Divesh Sareen takes you on a journey with The Indian Mate

By Indira Laisram
Author Divesh Sareen // Photo supplied

Divesh Sareen’s story will probably sound familiar to many. Born to a lower middle-class family in Punjab, he came to Australia in 2008 to study—driven by the motivation that many others who left before him had made it in life. However, Sareen’s through line is the perseverance to succeed against all odds. His new book The Indian Mate: Vol 1 & 2 takes you along his journey from Ludhiana to Melbourne (more on that below).

Sareen studied his Master’s in IT and Project Management at Swinburne University. The initial years in Australia were fraught with peril. His stories echo the familiar migrant narrative of being exploited, of not finding employment despite the skills, of being broke and seeing many hard days. While the stories itself are quite commonplace, Sareen himself is not.

“I chose to see the positive. The world can’t bring you down if you are strong enough,” he says. “You can still come to a country like Australia with just 1,000 dollars, work hard and give your family the best possible life.”

He adds, “The university life taught me a lot, you work during the nights and study during the day, but I also learnt the importance of having good people around you – building that circle you can always count on.”

Putting his degree to good use, he worked in property technology for more than a decade. He then explored the entrepreneurial world by starting a real estate brand from scratch, an App start up, heading start-ups in Product & Technology capacity and consulting scale-ups.

Sareen’s company After The WHY, a tech business, is geared to helping people find their ‘why’ while providing the ‘product template’ to help them turn their purpose into a profitable business, he says. Much of what he does today is helping people with solving problems and delivering solutions in the digital world.

Divesh Sareen at the launch of his book The Indian Mate: Vol 1 & 2 at the MCG in January 2023 // Pic supplied

In the course of it all, Sareen was able to fulfil his dream of sponsoring his brother and parents to Australia. His parents, who otherwise were fixated on finding an arranged bride for him, also welcomed his marriage to his Australian wife Catherine.

Amid this hectic pace of life and having moved through different phases, Sareen was diagnosed with thyroid cancer last year—adding a newer element to what shaped his life. It was then that he decided to finish his book, which he started about five years ago.

Last month, Sareen launched The Indian Mate: Vol 1 & 2 at the MCG, a place “where I once couldn’t buy a ticket,” he says with a laugh.

The book, by Sareen’s own telling, is a journey from Namaste to How-r-ya.

The first volume touches on Indian history and the Partition of 1947 offering readers a window into the experiences of families like his who lived through it. It chronicles Sareen’s own experience “of growing up in extreme financial hardship in a middle-class family in modern India that was increasingly getting mired in the Eastern and Western cultural clashes and economic disparity and my efforts to move to Australia, a country with new possibilities for myself and my family”.

The second volume is about life as an adult in Australia, chalking out a future and having to forge a new identity, while grappling with issues of identity itself.

“I had to balance the stories and cultures of the two nations that I am a part of, so I needed to go back a little bit, that’s how the two volumes have come about,” says Sareen.

Sareen, who lives in Melbourne with Catherine and their two kids, is happy at the response the book has received. While still recovering on the health front, he is trying to spread the message about his book. “I hope others can learn something from my journey.”

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