People of Ryde presents Simran Keshwani
Published on 13 June 2020
It was a cold, winter morning in February 2018, when I woke up in my bed, in my safe haven in the heart of New Delhi, India. This was not like any other morning, because I knew this was the day that was going to change my story forever. To come to think of it, I had anticipated this moment for as long as I can remember. When people asked me why I chose to study in Australia over the UK, I only had one thing to say: “because my heart said so”.
I remember landing at the airport, with my heart racing. The next thing I knew, I had managed to drop all my luggage in the middle of the road (major cold feet!) while trying to get a cab from Mascot to Eastwood, where I was to stay. Learning to furnish the house on my own, changing light bulbs, setting up the Wi-Fi, and watching my father, who had come to drop me to Australia, vacuum my room before he left, were some of my first experiences in Ryde.
FaceTime soon replaced being around family, and over time even my grandparents got tech savvy and took up the mantle of learning millennial lingo. A lot was changing around me – from picking up an Aussie accent, to giving up baggy T-shirts (which I swore by all my undergrad!), to hitting the gym (never imagined I’d take the plunge), to learning how to cook Indian food for myself, waking up to an alarm instead of mum’s voice and managing work with university. In the middle of learning to keep all the bits of New Delhi within me alive, and watching the stars from the Macquarie Lake, I had the extraordinary honor of meeting myself.
Two years, six houses, countless train rides across the city, multiple jobs and tons of memories later, I can proudly say that the City of Ryde embraced me with its arms open wide. Meeting people from all walks of life and stepping outside my own culture to step into someone else’s way of life not only gave me a fresh perspective on existence but reaffirmed my faith in the fact that ultimately, we’re all part of the same story.
Back in New Delhi, I began my career as a lifestyle journalist at the tender age of 15, and soon forayed into covering international affairs. What kept me going all along was a firm belief in the redemptive power of words, and how they’re the closest one can get to a place of refuge during hardship. Covering the crisis in Syria and publishing a book – ‘Becoming Assiya’ – at the age of 20 put me one step closer to learning how we are the sum total of stories we tell, and how narratives can be a powerful political tool for transformation.
My experiences and qualifications meant I was given the opportunity to work at the New South Wales Parliament as a Research Assistant, which helped me take a synoptic view towards our lives as members of a shared community. It was only in Australia that I was looked at solely for my talent, and my passion for social change. I felt deeply accepted, and my nationality or position as an outsider soon faded into the background. I realised this truly is a country of dreamers – and nothing is beyond reach.
In the journey of life, our ultimate destination... is within. It is there that we find ourselves, and it was in the bustling yet serene City of Ryde, that I evolved into the woman I always wanted to be.