By Martin D’Souza Opening Doorz Editorial | March 05, 2020

Opening Doorz to Steven Alves, his story of moving to Canada and his perspective on migration. Anyone planning to make a move out of India can take something out of Steven’s story and #StoriesFromOutOfIndia.

We at Opening Doorz are making an effort to help you in making an informed decision (through stories like these), if you are one of those who are looking to making that move.

Thirty years ago, a wiry Bandra boy decided to move to Canada for a fresh start. For 20 years, he stayed put in Canada before taking a detour to Dubai 10 years ago. Today, he is back in the country he first set foot in, in 1989, and made a life for himself.

Excerpts:
When did you decide you wanted to move out of India?
I felt that I did not have much scope in India as I had lived a ‘party life’ in my teen years. I had heard a lot of good things about Canada and thought it would give me a fresh start, which I did get. That was almost 30 years ago. At that time, Canada was not one of the places I wanted to move to, it just happened to be a place where my brother and uncle and cousins lived, so I thought, “Why not? Let’s give it a shot.”

How were the initial first years? Did you find the place welcoming, were you missing India or its chaos?
The initial first years almost 30 years ago, were very hard. It was a major culture shock, and I wanted to run back to India, to a place that I felt comfortable in. But I knew deep down, that this was a place that would be good for me eventually; so I stuck on.

After marriage, Steven moved to Dubai for 10 years.

You married and then decided to work in Dubai, wasn’t that hampering your stay in Canada?
Not at all; although Canada is a good place to live, it’s saving power in the way of money is very low if you have a regular job like me. I was working at the helpdesk in the IT field and if one makes $40k a year, a lot goes in taxes and the rest in living expenses like rent, food, etc. So when I moved to Dubai, the saving power was a lot more and after working there for 10 years and having a family now with two kids, I decided to move back to Canada for the children’s sake as I did not want to get them into the Canadian educational system too late. The shift was not easy, as Dubai offers a lot of luxury, but it’s a sacrifice one has to make and come back to reality in Canada.

Was it an easy decision to move back to Canada?
Moving to Dubai was different in its own way. It’s like living in Disneyland. Everything is fake—one makes a lot of money, drives fancy cars on very fancy roads, live in hotels that one can only dream of, eat over-priced foods and live in a very fancy cocooned world. One has to keep his/her eye on the prize and not lose focus. To me, it was a 10-year goal—make my money and leave and that’s what I did. The money I saved in 10 years in Dubai, I would never be able to save in 30 years in Canada on a regular job.

“Moving to Dubai was different in its own way. It’s like living in Disneyland. Everything is fake—one makes a lot of money, drives fancy cars on very fancy roads, live in hotels that one can only dream of, eat over-priced foods and live in a very fancy cocooned world. One has to keep his/her eye on the prize and not lose focus,” says Steven Alves.

How difficult or easy was the process of going back to Canada?
The process of moving back was easy; I have been in the Canadian system for almost 20 years prior to my move to Dubai, so it was just getting back into something that I already knew. There will always be difficulties, but one has to go through it. I had to find a house that would be suitable for the kids and my wife and me, had to find a job, get to know the area, find activities for the kids, etc.

How would you rate the quality of life in Canada as opposed to India?
India has its own charm, but I am not fond of the corruption, the filth all around and small-minded thinking of some people. But there are things also  that I love of the Indian culture—I love the feeling of genuine people around, some of the values that we were brought up with and the amount of government holidays that people get there [ha ha ha ha…]

Would you recommend Canada as a place to migrate to for those who are contemplating a move?
It’s hard for me to say that Canada is a better place to settle in, some folks love it others hate it. As for me, it’s part of my life now and I love it. I would definitely recommend Canada as an option to young couples looking at starting a new life. It’s a struggle to settle in, in the beginning, but it keeps getting better.

What are the plus points of living in Canada?
We have a free education system, health system is free (although it is terrible), Social welfare state (covered if one loses ones job), we have Catholic schools for kids where only Catholic kids can attend. Canada provides a safe environment; I can feel safe walking around anytime. There is no discrimination of work, one can take any job and is not frowned upon. Canada has a great landscape and plenty of nature around; tall trees, mountains, rivers and lakes… it’s all of these that make Canada so beautiful.

Other than the lifestyle created by money, the weather plays a big factor when moving to Canada. Dubai has extreme heat, while Canada has four seasons which is extremely beautiful in my opinion. The changing of the colours from one season to the next, to the kids enjoying the summer activities like cycling, rollerblading to beautiful parks here and winter activities like tobogganing to ice-skating and downhill skiing.

Any minus points?
Living in Dubai, gives one a different impression of life, something one could only dream of: high-end cars, fancy holidays, expensive watches, high-end restaurants, spending money without having to think twice. Coming back to Canada, reality hits back and one can never make the same kind of money as easily as one would make in Dubai.

Also Read: I never imagined I would be in North America

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