Sunday, December 20, 2015


My life in IMMIT - in Europe - seems now to me as some distant wild midsummer night's dream, a quaint movie I once saw, a slice of time frozen in my memory - the perspective of experiences known only to me. Was it real? Was it something that really happened to me or just some figment of my imagination poorly attempting to create something out of this existence we call life. Alas, the chapter is closed and the book is swiftly flipping pages to the end, or more accurately so, it's like flipping through pages of a magazine in a waiting room randomly and in an ad-hoc manner (non-linearly and non-chronologically) to find the most alluring or interesting photos without really reading the boring text.

I embarked this year (April 2015) on a new mission in a faint attempt to continue that journey of discovery. Like a junkie needing more, the European experience has torn my mind apart giving me a taste of splendor and leaving me craving a higher level of impacting experience - the faster, higher, wilder psychological rollercoaster of life. Just like the junkie, however, you can never quite recreate that first sensational experience. What is it with human beings and the seven deadly sins, of never being satisfied with what is in the now, always looking to the future and lusting for the grass on the other side? If you think about it, these sins have become the epitome of human lifestyle today.

Our ancient ancestors were nomads - my more recent forefathers were 'indentured labours' - they all had the intrinsic nomadic nature of not being able to stay quietly in one place. When given the opportunity to move to the new world without knowing anyone and with an offering of a mere pittance of a possibility to start a new life, they embraced the opportunity. This somehow has passed down in my genes, as I am unable to be satiated in my 'homeland'. There was once a classification of humans into two distinct hemispheres: hunter v.s. gatherer; extrovert v.s. introvert; jock v.s. nerd. This has evolved now, millennials brought about a new paradigm of classification smack in the middle - the new explorer - ambivert - geek. 

To get even more clichéd with the puns, it is like Luke Skywalker having this deep yearning all his life to leave the mundane planet Tatooine to voyage through space for unknown adventure and become a Master Jedi. Thus, I commence this journey to Quebec, from Mount Hope (my birthplace) to Mount Royal (my birthright). The adventure-creation cycle restarts, Jedi or not.

It is a leap of faith - a fish bowl scenario. People frowned upon/expressed concern/advised against leaving everything and going to nothing - classic risk aversion. People ask why there, why Montreal, why Quebec, why Canada? I say why not? It is different, cultural, bilingual (another language always adds another layer of cultural richness). Montreal is arguably the cultural capital of Canada and possibly North America, one of the most European-styled/-architectured cities in North America, some have said it is the most beautiful city in North America, and finally the most romantic city in North America.

It is cold. Yes, people also bring up the issue of the brutal winters here. I don't see winter as a deterrent for the choice of country of abode. I have lived through a Finnish Winter, I think I'll be ok. When you've lived in a place with no significant change of season for most of your life, it brings a new perspective of time when you enter the four seasons nations - something to look forward to - a reminder that time does pass, and quickly at that. You learn to grasp the moment and make the most of it now rather than relax, laze-out and say that it can be done tomorrow, since, as we all know, the weather report in Trinidad has the least viewed ratings as it is always the same.

A vision realised. In Europe, when I said I'm from Trinidad, they would always respond "Canada?" When I said I was Trinidadian, they would always respond "Canadian?". It sounds the same somehow. I grew up watching, unknowingly, the Cirque du Soleil on a local documentary channel and was always fascinated by the world-renowned entertainment-art group. Little did I know at the time that they were actually born in Canada and based in Montreal - now I am here. Montreal has a sort of mash-up of ancient tradition and modern pseudo-culture: the European-styled churches with daily 12:00 and 6:00 bell chimes, artsy cafes, craft beers (bars and beers named awkwardly and near-blasphemously after church and Christian related conventions), poutine, bagels, road construction, hipster culture and beards, tattooed and pierced business men and women - a fresh new cultural playground for me.

The migration process was long and boring (luckily, I love filling out forms! It's a hobby!), which took nearly 4-5 years. Canada welcomes immigrants openly, and more easily than the USA, they have carefully crafted integration programs to help new residents integrate and succeed; they don't just leave you there or drop you in. Montreal really is a melting pot of ethnicities and nationalities, I was the bearer of the 109th nationality encountered in a workshop of objective integration. I was also introduced to the concept, in this workshop, that we should not regard ourselves as "immigrants" (often the term has a negative air), but as residents - I am Quebecois (Canadian) with origins in Trinidad & Tobago. It is not denouncing my roots, it is simply accepting that I am now part of a new environment mapping my future and the future of my future generations in this new society that I can hopefully call home (or at least, my second home).

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