to keep both cultures and traditions in the family. So, yes, the effort and the want is to have both things going on. So I do, sometimes in summer vacation, so I'll give them myself Hindi classes.

Geetika:

So, they started, like last summer they had started writing their own name, Arjun, in Hindi and [Name] in Hindi, so they were able to recognize. But then, as it happens, you know when the school starts, you kind of forget things. But this summer again, I'm pounding it back again. Go back to Hindi, learn Hindi.

Gurasis:

Okay okay, okay. Well, that's great to hear. That's how I think you're kind of keeping your culture a little bit alive as well, so that's amazing.

Geetika:

Yeah, that's the only way. When we leave our country, we have to hold on to certain things that define us as who we are.

Geetika:

For example when I came here, people used to recognize, "oh my goodness, you're sorry, these are amazing. And they always would get confused. My producer and my senior managers would say he will ask us where is she from? Because my show was basically in Hindustani and I'm fluent in Punjabi also, so I was a standby Punjabi anchor at Zee News also. So they would ask her sarees, they look like from Maharashtra, but some of them look like from South India or Andhra Pradesh or you know, somewhere close to Chandigarh, Delhi. So where is she from? And then my Bindi style would change. So I would sometimes just have a dot, sometimes a dot with a line, and it would kind of. So this is what I tell people when they ask oh, you're from India. No, no, no, ask me. Continue asking me very exactly from India, because just being India doesn't mean that that's your definition.

Geetika:

So it's so huge your cuisine, your dress, your festivities, traditions, your language, dialect, even the way, as I said, you put your Bindi a dot on your forehead. You know, it can vary depending upon where you're from. So please ask me where am I from?

Gurasis:

Yeah, absolutely! So tell me, if not the news anchor or the show host, or the work that you do, anything related to the media and broadcasting, what career you would have chosen if not these?

Geetika:

So I always wanted to be, first, as a little girl, a doctor, Gurasis. I have never shared. I'm a very private person. I'm very introvert, even though I have done shows and been on TV and entered people's houses and talked about issues. But I personally am a very private person, never actually talked about it openly. My parents had a very tense marriage so every day would be scary. So even as the like, for example as a five year old, on several occasions I was told that in the morning, check on your mom. If you think she's not okay, you need to make sure you sneak out and get to the closest health because you have to make sure your little sister is fine too. So every day was a blessing and unpredictable. So never left my homework done undone the last minute, always had my four or five boys close by and always was on alert. So I always thought as a little girl that if I change somebody's bad heart into a good heart, that would change the scenario, circumstances of something Right. So I wanted to be a doctor. But very soon I realized that I actually can't see the sight of blood. So that was a good thing. I didn't pass out in a surgery room. So that's good.

Geetika:

And then sometime in late 80s we all got CNN into our houses, right. So it was early on when television was life, was the media was getting imploded, with all these international channels coming to our, not just the Dhu Darshan happening. So I noticed Oprah Winfrey. She was my oh, my goodness, my goodness, like she talks about everything on her show. That was a huge thing for me as a good. I'm brought up in a very progressive city, chandigarh, but come from a very conservative family, all educated people in my family, but very traditional. So having somebody on TV in my room talk about issues that we wouldn't even think of talking about, so that was huge for me and I wanted to have a show of my own. So I'm like, well, forget about being a doctor. I cannot do that, but I want to. Maybe this is a way to talk about issues, to write about them, so you create awareness. This is what this woman seems to be doing Finding solutions to problems. So that was an eye opener for me and I really wanted to be doing something like that. So I was one of the youngest writers for a newsletter that was being published in Chandigarh but being sent all the way to even Moscow and places like that. So I was the youngest writer and I still remember the heading of that article in that newsletter was Geetika Ki Diary Ke Panno Se". Basically means in English translation from the pages of Geetika's diary.

Geetika:

So I've always wanted to be a writer or a show host. But you said, what else? I never thought about anything else other than maybe, a teacher. I like being with the kids. I think sometimes you relive your own life when you have 10, 20, 30 kids around you. You can teach them, you can listen to them so much and you can learn from them so much. It's such a beautiful, I think, profession where you have so much power in the sense that you can. You're basically shaping these kids. They're not spending as much time with their parents Monday to Friday as much as you are. You're so lucky to influence and shape these 30 or 20 kids, so that is very fascinating. I think I probably would have been a teacher, nothing else.

Gurasis:

Well, I can definitely see the teacher in you. I think that would be a great profession for you as well. Yeah, tell me I want to talk a little circle back again a little bit about your childhood. Tell me how that experience or that has influenced like since you are now a mother yourself. So tell me that how that thing is somehow shaped, the way you are going to pursue this motherhood.

Geetika:

I am still learning. I don't have all the answers. I'm still learning. As I said, they're nine and 10, but my focus is always to say respect every human being around you. Always know that a woman, a man, older, younger, everybody has their own perspective on the same issue, and how they've been raised, what their life experiences have been, this all influences that personality, but it doesn't mean that that's who that person is, because they are also learning. Right, we're all learning.

Gurasis:

You're all a work in progress.

