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A lesson in lucky stars

Roopesh and the author holding his homemade mango-flavored lassi. (Photo submitted)

"What will you tell the people about Duluth when you return to India?" I ask Roopesh, an outgoing and personable 28-year-old man from Hyderabad. He has been working contractually at Minnesota Power for the past 18 months. He recently cooked a tasty traditional Indian dinner and invited neighbors to enjoy it as his guests.

"Minnesota Nice ... whoever says that, I really agree with them," he replies. "When I came here people took care of me like I was their own son."

Roopesh adds he attributes his good fortune to karma, a Sanskrit word for "action" or "doing something." Karma is a Hindu belief in cause-and-effect morality that what you do affects you in this life or in the next one. In other words, whatever happens to you happens because your actions caused it. He explains he always dealt kindly with those that visited his home city and came to him for help or advice.

Roopesh came to Duluth with a sense of adventure and thirst for new experiences.

Living alone for the first time in his life and working long hours here didn't allow for much fun at first. Several months after arrival, a coworker handed Roopesh a notice about a "singles in the city" event. "I didn't know exactly what it was and what to expect but I went there by myself. The strange thing was that there were less men than women."

"Music was playing but not many were dancing. I decided since I didn't know anyone, it would not harm me to get on the dance floor alone. Suddenly there were 15 women dancing around me in a circle. That was the BEST moment! I've never seen so much laughing as when I came back to work on Monday and told them about it."

Roopesh will not be on his own much longer since he plans to return to India and marry later this year. Everything for the wedding is getting into place. The only part still to be decided is the identity of the bride.

According to Gunjan Bagla, author of "Doing Business in 21st Century India," it is a mainstream practice to seek astrological guidance for important decisions. This, of course, includes the choice of a marriage partner.

"My family will select good candidates for me according to the compatibility of our horoscopes. One at a time, I will meet several potential brides in the presence of my family. Everyone must say yes to the final choice."

"Weddings are a lot of work because there are many traditions. For example, you might have 1,000 invitations and they all have to be delivered in person since mailing them out is considered an insult. The whole family shares in the responsibility for inviting guests."

Roopesh glows as he talks about this upcoming event. He is happy and at peace with having an arranged marriage, stating a good spousal relationship is mostly about being the right person.

Something tells me this young man understands something about karma. He takes risks, stays open to new experiences and treats others well. If it is true that "what goes around comes around," he is likely to continue creating his own lucky stars for many years to come.

Arlene J. Anderson is a writer, teacher and global explorer with a home base is Duluth. She previously lived in Norway and China and plans to live in Ecuador this fall. Read more stories and join her email list at The Teachable Traveler, www.teachabletraveler.com.

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