Success stories abound of an entrepreneur making it big in a foreign country by virtue of sheer hard work and innovative approach. The recent protective measures that various countries including the highly developed economies such as the USA are advocating seem myopic and lacking substance. Countries such as the USA, UK, Canada, and a few others are known for their entrepreneurial spirit and for being inclusive and welcoming societies, and these are the reasons why thousands of Asians have migrated there and have immersed seamlessly in their cultural fabric.
Over the years, these foreigners have become westerners with native bonding intact. They have contributed immensely to the economic growth and development of these western countries. So much so, they are now becoming elected political leaders, bureaucrats, and ministers too, and also getting into their military and armed forces, which indicates deep acceptance by the people of these countries.
Some of these migrants are global CEOs of some of the world’s largest organisations, and it is also a matter of pride not just for the expats, but also for these global organisations who have successfully created an image of a sustainable company furthering the cause of corporate social responsibility, acting without any social or cultural biases. Not only are the developed and large economies absorbing scientific and technically skilled talent, there are many countries thriving on tourism and being export hubs, such as Hong Kong, UAE, and Thailand who have been able to attract migrants from not just Asian countries but also from Latin American, European, North American countries of USA and Canada, and from Australia too.
People migrate not just to earn fame and money, but also to live a peaceful and active life doing things that they are passionate about; many of them have also become highly successful billionaires in their chosen field of business, and it is certainly a matter of identifying and cashing in on the right opportunity at the right time. It has been proven by economists and social scientists that strategic and controlled migration do contribute to economic expansion and help create massive job opportunities from which the locals of the host country benefit the most.
It is not just in the area of business and finance that an expat can excel in. We hereby present a story of an artist who has made a name for her in a foreign country in the field of performing arts.
Poetic expressions through rhythmic art form
Art knows no boundaries, and human beings too have always excelled at dreaming and doing things beyond their comfort zones. Art needs connoisseurs to survive and grow, an audience that can feel the essence and depth, the hidden meaning and message, and expressions that touch and shake hearts. Artists are emotional, and they have that power to see and feel things that other people would usually miss out to notice.
Still, nobody challenges themself like an artist does, to try something new and also to do something that has not been tried before by a certain discerning audience. Thailand provides an artist just the kind of atmosphere and ambience that one seeks to perform, first time or repeatedly, like a carefree and wandering soul, or as an expert. Thailand, most part of it and not just Bangkok, is actually very cosmopolitan in nature as there have been an amalgamation of different cultures with people from various countries from Europe, North America, Latin America, and Asia having made it their base to work and live.
Aarti Saikia is one such artist who has made her mark in a distinct art form, which was actually not her practiced one. Her determination and zeal have brought her to a stage today that seems like her own, and she has so beautifully utilised her education, experience, and training to make the society vibrant, reaching out to students to train them to learn and accept different styles of performing arts.
Having been exposed to Bharatanatyam, the oldest classical dance form, and one of the eight classical Indian dance forms, that originated in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, at the age of just six, Aarti has art and rhythm in her blood including the other classical dance form of Kathak.
It was Aarti’s fascination to creative arts and her inherent confidence that made her seize an opportunity to learn and try her hands at Classical Ballet. It happened more than a decade ago, in Bangkok, where she moved to live after having left her professional career with the United Nations in 2006. She was already a mother of two young kids when she learned and practiced Classical ballet, followed by Spanish Flamenco, and then you guess what, the popular Bollywood dance.
There was no Indian artist in Thailand performing Classical Ballet about a decade ago when she took this up as a challenge to get into, and now with her evolved sense of creative expression, she has over the past few years expanded her aura as an independent professional artist. Having experimented with the dynamics of theatre, stylised choreography, and innovative arts, Aarti Saikia has showcased ‘Poetry in Motion’, where she has infused self-penned poetry with movement, and has been actively engaged in training children in Creative & Expressive Art through Mindful Skills development. She has performed on big stages at different occasions and in different cities of Thailand, and has won acclaim for her style and passion. Her international theatre production has received a warm response from audiences in Thailand. Her performances have been spell-binding and have received rave reviews.
Similar stories can be found in other countries of the developed and less-developed world. Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore have had long traditions of a mixed ethnicity and they are beautiful examples of people of different cultures and beliefs living peacefully for centuries. I have enjoyed some of the best Indian food delicacies in Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Bali, Shanghai, and Singapore, be it a pure vegetarian dish or a non-vegetarian one.
Food is a great unifier
The first Indian woman chef to win a Michelin star, Garima Arora, has received it for her restaurant Gaa in Bangkok. The World’s 50 Best Restaurants chose her as Asia’s best female Chef for 2019.
Barriers must go
Cultural assimilation has been a consistent feature of human evolution, be it for survival or for living in the present. Art, food, fashion clothing, education, and business, and several other areas provide for suitable platforms for people to rediscover and reinvent themselves. Migration and settling abroad just happen as a matter of fact, without us forcing our ways to make it happen. A pandemic should not be used as a reason to serve another dubious purpose. Art must survive and thrive.