It’s a story straight out of a Bollywood potboiler and could well have a happy ending given the protagonist’s resolve.
Mumbai-born Dutch speed skater Anice Das, who will be in action for her adopted country during next month’s Winter Olympics, is planning to visit the country of her origin in search of her biological parents after giving her best in South Korea.
The resolve to find her mother got stronger after the 32-year-old topped the 500m race at Winter Olympics qualifying event in The Netherlands. Anice has never been to India ever since she was adopted by a Dutch couple as an eight-month-old along with her twin sister.
It was only when she turned 5, Anice learnt about her roots in Mumbai from her foster parents. All the concerted efforts of the twins to find their biological mother ever since have not yielded much success and they are now determined to take the search to where it all started.
“I think at the age of 5 or 6. Our parents spoke about it with us, it was very natural and kind. We’ve tried to find our biological mother through a Dutch TV program, unfortunately without success. After this Olympic season we will plan our trip to India and of course, our birth city Mumbai,” Anice told PTI.
She never visited India all these years and hardly has any memory of her family, so why take the emotional journey now?
“It is right that I have not visited yet but I feel a strong connection with India. Our roots are there and we still have family in Mumbai (which we will find),” she says.
Anice says she is very close to her twin sister, who could have been an athlete like her. She says their Dutch parents don’t seem like ‘foster parents’. In fact, they are very supportive of the twins’ desire to trace their roots in India.
“My sister was an athlete as well, but she quit. She wanted to do the sprint distances in athletics but she had to do all the all-round disciplines and that was not what she wanted.
“Our relationship is very very close. We are soulmates and we share practically everything.
We support and trust each other in everything and when I need her with sports and personally also I can count on her.”
What about the bond with foster parents?
“Our relationship with our parents is good. They know how we feel about our roots and we can talk about it with them. I say, parents, because it does not feel like ‘foster parents’. We are the closest to each other and then our parents, but there is not a difference between mother or father (with whom we are closer to),” she says.
Anice’s appearance is very Indian but to spot the inseparable connect with India, her ‘Bengali’ last name Das should be enough. But it turns out to be a common Dutch surname.
“The story about our last name Das is easy. Our father is called Karel Herman Das and he married our mother; Ria Domburg (now Ria Das Domburg).”
For now, all her focus is on the Pyeongchang Games from February 9-25. A medal could be a long shot so the aim is to be her personal best.
“To beat my personal best. That is 38.42 (at sea level), the time I skated at the qualifications. My personal best in general (on a track at high altitude) is 37.8. It would be fantastic to beat that time of course,” she concludes.