Pax Global Media
The Canadian travel industry has lost a colleague who is being remembered as someone who was full of energy and kindness.
Inderjit Handa, owner of Ottawa-based travel agency Handa Travel Group, sadly passed away on Jan. 26, 2023, three days before his 86th birthday.
“Every once in a while, you meet someone radically different than the rest. My father was one of those people,” wrote Alex Handa, Inderjit’s son, in a recent social media post. “Rather than talk about work, he wanted to talk about your family or health. More likely than coming to a business meeting to make a deal he would come to share fruit and chai and good conversation.”
As per an online obituary that was posted online, Inderjit was born in the village of Mandiala Tega in Punjab in 1937 and lived a “long, bold, fulfilling and loving life.”
Inderjit passed peacefully in the night, in Auroville, India, and traditional last rites were held by his wife Erna, daughter Tanja and son Alex.
They were joined by an intimate circle of family, friends and colleagues in a beautiful ceremony in Auroville and his ashes were brought to the Ganges at Haridwar.
Inderjit’s death was sudden and unexpected as his family was certain that he would live to be 100.
“And yet it is of great consolation to know that he was truly happy and at peace, enjoying this life to its fullest, spending time with family in his beloved homeland,” the obituary reads.
"He believed in the goodness of others"
Inderjit was known by many as “Mister Handa,” first as a teacher at Canterbury High School, then as proprietor of Ottawa’s first health food store and café, Handa Natural Foods, and finally, as most people know him, the owner of Handa Travel, which launched in 1976.
“He was a refugee at age nine, but it didn’t leave him bitter, he believed in the goodness of others,” his son Alex wrote. “He taught in tough schools enjoying the challenge in finding the skills and goodness in his students. He started a health food store in the ’70s when no one knew what vitamins were. He ran a successful travel business through countless recessions and upheavals by retaining and treating his staff as family.”
During the more than 50 years he spent in his adopted home in Ottawa, ON, Inderjit touched innumerable lives with his charismatic personality.
His family says he will be dearly missed by all who were graced by his "kind-hearted, indomitable and generous spirit."
“All fathers are very special,” Alex wrote. “Mine was also my hero, mentor and then business partner. He was there to support and encourage me at every difficult time. He is not here today to help me through this. But his wisdom and spirit will be with me forever.”
Alex explained how his father’s passing “was hard to accept because he was so happy in recent years and had great plans with family, business and friends right in front of him.”
“One of his favourite sayings was: 'Man makes plans but God decides.’ And so it was,” Alex wrote.
“I can now see beauty in his death and understand that this was the right time for his soul to move on,” he continued. “He had found love and peace in this life. He lived a long, successful and healthy life. One could not ask for more. And while he didn't stay long enough to say goodbye, we will now always remember him the way he always was – full of life and positive energy until the very last breath.”
“It feels strange to say that his death was beautiful. But, it was fit for a saint and just the way he would have dreamt of. In India, in a peaceful setting, with intimate family and colleagues and following the traditions of his ancestors.”
A Life Celebration for friends, family and colleagues in honour of Mr. Handa will be held in Ottawa on Saturday, June 17, 2023.
Further details will be shared here. People are also welcome to share photos and memories of Mr. Handa here.
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