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Interview with Tejinder Singh: Impressions About America


Dr. Frank Kaufmann interviews Tejinder Singh for the latest episode of the Settlement Project podcast

Tejinder Singh is a civil engineer and Senior Project Manager overseeing infrastructure projects in the UAE. We met while traveling together, and in conversation, I learned of his impressions as a first time visitor to America. Part of our conversation involved an interesting insight regarding America’s second amendment.

Please listen to our conversation here:

Or if you prefer, you can watch the video of our conversation here:



Frank Kaufmann: Good morning, 

I’m happy about the interview I’m about to do with Tejinder Singh from the United Arab Emirates. 

This is a curious story. Most of my interviews are with folks who are scholars, they are book writers. Most of thime are academic interviews in nature. But this one comes out of a different origin. I am really looking forward to it. 

I had to travel to Baltimore for an event, to honor the passing of a close friend. While waiting for the train, I sit next to this fellow who politely looks up, says, ‘Hello.’ I say ‘Hello’ out of common courtesy. Quickly, we ended up in conversation and ended up speaking for the whole ride. 

It turns out that the fellow sitting next to me, Tejinder Singh, was visiting America for the first time ever. And this is what eventually spawned my desire to create this interview. As he spoke, his delight in this country, his positive impression of this country, and his praise for America was so simple and pure and uncomplicated. These were the fruits of what he was witnessing as a guest in the country for the first time. 

I thought to myself, ‘It’s so rough on Americans these days, in this internal battle of Left and Right and arguing about whether or not America is any good, when we’re likely sitting in the greatest country the world has ever known’. It’s a shame that it is constantly undercut and condemned as bad. So, following my travels with Tejinder; he was going to DC, I was going to Baltimore, we chatted this time, and I asked him, ‘Would you be happy to say what you just said to me for my listeners to hear what it’s like, how America feels like for someone coming without the big burden of this constant erosion of our foundations, and our desire as Americans to be good people’? 

Let me just say a quick word about who Tejinder is, and then we’ll get right into our interview. He was born in India. He’s a senior project manager and civil engineer. He’s worked on massive infrastructure projects, which we’ll hear about in the interview. He’s worked on the infrastructure at airports, he’s worked in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, some of the largest building projects on Earth. And he’s been centrally involved in this work. And he came for family business to visit family. 

So, here are the fruits of our travels and our conversation. I hope you’ll enjoy this little bit of time we have for you to get to listen to what America feels like to someone visiting for the first time. Here we go. Tejinder, good to see you, welcome to the show. 

Tejinder Singh: Yeah, good evening. How are you? 

Kaufmann: Very good. 

Singh: Good to see you. 

Kaufmann: Thank you. Yeah, in the introduction, I mentioned a word or two about how we came to meet one another. I really felt it was divine providence. 

Singh: That’s good, yeah. 

Kaufmann: It was a curious little corner in the underside of New York City. And then we were off, like an adventure. 

Singh: Yeah. 

Kaufmann: Yeah. And so while we were together, I mean, in any case, it’s good luck to find somebody to make a long ride short. That’s not even the special quality of what we discovered. So while we were traveling together, and we spoke, I learned it’s your first time ever to the United States. 

Singh: Yep. 

Kaufmann: And that’s…

Singh: First time, yeah. 

Kaufmann: Yeah. And how rare it is, or special it is to have a guest with fresh eyes to see your own country. It’s a little bit like, if I’m with someone that never saw snow before, you get to enjoy the excitement through their eyes of something new.

Singh: Right.  

Kaufmann: So the Settlement Project is a movement for Patriots. It’s for people who love America. And as you know, there are a lot of tensions, a lot of political tensions in the US. And I thought it would be great for our listeners to hear what America looks like to someone that hasn’t spent all their life in the political battles and struggles, sometimes better, sometimes worse. So, that’s what I wanted to chat with you about today. 

Singh: Sure. It’s my great pleasure that I met you over there. And it was a good experience to travel along with you from Penn Station to Baltimore, and my destination was DC. 

Kaufmann: Yeah. 

Singh: And, as you said, we passed the time like we never thought that it’s a 4-hour journey. Time passed for everything, yeah. 

Kaufmann: Yeah. 

Singh: But I’m happy to share my experience where I visited America, from New York City to Kentucky, Lexington and back from Lexington to New York City and then to DC. And back to DC and from DC back to New York, yeah. 

