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Onam Memories of a beautiful couple: Mrs and Mr Ambassador

Deepika Nambiar Thursday, August 19, 2021
Onam Memories of a beautiful couple: Mrs and Mr Ambassador

Indian Ambassador to Kuwait Shri Sibi George won the hearts of all the Indian expatriates living here in Kuwait within a year of taking charge as the Ambassador of India to Kuwait. The changes are visible. He has constantly done several new initiatives at the Embassy and took serious efforts to address the community issues. No doubt, it is a challenging time for everyone in this past year as the pandemic has shattered all of our plans. But as our Ambassador always says, he may not be having the solutions for all our problems, but it is evident that he is doing whatever possible to solve them from his end.

As a busy diplomat of his caliber, someone will be left with no time to be with his family, especially during important occasions and festivals. Like any other Keralite, Onam is one of the most important festivals for Ambassador Shri Sibi George. As a career diplomat for over 30 years, he never gets a chance to celebrate Onam with his extended families in his home town. Ambassador Shri Sibi George and his better half Smt Joice Sibi, in an exclusive chat with IndiansinKuwait.com share their sweet memories of Onam and how they are finding quality family time in between his busy schedule.

IIK: When it comes to Onam, every Malayali will have some nostalgic memories. So what is the most cherishable one in your life?

Ambassador Sibi George: Like any Malayali, Onam is full of nostalgic memories. In our childhood, how we enjoyed going out to pluck flowers, making flower carpet at home. Onam was one of the occasions we get to wear a new 'Onakkodi' (new dress). Wearing that and going out with neighbours and relatives… enjoying the delicious Onam Sadya (Onam feast)… all these were part of my memories too. Until I got my job and shifted to Delhi, we always celebrated Onam at home with family.

IIK: So how was your Onam in your Delhi life?

Ambassador Sibi George: As long as we were in Delhi, we celebrated Onam in Kerala House. The Kerala House at Delhi used to conduct Onam in a grand style with Chenda Melam (Kerala Band performance), welcoming King Mahabali, Onam Pookolam, Onam Sadya etc. That was fun as we got a chance to meet lot of our community people.

IIK: As a diplomat, you served various countries outside India. How do you both find Onam celebrations abroad?

Ambassador: During our post in other countries, we really enjoyed Onam. As an Embassy official, these celebrations was an opportunity to meet the community members. Let it be Doha, Saudi, Switzerland or USA, we used to get a lot of chances to meet and interact with the community members during these celebrations and have traditional Onam Sadya.

Madam Joice Sibi: In Kerala, we have Onam for a maximum of one week, but in abroad, celebrations from various Kerala Associations used to last for months. We attended various competitions like Payasam competitions. We have been judges for those and really enjoyed it.

IIK: You reached Kuwait when the whole world was facing the pandemic. It's just a year now in Kuwait, so how are you planning to celebrate Onam?

Ambassador: Last year Onam was just after I reached Kuwait, and due to the Covid pandemic, I could just celebrate in a small way at my house. This year as things are getting better, let us plan something. Definitely, we will have our own family Onam Celebration at my house with kids.

IIK: This year for all associations, Onam celebration is more a virtual treat. We will miss the grand Onam celebrations. How do you feel about this?

Ambassador: Yes, we will miss the fun of large gatherings. But the best quality of Indians is that we adapt to the environment. Whatever may be the situations, we adapt to them very quickly. Participants or visitors will be limited to the venue capacity for any offline celebrations, but when it happens online, there is no limitation for the number of participants. Also, I came to know that now people are sending Onam Sadya in a box as a parcel. That is one good thing that we Indians celebrate our festivals within the capacity whatever the situation. We can celebrate Onam with all enthusiasm virtually.

IIK: We have a large number of Indian associations everywhere, including Kuwait. How do you look at it?

Ambassador: Throughout my diplomatic career, I have always seen associations in a positive way. They are making some or other contributions to our community. During this Covid, all associations have helped a lot for their community. The Indian community is like a large garden in which all associations are flowers. Many of them are tulips and roses with a beautiful aroma. Some may not have that much beauty, and some may even fail to blossom. But, let them all flourish in this garden. When they all flourish they help India flourish in Kuwait.


IIK: Before the pandemic, the usual saying here is that the Onam celebrations will start with Onam and end with Christmas. Almost every weekend, there will be one or two Onam celebrations by some Kerala associations.

Ambassador: Celebrations are always good. When people of different cultures, religions, regions etc. come together and celebrate Onam… it gives a very positive message about our country. Especially if you invite Kuwaiti citizens or other nationalities for such celebrations, it is the best opportunity to show them our unity and culture. When they see these types of togetherness, it is a befitting reply to all the negative publicity against India. Also our children will understand the importance of such celebrations with these events.


IIK: With the constantly changing scenario in so many countries, do you make your kids know about our traditions like Onam and other festivals?

Ambassador: We make sure that we celebrate all festivals together as a family and make the kids know our tradition. They can celebrate all festivals, but should be proud of their own ones. For example, for a Malayali child living in US, he or she may take part in Halloween or any other festivals, but he or she should feel proud when it comes to Onam.

