Archive | May, 2010

From India to Canada: My Search for a Home in a New Land

Posted on 27 May 2010 by .

After immigrating to Canada, my first worry was school. I never knew what schools in Canada would be like. Whenever I thought about it, I always pictured long, wide hallways with shiny tiled floors and countless brightly-colored lockers and crawling with students. The thought of what a classroom might look like never actually crossed my mind, though. I always pictured those hallways. Much different form my school back in India, where our lockers were actually our desks, and the hallways were actually balconies, opening out to the grayish-blue sky.

It was like plunging into a deep lake on my first day. And the worst part was that I couldn’t swim! Everything was so new, so different, and so tough, that I almost lost myself in an attempt to blend in to the environment. I forgot that being yourself can be your biggest asset. It took me a couple of months to realize it. I have to admit that my new “personality” almost changed me into a rude, angry and sulking person who couldn’t take a joke. Almost. I caught myself just in time at around February.

And, I felt a bit of unexplained joy when my locker started to feel homely. One good thing about joining the school weeks after term started was that I didn’t have to share my locker with anyone! I had my own, personal space which felt like a place I could trust (mostly because of the heavy lock hanging from it) but also because the people here were so honest and nice.

Every teacher here was a guide and friend, both of which I needed back then. Leaving the few guides I had back in India and finding new ones here was certainly something to go through. And although the system was much easier, it was still quite difficult to grasp the new style of learning.

Now that I am somewhat accustomed to the new styles, the next big thing – and fear – is high school. I’m scared that I might find myself in that jumped-into-a-lake-and-can’t-swim position again. But high school is about four months away, so I don’t feel I have anything to think or worry about right now except my life in my current school.

But even as this school seemed amazing to me during my initial days here, there was one thing it didn’t have yet: friends. I missed my friends more than anything when I used to roam around the field at recess alone, lost in my thoughts. Not that I had many friends, though. I’m not the kind of person who thinks they’ve made a friend just because they’ve said a simple “hello” to some nobody. Which is probably why I didn’t have many friends to begin with. But the few I had were as close to me as my own life. And, I remembered how I used to spend time with them during recess back in India, while I walked around the edge of the fields in the snow during the last winter. I had made a promise to myself not to tell anyone about this, because I was sure I would make a friend one day or the other. At least, I hoped.  Later on in the year however, I admitted this to the school counselor. She recommended I try to make friends at a meeting that took place on Tuesdays. I have to say, it really helped. I have finally made a friend.

However, even now, there are moments when I feel like I don’t quite fit in. I try my best to blend into the environment.  I know it’s going to take a long time before I feel at home, but – heck – I’ve got all the time in the world.

Author:Aneesh Chatterjee

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Facebook Ban in Pakistan

Posted on 27 May 2010 by .

I’ve avoided comment on Pakistan in recent years, not just because life as a Canadian, entrenched in municipal politics has changed my focus, but also because the last few years have left me pretty speechless in terms of the on-goings in the motherland. Before I could formulate a coherent thought on any event, we’d already be struck by a newer, previously unimaginable disaster. All one could do was circulate links from news agencies, ignore doomsday conspiracies alluding to the demise of the country, sign petitions against drone attacks, and mostly hold hands, pray, and devise ways of convincing die-hard patriotic relatives to move abroad, even if it was for just a little while.

But as has always been the case with the motherland, amidst all the mayhem, the absurd suddenly struck!

As if over million strong internally displaced persons, thanks to the crisis in Swat, South Waziristan, and generally disastrous economic wasteland weren’t already stretching Pakistan’s bare-to-the-bone resources, we have a new ecological crisis looming that threatens to displace thousands. Pakistan, as I write this, awaits for Ataabad Lake in Hunza to burst following a massive landslide. However, if you google news of Pakistan, this doesn’t even make the Top 5.

