Vimal Kumar & Sharda Monga mark their Diamond Wedding today (December 2, 2020)
Auckland, December 2, 2020
The occasion of the 60th Wedding Anniversary of Vimal Kumar and Sharda Monga takes us along a historical journey dating back to the years before they came into each other’s lives.
It is a history that has roots in migration, loss, resilience, and perseverance across multiple borders.
They have lived in New Zealand since 2001 where their younger daughter’s family is also settled.
Their older daughter’s family is based in the US and their son’s family lives in India.
Despite being scattered in different parts of the world, they are all deeply connected with each other around the common values of love, solidarity, and a passion for classical Indian music.
Passage to India
Born in undivided India, the families of Vimal and Sharda had to flee cross the newly created borders of India and Pakistan in 1947 (following the end of the Freedom Movement) with the attendant loss of property and of several members of their family.
While in Delhi, their adoptive home, they found themselves living opposite each other’s house.
Their families soon became friends and reminisced together about their respective time in what’s now Pakistan as they built their lives again from scratch. They were both fortunate of being sponsored by the State to study in private boarding schools in Rajasthan: Vimal in Pilani and Sharda in Banasthali Vidyapeeth.
Vimal completed his education with a master’s degree in Philosophy from the University of Delhi Sharda obtained a master’s degree in History from the University of Rajasthan.
Raising a home and family
On getting married on December 2, 1960, they moved into their first home in Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar. By then Vimal was working at the State Bank of India and Sharda was employed as a Librarian in Delhi University’s Lady Sriram College.
In course of time, their two daughters arrived in quick succession and their son was born a few years later. Sharda left her job to look after the children.
As a homemaker, she combined her domestic responsibilities with her passion for the arts.
Being trained in music, she continued to play Sitar and sing Indian classical music. She also received formal training in painting.
Sterling Service at SBI
Vimal’s diligence and hard work helped him reach new heights at State Bank of India.
He served as a Bank Manager in Jammu & Kashmir (opting to work in climatically difficult areas of Bandipur and Leh) and Dehradun. He retired in 2000 after 41 years of service.
As children grew up, Sharda was trained at the Shahnaz Hussain Beauty School and opened a beauty salon in her house, running it successfully for many years.
Life in New Zealand
Their first visit to New Zealand in 2001 was to initially explore its beauty. They both liked the clean, green, and friendly country and decided to make it their home.
Sharda used her background in the beauty industry and set up a beauty parlour at home which she still runs. Along with continuing to practice her art – painting and music – she has been writing poetry. As an immigrant, and by nature an intellectually curious person, Vimal has always had a keen interest in learning about other cultures and people.
After taking his well-deserved retirement from the bank, he did not sit back and while away his time.
Instead, he volunteered for a number of community organisations – ESOL, Citizens Advice Bureau, and as a fundraiser for Red Cross Meals on Wheels, New Zealand Blind Foundation.
He is also accredited visitor with the aim of giving back to the society and learning from it.
Postgraduate at 75
The knowledge that he acquired in the process also helped him integrate better within the wider society. It was his abiding interest in the community that led him to do a postgraduate diploma in Conflict Resolution from Auckland University of Technology at the age of 75.
In order to keep pace with the rapidly transforming world, Vimal and Sharda completed a Computer Applications Diploma from Te Wananga Aotearoa.
As well as continuing to evince interest in Indian classical music, they are both keen gardeners and grow most of their vegetables at home.
One of the crucial components of their settling well in New Zealand has been the community-based Indian organisations they joined such as Shanti Nivas, Bhartiya Samaj, Hindu Elders Foundation, TANI, Bhajan Satsang and the New Zealand Carnatic Music Society. As well keeping them busy as participants, these organisations have helped them make a large and diverse circle of friends, providing them with a home away from home.
Vimal and Sharda feel extremely lucky to have migrated to New Zealand and are grateful to the communities and the government for providing them excellent services for a comfortable lifestyle and health.
Having travelled the world, crossing borders, and starting over several times, the story of Vimal and Sharda is one resilience. They have shown that a belief in oneself, positive attitude towards change, dedication to family, and community engagement can help overcome any challenges in life.
Alpna Sood, Alka Kurian and Rahul Monga are daughters and son of Vimal Kumar and Sharda Monga. They respectively in Auckland (New Zealand), Seattle (USA) and New Delhi (India).
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