Monday, March 30, 2009

Canada, The Other Side Of The Fence?

Di and I discussed it for a couple of years. Finally in 2007 we filed our application for immigration to Canada. We make a pretty decent income in India. So money was not the motivator here. We wanted to go to the West for other reasons like better quality of life, cleaner places, better equipped to deal with global warming etc etc etc. All these reasons seemed enough in 2007.

But things have changed now. WE have changed now. The same reasons seem to be nothing but CRAP today. Yes, Canada may be cleaner than India, and cooler, and it probably will provide many facilities that we don't enjoy in India. But are these things really worth it? Worth being a "2nd Class" citizen in a "1st Class" country? I am not so sure.

We were fortunate to spend a few months in Doon last year. That has changed our outlook. India can be beautiful and clean too. Doon enjoys great climate BTW. The civic environment is better than in other cities. People are mostly educated and civil. Crime rate in negligible. But most importantly, it's India. And I love India. I love my country, with all its imperfections and flaws.

I have noticed one thing amongst all emigrants from India. They look down upon their home country and in doing so, they develop a twisted version of the ground reality in our country. They start seeing things they want to see, and become oblivious to things they don't want to see. We can't blame them. After all, if they don't look down upon their country, how will they justify their decision of living abroad? I don't want to become such a person. I don't want to start looking down upon my roots. I don't want to get so caught up in an alien culture that I start hating my own.

I don't know whether I'll finally go to Canada or not. We have postponed the decision till the time comes. As of now, Canada's chances seem pretty grim. Even if we do fly out, it will only be for a couple of years. Just to have an experience of the West. But home will always be here, right in India.

8 comments:

anindianabroad said...

I found your blog while I was searching for personal experience of immigrants in Canada. I am personally looking forward to move to either Canada or USA, from Australia. Honestly, after reading your blog, I think you are not very well versed with how well Indians are doing in the west. Firstly, its because we are hard working and secondly, we have the ability to take increased levels of stress while multi-tasking in our daily lives. Indians are fully contributing to politics, science or medicine of these western countries and are regarded as one of the highly educated communities.

Yes, if you are uneducated, illiterate or just "slow" for that matter and end up driving a cab or cleaning toilets at the airport for merely the high conversion of rupees into dollars, then definitely, you are entitled to being called a second class citizen. I feel sad that due to "lack of opportunities" or "indignity of labor" in India, these second class individuals would not want to clean toilets in their home country!!!!

Also, being a female and having lived in Australia, I feel no shame in saying that I belong to a country where women have absolutely no rights. They are safe as long as they are inside their houses. While in high school in India, I was groped, teased and exploited every time I went out in public wearing a skirt!! Because unfortunately our "culture" has been designed to be a safety net for women. Sorry, but I totally disrespect this mentality and feel lucky to have had the opportunity to move to Adelaide where I feel "free" and NOT labeled as the "weaker" sex.

I definitely disregard anyone who looks down upon India, because I was both born and raised there and feel a connection to the land. I certainly think very highly of genuine Indians whereas at the same time, I am consciously aware of all the flaws in my country. Weighing the benefits of living out int the west, I really know that my country sadly doesn't have much to offer to an educated young woman. India is developing in all aspects but it has a long time to match the benefits being offered to citizens of western world. I won't be alive to see India in its glory so my selfishness and ambition drove me to the western world to enjoy some of the privileges in my lifetime.

I like your views and I assume from your blog that you have never had the chance to live outside India. Maybe this transition would help you and widen your scope of judging the quality of life out there. Trust me, it is much more....
Respect
Freedom
Safety
Convenience
Value for Education
Equal rights
Cleanliness
Money

Yes, nothing is absolute but every time we look at two things, we see them in comparison. And comparison can be done only when you experience both sides!!

shalz said...

Thank u for ur comment. You sure have out a lot of time and effort into it.

I don't deny that women in India have to face hardships. But personally, I have lived a very free life. I have had the opportunity to experience many parts of india. There have been good experiences and some bad ones. But mostly it has been good.

I do NOT feel like the weaker sex at all. And I don't see how anybody can make me feel that way! I am a strong headed, fierecely independant woman who does exactly what she wants, wears what she wants and goes where she wants. So I cannot agree with you that women have no life in India. We do...