Kaufmann: Very good, wonderful. Just before we start on this kind of special treat of your experiences in America, in the United States, I learned from you a couple of truly what was enchanting or adventuresome part of your life in the early days when you were forging your career. 

Singh: Yeah. 

Kaufmann: If you can tell us what you do, and where you started. And I think it’s a really rich story. 

Singh: Okay. For me, I studied in India, like 2500 kilometers away from my house. I am from the North India, so I studied in Maharashtra, a city called Asnasik near Topune. So, after that I started my own business for the contracting. I worked for 2 years. Then last, I got an idea that I needed to explore the world and to get more experience in my field rather than sticking to the small city over there. So, I came to the capital of India, New Delhi, and from New Delhi again, I worked for like, 1 year, and I started looking to come out of the country. There were a lot of issues, like to look for better quality of life and more money, sure, and to get vast experience since most of the projects are multinational; to join a multinational company to get more experience outside overseas. So I landed in Qatar. I worked in Qatar for 18 months. 

Kaufmann: In Qatar? 

Singh: Yeah, Qatar. 

Kaufmann: Okay. 

Singh: Yeah, Qatar. So, I worked over there for 18 months in oil and gas free projects. So then after I finished a project, I came to Abu Dhabi. At Abu Dhabi, I worked for 6 months. I joined a big project in Dubai for the Dubai International Airport. That was a massive project. That was one of the milestone on my career that I worked on that project. That is a terminal 3. Then I worked on the Atlantis Hotel, which is a 5-star hotel, a very well-known hotel in Dubai. If you come over there, you will visit; surely, you will visit over there. Then I moved to Abu Dhabi, on one of the biggest projects over there for the infrastructure of the year silent. And we have Formula One racetrack there, Warner Brothers are there. And all the international players are coming over there to set up their business. And then once I finished, that is in 2010, there was a recession; a world recession. There were a little bit problems with getting a job. So, the projects were not much. Then, I moved to Libya. I called one of my friends that is…

Kaufmann: If I can stop you there for a second. So, you had involved yourself in a very major…

Singh: Yeah, infrastructure…

Kaufmann: infrastructure project…

Singh: Yeah. 

Kaufmann: in Dubai. 

Singh: In Dubai and Abu Dhabi. 

Kaufmann: And Abu Dhabi. 

Singh: Right. 

Kaufmann: And then something had you shift from there to Libya.

Singh: Yeah. 

Kaufmann: Was it just a career advancement opportunity? 

Singh: It is like at that time in 2010, my project finished over here. And as I said it was recession time, the projects were not much on the ground, it was just the pipeline, design stage and all these things that pushed me to start looking for a job somewhere else. So, I approached one of my friend, he was based in Libya, he was the director of the Health Safety and Environment in Libya in one of the companies called Simple Construction. It is a part of the Access Hotel Group. Then I approached him, he called me to come for interview, I went for the interview, and I got selected over there, then I moved here to Libya. I moved to Libya, I think in the month of February, 1st week of Feb, right? 

Kaufmann: Okay. 

Singh: So, when I moved over there, after 3 months that evolution started over there. It was the time of the Gaddafi time over there at the time, the revolution started, like Arab revolution. After Tunisia, Libya got stuck into that world. So, I was… 

Kaufmann: So, you were in Libya starting around 10. It was still in infrastructure dealing with environmental issues or environmental-oriented work there. 

Singh: No. My work is related to the infrastructure of all the interesting utilities.

Kaufmann: Okay. 

Singh: Like the utilities and the buildings, universities, whatever the infrastructure related or airports… 

Kaufmann: Wow. 

Singh: Those were my projects. Yeah. 

Kaufmann: Wow. 

Singh: I’ve worked on huge major projects. You can say our manpower is from 10,000 to 20,000 people at a time working over there on that type of project. Yeah. 

Kaufmann: Amazing. This was in Libya. 

Singh: In Libya. This number of people was in Dubai, which I’m talking about. In Libya, I was based in Benghazi, taking care of the project in Benghazi, and Libya itself, Tripoli also. So, we were establishing projects in Benghazi. So we were having 2 projects at that time in Benghazi; the development of the Benghazi University, like an expansion of the university infrastructure, and the multi-use project on the coordination of Benghazi that is multi-use structure over there; multi story building.

