274 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 77 PART 2 MARCH 2019
beginning, her parents were determined that she would be raised in a Western
liberal, rational, scientific tradition. Although each of her parents spoke
at least three Indian languages, Nitya learned only French and English.
Nitya’s first job in Ottawa was working at Laura Secord serving ice cream.
She was also a member of the Naval Reserve, which she pursued only
because her father and her boyfriend at the time thought the idea was hilarious
and said she would never survive the training. Technically she was too
short to join, but the medical examiner could not provide her with a satisfactory
justification for the height restriction and so he let her in. True to
form, she satisfied the physical fitness requirements. However, Nitya’s feet
did not reach the foot brace in the rowboat, making it impossible for her to
work the oars. As a consequence, Nitya was promoted to coxswain. With her
fierce determination, competitive spirit, natural rhythm and feather
weight, she spurred her team on to victory, being rewarded with the traditional
plunge into the fetid waters of Bow Lake. During that period, Nitya
also learned how to disassemble, clean and reassemble a rifle and became
a crack shot.
Her parents’ commitment to Western values was tested when she
reached adolescence and began dating. Over her parents’ objection, Nitya
decided to attend the University of Toronto (Trinity College) rather than
either of her parents’ universities in Ottawa. Having made this decision, she
was told that she would have to finance her own education, which she did,
though with great difficulty.
Nitya immediately made many friends at Trinity College, where she first
studied fine arts and math and then transferred to philosophy and English.
To finance her education, she worked part-time in the library during the
year and in a variety of improbable positions during the summer, most
notably as security guard, theatre manager and construction worker. She
also worked variously as retail clerk, street vendor, bookkeeper, receptionist,
research assistant, residential care home support worker and coordinator
of a university transition program for the visually impaired.
Throughout, Nitya maintained a passion for reading, which has remained
unchanged to this day. When immersed in a book, the words simply pour
off the page for Nitya, conveying all of their meaning, secrets and beauty,
effortlessly and at a rate of speed that appears humanly impossible.
Nitya’s Trinity College undergraduate degree was a three-year degree.
Because she switched majors mid-way, she was short 1.5 credits needed to
graduate. She dropped out of university and moved to Edmonton with her
boyfriend at the time and later moved to Canmore. While in Alberta, Nitya
worked a series of odd jobs, including in a tourist shop in Banff. She com-