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Gita Kar

Gita Kar

Bombay-Born Immigrant

Born: Mumbai, India
Heritage: Indian

Every moment that presents itself to you consider yourself at the fork of the road. You have choice. You can either choose to do the better thing or not. Choose the better. When you have an argument in the playground, ask yourself, “Do I want to fight for this person?” Maybe take a deep breath and walk away. Choose what is good for yourself and the relationship. It is important to rise above to that which is kind, good and truthful, and make the space around you a happier space. Try it three times. After the third time you will get addicted to doing the right thing.

Gita Kar

Bombay-Born Immigrant

My name is Gita Kar. I was born May 23, 1943 in Bombay, India. The name changed to Mumbai. Bombay is an island and I lived on the south end on the beach. It was a wonderful place to grow up. People spoke many different languages and there was a lot of diversity.

Would you bring your palms silently together and say Namashkar? Namashkar means “I bow down to you with deep respect.” It’s a loving way of greeting each other. It’s also very sanitary. If I have a cold, I don’t have to shake your hand and contaminate you.

I was born into a wonderful family of elders. My mother, Trakash Rani, was one of the first women to get a PhD in India. She worked for the well being of women. My mother was a master Yogi. My father, Ranchhodlal Amritlal, had a great sense of humor. The second equally strong part of him is he never spoke a lie and always spoke the truth.

My father was part of India’s freedom movement with Gandhi and my family played a prominent role in the movement. The British ruled over India and in 1947, we had a nonviolent revolution to get the British out of India. My father was the leader in western India. The slogan was “Quit India.” My brother was killed when the British opened fire.

I grew up learning four languages at the same time—English, Hindi, Gujerati and Marathi. I learned Punjabi from my grandmothers, French in school and Bengali with my husband.

I had one sister younger than me by 15 months. We were mischievous and I was the ringleader. We used to laugh a lot. We loved stories from Indian and Greek mythology. We played many games: Langdi, Snakes & Ladders, Chapatti and loved to spin tops.

I am married to Pradip. He was in engineering school and we fell in love. I lived in India until 1982. My husband had been in the Indian Armed Forces in the Navy for twenty years. Then he found a job here as an engineer. We have two daughters.

We celebrate almost every festival. We celebrate Diwali, the festival of lights. For the festival of spring, Holi, we would take colored powder and colored water and squirt colored water at each other to celebrate the coming of flowers of the earth. There’s the Festival of Seasons, which is nine nights of spring and nine nights in the fall.

I love to travel. By traveling you become much more than you are. I love to write and to draw. I love nature. I love to read and learn. You must use what you learn today. Absorb it like a sponge and you will begin to shine and light will begin to flow from you. I was taught by my elders to have many best friends. I’m very interested in people.

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Honoring Gita Kar

(Honoring Gita Kar)

I bow down to you
With deep respect
With kindness and truth
Far beyond neglect

Into a joyful place
Where love grows
Within a sacred space

Where anger doesn’t live
Inside of you and me
There is a pearl

Waiting to bloom
From a tiny seed
To fall in love
With each breath I breathe

There is mystery
Within each rock and stone
Within each fairy tale

A new life appears
Round and round we go
From birth to after life

To dance beneath the sun
The coming of the moon
The festival of light
Lives in me and you

To lift up your voice
To make the right choice
To be the best we can

As we grow old
May we all become
More friendlier and wise

Words & music by Larry Long with Jeni Belvedere and Paige Frondell’s 3rd grade class of Eisenhower Elementary School in Hopkins, Minnesota.

© Larry Long 2008 /BMI