A Magical Life: Health, Wealth, and Weight Loss

Finding Your Roots: A Journey To Identity with Sam Thiara

October 18, 2023 Sam Thiara Season 1 Episode 227
Finding Your Roots: A Journey To Identity with Sam Thiara
A Magical Life: Health, Wealth, and Weight Loss
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A Magical Life: Health, Wealth, and Weight Loss
Finding Your Roots: A Journey To Identity with Sam Thiara
Oct 18, 2023 Season 1 Episode 227
Sam Thiara

In Part 2 of our conversation, Sam discusses his journey of identity. Sam is British born, living in Canada, his parents are from Fiji, and his grandfather was from India.  Throughout his life he struggled with who he really was - was he Indian? British? Canadian? Fijian?  He followed the only trail he had to connect to his grandfather's village in India and found family he didn't know he had.

Through his tireless work, Sam continues to be committed to the betterment of communities as a speaker, educator and storyteller. In 2016, Sam received the Governor General’s Sovereign’s Volunteer Medal as a past recipient of the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award. Also, in 2012 he received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal and the Rick Hansen Difference Maker medallion.


Over the last 20 years, he has helped and supported 45+ not-for-profit organizations from establishing a strategic vision to engaging stakeholders to rolling up his sleeves and doing whatever work is needed. As a community activator, his passion is to inspire and motivate others in their personal and professional development through his many adventures and reflections on life’s journey. It is about helping people establish and build their personal autobiography through storytelling.

As a writer and blogger, Sam published his book, Personal Storytelling: Discover the Extraordinary in the Ordinary to help others share their stories. His reflections on life help others vision and build their stories.

Sam has mentored and coached hundreds of individuals in life and career. He is also an accomplished speaker and in 2011, spoke at TEDxSFU where he created the signature phrase, ‘Discovering the Extraordinary in the Ordinary’. Sam has delivered countless keynote speeches, workshop facilitation and panel discussions over the years. Since 2004, Sam has found his calling at the Beedie School of Business and Fraser International College at Simon Fraser University. His purpose is to help individuals in life and career and as a result, Co-founded GradusOne which recently merged with the League of Innovators.

Connect to Sam online at https://www.sam-thiara.com/

Support the Show.

Connect with Magic:
A Magical Life Podcast on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/amagicallifepodcast/
On Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wholisticnaturalhealth/
Online: https://wholisticnaturalhealth.com.au
A Subito Media production

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Show Notes Transcript

In Part 2 of our conversation, Sam discusses his journey of identity. Sam is British born, living in Canada, his parents are from Fiji, and his grandfather was from India.  Throughout his life he struggled with who he really was - was he Indian? British? Canadian? Fijian?  He followed the only trail he had to connect to his grandfather's village in India and found family he didn't know he had.

Through his tireless work, Sam continues to be committed to the betterment of communities as a speaker, educator and storyteller. In 2016, Sam received the Governor General’s Sovereign’s Volunteer Medal as a past recipient of the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award. Also, in 2012 he received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal and the Rick Hansen Difference Maker medallion.


Over the last 20 years, he has helped and supported 45+ not-for-profit organizations from establishing a strategic vision to engaging stakeholders to rolling up his sleeves and doing whatever work is needed. As a community activator, his passion is to inspire and motivate others in their personal and professional development through his many adventures and reflections on life’s journey. It is about helping people establish and build their personal autobiography through storytelling.

As a writer and blogger, Sam published his book, Personal Storytelling: Discover the Extraordinary in the Ordinary to help others share their stories. His reflections on life help others vision and build their stories.

Sam has mentored and coached hundreds of individuals in life and career. He is also an accomplished speaker and in 2011, spoke at TEDxSFU where he created the signature phrase, ‘Discovering the Extraordinary in the Ordinary’. Sam has delivered countless keynote speeches, workshop facilitation and panel discussions over the years. Since 2004, Sam has found his calling at the Beedie School of Business and Fraser International College at Simon Fraser University. His purpose is to help individuals in life and career and as a result, Co-founded GradusOne which recently merged with the League of Innovators.

Connect to Sam online at https://www.sam-thiara.com/

Support the Show.

