My own personal Tango journey
Thank you for following My Tango Journey Blog. I, Aseem Bandali, author of this blog, am a 47 year old British born Indian, with a rich immigrant family history which spans all the way from India in the East, to Africa and onwards to Europe in the West. So at the risk of sounding like a coffee advert, you could say that I’m a rich blend of both East and West. I am the offspring of an Indian mother from Mumbai, and a Ugandan Asian father who immigrated to England in the 1970s, just before the expulsion of Ugandan Asians by Idi Amin. My grandparents originally come from a little known place called Kutch, in Gujarat (North West India), which is surrounded by the Arabian Sea to its west (opposite the coast of East Africa) and The Rann of Kutch, an inhospitable and un-forgiving, hot, white marshland desert of salt to its north , along the border of Pakistan, which gets flooded once the rain arrives turning the area into a death trap of quick-sand. At night the salt particles shine like diamonds under the brilliant moon light.
I’ve been told by word of mouth that we came from a tribe known as ‘Lohanas’ (short form of Loh-ranas), who immigrated from Lohar Pradesh, a region of 24 provinces largely covered today by various parts of Kashmir and the Hindu Kush, Pakistan, and Afghanistan regions. Literally translated, the name is broken into two parts: ‘Loha’ means iron and ‘ranas’ are warrior. Lohanas were therefore known as ‘Khatriyas Warriors’ (or Shatriyas). As inhabitants of the North Western frontier, they were responsible for protecting India from its invaders. Historically considered to be Vaishayas within the Hindu caste system, Lohanas claim to be of Suryavanshi descent, which traces our lineage to Lava, son of Lord Rama. However, in the 14th century, my ancestors were converted by Pir Sadardin (an Ismaili Da’i, or missionary) to the Shia Ismaili Nizari faith of Islam. Henceforth, we were known as Khojas (or Khwajas), an honorary Persian title bestowed on pious individuals who followed the teachings of the Sufi teacher called Ahmad Kasam. To this day many of my family, who have immigrated all over the world (America, Canada, Pakistan, Singapore, Australia, Africa and the Middle East) continue to adopt this faith and are known as ‘Shia Imami Ismailis‘ , whose present living Imam (or spiritual leader) is known as The Aga Khan.
While I was baptised as a Christian at the age of 16, I do not subscribe to any specific form of institutionalized religious organisation, as I do not believe that any ONE religion has all the answers, however, I do see both beauty and ancient wisdom in the philosophies and teachings of many of these ancient cultures, and from a very young age I’ve had the privilege to study religious texts, philosophical teachings, and observe the practices as well as rituals of many different religions all over the world. Although I personally don’t think any of them individually has ALL the answers, as some may claim, however, cumulatively, perhaps they may each have a part of the huge puzzle which holds the secret to life, the universe and everything.
I started off life in England, where I was born, but spent much of my early childhood in Bengaluru (Southern India) before returning to London, where I was educated and lived for most of my adult life. By the age of 10 I had resided in 2 continents and could communicate in a number of languages because I’d been exposed to communities with a diverse range of cultures and religions. Given my ‘Gypsy genes’, yes, apparently science has now identified a specific gene called DRD4-7R, which may partially be responsible for my wanderlust- I suppose its hardly surprising that I have always enjoyed travelling. By my reckoning, I’ve either lived in, or travelled to, approximately 20 countries around the world, across Europe, North and East Africa, Asia, North America, as well as South America, however, it wasn’t until December 2015, after deciding to take a career break from my role as Social Worker/Safeguarding Manager that I finally got the opportunity to do some proper travelling by ‘Tangoing to Argentina in 80 days‘ while fundraising for Parkinsons UK , which is how My Tango Journey Blog came into existence.
This site was initially created in order to share my personal travel stories with friends and relatives, but following my trip to Argentina I discovered that the readership had expanded to include people from 79 different countries. Although my Tango journey to Argentina ended a few months ago, I realized that my travel adventures were far from over and my own personal tango journey was only just beginning. As I’d received some really positive feedback from people who said they enjoyed the personal aspect to my stories, I decided to use my site as a travel blog and to continue to share the travel stories, while I continue to explore the beautiful world of Tango, which is danced all over the world, which I guess gives me plenty of options. I hope you will continue to enjoy reading my travel tales, and if you wish to receive automatic updates, all you need to do is click on the blue ‘Follow’ button below.
My Next stop: India – Coming soon !!