Wednesday, January 03, 2024

On Indian Immigrants Leaving Canada For Good

I have been watching a few videos of people who returned to (mostly) India after staying in Canada as PR for some time. Also watched a couple of videos of people who went to Dubai. 

Pretty much all of them had mostly good things to say about Canada:

  • great summer weather
  • everyone is punctual, nice
  • law and order is good
  • no corruption. School admission no hassle, etc.

Then, when they delve into why they left, it is usually:

  • feeling lonely
  • need a car, distances are vast
  • no food options when you go outside (I mean one lady complained of salad as only veg option in a "Canadian" restaurant)
  • drugs (weed) legal for everyone, effect on kids

But the most common reasons seem to be:

  • you need to do everything yourself (no "jugad"), such as plumbing, assembling furniture
  • fear of not getting proper healthcare
  • rising costs

I feel many people today, especially Indian families, are not prepared to do the initial struggle that immigrants used to (and still) do in Canada. Whoever you are, from wherever you are, you will HAVE to struggle in Canada for the first 2-3 years. Your education and experience are not recognized, you will not have a car and need to take public transit, and you won't have a good job. Kids will be in school, extra curricular activities are expensive and so on.

This is also the worst time to immigrate to Canada. Things in India, for example, for upper class Hindu families are generally good. Why WOULD you immigrate to Canada if you are well settled in India with a good job? Canada is also going though one of the worst and most incompetent governments in their history. The federal deficit has given fuel to inflation (already a worldwide problem) making it worse in Canada. Lots of people have been brought into the country on dubious student visas, leading to severe housing problem in the country. 

Previously immigrants struggled because the payout was great - citizenship that is amongst the most powerful in the world, and living standard that is one of the highest in the world. Those things are still true, but there are enormous challenges such as declining standard of healthcare, declining quality of education in high schools. Previously governments used to give tax credits for kids extra curricular activities - those are gone now under current government, who is funding their own expensive programs. But these are temporary challenges.

The truth remains that Canada is still a great place to live - but perhaps this is not the right moment to immigrate for many people who are well settled in their home countries. Also, if you are not prepared to struggle, or you want to be lazy, don't come here. As simple as that.

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Cost of a Desi Wedding in GTA

 I am detailing some of the costs associated for a typical desi wedding in the GTA. This is a pretty standard wedding ceremony, not elaborate. You can, of course, pay more for a more extravagant ceremony.

  1. Wedding Lehenga - $3000-$4000 (times two if there is a separate walimah function apart from the nikah reception)
  2. Dress for the nikah / akht - $1500
  3. Dress for halud / mayoon / haldi - $1500
  4. Makeup - $600 (times three for each occasion, and this is lower end)
  5. Henna artist - $200 - $600
  1. Wedding sherwani - $500 - $1000
  2. Nikah sherwani - $500
  3. Halud Kurta - $200 - $500
Other costs:
  1. Photography / Video: $3000 - $5000
  2. Hall rental (main function) - $60-$75/plate (so around $6000-$7500 for 100 people), times two if there is separate walimah
  3. Hall rental (holud) - $2500 (including food that is catered)
  4. Nikah (mosque) - $500 (including city's marriage license, imam fees, etc.)
  5. Dates/small gift box for nikah - $5/10 per person.
  6. Wedding cake - $800 - $1000 (for roughly 200 people)
  7. Backdrop decorator design - $1000
These are basic costs. I am leaving aside other costs such as renting a car / limo for the ruksati, bridal showers, bachelor / bachelorette parties, gate dhora / juta churi, etc.
The question is, which one would you realistically eliminate? Most people, when they want to get married, they want a nice hall, a nice dress, photography and a good cake. 

Sunday, June 18, 2023

A Visit to Point Pelee National Park

Point Pelee National Park is a unique national park located roughly just under 4 hours of drive south from Toronto. The first long weekend of the summer, the May 24 weekend, was showing a beautiful forecast, so we decided to visit this park. 

There is something unique about the park as well, which I will get to later. We started early in the morning, and thus reached Point Pelee around noon.

To get to Point Pelee, once you take the exit from 401 highway, you go through lots of small roads. Some of them have very low speed limits, such as 40. But soon, we were at the entrance of the park.

Boy it was busy! We had completely disregarded the fact that it was a long weekend, and a beautiful weather to boot, and so there was a long line up of cars to get in. 