Connect with Magic:
A Magical Life Podcast on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/amagicallifepodcast/
On Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wholisticnaturalhealth/
Online: https://wholisticnaturalhealth.com.au
A Subito Media production

Magic Barclay:

welcome back to a magical life. I'm your host, Magic Barclay. Today, Sam Thiara rejoins us. If you haven't heard Sam, listen to our previous episode 226 and. He will share his wisdom, but for this episode, Sam, an amazing journey to retrace your roots, your historical connections, please explain.

Sam Thiara:

It was a beautiful journey. And, uh, the way I can best describe it is the fact that I think sometimes we go through life. in autopilot. So think of it this way. I'm a British born Canadian with parents from Fiji and grandfathers from India. And oftentimes, you know, visibly, if you were to look at me, you would say, okay, and I get this asked often, what part of India are you from? And I look at them and I said, Oh, you know, I was born in England, raised in Canada. And then their reply back is no, yeah, yeah, no, no, your parents, what part of India are they from? And I said, well, my parents actually come from Fiji islands, which is actually near Australia. And they look at me going. Wait, are you Indian? I'm like, well, my grandparents are Indian. And then others who look at me will be like, no, you're not Indian, you're Canadian, whatever that might mean. So I've always struggled with this idea of identity. And part of it is the fact that we also had lost our ancestral roots back in India because my grandfather left India in 1905. Landed in Fiji, and that's where my father was born, got married to my mom, and then moved to England where I was born, and then we moved to Canada. So we were quite removed from, uh, India, because that became a part of my life, but not a part that I really... Embrace because being Canadian, I mean, here in Canada, I mean, we play hockey, we, you know, eat hot dogs, we skin our knees, we bleed maple syrup. I mean, that's what I'm, I'm a Canadian. you know, thought to myself, I think there's a need for me to, venture out and explore a part of me that I had sort of pushed aside. Never really embraced. So I decided, I'm going to head to India and. I didn't know too much about India at this point. Here, think of it this way, I am a foreigner going to a land that shouldn't be foreign to me. And what I had in my possession was a single faded photograph, three and a half inches by three and a half inches faded, which were people from our village, my grandfather's house. So I'm going to search for a needle in a haystack, But not knowing exactly where the haystack was. The fascinating part about this was the noise. People were like, you're not going to find the village. You're maybe not going to have a good reception. Why are you even looking for this? But it was important to me to search for this village because of the fact that You know, nobody really could connect us back to our ancestral roots in India. The picture was actually from my uncle who had gone many years ago and took this picture, but he passed away before that information was derived of where our ancestral roots are. So I headed off to India, and no matter what anyone tells you, I don't think you will ever be prepared for the experience in India. So anyways, arrived in India with my wife, we started. You know, sightseeing or visiting, but part of me was this journey to find the ancestral roots with this faded photograph. It was also about this identity piece, and I remember about 10 days into the trip exploring India and, embracing what it holds, the magnificence or the injustices that you see with the poverty and the magnificent structures. I just remember prior to India, my life was what we would call atali. Atali is an Indian platter with segmented dishes. And I'm British, Indian, Canadian, and Fijian. Each of those were unique and distinct. But I remember waking up at four in the morning, probably around the 10th day, and I had an epiphany. I realized I'm doing this all wrong. I had segmented my life into these various cultural bowls. But actually, rather than a thali, my life is khichdi. And what khichdi is, is this Indian rice dish, which ultimately you go to your fridge, you pull out vegetables, you get your spices, you mix it in with the rice, and it all becomes a blend of flavours. So I realised that instead of a thali, My life is Kichdi. It's a blend of flavors. And it helped me to realize my identity is a blend of cultures, and I don't have to make them unique and distinct. It also helped me realize that I went to India to search for my Indian roots, or my Indian identity. You know what, I was always Indian, but I just needed to go there to realize I'm Kichidi and that I'm a blend of all these flavors. That was only part of the journey. The other part of the journey was actually going to find the village itself, my grandfather's house. So I have the stated photograph. We know that the district is called Hoshiarpur. The town of Garshankar sits in Hoshiarpur. And about six miles away was the village that my grandfather left. And the name we understood it was Chadauri. Well, interestingly enough, Two days before I left, my cousin sent me that photograph. A step cousin in Fiji, a day before I left, said he made it to Garshankar, the town. But he said, I never found the village, but the village name is Janodi. So I thought, Chidori, Janodi. Now, I