Vinita Kinra

Country of Origin:

Canada

Themes:

Citizenship, Immigration, Black History/African Heritage, Asian Heritage, Racism/Discrimination, Francophonie, Human Rights & Social Justice, Identity & Heritage, Multiculturalism & Diversity, Adjusting to Life in Canada

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Bio

Vinita Kinra was born in Milton (Ontario) on June 2, 1975, and holds a Master’s degree in French. She debuted her career as an English teacher in France with prestigious high school, Lycée Internationale Stendhal, followed by lectureship at Université Stendhal and Université d’Orléans.

She is an internationally renowned author, public speaker and activist, best known for her collection of fictional short stories, Pavitra in Paris, published to critical acclaim in 2013.

Vinita’s sharp, thought-provoking quotations have appeared alongside world legends like Gandhi, Buddha, Einstein, Jimmy Carter and H.G. Wells. Her next book, IMAGINE: Selected Quotations, is launching in the fall of 2015. Many of her quotations have been adopted by business houses, fashion schools and international organizations for their powerfully fresh take on pertinent global issues like environmental protection, religious harmony, nation building, friendship, love, destiny, death, success, wisdom, spirituality and much more.

Vinita is a sought after public speaker, invited frequently to deliver speeches in English and French at schools, community groups, womens’ organizations, and writers’ and entrepreneurs’ groups throughout the Greater Toronto Area. Her speeches on the need to fight racism and discrimination, global warming, gender inequality, social injustice and violation of human rights have received wide media attention, including CBC.

Vinita is at work on her novel, Live and Let us Live, a gripping suspense between life and death, set in the burning backdrop of climate change in the pristine Himalayan valleys of India.

Please visit www.vinitakinra.com to learn more about the author and her works.

Story

I cannot narrate my story of immigration without confusing my audience. That’s because I didn’t immigrate to Canada; I just reconnected with my birth country in a somewhat meandering zigzag way.

I was born in Canada—the world’s second largest country in area—but raised in India: also the world’s second largest, but in population. That easily translated into being pushed out laboriously by my screaming mother in the privacy of a private room, unlike India, where several women could be diligently engaged in laborious pushing and screaming, sprawled on precious space in a tight dormitory-style hospital labour room. In Canada, birth was celebrated as a rarity; In India, it was repetitive routine—almost a national pastime—explaining the multiplication of human race at the speed of light.

I went from a land of snowstorms and freezing rain and arctic squalls to one of dust storms and sweat rain and heat strokes when I returned to India with my family at the age of 2.

I adjusted fast as my baby tongue hadn’t yet been permanently rolled in the famous North American way, and was content calling “Hamburrgers” “Hambuggers” as I was brought up vegetarian anyway.

So when I came back to Canada after almost 3 decades, I shuddered at seeing young and old courting dead bodies and zombies, witches and ghosts on Halloween, when we left them to the eerie peace and solitude of graveyards and cemeteries in India.

I regarded the poppies pinned to blazers and coats with interest and curiosity on Remembrance Day, wondering how common people were allowed to look so important. Indian kids grew up to images of their first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru sporting a fresh-plucked red rose bud on his tuxedo breast pocket, thus lending the concept of flowers on clothing a privilege accessible only to the elite few.

Then came the blizzard of confusion and paradoxes which far surpassed mundane discomforts of driving on your left instead of right, and wondering how bus drivers found time to warn passengers to “watch their step” while exiting, when in India, exiting was an effortless violent push by burly dismounting crowds.

I have since trained myself to stand in line at all possible occasions; say “Thank you” and “Sorry” as often as I breathe; and refrain from hooting unpopular actors in movie theatres. But the only discrepancy that still bothers me with a nagging sense of deceit is the inability to disregard sticker prices in stores and haggle them down to my personal budget for the month. The coveted “art of bargaining” was one of my finest legacies from India, which I had to grudgingly renounce in Canada. Now, I cross December 26th on my calendar every year—my annual opportunity to challenge store owners and coax them into a price wrestling match on Boxing Day—undeniably my favourite day of the year!