My rights as a woman was never a consideration in this decision because my rights r pretty much fine. I feel very strongly about women's issues. i have a community on orkut. You may join if u like. http://www.orkut.co.in/Main#Community.aspx?cmm=58789534

Still, I feel it is fine to be a woman in India.

My concern is something else. The systems we have in India, the corruption, the self serving politicians, the vote bank politics...these r the things that bother me. I feel very strongly abt the environment and global warming. Sadly, not many Indians do. We r not prepared to deal with such challenges. These are things that I worry about.

And let me correct you on something else. You refute that Indians r 2nd class citizens in the West. You could be wrong there. In Punjab, there is an agricultural University, a good one. Hundreds of professors from this univ have migrated to Canada/Australia. Almost none of them is in academics there. They r all driving cabs or doing other menial jobs. Why?

Indian education is one of the best in the world. Yet they do not recognise our qualifications. What is this if not racism?

Syl (previously known as Shib) said...

My god, I just typed a response that was 2 pages long. I will post it on my blog as a post so I don't clog up your blog.

shalz said...

C'mon syl...post it here na...

anindianabroad said...

I am much glad to know a woman who feels strongly for our rights. I am also writing a book with short stories on women from India. In fact, I am extremely happy for you that you've never been a victim of abuse while in India. Somewhere I believe that could be entirely your luck!!

As my personal experience tells me that I can never travel in public metros or buses in India wearing a short skirt and a tank top unless I want desperate men squeezing all my bulges! This is so very opposite to the freedom I have in Australia !! And yes I do what I like, I wear what I want and make up/ break up with men, without being labeled. I feel the fresh air of my new home, where there are absolutely no stigmas attached to being out-going, divorced or a single mother.

As far as I know, majority of the Indian women live a terrible life, which is driven around men-dominating societies. I can quote hundreds of examples but the one that comes immediately to my mind is here
http://shalz-di.blogspot.com/2009/01/goons-on-loose-in-mangalore.html

Secondly, your concern about systems. Politics are almost the same everywhere and will always be aimed at votes. The western Nations at least have well educated leaders who have at least gone to Grad school, which plays a role and offers a good choice for the voters.
Talking about the environment aspect, I would say global warming is truly "global" and has the same effects in Los Angeles as they have in New Delhi !! So none of us can really escape that one.

Lastly, I really cannot comment on students from Punjab university because I don't know much about it. At the same time, I was wondering that if these students, who you say are from a good University, are being offered menial jobs in Canada/ Australia, why do hundreds of them still move here? My concern is that none of the ambassadors from the West come to our door-step to invite us to their country. We must admit that it's our desperation that makes us spend millions of Rupees just to make it here.

And yes talking about Indian education- Well more than 90% of doctors who graduate out of All India Institute of Medical Sciences end up becoming a top notch doc in US. High if not the same percentage of IIT experts are holding decent positions in the MNC'c of West. These are the people who prove that Indian education is worth recognition all over the world !!
Why don't we talk of racism when we take away most of the high paying jobs of the west that belong to their citizens? Do you know that in the recent lay off of Microsoft, it was an increased percentage of Americans who lost their jobs compared to the ones on H1b visa !!
I do not understand the concept of racism here!

I personally think that geographical and economical factors play role in a country's development. US Australia etc are lucky in that regard. India is not. And we are dealing with it, by facing it everyday in our lives.
For example, India is working on eradicating Polio by implementing WHO Immunization Program. Do you know most of the cost of this program is paid by Bill Gates ??!!

My point is let's not avail their resources, if in the end we want to call them racist !! :-) Why do we keep such double standards?

In the end, it is inborn nature of human mind that makes us close our dirty closet before we have guests over! Somethings are better left unsaid.

shalz said...

I am also happy to know that you feel like you are in heaven in Australia. Good for you. BTW, are you implying that there is no crime against women in Heavenland? I'm asking coz I searched and found that 33% of all women in Australia have experienced physical violence since age 15 and 19% have experienced sexual violence since age 15. I would really not call it a crime free society. But again, that's me!