looked on Google Maps and et cetera, and six miles away from Garshankar, the town, was a village named Jandoli. Six miles, that's what we understood. Five, six miles away. Chidori Jandoli. And I asked my father, I said, do you think this might be the place? And he said, you know, maybe that's what the name is. It's six miles away, that's what we understood. So, with this photograph in hand, You know, we drove to Jindoli, met some people in a courtyard, they were having their chai and, uh, you know, enjoying, uh, the, the beautiful day. Think of it as someone showing up to your house with a photograph saying, are you part of my family? And that's what we basically had done. And I looked at the photograph. And again, they said, well, you know what, we'll get the village elder. So the village elder came, and he looked at the photograph. He said, well, I don't know about the house, but there's a gentleman in the back of the photograph. He looks like so and so. So this elder got into our vehicle, and now the anticipation is building. I'm actually maybe going to find my grandfather's house and my ancestral roots. We drive to a house. And the elder gets out with the photograph, talks to someone, and I can, and I'm looking at their facial expressions, and all of a sudden I see the person do a nod of disapproval. No, this isn't the right house. And I was like, oh. And then I heard him say, but I think it's this place. And I was like, okay, so now you get that anticipation back up again. And it's back on the hunt. So now we go to another house. And again, it's like, no, this isn't the right house, but I think it's in the old part. I said, okay, that makes sense. Maybe he left in 1905. Maybe there's an old part. And that's where those long and short of John Doeley is beautiful people, wrong village, but what I love though. Is when we came back to the courtyard, dejected, of course, that I didn't find our roots. And everybody there was in anticipation of like, oh my gosh, you know, so, and then they saw the dejection on our face and our disappointment and they said, look, it's okay. Why don't you come back tomorrow and just be a part of our family? Just come for dinner, stay with us if you have to, but just come and be a part of our family. And I thought, how beautiful was that? We drove back to our hotel and I phoned my father. I said, look, I, I really tried, uh, but, uh, it didn't work out today. And my father said, look, just enjoy India. It's okay. You've done what no one else has done. Just go and have a good time. But I was persistent. I said, no, I, you know, I've got to try this again. I said, forget what everyone has said. Let's just drive to Gachankar, the town, and talk to the locals. So we get to Gachankar, and again, it was the noise. Why are you looking for this village? You're not going to find your roots, and if you find the roots, you may not get a good reception. But the more we talked, eventually one person said, actually wait, are you looking for Chidori? And we said, yeah. He goes, I'm not sure exactly, but I think it's up the road this way. By now I'm very guarded. And we get onto the road, and we drive, and there's this old archway, and an old, old man sitting at this archway. We ask him, so, is this Choudhury? He said, yeah, this is Choudhury. So we show him the picture, and he looks at the picture, and this is like an 80, you know, year old gentleman with no glasses, and I'm thinking, there's no way he could even make out faces here. He goes, you know, I don't know about the house, but there's a guy in the picture. I think he looks like so and so, but, uh, let's go. So he gets in our vehicle, and now I'm really guarded. I'm going like, okay, come on. Here we go again. So we drive to a house. He gets out. We get out. He walks up. The driveway and people come out and then they start explaining what, you know, what's going on. They hand the picture and in the picture there is a group of people and there's one woman. She looks at this picture and she looks at the picture and she said, that's me in the picture. Who are you? And I was like, wait, wait, wait, and I had to almost ask again, wait, that's you in the picture. And she said, yeah, that's me in the picture. Who were you? So I had to describe who I was. And all of a sudden, she just sort of embraced me. The tears started to flow. And I love what she said. She says, you're home. And I was now standing in front of my grandfather's older brother's family's residence. This is where my grandfather left. And it was amazing because it was like, all of a sudden, all of this work and effort that you put forward And this persistence of, and a not give up attitude I think I went there with this attitude of I really wanted to do this and I went with Ziploc bags. So I went into the fields, I scooped up dirt, and I brought that home for my father and my other relatives who have never been to India, as a way to reconnect us to our roots. And I found that, uh, that's why I sort of, I wrote this as a memoir called Lost and Found, Seeking the Past, and Finding Myself. The village was lost, my identity I felt was lost, found, so lost and found, seeking the past. Seek out the past and finding myself, I think that's what the essence of this, uh, story has become, which now I'm working on a screenplay. I figured, okay, let's not just end here, but that's the actual journey. And, uh, now supporting other people to sort of realize their own identity as well.

