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FRESH OFF THE PLANE: Newcomer learns Canadianisms

Our next door neighbours welcomed us to the community when we moved into our fist home in Canada. They showed us how to cut the grass and how to do a few minor repairs around the house ourselves instead of paying a handyman to do everything. Having grown up in India, we came to Canada after a few years in the Middle East and we were used to inexpensive househelp and were not very good at do-it-yourself jobs. They went on to become good friends and when Matt passed away a couple of years later, we assured their son who lived in Alberta that we would keep an eye on his mother Eve.

During the summer it was easy enough, we saw each other most days as we worked in our yards. Eve grew vegetables, way more than she could possibly consume alone and we benefited from her largesse. This also introduced us to new vegetables I may not have cooked without her encouragement. Kale, rhubarb, butternut squash and more.

As the weather turned colder and we spent more time indoors than out, I’d pop in with coffee and cookies or cupcakes and enjoy a chat about how Canada used to be and how it was changing. She taught me a lot about Canada and Canadians.

Canadianism, too, as it turned out.

One afternoon, she took a while to open her door. I was about to leave, thinking she might be taking a nap, when she appeared. I got a shock when I saw her. A large purple-blue bruise covered the left side of her face and she was limping.

“What happened?” I asked in a panic. “How did you hurt yourself?”

“Oh, I am okay,” she mumbled, drawing me inside. “You should see the other guy!”

It was obviously painful for her to speak, but I was distracted by what she had just said. See the other guy? Which guy? Had Eve been in a fight? Why would anyone have attacked a harmless senior?

These questions were rushing through my head as I put down the coffee and helped her to her chair.

Eve must have seen the confusion on my face because she broke into a childlike giggle.

“I really am okay, don’t worry,” she reassured me. “And I’ve not been in any fight. I missed a step going down to the basement and fell and hurt myself.” I was hugely relieved to learn she had not been in a fight, but my confusion remained.

Which other guy had she talked about then? With panic returning, I thought I should call her son – Eve had certainly suffered a concussion and was confused. “Which guy were you talking about then, Eve?” I asked gently, trying to ascertain the facts before making the call. “That’s an expression we use, honey,” she said. “It’s a way of saying had I been in a fight, I’d have emerged the winner!”

– Jayashree Rajan

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 29, 2016

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