Madam Joice Sibi: We are very lucky in that sense. We make sure that our children know their roots. We make our traditional Kerala foods. Recently I told them about the 'Pothichoru' (Rice, curry and nostalgia packed in a banana leaf) which we used to carry as tiffin when we used to go to school. We made pothichoru at home and our kids enjoyed eating it together after several hours. We always make it a point to share all our childhood stories with our kids about the challenges we faced and the love we received from our parents.



IIK: Do they know your mother tongue Malayalam?

Madam Joice Sibi: Kids all know Malayalam. We make it a point that they learn to read and write Malayalam. When the kids were young, we play some tricks. If they do any naughty things, we gave them a punishment of writing a page of an essay in English or Hindi or Malayalam. So this way, they all learnt all three languages.

Ambassador Sibi George and Madam Joice Sibi have two daughters and one son. Elder daughter has completed her masters from Berkeley, USA, second daughter joined for her masters at Vancouver, university of British Columbia and youngest son is in 11th grade in American International school in Kuwait.


IIK: Even though the pandemic put a break on all public events, His Excellency is always busy and working hard day and night to address the community issues. As a wife and a mother, how are you managing his busy schedule?

Madam Joice Sibi: He always makes sure that he spends quality time with his family once he reaches home. He spends a lot of time with kids. After long time, this year due to the pandemic, our three children are here with us for almost a year. We watch movies together, celebrate all our special occasions together. Recently when the popular Malayalam movie 'Drishyam 2' was released, watching that together was like a celebration at home. All these make sisterly or brotherly bond with each other and now we have big plans to celebrate Onam together.

Ambassador: We always try to spend weekends together. In other countries where we served, I used to have my own personal car, and at weekends we all go for a long drive.


IIK: It is often noticed that the NRI kids who are born and bought up here lose track of their roots. So how do you tackle this?

Ambassador: It is very important to connect with our roots, and we must make the kids realize its value. We need to use some tricks and techniques with our kids to keep them engaged with their roots. We narrate our childhood stories to them. We made them read story books like 'Amar Chitra Katha', and books of Indian mythological stories when they were very young.

The kids are watching us and we should show them the way. Today many kids may not be knowing his or her great grandparents' name. When my kids see that every day their mother talking to their grandmother for hours, the children also will realize the importance of calling their mother when they grow up. We always make it a point to call my sister atleast once in a week and make the children talk to our family. This is how we create the connect in today's world.



IIK: His Excellency had implemented several initiatives such as free shuttle bus for the common man to come to the Embassy, welcome juice in summer, free lunch for needy people who visit Embassy, WhatsApp helpline number for anyone to connect with Embassy, these are a few which nobody thought of before and was highly appreciated by the community. As a wife, how do you feel about his initiates?

Madam Joice Sibi: I am very happy and proud to see all these initiatives taking place in our embassy. It provides a lot of comfort and solutions for our people. I am proud that he is always looking for new ways to help the Indian community. And I am also happy about the wonderful team in our embassy that supports him. I should also thank the spouses and families of other officers and staff in the Embassy who are extending them with all support and cooperation. We have an Embassy spouses group which meets regularly and share a meal.



IIK: You had already given a perfect message about the importance of teaching our kids about our roots. What is your Onam message to our readers?

Ambassador: India is a land of Festivals. Every festival in India is our festival. At Embassy, it's my responsibility, and I really enjoy celebrating every festival of India with the Indian community. When each festival is celebrated, India is celebrated. When each culture is promoted, India is promoted. When India is promoted, Kuwaitis and other foreigners come to know more about India. Show your Kuwaiti friends the true richness and diversity of our India. My Onam Wishes to everyone. In embassy despite all the challenges of Covid we will celebrate it with a lot of activities. I will host an Onam lunch to Ambassadors from other countries.


Looking after a community of about a million population - that itself is a very big task. And for someone who is constantly following up on each and every issue personally, balancing quality time with family, especially on special occasions, is equally important. Here is a beautiful couple who proves that you don't need to sacrifice your family life to achieve the heights of your career. A lovely pair, who reflects on how they pass on their cultures to their children, Ambassador Sibi George and madam Joice Sibi show how important it is to keep our traditions and connect with our roots.

Without compromising on the quality of consular service, community welfare and political relations with the host country, Ambassador Sibi George has made a visible transformation at the Indian Embassy in Kuwait and for the entire Indian community here. We wish him more and more success and let him put India first on his diplomatic relationship with Kuwait and many other countries.





Deepika
Deepika Nambiar is a Freelance writer. Currently working for Lemonade International as Administrative Manager. She is part of the IIK Team and IWIK Core Team.Does regular contributions to the news portal IndiansinKuwait.com and also for Timesofindia.com.
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Mohd. M. Hussain
Sunday, September 5, 2021
Happy ONAM.

May God bring happiness among all Indians and keep us all in His Protection.

Regards

Odattil Padmanabhan
Thursday, August 26, 2021
Happy Onam to Wonderful Couple being in Kuwait I have seen 1st Ambassador smiling and working for the Indian community. stay blessed and healthy & a good spirit.