Kaufmann: And then, while you were there… 

Singh: Yeah. 

Kaufmann: a whole famous Benghazi issue erupts, the US… 

Singh: Yeah. Things went bad over there after some time, like, after 3 months, yeah. 3 months, things started, the revolution started. And I got stuck over there because my company was based in Tripoli, and my passport was in Tripoli at the time for visa stamping. And my company staff, they got an opportunity to leave Benghazi because that was Turkish company so they left there. And I got stuck due the fact that I was not a Turkish national at the time the Turkish airplane was there. So, I was not having the passport also, neither was I a Turkish national plus the number of the seats of the plane. So, I was left over there on my own. But, I stayed over there, and I had a good experience. You can say God saved me in that crisis. And I was staying in hotel over there at that time. And after some time, after 20 days, in between the network was also closed. There were no phone calls, nothing, over there when I was staying in a hotel. And after that, when network opened, the good thing is my company’s Vice President was very good. His name is Mr. Guney. He called me and I got connected with him. And he said, ‘Tejinder, don’t worry, I’m trying to arrange something for you to get out from Benghazi’. So, as he said, after about 10, 15 days, he made an arrangement with the traveling God documents because at the time, Red Cross and other NGOs starting pulling out the people from Benghazi because of a lot of oil and gas projects around Benghazi and a lot of other nationals like Chinese, Turkish, Germans and all of those peoples were working over there. And the Red Cross and other NGOs started pulling out the people from Benghazi. So, I also traveled from Benghazi to Marmaris, the port of Turkey. It was like a 14-hour voyage on a big ship, which I have never seen in my life before. It is like 4, 5 floats ship about 4 or 5000 peoples can be accommodated over there. It is a huge ship. 

Kaufmann: Amazing. 

Singh: And I enjoyed the voyage. Then, I reached Marmaris and one of the managers of the company was there on the Marmaris port. And with him I traveled like a 12-hour journey by the car. We traveled to Istanbul. 

Kaufmann: I see. You know…

Singh: That’s right. 

Kaufmann: our job, of course is to talk about the US but I’m so interested. So… 

Singh: Yeah. 

Kaufmann: you actually escaped with your life…

Singh: You’re right. 

Kaufmann: with the help of international agencies and your friends and your country. And you’re on a boat with 4 or 5000 people between Benghazi and Marmaris in Turkey.

Singh: Yeah. That was only one of the ships I’m talking about. But, there were like about 50 to 60,000 people, could be more than that that I’m talking about in my ship.

Kaufmann: Incredible.

Singh: But there could have been more people, about more than 100, 200,000 that I don’t know of. This is just one of the ships. 

Kaufmann: Just amazing. And, you must know that the entire Benghazi issue was never properly exposed or revealed. It’s always been a matter of controversy. And you were there just when all this was happening, I think, yes? 

Singh: Yeah. But it is like we say, the country is very good. I like the country. People are good. And I don’t know how the things went bad politically and all those things. And this is the fact. 

Kaufmann: Yeah. Well, that would be another huge conversation I’d love to have some day. 

Singh: Yeah. 

Kaufmann: But, we met under more pleasant circumstances when you were here in the country to…

Singh: Right. 

Kaufmann: visit your brother in law, your friends, and relatives. And…

Singh: Yeah. 

Kaufmann: so this was your first trip and you stayed in the US for about 2 or 3 weeks or something like that? 

Singh: Right, 2 weeks. I landed on 2nd of July, and I left on 16th of July, yeah. 

Kaufmann: Okay, a couple of weeks. And when we met, it was right in the middle. You had…

Singh: Right in the middle. 

Kaufmann: you had spent…

Singh: Basically, I met you on 13th, right? 13th, or 14th something like that. 

Kaufmann: Maybe, yeah, maybe. And so you were full of thoughts and ideas and reflections. And all of that kind of made me feel so happy in a way. It was like the America I remembered growing up. And so some of your observations had to do with the nature of the people, the nature of the culture, the work ethic, the interracial-ness of us, and of course, things that might be a little better. So, there are kind of 2 parts of what I’d love to chat with you about. One is that you were in, is it Tennessee? 

Singh: I was in Lexington. 

Kaufmann: Kentucky. 

Singh: Yeah, Kentucky, Lexington. 