About your insight on global warming, did you really think that I was too dumb enough to understand the "global" in global warming? I merely implied that the effects will be felt more severely in India, due to ignorance, unpreparedness and general apathy.

Coming to Punjab Univ, actually it's Punjab Agricultural University...I am not talking of students my dear. I am talking of professors who have taught for a couple of years here. But they are still not seen as competitive enuf when they go abroad! But they still go, for better wages they earn driving cabs and cleaning places.

As I always say, India bashing is a popular pastime with NRI's coz it is the only way to justify their decision of deserting their country. I might be blogging away to glory about this right now. But who knows? I may be doing exactly the same thing if and when I leave for greener pastures.

This discussion can never end. I just want to say that no country is perfect. USA is not. Australia is not. India is not. You can run away to what you feel is a better life. But the only way to improve your country is by sticking around and doing something. What is India? It's not just a geographical boundary. More than that, India is the people...the Indians. India is exactly what we make it. Cribbing is so easy. Anyone can do it. But did you really ever try to contribute anything at all while you were here?

Yes, I won't travel in a local bus wearing a tank top or a mini skirt. But this is not important to me anyway. Maybe it is to you. About being a sngle woman in India, you seem to have been gone for at least 14-15 years. Things have a changed a lot. I myself know single women in India who are managing pretty well after a divorce. In big cities, divorce and live in relationships are increasing day by day. Not that I count either as a measure of development! But the point is that Indian society is becoming more permissive and accepting of so many Western things.

Why do you think the Mangalore pub incident got so much focus in the media? If it is such an everyday occurence, it should have gone down without a mention anywhere. But it hogged limelight for more than a week. That's only because this is not India. This is not how majority of India thinks or behaves.

You may believe what you want to. Maybe it's just a difference in our expectations, and our experiences. Perhaps you had limited exposure to India while you were here. Perhaps you feed on stories you read in the media and forget that they are aberrations and not everyday existence for Indians.

anindianabroad said...

Well,girlie! I do not think anywhere in my two posts did I say that there is absolutely no crime in Australia. I would repeat what I said initially, that when you look at two things, you look at them in comparison!! And I did not bother to google crime rates in India, most of which go unreported!!

Similarly, things for women might have changed for good but Indian women lead a more struggling life, in comparison to women in the west.

I agree that its Indians who make India and not the geographical boundaries alone. To support that, I would also say that sadly many Indians continue to protect themselves in their blinded cocoons even if they get the luck to live in the West. They continue to be overwhelmed by dowry, male child preference and their other traditions that differentiate them from the Western world !! I think I need to mention again, this does not imply that all the Indians I know in Australia kill their female fetuses !!

You're very right when you say India bashing is a popular thing for us here. This is so true because only we can comprehend the differences between a developed and a developing country, having lived in both. And yes, I preferred to fly to Australia and fulfill my personal ambitions rather than staying in India, even if it had made a difference to the country. Because deep inside I know, if I had not availed my opportunity, someone else was right behind me ready to snatch it from me !! Again as I said in my last post, it doesn't come that easy missy!! Another way of looking at it is.....there must be something better, that attracts thousands of middle class youth to the West, forgetting our family bonds, friends and country of birth and eventually encourages so many of us to spend a fortune to just get here!!

On the other hand, people who have never lived in the West cannot even imagine how it is like here, merely reading newspapers or seeing foreign locations in Bollywood movies! This specifically includes people who continue to bad mouth NRI's and people who already have their passports stamped with rejection or people who could never make it here because of financial/family/professional/educational constraints!! No matter what "grapes will always be sour" for them!!

Since you are considering your decision to move to Canada, I can only wish you all the luck and hope that you never regret your decision!

shalz said...

We applied 2 years back. But it will take another 4-5 yrs to finalize. I feel like I have to put aside everything...all my plans because of this Canada thing. I am not excited about wasting all this time. There are so many thing I want to do, but can't because of this uncertainty.

I have now decided to just forget about Canada for the moment. I'll think about it when we get to the matter in 4-5 years. Please don't "girlie" or "missie" me. I don't take very kindly to condescending attitudes...even from ppl I hardly know.