Thank you for entering the world of THOT J BAP. I thought you might like to know a little bit more about this world and why I created it.
I was born in India in the city once known as Poona, an old British hill station about 500 miles north of Mumbai/Bombay. At the age of six months, I arrived in Canada via Gander, Newfoundland and then moved with my family across the continent, coast to coast, finally settling down in the town of towns, New Westminster, B.C.
In grade school on the prairies and then in high school in British Columbia, I was, in those days, pretty much always the outsider, not really fitting in anywhere but eager to soak up the origin stories of other people, being rather embarrassed about my own: my father grew up a Hindu, my mother a Sunni Muslim, they converted to Christianity. In fact, my father was one of the first South Asians ordained into the United Church of Canada as a graduate of McGill’s School of Theology. In those days, in this settler country, if you said, “United Church” you were as “Canadian” as Timothy Eaton or The Globe and Mail or even, if on the fringes, the N.D.P.
Everywhere we lived, I was asked, “What kind of Indian are you?” Once, when my parents were teachers up in the border country between northern Quebec and northern Ontario, I played with my friend Roxanne. She broke the news to me that, no, I could not attend her Potlatch. I cried later, telling my mother who looked at me and said, “we’re not that kind of Indian.” She explained we didn’t have any right to Roxanne’s stories. We hadn’t earned it. I remember how quiet we both were, that far away afternoon. We lived then in teachers’ housing on the edge of The Bay.
Now, as I write to you this winter of our Pandemic in the year 2020, I think on these memories and share them with a sense of gratitude: that, as an immigrant-settler-citizen, I’ve been allowed to live here on the lands of others, soaking up Story, alive to the way place whispers layers of secrets, about time and those eternal questions:
Where are you from? Who are your people?
I’ve always seen myself on the outside of those questions, searching for answers that perhaps can be found in the books of THOT J BAP. Maybe one day you will find yourself asked about your story, all the whys and wherefores.
I’d love to hear from you!