We seem to be more interested in setting known criminals free, still debating who maybe in control of the Taliban, silly cricket shenanigans, and aah yes….the storm in a teacup, the ban of social media in Pakistan. In a crazy twist of irony, the one thing that’s taken the people to the streets, burning tires and chanting, is the laughable EDMD event which used Facebook as its launch-pad, after the big and equally unnecessary brouhaha over the South Park episode which would have featured the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), when Comedy Central set precedence with that first unnecessary act of self-censorship, which later snowballed.

So the Land of the Pure is a week into the Judiciary’s self-imposed ban on social media, thanks to the perceived threat to Islam (is the faith really that weak?), with no foreseeable end in sight, although May 31st seems to be D-Day. The ban has generated enough attention from Zuckerberg & Co, but so far the Republic of Bananistan has not moved from its very lonesome, and (fairly idiotic) stance, even for the traditionally absurdist Ummah.

We’ve burnt tires, demanded Facebook be banned (I thought it already was?), screamed bloody murder, and done everything but talk about the 800 pound gorilla in the room….you know: economic downturn, Zardari-Machiavellianism, poverty, suicide bombings, lack of infrastructure, political instability, illiteracy, burgeoning population, etc, etc, etc.

Don’t get me wrong, we can’t just sweep EDMD & offending Muslims under the First Amendment carpet. I personally do not live the life of incorporating hate in my vernacular on the basis of “Freedom of Speech” protocol. But I am fairly wary of governments interfering via blanket media bans. When did ignorance = bliss? Its like we are back to the days of Jahiliyyah, and need a new Sir Syed to break us out of our own tyrannical grip on our grey matter.

For now we watch & wait, and many of us who grew up experiencing the best of Pakistan, we lament the loss of our land and liberties to the whims of its “Azaad Adiliyah” & Zardari-Bemari. What’s interesting is that the blogosphere and few social networking sites such as Twitter that have been spared the ban, have been abuzz with dialogue about censorship, human rights, the state of Pakistan, politics and economics. Not enough to trend it as a topic in tweets, but enough to give me hope there are not only some very intelligent people in Pakistan, but they care, and they have the energy to make a difference. Personally, I’d been massively plugging SAYA Trust, my family’s charitable foundation working to educate and rehabilitate internally displaced children living in the slums of Islamabad, on Twitter to bring awareness to the fact that many grassroots organizations like ours depend almost entirely on viral fundraising and word of mouth, and that its not just a personal liberties issue.

I am hoping that sense prevails, and this ban is lifted by the 31st, as initially indicated by the Lahore High Court. Although I’ve learnt to always expect the unexpected when it comes to Bananistan, and its dhair-inch-ki-masaajidism!

Till then, please lets pray for the people of Hunza, for I doubt much relief effort is underway in real terms.

Author:Fatima Yamin


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Chai with the CEO: Tête-à-Tête with Jerome Dwight

Posted on 26 May 2010 by .

It’s not everyday that one gets to have chai with the CEO. As it was for me, when the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce (ICCC) organized a tête-à-tête with Jerome Dwight, the CEO of the Canadian subsidiary of The Bank of New York Mellon. An event held at 315 Front Street on 19th May, it attracted many new graduates. It was obvious why, when Dwight came to the podium to address the roomful of mostly twenty something individuals. Dwight, 2009 recipient of Canada’s top 20 under 40, was a soft-spoken man who spoke with conviction. He did not preach to the young hopeful faces, some of whom were frantically taking notes, but instead had a conversation with us. It was rare to come across an accomplished man who did not give off an air of a self-satisfied person. Instead, Dwight’s humbleness kept his audience captivated.

An initiative of Vice President of Youth programs at ICCC, Kundan Joshi, the event was an opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs to meet somebody who was at some point of his life, just like them. With not an empty chair in sight, the event appeared to be a success.

Author:Sanchari Sur

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Curse of a Rational Mind “ Simplifying Complexities or Complicating Simplicities?”

Posted on 26 May 2010 by .

She left his cave silently. As silently as he had brought her in. She couldn’t figure out the reasons for entering into that enclosure. ‘Claustrophobic,’ she remembered that about herself, yet she had walked into that small space, suffocating, closing in, sucking the life out of her.

