Lifestyle

An Immigrant's Diary – Thoughts on immigrating

Ajit Sinha - Submitted photo
Ajit Sinha
— image credit: Submitted photo

First in a special series for the Abbotsford News

It was back in 1992 that my in-laws immigrated to Canada. Since then they persistently conveyed in every communication that we must do so too. We were quite well settled in our own individual arenas of work.  I was in the Indian Air Force in a specialist HR role while my wife was an elementary school teacher. Both of us were earning handsomely and maintaining a lifestyle way beyond what we had dreamed. We had a house in the making, two adorable kids and a future quite bright for growth and more opportunities. The thought of moving to a new country and finding new lives was just not on our agenda.

Our life was a journey in bliss, watching our two kids grow and our careers soar. I was already a young major, while my wife was a senior teacher. We explored new opportunities each day in life.

Our thoughts on immigration were sparked when my father-in-law expired prematurely in then small-town Abbotsford  in 1993. My mother-in-law had just a 23-year-old son to support her. For once, we really wanted to be near them to give a helping hand to bring their life back on track. The critical phase passed, but then there was a major road accident in 1999 when the two, along with their newlywed daughter-in-law, were hospitalized and incapacitated for the next nine months. My wife did manage to visit them, but I could not. Life just moved on with more in store for us each day. With every year, we climbed new ladders of success.

In 2002, my wife was selected to work in Moscow for three years. Our life came to a standstill with this news as my two children were in the critical grades of 12 and 11. It was obvious that my kids and I would stay in India while she settled, and then decide who can move with her. My moving was not an option. My wife flew to Moscow in the early part of 2002. Just a week after her move, I received a very premature move order to travel and work from a remote location in India where there were practically no options for my kids to study. The dilemma was that either my wife gave up the Moscow opportunity to stay back with the kids while I moved out to the remote location, or I resigned and stayed with the children. Very seldom does an individual get a chance to work representing the country. The opportunity to work in Moscow was a chance for my wife to excel in life. I decided to resign. This was an option I had never dreamt of earlier.

A year later, my son had opted to do his engineering from India, while my youngest, having decided to complete her high school from Russia, professed a wish to study overseas. It was at this time that I thought of immigration as a good idea. At this time I was still relatively young. A day after being relieved from military service, I submitted my application as a skilled worker to Canada in September 2002.

Meanwhile my daughter applied to the University of British Columbia for a bachelor degree and got a confirmed offer for admission. However, the Canadian embassy rejected the request for her visa, stating that since I had applied for a permanent immigration as a skilled worker, she could not be issued a student visa. It  was conveyed by the embassy that the wait times for even consideration of the application was 72 months. The very idea of immigration vanished, and I got busy settling into my new career in the corporate HR world, and the kids chose their vocations in life.

Time flew by. Three years later in 2005, we had reached many milestones in life. My wife had come back from Moscow, my son was driving his first car, my daughter was in her first year of college, and I was working in a dream job in the corporate world. There were no references or even a sporadic discussion of immigration. There was no way we would be able to move – that was our firm belief.

Another five years passed, taking me to the pinnacle of success in work – earning a six-figure salary, a national award for my wife, and dream jobs for my son and daughter. We had travelled abroad on holidays. A foreign country was no longer a charm after my wife lived in Moscow for three years, my son studied for his masters in U.S. and both my daughter and I having travelled the world over. Canada was no more in the horizon.

At the end of 2011, while we were on a holiday in Europe, we were informed by the Canadian embassy that we were to do our medical tests for immigration. The news was more of a shock than jubilation. It was nine years after we had first applied.

When we were of the age to struggle and really wanted to move, this option never came. Here we were enjoying the fruits of a successful life – were we ready to struggle again? The talk about immigration never surfaced again till we were back from holidays. It was decided that we might as well get the medical tests done. Within two weeks of our medical tests in November 2011, our passports were delivered with the Canadian immigration visa.

You can well imagine our dilemma. Moving to another country when my wife and I were over 50 years old was not an easy decision. But somewhere in my heart I felt God had given me another chance to prove to myself that “I can still do it”.

On one side, I was being presented with an opportunity which at one point in life I was very interested in. On the other side, did I now want to disturb the content balance of my life? While introspecting, I realized our lives are the sum total of our choices. I figured I would move first. One unsettled member in the family was always better than all of us.

I guess I have always had a penchant for challenges. Nothing is insurmountable if one works hard and remains focused. With a will to succeed, I finally decided to move.

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.

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