Dear fellow Canadians, enjoy your long weekend. Lots of cities do fireworks and host cultural events, please take advantage of it. The weather is beautiful in Southern Ontario. I am sure it is nice in other parts of Canada except Iqaluit. Anyway, Happy Victoria day.
I was a student at University of Toronto when Rob Ford was elected as the mayor. A lot of people in the downtown core despise him. Ford was able to win due to his anti-taxes, small government supporters from the suburban areas such as Scarborough and Etobicoke. No, 905 area (Brampton, Mississauga) were not involved. They have their own mayors. Now, recently Gawker alleges it saw a video of Ford smoking crack. I do not even know what to say. Just remember you picked the guy Torontonians. Be ashamed. Be very ashamed!
Now for some amusement-Rob Ford Gifs
P.S: The link to Gawker site has a whole list of Ford’s past uncouth behavior. Also, the post is kinda thin because I have no internet connection. Currently writing from a public library. I still haven’t finished my packing but exhaustion has set in. The moving day is coming closer and closer and I am panicking.
Chris Hadfield is back on earth after spending 5 months on the International Space Station. During his time in space, he posted many videos about his day to day life. Chris Hadfield made science and space cool again. Okay, I always find our universe fascinating but not everyone shares the enthusiasm. Mr. Hadfield seems like a great person, jovial, humble and very intelligent. He is a better role model for young kids than pop stars like Justin Beiber. Wish people like Mr. Hadfield are more popular as they contribute greatly to our society. Now, please enjoy a video of Mr. Hadfield making a Peanut Butter Honey Tortilla in Space.
Today is Mother’s Day in Canada. I just gifted my mom a new pressure cooker and some fancy Kitchen towels. LOL, she was pleasantly surprised. I told you my mom loves practical gifts. I will now leave you with a Bollywood song that celebrates Motherhood It is my mom’s favorite song as well.
The image in the header is of Toronto by my brother. He is an avid photographer and uses analog cameras rather then digital. He also did the font and is a design student. Last year, he was picked for Lomo matrix event in Toronto. Me and my brother are planning to do a collaboration design/lifestyle blog in the future. But, don’t worry this blog will always get the priority. Any suggestions on improving the blog will be very helpful.
This my followup post to the Yin and Yang of being a South Asian Canadian women. In my previous post, I explained the concept of honor in South Asian culture. Now, I will elaborate on how Young South Asian Canadian teens have to always struggle between the more dominant western culture and the traditional culture of their parents. It can be quite a confusing time. First of all, many South Asian parents are conservative and many things considered normal in the West are taboo in places like India and Pakistan. Some of the taboos are premarital sex, drinking alcohol, women living independently etc. Now there are people in India who partake in all these activities and more. Nevertheless, there is a stigma attached to all this for large swathes of Indian population.
So, a South Asian teen curious about sex doesn’t really have anywhere to turn to. Luckily Canadian schools provide sex education but this isn’t discussed at homes. Teens curious about alcohol or dating hide it from their parents. They do all this precisely because they will be judged harshly by the South Asian community and might bring dishonor to the family. This frankly is a big problem as it puts many teens in precarious situations with no parental supervision. It is something South Asian community needs to work on.
On the other hand are South Asian teens who might embrace some ideals from western culture such as democracy, rule of law, equality for all regardless of race, gender, age or sexuality. However, they also adopt some cultural or religious values from South Asia. This means teens who might believe in abstinence before marriage, filial piety or even arranged marriage. These teens can also get judged for being too conservative, too fobby and not being Canadian enough.
In both of my examples, teens who emulate western culture get judged for being too decadent, full of vices. Teens who adopt some traditional values get judged for being prudish, religious zealots. I personally feel like we need to let people make their choices as long as it is not infringing upon others. Someone who believes in abstinence isn’t prudish. A woman who has premarital sex isn’t a whore. It is all about making choices that are right for you. This battle between east and west continues to happen. In the meantime, South Asian community needs to address taboo issues and get rid of the honor concept. The mainstream Canadian society needs to stop judging people based on clothing and appearance. A woman wearing a hijab or a man wearing turban can still believe in democracy and equality but they shouldn’t fell pressured to give up religious or cultural values.
One of the quirks of my parent that both amuses me and annoys me is their inability to learn and use technology.
Dad: Beta, can you come down please? Beta, Beta, please, come down. I’ve been calling you for soooo long. Come down.
Me: Dad, what?
Dad: Can you put this DVD on.
Me: Seriously, Dad you called me for this.
Dad: You guys are so lazy. You do nothing around the house. I ask you to do a little thing. All you do is complain, complain. When you have kids, you will know.
Me: Okay, I’ll teach you again. You click the on button. Then you click open. You put the DVD in…
Two days later
Beta, come down please. I clicked the wrong button. Look what happened to the TV…
So, the cycle repeats itself.
P.S: My name is not Beta. It is the Hindi word for son or child. Beti is the Hindi word for daughter. But, since I was a tomboy when I was little, they affectionately sometime call me Beta.
“Beneath the armor of skin/and/bone/and/mind most of our colors are amazingly the same.”