Geetika:

We are all work in progress and you can't say oh, and sometimes it happens, but it seems that you meet somebody after 10, 15 years and you think like, oh, my God, this person's so changed. So as long as you have four personality intact, don't lose on goodness, do good and then don't worry about how the other person is reacting, because you can change the other person. You can only work on yourself. This is sometimes. They are nine and ten and sometimes they tell me mama, you did this wrong. Do you know that you should probably apologize? I said you know what? This is so funny, that we could have said that to our parents. Even now.

Geetika:

Even now we can't do that, but this is such a great thing that if I did something wrong, I can apologize to my little child and say I'm sorry about it, like, oh, I wish I hadn't done that, or how would you want me to do this or say something about this, and you take their opinion from their mind. It is so amazing. I love that.

Gurasis:

Yeah, it is beautiful. Yeah, tell me, even in terms of expressing the emotions, like I don't think so. My parents have never said to me that you know the word I love you. Yes, they do. I can see that interactions and everything, but they never said it. But sometimes saying that also makes a big difference. How do you see that?

Geetika:

Oh, my goodness, totally. I was actually looking at a Tik Tok the other day and in that they were showing that we say it I love you, I love you and buy things for the kids these days All the time we have to tell them, whereas for our parents they're like you know what? We put you in good schools, we're taking care of you, washing your laundry, giving you food. Isn't that love? Why do I have to say it in words?

Geetika:

And then me and my husband were having an argument about it, a discussion kind of, so I'm like I come from a very different culture. So, for example, here, for every little thing you hear, thank you. Yeah. But in India we do it here. Thank you. Yeah.

Geetika:

It's taken for granted. I, for example, say tons of times I've learned it, as I said, over the last several years I say thank you for even somebody picked up the book at home or he did something like maybe just put the curtains, the light was too strong. Thank you so much. We don't do that, so that's just a cultural thing, but it doesn't mean that we are not thankful about it for the actions that we do around us.

Geetika:

We just don't say we're very loving people, actually Absolutely Very warm hearted people. We invite anybody at any time. This morning only, for example, I was telling my kids that nobody gives a call or preplans, especially when I was going up. And even now, when I talk to my friends back home, very rarely people plan and you can correct me if I'm wrong.

Geetika:

But people just say you know what? I was in your neighborhood or I was passing by and I wanted to see you, and if it happens to be tea time, we are happy to have that person in, and then if it is lunchtime, we'll prepare something extra right away, and it's just in our nature. Yeah, yeah, absolutely.

Gurasis:

Welcome everybody at any time. Yeah, it happened. Like our uncles and aunts and ma'sis and boobies, they'll be passing by and they'll say oh, we're just passing by, we'll just stop by, and sometimes you would be having dinner and they'll just join us, have dinner with us, you know, or they'll just pop up at any time.

Geetika:

Oh my goodness, I don't think to relatives. We can even say that I was just talking about people. Relatives are. Yes, of course you have to be available, but even for, like, just friends and acquaintances, if they happen to be in your area, they can laugh on your door.

Gurasis:

Speaking of childhood and all that, tell me if you could go back and live, relive, you know one moment from your childhood in Chandigarh. Which moment it would be and why?

Geetika:

Oh no, that's a very tough question. I don't think I want to revisit. Okay. It's been a very tough child, but things that I've done I do cherish them, like I, no matter what was going on in the personal life at home, but I always made sure that I am doing best what I can do.

Geetika:

For example, throughout my schooling I was head prefect, class leader, always took part in debates, declamations, extempor, and always got a prize. That was my way of, I guess, contributing as a person, even though the atmosphere may be very chaotic and unpredictable. But that was my way of moving forward. The thing I've learned even now as a new immigrant, can you imagine like when I came here I immigrated in an independent category as a broadcaster and I was doing international news on Z news, so people in like everywhere watched that news bulletin around the world. My mom was a research analyst and my sister had just one saree gamma, both Punjabi and Hindi, so she was hoping to become a playback singer.

Geetika:

So all these, we were at that point in our lives and then we packed our bags and came here. My mother came as a research analyst. My sister was a dependent on her at that age and so they came separately and I followed them. But the moment we land here we don't know anybody and we don't know what job search looks like. So somebody who had found the house for my mom and my sister, they said, oh, it's outskirts of Toronto, but it was Hamilton. Not knowing it, hamilton is a different city, so to get out of that and actually to be in Toronto would be another journey, right? So here we are with research analyst and international news anchor, saree gamma finalist. And now what do we do?

Geetika:

I worked in mushroom farm. I was the shortest, petite security guard and I did evening courses just to add up onto my media professional background at McMaster and kept sending my resumes, no matter what, how bad it looked on certain days, kept sending my resumes, followed up multiple number of times, and I guess that persistence and timing, I would also say, helped. So within in less than a year so in September 2002, yeah, in less than a year I was on television. So I think that always moving forward, no matter what, as I've learned in my life each step, as long as it is moving forward, how small it is and how slow it is doesn't matter at all, because eventually you will reach the destination may take you longer.

Geetika:

I sometimes feel, oh my God, if I was worldly wise, if I had a mentor or if I was smart enough, I would have reached that destination much faster. But you know what? I had my own journey. I was very naive. I wasn't ready for the industry called media. I've learned things. I've done stupid mistakes, but you know what? That's my journey, that's my learning experience.