She felt humiliation, anger, guilt, no desire, and certainly not love; or was it really love and expectations that had stirred those emotions in her soul and made her world go upside down?

She kept on walking, brisk walking, or was she running? In the darks of the night, hiding away from the world or running from her own questioning mind?

She took off her shoulder bag and threw it in no particular direction. It landed at the far end of the road with a thump. She didn’t care; she wanted to get rid of the weight. But was the backpack heavy or was it her conscience weighing heavily down on her?

Stuck.

Dead end.

Heavy breathing, her hands on her knees, bending down, trying to draw the air in, fearing that her life had come to an end.

All her mind could see was the mild street light, elongated shadows, her own sobs, sweat beads dropping on the rough road pavement, the smell of tar, construction, renovation, heavy machine sounds and her desperate tries to draw the air in. Was she drowning?

Her life needed reconstruction like those decade old roads, with potholes and grooves, she needed a touch of tar as well, to fill up those gaps, to reconstruct her damaged self.

She finally looked up, threw her head back, feeling helpless, she shouted out loud, “O Lord! Help this helpless soul!”

Then she laughed, the laugh of a madman. Was there even a god that cared, that listened? She didn’t believe in one.

Alone.

Desperate.

Desolated.

No path to follow. No road to travel.

Carefree. Wasn’t that how the world referred to the confused like her?

To the ones who had no answers and just questions?

The ones who knew that knowledge was a curse.
The ones who knew that there was no definition of knowing.

The ones who searched for the truth while laughing at the irony of not even knowing what really describes ‘truth.’

What really was ‘reality’? The laws of nature, the physical world or just a mere rational thinking mind? The mind that Descartes argued for.

Confusion.

Desperation.

Churning wheels of the rusted philosophical mind.

Creaking sounds, squeaking louder and louder, production yet no produce.

Isn’t that what a philosophical mind is all about?

It’s active, always, yet there are no apparent results for the world to see, for the capitalists to make money from, for the politicians to chart out rules to follow.

There are no results, for this mind knows not that what results it seeks.

It’s a continuous journey, a never-ending road, with loneliness, no companion and no destination to arrive at.

Her legs gave in, she fell down, and she lied on her back. Staring at the starless night, trying to search for those stars hidden far away, dependent on the light to be visible. The stars that people once believed hold your destiny. If only she believed in one, if only her mind didn’t question ‘determinism’ and ‘free will.’ If only she was ignorant and could follow those black and white rules. If only she could.

She closed her eyes, hoping desperately for the sleep to take over.

Humming away in the middle of the night, begging the wind to bring simplicity back and take away the complexities. She lied there, humming sweetly, dissolving her voice, her spirit, her soul, away in the darks of the night. The darkness she believed would take over everything one day.

If only she knew if time was real or was time another illusion like her philosophy books argued.

If only she could simply feel and not think of the contradictions that drove her to madness.

If only she could know what love was.

If only she didn’t analyze what his touch meant.

If only she wouldn’t have run away, or was it inevitable after all.

If only she could simplify those things or accept them in their complexity.

If only she could…

Author: Saniya Zahid

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My Big Fat Desi WeddingMy Big Fat Desi Wedding

Posted on 26 May 2010 by .

