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FRESH OFF THE PLANE: Message in a bottle

After moving to Canada, at first we were busy finding jobs and finding our way around the new systems in place, learning new things about Canadian ways.

But after a few years, when we felt comfortable and settled, we wanted to explore our new country. We’d pack the kids and take off on long drives. At first, these were day trips. Then, as our confidence levels grew, we ventured farther afield, taking week-long breaks over the summer.

One year, my husband suggested we drive across the country. The idea was met with great enthusiasm and we spent many a weekend, planning the dream trip. From where to where, the places we’d halt at overnight, and all other arrangements that go into making a trip safe and pleasurable.

The day we were to set off dawned bright and sunny and we were off on our great Canadian adventure!

The kids looked out the windows, pointing to ponds and lakes that are so much a part of the Canadian landscape.

“Our parents will say how lucky we are to have so much fresh water!” said my husband Suresh.

There were moose signs to photograph, deer sightings to exclaim over and talk of whether we’d spot any bear.

“We have to play dead,” said our wise eight-year-old, forgetting that we were not camping out and were unlikely to be harmed while driving by.

It was a wonderful few weeks and gave us lots to talk about with family and friends back home.

Including an incident that my kids still giggle over.

We’d stopped at a fast food outlet for lunch and I saw a sign for black cherry soda on their door, inviting people to try the new flavour.

So while placing our order, I asked for a black cherry soda, too.

The young girl serving us reached into a drinks dispenser and handed me a bottle which didn’t look like the regular pop bottles that we were used to. It looked much more like... a beer bottle!

I hesitated for a minute, wondering if I should just take it or should I risk a silly question. Seeing as how both my husband and I are teetotalers, there was not much we could have done with it if it did have alcohol in it.

So I asked. “This doesn’t have alcohol in it, does it?”

The girl looked surprised.

“What, the cherry soda? No!”

A gentleman standing behind us, also waiting for his order, began to chuckle.

“I’d love a chilled beer! But they don’t sell liquor at fast food places!”

I mumbled something about not having seen such a bottle before and beat a hasty retreat.

I have asked many silly questions in my time, but this one perhaps takes the cake. And we weren’t even new in the country when I asked this particular one. Just goes to show, one can learn new things at any stage in one’s life!

– Jayanthi 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: Jul 4, 2016

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