By Hita Prakash
In the second part of our two-part interview, we delve deeper into Simi Mehra’s personal choices, fitness routines, lifestyle and more.
Q: How has your love for golf shaped your life?
A: My journey has been interesting. When I decided to play in the US, my mother gave me $2000 and told me in Punjabi: “Main chandiyan tu fail hoke aajai, taki main tera vyaa karadava.” (I want you to fail and come back so I can get you married!) I retorted: “I will die before that happens.” She didn't want me to play pro golf. Imagine 30 years ago to let your young daughter from Calcutta, go to America alone, wasn't a small thing, yet she supported me. The greatest thing she has taught me is 'If you want to do something, do it yourself.’ Parents need to allow their children to make mistakes, the more mistakes you make, the faster you learn. I think the kids who make no mistakes, get into trouble when they are older, go into depression because they are shocked when something bad happens.
“Building public 9-hole pitch and putt courses,
the size of half a football field across the country,
will give golf mass appeal.”
Q: How important is fitness to you?
A: I have had seven surgeries -- one has to be mentally and physically fit and strong, to play this game. Always remember, being fit has nothing to do with the way you look and everything to do with the way you move. It's not about being fat or thin, it's how mobile, flexible or stable a person is and weight has nothing to do with it. I had surgeries between my mid-30s to mid-40s. In our 20s, we are like a noodle, so being fit is important to sustain the longevity, as you get older. Mental fitness in any competitive sport is important and in life. So, don’t get derailed by likes, selfies.
Q: Recently, Dutee Chand (sprinter and national champion in 100 and 200 metres) was in the news for coming out as the first Indian athlete in a same sex relationship...
A: Actually, Dutee Chand was the second Indian, I was the first. I came out five years ago. But there was no scandal. You see, my whole family was standing behind me, unfortunately the media only likes scandals. So, that is why Dutee made headlines. I am happy she came out, but sad about all the negativity she has faced. I hope as she grows older, she will be able to get past it.
Q: Do you think the media and Dutee’s family handled it well?
A: Frankly, it's none of my business. When I came out, my whole family was standing with me. My wife, Seema and I have been together for 13 years now, her name is tattooed on my arm. I have never hidden this side of my life. But I know it is difficult for a guy or a girl to come out. It's sad when they don't get support, because being gay is not a choice. Around the world, nobody chooses to live this difficult life. Of course, the degree of negativity differs.
“The degree of negativity surrounding the
LGBTQIA+ community differs, in each country.
some places it is worse, in some, it is better.”
Q: Being together means you face the good and bad together. Has it been that way for you?
A: Seema is a cancer survivor. When she was first diagnosed, I felt a bit overwhelmed. We took a joint decision to not look at conventional treatment and instead, live healthy. We made some radical changes in our lifestyle. We threw out all the masalas, cut salt/sugar from our diet. We eat farm fresh, chemical-free food. Quality of life is more important than the quantity. It’s not how long but how well you live. Nobody can look at her and say that she ever had cancer.
Q: Your future plans?
A: I am loving life. I have no aspirations. Material things are temporary. Permanent happiness is inside and I'm a very happy person. I travel the world because of golf, it has been like a life-long vacation. I meet some of the most amazing people, I have a home to go to in every country I have visited and I didn’t have to buy a single house to do that. So, who is rich here?