Somewhere in Rawalpindi there is a seven-day affair and you have begun choosing your attire accordingly. It’s your mother’s cousin’s fraternal aunt’s sister in law’s wedding. And suddenly she’s very close family. If you are a local then this is your chance to make your mother’s aunt’s daughter in law’s neighbour’s teenage daughter look bad. Yes, she will be present too. Phone calls will fly across the globe and emails will go faster than CIA can tap them. If you were smarter you may have already searched up the potential groom on facebook. You will take a temporary job as an investigator and dig out the amount of his pay, his employer and maybe even, if he likes Atif Aslam better or Himesh Reshammiya. If he’s an NRP (Non-Resident Pakistani, because we copy everything from India including its terminology) he better prove it with his accent. If he says he’s from Canada but talks like he’s from Australia, he’s really from Sargodha. There will be a manja, at least two dholkis, a mehndi, the niqah, a reception and valima (after reception). There will be relatives from Islamabad flaunting their ‘new’ Deepak Parwani clothes, which have been circulating around the family for the last six months, worn by anyone who will fit. There will be Lahoris who will easily be set apart from the others, because they will not be found in the wedding hall. They’ll be in the food tent. There will be Karachittes who will act like they have arrived from a whole different country altogether. The residents from Defence Housing Authority will be difficult to communicate with, since Urdu and Hindi is still foreign for them. You will have the most trouble telling apart from Quettan guests and peeps from Pakhtoonkhwa (formerly North Frontier). The ones with naswar (local narcotic) and little boys are Pakhtoonis. If you weren’t invited at all, your entire generation has been severely insulted; even if you hadn’t even known the couple existed. By now as days get closer you have harassed your embroidery worker, cursed your jewellery designers and raped your tailor. But everything will be prepared in time, if you’re lucky then two hours prior to the event. The wedding venue will range from Pearl Continental Hotel to tents. The bigger, the better. Here you will meet relatives you never knew existed, and you wonder why in the world so many people have arrived, and so much food, and so much of everything.  Four hours into the wedding you’re hungry. Finally the bride arrives but you fail to recognize her under her makeup. It looks like she got ‘gangbanged by Crayola,’ the old expression comes back. An hour later the groom arrives fresh from Toni’s Hair Salon with arched eyebrows. It turns out he’s your father’s cousins’ husband’s best friend’s younger brother. Just when you were beginning to feel like its 1985 in Ethiopia, the food arrives. Rich in oil and fat but taste, you forget all about your recent commitment to healthy eating. After it is all over, you will have a collection of pictures in different poses, lots of criticism and even a belly pouch.  But most of all you have picked up some wedding tips for yourself, it turns out your mother found you a good rishta at the wedding reception. Now it’s your turn.


Author: Fatima Kazmi

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Apply for Jobs Online

Posted on 26 May 2010 by .

Online applications appear more instant and casual when compared with the traditional alternative of showing up for a series of interviews. Even though applying for a  job online is fast, it doesn’t mean it’s easy. You need to consider several issues before rushing your application for a prospective project.

Learn how to read between the lines. Job ads often give away more information than most people see. Be diligent when it comes to finding any clues about the type of employee that best suits the job, as well as the best way to apply.

Know exactly what they are looking for. Spend some time researching the company (or the individual) that posted the ad. Doing this helps you choose the appropriate tone and approach for your application. When I applied as a blogger for a website, I knew from the tone of the blog that I shouldn’t be too formal or serious, so I kept my cover letter brief and casual. Also, your research can help you select the best items, case studies and web site links to include in your portfolio.

Follow directions. This might seem like common sense but, as someone who’s been on the hiring end, I’ve noticed that many applicants still fail to follow directions.  If you don’t follow directions from the ad, you’re telling your potential client that you will have a hard time following job instructions as well.

Get a name, if you can. “To whom it may concern” is never a good opening line. Most job ads include the name of the contact person, and it’s a mistake not to take advantage of that. If there’s no name attached to the ad, look at the company web site or call them to get the name of the person you’ll address the application to.

Keep it as short as possible. Even if you’re required to answer several questions, keep the text concise. You’re competing with dozens of applicants, most of them writing paragraph after paragraph about their unrelated work experience and maybe even their life story. As someone who prefers receiving short but clear messages, I do my best to keep outgoing messages that way as well. It pays off, too. Many of my clients have replied to my applications by saying, “What a breath of fresh air! I was getting tired of reading 40 long emails about this job.”

If you’re worried that you might not be saying enough about yourself, remember that your portfolio and work experience will speak for you.

Have a template ready, but always modify it before sending. Templates are useful, but sending these without customization gives off the wrong impression. Unmodified templates indicate that you’re sending the same application to several other potential clients, showing that you’re not that committed to a particular job or project. Whenever I hire contractors, the template applications go straight to the trash bin.

