By Martin D’Souza | Opening Doorz Editorial | September 25, 2019
Opening Doorz to Rashmi Kumar, her story of moving to Canada and her perspective on migration. Anyone planning to make a move out of India can take something out of Rashmi’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, dear reader, are one of those who are looking to making that move.
Rashmi Kumar’s book ‘Stilettos in the Newsroom’ sold over a million copies. She recently released her third book, ‘Goliath and I’. A seasoned journalist, she’s working on her fourth book and also runs her own kitchenette Khaana by Rashmi, providing customised meal services. Besides this, she is also a radio host for 101.7 World FM.
Living in Edmonton, Canada since 2012, Rashmi recounts her journey from India, life in Canada, the initial difficult years and how she managed to ride the rough. Being well-travelled, Rashmi never ever thought she would migrate to another country, but when love knocked, she welcomed the decision to be with the man she loves. “It did not matter where I would live,” she says matter-of-factly.
Excerpts: When did you decide you wanted to move out of India? Moving out of India was never on the agenda, I just got married and that’s when I had to leave India to be with my husband. When in love it doesn’t really matter which country you are moving to; for me, it was more of an emotional decision. I wanted to be with the man I married. It did not really matter if it was Canada or any other country.
How difficult or easy was the process? Probably the easiest ever; I was sponsored by my husband so I never really had to do anything on my own. He did everything. It was smooth sailing for me. I have heard of people having a tough time. It was like God had literally opened the doors for me!
Was Canada the place you always wanted to move to? To me it didn’t really matter, I just fell in love and wanted to be with my partner, no matter which country! Being well-travelled, I thought Europe actually fits my personality; I never imagined I would be in North America.
How were the initial first years? Did you find the place welcoming, were you missing India and its chaos? I love the mess and the chaos in India, hence the initial years were extremely challenging. I was homesick almost all the time. Didn’t have a job and was completely cut off from many things that were once a precious part of my life. Canada is welcoming but it can isolate you sorely, especially when you have no immediate family and friends. Of course, for the first few years I missed each and everything about India. When you’re far from your home country, you realize how precious some things were, even if they were relatively insignificant at that point in time.
Was it easy for you to merge into the Canadian work structure? That was the biggest hurdle for me because at a very young age in India I got a lot of success in journalism: I was the youngest Features Editor (under 30) I was drawing a good salary, I had two cars and had authored my first book by that time. My life was literally on a roller-coaster. Coming to Canada was a 180 degree spin. I literally had nothing to do after coming here. I would be all by myself at home after my husband left for work. I did not have a social life for a long time; I did not know how to drive ‘Left Hand’. I was getting more and more dependent on my husband. I also got pregnant immediately with our first child. I did not have much time to explore myself personally or professionally. The first few years were extremely challenging for me.
During these initial first years, did you at any time feel that you should come back to India? I felt like coming back to India almost every day. I still feel the same almost every day. On a more philosophical note, there are some things in life for which you never really make up your mind, you just learn to adjust and find your own comfort in what life has to offer.
So how did you keep yourself busy, initially? I was initially busy with my son. When he was four years old, I enrolled myself in a two-year Post Graduation Course in Radio and Television. I worked on my second book, and then my third book came out. Currently, I’m writing my fourth book. I also started doing freelance work for Avenue, a nationwide magazine in Canada, and also joined as a radio host.
How would you rate the quality of life out there as opposed to India? To be honest, I never really had any issues with the quality of life in India—in fact, I lived a large part of my life like a princess, so it’s hard for me to compare but I can say that Canada has no trace of pollution, we’ve 24 hours hot water, free medical, free education and there are not too many people for discomfort!
Would you recommend Canada as a place to migrate, or another country? Depends on one’s priorities! I’m a nationalist and I believe that unless it is really necessary, one needs to stay back and make a difference in their own country. Become the very instrument of that same change for which you might aspire to migrate to another country. Somewhere, my heart lies in India. I would be way happier in India.
What are the plus/minus points of living in Canada? Plus Points 1. Non-instructive. Everybody minds their own business. No one will ever intrude or ask you uncomfortable questions. 2. No pollution. 3. Free elementary education. 4. Free health care. 5. Less population. Minus Points 1.Racism. 2. Lack of recognition of non-Canadian education especially if you belong to a third world country. 3. Lack of recognition of non-Canadian work experience. 4. The disparity is so sharp that almost all immigrants have to start off by doing odd jobs to survive. 5. Extremely isolating society.
Would you recommend a shift to Europe or any other foreign land for people who are toying with the idea, especially for those who are thinking about their children? That’s really not my space to tell. It really depends on the priorities and preferences each aspiring immigrant has. Having said that, my biggest suggestion to an aspiring immigrant would be…
First of all, don’t run away from where you are at if you are making that trip because you want to escape certain situations not suited to your lifestyle. Do not look for an escape route because many times what we escape from becomes our biggest trap.
If you’re passionate about your life and profession in India, moving to Canada would be a career suicide. But if you’re deeply bothered about the political scenario in India, besides its pollution, population and other such things, then migrating to another country might give you that satisfaction.
Make a fully informed decision. Do not move because you are unhappy about something. Move because you are in full knowledge of what you are going to do, not because the grass is greener on the other side.
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