Gurasis:

Yeah, 100%. I think everybody's journey is unique to themselves and I think it happens as per their experiences and some things I think happen in their life because they really have to learn from it that can benefit in the later years of their life. So I think all those ups and downs and obstacles kind of prepare you for the bigger thing, which we don't realize in that moment. But eventually you'll see that all that accumulates together and helps you to really conquer the next thing.

Geetika:

You're right and everybody is different. I am who I am. I just cannot help not trusting people. Sometimes I lose my common sense. I doubt myself. I'm like, why did I not use my common sense? But that's who I am. I trust people because I'm thinking if I am good, the other person in front of me is also good. So sometimes it doesn't work out. But you know what, just because things were not good or people were not good doesn't mean that I am going to change myself. Too bad, sorry, I'm still the same.

Gurasis:

Yeah, I think I read this quote also, that never stop being a good person because of a bad encounter. And that stayed with me when I moved to Canada, because you do come across all kinds of people, but I think I never lost my nature just because other person was not reciprocating the same thing.

Geetika:

Yeah, yeah, I tell my boys sometimes they're very little right now, but sometimes these things stay in your memory for long that at boys, your journey will be different, but always look for good people and your gut feel hopefully will help you. And that if somebody is bad, don't react the same, move away from the situation. That's the best. Yeah, absolutely. You cannot let other things impact you. You have to. But again, this is not just happening to me. I'm not just learning this right now. It's taken me a long time to learn all of this. Yeah, yeah.

Geetika:

But it's good to be able to share with my kids, are people who are younger than me, or sometimes just friends. It's good to learn from any but of any age. Yeah, yeah.

Gurasis:

You know, this reminds me of this one situation where, you know, I was coming out of the Metro. It was my very first presentation in Canada, like in my school. I came out of the Metro and walking towards my school it was like a two minute walk and this is passed a lady and she shouted at me I hate your turban, like go back to India. She just shouted at me and I was like what just happened? And I turned back and I looked at her and I saw her and I was like there is no way I can explain her or say her anything that's going to justify this.

Gurasis:

So I don't know, for some reason this statement came to my mind that this lady has some loose screws, just move on. Something just kicked in me and I moved on and I don't know what happened. That whole situation just fueled me in some way that my presentation was one of my best presentations in the class and I don't know what just happened there. What was that magic? What was that? Something that you know got into me and I had the amazing presentation in the class.

Geetika:

I am sorry that it happened. I love the way you're wearing your turban and grisies. We are all very amazing people, whatever culture, whatever tradition we bring. This is a country of immigrants. Just a reminder to everybody it's a land of immigration, land of immigrants. But I think what you're saying is that you did best in that class was because, probably, you know, I always think that criticism sometimes doesn't bum you out. Sometimes it helps you. Yeah, 100%. That's why I would say give me your critical feedback. So it's okay. Somebody said something, but you probably thought you know what I'm going to make myself shine today 100%.

Geetika:

Right In my presentation. Yeah, so in a way it was a blessing in disguise. She probably pushed you to bring the best out of you. So, and when people react like that, I always think it is not about me or what that person delivered in words to me. It is actually about them. Maybe they need help. It's something they're feeling insecure about, they're feeling bad about something, so probably that person actually needs help, right.

Gurasis:

Absolutely, I think. At that moment I didn't really know how to process it and maybe it got translated into the presentation, but I think now I can gauge, you know, whether to really take this personally or just bounce it off. It's absolutely okay. Okay, I think we should talk more about you now, more about your journey in Canada. Before that, I would like to go back once again in India, where you got selected. You were one of the top 11 candidates for the Zee news. You were also trained for the whole experience, right Before you actually was sent live. I want to tell a little bit about that training phase and how that experience was like.

Geetika:

Oh, that was a wonderful experience, not fully utilized, as I said, it was not, I think, prepared for it. But you know, when you say you have to be prepared when the opportunity arrived. I've been thinking about it. I want to be on television to a host of my own and this. So we heard my mother heard that I just finished my masters. I was at a stage in life where I didn't know what will happen next. That's another story, another episode for you guys.

Geetika:

So I thought I heard my mom heard that Zee was looking for VJs anchors and faces for the Zee cinema and they were actually close to last rounds of selection but they were doing their last interviews in Chandigarh. So she said why don't you apply and try entering? So I sent my resume and my picture and I was called. That's what happened and I was myself surprised. But yeah, I was selected and I think I was. If I don't recall it wrong, I was the only one selected for both Zee cinema and Delhi for news anchor ship. So I always wanted to be an anchor, have a show of my own.

Geetika:

So I declined going to Bombay and I said yes to Noida training. So it was an amazing training. We were taught how to look on screen, how to dress, how to sit properly, how to deliver speech, what to say, what not to say when you're on television, how to do your makeup, how to write down your questions discreetly on screen, how to do research for your topic. This was all taught. This is on job training, so we would spend some time of the day in newsroom where all the other experienced people would be working and you get to see them live in action. This was an opportunity. I think that doesn't come to everybody. Right, you dream of going on national television, but it doesn't happen to everybody. So I am very grateful for that opportunity for Zee chairperson and the management team Always grateful about that.

Gurasis:

But why do you say that it would have made a better use of the opportunity? Why would you say that?