Know how to follow up. When I was looking for a researcher two years ago, one of the applicants immediately emailed me the day after, “Do I have the job?” I politely told her that I’m still going through applications and, as I mentioned in the ad, I will contact all applicants within the week. Again, she emailed me the day later, as well as the day after that. While I understand how excited and anxious one can be during the application process, it’s best to keep these feelings to yourself. Constantly following up on your application can drain your energy and annoy your potential client.

Still, you have to be responsive when you’re asked to submit additional requirements or to schedule a phone interview. One of my friends is so afraid of phone interviews that she doesn’t reply to such requests. If you’re not comfortable with some of the requirements, communicate with the prospective client. Don’t leave them hanging.

Although you have to keep several things in mind when responding to online job ads, it gets easier with practice. Don’t get intimidated by these things. After all, it’s still easier than wearing out your shoes by rushing from building to building and spending long hours in the waiting room for an interview.

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28th May: National Multiple Births Awareness Day

Posted on 26 May 2010 by .

My name is Gail Moore, and I have four wonderful children – Christopher now 23, Sarah-Lana 21, Zachary and Jeremy 17.  Yes, I am a mother of twins – dizygotic twins – extremely dissimilar in looks and in personality!

From the minute they were born in 1993, I knew this experience of mothering two at once was going to be unique from my first two experiences, which is a story all in itself, but what I did not know was one day I would be leading an annual event called National Multiple Births Awareness Day.

It began innocently, in 2004, when I joined the Board of Multiple Births Canada (MBC) as Director of Communications.  My first assignment was to lead the awareness project, which started with picking a date.  The date we chose was May 28th – the day the Dionne Quintuplets were born.  These monozygotic girls were removed from their family and became world-famous public exhibits living in a government run facility in the 1930’s.  In later years, when they began to speak out about the loss of their childhood and the effect it had on their lives, as parents of multiples we understood the loss and mourned with them.  It was this kind of impact we wanted from National Multiple Births Awareness Day, and when we explained this to the surviving sisters, they agreed to share their birthday with us and support the initiative.

Our first event was held in 2005 at the Dionne Quints Museum in North Bay, Ontario.  About fifty parents of multiples and some of our children attended the historic event to support the theme:  A Call to Dialogue regarding current provisions for maternity, parental and compassionate care leave under the federal Employment Insurance Program.

This year, we will celebrate our sixth annual National Multiple Births Awareness Day.  Over the years, we have focused on a variety of themes including – creating awareness of the risks involved with multiple pregnancies; encouraging fertility specialists to fully disclose these risks with their patients before they become pregnant; encouraging the involvement of parents in annual class placement decisions affecting their multiples; and recognizing the uniqueness of the multiple-birth relationship while encouraging the individuality of each person.  This year, our theme is: “Canada’s EI Parental Leave must reflect the needs of multiple-birth infants.”

Multiple Births Canada is the only national organization supporting the needs of Canada’s multiple-birth community.  For 32 years, MBC has been producing educational resources to guide parents and professionals in their journeys as providers for our multiple-birth children.  Our members have access to Fact Sheets on a wide range of topics including – Breastfeeding Multiples, Co-bedding and Multiples, Parental Relationships After Multiple Births, and many more.  Our resources are listed online at www.multiplebirthscanada.org.  Many of our members belong to local groups which are affiliated with the national organization.  This allows them to network with each other and benefit from sharing experiences and best practices.

Our website is internationally recognized for its content and its universal outreach including our Support Networks.  These groups provide multiple-birth families networking opportunities with other multiple-birth families in the same or similar situation through a listing service that allows them to share concerns and areas of expertise with one another.  Our busiest networks are in the following categories:  Breastfeeding, Higher Order Multiples, Lone Parents, Loss of Multiples, and Special Needs.