No worries, we did get in, and once we were in, we were told that the "Tip" parking was full now, so we would have to come back in a bit.

This is where I would give the most important advice applicable almost to any sightseeing - get there early. We really should have been there around 9 or 10 am. That way, we would have gone straight to the Tip, and got the morning hours light as well.

No worries, we headed to the March Boardwalk. The marsh is about 70% of the park.

Due to its southernly location and the moderating effects of Lake Erie, the climate in the park is slightly warmer than the rest of Canada, and many species of birds, rare in rest of Canada, are found here.

It really is a bird watcher's paradise. People come here with binoculars and expensive cameras to photograph the nearly 360 species of migratory birds that has been recorded in the park. There's a huge diversity in the flora and fauna recorded in this park.

You can walk along the marsh on the boardwalk, and if you walk leisurely, taking pictures and enjoying the scenery, you can spend easily up to an hour here. We walked the whole circle on the boardwalk, which I recommend to any one.

You can even rent canoes or kayaks (or use your own).

The kids really enjoyed the walk. The weather was hot, but not hot to be uncomfortable. There were lots of wildlife to see, and we saw this crane hiding in the bushes.

It was now time to visit the "Tip". This time we were lucky to be allowed in to park at the Visitors' Centre (it was still very, very busy). After you park there, you take a shuttle to go to the Tip.

And what is the Tip? Well ... read on to find out.

Point Pelee National Park forms the southernmost point in mainland Canada (its latitude is the same as that of Rome, Italy and Barcelona, Spain.

After the shuttle dropped us off, in 5 minutes, we were at the Tip. This is why this spot is so unique. When you are standing here, there is NO ONE in mainland Canada who is more south than you. 

Everybody standing patiently in line to take the picture at THE TIP. This is it ... once you stand there, you know that you are the most southerly person in Canada.

Here we are. The wait time wasn't bad ... perhaps about ten minutes in the line. Usually there is no line ... but as I said ... this was the long weekend.

This beach is really not for swimming, due to the very strong currents. In fact, you are not allowed to swim in the waters. Most people, after taking their picture, just spend some time here on the beach relaxing, or playing in the sand. There are other spots in the park where you can go for a swim. 

Here is a picture showing the four corners of Canada. As you can see, Point Pelee is the "south" corner.

On the way back to Toronto, we had to stop in London, Ontario. Whenever we are in London, we have to visit the Mandi Guys. This dish of theirs, chicken leg mandi, is one of my favourite dishes.

Overall, it was a fun visit to Point Pelee National Park. There's activities for the kids. It's not too far, and if you are up for it, you can do it in a day (although it is better to split it into two days, and use London as a pitstop for the night on the way back). 

Monday, June 12, 2023

Paul Bernardo's Shift To Lower Security Prison

Anyone who has lived in Scarborough, Ontario in the 1990s knows the name Paul Bernardo. His name symbolizes pure evil. He raped and murdered several women, often brutally. What was even more despicable was that his wife Karla Homolka helped him rape and murder her own younger sister. 

I arrived as a young man in Canada just after the trials in 1995. I can still tell you how fresh the news was in everyone's mind then, and had continued to remain in public consciousness even after nearly three decades. It was a shame that Bernardo's conviction happened as a result of a plea bargain with Karla Homolka - she was released from prison in 2005.

The recent news that Bernardo is being moved to a lower security prison is shocking on so many levels. I am from that minority of Canadians that thinks death penalty should be there for murderers, but even under today's law, this is a shocking lapse of common sense. This guy should rot in a high security prison for the rest of his life. 

What is very telling is that the ladies who are relatives and friends of the victims decided to approach the Leader of the Opposition for help. They could have gone to our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who actually HAS the power to move Bernardo back to high security prison, but they chose the Leader of the Opposition. The private member's bill, even though it's an Opposition Bill, has a high likelyhood of not passing. Even with all Opposition support, it cannot become law if Trudeau chooses to ignore it (as he did for the China interference motions). It shows to me that these ladies, and indeed many ordinary Canadians, have no faith in Trudeau especially when it comes to law and order. It is not just his famous incompetency, but Trudeau's ideology. This is a man whose bail reform releases violent criminals back into society where they commit crimes, again and again.

What this press interview (first part of announcement is in French, English begins at 4:25).

Link to Pierre Poilievre Presser: