Strolling down Gerrard Street during the Festival of South Asia is a unique experience, sure to spice up the senses. The Indian community, as well as the merchants, wear their finest outfits and saris, creating a sea of rich and colourful fabrics. Indian and Pakistani food vendors invade the festive space which is set to the most exotic of soundtracks. This is where Tasneem Bandukwala works.
Arriving in Canada in 2015, this energetic, determined young woman grew up in a family of entrepreneurs and earned her management degree from the University of Mumbai in India. The transition to life in Canada was both natural and smooth. Manager of the Gerrard India Bazaar Business Improvement Area, she already had over ten years of business experience in India and Asia under her belt. In keeping with her Muslim faith, Tasneem does not shy away from responsibility. On top of her role as an advisor for the Little India business community and in charge of marketing for that business destination, Tasneem has a seven-year-old daughter and works in business development for a Toronto-based software company. She and her spouse Hutaib really enjoy their new life in Canada. The economic vitality of Canada’s largest city, not to mention its numerous opportunities multicultural makeup, access to quality education and, of course, quality of life are for them the ingredients to a happy and stimulating life within a caring community.
While their daily business is conducted in English, Gujarati remains their language of choice at home. This linguistic scenario, common with many Indians living in Toronto, does not stop them from wanting to learn another language such as Mandarin, Spanish or French! While they do recognize the benefits of Toronto’s gentler climate¾it’s usually not too hot¾this young family dreams of discovering Canada’s West Coast; especially the very Victorian city of Victoria!
Between fielding calls from journalists and giving instructions to volunteers at the annual Little India event, Tasneem remains true to the principles that have guided her life as an entrepreneur and leader: be sincere and honest, focus on your life goals and work hard. With the growing success of the Festival of South Asia, Tasneem reminds us that from now on the adjective “little” no longer applies to her community.