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Saturday, January 13, 2018

A decade in Toronto - 1

2018 is a milestone in our lives – it’s our tenth year in Toronto.

Applying for immigration - March 2002
In 2001, we decided to immigrate to Canada. In March 2002, we signed up with an immigration agent. We were promised that we’d be in Canada in 18 months. Mahrukh, with her Master’s degree, had a better score, so she became the main applicant, and I became her accompanying spouse. Che, who was all of five-years-old, was excited as all children are when they see their parents are happy doing stuff together that keeps them excited and smiling.

However, after 18 months when nothing happened, we decided to change the agent. Another 18 months went by and nothing happened, and it seemed like nothing would happen forever. You can’t live in a limbo or stop living. Our hope of ever leaving India receded and we reconciled to our life in Bombay. 
At the Pearson Airport 12 July 2008, just after landing.
Our first photo in Canada
The wait continued, and by 2008, we'd all but given up hope of ever coming to Canada. By then, we'd set our roots in our new home in Powai, where Mahrukh and Che made new friends. Then in March 2008, six long years after we'd applied, we got our landing papers, and by July we were all ready to permanently leave India.

But, leaving India permanently is impossible. An Indian can never leave India. As they rightly say, you can take an Indian out of India, but you can’t take India out of an Indian. As it turned out, while we physically left India, spiritually we never could. Emotionally, we remain in India even today. Paradoxically, our bond with India is stronger now, after being outside for ten years, than it was when we were in India.  

First grocery bill
12-07-08
I have often asked myself why I wanted to leave India. The answer is straightforward and therefore complex. I wanted to live in a world where our son would be able to decide what he wanted to be without any pressure or unnecessary influence. I wanted to live in a world where I could start afresh in my relationship with Mahrukh. When we applied to immigrate, our marriage was young. Today, we are a few years away from celebrating our 25th anniversary.

Did I achieve my objectives? I believe so.

Toronto has changed our lives for the better. There are obvious and tangible benefits of living in a developed city that is looking at the future without being shackled by the past. It is fun to be in Toronto at a time when it is firmly anchored to the future and is investing all its resources to ensure that it will continue to be among the best places in the world.

As everyone who knows me knows I don’t own a car (and never have and never will). While in Bombay, I dreaded the commute from home to work and back on the city’s famous suburban trains. The experience of using public transit in Toronto and across the GTA is so much more pleasant, and it promises to get better.

But I don’t want to make this into a comparison about my former and present home. This about my decade in Toronto. I refrain from calling it my decade in Canada because I've not been anywhere outside of the GTA in the last decade, except on a short five-day tour of Montreal, Ottawa, and Quebec City.

I've become a Torontonian, or so I’d like to believe. I know some parts of the city through its public transit, and through TTC’s extensive network of bus routes. I say some parts because it’s impossible to know a city completely in geographical terms. But one can live in a city and become one with its ethos. Toronto’s philosophy is acceptance. 

A new home - March 2013
Yes, there is a glaring absence of equality in terms of opportunity, and there is unacknowledged but evident racism in many spheres. But, by and large, I live in a city where a majority of its inhabitants try to warmly embrace the new and the unfamiliar, despite stray incidents of intolerance. In these ten years, I'd like to believe that I've attempted to become more accepting of differences than before, less prejudiced, less intolerant and less bigoted. 

It's also the tenth year of this blog. I launched the blog in December 2008 just to create an avenue for myself to write. In the last decade, I've blogged every week and never felt that it was a chore.  

We're Canadian citizens - August 2014
Today, I also want to acknowledge a few friends who made our lives easier in Toronto. They are: MG Vassanji, Nurjehan Aziz, Puneet S. Kohli, Asha Luthra, Satish Thakkar, Helen Walsh, Jasmine D’Costa, Joyce Wayne, Gavin Barrett, Tahir Gora. There are many more, and I’ll acknowledge them in 2018 as I’ll be writing about my decade in Toronto frequently this year.

3 comments:

  1. Waiting for subsequent chapters of the interesting narrative.

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  2. Loved reading this! Congratulations to Mahrukh,Che and you on your landmark! So glad you achieved what you set out to.

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  3. Yes,looking forward to reading more of the Torrento decade. It's always difficult to severe old ties with people and places you have lived with for so many years and make new at the new place when there are none! Kodia to your perseverance and forbearance.

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