Canada: First Things

In this post, I will write about finding a home, setting up a home, and the initial things we went about doing on our first couple of weeks here.

When we first began checking out places to stay on Kijiji, we never knew about the general obsession with credit checks and job references. We were being turned down one after the other because we couldn’t provide our credit history or proof that we had a job (because we were new here). This is where having a few contacts in Toronto helped us. We finally found a place in Scarborough, which was affordable with all utilities included and a laundry room. We had our friends show us around the locality. To our pleasant surprise, ethnic Indian supplies were widely available and so was Halal meat.

We did our initial essential home shopping from Walmart and the dollar stores. We were advised to register at the Bed Bank and the Furniture Bank which are government sponsored programs that provide beds and furnitures to newcomers for free. The bed would come quickly, while our appointed time at the furniture bank would take another two weeks. At the furniture bank we will be sent in groups to select our furniture from a huge collection of refurbished pre-owned furniture, and each group gets half an hour. The furniture is then delivered to our home, whose delivery charge has to be borne by us. This is a very helpful program which will definitely help us cut back on our expenses on our initial months here in Canada. We found some good furniture there to be honest, some as good as new, and were feeling fulfilled at the decision.

There was a lot of DIY involved in setting up a homeline, a cable and an internet connection for our home. We bought a landline handset and got an Ooma Telo retailer we found on Kijiji to come over and configure our homeline. For our TV, we bought an Android TV box from Amazon to stream our preferred channels over the Internet. We got our internet line from Distributel, who sent us our modem by courier. We had to buy a router for our wifi purposes. A Rogers (Distributel rents some of their services) technician came over at his appointed time to check if there is a signal coming via a cable which was already present in our apartment. We pretty much did the rest of the configuration ourselves. This is entirely different from what happens in Dubai or India, where the technician just hands us everything on a platter. So we have our home phoneline, our TV viewing and our browsing/app usage, all running on our internet connection.

And unless one has a job and frequent calling to do, a mobile connection is sort of out of question. There are no pay as you go arrangements here as far as mobile connections are concerned. Taking a monthly plan according to your calling, texting and data usage is what is usually done here.

We went and registered at the nearest Newcomer Centre where they helped us fill out our forms for the Child Tax Benefit and our Ontario Health Insurance Plan. We submitted the OHIP form at Service Ontario. We also began a joint bank account at CIBC, and got credit cards for both of us. Meanwhile, my husband went about applying for his G1 driver’s license. He went directly for the tests because he already had a driver’s license in Dubai.
Since we live in Scarborough, which is considered to be on the outskirts of the city, we started feeling the need for a vehicle. Grocery stores and other essentials were long walking distances away. Also taking the bus was not that profitable for shorter distances, so was taking a taxi. Hence, we were also on the lookout for a vehicle which served our basic purposes and was cheap too.

All in all, we were starting to get comfortable in our new home, making necessary adjustments here and there to accommodate a bare minimum lifestyle. Most importantly, we were acquiring an entirely new outlook towards things. We were hopeful that our sacrifices would pay off and our open mindsets would help us reach the place we want to reach. Hand in hand, we were discovering the Canadian way of things and were slowly finding our place here.

Life Update – Moving To Canada

On 27th January, 2017, we made a great leap. Like, literally. We will leapt over half of the earth, all the way to Canada. After almost 1 1/2 years of patience, preparation and prayers, the moment had finally arrived.

My mind is still whirling. I’m both excited and anxious. Its like visiting another planet. We even landed smack dab into the middle of a Canadian winter. Everything is going to be new, and we have start from square one. But at twenty-six, am I too old to learn new tricks? *nervous laugh*

I’m a second generation ‘Gulf’ kid. Hordes of Indians migrated to the GCC to make fortunes, and to help their homelands prosper. I am truly thankful to this endeavour by our forefathers because it has given us many valuable things. But three years in Dubai, the hedonistic capital of the GCC, had got me yearning for more meaning.
And so, we decided to take this risk. The risk of leaving behind a comfortable life to tread unknown waters. The risk of being so far away from our beloved parents and family. This is for us and our children to come. I think it is now our generation’s time to endeavour, looking for better oppurtunities.

The journey to Canada was full of hiccups and if it weren’t for our excitement for landing here we would have been burnt out completely. A day before our connection flight from Kochi to Delhi, my husband and baby boy contracted viral fever. Then the Air India flight from Kochi was delayed by two hours which made us miss our Air Canada flight from Delhi to Toronto. We had to stay in Delhi to catch the next Air Canada flight the following day. Owing to this, we lost our booking for infant meals and premium leg room seats which would have been crucial for the long flight.

The worst was to come when we entered the flight. It was a 14 hour flight and our baby decided to cry for fourteen straight hours. I cannot explain how harrowing it felt to see him cry like that. He had never cried so badly on any other occassion. It got so severe that we had people coming up and asking us what was wrong and to do something to stop the baby from crying. We were so helpless, we tried everything under the sun.

Miraculously, when there was just half an hour left for landing, he stopped crying. He returned to his playful self and hogged down a packet of biscuits to satisfy the hunger that he had raked up during his 14 hour crying fit. He drank a whole bottle of water. We were baffled, but we were so relieved.

Our landing process went by swiftly with no hiccups. The officer who processed our landing papers, with a disarming smile and an open demeanour set our first impression of Canadians. We proceeded to the luggage carousel, and found out that one of our bags was missing. The baggage official assured us that our bag was with the aircraft, and will be sent to our place of residence later.

We got onto our Uber to our hotel, where we slept like logs after our tiresome flight.

I hope that the optimism and perseverance does not run out too soon because there are surprises hidden everywhere. The game plan now is to keep navigating around these surprises and to hope to reach a time and place where we know Canada by heart.