New to the Parish: ‘Ireland is the real land of opportunities’

A nomadic soul of Indian descent has lived in 10 cities around the world but feels most at home in Ireland because of the ‘real magic of this island’

New To The Parish: Daniel Ramamoorthy was born in the UAE, has a passport from India and has lived in Yemen, France, Algeria, India, Zimbabwe, Morocco and most recently Ireland for the last five years. Video: Bryan O’Brien

 

Daniel Ramamoorthy: arrived from India, 2010

Daniel Ramamoorthy hates when people ask “Where are you from?” It’s a difficult question to answer when you’ve never spent more than a few years in any one country.

“I’m not a fan because implied within that question is that you don’t belong,” says Ramamoorthy, who was born in the United Arab Emirates to Indian parents. His father’s job as a diplomat meant the family moved around the world from Yemen to France, Algeria to India, Zimbabwe to Morocco.

“If it’s where I was born, it’s the UAE. If it’s where my passport is from or where I look like I’m from, then it’s India. If it’s where my accent’s from, then it’s predominantly American. If it’s the kind of music I appreciate the most, then I’d be a black American gospel singer.”

“Where I’m from is where I’ve spent the longest, and that would be Ireland, because the last five years is the longest I’ve ever spent in any country.”

Ramamoorthy says he feels more at home in Ireland than in any of the other 10 cities he has lived in. “I’m a complicated mix of the different cultures, people and experiences I’ve had in all those places.”

When he was 11, Ramamoorthy’s family relocated to India. He was excited to finally live in the country his family represented around the world, but quickly discovered he did not feel Indian. “I felt rejected. It was really tough not being welcomed in my own homeland.”

Only after moving to Zimbabwe as a teenager did he begin to feel comfortable in his own skin. It was during his time in Africa that he “came to faith” and began to embrace his parents’ Christian religion.

“Zimbabwe was a fresh start in my life. It’s probably my second home after Ireland. I was learning to appreciate nature and my role as a human in a very complicated and beautiful world.”

His father, who came from one of the lowest levels of the Hindu caste system, converted to Christianity as an adult. Daniel remembers visiting his father’s home, a small village down a dirt road in rural India where people lived in tin huts with thatched walls.

“We would sit on the floor cross-legged for hours, until I could no longer feel my legs. I never understood what they said because they didn’t speak the language I know. My entire life, every time I visit his family, I sit and smile and have no idea what they say.”

Move to the US

After finishing high school in Morocco, Ramamoorthy moved to the US, where he studied economics at Yale University and began to develop his entrepreneurial skills.

After his studies he worked for the United Nations in Indonesia before moving to India, where he joined World Vision. He enjoyed working for humanitarian agencies but felt the pull back to education, so in 2010 he moved to Dublin to study a master’s degree at Trinity College.

“It was probably one of the most difficult years of my life,” he says. “It was 2010, a year of mass emigration, a year of negativity, a year of deep remorse, regret and brokenness. Being in a foreign land with that kind of attitude was so difficult.”

As soon as he finished the degree, he flew back to the US, where he began interviewing for jobs in consulting. However, he was unable to ignore the pull he felt to return to Ireland.

“As a foreigner I needed a visa, a job, a purpose to be in the country. I made a deal with God, or in non-religious terms I made a deal with life, that I would give it about six to eight weeks to see what would happen.” By the end of two months he had discovered the “real magic of this island”.

“Ireland is the real land of opportunities. It has a combination of incredible characteristics that, if played well, will launch it as the ultimate destination, not just from a tourist point of view but from a living and work point of view.”

“Ireland is a country of incredible growth. That’s why I call it the land of opportunities, because opportunities are about impact and growth.”

Ireland’s “brokenness” during the recession is one of the reasons Ramamoorthy is grateful to still live and work in Dublin. “Sometimes you need to be at the bottom of the pit to learn how to climb up and see the world through new eyes.

“I’m not at all belittling where Ireland was, but I’m so excited for where it’s going and I’m grateful that I get to be a part of that story.”

Irish people’s resilience and ability to persevere during hard times is the reason the country is beginning to witness “a total culture shift”, he says.

Seven job titles

Ramamoorthy’s first job after moving back to Ireland was as a radio presenter with Spirit Radio. Four years later he still presents a show on the station every Monday night. “I like Spirit Radio because it dared to be positive in a time where negative news sold.”

Ramamoorthy describes himself as a businessman and entrepreneur. He juggles seven job titles, which include working with and investing in new start-ups, and teaching in schools and universities around Ireland.

His sister lives in the US, his mother is in North Africa and his father is in India. Despite the thousands of miles that separate them, he feels very close to his family. Home is less about soil and more about soul, he says.

“I think in the old days home was where you were from; it was in the past tense. I see home as a work in progress. Home is more about the present and more about where you’re going.”

Before 2010, Ireland was never on his radar. “I’m a person of faith and I don’t think I could have planned any of this. Fast-forward five years and I can’t imagine a better life.”

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