Kaufmann: Okay, on the 4th of July, right? 

Singh: On 4th of July, right. Sure. 

Kaufmann: Yeah. And so we can talk about that. Because… 

Singh: Yeah, sure. 

Kaufmann: it’s a fascinating blend between the issue of the guidance of Guru Gobind Singh and…

Singh: Yeah. 

Kaufmann: the guidance on the religious…

Singh: Right. 

Kaufmann: identity and protection. And, America has something very similar and that’s really fascinating.

Singh: Yeah, I like America on those principles. 

Kaufmann: We can talk about that. Yeah. And so the other half of your thing was a chance to see our nation’s capital, how it feels, how it looks, how it impresses itself on visitors and on us American people. So, maybe let’s start with just some of the things you shared right off the bat as we sat together and spoke about your experiences with American people and its economy its life, its culture. 

Singh: Okay. Let us first start with the environment. I will start with the environment thing. 

Kaufmann: Beautiful. 

Singh: I am very much impressed with the V greenery along the roads, along the highways, along the rail corridors. Wherever you go over there, you’ll find America is green. And not only green, it is maintained properly, that is the second thing. You guys have maintained the proper culture where you have taken care of the environment which I was very much impressed. Because, everybody’s nowadays looking for the environment, first thing is the environment. Wherever a person goes over there, he looks for how the country has an environment over there. Like pollution level and all these things which is very great. The standards over there for all these things are very well maintained. That is the first thing which I’ve already mentioned. 

Kaufmann: Thank you. If I just may, so you’ve been all over the world. You grew up in the Punjab…

Singh: Yeah. 

Kaufmann: one of the most fertile areas.

Singh: Right. 

Kaufmann: But you’re saying coming here, any guest is immediately struck at how well Americans have cared for the beauty of our own environment. 

Singh: Right. If you look around, whichever highway you go over, you will find scenery over here. Like, back in other countries, I will not give a name of any country. Like even my country also, we have not maintained that greenery around the roads. That is the first thing. It could be my country is overpopulated. But still, throughout the whole of America, I found that the greenery which is properly maintained around the roads is very well done. Not only over there, I went deep into Lexington, into the countryside also. 

Kaufmann: Yeah. 

Singh: There, I also found it to be very well maintained. Wherever there is even what you call Municipal Corporation areas, those are also very well maintained. Even people staying over there, they have also cut their grass in a proper, nice manner. So I asked my nephew when I was traveling with him, I said, ‘How is it’? He said, ‘The thing is, if we don’t cut the grass in the houses, we will get a notice from the government; first notice, second notice, third notice, they will cut and they will charge us’, which is very good. It is a system over there so that people can properly maintain the things over there, which puts the country in a better shape, which is very good. I liked that.

Kaufmann: So, there’s care across from both the public and private sector…

Singh: Right. 

Kaufmann: even to make sure that people’s personal traditions maintain the environment…

Singh: Right. 

Kaufmann: even in their own private areas. And also…

Singh: That was the first thing. Second… 

Kaufmann: if I may just real quick Tejinder, even in densely populated urban areas, the very same…

Singh: Yeah. 

Kaufmann: thing you see is the greenery…

Singh: Yeah. 

Kaufmann: on the roads, and… 

Singh: Right. Like in New York, you can also see the greenery. I was staying in the Deer Park near Dix Hills. 

Kaufmann: Yeah. 

Singh: So I was staying over here. So that area also, green. I even went to Queens, I went to Richmond Hill, I even went to Manhattan. Okay, Manhattan is a crowded city that is on the business hub. But there also, wherever there is a place to plant anything, yes the plantation is there. Parks are all around, anywhere you find over in America, they’re properly maintained. 

Kaufmann: Beautiful. 

Singh: That is good. 

Kaufmann: Yeah, I get it, beautiful. 

Singh: Yeah. 

Kaufmann: Thank you. 

Singh: Yeah, that’s a good thing. And now, as you said, other than that is coming to the culture. 

Kaufmann: Yeah. 

