On Wednesday, 7th of March, I completed one month in this beautiful city of Toronto. It has been a journey overloaded with new thoughts, new tasks and new dimensions to look at the world. Sharing a few observations that have kept me warm in this cold place.
I remember tales from back home that I used to hear about Canada; how it is also known as Mini Punjab. They say the sign boards in Canada are also in Punjabi. That you can easily locate a turbaned man in almost every place you go to. The kids have the option of selecting Punjabi language as a subject in school, the flights have a huge database of Punjabi movies, the local radio stations play Punjabi songs and you see people doing Bhangra on the road and that everyone you meet there have some family back home, either in Ludhiana or in Jalandhar.
All myths were busted when I landed a month ago in Canada. While I had come to believe that Canada would be more Punjabi than Punjab itself, I am glad that it isn’t. From the time I boarded the Air India flight to Toronto till today when I de-boarded the TTC Bus 134 outside Centennial College, I have seen an unimagined world of mixed cultures, variety of ethnicity and no right or wrong way of being human. And to this, Punjabis have made a significant contribution.
Back in India, Canada has always been synonymous with Punjabi, however, I have met more Gujratis, Tamilians and Lankans in the past one month. It is not a just Punjabi thing. I use public transit, visit public libraries and more often visit the newcomers’ services centers in my local region. I believe Canada has not branded itself as multi cultural out of no context. There are blacks and browns, orientals and Caucasians, short hair and extensions, bearded and bald, pierced and tattooed, with all their differences, they are all operating in the same air. The one thing that remains common across cultures is that they all wear snow boots and furry jackets. Yes, when the weather becomes harsh on Canadians, they say that the warmth within stays intact. The diversity of the city is also its pride that is seen loud & clear. Though I haven’t made many friends here, it looks like I have landed in the right place in my pursuit of becoming a true global citizen. It is a good way of knowing the world in one place.
By far, the public libraries have been one of the most exciting places to visit. There is access to new information, free wifi and free tourist passes. For each library card, on every Saturday, you can collect a free pass to visit the tourist attractions in the city like Toronto Zoo, Ontario Science Center, Bata Shoe Museum and many more places around the city. These places are also advisable to visit during the winter months as exploring outdoors is not an option for many.
It is true that technology has helped a great deal for me to maneuver around this new city. For the millennials, most of the information is also accessed by downloading an app for what is required. Weather Canada tops the list of must have apps in this city. Few Sunny days are mostly followed by a few flurry days, courtesy the lake effect. The TTC transit apps can help you to increase your mobility. TD bank incentivized me with 5$ to download their app and start using it. Kijiji has been useful in finding part time jobs and renting apartments. But the most interesting one so far has been Tinder. It truly reflects the multi cultural vibe of this city. However, for me, the most often used app is Meethi Mirchi, so I don’t miss Bollywood at all. I do miss the food delivery apps from time to time, the convenience of ordering warm Chinese food on a cold day was a bliss.
The past one month has been slow and steady and at the same time overwhelming with everything new and vibrant. My visit to Cliff-side with my Canadian cousins gave me a glimpse of the natural beauty around the place. My upcoming volunteering activities at YMCA as a Yoga Instructor look like a foundation step to my dream of owning a yoga studio one day. There is an excitement to learn the French language giving me hopes of new avenues.
But for now, it is a challenge to set myself up in this country and working towards building a career that I truly want. In a month, I have been able to fetch an interesting part time job for myself. I have to distribute flyers for a window cleaning guy in Downtown, who has agreed to pay me 15$ per hour. While I longed to become a waitress, this one will make me happy too; I get to see the city and get paid for it. I guess a global citizen never says no to work.
I also played a ‘5 minutes’ quick Holi, visited Indian temples in foreign land and relished Kadi Chawal at the Scarborough Gurudwara. While India still fills most of the spaces in my heart and probably always will, I can certainly say Toronto is that home away from home that doesn’t make me sick for my home.