Another huge annual event is our National Conference.  This year, it is being held in Edmonton, Alberta, September 23-26.  It features presentations by experts in the multiple-birth field including a keynote speaker, Dr. Karyn Gordon – a parent/youth coach, motivational speaker, therapist on The Mom Show (on Slice Network), author, as well as a mother of twins. Details are online at www.multiplebirthscanada.org.

Being involved with MBC and leading the National Multiple Births Awareness Day event allows me to enlighten others on the unique needs of multiple-birth children and their families, to mentor families as they go through the various stages of the multiple-birth journey, and to make a difference – not just in my home community, but across Canada.  For many, MBC is a supportive hand and caring ear when they need it most!


Author:
Gail Moore – mbcchair@multiplebirthscanada.org,MBC Chair and Director of Communications

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Changing Roles of Men & Women – Time to make adjustments!

Posted on 26 May 2010 by .

Traditionally women needed men for safety and security. Back in our days, if you were an unmarried woman, you were a fair game for every horny man. It made your life living hell – many women did commit suicide instead of living that life. Thank God those days are long gone.

Then women needed men for sex and sperm. If you were 35 year old single it was hard for you to get your booty call in Desi society. And being pregnant outside marriage was to tarnish the reputation of your family for seven generations. Now sex part is no more a requirement. Desi women are creative enough and able to meet their physical need without being punished for it. Slowly she is also learning that you really do not need a husband to become a mother. By the way we have not talked about the fact that a woman is likely to miss being a mother more than being a wife. However, it is still not a commonplace in our society to be a single mom with no father’s name attached to the child. This can change. :(

So men have lost this traditional role as a husband – provider of safety – security – sex and sperm. Along with it, today’s independent women can be self sufficient – manage her money – make major purchases- travel to far places etc. All these roles not too long ago were delegated to the man in the family by and large. Men must feel like a ‘Maytag repairmen!’ This is not as bad as it sounds. However this paradigm shift has happened too fast. Desi men did not have time to get adjusted to the changing environment. Men have an inherent need to be wanted that is what gives him the elusive control over female.

So-called respect or power for the man in the house came from some of those roles man had been playing. So when he lost the essential job description he lost the ‘bonus’ or sometimes he lost the job!!! It is great that the Desi woman still has that desire for nuclear family (which many western women do not have to the same degree) that they are making serious effort to engage in this painful process of search for the spouse.

It is not really bad news for the man. He may have lost a huge part of his job description but there is still a vital need only he can provide – be a loving, caring and understanding companion. Not withstanding all this newly found assets, most women still long for that ‘man’ in their life. So while you are hot if you make a lot of money or have an illustrious career but at home your value as a husband is more of a function of your ability to be the best companion she can hope for. Successful husband is one who may not make the most money, may not wield the most power but whose wife can look at the crowd of Desi women and honestly say, ‘I am so lucky to have a loving caring understanding man!’

Empowered or strong women are plenty around you. She may not be educated, may not be making a lot of money or heading a corporation but she is powerful by her sheer presence. She does not demand but commands love and respect by just being her. Over the years, she has loved, sacrificed enough, that without really striving for it, she automatically became the one who was the pillar of strength in the family. You might find this woman in your mom, aunties, grand ma etc. She is not loud or bossy; her power comes from her emotional strength. Now, if she happens to be educated or very successful it is an icing on the cake. If you wish to emulate her do not look at her material success but her wisdom – perseverance and ability to love. We love this woman so much that subconsciously for marriage the man is looking for that empowered woman. Unfortunately these empowered women are becoming extinct species.

Highly successful gorgeous Ivy Leaguer Desi women find themselves at an impasse in spousal search. First, their success comes at the cost of lack of free time (time is an essential commodity in a relationship). Second, the success does make them difficult to deal with it. Assertiveness in professional life may not translate in to a desirable attribute in marriage. Third, their expectations are high which is understandable given their achievements. Fourth many men even though they themselves maybe successful are not necessarily looking for empowered woman. So many of these women see their success in professional life as a handicap in personal life.