Singh: After the environment, I respect the culture. Americans are very cool people, and we are very cooperative, which I have seen over there. Like if you ask someone that way, they will provide you properly. Even on the railway station also, if I need to ask someone, I need to get a ticket in this way to change the train, they gave me proper guidance. Not only the people, the police are also very helpful, very friendly. Whoever I talked to, I did not see a single person giving me like a bad impression. Even being an outsider, I can be identified very quickly with my turban. And as an outsider, nobody has given me bad impression over here. So, I was very much impressed and astonished to see that yes, this shows the culture of the people and how humble and how deeply rooted with the ethics. 

Kaufmann: Yeah. I recall that part of our conversation where you were telling me that in a lot of places you’ve been, the power that the police wield, they’re heavy handed and they’re not…

Singh: Right. I will tell you like I explained when we were talking over there that like in my country or some other countries, police have too much power. And they sometimes misuse it, even when I’m in UAE, but not here. This is very friendly country as a UAE, same like America ethics being adopted by the police over here; very good, very friendly. And America also, like police is very friendly. Another thing that I’ve seen in America is that people say that America is not safe. But, I was there for a couple of weeks, like 2 weeks over there, and I couldn’t find any incident with me for those 2 weeks where I can say that America is not safe. I even travelled with my nephew in the countryside in Lexington city into the Cincinnati side also Louisville also in his car. I found that the houses didn’t have boundary walls. I asked him, very strange that people don’t have boundary walls, just only wooden fence installed over there, there is no big boundary wall back in like my place in India. We properly keep boundary walls. So, he said that this is the American culture; there is no boundary wall. Then I realized the reason is because since I explained to you that I was in Lexington at his home so I went to his office at home office. I opened the door and I found a gun over there in his office door. I asked, ‘Why are you keeping this one? Why do you need it’?

Kaufmann: So…

Singh: He said… 

Kaufmann: you visit your nephew, is this your nephew or brother in law, something like that? 

Singh: No, nephew. 

Kaufmann: And… 

Singh: Nephew’s house. 

Kaufmann: he’s happily showing you his beautiful house and his wife. And then up…

Singh: Yeah. 

Kaufmann: in his office, he takes out… 

Singh: Yeah, he had a arms with him thre in his office. So I asked, ‘Do you use them’? Then he said, ‘Okay, tomorrow is 4th July, we go to’, he has a property over there outside Lexington, so we will go over there and we will shoot some… 

Kaufmann: Like…

Singh: bullets’. 

Kaufmann: a shooting range. He set up his own… 

Singh: He has made a shooting range sort of thing. He put a target and all these things. We made shooting there also. 

Kaufmann: Yeah. 

Singh: Not only me. He gathered his friends, we were 5, 6 people, we had food over there to eat, and all these things like fun over there. 

Kaufmann: Yeah. 

Singh: And so, the thing now is as I said, seeing forward here, he first said to me, ‘You know, in Kentucky, 57% of the houses have guns over here’. He also showed me on the internet. He took out his phone and showed me the numbers. I was astonished to see that. He said, ‘So that makes sense as to why America is safe in that manner because if anybody needs to enter into any house, he has to think twice. So, there could be weapon inside and person will shoot him back’. So, that way, it makes sense that there are no fences like boundary wall fences around. And that police also maintain respect to the peoples, even though they have all the power over everyone, and all these things. So, these are the things which are good. 

Kaufmann: Yeah. If I can interrupt on that, one simply wanders around a town or village or a residential area, there are no fences around the houses, it seems like an environment just flooded with trust and ease. People move freely…

Singh: Right. 

Kaufmann: and without fear. And, the police themselves, despite all their power, they could just do anything to anybody really. 

Singh: Yeah. 

Kaufmann: But somehow, with every home having the capacity to protect them… 

Singh: Protect them… 

Kaufmann: then… 

Singh: every home has the capacity to protect them. 

Kaufmann: it underlies an ease. 

Singh: Yes. 

Kaufmann: Everybody is just cooperative with each other. 

Singh: Right. 

Kaufmann: That somehow tied to that…

Singh: Yeah. 

Kaufmann: a certain type of people would think it’s the opposite; it’s more dangerous.

Singh: No. To me, it creates equilibrium in the society. Like State has weapons over there, people also have something to support themselves so that both the State and people can live in a harmony over there and also to avoid thefts and all these things. And, the people living in the countryside, I asked him a lot of question when I was going with him in the daytime. I said, ‘How can people live over here in the countryside in the night without any fences and all these things’? He said, ‘That’s America. So, you have nothing to worry over here’. And he even said most of the people living over here are like aged people. Like in Lexington city in the countryside, he said most of the aged people, but you have nothing to worry over here. This is how it is. Nobody can act over there. 

