Tim Hortons in Canada
A Tim Hortons joint in Canada Image Credit: Bloomberg

I came across a YouTube video that said, ‘Five reasons you should not come to Canada’, as we were planning to wrap up things in India and return home,

At the moment we can’t go back to Toronto, (and the GTA, Greater Toronto Area, where we plan to settle down) as it is back again in lockdown.

But that’s not what the popular YouTuber was talking about. The young ‘desi’ (a person of Indian or Pakistani origin who lives abroad) woman, walking down a quiet street in a suburb and filming herself with a selfie stick, meant, ‘Do not come here, it is not what you think it offers.’

Canada is a popular destination for emigrants from India and is a go-to place for higher education for Indian students. The other top immigrants come from Nigeria, China, Philippines, Middle East and the US.

One of the best countries to live in

Canada is also said to be one of the best countries to live in because it offers freedom to live as you choose, it is sparsely populated, and offers a decent quality of life.

The ‘desi’ woman advises that a couple of months before coming to Canada to get rid of the house help and do all the housework yourself. “People initially get frustrated because of the hard work and leaving the pampered life behind.”

I know of people who have three housemaids (because help is so cheap), one to cook, one to sweep and mop the floor and one just to clean the toilets, and there is so much human traffic in those houses that the husbands quietly slip out to do some ‘important work’ at Coffee Day in the mornings.

In the initial days of the Pandemic when everyone was afraid of each other and especially the maids, no one was allowed in our community, and quiet and peace prevailed.

Now, with the number of virus cases declining in Bengaluru, there is once again a huge rush at the security gate and the guards screen each of the maids, some of whom come riding on scooters. They get their temperature checked and their hands sanitised.

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The young YouTuber said the other thing is that it is very lonely in Canada. “Remember, you do not have family support.” It is true that when you come to a strange country you need friends and family to boost your morale.

Indians who were earlier very family-oriented and lived in large joint families were slowly turning into nuclear families, with just the couple living away from their parents and siblings. Now, once again they are living in households that seem like a Netflix series on dysfunctional families.

There are Indian TV shows that depict life in the joint families that are controlled by a matriarch who turns men into whimpering wrecks and the various daughters-in-laws into crafty Machiavellians.

Immigrants miss their folks

Canada realises that immigrants miss their folks, however crazy, and allows them to bring their families in, and it once again becomes just like home for many new immigrants.

“Be prepared to work in a call-centre, grocery store or a restaurant, if you do not have Canadian or US experience,” said the Youtuber.

It is the chicken-and-egg thing, you can’t get experience on the job because you do not have experience, and new immigrants work in what is called ‘survival jobs’.

I am not sure if being ‘underemployed’ is better than being unemployed back home, but it sure gives you experience in a field that you were least prepared for.

“It is very expensive to buy a home,” the desi woman said, and that is very true as there is a “bidding war” going on whenever a house is listed on the market.

We are having second thoughts and thinking whether we should go for expat life for some more years.

Mahmood Saberi is a storyteller and blogger based in Bengaluru, India. Twitter: @mahmood_saberi