FRESH OFF THE PLANE: A Canadian cross-connection!
Soon after we moved to Canada, my mamaji (maternal uncle) in Jabalpur called to say his colleague’s son was also moving to Canada with his young family.
In typical desi fashion, he had given our contact info to him, telling him to contact us for any help. “It will be nice for him to be able to speak to someone from home,” he said.
I was happy at the prospect of meeting someone from home, too. We were still relatively new and yet to establish a friends’ circle. Though my wife and I often remarked on how friendly Canadians were, wishing us politely in the elevator of the apartment building, showing us how to take the TTC to get the groceries, we still missed the feeling of community. Of being able to walk in and out of each others’ homes, casually. Of more importantly, having someone to celebrate our festivals with.
“Diwali is coming up and we will at least have someone to exchange a plate of mithai with,” said my wife Kavita, excitedly.
So when we got a call a few days later from Yogesh, saying they had landed a couple of days ago and that he was hoping to meet us, we invited them over for dinner.
On the day of the dinner, he called again to get directions, and told us they’d be there in an hour or so.
Approximately an hour later the door bell rang. I practically sprinted to the door and pulled it open with a flourish.
A young man, obviously from India, stood there. Without stopping to think that he was alone – no wife and kid in sight – I said, “Welcome to Canada! Just in time for dinner!” before enveloping him in a bear hug. “It’s nice to see you, too!” he laughed with no trace of an Indian accent. In fact, if I had stopped to think, I’d have noticed a distinctly Canadian accent.
“But I am not exactly new to Canada.”
Turns out this was Ashok – pronounced Ash-Oak (as in the names of the trees). His family was from Bangladesh, but he was born and raised in Canada.
He was a building inspector and was there to check on a few things for the landlord.
Yogesh arrived a little later, with his wife and kid, and we had a good laugh over the surprised look on Ashok’s face at my enthusiastic greeting.
Over the next few months we discovered that there were many people from the subcontinent, called South Asians here, either new immigrants or those who had been here for years.
It was just a matter of time before we felt a sense of belonging.
– Sameer Gupta
Posted: Oct 30, 2013