Excellent heartwarming interview. Beautiful couple. People''s Ambassador. Thank you Your Excellency for your tireless efforts to help solve the problems of the Indian Community.


mohideen
Tuesday, August 24, 2021
We have a great ambassador and we have to appreciate his efforts during this pandemic and he met various ministers of kuwait for our issues .Hats off to u sir keep up the good work.

Joe
Monday, August 23, 2021
I have been in Kuwait for more than 20 years. Since last year only I felt there is an Indian ambassador in Kuwait who works for the people. All the previous ones did their part but you worked with us a common man and guiding many especially during the difficult times . Hats Off Sibi George Sir......

Loredana Dobocan
Saturday, August 21, 2021
Jubaku kurchu errakkam Kuddi ennu thonnunnu ......

Also, what a beautiful couple..

Majid
Friday, August 20, 2021
I have been working here (kuwait) more than two decades and this is the first time I see such an amazing ambassador.. Mr sibi George..

DR. AMIR AHMED KANJARANDY
Friday, August 20, 2021
Excellent heart warming interview.
Beautiful couple.
People''s Ambassador.
Thank you Your Excellency for your tireless efforts to help solve the various problems faced by a million Indian expat community in Kuwait. God bless you with good health.

Prakash
Thursday, August 19, 2021
Once I happened to visit Indian Embassy due to some work. Believe me, I got my work done efficiently, on time. Thanks to our Ambassador.

AlphaQ
Thursday, August 19, 2021
Truly an Ambassador who is doing what he is assigned for: the welfare of the Indian Community ‎& bonding relationships with the local authorities. Haven''t seen anyone like him having lived in ‎Kuwait for decades now. His Excellency, your work is commendable and speaks volumes for ‎itself.‎
God bless you & your family!

Benny Johny
Thursday, August 19, 2021
Amazing work from our own Ambassador, WOW,

Jubaku kurchu errakkam Kuddi ennu thonnunnu

Hussain
Thursday, August 19, 2021
Happy Onam to dear indians !

Mr. Sibi indeed there is remarkable change in Indian Embassy working. proper advises and swift responses to requests. I wish he stays longer here.

Thomas .K. Thomas
Thursday, August 19, 2021
Happy Onam to his excellency Mr. Sibi George, the Indian Ambassador to Kuwait and family. After many years we Indians came to know that there is an Ambassador for us and he is doing a good job. Thank you sir and I am proud to be An Indian and A Malayali.

Rajashree
Thursday, August 19, 2021
Sir, your comments about todays kids and the importance of connecting them with our roots are so true.
Glad to know about Madam and your family. Happy Onam to all of you.

K John
Thursday, August 19, 2021
Beautiful photos SirJi! Happy Onam

Lakshmi
Thursday, August 19, 2021
It''s now that we realize that we have an Ambassador. Keep up your good work. Thanks for supporting

Shyam
Thursday, August 19, 2021
Happy Onam to all.
Indian Ambassador is really doing very good job.

Muneer
Thursday, August 19, 2021
Both of you look very beautiful in this Onam style!
All the best and a Happy Onam to you Sir

jaffer sha
Thursday, August 19, 2021
BEST AMBASSADOR
ALLAH BLESS YOU
ALL GOOD PEOPLE

Mzzm Wagle
Thursday, August 19, 2021
Happy Onam to Wonderful Couple being in Kuwait I have seen 1st Ambassador with smiling and working for the Indian community. stay blessed and healthy

Samuel
Thursday, August 19, 2021
Even at this age, the couple are graciously beautiful and made for each other. God bless them.

Happy Onam to all my brothers & sisters from Kerala.

Geo
Thursday, August 19, 2021
Superb Photos and interview... IIK

Wishing a wonderful Onam to our dear Ambassador and First Lady. Thank you Sir for your relentless efforts for the welfare and well being of your fellow countrymen. best wishes always ...

daniel
Thursday, August 19, 2021
Dear Ambassador and First Lady , Indians in Kuwait,
Onam Greetings,
It is nice to know about our Big boss family in Kuwait.
Have a blessed stay with God''s Grace and blessings upon your family
Dr. Daniel SS

AbduEdkra
Thursday, August 19, 2021
During my 3 decades stay in Kuwait, witnessing the real presence of a great Ambassador, Best Onam Wishes Sir...

Rahaman Khan
Thursday, August 19, 2021
Happy Onam to all the Kerala People in every corner of the World.
God Bless all with good health and Joy.

jos
Thursday, August 19, 2021
Wish you all the best and happy onam to his excellency mr. sibi George and family. I can understand he is doing well and very good personality and is far better than old ambassadors. earlier ambassadors I can see as only at any inauguration of new supermarkets in Kuwait. now its quiet changed and he is fully supporting to our nationals. pray to god to give him healthy and prosperous in his life.

Suchitra
Thursday, August 19, 2021
Wow! That is such a beautiful interview. You are the best Ambassador we have seen here in Kuwait.
All the best to both of you.

Syed
Thursday, August 19, 2021
Long live Sibi George Sir, You are working restless for community issues. Preceding ambassadors were just seen on opening ceremonies mostly. You are exceptionally working hard....

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