Empowered woman should not be confused with high achiever or hot woman. Here in many cases her success is her failure. Over the years she is used to have ‘my way or high way’. She is our Indian American Princess. Her expectations are high, sometimes unrealistic. When her expectations are not met she is not likely to let go. Her major currency is her accomplishment not the love and sacrifice. “I am bringing so much to the table, so why should I settle for any less? ” Ironically her attitude does make her settle for less but she cannot see it at this time. Life is a marathon and not a sprint. So what may seem like wining strategy in the first inning of a nine-inning game may not be so at the end. Many of these women are perfect 10. They cannot understand as to why their success is their handicap. It is not the success that is her handicap but the attitude that comes with it!

So there is a lot of work that needs to be done on both ends. New man has to learn to respect woman, be happy that new woman is so self-sufficient. Stop looking for empowered women of the past who excelled both outside and inside the house (she even played a docile role in public). That model has been discontinued. Rejoice the fact that by and large our Desi women are still looking for a monogamous relationship in the framework of marriage. She still wants a father for her child.

As complicated and draining marriage may sound I still believe in most cases it beats alternative. So be creative. Think out of the box. Figure out what exactly are you looking for in a spouse – a partnership for 50 years with new challenges coming your way constantly. Look at the total package. How well he/she  performs in different circumstances. Decrease the relative value of curb appeal. Eliminate the relative value of the game he/she played. After few years it won’t matter who called whom. What would matter is did you find the best possible mom or dad for your future children.

I am well aware of how many of you thought that most marriages in your parents’ generation were either dysfunctional or outright worthy of divorce. Trust me, in spite of all our imperfections we provided a stable home where you had the same dad and same mom. The phenomenal success your generation has a lot to do with two parents remaining plugged in your welfare during the thick and thin of life. The power of a nuclear family in shaping our next generation is infinite. Let us not make our women and men discover a convenient truth – ‘no ring no regrets’ or ‘road to motherhood does not have to go by wifehood.’ If it were to happen, the price your grand children will pay would be catastrophic

Author: Uncle Vijay

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Pursuing Not So Desi Professions

Posted on 26 May 2010 by .

I can think of at least one person who could have attempted to pursue a career as a professional hockey player with a big chance of succeeding, and I could probably think of a few more for other sports; and I’m sure you can come up with a handful of people who put aside their ‘unrealistic’ dream and instead settled for the likes of stinking like formaldehyde while cutting up cadavers.

Kudos to Robin Bawa (a fellow Canadian!) who set the precedent for players of South Asian descent in the National Hockey League in 1989 and an even bigger kudos to French-Canadian Manny Malhotra of Punjab descent for reinforcing Bawa’s precedent and jumping all over the place, finally landing with the Sharks last year.

They’re the only two players who have a South Asian background, and have been or are playing in the NHL; in a way, they’re representing the duo-cultural way of life we have going on here in good ol’ Canada.

Plain and simple, it’s challenging to live in a South Asian household that is governed by standardized ways of living and earning. Popular media, newspapers, interviews, movies, and books all reinforce what we may not be actually talking about enough, and that is that we are somehow ‘made’ to fit in the category of: a doctor, an engineer, or a business person. Of course, there are also loads of things that are gradually surfacing in our society, that are beginning to stray from these over-ingrained ideas of professions we should pursue, such as politics, social services, and literature … but how often do you hear about the brown kid across the street being drafted by the Leafs or the Pens?

Go on, try arguing with me that the only sport that matters to Indians is cricket, that hockey is ‘too violent’, or that its stereotypical association with beer and crazed fans is overrated and a commercial hoax, following our larger-than-life wins for the men’s and women’s Olympic teams and the fact that Montreal’s present standing for the Stanley Cup have South Asian-Canadians donning jerseys and lingering around water coolers in the office.

To our immigrant parents and grandparents, making a living on an ice rink or even a basketball court, is a foreign concept to grasp.  They didn’t Air India it over to Canada for their pay cheques to go towards their kids’ costly sports equipment; they came so that we may learn the essence of hard work through education and have a world of opportunity open to us in the workforce. Rather than learning this as we make critical decisions that shape our lives, we seem to be inevitably limited to understand hard work through trying ever-so-hard to keep our shoulders up from the mounting pressures to become what other people would like and expect us to be.