Magic Barclay:

That's a fantastic story, Sam. And the reason I wanted you to share it was, I believe we all have an identity, a deep identity that We become disconnected from, and I just love that you went to such lengths to find your roots, to find that backbone of your identity. Obviously the land that you come from doesn't make you who you are. You make you who you are, but it just fills in those blanks. And I love the commitment, you know, even in the face of. Not succeeding. You just kept going. And I think that's a message that our listeners really need to hear today. Now, is there anything that we've discussed in the past two episodes that you want to clarify or anything that we haven't discussed that you think the listeners need to

Sam Thiara:

hear? Absolutely. I think the one thing related to this story is the fact that when I've talked to other people. And about this identity piece, they're like, well, I mean, it's fantastic that you've been able to find your roots, but you know, I will never find, my roots just because we really have limited information or no information. Uh, for example, I had a gentleman who is Italian and, uh, he just said, yeah, you know, we have no records and I couldn't, don't know where to start out. All I know is. Our ancestral roots come from Sicily. And I said, okay, did you go to Sicily? And he said, yeah, I went to Sicily. And, uh, you know, but yeah, we don't know the house. We don't know the town or wherever. I said, but when you were in Sicily, did you feel a connection to this place? More so like that it just drew you there like a connection that there was a belongingness and he said oh yeah no no that that did happen I felt really like there was a connectedness I said you did the exact same thing as I did except my journey went in one direction yours went in a different direction. So for any of the listeners out there. It doesn't have to be the exact pinpoint location. Anywhere we travel in the world, and I, and this has happened in numerous places where I've been, where there's this connection, is be open to the experience, be open to the place, be open to the people, and if you feel that there's a connection, then there's something that resonates and that matters. go and travel and explore and go with a curious mind and you'd be amazed at what you gather, but also what you impart on other people. And I think what was really important is in my book when I wrote it, there was a quote that I have that I think just really captures the essence of it. Travel isn't always pretty. It isn't always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts. It even breaks your heart. But that's okay. The journey changes you. It should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind. And that was by Anthony Bourdain. And a real essence of this journey that I took and how I live my journey is exactly through the words. So just to your listeners, connect with people, connect with places. And just the magic of it all just emerges and you know, we really are all one, but we need to learn from each other.

Magic Barclay:

A beautiful message. Now people can find you at www. sam thiara. com. You're also on Instagram at Sam Thiara and Facebook sam. thiara. site. Thank you so much for joining us. I've really enjoyed this. And before I let you go, there is something I forgot. Got to do last episode and Sam, we love freebies. What can you offer the listeners? Where can they find it?

Sam Thiara:

The best thing is, uh, you know, on my personal website, which you've already, uh, provided them. I have about 190 blog posts about things that. I think are there to help and support people. They're, everything is free there. Like just, what I always find is that people go to my website and they say, you know, this, this blog post really impacted me in a powerful way. Uh, just more recently, I just turned 60 and I did 60 reflections on turning 60. What I loved about it is these were little snippets of three liners, four liners. And I was getting so many people contacting me saying number three, number 15, number 24 and 49 just really resonated with me and someone else would be giving me other numbers. So, again, as a freebie or as anything, my life is all about sharing. It's about giving. I've been given much, but the idea is I'm not allowed to hold on to it. Visit the website. There's about 190 blog posts. Maybe there's something there that you might need. The other thing is my two TEDx speeches. they're done and they are there again to help and support a person's personal and professional

Magic Barclay:

development. Very generous. Thank you so much, Sam. Thank you for your time. I've really enjoyed chatting with you.

Sam Thiara:

A real pleasure. And thank you for having me on your show.

Magic Barclay:

My pleasure and listeners, of course, thank you for your time. This was your episode two to seven. Now, quick request for you listeners, please jump onto Apple podcasts and give us a great review. We do love bringing you this content and we would just love a little bit of support from you and a reach out. Which I don't often do to the team at the full moon saloon in Woodend, Victoria, Australia. They had a lovely fair last week that we were part of and a great community connection. Great local enterprise. Thank you very much. Listeners for now, go forth and create your magical life.