Kaufmann: So you know…

Singh: That makes sense. 

Kaufmann: Yeah, it’s interesting. Oftentimes we don’t think of it that way, but you described it as a kind of equilibrium in your experience. 

Singh: Right. 

Kaufmann: As we spoke, I mentioned to you in my own line of work, I’m very familiar with Sikh traditions. And then we got to speaking about the guidance of the Tenth Guru Gobind Singh.

Singh: Right, Guru Gobind Singh.  I told you that Guru Gobind Singh said, ‘We also keep weapon always with them’. Like we keep sword with us, this is the weapon of that time, and even our Guruji said, ‘All these weapons are our peace’. Means, they are your profits, you have to respect them, you must have them. I quoted in one of the quotes from the 10th Guru. 

Kaufmann: Maybe this passage sheds light on a very contentious issue here around the Second Amendment that people imagine that gun ownership might be a source of…

Singh: I’m against that one. 

Kaufmann: a violent country and you’ve perceived it as a source of a peaceful country and well-behaved police and just the opposite impact. And as we were speaking about this, because it fascinated me honestly, and we were speaking about it, and you mentioned that this very concept is embedded in the ancients…

Singh: Sikh…

Kaufmann: not ancient, but the teachings deep in the purest origins of the Sikh tradition. And…

Singh: Right. 

Kaufmann: I was wondering if you could share that with us because…

Singh: Yeah. 

Kaufmann: it’s an interesting parallel. 

Singh: So, I worked as a quote wordings off of a 10th Guru. Basically from 6th Guru, we were ordered to keep a weapon with us. So, 6th Guru said that whenever you go to Gurdwara, like at your church or temple, people used to bring some food or money; they said this is not a time at this time to bring money. I need 3 things. I need Giovanni; Giovanni means bravery, like young people to bring to the community, then weapon who has done what you call as the ability to bring the weapons over here bring the weapons in the Gurdwara, and third, bring the horses. Go and get the cattle, the horses, like bring them up and bring the horses. So, we need 3 things, because we need to protect the society. And to protect our land, we need 3 things over there. So, this is rooted in Sikh religion from the 6th Guru. 

Kaufmann: From the 6th Guru. 

Singh: Yeah. 

Kaufmann: he said when we gather in our temples named Gurdwaras,

Singh: Gurdwaras. 

Kaufmann: when we gather in our temples, bring 3 things. 

Singh: 3 things. Bring 3 things like community service. If you want to bring something… 

Kaufmann: Bring something for community service. 

Singh: Yeah. If you want to bring something, bring these things. So like build up your own army, bring the bravery, Giovanni, they call Giovanni as young guys. So, donate one child to the Gurdwara, as part of the army. Then, bring weapons. Whatever weapon you can bring; sword or other things. If somebody has more capability, he can bring the gun or whatever those things. And third are the horses because horses were a mode of transportation for…

Kaufmann: Military movement. 

Singh: Yeah, military. 

Kaufmann: Yeah. 

Singh: So these things. So then, 10th Guru also quoted to Sikhs. And when 10th Guru baptized us, gave us Amrit in 1699, the Salkhi of 1699, he gave us a weapon. He said, ‘As a Sikh, you must keep the weapon with you every time’. Even when we sleep, we must have weapon with us. 

Kaufmann: Sleep with the weapon we carry. 

Singh: Yeah, with the weapon. When we go shower, we must have a small sword like a 9-inch. So, we tie at the head, when we take shower, we tie it at our waist. So, that is part of our body, we should not remove it. I will give you the words of what he quoted in English. So, he said that, ‘Sovereignty is a must for a religion to survive’. 

Kaufmann: Sovereignty. 

Singh: Yeah, ‘Sovereignty is must for a religion to survive. Without rule, no religion can prevail’, right? 

Kaufmann: Yeah. 

Singh: So without rules, no region can prevail. Without rule, everyone becomes filthy. And without religion, we are nothing. Rule is always dependent on arms, weapons. No one gives one freedom and sovereignty. The only way to gain independence is through your own power. If you have weapon you have power, you can gain your own sovereignty, own freedom, and independence. 

Kaufmann: Yeah. 

