Vikas Khaladkar grew up in a part of the world where living with fierce heat and even fiercer creatures were part of everyday life.
“We lived on the edge of the Serengeti plain, which is now a national park, so there was lots of wildlife — lions, elephants, snakes,” he said of his hometown of Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania, East Africa.
“We were always told to be very wary of snakes because they could kill you.”
He may have heeded his parents’ wishes about that back then, but Khaladkar was never one to shy away from challenging situations.
It was likely part of the reason why he went on to become such a strong-willed and respected lawyer.
Khaladkar is a Crown attorney, based in Clarenville who also works for the province’s special prosections office.
In the six years he’s been in this province, he’s prosecuted several high-profile cases, including the MHA spending scandal and is helping prosecute two accused murderers — David Ryan and Nelson Hart.
He’s come a long way since moving to Canada close to 50 years ago, but Khaladkar has many happy memories from his early childhood.
While attending St. Peter’s School, a British-style boarding school for boys in Panchgani near Bombay (now Mumbai), India, Khaladkar remembers a certain schoolmate, who would go on to achieve great fame.
“I went to school with Freddie Mercury,” he said of the lead singer for the internationally-acclaimed band Queen.
Mercury — whose name is actually Farrokh Bulsara — was born in Tanzania and lived there and India until his mid-teens.
“I remember he would be up in the windows of our school playing his guitar to all the girls who walked by,” Khaladkar said with a chuckle.
But the 1960s were a tumultuous time in the Middle East, where countries were pushing to free themselves from the British Empire.
“Life was completely different than it was here,” he said.
Khaladkar’s father, worried for his family’s safety, decided to pack up and move the family to Canada.
“He was concerned what happened in Uganda might happen in Tanzania,” he said. “So he researched countries in the world and decided Canada was the best place. It was mainly because of the strong educational system.”
The family settled in Oxbow, Sask., where his father got a job working as a teacher.
As a 10-year-old, Khaladkar was fascinated by his new home.
“It was a whole different world for me,” said Khaladkar, whose first language was Marathi, but speaks English just as fluently.
“It was like one big adventure.”
Once he finished grade school, Khaladkar attended University of Regina, where he earned a degree in archaeology.
But being the oldest of three children, Khaladkar was pressed to study law by his father, who was a lawyer before moving to Canada.
Khaladkar wasn’t particularly set on that, but eventually went along with his father’s request and went to University of Saskatoon Law School.
“Yeah, he pushed me into it,” he said erupting into laughter.
“Law wasn’t my first choice, but at the time, there wasn’t much scope being in archaeology, unless you got your PhD and taught at a university and that’s all you did.
“So, law seemed like a better course and I found I liked it.”
Khaladkar began as a defence lawyer and opened his own firm.
One of the biggest cases he handled as a defence lawyer involved an impaired case that turned out to be one of the first Charter of Rights cases dealing with rights to counsel and remedies for breach to be heard by the Supreme Court of Canada
(R vs Therens).
It turned out to be the case that set the bar for all Charter cases since.
While in Saskatchewan, he met his wife, Sue, a Newfoundlander.
“She’s the one with the long umbilical cord,” he said laughing.
The couple married not long after and had two children.
Once Sue retired, the couple decided to move to Newfoundland in 2007, settling in Sunnyside, where Sue’s grandparents live.
It was originally their summer home, but became their permanent home when Khaladkar applied and got a position in the Crown’s office in Clarenville.
Khaladkar has no regrets about the path he’s taken.
He and his wife have embraced life in the bay.
Sue has been active in Sunnyside’s town counsel, serving as deputy mayor, while Khaladkar continued his love of nature and spends his spare time on his boat and taking snapshots of every species of wildlife that wanders in the area.
Most of his pictures are of birds, which he photographs from a small closet in his attic. From a window there, he’s set up his camera and tripod across from the trees and bird feeder in his garden.
His photos have become a source of great pleasure for his family and friends.
“I love this province for its pristine surroundings. It’s such a beautiful place,” said Khaladkar, who had been visiting with his wife since 1976.
“And the people are good.”
His children, now 35 and 28, along with his grandson, still visit.
“It’s a great place to be,” he said.
What is your full name?
Where and when were you born?
Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania; August, 1952
Where is home today?
Sunnyside, Trinity Bay.
What was one act of rebellion you committed as a youth?
I grew long hair.
What are five CDs in your music collection?
The Once, Queen, Bob Marley, Cat Stevens and John Denver.
What was the most vivid dream you’ve ever had?
I dreamt I was burying a dead body on a beach.
Don't know whose body or why, but I still recall the dream vividly.
Do you have a favourite movie?
“Gandhi.” A most excellent movie about the birth of the largest democracy in the world.
What is your greatest indulgence?
What is your greatest regret?
That I didn't leave private practice earlier.
What bugs you?
Questions about ethnicity veiled as questions about where I live.
Where is your favourite vacation spot?
Sunnyside,. I have been visiting this place on holidays since 1976 and, since 2007, have had the privilege of living there.
What are your best and worst qualities?
Loyalty — to a fault.
Who inspires you?
People who overcome great adversity with their grace and humanity intact.
What is your most treasured possession?
Possessions are not treasured. Relationships are. I treasure my wife, our children and grandson.
What is your favourite food?
Steak. When we moved to Canada, our father told us that Canadian cows weren’t sacred because they had no humps or horns and we were free to eat whatever we wanted. I have had a love affair with beef ever since.
Do you have any hidden talents?
I play the harmonica and recorder.
What is your personal motto?
Who is one person, living or deceased, you’d love to have lunch with?
Pierre Trudeau. He was an interesting man. That would be fun.
Who do you admire?
All the people who unselfishly volunteer their time for the good of their community. Hats off to each and every one.
Do you have a hero of fiction?