Monday, November 10, 2008

Monday, and the cold week ahead...

This morning my family woke up extra early. Today was was my nephews second birthday. He was in India, and both my kids were feeling sad that they were missing his party. So, we planned to get onto Skype at 7am our time, and 5.30pm Indian time, and with the help of technology, we were able to see the entire party and sing the birthday song along with the crowd. It was nice....almost like being there. I also got to talk to many of my friends who reminded me of the life I left behind in India. Yes.....they rubbed it in!!

Lots of thoughts as I sit to write my post today:

First, our shipment from India came finally.....after three months at sea and practically going all around the world. It was NOT home delivered like you see in the movies.

First, we had to go to the bank and make a deposit in the shipping companys bank account. Then they sent us the clearance by email and told us which warehouse our things were in. Then we went to the warehouse, where they told us that we would have to come back with the clearance from customs to be able to pick up our stuff.

So the next morning, my husband and I drove to the customs office, near the airport. I have to say that the officers there were extremely polite, smart and knew exactly what kind of questions to ask. Our things were all old and used, mostly clothes, book and the kids toys. After putting a value on our goods, which we did ourselves, they decided not to charge any amount as they were all personal things and as immigrants you are allowed a one time shipment. We were thrilled!

Then, we went to the warehouse. This is where we kind of hit a road lbock in the sense that, they said they would deliver the boxes to our driveway (not anywhere inside your house) and you have half and hour to take all the boxes and give them back the skids. Skids are the wooden frames that they put all your boxes on, which can be lifted by the forklift. Now, we were talking about a lot of boxes and just two of us, (the driver of the truck was not going to help). Also, they would charge 200 dollars for delivery and an extra 40 dollars for every half hour after the first thirty minutes. It was just too crazy, so we decided we would pick up and take the goods home ourselves.

Renting a U-haul, we brought the boxes home in two installments. They were crated, so at home we got a crowbar to open the boxes and then unpack all the things as we opened them.

My husband left for India the same week, so after he left I spent the week opening crates and lugging things from the garage into the house and finding a place for everything. The kids were so happy to see their daughters stuffed toys, her puzzles, her nintendo ds (which was packed in the shipment by mistake) and my sons Harry Potter books, chess board and remote control car. Little things to us...but big things to them!

The week he wasn't here, the kids slept with me in our bedroom. We double checked all the doors at night and got phone numbers from the neighbours just in case of a middle of the night emergency! It was great that I got my license, because I was able to drive to the stores, school and library, instead of being stuck at home all day or depending on someone else. You learn to be self-suffient here, which in a way is a good thing.

It gets dark by 4.45 or so now, which is so strange. You start to feel sleepy earlier because of all that darkness, and it takes some time to get used to the fact that there is so much happening outside even though it is dark.

We went for Madagascar last week, reached the theatre which was unusually crowded and packed with kids. By the time we got to the front of the ticket line, all the tickets for Madagascar were sold out and we ended up watching High School musical. My daughter loved it, my son told us midway that he was not feeling well and my husband and I finally understood that time has caught up with us...and we did not see what was so great about the movie!!

This week we booked tickets online and saw Madagascar yesterday. It was great! Had a nice weekend with the kids.........oh yea, Sunday school. Both kids have speaking parts in the Christmas pageant two weeks from now. They have to try out their costumes next week as well as the dress rehearsal and carol singing practice.

On the business front, we have started advertising our products and services, flyers went out today in a local newspaper, and we took part in an artisan show and had a stall. Keeping our fingers crossed that some sort of billing starts and we get the business off of the ground.

Just listening to so many immigrants I have come to a few conclusions:

1. The majority of the immigrants you see are qualified to be doing much more than what they are. Doctors and Lawyers from India are now security officers or bagging groceries at walmart. Most of them are doing classes or courses to get certification to practice what they are qualified for. For many, this can take years.

2. Many families want to go back to India...they realize that they made a big mistake in immigrating. But they can't because they have burnt their bridges in India, or sold everything they had to come here. Ego.....with everyone in India thinking the family here is doing we well, how can they go back and say they didn't make it?

3. Many of the double income couples have one set of aging parents here to take care of the kids. How unfair is this? The older people cannot drive, speak english (the majority) or do anything else all day but take care of the kids and the house keeping. Many of these older people want to go back to India, but they can't because they are dependent on their children who need them in Canada.

4. The ones that do make it here..........the very few...........are the lucky ones. The majority have both husband and wife working (in India many of the wives had the priviledge of staying at home and taking care of the kids and home), as well as taking care of all the housework once they get home. No cooks, maids or drivers........many have left these behind in India to make 'it' here in Canada.

5. I also noticed that many of the immigrants I spoke to, either did not have a job yet in India or had a low paying job. There was no way they could have afforded a car or a home, but here in Canada, with most low paying jobs, you can still get credit or a loan and buy these things. For many immigrants, the car and home is their dream come true...............

6. So it really depends what kind of a life you had in India that you left to come here, that eventually determines your happiness and how you settle down. For some it is a struggle, for some it is an opportunity to acheive more than they ever dreamed.

I had this post drafted so many times without posting it. Finally I have down so much of what I have been waiting to say..........

This week, we had our t.v on all day watching the terror that unfolded in Mumbai. My father-in-law always stays at the Taj or the Oberoi and we called India immediately to find out where he was. Luckily, he did not have a meeting that week and was safe at home in Chennai. But his friend lost his wife in the Taj shooting and I lost my senior from school. Ashok Kamte, one of the three top cops who died the first day. He leaves behind his wife and two small children. For Indians abroad who watched from so far away, it was hard not be be able to be one of those lighting candles or taking part in the peace rallies.

Happy Thanksgiving to all those in the U.S, and oh..........twenty four more shopping days till Christmas!!


1 comment:

Al said...

Hi Nal

This is the 1st I've heard about your business! What are your products and services?

I found your comments about immigrants surprisingly relevant to me. My immigrant parents (from England) also believed after a few months here in the late 1950's that they had made a 'big mistake'. In less than a year I was back in London, England. But it seems the warm memories of 'back home' are not always the reality of actually being back there. My parents immediately recognized that their original decision had be the correct one, and I ended up back in Canada for a 2nd time.

That 'homesickness' gave me 2 trips across the Atlantic on ocean liners and one more on the last trans-Atlantic commercial propeller driven airplane service. Great memories and stories!

This is a monstrously big country, and can support anyone's dreams.