The following is excerpted from Temple of My Dreams, a beautiful story of Surender Kandhari’s life and his efforts to stretch out a helping hand as he endeavours to build a magnificent Gurudwara in the emirate of Dubai and create a zone of peace and comfort for everyone regardless of their persuasions. Surender’s life has been exemplary but he has faced doubt and occasional moments of despair where the saving grace has always been his belief that out of good comes good, and that being there for those in need is an order from above which must be obeyed. Against that background, he injects into his narrative humour, a delightful self-deprecating manner in which the rough and the smooth patches intermingle into one entity.


A Labour of Love … and More Love

Then out spake brave Horatius, the Captain of the Gate: ‘To every man upon this earth death cometh soon or late. And how can man die better than facing fearful odds, For the ashes of his fathers and the temples of his Gods’


AND SO IT BEGAN. The odyssey that my grandfather had articulated. Brick by loving brick, meeting after meeting, the collection of the documentation, the architectural design, the blueprint for the construction, the dovetailing of all the components and that wonderful sensation of seeing the first impressions from the artist of how it would look when constructed.

     It was a work of love. Every day we would be on site, so deeply involved that for those years nothing else was a priority. This was now a saga and no pains would be spared to make it exceptional.

     I have to record that the official permissions came swiftly and with no major hitch. In fact, every official department was not just accommodating but actually helpful in expediting matters. Clearly, the Lord was on our side.

     I had to express my feelings of gratitude. I said, ‘The entire Sikh community of the UAE are profoundly overwhelmed and indebted to the kindness and generosity of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum for granting us this land for the noble cause of building a Sikh place of worship.’

     I meant it from the bottom of my heart.

     Then one day it was done. Like the final piece of the jigsaw that children put in and exult we felt that special elation. My grandfather would have beamed with pride and seen this as a benediction … a grandson come good.

     The ultra-modern Gurudwara has a dramatic architectural design and can be best described as the manifestation of the divine Truth. It envelops all within its warm embrace, irrespective of caste or creed—bringing peace, solace and hope for one and all.

     My friend and constant well-wisher, Ashvin Gidwani, has been fulsome in his praise almost to the point of making me feel undeserving but his lyrical effort deserves sharing. The title of the book is his inspiration and he goaded me into picking up the pen.

Many questions need to be answered but in simplistic form the door opens this way:

What do you see when you open your eyes for the first time? What is the recollection that one has of being alive? When do you establish your first connection? Is there anyone really around except that you have come alone? What’s that sensation going down your mind—air and light?

Yes, a new soul has been introduced to the world!

Time wheels around to give governance to this child and slowly his life unfolds; a task has been given to him but he doesn’t have knowledge to what purpose and to what end; being a proud hard-working Sikh by blood, he slowly and steadily builds his family and empire; then came the vision of a temple which could only be touched by divine intervention; charitable and spiritual by nature, the inborn passion and life’s hardships drove him to dedicate himself to an edifice for salvation.

After the birth of the symbol of the Guru is when I met Surender; Bubbles included they are the yin and yang of the universe where one cannot do without the other; I see darkness everywhere but they walk in the light; the challenges of family, business, personal and mediocrity blocks a smooth path but said it was going to be easy.

I share the same birthday as him and we had a beautiful opportunity to spend it together at the Golden Temple amongst family and friends in prayer; Bubbles took a super step to make me feel special and the only last time I experienced such love was when I was 10 and shortly after that dad passed to change my entire world.

People are on a journey from one life to another and from one time to yet another.

The people you meet remain an integral part of your soul.


Temple of My Dreams is priced at AED 95.