Updated: Jul 9
| This is the 143rd story of Our Life Logs |
“Those who wish to sing always find a song.” –Plato
Born in 1988 in Mumbai, India, I was surrounded by music, singing, and the sharp aroma of spices from my mother’s kitchen. I was a very chubby kid since childhood; I enjoyed food and was very carefree. I loved to dance and sing. I grew up with one sister who is just a year younger than me. We are practically identical in terms of appearance, very often being mistaken for twins, but we liked it. My family and my early life at home put a song into my heart that I have been following ever since.
My mother was very supportive of my passions, especially when I gravitated towards music. Both my mother and father were very talented singers, but only my mother actively sought opportunities for me to pursue my talents. She would save money without my father’s knowledge in order to send me to lessons. It wasn’t that my father did not approve of my passions, but that he thought I should prioritize my academics. Eventually, my father found out that my mother and I had been “conspiring” behind his back. But my mother, with her sweet voice and small stature, simply told my father, “She is managing her studies well, so what is the fuss?” I was happy she spoke up for me. She gave me the courage to pursue my interests. To this day, I respect both my parents’ wishes.
As I approached my seventh year of school, I decided that I wanted to be noticed for who I was and what talents I had. I had been teased for my weight and realized that I no longer wanted anything to stand in my way. So, I began eating healthy and exercising. I started practicing Bollywood dancing and enrolled in my school’s competition. While I never won, I took on a new view of myself. For the first time in my life, I felt empowered—for my own actions. I was able to make choices to live in the way that would bring me happiness. At such an early age, this set the tone for the rest of the decisions I was going to make in my life.
I continued to follow along with the ebb and flow in my heart. I attended Indian-classical voice lessons with my teacher, who opened many doors for me. When I was 18 years old, I sang in a state show with Sukhvinder Singh, a well-known playback singer in India. It was incredible to perform, to sing a song in the same arena of a role model.
Music has always lived freely in my heart, which is why I chose not to foster a career from it. I had come to understand my father’s wishes and decided to major in Electronic Engineering when I entered college in 2008. I am happy that I did. This choice gave me the opportunity to study in the United States for graduate school. Who knows if music would have done the same for me?
I left home in July of 2012, and began classes at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. Though I had grown up in India as a very shy person, I embraced the new opportunity to get to know many different kinds of people, each with a unique personality and take on life. This part of America was exciting. I chose to find ideas and engage in activities that would welcome growth in my thinking and skillset. I was never very afraid coming to a new country. If this was a new song to sing, then I was to sing it, despite my unknowingness.
When it came time to fulfill my internship requirement for school, I decided to take a position in an office in Hong Kong. At this point in my life, I welcomed the experiences that came with cultural shock. And to be honest, I didn’t feel that I was really out of the country because of the friendships that I quickly made—something a younger version of me would have been in awe of. When it was over, I felt as if I was leaving home.
I returned to the US and began my career, working in the state of Ohio. Since moving to the States, I have worked towards resolutions and goals I have set for myself—be it going to the gym for the first time (awful!), learning to swim (something very difficult for a 27-year-old), or a continual pursuit and growth of my passion and my activeness in vocal performance. I have lived my life with an openness to new experiences and a perseverance to remain invested in what skills I choose to develop in myself. I believe we all have the ability to share in this lifestyle. When you send a message to the universe, the universe will send you things. I believe that if we are ready to overcome obstacles in our lives, then we will be given opportunities to try. If there is a song, open your heart to sing.
This is the story of Neha Borkar
Neha grew up in Mumbai, India in the 1980s. After making a conscious choice to lose weight at an early age, Neha became unafraid of any pending challenges in her life. Since then, she has taken the opportunities and experiences as they presented themselves in her life. Neha has sung with many live orchestras and choirs in concert. She has performed at the Global Rhythms Concert, Cincinnati’s Arnoff Center for the Arts, and the Inauguration of Memorial Hall. Around the time of moving to America in 2012, Neha has also studied Western classical vocal performance. Neha currently works as an engineer in Ohio, singing when she can, going to the gym, and overcoming any challenge that comes her way.
This story first touched our hearts on April 23, 2018.
| Writer: Colleen Walker | Editors: MJ; Adam Savage |