The move to Canada

One day I came home from work and opened my Gmail to find the golden email from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) – a request to submit my passport at the nearest Canadian High Commission. Finally, a new adventure was about to unfold. I was going to be a Permanent Resident in Canada (Kanedaaaa!). I left my job and spent a few months with my parents and friends in India, all this while packing and preparing myself for the BIG move. I was feeling somewhat anxious, a little excited and a tiny bit scared too. But the adventurer in me had high hopes, and as always, those hopes were overwhelming every other feeling.

After almost a 14-hour flight from New Delhi and a 3-hour stopover at London Heathrow, I landed in Vancouver on September 10, 2017. A new land, new people and just two familiar faces, a cousin and a childhood friend, both of whom I hadn’t talked to for ages. Some would call me courageous; some a fool. I guess there’s a thin line between the two, and honestly, I too sometimes get confused on which side I stand. Anyway, both my cousin and friend helped me set up things and find a place to live. Things were going fine but then came the test of survival, “The Pursuit of Happyness” turning point in my life. I was spending through my life’s hard-earned savings in what seemed like an instant. It was time to search for a job. I looked through Craigslist, various job sites and career pages of known companies in my field of work and applied to them all hoping to get a response and land an interview from at least one, but strangely, things didn’t go as planned. And I had no idea what it was that was keeping me from getting a job or an interview call.

I have more than two years of experience working for an online English news portal as a distinguished video editor and a news producer. All of a sudden, it all went down the drain when I moved to Canada. Wow! It kind of shows you the reason why many of the capable people who immigrate to Canada are under-employed. Engineers, doctors and others move here and start working as truck drivers, bus drivers, electricians and sales reps. At first it made me question my decision to move here, but then, being an adventurer, I set out to overcome this challenge. I started a day job to meet my monthly expenditures. Meanwhile, I attended social events and gatherings to network and find opportunities to work in my field. I managed to find a few projects, but the journey still continues with the hope of finding a clear path that leads me to where I want to be.

Bollywood in Vancouver. | Photo by Tracy Bains

But my outlook isn’t all negative. I’m from India. It’s a diverse country. It has so many cultures, hundreds of languages and religions. But when I came to Canada, it redefined diversity for me. Well, of course it would. I’ve seen people from the same country (India) living together and co-existing, but here there are people from all over the world who are living together. I believe a major contributing factor to this peaceful co-existence is the freedom that each community has to express and follow their religious and cultural practices.

I was surprised to see the prominent impact of the Sikh culture in Surrey, BC. It’s quite a surprise when you find that a foreign land has a culture that is not that different from your own hometown. Honestly, the two places, Surrey and Patiala, are worlds apart when you consider the infrastructure and facilities, but when I met people living here in Surrey, everyone talking in Punjabi, they are still connected to their Punjabi culture. My friend and his friends obsess over Bollywood flicks and Punjabi songs. A gurdwara (Sikh temple) and a Khalsa school are on every other block. It felt as if I had never left Punjab. The familiarity in a foreign place provides a base to be in touch with your original self – it’s like a beacon that doesn’t let you stray too far off. It is something that is required especially as a new immigrant who leaves behind his family, friends and culture to live in a new land.

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