Singh: That’s what American culture is. Like, why America has independence over here, the freedom, you can see the freedom over here in America. I was very much astonished because on 4th July, we were going to go for the fireworks. So, my nephew called his friends also. 2 days before, there was shooting, I think in Chicago or somewhere. 

Kaufmann: Yeah. 

Singh: Chicago. 

Kaufmann: Yeah. 

Singh: So, he said that, ‘Come I will show you one more thing. So, 2 days before, there was shooting. So, you will see lots of people today to the arms shop’. I said, ‘What for’? He said, ‘For shopping. Because, there are some crazy guys, they are trying to put a ban to buy weapons. So, people are coming to get it more’.

Kaufmann: Right. 

Singh: We were going to get bullets and all these things. So, I noticed it is a free market, free. Like you go to the supermarket, you buy the weapons or whatever. So… 

Kaufmann: Very interesting. Now… 

Singh: He even bought one gun over there in front of me; just you have to give him your socials. I have seen how simple it is. You have to give your social security number and the house address where you’re living; you have to fill the form. And the person goes inside the office; the shop has an internal checkup office.

Kaufmann: Yeah. 

Singh: So, they go over there and they check. And when you come to the payment site, by that time, your security is done and they give you the weapon. It’s so simple, which I have never seen in my life anywhere. 

Kaufmann: Yeah. 

Singh: I am amazed. I’d love to live over there. 

Kaufmann: Yeah, it’s fascinating. It’s…

Singh: Yeah, it’s fascinating. 

Kaufmann: the same as you get pulled over for your tail light, cop grabs your stuff, they know everything about you in a second. They go back to their car… 

Singh: Yeah. 

Kaufmann: They know if you have any reason to be detained.

Singh: Right. 

Kaufmann: And it’s not like people are like saying, ‘I don’t know you, here, take your gun’. It’s not like that at all. 

Singh: No. Everything they do, they do security check within minutes, even when you come over there on the airport also. When I came first on the airport, they made my security check in the minutes they cleared me… 

Kaufmann: Yeah. 

Singh: all these things, yeah. 

Kaufmann: Right. If there was anything wrong with you, they would have known it in a second. 

Singh: Yeah. That’s what my nephew said. He said, ‘You have seen the good part of America being free over here’. 

Kaufmann: Yeah. 

Singh: He said, ‘If you get involved in any bad thing, especially illegal weapon, illegal drugs, and all these things, human trafficking’, he said, ‘Your full life is gone’. 

Kaufmann: Your life is gone. 

Singh: Gone. He said, ‘You are no more, you are dead. You are better to be dead at the time’. So, he said that that is the way it is. You are free if you are good. 

Kaufmann: You’re free if you’re good. 

Singh: Good, yeah. 

Kaufmann: It’s a great observation. I wonder if like you saw all the memorial sites. 

Singh: Right, I went to the memorial site, basically, in DC. First, let me say to you one phrase of Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln. I’m talking about the infrastructure since I’m a civil engineer, and my full life is in the infrastructure, how important the infrastructure is there. And I have seen the infrastructure in America is from 70s, 1870s. The infrastructure was developed over there.

Kaufmann: Yeah. 

Singh: The bridges around the Manhattan and all these things. I remember the quote of Abraham Lincoln, he said, ‘It is not the America who made the roads, it is the roads who made America’. Yeah. 

Kaufmann: That’s very good. 

Singh: Yeah. 

Kaufmann: I like that. Did you have… 

Singh: So…

Kaufmann: Go ahead, I’m sorry. 

Singh: Yeah. I would say that infrastructure was built at that time with a vast vision. And, we are building the infrastructure and we are building up to that standard at present now. And I know that the infrastructure of America required a lot of changes over the year and maintenance sort of thing, which they are doing also. Like I was on the Penn Station, there is a huge work going over there on the Penn Station, modification of like part of the Penn Station is totally being rebuilt, there’s work going on over there. 

Kaufmann: Yeah. 

Singh: And then, I landed in the New York Airport also when I came from Cincinnati, I landed over there. That airport is also being totally modified. And when we traveled even to DCU, we saw that a lot of roadworks was going on the way to the road, all these things. So, infrastructure is moving. Like, it is there, and they’re modifying more and more, expanding it, which is good. 

Kaufmann: Yeah. 

