Thursday, September 27, 2007

Patriotism to the core, maybe!

On 15th of August, I worked. Its not like I had a choice considering the fact that it was a working day over here. Back in India, it would have been a public holiday, where one could get penalized if he/she decides to go to office and work. In schools, there would be Independence Day celebrations and compulsory attendance for flag hoisting. Coming back to what I wanted to relate, I am a very patriotic person and my heart weeps for all those brave Indian soldiers who have given up their lives defending the country. However, I still believe that a Pakistani common man also has the right to live and not be condemned just because he is from Pakistan.

On the same day, I went out with my colleague for lunch. She wanted to treat me so I relented (never a big deal) and we went out to this select Sandwich place near the office. After lunch, the owner remarked that she was celebrating the Independence Day. To me, they seem to know each other. She smiled and agreed with the old man. He asked her whether she was celebrating the Pakistani Independence Day, and there was a big outburst from her. She literally shouted at the old man saying that it is the Indian Independence Day that she was celebrating and how dare he ask her that question. The old man all terrified replied that he himself being a Pakistani thought that she was also one. I just feel that she should have politely refused that she wasn’t celebrating the Pakistani Independence Day since she was an Indian. The outburst was uncalled for. When we came out of the shop, she told me that she will never ever enter that Pakistani shop again. I thought to myself, what about all that times she had dined there earlier, how would she undo that?

It is so very intriguing to note that almost all the Indians out here depend on grocery stores, eateries and restaurants in Canada owned by Pakistanis either knowingly or unknowingly. When it comes to survival, I feel people ignore the source of the food or the grocery item. The only thing is that I get amused when someone gets shocked one fine day, when he/she comes to know that the shop where the groceries has been coming is actually a Pakistani’s. I wonder if the shock is for everyone else to see rather than that person to feel. Maybe, it is to show that he/she is so patriotic that a question of buying stuff from a Pakistani would never have come up if it was known earlier. Is that patriotism?

Yesterday, I was sitting with my colleagues and having lunch when someone mentioned a grocery store called Iqbal’s. All of them were talking about the merits of that particular store, when one person suddenly mentioned that it is a Pakistani store. It was very funny to see the expression of most of the people changing. Since Canada is a multicultural country, it is not hard to find Indians and Pakistanis living in peace and harmony. I only wish if some people would change their mindset and broaden it a little bit when it comes to kindness to fellow human beings, no matter where they come from.

Monday, September 17, 2007

New place and new adventures…

I landed with my husband in Toronto on August 3. The flight journey was not tiring and I did not really have any jet lag in the days that followed the journey too. When I realized that every single thing comes with a cost here, I nearly shrieked. For instance take the case of the airport luggage trolley. You have to shell out $2 for using a trolley, watching my expression my husband remarked, “Welcome to Canada”. I did feel welcome because I ended up finding an abandoned trolley while he had gone to collect the bags. :P. So, in essence the forthcoming posts will deal with the adventures I had from Aug 3 to the present day. I know, I should have related all that much earlier, but then I needed to get settled before I start pouring down my thoughts. :P

Toronto, the place where I stay, is a beautiful city with tall buildings and sky scraping structures, the noted ones being, the CN tower, the Toronto-Dominion Centre among the others.

Toronto-Dominion Centre

The CN tower-Courtesy kovyrin

Being very passionate about finance, I was thrilled to see the Bay Street which is the financial hub of Canada. The houses here in the sub urban and urban areas look almost the same, which is one of the first things which struck me. Some of them were row houses, and I wondered if people got lost finding their way back home.

Row houses during Fall

Now, that made me decide on an apartment rather than a house. Smart right? :P Nah, not really since even a small house would cost you anywhere from $150,000. Though our initial plan was to stay in downtown which is thought to be the most happening place, we ended up taking an apartment in the outer suburb, North York, due to unavailability and the huge waiting list in downtown. Changing the apartment to ‘home sweet home’ looked very thrilling and challenging to me. Of course, I was thrilled because of obvious reasons. Why did it pose as a challenge back then? The apartment was in the 16th floor and I was acrophobic. : ) Despite the view from the 16th floor, the whole idea of getting over the fear of heights drove me nuts initially.

Now that's the view from our living room. Now, why not a picture standing on the balcony? No way!

Those days, I never really walked into the balcony. It was like an abandoned area, left to be kept empty. I still remember asking the building staff, if there was any other floor available to which the answer was the 6th floor. I asked my husband whether we could check that out and he said what difference that would make to my fear. I know it was stupid but I still confidently argued that I may have better peace of mind on the fear aspect. You see, my argument was loosely based which ended up being weak in contrast to his, which raved about the view from the 16th floor. So, the rest is history.

On the first few visits to buy furniture for the apartment, I used to convert the cost into rupees and then get shocked. Like the couches we finally got, which costed us $1000 (Rs 40,000), but that was the last time I did any kind of conversion. Its like you got to realize that the day you stop converting, you automatically start enjoying Toronto. You start loving the place and the stuff you get out here purely on face value, but I guess some habits never die. Like the time when I asked for further discounts on the TV we wanted to purchase from Future Shop. :P

To be continued.