An Immigrant’s Diary – The Move

While a large number of people immigrate every year, it still does not make it easy when you are the one doing it.

  • Feb. 6, 2013 9:00 a.m.

Second in a series

A director with an MNC: me, a nationally awarded teacher: My wife and IT specialist: my son, an accomplished recruiter: my daughter – this was my family, well settled in India.

After much discussions and debates when it was decided that we are indeed going to move, the question that plagued everyone was how much of the things that we know and are comfortable with will change over the next year. Disturbing the balance gets everyone uncomfortable. Change is always resented. As human beings, we all wish to be in our comfort zones.

While a large number of people immigrate every year, it still does not make it easy when you are the one doing it. Immigration is like being born again with an identity which you need to earn. Make another life around us was a difficult proposition.

How do we move? Do we all move at once, do we take a staggered approach to it? Considering we were all doing well financially and socially, we came to the conclusion that we would need to stagger the departures of each one of us.

While my kids, at the cusp of their careers, needed more time to establish themselves as global players, it became clear that the first person moving would be me, as the probability of finding a job was the most critical and difficult for me. My children would be my support till the time I had my feet firmly planted on the ground in Canada, and then they could come and I could be their strength while they settle down. I did not know then if these family values were still around in Canada.

With the decision taken, we started to look at how well we could prepare ourselves for our move. And then we remembered that with the visa documents came an innocuous looking paper mentioning CIIP – Canadian Immigration Integration Program. This organization was a blessing in disguise. CIIP is a single place, where one could walk in with the most inane questions and they would do their best to placate the tribulations.

Over a period of time we realized that when information was not available with CIIP they always ensured that they would get us in touch with people who have the answers. To all the newcomers who are federal skilled workers, provincial nominees, their spouses and adult dependents, and are reading this, I would suggest that if your country of origin has the CIIP program that you can undertake, please do so. The best part is that CIIP helps you while you are still overseas during the final stages of the immigration process. They go to the extent of communicating who to meet with, whom to meet and if help is sought they would go ahead and fix up appointments. Every single detail is looked after including advice on where to stay in the initial few difficult days.

I had set myself a target of four months to leave India. It seemed like a short time, but with my family coming later, it would be my son and daughter who would actually end up “closing shop” back home. Days seemed to have fewer hours during that time. Every day I would learn something new about Canada. I could not help but think that however hard the move might be once I actually get there, the place would welcome me with open arms. With all my preparations done, before I even knew it, it was time for me to bid adieu to my country of birth. I had decided that I would return when I had become “someone” in Canada – a new identity I could be proud of.

With the knowledge that my family would join me shortly, the final goodbyes at the airport were more along the lines when you go to an adventure camp than it being a sad affair.

Once on the flight, amidst the plethora of emotions bubbling under the surface, I knew at the heart of it was the realization that I had left my country of birth to settle down in an unknown place. I have no recollection of the flight or the stopover at Heathrow, as too many unanswered questions were hovering around in my head. Twenty hours later, while we were still 30,000 feet above ground, I reminded myself that married with two children, I had a lot to prove. I was determined to leave my hesitation behind.

I had weathered difficult times in life and succeeded. This hurdle would be overcome in time. I was reminded of my favourite phrase when counselling anyone who is down and out. Have faith in yourself always, because no one will do it for you. You will need to do everything yourself. Keep focused and determined because you are worth it.

Lost in my thoughts, I realized we were about to land soon. The Vancouver skyline was welcoming me. It was a pleasant site: the dotted skyline, the sea with a boundary far away, the city was slowly coming to life. With it, my fears were fading away. It took me about 20 minutes from the time I landed to be walking out of the airport. Either I had come in at a lean time or the system was just efficient. From what I had seen, I believe it was the latter.

At 6 p.m. on March 9, 2012, I had arrived in Canada. I said to myself: “Here I am, and I am here to succeed.” The 24-hour flight was forgotten. I was invigorated with the new land – the new smells, the realization that the thing we had discussed for so long was finally here.

Then the reason for my comfort dawned on me. I had left a home to join another “home.” At least, I did not have to worry about a place to sleep and food when I needed it. I was received by Kamal, my young brother-in-law. It is a relief, 7000 miles from home in a new country, when you see familiar faces – people that you call family. I felt at home instantly.

I had just joined my own folks in another part of the globe – another home. All that uncertainty and scary feeling was replaced by joyous banter. It was a unanimous decision that we had to close the day with some memorable action. The only resolution finding favour was a large drink. It just struck me that we as a family think that eating and drinking is the best method of celebration. An hour of driving on a fabulous road without the customary spine breakers and gut-wrenching screeches had just finished.

The news of what was happening back home and what was the news here in the new home were quickly exchanged and we commenced our business of merry-making. It was quite obvious that except Kamal not all were quite skilled at this art. Fortunately our habits matches to the T. Punjabis are flamboyant, garrulous, loving people and know how to enjoy life. No emotion is hidden. A laugh is from the bottom of the heart – well-meaning with the intention to share. Well after midnight when I sank into the soft bed, warm and satiated with alcohol and plenty of food, I could not help but think: Tomorrow would be the first day of my journey to success.

The next morning was a surprise. My body clock was working a little overtime, waking me early at 7 a.m. It was bright and sunny with the temperature around four degrees. The surprise was the beautiful snow-capped mountain range shining in the sun. Last evening I had read an inscription on the vehicle number plate. It had read – “Beautiful British Columbia.”  I had also read a large billboard while entering the town; Abbotsford – A city in the country.

It started sinking in that I was in a beautiful part of the world – a city called Abbotsford. My life was going to be made here.

Now a resident of Abbotsford, Ajit Sinha has specialized in human resources. He is a military veteran, and is in his third career. He enjoys writing to connect with people. His love for culture and challenges has brought him to Canada.