Geetika:

I think if I had a mentor, for example, I knew exactly how to take this step further up. Right, that would have been an amazing thing, Just like. That's what we always I always say that when you have a destination in mind, then you can actually carve out some of your steps. You may need help sometimes to maneuver, but you need to have a destination so you can take different paths, whichever way comes easy to you or you think that is the fastest or the best way that you're out, but if you know where you're going, it becomes much more clear.

Gurasis:

Tell me, is there like a story or a feedback that you received from a viewer of that news show? Or maybe like what people actually recognizing you on the street? What's that happening?

Geetika:

So not in, I'm not sure about that back home, but yes for sure it's been. Everybody who sees me on street or in a store and they come up to me and say are you from TV, from the Daya? Really, you look so different. Because you know, television actually accentuates your personality. You look taller, bigger, right. And then they see me in person, without makeup and anything, and they're like oh my God, you're so petite, same girl. So it's funny. Sometimes I can get away with this, saying no, no, don't worry, I just resemble her. So that's funny as well. But talking about India, that, to be honest, I actually don't have clear memory of my shopping trips in India. Was I recognized? Sure, I was, but it's a different environment there, right? For example, there when we would go and do some shopping because you're being escorted as a news anchor you're the national news anchor, right? So you being escorted, there's a car and somebody is escorted. You to go to a solid store? Yeah, nobody cares. I'm going for grocery shopping too, yeah, any grocery store. So it's different.

Gurasis:

So that's like one of the differences you just shared. Are there anything else, any other differences that you would like to share with us?

Geetika:

I remember in India, when I got the job on Zee news, I came back the first time, back to Chandigarh, Somebody told my mom oh my God, Githika can just put on a press on her scooter right, and then nobody will stop her, you know. And then just put something like Zee news on your house, Nobody will say anything. She's a big shot. You don't hassle a reporter or somebody from that high profile. So when you come here and we were laughing at it that I've come here as an international news anchor, look what I'm doing Mushroom farming Nobody cares. Yeah.

Geetika:

Sometimes we go from high level positions and we come back, come, come to this country, thinking of things that we just imagine or read right, and we think, oh, life is beautiful, it's just a rose bush there. But sometimes it doesn't work like that In reality. All immigrants, I think, have their own story to tell, but one thing that I think we, all immigrants in Canada, have, is persistence. We are dreamers.

Geetika:

We are very hopeful people. We do not give up. We are not give-upers. So that's one thing that I think binds all of us together. We also complain less because we know we are the ones who have to make it work for ourselves, so we just look for something that will work right. Positivity, so that's another thing I notice you are an example of that.

Gurasis:

Oh yeah, thank you. Thank you for saying that. I think it's like a variety of people. I've seen a few people that who don't really like appreciate this opportunity that they have got to come to Canada. And then there are people who actually make the full use of it and I think we really have to learn from the one who actually made the use of it. And sometimes I've seen people complaining at the things where they knew what they were signing up to. I feel like like, for example, coming to Canada, they knew that they were going to do their chores themselves, they knew that they were going to cook for themselves. They knew that life is not all roses there. So I think they just forget that they had to change their mindset a little bit to actually succeed in this new world.

Geetika:

Sometimes it happens, yeah, even back home or wherever you are. Yeah. And if you dream or think and you don't get it, I think mind and our nature as a human being is, we feel dejected and it's like, oh, it's not working, I'm going to give up, because giving up is much easier. Right.

Geetika:

Yeah, but to be telling yourself that, no, I'm going to make it work. It needs hard work. It needs strong will, strength in you. It's just about you. You have to fight that battle Absolutely. You have to do it on your own. For example, even coming back on, I'm trying to start my own podcast and do stories because I've been in hibernation as a mom for many years now. It's a step that I had to really feel within me and think do I really want to do it? It's not going to be easy. Nobody's launching me this time, it's going to be just me doing on the camera and behind camera work. So I had to really feel and push myself. So if you don't do that, nothing's going to be easy.

Gurasis:

So let me take you back to 2001 again. That was the time when you landed in Canada, tell me. I remember I read somewhere that you said that your educational background and professional experience had no meaning to the potential employers here. That was the first time you heard about the term no Canadian experience. That was like the gap on your resume. Then I also read this one anecdote where you walked to a local news station in a Sari. Tell me about that whole experience and what happened next.

Geetika:

So when we came it was October. When I came it was October 2001. And I remember very clearly when you bring your currency from India and convert it into Canadian dollars it doesn't look very good.

Geetika:

I don't know what happens these days, but 20 years back it didn't look very good. So, which means that you have to start thinking about paying your bills right away. Very first week I remember very clearly that I didn't know how to dress up for a job interview. I obviously I was international news anchor, so I had a beautiful collection of saris and I wore my sari and walked, which was luckily very close by 10 minute walk to the news channel there. So I walked and gave my resume, introduced myself to the receptionist and gave my resume and said the letter and the couple letter has been addressed to the news director. But I had done my research on computer the same week Only after coming to Canada. They were very kind because the resume must have looked like wow, international news anchor, what is she doing here, right? So they were very kind and invited me for an interview.

