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‘I’m more proud being a Nigerian than Indian’

Posted by By Onche Odeh, Reporter, Lagos on 2007/02/23 | Views: 1142 |

‘I’m more proud being a Nigerian than Indian’

Everything about him makes one ask questions about his nationality. His colour, facial look and ascent all give room to the question as to where Dr. Shirish Tamksale hails from.

Everything about him makes one ask questions about his nationality. His colour, facial look and ascent all give room to the question as to where Dr. Shirish Tamksale hails from.

But a closer look at him reveals he has Indian blood flowing in his veins.

Medical doctor and Head of Rubee, a popular hospital at the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway, Sango-Ota, Ogun State, Dr. Shirish as he is fondly referred to, is now a bona fide Nigerian, having been granted Nigerian citizenship on January 30 after 27 years in Nigeria.

Beaming with smile, Dr. Shirish narrates how coming to Nigeria was a dream come true for him. He had nursed the dream of coming to Nigeria while in school in India. But it was not until 1980 that the opportunity knocked on his doors when he was selected by the late Dr. Victor Awosika alongside four others to come and beef up the All Saints Hospital run by the Lagos State government. He applied and was selected. Soon after, he was on his way to Lagos to continue his medical career, which he started in India.

While Shirish had lived and worked in Nigeria for 27 years, the other four doctors could only stay in Nigeria for a couple of years before returning to India.

Shirish said Nigeria, for him and his family, remains the number one country for so many reasons. Chief among these, he said, was the fact that they virtually started life as a young couple in Nigeria. He took Jyoti as wife on May 12, 1980, and moved to Nigeria on June 4 of the same year. The wife was to join him later in the year. Then Shirish was 29 while Jyoti was 21. Since then they had been to India only five times, spending a few days during each of the visits.

The couple told Daily Independent in Lagos that Nigeria for now is their home and that each time they go to India they feel home sick.

The food, the parties and the kind-hearted nature of Nigerians are some of the reasons they are always in a hurry to come back to Nigeria each time they visit where ordinarily should be their home – India.

Although the wife is yet to get her own Nigerian citizenship, she said she thinks less of any other place than Nigeria.

"Nigeria has given us so much. The people are so nice and loving; in fact, we cannot ask for more than what we are getting from Nigeria," Mrs. Shirish said.

The Shirishs post a picture of uptown breeds with love for the downtown.

Chronicling their career trips across Lagos, Shirish said the first port of call for him, as a doctor in Nigeria, was the All Saints Hospital, Ikeja. Here, he said, he enjoyed every bit of his stay. The next duty call was in the All Saints Hospital branch at Igbobi, Lagos.

"Here was not as eventful as Ikeja. It was all work, work and I was confined within the hospital," he said.

Interestingly, the Shirishs said Ajegunle, a Lagos suburb known for its notoriety, remains one place they cannot forget in a hurry.

"Before we went there, people told us the place was dangerous, full of hoodlums and armed robbers. But we never experienced any of such throughout all the years we stayed there," Shirish said of Ajegunle.

According to him, there are armed robbers in every country and since they came to Nigeria all they hear or read is the news of armed robbery operation, "but we have never experienced such for the 27 years we have been in Nigeria."

At this point his charming wife joined in the conversation, saying she had never seen a wonderful, loving set of people as those in Ajegunle.

According to her, she feels so safe and enjoys walking in the streets of Ajegunle because the people know her and she is particularly excited by the exchange of pleasantries between her and the people.

However, the couple says they are having the best moment of their stay in Nigeria in Sango-Ota, where they now live and work.

On how he got Nigerian citizenship, Shirish said he filed his application for Nigerian citizenship with the Internal Affairs Ministry, Abuja, in 2001.

He said, "At a point we thought it was not going to be, because it took too long. But I and some other nationals were given the citizenship on January 30, 2007."

He gave kudos to members of the Association of General and Private Medical Practitioners of Nigeria (AGPMPN) for the positive roles they played in his quest for the citizenship.

And when it eventually came, the five years spent waiting for it never mattered any longer, to them it was no longer consequential because they got what they were looking for.

On social outings, the couple says they attend as many parties as organised by Nigerians when it was possible. The least number of times they attend parties in a month is twice.

"We attend a lot of weddings, naming ceremonies and many other kinds of parties and we love them so much," the couple chorused.

The dance steps, music and attires are particular aspects of the people they say they are in love with. Ironically, they say they attend very few of such events hosted by fellow Indians.

The couple has a 24-year-old son studying Electronic and Information Technology at Masters Degree level in New Zealand.

Shirish said although he would love to see his son take up medicine, the boy does not like medicine and rather opted for Information Technology. The parents say the boy is also in Love with Nigeria and feels home sick about Nigeria, too.

In a bid to show their love for Nigeria and Nigerians, the Shirishs, who are Hindu, say they attend church and Jumat services whenever they are invited.

As a way of giving back to the people, Shirish said he oftentimes offer free treatment to the people.

He said, "the people are generally not rich, so you look at their situation some times and cannot help but be sympathetic with them."

On medical practice in Nigeria, he said things are looking up in the country, but added that super specialists in some areas of medicine are required in Nigeria.

"Only six years ago, you’d hardly find scans, but these days they are every where," he said.

According to him, the speed at which Nigeria is catching up on technology is reflected on the healthcare.

For the Shirishs, Nigeria is just the country. Quite an irony some may say, but they look every inch like they truly are having fun doing business and living in Nigeria.

The couple, however, paused to pay tribute to some Nigerians that made them feel great. Names like Dr. Vincent Awosika (All Saints Hospital), and Dr. Powodola, of Layori Hospital. Incidentally, both died over 15 years ago.

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