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FRESH OFF THE PLANE: A comedy of errors

In India, we always had someone come in to do what my neighbour in Canada calls “yard work”. Cut the grass, trim the hedge, even water the potted plants that lined the driveway.

On moving to Canada, we realized that most people, barring a few who hire someone to do it, take care of these tasks themselves. Keen to “do in Canada as Canadians do”, we decided to take care of our yard work ourselves, too.

Of course, it meant learning things like the optimum height to set the lawnmower at. Cut too low and the yard looks bald and gives weeds room to grow. Cut too high and you have to be prepared for a repeat performance within a few days. We learned the hard way that unlike in India where most things grow year-round, here, most things didn’t. The house we purchased had gorgeous geraniums bordering the bed in the front, and I didn’t realize one had to either dig them up and bring them in or plant new ones next spring. But it was a fun learning experience and I also discovered the joys of seeing things grow in our garden. Every morning, after dropping the kids off at school, I’d spend a happy few hours in our yard, weeding, deadheading – another new term I learned from our neighbour – and enjoying the fresh air before heading back inside.

In that process, I also got to know our neighbours better. So many people are out and about on the streets here! Some for a leisurely stroll, others for a brisk jog. Some push a stroller with a child or a grandchild in it and others take their dog for a walk. It’s all very congenial as they exchange friendly greetings and if they know each other, stop for a brief chat. Many of them wished me a cheery good morning as they passed. One elderly lady used to walk her dog past our house every morning. She’d smile, comment on the weather or how the grass was really dry or make some such small talk.

One weekend, I decided to check out a garage sale at a street nearby. It turned out to be at the house of the lady who walked her dog. But there was a different dog playing in the yard.

Oh, you have a new dog!” I said. “Where’s Barney?” She looked


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: Aug 7, 2016

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