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LINK’s Very Own Celebrated Media Photographer Chandra Bodalia Laid To Rest

“I will miss my friend Chandra Bodalia dearly as we spent many years working together where before he became Indo-Canadian media pool photographer – he was exclusive at the Link where I gave him his own section like Party-Hopping with Chandra Bodalia and he thrived. Chandra’s photography legacy will live long as will the gentle Giant who was Gujarati by birth but Punjabi by Heart. Love you big guy and will miss you!!!,” LINK editor R. Paul Dhillon wrote in his tribute to Chandra on his Facebook page.

By R. Paul Dhillon

Chandravadan “Chandra” Bodalia, who has been a fixture on the Indo-Canadian community’s cultural scene for over two decades after starting his media photography career with the LINK Newspaper and yours truly who recruited him for the special post of being an event photographer, passed away last week after a prolonged fight with cancer.

He was laid to rest on Wednesday afternoon at a ceremony attended by hundreds of his family, friends, associates and admirers at the Five Rivers Funeral Home in North Delta.

“My Friend Chandra Bodalia has gone to Social-Media photography heaven. It is a sad day indeed! Chandra was a very passionate and generous individual who gave and gave from the heart. He loved life and life till recently loved him. He had so much fun and I think his only regret would be that he could not live longer to capture more of the fun and excitement that our community has to offer,” I wrote in my Facebook tribute to Chandra last week.

“I still remember the day when Chandra came to see me at Link Newspaper – where he had known the publisher-editor Promod Puri – and wanted to take photos for us and I said to him why don’t you cover parties and social scene on a regular basis and it would be convenient with his daytime job as parties largely happened at night or on the weekend and that’s how Chandra’s long journey in media began. And soon he became a social-media celebrity photographer celebrity.

“I will miss him dearly as we spent many years working together where before he became Info-Canadian media pool photographer – he was exclusive at the Link where I gave him his own section like Party-Hopping with Chandra Bodalia and he thrived! Chandra’s photography legacy will live long as will the gentle Giant who was Gujarati by birth but Punjabi by Heart! Love you big guy and will miss you!!!,” my Facebook post concluded.

Chandra took photos by the millions and was a jolly and generous figure in making people famous and providing a much needed exposure for much deserving people in the community as well as those not so deserving known as “Fame Whores”.

Chandra became famous for taking photos and is one of the most recognized South Asian lens-men. Recently, fate and time has been his enemy as he was diagnosed with cancer of the mouth and a surgery allowed him to recover somewhat from the disease but made him immobile and unable to do what he loves – taking photos. But despite his ailment, Chandra continued taking photographs at many events.

Last December, Chandra’s friends and acquaintances in the community held a fundraiser at Fraserview Hall, the scene of the “Lovable Gujju’s” many parties that he attended while taking photographs.

I go back a long way with Chandra and our friendship has endured many years during which we have both captured and reported on the hard and soft news making the rounds in the community.

I still remember when Chandra came to the Link Newspaper office back in 1994-95 and told the publisher-editor Promod Puri and I that he wanted to take pictures for the Link. We both encouraged him and I took the lead and said yes and got him started in the photo-journalism business, initially covering all parties which at that time were also, as I mentioned above, at Fraserview Hall, for long the centre of Indo-Canadian community events.

That started a long relationship and he took photos for me at the Link for a long time until he became an Indo-Canadian media pool photographer.

When he was hit with the deadly disease, Chandra was hijacked by some guys looking for some publicity but it was all good as he ended up getting the community’s help – not that Chandra’s ever needed it cause he was always a very generous and very proud guy, who put money from his own pocket to pursue his passion for media and photography.

The organizers claimed that they had raised over $300,000 on the night – a fair amount of change but many who pledged didn’t end up writing cheques after the euphoria of the night of gave away to reality, I guess. He did get one big cheque from the late lumber guy Bruce Kehler (White Man with a Brown Heart) for $50,000.

Chandra needed the money to improve his and family’s situation and all those who gave small and big donours – whether it is $50, $500, $5000 or $50,000 as it was not about big or small but helping a dear friend who was in need.

No such individual fundraiser has ever raised this kind of eye-catching amount of money but it’s a great collective effort despite the many flaws on the night and criticism of how the event was handled. Chandra benefitted for a very short time so it is all good.

But the fundraising and giving and receiving money is also proof that at the end – money is just a piece of paper and no good for the Departed. Chandra leaves behind a lot of love and we all collectively will miss him a lot.

Love you Big Guy!!!!

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