Geetika:

So I remember very few days back actually, I was reminding and I was, we were talking with the person and I reminded that he actually asked me the news director, do you know what's on the left side of the street and what's on the right side of the street? And I did not know. But I was so keen on presenting myself and saying that you know what, you guys should definitely hire me as a reporter. Like I was so strong about that that I knew that I wanted to be a reporter. So because I have a lot of experience. So he said but if you don't know what's on the left side or the right side, how will you go and do any news coverage? Well, first of all, you're very fresh. Why don't you settle down and see how it is and then we'll circle back and talk about it? So I thought, okay, and, but I kept updating. I was not also going to see ashamed or embarrassed or maybe this was my naiveness, that I was not scared or embarrassed to update what I am doing now. So I actually wrote him after a few days. No, obviously I thank, but I kept him updated on this is what I'm doing right now.

Geetika:

I am doing a security guard position, also taking media consultancy course at the local university, but that I am still looking for a position and I am reading the map. So I did that job too. So I was reading the Mac, I was getting familiar with the streets around, reading the newspaper every day, local news. So I am thinking maybe the persistence and that may have been a factor that he finally introduced me. But I also sent the same week so this is the funny part that I was also sending my resumes to wherever I thought around that area and news channels were looking for anchors or any entry level position. I would keep sending my resumes of the same week that I got a call from him saying that you know what? I think I can refer you to somebody. I don't have anything for you, but I think I'm going to refer you.

Geetika:

The same week I got a call from CFMT. In those days Omni channel was called CFMT. I got a call saying we would like to interview you. I also got referred, but I went for the interview and again I was so confident in what I wanted to do and present myself so eloquently like I, this is what I plan to do, this is what I want to do and I'm very prepared for it. I was interviewed and I was told that we were actually auditioning for Bollywood Boulevard and it was an English language news magazine show, entertainment show. So all the news is coming straight from Bombay and the show. I don't know if you're familiar with that. So it's an entertainment news show. But the stories are coming all the way from Bombay and wherever, from India, and they talk about that, have local artists and talk about it.

Geetika:

So I was not selected. I was very happy, to be honest. But the managers, they seemed impressed. They said we'll keep you in mind. I didn't lose hope. I was sad but I didn't lose hope. But I was also happy that I wasn't doing that show. But I came back because I had it in my mind that I wanted to do a Hindi language news magazine show. I was very certain. I was very certain about it. So within few weeks I got another call from them saying we're doing the CBC Gemini award, winning 32 part series in different languages I think eight languages. They did and that would you be available to proofread it and narrate it? So proofreading meant that it was typed by somebody else. I had to proofread that and you can imagine 30 to one hour long episodes. How much work was that? So I thought so I had to redo most of the episodes, but because I didn't have the technical skill set to type it on computer, I hand wrote 32 episodes.

Geetika:

I still have the copies of them. So one hour long, 32 episodes, they're all hand written in Hindi. So when they said, are you done? And I was the first one out of all the languages I said yes, I'm done. So I took it. So they were literally scrolling the page and saying, did you handwrite it? So I'm like, yeah, this is my handwriting. I did it. So that was pretty impressive, I think. So I nabbed it and it was also the first translated version that was put on air. It was finished, I think, in less than two months and that was my first hello to Canadians here and it was an amazing, the most wonderful experience of my broadcasting career ever. I loved it. What way could have been the best way to learn more about the country that I had immigrated? Yeah.

Geetika:

It's beautiful. I would stay in the editing booth non-stop. I did not need any washroom breaks, water breaks or food breaks. I think my editors were like, okay, get her out, this is too much.

Gurasis:

How long did it take to rate those 32 episodes?

Geetika:

So I think we recorded it in less than two months.

Gurasis:

Wow, but it's a long time.

Geetika:

And I was traveling from Hamilton to Toronto every day, Monday to Friday and then yeah, so it was beautiful. I will never forget that experience. It was lovely and so thankful to Omni for that opportunity and I completely fell in love with Canada. It was so beautiful.

Gurasis:

I'm sure there must be things that you narrated that you had no idea about, because sometimes there are some things in the history you were like, oh my God, is this where this comes from, or this is what has happened.

Geetika:

It was all new to me. I had not read about Canada in detail. Who reads about Canada as a subject back home? So we all want to immigrate to, but we don't have this kind of information available or research. So one thing that I think always amazed people at the station was who were part of the documentary translation work was that I would check the name, because they're French names, right, I cannot pronounce them, right, obviously I'm not a French speaking person. So I would always check the name and then deliver it. And they always would say, even while doing my Bidhi Ho show, why do you have to make a show? Why are you calling the embassy or the council office to check this name or listening to it somewhere else? Because this is so you said. Do you remember anything that you were taught while on job training? So because you're doing a news newscast, you can't say wrong names. One thing I learned definitely learned to pronounce the other person's name.

Geetika:

I don't feel ashamed when people call me Geeta Jitika. It's like I prefer to not let them keep doing that. It's better to correct it politely so that you don't. It's a good idea to correct right. They don't know how the name is pronounced, so I always did that and that was, I think, one thing that everybody noted that how come the names are always pronounced right. Even to my boys I say make sure when the other person is getting introduced, because your name is not a foreign name, it's Arjun. It's like everybody should know how to pronounce. That it's a good thing to do for the other person. Exactly.

Geetika:

They feel good when you've taken time to know their name. So that was one thing that I learned. And good research. Just don't go jump up on the topic just because you are talking about it.

