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Indian Weekender #90

Indian Weekender #90

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Published by: Indian Weekender on Dec 07, 2012
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Indian
Dcm 7,2012 Vlm 4, N. 16For Free DistributioN
www.iwk.c.nz
 New Zealand’s frst Indian weekend magazine
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W
hat is the one sport that almost allof us watch at the Olympics and theCommonwealth Games, making ourselvesexperts, critiquing and applauding, as weenvy the grace of the athletes?The gymnastics.Whether it is artistic or rhythmic, we are
captivated by the way the artistes ip, leap
and bend; doing it all with grace and in timeto music. It was this sport, art, which SoniaSingh introduced to her daughter Saasha atthe age of four.The bubbly Saasha, now 14, is to repre-sent New Zealand in artistic gymnastics,along with 9 others, at the Aloha Gymfest inHawaii this coming January.This international competition has beenheld for the past 36 years inviting athletesfrom the United States, Japan, Canada, Aus-tralia and of course, New Zealand. Saasha will
 be the rst Punjabi athlete from New Zealand
to represent New Zealand at this event. Whenasked about her goals for Gymfest, she laugh-
ingly said that her priority was to place rstand if not that, denitely second and third!
The 14-year-old started off dabbling inthe rhythmic style of the sport early on in her 
training before being handpicked to join the
artistic squad.Saasha has been competiting on the na-tional scale since the age of nine, which is theyoungest age at which one can participate.In 2010, she earned the National GymnasticChampionship and hasn’t looked back since.It was only when asked about the challengesshe faced in achieving pursuing her love for the sport did I discover that she was born and brought up in Christchurch.Following the earthquake early last year,the family moved to Auckland throwingSaasha into a completely unfamiliar world; anew gym, new team and a new coach. Anyoneelse may have let this move and change dis-tract them, and have slacked on training andcompeting, losing interest. This vivaciousgirl however, worked even harder to make
sure she did not fall behind!
What is it about this sport that kept her at-tracted her and kept her interest so long? Itis the uniquely risky and glamorous natureof the activity she says; mastering a tech-nique and improving her rare skillset. Whenasked about her favourite move, she is silentfor about a minute before resolutely decidingthat there are way too many to choose from.Her likes and interests, however, reach beyond the simple sporting aspect as Saashaexplains that she loves meeting so many people and making new friends with similar interests. These interests however, are not
 just limited to gymnastics.
In addition to playing other sports suchas football, touch rugby and running cross
country, she mentions that she also enjoys
sewing and arts and crafts.
This taste in fashion must denitely come
in handy in picking out her performance
outts! Her favourite outt she muses is de
-nitely her nationals costume, which is bluewith stripes and many, many glittery spar-kles.So what is in store for Saasha’s future?Her mother Sonia says they are contemplat-ing moving abroad to maybe the UnitedStates or the United Kingdom to broadenher daughter’s horizons and opportunitiesin terms of artistic gymnastics; the sport not being popular in New Zealand. She hopesthat with Saasha’s love for the sport she will be able to earn a scholarship that allows her to train with the very best.I’m sure Saasha’s appreciation of school
subjects such as mathematics, science andsocial studies will denitely help her on
this path. Her long term goals also extend interms of her academics in that she hopes to,after competing (and placing) at the Com-monwealth and Olympic Games, of course, become a neurosurgeon. Not an easy feat by any means but thisself-assured, cheerful young woman I amsure will not rest until she gets there. She willsurely be gracing our television screens, in blue stripey sparkles, at the Rio Olympics.
Pooja SuNdar
Wtc t f ts Jpng Jck 
Saasha Singh in action and (above) the younggymnast with the other winners at one of theNational Gymnastic Championships
 
Inin Weekene | decembe 7, 2012
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T
ravel to India could soon become easier for New Zealanders if initiatives by theIndian High Commissioner to NZ are success-ful.High Commissioner Avanindra Kumar 
Pandey, in a recent interview with the Indian
Weekender, said they were looking at persuad-ing Air India to begin Sydney-India services.“We are trying to persuade Indian Airlines(Air India) to come to Sydney, if not New
Zealand,” Mr Pandey said.
The move could cut travel times andease travel hassles for thousands from NewZealand, who, at the moment, have to travelMalaysian Airlines, Thai Air, or Singapore
Airlines in a long-haul 21-23 hour ight to
either Delhi or Mumbai.
“Since there is not much trafc between
India and New Zealand, it is not practical to
have a direct ight from here but if there is adirect ight from Sydney to Mumbai or Delhi,
it will be easier for people.”
Direct ights from Sydney to India were
this week welcomed by a local travel agentwho said the arrangement would cut traveltimes by half.
He said the initiative by Mr Pandey wasworthy and would stand to benet the region
as a whole.
Mr Pandey also said closer ties between the
two countries was on the agenda of his term
in ofce.
“We are also trying to improve relations between India and New Zealand. As youknow, there have been a number of Ministryvisits from New Zealand to India this year – 
visits almost every month,” Mr Pandey said.
“So that has been the result of our effort toimprove the dialogue between the two coun-tries because if the dialogue improves andthe relations warm up further, it will help theIndian community,” he said.“We are also looking at creating city-to-city links by trying to forge a sister city rela-tionship between Wellington and Delhi. This
is just an idea though and I don’t know how
feasible it is. But if it is feasible, we will pushit further.Among discussing the various issues that
needed immediate attention, Mr Pandey said
he would take the necessary steps to resumetalks of providing assistance to Indian busi-nessmen here in order to help them give back to the home country, as initiated by the former High Commissioner, Retired Admiral SureshMehta.“Improving our visa and counsellor ser-vices is on the agenda as of now although broadly we have received no complaints. Weare trying to improve the contact and interfacewith the Indian community so that in times of emergency or urgent need, visa and counsellor services can be quickly sought out.During the tenure of Admiral Mehta, therewere talks of assisting the Indian businesscommunity in New Zealand to create avenuesfor them to give back to the home country.A conference was organised to discuss thesame and a few businessmen came forwardwith suggestions too, only that they required bureaucratic assistance from the Indian HighCommission.“I think it’s a very good idea and the people who thought of it were very far sighted
 people,” Mr Pandey said.
“Through this initiative, the relations willonly strengthen and the power and ability of the Indian private sector will grow too. Hence,it is good to establish contacts so that work can be conducted in accordance with mutualneeds. Thus, it will be my effort to see that thisidea is built and developed further,” he said.He said the Indian Embassy was not ina position to do much about the struggling
 job scenario for Indian immigrants in New
Zealand.“With respect to students too (NZ beingthe new hub of education now, attracting ahuge number of students from India), there is asheer lack of assistance in providing students
with suitable jobs in order to help them fend
for themselves during the study period,” Mr 
Pandey said.“We are not qualied to give guidance onstudent job search or jobs for immigrants.
Only New Zealand authorities can as theyknow New Zealand better than we do.“Having said that, we are working on agovernment to government level to improvethe openings for Indians who wish to enter the
 jobs and services market in NZ.”
Sydney-India ights likely soon
arWa jaNjaLI

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