A decision to leave the hustle and bustle of Bombay and find a quiet, cultural place brought her parents to Pune and Salomee Zaveri nee Kapadia to fifth grade at St Helena’s.
School days meandered along with concerts, socials and the famous school fete. She has memories of a scary principal who kept not just the students, but also the teachers on their toes.
Eventually she enrolled for a B. Com at Ness Wadia. Even today, those fun and carefree days at college warms the cockles of her heart. It was a life with no care or responsibility and was spent simply hanging out with her friends. Despite her fun-filled activities, Salomee also found time to get a degree in International Business from Symbiosis.
While at school, her mother first enrolled her in golf lessons. She played for a bit, but never took it seriously. Once she got to college, she started frequenting the golf course mainly to hang out with golfer friends. Eventually, she decided to give the game a second chance. A friend of hers suggested that she try a golf simulator similar to optishot 2, which helped to fuel her love for the sport. There was no looking back for her after that.
Once she started and learned the nuances of the game, she thoroughly enjoyed the challenge. Today, it is the one de-stressor in her life. Once on the course, she disconnects from the world and then rejoins her routine; refreshed and rejuvenated.
Life in Pune would have continued along predictable lines. She spent time as an event planner, worked at the Levis showroom in Mumbai and played golf. But a spanner in the works turned her world topsy turvy. Through family connections, she met an awesome man in 2005 and life as she knew it, changed.
Adman, Niraj Zaveri, was based in LA. Salomee bid goodbye to her hometown, married him and flew off to a new adventure. Initially, she worked as a creative recruiter and also took her golf seriously by joining a Ladies golf league. She has a few trophies from this phase as testament to her commitment. But pregnancy and motherhood had other plans for her. Salomee took a work break to focus on raising her son, Sohum.
Meanwhile her husband accepted a post as senior executive director at an ad agency in New York and Salomee packed up son, husband, home and golf clubs to move to New Jersey. Like most Gujaratis, she has family in Jersey so the move came at a great time. She had a support system to help raise her son, given her and her husband’s immediate families live in India.
As a family, they visit India every other year so Sohum gets to bond with his grandparents and cousins. Salomee herself visits at least once a year.
At the same time as raising her son, Salomee found herself immersed in a dream project of building their home. It took two years of intense planning, soul searching, creative explorations and round the clock supervision but their home is testament to the effort and dedication.
Totally settled into suburban New Jersey, she enjoys being full time mum to her son, is entrenched in his school activities and has discovered a whole new group of ‘mommy friends’.
At seven, her son is following his mother’s footsteps. He plays basketball but after observing his mother one day, decided to try golf. She proudly declares he swings like a pro. Sohum has apparently threatened to take her down one day. Salomee is looking forward to that day with pleasure and a certain amount of trepidation too. In the meantime, she continues with recreational golf but has a fierce competitive streak.
Salomee loves living in the US and as of now cannot imagine ever moving back. She has changed and so have the people she left behind.
Pune lifestyle no longer reflects the city of her youth. She enjoys her independent lifestyle where everyone looks out for themselves. She appreciates the job equality where no one frowns at honest work no matter if its menial or a desk job. As long as it keeps you busy and pays the rent, that’s all that matters. She feels the US quality of life is a better fit for her family. Having said that, Salomee and Niraj ensure their son is aware of his heritage. They celebrate all Indian festivals, talk about family and friends in India and discuss Indian values, inculcating the right and wrong.
Even though she is completely immersed in life in her adopted country, Salomee does feel a twinge of nostalgia for Puneri memories. She fondly recalls the bun samosa and guava from the peruvalla during short break in school. She misses the people city, favourite hangout places during her teen years, observing her nephew growing up, daily interactions with her family.
Memories of Pune will always be a part of her because no matter where life takes her, it is the city that moulded her.