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What you need to know about COVID-19: October 20, 2020
Locating the blissful coastal location with a backyard view of the coast, I met with the young man Nirav Patel who is residing in New Aberdeen, after a worldwide sailing position for a Danish Company. Living in Copenhagen is like comparing apples and oranges to living here, he agreed.
“Copenhagen is like Toronto, or any bustling, modern city,” he said, and agreed that Glace Bay was a much slower, refreshing pace, and he loves the music here. Nirav spent a weekend taking in some of the events at Kitchenfest this year. “I love fiddle music,” he said.
He has obtained a degree in Marine Engineering from Tolani Maritime Institute in India. A Danish company hired him once he finished school to sail the world as a marine engineer officer. He has seen and lived in so many cities around the world, and made so many friends and connections. “Some people you never see again,” he said. Nirav is ready to start building connections in a community and to settle down on land for a while.
One of his first connections he made arriving here was David Sawler, the pastor at UnderCurrent Youth Centre in Glace Bay.
“When I first came to Canada,” he said, “I met Dave Sawler in Lighthouse Church and joined UnderCurrent Youth Centre.” Through working on various projects with the centre, he was able to get to know the community as well as meet friends.
One project he mentioned was creating a COVID-19 care centre for the community. Used by those who could not use public washrooms, they had fresh towels and toiletries for consumers. They applied for a grant that allowed them to provide the care. He was also involved in the mid-day Meal Project that provided meals to children that couldn’t go to school because of COVID-19. “We provided about 1,000 meals a day,” he said.
Nirav is from Baroda, Gujarat, India. His parents worked as a teacher and a salesman for a private company. Now retired, his dad is a small business entrepreneur (owner of an ice cream parlour) in their community, and his mom has become a social worker. Nirav is their only child. He was born into a Hindu family. “I don’t follow one particular religion,” he said. He chooses to acknowledge the importance of all kinds of faiths. “Hinduism,” he said, “is very accommodating to other religions.”
Instead, he embraces his spirituality through daily meditation practice in the morning. He has been involved with the Shambhala Mediation group in Sydney a few times, but for the most part, meditates at home. Meditating for his own mental health to calm the mind from the thoughts that can bog a person down.
“When you sit down for the first time,” he said, “you can’t expect it right away.” When you sit for the first time and try to meditate, all those thoughts from work, school, or from your day come full force into your head. “It can be frustrating for a beginner,” he said, “ you start asking yourself, am I doing this right?”
“As you go on with your practice,” he said, “it becomes a soothing experience. I now focus on my breath so that I can slowly let go of all the thoughts. When I leave a meditation, I try to note where I left off and what I was visualizing, so that I can begin from that spot for the next session.” Listening to meditation music in the background can also help, he said. There are many ways to meditate, he said, but in the end, you must find the path that is right for you.
Hiking, driving, and camping are also some of his passions. He compares the cliffs in New Aberdeen to the cliffs of Meat Cove. You don’t have to go very far to appreciate the beauty of the island. It could be right in your backyard. “This is a perfect place,” he said.
Nirav moved to the area in 2018, and has studied at Cape Breton University in business management. He is going to be living in Indian Brook for a few autumn months. He is working for Cabot Shores Wilderness Resort but hopes to soon be back in Glace Bay by winter. He finds his experience in Glace Bay to have been “amazing.”
Therese MacAdam is a Glace Bay writer with a deep interest in the community and its people.