The Bhagavad Gita teaches, “कर्मणयेवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन। मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि।” Translated from Sanskrit to English, this means: “A person has the right to perform their duty, but they do not have the right to the rewards. A person should not let rewards determine actions, and a person should (also) not be attached to inaction.” In many ways, these have been my guiding principles in life, along with the three basic tenets of Jainism — अहिंसा (ahinsa or ‘non-violence in thoughts, words, and actions’), अपरिग्रह (aparigraha or ‘non-attachment’), and अनेकान्तवाद (anekatantvad or ‘the co-existence of many valid perspectives’) — and I thank my parents for imparting these invaluable lessons through their own example.
Growing up in India, I learned from both my parents that when something needed to be done, one should just do it–not for the rewards that may follow, but for the need that would be addressed in the process. They both overcame enormous obstacles in their own lives to give to my sisters and me the foundation for leading meaningful lives, inculcating in us the value of education and the need to keep growing as individuals. My father was a young boy in his preteens when the country was torn apart by partition and he migrated with his family from Lahore to Delhi. My mother’s family also entered Delhi as refugees as part of the largest mass migration in history with millions of people leaving behind everything they knew and moving to the newly-formed Pakistan from the new India, and vice versa. My mother was born as an independent India began to find its own identity, borne from the ashes of a colonial past that had lasted generations. Slowly, both families put forth new roots and established new lives in Delhi. My mother was only sixteen when she was married to my father, and they both created a family together against all odds. When the need arose, my father started a new business from scratch, and when he suffered from ill-health, my mother stepped up and into the shoes of the family breadwinner. Theirs was a story full of grit and sacrifice, and they taught me to step up and do the needful when the need arose as well, and to do it to the best of my ability. I thus dedicate this ebook first and foremost to my late parents and my first teachers, Parvesh Jain and Vijay K. Jain.
In addition to Ma and Papa, this is also my way of paying-it-forward from all the other wonderful teachers and mentors who have supported me and inspired me in my journey through life, especially Jayathi Ma’am, Bhattacharya Ma’am, Suroopa Mukherjee Ma’am, Abha, Salil Sir, Sharma Sir, Dr. O, Su, Sherrie, Dr. Valli, Dr. Koziol, Dr. G, the late Dr. Mawhinney, and Dr. Canagarajah. Finally, I dedicate this effort to the hundreds of students I have taught over the past two+ decades–from the school kids I tutored in English and German at my home in the late 90s to the college-age students whom I taught advanced English in the early 2000s as they prepared for competitive national-level exams in Delhi, India; and from the undergraduate and graduate pre-service and in-service teachers I taught at the university level to the ESL and EAP students whom I have taught in both university and community college settings here in the U.S. My students inspire me every day with their own stories of struggles and successes, and they continue to remind me why I love to teach.
- Growing up in Delhi in India meant that I grew up in a pluralistic society, where I was exposed to many languages, as well as many religions. Hence, even though my family faith is Jainism, we also discussed and incorporated elements from other faith communities in our daily practices and ways of thinking. ↵