Though author and photographer Amardeep Singh is on a multi-city North American tour to discuss his travels back to Pakistan to visit the remains of the once-vibrant Sikh communities of his ancestors may seem that he is addressing a very specific time in his faith’s history, he assures his listeners that it is a story to which any ethnic or religious group can relate.
“This is a story that of all humanity can appreciate and relate to, this is what happens when cultures are meant to exit from their ancestral homelands. The story of my community applies to all people.”
Singh, a former American Express executive, will speak at the Gurdwara Sahib, 40600 Schoolcraft Rd, Plymouth, 7 p.m. Friday May 4 and 10 a.m. Saturday May 5 and share insights from his journey that took him across 36 cities and villages, all documented in his books LOST HERITAGE: The Sikh Legacy in Pakistan and THE QUEST CONTINUES: LOST HERITAGE The Sikh Legacy in Pakistan.
Singh spent 35 years in the corporate world. On the way to his life’s next chapter, he decided to take some time and explore the community of his family’s past and explored all the places of the British Punjab region that captured his imagination through books and maps he had read and enjoyed since childhood.
“I started reading books and studying the 1920’s maps of the Punjab region at an early age and they transported me back in time,” said Singh, 51. “After working for so many years, I wanted to take the time to explore my spirituality by visiting the places of my family’s past which are now in the highly-conflicted Kashmir region. My explorations led me to this deeper question of the existence of God and led me to appreciate that His being is through creation itself.”
In Jan 2017, he undertook another journey, this time travelling extensively to 90 cities and villages across Sindh, Balochistan, Pakistan Administered Kashmir, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Punjab. The continuing thread of explorations, again motivated him to document them in the sequel book.
The best way for Singh to capture all the creation he saw around him during his 2014 and 2017 travels was through the lens of his camera. Eventually his photographs and accompanying writings about this region of what is now Pakistan were published in magazines and became the base material for his two books.
Singh wished most of all to return to his father’s gurdwara found on the border villages of India and Pakistan, which had been abandoned for 70 years now since the partition and creation of the two countries in their modern state. Once a rich Sikh culture and community had existed there and now what remains is the ruins.
“It only takes a few years for memories to be erased for the next generations as these chapters in the Sikh Kingdom are not included or depicted in today’s maps of the region. These books were meant to preserve this part of history.”