Sunday, March 05, 2006

Desi Toronto, Skating

When we first moved to Toronto from the Emirates, the sight of a woman in a scarf (hijab), or in a sari, used to stand out. You did see more such women on public transit, as they were mostly new immigrants who could not yet afford a car perhaps, but the sight of one working as a teller in a bank, or a clerk in an airport Check-in, or entering an office, was always uncommon. I remember in our first years in Canada, my mom would point out a hijab-clad or sari-clad woman to my sister to indicate people wearing such attire did get jobs.

Now ofcourse, such an exercise is moot. With the Ikea of Edmonton designing hijab uniforms (h/t: Abu Hurayrah), and women in saris (and a coat on the top) a common sight in banks and offices, the face of Toronto has changed drastically in the last few years. Whereas Stoney Creek was once known unofficially as Tony Creek due to the amount of Italians there, now people refer to Agincourt (Scarborough) as Asiancourt, Springdale (Brampton) as Singhdale, while Bramalea (Brampton) gets the nick of Bramladesh. When I started university on the Scarborough campus, our class size (for our program) was 500, with only about 30 desi people. When I finished, that class size was whittled down to 40 (less than 10% finished), and most of us were that same group of 30 desis that started. We are smart!

Recently I was walking home with a friend, and as we entered our subdivision, we saw a white lady going for a jog, with her dog. We stopped and stared.

"Look, it's a white woman," I exclaimed in surprise without even thinking. And then added the emphasis, "With A DOG!"

We both started to laugh. This was Canada. Just a short drive north, east or west of Toronto will show you how white this country is. It is to their credit that they have embraced multiculturalism and immigration the way they have. Kudos to Trudeau.

The browning of Toronto comes with a price though. One of my friend's working theory was that when you go to a fast-food-place-that-will-not-be-named (I'm loving it), you order drinks without the ice. He explained that the drink was cold anyways, and more ice meant less drinks. Typical desi cheapnesssmartness. And what does the fast food place do? Their working theory (I can't prove this but you try it out) is that if you order ice they fill the cup to the brim. Order 'no ice' and the drink will be filled a little less. And refills are no longer free. Yes, they have also adapted to desi people.


I don't get brown people who will not let their kids go skating or skiing because it is too dangerous (you could get hurt naa) or because it is not our sport. Which sport is not dangerous? You think having someone hurl a hunk of wood at you at 100 miles per hour (cricket) is not dangerous? And what exactly is our sport?

My theory is that one should try the local sports of the country you reside in (note: Formula 1 and NASCAR does not count). Isn't there some hadith stating all Muslims should be physically fit, and particularly boys should be good at sports? I know our Prophet (pbuh) was good at wrestling and archery, and encouraged boys to learn swimming (hardly a desert sport) and riding. Similarly, since one is now in Canada, desi people should not shy away from hockey, skating, skiing or curling.

I tried skating for the first time yesterday, and can offer the following tips:
1) Wear stretchable pants (for obvious reasons).
2) Stay away from friends who are better than you but want to give you a helping 'hand' ... by giving you a shove.
3) Again, don't trust friends who tell you to dress as if you are going skiing (it'll be cold on the ice yaar) so you put on ski gloves, triple layering and inners.

Jokes aside, it's a wonderful way to spend a few hours, and I soon got the hang of it (I never went rollerblading either, so was a complete beginner). Just like skiing, the more you practice the better you get at it, and it gets more fun.

It was a beautiful day.

Harbourfront Centre, downtown Toronto.

Yes, I can skate.



NAB said...

where'd you go skating?

Shabina said...

ice skating is SO much fun! what we like to do is form a human chain, and then have every other person skate forward, which subsequently pulls the other people forward while they go back:


It scares the crap out of non-moz, for sure. i dont know if it would work with guys, though...y'all dont like to hold hands, right?

mezba said...

@Nowal: We went to Harbourfront Centre, downtown TO.

@Shabina: Lol, nope, guys do NOT hold hands. Especially when a few of them (NOT me) has just watched Brokeback Mountain and has been scarred for life.