It’s an icy-rainy day outside, my thoughts wander far and wide. Here I am sitting on my couch and looking out of the window of my apartment on the 17th floor. Everything has turned white, but the mind streams grey. My pen, paper and Chai are my companions for the day.
The age of twenty-seven lasted a bit longer than its expiry date. Twenty-eight struck to me a month later. To be precise, exactly one month after my 27th birthday. On the 7th of February, I took off from the motherland to the West. Towards Canada, my new homeward bound, I was flying high on altitude and expectations. Sitting clumsily by the window seat and pondering over this new chapter of life, it wasn’t the turbulence of air that was giving me jitters. It wasn’t even the sleepless never-ending journey from east to west. It was rather the turbulence of my thoughts that I heard loud and clear in my head.
At twenty-eight, my life had once again pressed the start button for me. I was at the footsteps of a new mountain. A place from where I knew the hike would be long & exhausting, the directions misleading and support unpredictable. A challenge that I had accepted only on the premise of my own will. The plane descended onto a white runway. The snow wrapped the city of Toronto and the sun rays reflected from snow making the sky brighter. With this view, my train of thoughts got interrupted and I immersed myself in the white landing, something that I had never experienced before.
There I was in a new city, by myself and for myself. As I looked outside the window of my room, I only saw dead trees and wet roads. A bus seldom passed by and the night arrived much earlier than I expected. I didn’t feel the excitement of traveling to a new country. With this one-way ticket, it was important to feel at home.
At twenty-eight, a lot was left behind. Friends, family, a professional career and all the comforts of home that I liked to call my own. In pursuit of finding all of them again, this time with a hope to create all of them on my own. At twenty-eight, I was all set to rediscover myself.
The feelings were mixed. There was fear along with faith. There were confusions along with conviction. There was a sense of anxiety but also a lot of joy. I did not know where to start. Finding a job or fish for a house, seek my passion to learn or strive on enhancing my survival skills, whatever it would be, it was necessary to set the priorities straight.
Figuring out the starting point demanded patience. At twenty-eight, I needed a fresh doze of hope and patience. I was meeting new people every day, making friends and acquaintances on the way. Some were newbies like me, some others were experienced enough to advise. All encounters counted. I was lucky, I made friends who I could call family in this new city. Once again, I was learning to trust my instincts. I realized it in no time, how they were my most genuine, most caring and most supportive set of people in my new abode. At twenty-eight, I was warm enough in a cold country.
With money being my immediate need of the hour, I started looking for work left, right and center. My first job arrived in less than a month. I felt happy I could use one of my existing skills that made it seem easy and yet it came with its own challenges. I was distributing flyers on the streets of downtown from house to house, for a small business owner of a window cleaning service. I gladly accepted the job because I have always loved walking. I felt it was also a good way to explore downtown through its streets. The only thing that I discounted was cold. The winters were not over yet and my nose and eyes were perennially running. It was almost like living a fantasy. To be poor, do odd jobs and make ends meet. And yet, nothing more than a fantasy. At twenty-eight, I was unearthing the value of my time, energy and efforts. I had a moment of gratitude thanking my stars for this experience. It brought me one step closer to understanding the struggles of my family who every time made ends meet with grace. I was happy, and they were proud. They were proud to see my attempts, my will to do more and my attitude to never give up. They believed in me and my strength roared because of them. As more odd jobs came my way, I looked at all of them as a necessary analysis of my potential. Only after spending a day at the call center, I knew it wasn’t my cup of tea. Making calls and asking people their opinion on politics made me feel horrible. I knew there were better ways out there to keep the money wheel moving. The next job took me to a warehouse where I was lifting boxes, scanning groceries and standing on my feet all day. I wasn’t complaining at all. There is something very attractive about big warehouse spaces. We listened to music, chatted while getting our work done and felt hungry most of the time. I made my first Caribbean friend at the warehouse. Our day out at Niagara Falls still remains my most favorite memory with him.
Thankfully, the period of odd jobs ended in about five months and I got my first corporate stint after some networking and getting rejected for a research job that I so badly wanted. I started working with Johnson and Johnson on a project that was new to me. To be fair, all the projects at this point were new to me. And there was another personal project that I was super excited about.
On the first of July, Canada day, I signed my first lease and moved into a new apartment. No more accommodating with friends, a big room to myself and a kitchen to take care of. At twenty-eight, I was more independent than ever. The whole of Canada celebrated these accomplishments, with fireworks. There were friends I stayed with, friends who helped me set up and friends who literally shared their lives with me. All of this felt awesome.
