SUCCESSFUL Gulf-based Asians often have a tax-free lifestyle second to none. BMWs, fancy condos, five star travel, household help, minimum one month long paid vacation time and a hectic party/club scene are a normal way of life. The only thing lacking perhaps is a sense of belonging and the premonition that all this is ephemeral.I wish when I was there in the Gulf, someone had told me how to enjoy this five star travel lifestyle (not to forget the 'hectic party/club scene'). The BMW wouldn't have been bad either!
The truth is in the first word of that sentence - 'Successful'. Now you have to define success, but on the whole I would not argue that an average South Asian family in the Gulf probably enjoys a lot of comforts that they would not enjoy back in Canada. The company usually pays rent, tickets to go back to desiland during the month long summer vacations, tax free income, eating out whenever you feel like it (without worrying about halal / haram or your burger being real meat instead of what is called a 'byproduct'). The trade off is of course living under the constant subjugation of Arabs (called 'Rafeek', 'miskeen') or being in trouble with the law (life is good as long as it's good - any trouble, you're fucked).
To me the writing appears mostly as a fluff piece (even though it raises some interesting issues). I, for one, would have liked the writer to interview more families who had returned to the Gulf and been there for a while now. Do they still like it? Do their Canadian-born kids like it?
There is no doubt that Canada has a problem hiring the immigrants it allows in. The first generation always struggles. As for the second generation? Even I now sometimes think it may not be a bad idea to move back for a bit, make some money and come back, even though last year I was of the opinion I would never move back. After some time, the long winters start to get at you.
"Going back was not an option, none of that one foot here and one foot there business," says Jasmine candidly.And this last part is where I agree - many of the 'successful' immigrant families I see - where the couple has "made it" - usually stems when both the husband and wife immerse themselves into the system. Rather than fight it or accept the bad bumps, they get involved and try to work their way through it. Sucks if you are a doctor, but most other professions find some vocation within three years.
"However, initially, we did have our share of adversity. The usual things - no jobs, no recognition of our credentials (she was a teacher in Saudi), savings rapidly going down the drain, having to pay rent for 12 months up front, post-9/11 retrenchment."
The Sawants, with their two sons, Aniruddh, and Siddhant, now 19 and 16 respectively, bit the bullet and consciously made a decision to adopt the Canadian way of life.
This is a very interesting article - as I said - when I consider places I wouldn't mind working for a few years other than Canada - the UAE, with a suitable job, is very high on that list. But would you live in a place where nothing is as it seems and you have no future, for (very) high bucks?