― Aberjhani, Elemental: The Power of Illuminated Love
I was 12 when I moved to Canada. It was hard to say good-byes to all of my childhood friends, the neighbors and family. My maternal grandmother is especially close to my heart, even with her wrinkles and crooked teeth, she is the most beautiful woman to me. It was hard to leave her. Despite the tears, I was excited. India was hot, dusty, dirty, crowded, loud, colorful and familiar. Canada was supposed to be opposite of that. It was the land of opportunities, pristine, cold and exciting. I still remember how excited my siblings and I were during the plane ride. Our KLM flight got delayed for 7 hours at Amsterdam. During that time, we met another Indian family. They were going to be landed immigrants just like us. The couple were doctors and had 2 kids around our age. We played games with each other and were surprised at the diversity of eye colors in the waiting lounge. When we finally landed at Toronto, we exchanged numbers and promised to keep in touch.
Culture shock and loneliness
The first 2 weeks in Canada were a blur to me. We were surprised how clean it was. The roads were wide and people followed traffic rules. The roof of the homes were shingled and sloped. They weren’t the straight rooftops of the homes in India, where people went up during the evenings and enjoyed the cool breeze. Since, it was fall in Canada, the trees were beautiful shades of red, orange and yellow. I felt as I had landed in a fairy tale.
I had to start school just after two weeks in Canada. I did not feel ready but I was already behind a week. School was the biggest shock to me. There were no uniforms at the public school; kids were allowed to wear makeup. Kids carried skateboards and some of them had piercings even though they were only 13. When I first entered homeroom, I was surprised by the diversity. No one really greeted me because they were already used to new kids from far flung countries coming to their schools. However during lunch, a girl in my class greeted me with a question. “Are you new? Where are you from?” she asked. I nodded that I was new and that I came from India. She smiled and told me she was from Pakistan. She was a recent immigrant like me and it was her first time meeting an Indian. It was my first time meeting someone from Pakistan. Being “fobby”, we quickly became friends. We had a lot in common and she liked Bollywood movies. Coming to Canada, we were surprised to see that everything from our clothing, food to accents was met with derision. Racial slurs were used by some children and for the first time, I experienced racism. Teachers were disrespected and were not allowed to hit the children. In India, the teachers would have whooped their asses.
In order to fit in, we stopped bringing our ethnic food. “Just make me a PB&J sandwich,” I pleaded to my mom. This was before peanuts were banned from schools due to allergy concerns. Money was a big concern for my parents. They couldn’t find a job in their fields because they didn’t have Canadian experience. Eventually, they swallowed their pride and worked in factories as laborers I was extensively bullied during middle school in Canada. The bullying became so bad that I was switched to another class. It was during the 8th grade, that I found a teacher who helped me rebuild my self-confidence. I went from the kid being constantly mocked to the one who had good grades. I was constantly praised by my teacher. Suddenly, I became the smart kid and slowly kids in the class started becoming friendlier.
It was in high school, I felt I belonged here. I was more confident and secure. I had learned the intricacies of Canadian culture they cannot teach you in a book. My clothes, my food, and the way I talked didn’t make me stand out. I watched the same TV show as other teens. I understood the popular cultural references. I could now participate in the Canadian culture in a way that felt genuine. After all, very few things fazed me. Piercings were normal, rude teens were normal. Pre-marital sex was normal. Teen pregnancies didn’t shock me. NHL playoff being the topic of conversation in my household was normal.
The couple we met during our first flight to Canada went back to India after their first year. They couldn’t face the hardships, the humiliation. They would go back to being doctors in India. We persevered, and became Canadian citizens. My mother went to India last year. My brother went to Germany. They had a great time in respective countries. However, it was when they landed back in Toronto, they felt relief. They were home.
Okay, I was inspired to write this post after a real-life incident that happened with my Dad. A truck driver at my Dad’s workplace outright accused my Dad and other minorities for the reason Canadians (meaning him and other white people) cannot celebrate Christmas openly.
Now, I didn’t know Christmas was under a threat. I haven’t heard of any one getting shot in the gut if they uttered the words Merry Christmas in Canada. First of all, there are people from countries like India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka etc. who are Christians. That means, they go to the Church and celebrate Christmas. On top of that, plenty of Non-Christians like Hindus and Sikhs also celebrate Christmas because it’s been secularized and commercialized to a large extent. I know that in India, Christmas is a national Holiday and plenty of malls, luxury hotels and shops have Christmas decorations. So, no one feels offended when they see Christmas trees and mall Santa Claus. In fact, everything is prettier and there are awesome deals to have. Also, plenty of Hindus, Sikhs and Jain just leave the Diwali lights on for Christmas. No point of taking it down after just a day; plus the house looks pretty with the lights on.
What, I think that truck driver was talking about was the use of Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas in various public institutions such as the schools. Guess what, if even one parent complains about the holiday because they feel it encroaches upon their religious freedom, good bye Merry Christmas, hello Happy Holidays. In addition, there are plenty of atheists who might feel a religious holiday has no place in a public institution. People might just be overly political correct because they don’t want to offend anyone.
Anyway, don’t be ignorant fools and look forward to the Winter Solstice coming in December.
P.S: I know not all white Canadians think like that. The title is tongue in cheek.
P.P.S: Er, there is a reason I have used the word white rather then Caucasian. I think this Wikipedia definition sums it up:
Caucasian race (also Caucasoid, Europid, or Europoid) is the general physical type of some or all of the populations of Europe, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, Western Asia/Middle East, Asia Minor, Central Asia and South Asia. Historically, the term meant people from these regions, without regard necessarily to skin tone