Geetika:

It's good to do some research, always helpful. Then I took an offer to be a communication advisor in a political office. That worked. It was interesting. It was another learning experience because now I was on the other side of the fence right, Not just covering a minister or bureaucrats or political people and questioning them, but now I was on the other side thinking that, oh, what looks like easy is not easy. There's a lot of research that goes into one policy. Absolutely.

Geetika:

The tons of people who are worried about if this goes wrong. What will happen If this goes right? What will happen? What needs to be done Right?

Geetika:

So when we comment on political leaders this is one thing that I learned during my experience there when we comment on leaders, first thing is go vote, then you can say some. If you have not gone out to vote, do not say anything. First point, then you don't have the right to say anything If you haven't exercised voting right. Secondly, I always think when we are having our own families four or five people or seven or 12 people we have arguments. We don't all have the same perspective or thinking on the same subject.

Geetika:

We differ, we will make mistakes, but when somebody is managing a province, a district, country, you can't just blame them all the time. There has to be a balance. You also have to see what was happening during their term. What all did they do? Weigh it. Just because we have an opinion on someone, we can't just throw our opinion on that, and it's not an easy job to be a politician of any level. I just did a podcast on three levels of government where I actually asked a sitting member that when people walk into your office? Do they even understand what responsibilities fall into which category and who is responsible for?

Geetika:

them, for example Because, for me, you are the elected person. You better know I have a problem, find a solution. For us it's like, yeah, I have a problem, find a solution. Because, just like what we do at our home, we'll say to the senior member in our house that you know what? I have a problem, find a solution. Or why don't you have a solution? It's a very normal way to approach, but every responsibility falls into different category and there's always a way to find a solution. I just believe that there's always a solution for every problem. It may be difficult, non-convenient all the time, and maybe it's not the way that feels right to you or very easy for you. It may hurt your ego, self-importance, but there's always a way to make it work.

Gurasis:

I feel like whenever a problem is created, it's created because it has a solution Always. You just have to find and navigate to it.

Geetika:

Yeah, I don't like people who just kind of blame the leader or whoever, because it's almost it feels to me like a family member who hasn't done anything but will blame somebody who is doing.

Gurasis:

Because it's easy to do that, because it's easy to blame.

Geetika:

So if you're not going to participate or if you're not going to do anything, then maybe don't find faults in people who are actually doing, because also another thing to remember aggressive. When you do work, you will make mistakes. That is how, that's the nature of doing work right, because if you don't walk, how will you fall? Yeah, 100% yeah if you're just sitting and complaining of the other person walking and falling because that other person is walking.

Gurasis:

At least the person is trying.

Geetika:

Yeah. So I just feel like we live in another democracy here. So I think if you want to have a comment on something, then you know what? Go and get involved with your local writing associations. And this is a message for everybody young people, immigrants, some families, seniors, go and participate.

Gurasis:

So I think I also want to talk a little bit more about Batha'i Ho and I want to give a little bit of background again to the listeners you know. So you became the launching face of Omni2 in Toronto and was offered to anchor News Magazine show Batha'i Ho, which ran for nine years, and I think hosting a successful show for nine years is not a small deal. Then also, like I was telling earlier that it became one of the best talk shows in ethnic media in Ontario. I want to tell us the inception of that idea. How did that come up? So I also found a few of the clips. I was able to find them somehow on YouTube and, by the way, you were looking beautiful in all of those and you have interviewed, I think, the people from various domains you know. There were authors, there was even organizers. I also saw like a few of the Indian chefs who visited Canada and everybody you know who has contributed to the cultural fabric of Canada. So tell us more about that show and that whole journey.

Geetika:

You know, as Gurasis. As I said, my idea to the hiring committee was at Omni2. It was like I want to be able to do a show where I can say hello and be my authentic self. I can't do a show and just be put up in a studio just because you're bringing stories for me to air and I just want to say it on camera and good, look, look good. But my whole thing was you know what? I'm already not having a great time. My credentials from back over are not being recognized at all. So if I'm going to go back to my broadcasting career, then this is how I want to do it. I want to be myself. I just cannot be myself.

Geetika:

So, being able to write my script in Hindi, have a saying, choosing stories, interviewing people, being able to wear the dress that I love the most my cotton saris I miss wearing them, putting on a bindi and being able to portray myself. I did not. There was nobody saying, okay, you can't say this thing, because this is this doesn't look right. We have a script for you, that's what you're gonna follow. I was given a lot of flexibility in because I think they trusted me and I really, really appreciate the team members there for trusting me that I was generally myself, and for that I think it was one of the reasons. I think people would say, okay, you know what? This is somebody we would just meet on street, right, this is not somebody that doesn't look like us. She's talking the way we miss listening to things because we've been here for so long and she's fresh from India. The diction is so fresh and she seems to be representing all of India. As.

Geetika:

I said my saris would confuse people. Sometimes my saris would confuse people. My bindi style would confuse people. My language was not just one dialect, like only from Chandigarh only or from Delhi Hindi or no, maharashtrian Hindi.

