The unexpected increase in spare time that that I now have, has allowed me to catch up on books that I had planned to read over the next several weeks. Among them is this inspiring memoir by brothers Deepak and Sanjiv Chopra. I was familiar with Deepak, having seen him in interviews and on social media. Sanjiv was a bit more obscure but also just as accomplished as we learn in the book. But there is far more to the story than their known accomplishments. In fact, what I found is a story of the challenges a person faces when deciding to leave one home and make another in a place thousands of miles away. It is the story of immigration and two brothers finding the Amerian Dream, a concept which many today do not always believe in or in other cases, have come to misunderstand.
The story as to be expected, begins in India where Dr. Krishan Chopra and wife Puspha, welcome their first child Deepak. Several years later he is joined by brother Sanjiv. As each brother recalls his life as a child and experiences with his sibling, we are able to learn about India culture which includes a significant amount of diversity that still remains unknown to many. Each discusses the traditions in their culture from the appendix “chahca” onto the name of the father’s youngest brother to fascinating aspects of Hinduism. Those who are accustom to a monotheistic faith may possibly find Hinduism completely at odds with their belief system. However, I found many intriguing lessons to be found in the book that can be applied regardless of religious convictions.
Family plays an important role throughout the story and what remains strong are the bonds they have with their parents, uncle Rattan Chacha and their own children. As an American, I could relate to their story but I also do see where family relations are different in the United States. Does that mean one system is better than the other? Not all and it truly does depend on where we find ourselves. For Deepak and Sanjiv, a new place known as America would be their calling and New Jersey became the first stop.
As they get older and advanced through medical school, the Unied States becomes the focus so that they can advance their education. What is interesting, is that neither expected to stay their permanently but rather get the right education and return to India where they could put it to use. And that is the true irony of the book: two doctors who had no intention on staying in America, became citizens and have led incredible lives living out the American Dream. I think Sanjiv said it best when he remarks ” When you start on your path there is no way of knowing where it will take you or even where it will end. It’s just the natural way to go.” Boston eventually called both brothers where each makes a name for himself. Sanjiv’s wife Amita also established herself in the medical field and Sanjiv never fails to praise her accomplishments. Deepak also gives his wife Rita her rightful place in the story and each brother shows their devotions to the women they fell in love with.
The Chopra brothers find success in America, through trials and tribulations. Similar to many new immigrants, they learn about supermarkets, credit, American holidays and even the element of crime which confronts Deepak in his own home. Thankfully no one was injured and he survived to later co-author this book. The issue of race does appear in the story as Indian doctors are forced to prove themselves in a new culture which knows very little about India. Their actions, in particular those of Deepak, shed light on a dirty secret with the medical professional community but one that is not unique to it. But while they adapt to life in America, India is never lost on them and and I felt that the decision by Sanjiv and Amita to celebrate the holidays Diwali and Holi is one of the most moving moments in the book. And as their children grow up, along with Deepak and Rita’s, both families make it a point to never forget India and their roots. As a black American, my roots are mostly to be found here in the United States so the concept of the “old country” does not always fit into my existence. As a result, this part of the book caused a stir of emotions and if I did have the “old country” to return to, I would also want my own children to maintain that ancestral connection.
Anyone familiar with Deepak will be aware of his association and promotion of transcendental meditation. He discusses how and why he came to practice it and the interest taken by Amita and finally Sanjiv. The holisitic system of Ayuverda is also discussed by Deepak, who maintains his commitment to western medicine while at the same time embracing the thought that altnerative medicine also has a place in treatment regimens. It is a good discussion but also one that needs several books to be covered fully. However, Deepak presents his own compelling reasons for becoming a proponent of transcendental meditation and it has prompted me to take a deeper look at it myself.
Sanjiv is not as much of an explorer as Deepak and he gives his own reasons. He remains committed to western medicine but fully supports his brother’s exploratory nature. Their relationship reminds me of my brother and I, who are very different in ways but always committed to each other. Brotherhood is a truly beautiful thing when all of the right pieces are in place. I think in our situation, I would be Deepak and my brother certainly is more like Sanjiv. But we have our common ground and genuine love for each other.
If you are looking for a great story about brotherhood, love and success in America, this is an excellent read that will surely improve your mood after you have finished it. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and being able to fully understand the importance of Dharma in our lives. Great read.