Diary of a new Canadian Immigrant

Mitul Paniker Wednesday 12th June 2019 06:30 EDT

Dear Readers,

I write to you from beautiful Canada. The weather is bright and the people are welcoming. After exercising our democratic right to vote on April 23 in Gujarat, my husband and I moved to Markham, a comparatively small city in the Greater Toronto Area. While we have left our family and friends behind in a bid to make better lives for ourselves, I intend to keep my link with the readers intact. I walked into the doors of ABPL's Ahmedabad office roughly four years back and the exhilaration print media has gifted me remains unmatched. So when I was presented with an opportunity to share my thoughts with you, I leaped at it.

Every month, thousands of Indians migrate to the west seeking a more refined life that only commercial and financial success could bring. Our flight to Toronto was filled with Gujaratis, Punjabis, and African passengers. Looking at the sheer amount of people setting out on a journey to make their own fate; I was overwhelmed. For us, it has been easy so far. My husband and I were lucky to have my childhood friend/brother waiting for us back here. He arranged for the best of accommodation for us, and eased the entire process of settling down in a new country.

A Malayalee, I grew up in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. Ironically, Markham has a lot in common with my hometown. One of Canada's largest cities, it is a posh region with a beautiful amalgamation of various cultures. Canada has afterall, a unique culture of tolerance. There are people of multiple faiths and backgrounds in this city. From South Asians, to East Asians, West Asians and Arabs, Chinese, and Latin Americans, Markham is like a tiny glimpse of what this mighty country is made of. Hindus, constitute 10 per cent of the population of the city. Gujaratis account for approximately 1.6 per cent of the population. The first day when we stepped out of the airport, we were greeted by our friend, and his driver Vijayan, a Sri Lankan. Having lived in the city for over 25 years, he knew its history by heart.

During a conversation with my husband, an inherent Gujarati, I was surprised to see Vijayan respond. When asked how he understood the language, he said he lives in a predominantly Gujarati neighbourhood and took it up over the years from conversations with his neighbours. As he drove us from the airport towards our new home, we came across a Vishnu Temple, a Buddhist Temple, a Korean church, and multiple other places of worship. We were in love with what we saw.

People leave their countries to migrate, but take a piece of their culture with them. Indians have migrated for generations and are now one of the most influential communities in the world. We now also play important roles in the functioning of foreign governments. Imagine people of Indian-origin deciding the workings of another State. Jagmeet Singh, a controversial politician, is Leader of the Opposition, and most likely in the race for the next Prime Minister of Canada. Indians are breaking barriers everywhere and I believe I am fortunate to have entered the arena.

Canada is in many ways like India; In its democracy, its multi-cultural society, and its successful economy. It's home.

Next Column: A Visit to BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Toronto

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