But people like Bawa, Malhotra, Ruby Dhalla, and Russell Peters are prime examples that these attitudes can change and that it’s quite alright to step out of the socially constructed boundaries and pursue what makes you happy. At the end of the day, the values of perseverance, dedication, and enjoying what you do still stand strong, alongside cultural integration.

Author: Poonam Patel

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Desis Believe in Arranged Love

Posted on 26 May 2010 by .

You would think that after several years of OMNI television’s screening of the (in)famous weekly Sunday Bollywood films  that an analysis of South Asian romance would be a little less than on the verge of pathetic. Take the following as an example;

Tina Turner may have had a point in her 1984 hit single ;“What’s Love Got to Do with it”, with the genius of lyrics describing love as something that makes the pulse react, a boy meeting girl ‘opposites attract’.

(Student): OMG, I think arranged marriages are like totally unfair, and some people like have to do it like…South Asians and such as…because of their CULT-UURE—, and like they have to marry people they don’t even know—like in the Bollywood movies, like, how can you love someone you don’t even know–

(Teacher): “eh…eh…(wipes sweat off brow) remember we have to keep in mind that we need to be sensitive of other people’s culture and respectful and understanding of practices that may be different from our own.”

Now, even those with the most sadistic understanding of Bollywood films should know that the lovers who cop glances at each other from behind bushes and run circular laps on expansive lush green fields do so—why?  BECAUSE THEY ARE IN LOVE.

And despite this, someone should give all South Asians in this country a life time achievement award for spending at least half of their lives answering the question; “are you going to have a love marriage or an arranged”?

In re-assuring other’s that I too, believe that love marriages are the way to go, the mere insistence and cohesive argumentation of my response- the who (someone with similar interests), the when (in my 30s and 40s), under what circumstances (once I’m established in my career and life), elicits a somewhat uncanny defence of love- that is the arranged-ness of it all.

Yet, how does one overcome this contradiction? ‘Love’ and ‘arranged’ are opposites, the former always resisting the blueprints of the latter. But can love truly be autonomous from the constraints and expectations that we place on it?

You only need to go to a bookstore to see the different shelves that deal with the topic of love. Books and magazine headlines read the following;“ The 10 Rules of Marriage Success”, “ How to Keep your Man for more than 30 days”,  “The #1 Tip on How to Stay in Love,” “Receding waistlines add 5 years to your love life.”

Numbers, statistics, rules, tips and formulas. What else is this but love arranged.

Tina Turner may have had a point in her 1984 hit single ;“What’s Love Got to Do with it”, with the genius of lyrics describing  love as something that makes the pulse  react, a boy meeting girl ‘opposites attract’. Turner continues; “There is a name for it; a phrase that fits. It is physical, only logical. What is love but a second hand emotion? “

Like Tina, I do feel that the rationalizations and formulations of love are not unwarranted. In trying to realize the relevance of an amorphous concept like ‘love’, all of us tend to bring it down to life size, and in doing so we try to give it a shape, and make it into something that fits our visions of reality.

And despite this, I feel that it is the nature of love to resist the cohesiveness of what we expect from it. Love doesn’t fit in numbers, it doesn’t fit well with the 5 W’s of what, when, where, why and who. And it most definitely doesn’t rest in bookshelves.

So maybe we can start asking different questions, more than just the ones that bounce between arranged and love marriages. Perhaps we can ask ourselves; “are we going to have love arranged”?

Having said all of this, I know that I for one, cannot distance myself from these manuals, statistics, songs, poems, literature that expose our centuries old preoccupation with love. In fact, it only rightfully shows how ‘love’ is truly a thing that we will never understand.

Peter Gabriel said it best when he said; “ the book of love is long and boring, no one can lift the damn thing, it’s full of charts, facts, figures and instructions for dancing.  But I love it when you read to me, you can read me anything.”

Author: Sana Hashmi

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