But the thing about happy moments is that they always come and go. While it was all flowing well, it was all very confusing too. In no time, I was struggling at my workplace. Not because there was an overflow of work, but because there was no work. Or maybe there was, but it didn’t feel like work. There were no directions, no goals and no mentoring. I was only doing what I was asked to do. Nothing more and nothing less. There was nobody to communicate and none at all to do any sort of hand-holding. At this point, I wasn’t sure, if it was a cultural shock or just a personal experience. But there was something I was gaining for sure. Canadian experience as they call it, they almost swear by it. As more and more people flow in this country every day, the workplaces are more complex and diverse. Each one brings their own thought process, their values and their work styles. It may not be the most pleasant experience of all, but it certainly is an essential one. So, at twenty-eight, I wasn’t satisfied at all with my professional graph, it was witnessing more troughs than crests, leaving me utterly unhappy and insecure.
Coincidentally, it was also the time when loneliness kicked in, home sickness stuck after six months and the strong and independent me was turning into a fragile and sensitive being. At twenty-eight, I was experiencing an unruliness in my emotions, losing my mind for no concrete reason and an uncalled shift in my behavior that didn’t seem to lift. Whether it was a phase of depression or an unstable state of mind, it was all a part of growing up. And while adulting is not fun for many of us, it is real for sure. Every day was a struggle, I was dealing with my thoughts of missing my family, keeping up with my daily chores that were so cyclic and never-ending, and stretched through hours of work that felt monotonous and lacked context. I wouldn’t deny that I doubted my decision of immigration and questioned myself if that was even required, but never did I have the urge to return. All of this was a cycle of many firsts that I was going through. At twenty-eight, it was hard to believe in myself, but it was harder to give up. To build this new life, I needed courage and determination, peace of my mind and an acceptance for all that I had no alternative for but to experience.
While most of it came from my friends and family who constantly reminded me of the huge shift in my life and that I was brave enough to handle it, I also owe a part of my sanity to my practice of yoga. I was back on my mat in irregular intervals and constantly looked for ways to go back to the community. There were moments of peace and happiness amidst all the chaos.
There were moments of Indian-ness every now and then. When I celebrated the Ganpati festival, hosted Egyptian, Caribbean, Chinese and diverse Indian audience opening the window of my culture to them or the Friday visits to the Gurudwara to enjoy a sumptuous langar with the community, a part of India never parted from me.
At twenty-eight, I also yearned for more travels. But there was hardly time for this luxury. But I did sneak out to Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City for a guided tour on a long weekend. It was nothing like those slow long travels that I always enjoyed but it was certainly worth it to remind myself for all things that I love.
Although the first summer in Canada was a mixed feeling, the fall had a different impact altogether. For the first time, I was witnessing the beautiful shades of death. Leaves on trees exhibited a diaspora of colors that were a sheer pleasure to the eyes. The evergreen turned to yellow, orange, pink and then a darker pink before it gently fell on earth. The winds picked up pace and the sun went away earlier each day. Fall was beautiful. I felt it in my heart. My thoughts eased out too. I wasn’t stressed as much. It all felt like a God’s plan.
All this while, I never ceased my hunt for a job, eternally seeking contentment for my most potential eight hours that I dedicate to work. There were interviews, coffee chats, e-mails, networking and volunteering opportunities. There were innumerous versions of my work profile and an endless search on the internet. And yet there were no results shown. I was stretched in all possible directions. Nothing seemed to move. As they say, good things come to those who wait. And so, I waited. I believe, at twenty-eight, I was learning to accept things the way they were, and every time talk myself through it. It wasn’t yet the time to give up. It was time to fuel up. Fuel myself with a renewed energy of ultra-hope and crazy optimism.
For this very reason, I needed a trip home. To take a break and rejuvenate. And what better way than attending an Indian wedding. I was back to where I always belonged. Free and happy, I danced my heart out, took a few roads and hugged the Himalayas again. There was more food on my plate than I could ever eat. I echoed a new streak of confidence.
Sooner than I thought, with an overwhelming sense of experiences, I turned twenty-nine. Twenty-eight turned out to be a year of adulting. Serious, real-world adulting with no dreamy state of affairs. Instead of conveniently planning my next travel sitting on a couch, I was planning my days ahead. A steady flow of income, future investments to make, groceries to buy and other cyclic daily tasks filled up my mind space. At twenty-eight, I was proudly owning my life.
To live a life full of experiences is all I ever dreamt of and here I am living the dream. At twenty-eight, I am happy to know that life happened. There resided in me a little bit of everything, sadness and happiness, dilemmas and faith, insecurities and trust, rejections and acceptance. And many more emotions, that belong to me. At twenty-eight, I learnt to believe deeply in me.