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Indira Harricharan
Indira Harricharan

Lives Lived: Indira Harricharan Add to ...

Pharmacist, raconteur, immigrant success story, beautiful soul. Born July 29, 1959, in Georgetown, Guyana, died Sept. 2, 2012, in London, Ont., of brain cancer, aged 53.

Born to one of Guyana’s leading families, Indira Harricharan could easily have turned out to be a diva princess who pranced through life expecting that everything would just fall into her lap.

Instead, she worked hard, studied diligently and excelled at school and university, earning a BSc in biochemistry from the University of Toronto and a BSc in pharmacy from the University of Alberta.

Indira started her career in Timmins, Ont., in 1983, then went on to St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, followed by Parkwood Hospital in London, Ont., in 1989. She started a journal club for pharmacists with meetings in her home, and was an inspiration for younger members of her profession whom she mentored.

Finally persuaded to enter the digital age by agreeing to get an e-mail account around 2002, Indira took with alacrity to the new medium. She complemented her oral storytelling with hilarious written pieces that would cause me to clamp my hand over my mouth if I happened to be reading them at work.

To her daughters’ amusement, and the confusion of her peers, she also becoming well-versed in all manner of social media acronyms and delighted in using them to full effect.

Indira loved to shop, but not just for herself. She was generous to a fault, and we all benefited from her sprees. As she entered middle age, she became endearingly preoccupied with what she saw as her aging neck, and amassed an incredible collection of scarves.

On a trip to Paris a few years ago, she instructed her daughters to observe the panache with which the French carried off the accessory so they could all at least try to mimic it.

An accomplished cook who never saw herself that way, Indira kept her pantry stocked with every conceivable sauce, grain, spice and vinegar, to name but a few ingredients. Her daughters felt they could have survived at least a year without leaving the house in the event of a catastrophe.

No one had a more curious and engaging mind than Indira. We are all so grateful she could make it to the 100th-book celebration of her book club in April this year before cancer snatched her voice.

She got up at the crack of dawn every day to have quiet time to herself and read the paper. She dabbled in the markets and could talk about equities, fixed assets and bursting bubbles.

Committed to her fitness regimen, she was known to show up at her gym at 6 in the morning in a blizzard only to find the absent instructor took a more sane view of things.

Deeply religious, she took an interest in other faiths and incorporated aspects of many of them into her own beliefs.

Indira was deeply loved by her husband Raj and their three daughters Sharada, Monisha and Sherain, cherished by her parents and brothers, adored by her friends and respected by her colleagues.

In a twist of irony, this brilliant mind was claimed by a vicious form of brain cancer, leaving all of us stunned at our sudden loss. She would have been equally stunned that more than 1,000 people turned up for her memorial service.

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