Inder Jandoo’s Gerrard Street store is stocked full of brightly coloured, elegant Indian clothing for men and women. The man behind this business, which attracts Indian families and tourists alike, is an inspiration through his determination and convictions.
Born in 1944, Inder grew up with 2 brothers and 4 sisters in a two-bedroom, third-floor apartment of a Delhi apartment complex. In 1953, his father, who owned a manufacturing company that produced Carpenter’s rulers, built the family home. In 1966, Inder graduated from the University of Delhi with a Bachelor’s degree in political science. The young man’s sense of adventure, however, put his graduate studies on hold. Britain’s cultural influence on consumer habits in India is well known; they introduced tea, sweets, and scotch! For Inder, the influx of exotic hippies to Delhi sparked his curiosity, and, in that spirit, he set off for a three-month maiden voyage to London. He travelled through Iran, the Gurdwara temples, Istanbul, aboard the Orient-Express, to Stuttgart, and finally finishing the last leg to London on a scooter. The English and Europeans warmly welcomed young travellers wearing religious symbols like Sikh beards and turbans. This showed Inder that his Sikh identity would not be an obstacle to discovering the world. Today, the expert businessman takes great pride in his Sikh identity. It represents the acceptance of others, openness, determination, a sense of commitment and responsibility, and sharing.
After marrying Bhupinder in 1967, the couple set off for Toronto in May 1970. Inder’s first job was in an automotive plant. He then worked in a plastic bottle factory. His business acumen and social skills helped him land a sales job at the Sun Life insurance company, where he quickly became one of their top salesmen. His entrepreneurial spirit pushed him into retail and in 1979, he opened the Sonu Saree Palace in a small 200-square-foot space, which would eventually grow to 5,000 square feet in 1995. Proud to have been one of the first businesses in Little India, Inder has always been committed to the development of his community, particularly through his involvement with the Gerrard India Bazaar Business Improvement Area.
His view of Canadian society reflects his own concerns and values. He believes that we live in an open-minded country where there is abundant access to opportunities and economic success is usually possible with the right amount of effort. The acceptance and respect of different cultures are the cornerstones of our country and we need to protect them. A father of two sons, one a dentist, the other a real estate broker, Inder is also a proud grandfather to three hockey-playing grandkids. The life lessons he tries to impart are simple: be yourself, give 100% and take initiative.