How being Indian helped me settle in Canada

Toronto Skyline

To begin with, I take great pride in being Indian – of belonging to a culture so rich, deep and limitless. I am fortunate to have multiethnic roots – my father being a Maharashtrian and mother Gujarati. And to top that, I have been married to a Punjabi ‘munda’ for the past seven years.


An exposure to several Indian languages at an early age (given my multilingual rearing and belonging to the beautiful metropolitan city of Mumbai) and having a diverse set of friends have been blessings that I shall always thank God for. Respect for elders, compassion for peers and love for children are imbibed in us, Indians, since we are born.


Also, a vast majority of us, given our educated middle-class upbringing, believe in living life with a certain sense of personal discipline, good social behavior and humility. And these are our invaluable assets.


After migrating to Canada in late 2016, my life transformed! Things that struck an immediate chord within were the amazing infrastructure, discipline in commute and commuting channels, cleanliness, and most importantly, the value associated with and given to every living soul!


How different are these approaches from those I had seen in India all this while – for a good thirty-odd years of my life.


To be very honest, these things were like a breath of fresh air! And these are the very things that Indians who live abroad rave about and wish were present in their country!


Like every new start, ours too was riddled with some challenges. Renting a place, getting the paperwork in order, registering our toddler in school, finding challenging and satisfying jobs and so on.


However, the systems and processes in this country are transparent, seamless, user-friendly, and are so easy to comprehend that they do not intimidate you. It is a welcome relief from the bureaucracy and frustrations one faces in India.


Once, all this was in place, it was time to start a routine, follow a schedule and start the life we were looking forward to.


Despite all these wonderful- and developed-country privileges, there seemed to be a small element missing – family and social life.


But, what breaks you also makes you. In flashes of sadness, you learn to value even your smallest moments of happiness! I believed this was momentary and that we could really overcome the lull experienced for a few days. Part of the ups and downs in life as I call it.


Soon, being a social and friendly person, I made several friends at work. Parents of our toddler daughter’s friends became our friends, some old acquaintances from Mumbai become close friends, and some dear ones became our new family.


We also met some distant relatives, who we were completely unaware of in the past. They are very dear and special to us now. They are the family closest to us, who we can count on and run to in good and bad times, alike. We now celebrate most of the Indian festivals together, with family and friends!


Friends, family and our social relationships have made us feel at home every waking second of our lives in Canada!


This very ethos of Indian-ness has saved us from the misery of isolation and alienation from one’s culture, faced by people who do not engage in healthy social relationships when living abroad.


Being an Indian in a foreign land has not been difficult. In fact, it has been easy to adjust to the positive changes that Canada brings into your life, to leverage good career opportunities, to explore new places, to live holistically, and enjoy our time here.


We could find our bearings and settle down quickly because of our Indian-ness that came from our existing liberal background, good education, and religious and cultural roots.


We know there’s a long way ahead and many perplexing years to follow. The real test will be raising a discerning and clever Indian child in the western world. As she grows up, there will be questions – plenty and much sooner that they would have been, had we been in India.


For her, there will be potential emotional conflicts arising from being an Indian child and living like Canadian children such as her classmates and friends. Simply put, she would lead two lives - as an Indian at home and as a Canadian outside.


For us as parents, one of the challenges will be to help her strike the right balance between her culture back home and that in her new country. But one of the real challenges will be to help her perceive and distinguish good from bad, and lead a fulfilling life.


And this is where being Indian will be a guiding force, a force to reckon with! I hope we triumph in passing over our culture and traditions to our beloved daughter, and keep a rather small but significant light of Indian-ness shining in her heart, forever!




About Author: A biotechnologist-turned-marketing professional the author specializes in corporate and marketing communications, and digital marketing. She has also been freelancing as a creative content writer for the past ten years. She has a flair for learning foreign languages, a penchant for reading, and a keen interest in performing arts such as music and dance. She currently lives in Canada and is a mother to an adorable three-year old daughter.

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