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FRESH OFF THE PLANE Newcomer finds silver lining

I learned that cutlery is also called silver only after coming to Canada. Forks, knives and spoons are commonly referred to as cutlery in India. And plates, bowls, cups, etc., as crockery – at least the non-stainless steel variety!
But while describing a formal dinner she had attended, one of my colleagues said the hostess had “lovely silver”.

I was surprised, as I had not thought any of my colleagues were really into silver jewellery. Or any jewellery, for that matter. They wore wedding bands if married, and maybe thin chains and small ear studs. Some of the younger ones wore a little costume jewellery. But jewellery, as we Indians know it, lots of gold or chunky silver jewellery, was not to be seen. And I had thus toned down what I wore, too, keeping my jewellery for desi events and festivals.

Now here was Maria, admiring another lady’s silver.

“I love silver jewellery, too!” I said enthusiastically. “Specially the chunky, heavy kind. I should show you some of my tribal jewellery collection,” I added, getting totally carried away.

“I would love to see your tribal jewellery,” responded Maria. “Is it like the Native Indian jewellery we have in Canada? Lots of beads and feathers? But the silver I was talking about was not jewellery.”

She went to explain she had meant the forks, knives and spoons, etc.

A few days later, I saw something that looked like a large, tall can at a dollar store. It had utensils stencilled on top. Now again, we call our dishes utensils – the kadhai and patila, etc. How could they possibly fit in that can?

“What goes in this?” I asked the girl who worked there.

She pointed to the serving spoons and ladles stacked next to the can. “These utensils,” she said.

Silver and utensils, old words with new meanings.

– Pammi Wirk

What’s your story? Every newcomer, no matter how savvy or where he or she comes from, has a Fresh Off the Plane (FOP) story to share about their early days in Canada. Do you want to share your story? E-mail it to us at canadaboundimmigrant@rogers.com.

Posted: Feb 2, 2016

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