BY HARMAN S. PANDHER
“I think the world needs more pyaar.” That’s a quote from Sam Thiara’s new book, “Lost and Found: Seeking the Past and Finding Myself.”
Pyaar, in case you don’t know, means love in Punjabi, Hindi and perhaps other languages of South Asian origin. And Sam couldn’t be more right about what the world’s lacking. But you know what else we could use more of? Books like his and storytellers like him.
“Lost and Found” is an engrossing tale of overcoming adversity, dogged determination, self-discovery, and cultural and spiritual awakening. It’s a real-life page-turner chronicling Sam’s longshot quest to try to find his ancestral village in India.
Along the way, he learns about himself, his family, his identity, and his place in the world; while we learn about the tremendous complexity and diversity of the immigrant (and ultimately human) experience. No spoilers here. You’ll have to buy the book to see if he reaches his destination. But, trust me, the journey is well worth it!
Speaking of journeys, another must-read, new book from another local, Canadian author is “Love at First Sight: A Mother’s Journey to Adoption” by Raj Arneja.
And just as destiny plays a role in both memoirs, I believe it also played a part in me getting my hands on both books within a couple weeks of each other. Wonderful in their own right, the two intertwined and intersectional stories complement each other beautifully. I say this because of how insightful both titles are about the history of the South Asian community in BC (though in different ways), and how revealing they are about certain aspects of Indian society and culture.
Like Sam, Raj was also missing a piece in her personal puzzle: children. While Sam went to India in search of his past, Raj was drawn there in search of a future – a future filled with the joys (and struggles) of becoming and being a mother. “Love at First Sight” is a true testament to perseverance, persistence, parenthood, and, yes, pyaar!
To close, I don’t just want to end by recommending that you add “Love at First Sight” and “Lost and Found” to your bookshelves at home (though I strongly do). They’re far more than entertaining, well-written, summer diversions. They also deserve to be introduced in schools to students by secondary and post-secondary teachers of South Asian, Punjabi, and Sikh settlement in Canada.
Indeed, two fascinating reads, two educational resources, and two inspiring authors. Let’s show them some love. Because the world needs more.
You can order them on Amazon.