Geetika:

It was like it was kind of, as I said, the word Hindustani is true, I think when people wrote back that she speaks pure Hindustani, so we can't figure out where she's from. So whoever would come in the studio, if there's a Bengali guest, they would think that they're talking to me because they think I'm probably from Bengal or a Maharashtrian guest. They're thinking probably she's from Maharashtra or Punjabi. Are you Punjabi, githika? So it kind of helped me, I think, because I looked like them from wherever, whichever part of India they were coming from. So that must have been a contributing factor for everybody liking me, I guess.

Gurasis:

Yeah, I mean, I'm sure about that. Whereas seeing those videos when the music kicks in and then it pans towards you, the camera, and then you do the introduction, for some reason I think I haven't seen it before, right, ever. For some reason, when I saw it, it just made me feel so proud. I was so proud to just see you speaking the Hindi language. I can't fathom the fact that it was, you know, broadcasted on a Canadian television. People were looking at it, people were seeing it. It was something, something was there in me. I was like, oh my God, I was so proud to just see what was just right there. Oh, thank you. But also, once again, like you know, githika. Once again, like nine years, that's huge. Tell me, what do you believe? What are the key factors that contributed to the show's popularity and sustained success throughout these years?

Geetika:

So I think, as I said, the show was basically about everyday life, everyday people. Yeah.

Geetika:

Stories that were successful, stories that were struggling, stories that were failing. We did not make up anything. It was. We would actually just walk into people's homes and give a call and say, would you be interested and let us cover your story? And people who are very authentic.

Geetika:

I think what I see is, as I said, when you are being honest and trusting, sometimes the other person feels that you know what they can be also honest and just be themselves. So I think it was a show where nothing seemed like pre-done and directed or scripted. It was just how people work. So that I think that was the essence of that show and I'm sure me being honest and me being just myself may have also helped it. But yeah, the show was a very casual show and most times, for example, like there's, we would have a story fixed and then say, okay, this is the time slot, we're coming, but I'm going without makeup, with my camera person, just entering somebody's house and chatting. So what people generally, I think misses sharing their story, the way they think and talk about to themselves about it. Yeah.

Geetika:

Right. Sometimes that authenticity is what kind of becomes the setting point. Yeah, beautiful thing of that whole talk For the non-Indians.

Gurasis:

the word with IHOME means congratulations. Yes.

Gurasis:

Hey, if you're enjoying the content and conversations we bring to you every week, we would love for you to join our growing community. Make sure to follow us on all major podcast directories, including Apple podcasts, spotify, google podcasts or wherever you consume your podcast. That way, you'll never miss an episode and you'll always stay in the loop with the latest insights and stories. And speaking of staying connected, I always always encourage you to follow your heart, but also also on Instagram the handle is mythicaccent. We'll be sharing a lot more behind the scenes content, some updates and some even fun sneak peeks. So give us a follow and let's engage even more closely there.

Gurasis:

And to all those who provided their feedback and input, thank you so much. It truly, truly shaped the direction of a podcast, and I would love to hear from any of the new folks who joined us today. Don't hesitate to reach out with any thoughts, ideas or even suggestions for future guests. Drop us an email at helloatmythicaccentcom. Now let's get back to the episode. So tell me if any of our listeners who would like to get into the similar industry, what can they do or what would be their next steps if any of them wants to get into it.

Geetika:

I think the best. They're such great universities here in Ontario. Ryerson is great. They have an amazing program. I was one of the scholarship recipients of Ryerson's accelerated program on comms and media and I think there were seven candidates across Canada and I was one of them. So we were given one week training and workshops and seminars. It was an amazing experience and I realized, my goodness, kids and students who are going through the actual program at Ryerson is such lucky fellows. So there's such great programs at Seneca, our local universities and colleges. York has programs.

Geetika:

As long as you know as I always say, the destination, what you exactly want to do, the path becomes much easier then and then always keep your eyes open. Nobody told me this. I also didn't have great, I think, people to look at. But in this field where I was looking but I think, look for mentors and don't care to ask, there's something here that I didn't have back home in India or I don't know if it is still there or happening there now or doesn't happen Job shadow.

Geetika:

You know, right, grisys, you kind of just ask somebody to be with them for a day or a week and see what happens before you decide, right, getting into that field. That's an amazing thing. Job shadow. I love that, but you can actually be with that person and see what they do. Yeah, so do that. That's one thing I think all students after their 12th, graduation or grade nine here they can volunteer and don't quote me on that. But I think there's such great opportunities as students in this country that we get and we should utilize that, because back home we didn't have these things, like in grade seven, grade nine, how could you go and job shadow, volunteer somewhere? Nobody talked about that. So here there's amazing opportunities for you to just go and even check out the field that you want to get into.

Gurasis:

Yeah, absolutely. That sounds really interesting, though, and I like that. The shadowing part I think this is also not the same, but still in the same category, where you reach out to people and do that information interviews, just to learn about their day-to-day life, or just to learn about the job that they are doing, or just see that. Is that really something you think you?

Geetika:

are cut for? I think yes, exactly, yeah. So also, if you want to do journalism, I think a reading is something that you have to have. You need to have interest in reading and read about everything, anything around you. It's never going to harm you. You'll only learn, If not in journalism, then in some other field, just as a person also. So there's so much happening and these days the information is right on your screen. You can Google search anything and it will pop up on your screen. So the world in some ways is so easy. So do that reading, research, Ask questions.

