After moving to Australia and starting a new school, I spent my final 18 months or so of primary education in Kogarah Public School, before doing my High School Education at Kogarah Marist Brothers High School.
The interesting thing was that I was a Hindu in a Catholic school. It didn’t really impact me too much, in fact I learnt quite a lot about the Christian faith, as well as a fair bit about other faiths like Judaism – and about the only questions I faced were about why I was a vegetarian, but overall, school was a pretty good place, and I got along with everyone quite well.
Throughout my school, my focus was on academic excellence, in the tradition of families of Indian origin, however I took a particular interest in music and languages. Admittedly, I was a bit of a geek at school – while academics was prestigious amongst my family and community, it wasn’t looked at prestigiously amongst my school peers.
That was an interesting time in my life, and as with most people, adolescence is a testing time where identity is being sought – and I was no different.
I was fairly active in the cultural side of my school, less so in the sporting side, so my involvement in school life was playing in the school band, various school performances, and the debating team.
For the most part, my school life was fairly uneventful. I did come away with some awards for both participation as well as some academic achievements, but that was about it.
What really stood out during my school time was the family trips we took. Over 6 years, I returned to the UK a number of times to visit family, went to the USA on a family trip to catch up with my extended family on my father’s side of the family (whom I am extremely close to) – we spent time in Hawai’i, California (Disneyland, Universal Studios, Hollywood etc), Georgia, Florida and North Carolina. We also spent a lot of time in Singapore, Bangkok, and Amsterdam. I also spent a fair bit of time in India, and in particular stayed with my Aunt and her family in Bangalore for 3 months, so that I could learn playing the sitar. I value the learnings and experiences that I got from my travels, which really opened my mind to what else is out there in the world.
I had fun, I had a few friends, but at that time, I was obsessed about music and wanted to develop a career in the music industry. Now while the music industry was quite competitive, my parents advice was that I pursue music as a hobby and develop it as a career, and in the meantime, pursue a different career path to get me started – and taking that advice took me to my university studies.
I went to The University of New England to do my tertiary studies. It was about 8 hours drive north of Sydney and was quite a cultural shock for me – a city boy now in a country town. Life was different. I made friends fairly easily, but looking back, I’d left 6 years of school friends as well as community friends, behind in Sydney, and had to start from scratch in building new friends, and in many ways, constructing a new life for myself. It was the first time I was living without familiar people – family, friends or anyone at all that I had know previously. It was exciting in many ways, and I took on the challenge fairly quickly. Some of my closest friends today are those that I met at uni.
I enrolled in a combined Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws degree, with my first year study being in Political Science, Philosophy and Italian – and then picking up law. With the liberal thinking of my arts degree, the structured thinking of law was a bit of a conflict, and after giving it a lot of thought, I ended up dropping the law degree with a view to take it up later, after graduating from my initial arts degree.
I also took interest in conventional politics as well, and was quite active in student politics as well as various political forums. I learnt a lot about leadership during this time, and while I had an interest in working in politics, my interest in music tended to drop to the side.
My involvement in uni life was more varied than what I did at school. I was on the student representative council for a year, and as I was staying in the residential colleges, I played some competitive soccer, was on the finalist team one year for my college debating team, was involved with the fencing club (swords… not picket fences) and was a DJ at the university radio station. I was also involved with some charitable work as well.
The search to my identity increased, and these presented me with some fairly interesting and challenging times, forcing me to re-examine my values and my beliefs, but without a doubt were character building. Some of these challenges were at a spiritual level, and often came from the most unlikely sources. My curiosity and interest in the esoteric side increased, and some highly unusual people introduced me to the world of intuition and the psychic ability, the tarot, astrology and other tools.
Looking back, I had my good and bad moments at uni, made some great friends, met some amazing people, as well as a few crazy people too. I learnt to rely a lot on myself, and also realised just how much I missed my family too.
In my fourth year, I returned back to Sydney as I was feeling stagnant in Armidale.
I completed my arts degree majoring in political science and philosophy, and while I was proud of graduating, there were no jobs for aspiring politicians or philosophers…
A Step Into The Real World.
In 2000, I graduated. Uni was done, I walked out into the open world and realised that I needed to get a job. I took a few temp jobs while I was looking for a more long term role. I landed a job in a customer service and was very quickly bored with it all. I stuck it out as I was a bit of a stayer, but I also started a Diploma of IT, as I always had an interest in technology, and we were in the middle of the dot com boom.
At this time I also took on a mentor to help me develop my psychic skills and teach me the art of reading the tarot. At this point I had collected a number of tarot decks because I was attracted to the pictures, however I wanted to get some idea of how to read the tarot. I also learned astrology and palmistry, as well as more spiritual and energetic practices.
Unfortunately, the dot com boom soon turned into the dot com crash, and I was in a position where my company had just been bought out, which meant downsizing. While my job was safe, any chance of a promotion had been delayed, and this left me with a bit of frustration.
It was around that time I was introduced to a personal development course which I thought I’d give a go, see what I could do with some new insights.
If anything, the biggest thing I got was a sense of courage and following through with what I wanted to do – so when I went to work, I took some time off and went to visit a friend in Phillip Island, and also clear my head so that I could decide what I wanted to do with myself.
Upon returning to work, I gave two weeks notice of resignation, and realised that I didn’t have a job to go to, so rang a few people up, and one of them offered me the chance to work on an upcoming election campaign, with a view to working with the candidate after the election. I had an interest in politics and government, so I thought this may be a chance to use what I had studied at university, and went for it.
Four weeks later, I was working for a member of parliament and a minister in the NSW state government.