The Landing

“Welcome to Canada!”

Reboot Social - The Landing

The agent behind the Customs and Immigration desk said routinely as I handed her three passports and the landing papers.

I had deliberately avoided the urge to down a couple of beers on the flight from London Heathrow to Toronto Pearson. After all, I wanted to create a good first impression on the screening official who I believed had the final say in accepting us as landed immigrants, or not. Alcohol in my breath may not sit well in the scheme of things.

As the Customs Agent shuffled papers and cross-checked our information with a computer terminal on her desk, I turned and flashed a reassuring “I got this covered” smile at my wife and six-year-old daughter. I wondered what was going through their minds. I felt a pang of guilt as I looked away. For all practical purposes, we had walked away from what was considered to be a reasonably comfortable lifestyle, family, and friends. All in pursuit of the Canadian version of the American dream!

“Sir, how much money are you bringing with you?” The agent had stopped typing and was now looking directly at me.

I froze! I was not sure if this was a trick question.

Surely, the Canadian immigration officials ought to know the restrictions imposed by the Indian Government on foreign travel. Unless you were travelling on business, the limit was twenty US dollars per passenger. Sixty dollars to move and settle in a new country!

Until then, it had not occurred to me that it did not make sense. I had made arrangements with my sister, who lived in Mississauga, for some “seed money” to tide me over the first few months. Sensing my hesitation, the agent smiled and said: “I know that you are only allowed twenty dollars per head.” She paused, and added, “It’s OK if you are bringing more, we like it.”

Phew!

As she handed our passports back and wished us good luck, I mumbled something about my sister and having a place to crash for a few days.

As we walked out of the terminal to be greeted by family, my emotions were mixed. I was happy that we had made it through. Yet, I was anxious about what the future would hold for us.

Stepping out on the curb, I breathed in the cold November air. I had never been to a place that was as cold as this before. Slipping into the spare jackets specially brought for us, we piled into the waiting cars and onward to my sister’s home.

As I settled into the car and took in the clean streets and the traffic, I thought to myself: if most Canadians were like the Immigration Agent, we would be fine!

My spirits were back up; I couldn’t wait to get home, and try some Canadian beer!

13 comments for “The Landing

  1. January 28, 2017 at 1:36 PM

    What a touching piece Dax. A poignant and timely reminder of some of the things that make this country special.

    • January 28, 2017 at 1:39 PM

      Thanks Deji.

      Sometimes we forget how good we have it here…

  2. January 26, 2017 at 7:42 PM

    True. I guess everyone goes through phases…

  3. January 25, 2017 at 11:29 PM

    Good reading well said. Me too was taken back to that day when we landed . I was smiling to myself because.in Geechis role it was you guy’s

  4. Rick Piotrowski
    January 23, 2017 at 10:37 AM

    Good morning Dax, happy to see you blogging again. Very timely piece given events of late. As a son of immigrants, my opinion is you’ve chosen a great place to call home. You didn’t mention whether you had your squash and tennis racquets with you on you trip over. I look forward to sharing some good Indian food in the near future.

    • January 23, 2017 at 10:05 PM

      Thanks Rick.
      As someone who has been around a bit, I would say that we live in one of the best countries in the world. As for the racquets, I picked up squash in Canada. That’s why you guys beat me all the time…

  5. Govind Raj
    January 23, 2017 at 5:01 AM

    Very well written Dax. Look forward to the next one. All the very best1

  6. Ajith Kalliat Thazhath
    January 23, 2017 at 1:54 AM

    Every migrant has a transition phase, interesting anecdotes and emotional moments associated with it. Thanks for sharing Dechuetta and look forward to being part of the journey… and of course sharing our journey too.

    • January 23, 2017 at 10:06 PM

      Aji, Couldn’t agree more. Look forward to your contribution… Thanks.

  7. Mohan Nair
    January 22, 2017 at 3:24 PM

    Nicely written, Dax, and straight from the heart. I’m sure many of us shared your trepidations when we first set foot on these beautiful shores. My first expection of this great water body was that Lake Ontario would be similar to Ulsoor Lake in Bangalore. Boy, was I in for a surprise!!!

    • January 22, 2017 at 3:36 PM

      Thanks Mohan! I remember Ulsoor lake…

  8. Geetha Thampi
    January 22, 2017 at 2:25 PM

    Great start! A light-hearted version of a really serious matter. Can’t wait to read the next one.

    Geechi (the sister in Mississauga)

    • January 22, 2017 at 3:35 PM

      Thanks Geechi! I am sure that you have some experiences that would be of interest to the readers of this blog.

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