Geetika:

Don't be embarrassed or shy to ask questions. No question is ever stupid. Ask, that's half of us. Half of us don't do things because we didn't have the guts or we didn't feel comfortable asking that question. It's like, oh my goodness, if only I had asked that question. I would know what to do now and always find opportunities. Wherever you live, See what is happening around you, where. When you go in person, that's another way to learn things. When you interact with people social interaction is another way. So, as a journalist, you need to be able to go and interact with anybody and the more you know about more people, more traditions, cultures and countries and languages, the more easier your journey as a journalist will be, and more exciting, in fact.

Gurasis:

So, geetika, before we get into the final segment of the podcast, I wanted to also share with our listeners about your podcast, which is Geetika's Canadian Diary. Tell us where they can find it and what it is about.

Geetika:

Gurusis geetikaca. If people go and check geetikaca, they will see all the platforms and they can check out our new episodes. As I said, it's all in conception stages. I'm also a mommy here, so which means my full-time job is generally with the two wonderful growing human beings at home.

Geetika:

But so this is baby steps that I'm trying to take back and I'm thinking I hope I can do something important in terms of bringing the issues out, and followers and people who have liked me several years back doing the show will appreciate the topics that we will be bringing and talking about. So my main focus is talk about immigrants who have trouble, although I always say the young generation that is coming nowadays is much more smarter, they are much more educated, they have already done their research, so they're way ahead of lots of immigrants when we came 20, 30 years back. So they just have to go to Githikaca and all our platforms are listed there and they can go and listen to my new podcast on YouTube and Podbean and Facebook. But, as I said, it's very early to be promoting it. But thank you for bringing it up, gurusis, I'm hoping people will send me suggestions, feedback.

Geetika:

I am looking for people's feedback and suggestions and topics, and feel free to connect with me. It is Githika Kikhanedian Dairi at gmailcom. Send me your ideas, would love that.

Gurasis:

Well, I don't know what you're saying. It's initial stages. I think you are putting the ears of your experience into that podcast. I have listened to the first few episodes and I enjoyed them, and I think I'm looking forward to them more and to all my listeners. The links to listen to the podcast and connect with Githika can be found in the show notes. So now we're 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, yeah, what's this one habit you adopted that has changed your life? Listening. Have you recently bought that you now regret? Oh no.

Geetika:

I don't think so. I'm a minimalist. I don't buy too much.

Gurasis:

Okay, so what's next on your bucket list?

Geetika:

Make sure my podcast reaches lots of immigrants, lots of Saudisians and lots of people.

Gurasis:

Well, it surely will. So who's your go-to person when you feel stuck?

Geetika:

I go to books a lot when I'm feel stuck. Okay. I always feel books are such great teachers and I always find somebody else's experience matching. And then I see what did they do? Because, as I said to you Agressis, I didn't have. It was a tough childhood, so I always had to look for things that were positive, so they were always my books.

Gurasis:

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

Geetika:

Dilwale Dulhania leh jayenge All-time favorite.

Gurasis:

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

Geetika:

I work in a hospital setting and I bridge the language gap between patients and doctor teams. I wish I had a magic wand when I see kids, young children, towards the end of their life. I always feel there should be something that doesn't let that happen.

Gurasis:

If you could create one law that everybody has to follow, what would it be?

Geetika:

Oh, my goodness, I could have a list of Okay, then two again, I think. Honesty, because if you are, by law, have to be honest, who will do less mistakes on purpose or hurt other people or do wrong things because you know what. You will have to agree to what you did because you by law have to be honest about it, so you will not do wrong things.

Gurasis:

If you could eat one dish for the rest of your life, what would it be? Rasmalayi, okay, so describe Canada in one word or a sentence.

Geetika:

I think I would define Canada as a dream, your dream, where you have to work towards it and it will come true with persistence, honesty again in your dream and your work and never giving up. I feel it is a place where you can dream and also achieve. In some places you can dream but you can't achieve because of so many other factors. But here I feel, generally the stories of your dreams will come true.

Gurasis:

Love that. I love that answer. So, finally, if you could leave me with one piece of advice, what would it be?

Geetika:

I don't know what it would be Gurasis, a young man doing so well and an initiative that is already, I think, making you a better person every day. Because you are hearing from so many people about their life journeys, I think, sometimes just exactly what you're doing actually, just looking around and learning. Sometimes you don't even have to speak a word to learn, you just have to look around and take it all in. And if you can take it all in and piece together the things and put good things in your own life journey, in your own steps, I think your life will be very different, but you're already doing it.

Gurasis:

I love that answer. Thank you for saying that and thank you, Geetika, for being on the podcast. It was a pleasure speaking to you. Thank you so much for adding value to my listeners. Thank you.

Geetika:

You're welcome. Thank you so much for having me Gurasis.

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 @mythickaccent. You can also leave us a review or write to us at hello@ mythickaccent. com. So stay tuned and let's continue knowing each other beneath the accent.

Conquering Challenges in Media Industry
Lessons From Childhood and Immigration Experience
Immigrant Experiences and Pursuing Dreams
Job Interviews and Career Opportunities
Authenticity and Success in Broadcasting
Insights Into Life and Dreams
Gratitude and Encouragement on Podcast