Singh: And it is infrastructure which made America great, I will say, because…

Kaufmann: Very. 

Singh: all the States are connected, the traveling time is very less, logistically there are no damages to the cargoes like my country back over there. We are building it now. And logistically, very much issues over there for the commerce and trade. And America has a great setup as compared to Delta. 

Kaufmann: Very good. Wonderful Tejinder. There’s one last thing I want to ask, I think we should be wrapping up in a moment or two. But… 

Singh: Yeah. 

Kaufmann: your work has involved you, as we heard at the very start of our conversation, that you’ve run projects that have had 10 and 20,000…

Singh: Right. 

Kaufmann: people under your responsibility. So you’ve had to… 

Singh: Not only my responsibility, on the project, I’m part of it, yeah. 

Kaufmann: Yeah. And you have a responsibility…

Singh: Like under my responsibility, you can say about 4000 to 5000 people under my responsibilities. 

Kaufmann: Okay. 

Singh: Yeah. 

Kaufmann: So, you’re familiar with the need for work to be done for people to be conscientious in their work, for them to be…

Singh: Right. 

Kaufmann: you’ve experienced work ethic…

Singh: Right, work ethic. 

Kaufmann: in different cultural environments. 

Singh: I’ve even worked in American companies. So, every 6 months, we have training to the work culture, how to treat the people, how to behave towards the people, and how to stay updated ourselves with the work, with the training, and all these things. These are procedures that are being set up over there. I will say like, with regard to the business I went over for, from my community, whoever went to America, till now, I have not seen any single person who has not succeeded. You got. 

Kaufmann: That I remember. You said, 

Singh: So… 

Kaufmann: ‘This country, if you’re willing to work’. 

Singh: If you’re willing to work, if you’re true, if you’re honest, it’s automatic. The procedure is set up; you should not be like nah, Superman or not be that intelligent or anything. Things are simply set up, you just focus over there, and you will live your good life with the family and good standard of living. The job sector is so easily available, jobs are so easily available. Back in my country, not many opportunities with a job. Here, you just study, you get good job, even if you don’t study, you can still get a good job with which you can live a happy life over here. You can keep your family at the standard over here.

Kaufmann: Whereas… 

Singh: Whoever came from Punjab, over there from my state, I stayed over, I met with a lot of my family relatives, their friends over there, I’ve not seen a single person who is not established over here. 

Kaufmann: Whereas in other countries you’ve lived and worked…

Singh: Yeah. 

Kaufmann: there are a perfectly…

Singh: Yeah. 

Kaufmann: like a superior person…

Singh: Right. 

Kaufmann: may still not have the opportunities to succeed. 

Singh: Yeah. In America, whatever you think, you can do, I’ll say. Whatever you think, you can do; in business, in education, education is available every year, the cheaper education as compared to other nations. Like first of all, for the kids, education is free of cost. And not good education in other countries free of cost. And after that, a lot of universities are here, you have a lot of opportunities, a lot of jobs, sector jobs, whatever you want to do, you can do in America. It is a free country.

Kaufmann: You know, I can’t think of a better way to end than on this phrase from our new guest to our country, Tejinder Singh, to say, ‘In America, whatever you think, you can do’. 

Singh: You can do. 

Kaufmann: It’s very encouraging for us, and we’re very grateful you’re giving us some time to tell us what our country looks like on a first visit. 

Singh: Yeah, sure. 

Kaufmann: Yeah. And hopefully, we’ll be back together again to talk about more things. We didn’t talk about all your great work in the UAE, and the importance of that country and its development. 

Singh: Yeah. It’s a very nice country you must visit. The country has flourished a lot. And there are very good people here. And you can say 200 nationalities are living here in UAE, and it’s very much peaceful. You come at 2 o’clock in the night, 1 o’clock; there is no issue with the morning, evening, whatever time you go out, no issue, safe country. 

Kaufmann: Yes. Sounds lovely. 

Singh: Yeah. 

Kaufmann: We better get over there. 

Singh: Right, you must visit. 

Kaufmann: And maybe you can interview us on the opposite way. 

Singh: Right, yeah. 

Kaufmann: Very good. Thanks so much, Tejinder. 

Singh: Thanks, Frank. 

Kaufmann: See you again. 

Singh: Thanks. See you. 

Kaufmann: Bye, bye.

Singh: Bye.