A Story Of The Bond Between A Father And A Son, Beyond Boundaries

May 7, 2019

I was born into a lower middle-class family in India and saw my family struggle to make ends meet. After high school I started working to find a way out of our financial hardship. My maternal uncle helped me migrate from India to Oman to pursue better opportunities in my professional career. I am Jagdip Bhatia, an Indian expat living in Oman since 1982.

The most challenging part about moving away from home was the thought of living away from my father. As a new expat in Oman, I missed the life lessons he passed onto me during our father-son conversations. I missed our shared passion for music and penchant for musical instruments. I missed sitting by his side and singing our favourite songs together. Since it was the pre-internet and video calling area, I devised a unique way of conversing with my father. Instead of writing letters, I started recording my questions, observations, thoughts and conversations in cassettes and sending them to him through family and friends visiting India. I also saved money and gifted my father a cassette player so that he could reply to my cassettes by recording his experiences and his advice for me. My dad's voice was that feeling of home, and I waited patiently for it each time. Those tape-recorded cassettes meant everything to me during my initial years in Oman. It was the only way to nurture my relationship with my father, even though we were miles apart.

To feel closer to home, I started doing things which I did back home. I started pursuing my passion for music, photography and cricket, in Oman. Soon I found myself actively participating and organising cultural activities for the expat community in Oman. In 2014, life came a full circle when I started the Muscat Kathiyawadi Pariwar (MKP) with two other co-founders. Through MKP we organised musical performances for migrant workers by visiting their camp accommodations on weekends. Soon we realised that there were talented singers among the migrant workers who deserved a platform to showcase their skills and fulfil their dreams. Over the years, we have helped them find the sound of their music outside the alleys of their labor accommodations.

In the whiff of woody fragrances and in the warmth of raucous laughter lie the memories of home. It is in these fleeting moments of life that home stops being a place and becomes a feeling. #XMStories chronicles the stories of global expats reminiscing their memories of home in our #HomeIsAFeeling series.

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