I’m in Vancouver, Canada and I have now literally seen seven seas, some near, some from afar. I came from the land of the Indian ocean and Bay of Bengal, over the Caspian sea, the Black sea, the Atlantic ocean, the Arctic and finally to the shores of the Pacific ocean. And here’s the deal about traveling this far, the only piece of knowledge I could share, ‘keep an open mind, and an open heart’.
This city (and country) have welcomed me with both. I have met some of the kindest people I know, people who did not have to be warm and kind but wanted to be and were. Like when I was going to get a new mobile sim card from a certain company and a representative after understanding I was new, sneaked a piece of paper to me on which he wrote “XYZ has better mobile plans for you. We don’t sell that here”. Like when I was evaluating banks, a representative of a major banking firm told me “We would love to have you here but in case you decide not to bank with us, I would suggest you look up ABC Bank” When I went to ABC bank, which wasn’t even on my lists of banks to check out, I realized that they had a newcomer to Canada program which saved me $5000 (approx. 2.5 lakh rupees) in liquid money. These are just two examples, I’m bombarded by kindness every day. I try to say thank you and most people just reply, “Someone has helped me in the past, I’m just paying it forward.”
Such a simple concept with such powerful impact.
I’m currently staying at downtown Vancouver with two generous and outrageously talented people who have lived and grown up in Canada. A Sri-Lankan immigrant helped me open my security deposit box. My banker is of French origin. Two of the friends I’ve made: one is a Japanese girl, the other is Mexican. My counselor at the immigration settlement company I go to is Chinese. My mentor for my employment search is originally from Bangladesh. The lady who gave me inside scoop on the free security deposit box was from Philipines.The gentleman who helped me open my PO Box is of German origin. What do they all have in common: A giving nature and a genuine want to help attitude.
My sister came in for three days (since she’s on the west coast of the USA) and basically pampered me enough so that I don’t feel like a pauper here. We went to the best places to lunch and of course, I stole her jackets and socks! She paid for taxi rides when Vancouver became ‘rain-couver’, and we looked at the suburbs where I could possibly rent cheaper accommodation. But, as luck would have it, my heart is set on downtown.
I go for a walk every day to the middle of downtown Vancouver and my walking route makes me fear that I might OD on the beauty of this city. I walk along the waterfront, with the pacific ocean right next to me flanked by snow-capped mountains that appear so near, I feel I could touch the snow if I reached out. The shimmering lights of the city on the other side of the pacific and the clear blue sky above overwhelm and ground me. Sea Planes land in and take off and I have stood there for hours, mesmerized. I walk a little ahead, the Pacific gurgling music to my ears, the wind making my ears deliciously cold, the tip of my nose being nipped by the freeze. I see ducks and seagulls enjoying a flight and I reach coal harbor where all the yachts are docked. One is called ‘Just chill’, another is called ‘Traverse’. Those two are my favorite. And so I walk along and I take photographs but the pictures do this place no justice.
Most of the government documentation got done seamlessly, thanks to the guidance of my counselor. Now I’m looking out for jobs and a permanent place (in downtown Vancouver!!) to call home. I’m off to a good start, I’d say since this seems like a place where if you give your hundred per cent it reflects that a cent per cent back and I hope that this trend continues.
It is a happy, clean, non-chaotic, non-intrusive, generous atmosphere and I’m thankful to my parents to have suggested and encouraged me to take this step. I hope someday I get an opportunity to pay it forward.
01 Feb 2017