Tuesday, March 19, 2024

A Journey Across Continents: A Conversation with Aparna Waikar

Let's dive into the adventures of Aparna Waikar, who has traveled from India to Germany, China, and now Thailand. In this conversation, Richa Rajadhyax talks with Aparna about her experiences in different countries. and now Thailand. In this conversation, Richa Rajadhyax talks with Aparna about her experiences in different countries.

Richa: Aparna, moving from one country to another must have been quite a journey. How did you handle the changes in culture and language?

Aparna: Each move brought its own set of challenges and discoveries. When I first arrived in Germany, I assumed that English would suffice, only to realize the stark reality of a language barrier. Learning German was essential for integration, and although challenging, the process was rewarding. In China, where the language was even more daunting, adaptation took time but was facilitated by the warmth and kindness of the locals.

Richa: It sounds like you had some interesting experiences. Can you tell us more about your time in Germany and China?

Aparna: Sure! In Germany, we lived in a cozy village where even simple tasks like taking my son to kindergarten became opportunities to learn about the culture. Despite not speaking much English, the locals were really nice. In China, we stayed in Shanghai for a long time and felt at home, especially with the Marathi community.

Richa: That's wonderful to hear! With all these different places you've lived in, where do you feel most comfortable?

Aparna: Shanghai holds a special place in my heart. We spent a lot of time there and felt like a part of the community, especially with fellow Marathi folks.

Richa: It's wonderful how your experiences in Germany have shaped your perspective on community and social connections. Can you share more about how you reached out to the Marathi community there?

Aparna: Absolutely! When our younger son was about to turn one, we wanted to celebrate his birthday in a big way, not just with our small family. So, we decided to reach out to the Marathi community in Germany. My husband contacted a travel agency owned by a Marathi individual, Ravi Kaka Deshpande, to gather contact information of Marathi people in the area. Since WhatsApp wasn't around back then, my husband personally emailed and called each person to invite them to the birthday celebration.

Richa: That sounds like a heartwarming initiative! How did the Marathi community react to your invitation?

Aparna: They were pleasantly surprised by our gesture, as they had never received such personalized invitations before. Despite being strangers initially, they all showed up for our son's birthday, and we felt incredibly grateful for their presence. This event not only marked a joyous celebration but also strengthened our bonds with the Marathi community in Germany, leaving us connected even after all these years.

Richa: It's evident that your time in Shanghai has been enriching in many ways. Could you share more about the connections and activities you engaged in during your stay there?

Aparna: Absolutely! Shanghai became a hub of experiences and friendships for us. Over the course of 12 years, we formed tight-knit groups and delved into various activities. We met countless people and established enduring bonds, much like we did in Germany. Even though our time in Bangkok has been shorter, we anticipate a similar sense of community here due to the warmth and enthusiasm of the people.

Richa: Building such strong connections must have been quite fulfilling. Can you elaborate on the impact Shanghai had on your sense of social responsibility?

Aparna: Shanghai instilled in us a profound sense of duty towards our homeland, despite being far away. Our interactions with diverse individuals broadened our perspectives and fueled a desire to contribute to Indian society, even from afar. This realization was pivotal in shaping our role in the community and fostering a deep appreciation for the opportunities Shanghai afforded us.

Richa: Can you share more about the events and initiatives you organized during your time in Shanghai?

Aparna: Certainly! We organized several key events throughout the year, with Gudi Padwa being one of the highlights.

One standout event was when we had the privilege of hosting the Mangeshkar family, including Pandit Hridaynath Mangeshkar ji, in Shanghai. Instead of arranging hotel accommodations, we welcomed them into our home, forging personal connections that endure to this day. We also organized theme-based programs during Ganpati festivals, focusing on topics like women empowerment, which provided a platform for local members to showcase their talents and fostered a sense of unity within the community.

Richa:  It's truly inspiring to hear about the impact of these initiatives. How did your involvement in the Indian Association contribute to your overall experience in Shanghai?

Aparna: My husband served as the president of the Indian Association for four years, during which we organized numerous programs and events that bridged the gap between India and China. These experiences were not only enriching but also instilled a sense of pride in representing our culture and heritage on an international stage.

In wrapping up, Aparna Waikar's journey teaches us about the power of friendships, celebrating cultures, and lending a helping hand. From India to Germany, China, and now Thailand, she's shown how reaching out can create lasting bonds and make a difference. By organizing events, hosting artists, and supporting local talent, Aparna's story reminds us of the joy and value in connecting with others and sharing our traditions. As she continues her adventures, let's take inspiration from her openness and kindness to make our own communities brighter and more vibrant.

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