& occasionally about other things, too...

Sunday, September 30, 2018

A decade in Toronto - 16

First photograph at our new home on 09/03/13
We moved on 13/03/13
Before I move on to 2013, I must record a few important occurrences of 2012.
The sudden rise of Christine Sinclair, Canada’s woman footballer, who made Canada proud in the London Olympics, is definitely one of them. I also began to follow with some seriousness the National Hockey League, and Maple Leafs perennially depressing performance.

On the suggestion of Naval Bajaj, with whom I’ve had an on-again, off-again sort of friendship, I stopped the consumption of alcohol till recently when I restarted having red wine (Shiraz) which is a small concession that I’ve allowed myself. In 2013, again on his suggestion, I turned vegetarian. And a few years later, I made a concession – salmon. So, red wine and salmon are quite evidently, my weaknesses.

The year (2012) was memorable also because the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce (ICCC) was awarded the prestigious Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award – it was an immensely proud moment for all of us at the Chamber.  Anurag Kashyap’s phenomenal Gangs of Wasseypur was released and changed the paradigm of popular cinema. 

The most traumatic event was the gang rape of a young woman in Delhi, who subsequently died in a hospital in Singapore. Nirbhaya, as she was named, became a symbol of all that is wrong with India (A swivel moment in India’s history), and galvanised people into action even in Canada, when Yogesh Sharma organised a community meeting to raise awareness and register a protest.

The role and the presence of the indigenous people in the making of Canada’s past, present and future is a topic that newcomers seldom give the attention it deserves. But 2012 saw the sudden rise in the Idle No More movement that focused on the rights of the indigenous people.

Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence went on a fast unto death to demand the rights of the indigenous people. John Ralston Saul’s A Fair Country argues that Canadian identity is more indigenous than European.  Read the blog on the subject: Idea of Canada.


2013 was another eventful years for us. In March 2013, we moved into our new home at Gibson Avenue in York. Che discovered it. We’d been on the lookout for a new home for some time, because we’d mentally outgrown the two bedroom apartment at Keele and Lawrence West. The new house was (is) a stacked townhouse on two levels (it’s my first home with a staircase) and has become a home.

In many ways, it reminds me of my home in Teli Gali, where I grew up and lived for nearly three decades. The complex is truly multicultural, with many ethnicities cohabitating. The best part of the new home is the study that has become my room. Each of us has a room – our own private space. It’s essential, as anyone who’s lived in cramped spaces, will understand.  

The strangest part of moving in the new home was the silence. I’d lived at busy traffic intersections all my life, and this house, while not far from a busy thoroughfare, was still a bit inside. Except for the sound of the refrigerator, the house became so silent that I could actually hear myself breathe. That, if you’ve experienced it ever, can be eerie initially. Both Mahrukh and I worked together to make this dream possible. Read my blog about our new home here: A New Home.

But life is always a mix of the good and the bad. Soon after we’d moved into the new home, Che was mugged by a group of schoolchildren, not much older than him. The incident occurred just outside our home, and the group of boys snatched his bag, his handheld gaming device and roughed him up. Che was traumatized, as was Mahrukh. They called me at work and I rushed home. 

We called the cops but nothing came out of it. We were scared and even contemplated moving back to the apartment. Che, who’d been going through a rough time at school, was so disturbed that he couldn’t focus on his studies. All these occurrences intensified his anxiety syndrome and affected him mentally.

Che's first shave
But he recovered smartly and quickly and was growing into a fine young man. I helped him with his first shave on 27 August 2013 with his first shave.

I lost a dear friend in 2013 when Charudatta Deshpande committed suicide in Bombay. It shocked the entire journalism fraternity because Charu was a well-known and much-admired colleague and friend to many. I’d had the privilege of knowing him closely and he tried to help me get a job when my tenure at the US Consulate came to an abrupt and unexpected end.

He arranged my meeting with Anand Mahindra of Mahindra and Mahindra, but nothing came of that. Charu went on to become one of the best public relations professionals in India. I met him in 2011 when I visited India for the first time after coming to Canada. And he was as warm as always – not ready to believe me that I’d worked as a security guard initially.

My friend and former colleague Smita Sherigar visited Toronto and spent a few days with our family. Most friendships develop suddenly and continue forever despite there being little to no contact between friends; our (Smita's and mine) friendship is just like that. 

Among the noteworthy global events that occurred in 2013 included the bomb blast at the Boston marathon by two terrorist brothers, the collapse of the Rana Plaza in Bangladesh, killing over a thousand garment workers, another terrorist attack on a shopping mall in Kenya, where Kenyans of Indian origin were the target.

Malala Yousifzai, the brave girl, who became a victim of a terrorist attack in 2012, emerged as an authentic voice for girls’ right to education and freedom of expression. Nelson Mandela passed away into history. Indi's Mars mission Mangalayaan was launched, and it’d reach Mars a couple of years later, showcasing India’s frugal innovation technology.

Ice storm in Toronto
The year ended with one of the most severe ice storms ever witnessed in Toronto’s history. It was an incredible sight, beautiful and magnificent, but it brought the city to a standstill for nearly a week, with hundreds of thousands of residents without access to power, spending their days and nights in that bitter cold, with no heating.

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