Sunday, March 14, 2010
Dubai vs. Toronto: Part 3 - Living in Toronto
Part 1: The Myths of Dubai
Part 2: The Harsh Truth Facing Immigrants to Canada
Part 3: Living in Toronto
Part 4: The Islamic and Cultural Aspect
Part 5: Dubai or Toronto?
I have so much (controversial?) stuff to say for Part 4, but first, let me give you my reflections of Living in Toronto.
If you think about "arranged marriage" - it's the reverse of a tradition Western romance - first comes the ceremony of marriage, then comes the physical intimacy, and finally, as you get to know your spouse, love. Moving to a different city after living a long time in another can be compared similarly to an 'arranged marriage'. First, you move to the city, and then get to know the ins and outs of this city, the transportation, how everything works, etc. very well. Finally, given time, you fall in love with the city.
After all, I had just moved from this:
Living in Toronto is generally a very good experience. Let me give you some of the ideas that I had when I came here to Toronto, myths, if you will.
Myth 1. The society in the West is all about sex and “enjoying life”; they have no culture of family life.
I think we all watched a little too much Bold and Beautiful when we were in UAE. Yes, in college, there were drunken parties by some people where untold acts occurred, but on the whole people here have the same attitudes to relationships that we do – they are looking for the one to settle with. They may take a little longer to get there, and may play the field along the way, but once they get older and are married, it’s not that everyone is having affairs right and left. I have worked with people for ten years and have yet to hear of a marriage breakdown. Meanwhile, divorce rates in UAE is touching 50%, and Saudis are the ones looking for sex on the internet.
Myth 2. People in the West have no culture and this is a very materialistic society.
So proud of I was of my Eastern origins that the first time I went fishing with my classmates in university, I remember thinking, 'what do they know of fishing - Bangladesh is the land of many rivers' - as if somehow being from Bangladesh automatically taught you how to fish! I remember feeling somewhat foolish when they were catching fish left and right with their artificial bait while my worm-laden hook was being ignored.
I have learned long since that while cultures vary, universal human values remain the same wherever you go. And Canada upholds a lot of the same values we are so proud of in Islam – caring for your fellow humans, charity, giving, respect towards minorities and those oppressed, freedom, etc. When I traveled to the US, I was astonished at how materialistic a society that was, compared to Canada. Here was one country where people OPPOSED giving other people help with health care, because it could raise their taxes. Every time I come back across the 49th parallel back to Canada, I feel at home.
Myth 3. Toronto was a buzzing city full of work.
It’s a buzzing city all right, but no work! As I said in my last part, the work you do will be very different.
Myth 4. Toronto is a very cold city.
Weather is no doubt much better elsewhere - Canada is a very cold country. But I have noticed one fact amongst immigrants here.
Those who complain most about the weather and how cold it is here are often most depressed, inactive, lazy, fat and sick. Then there are those immigrants that learn how to ski, how to skate, how to go for drives and learn about fireplaces and make hot chocolate and maple syrup and attend hockey games - those adapt to the culture and thrive. Toronto is not Antarctica!
Concluding, the biggest thing about living in Toronto is that it has something for everyone. Indeed, one of the lovely facts about Toronto is that every immigrant group thinks it is the dominant group in Toronto. Not only that, people feel about this city. I guess that is a consequence of citizenship. I could have lived elsewhere for years but if that city never considered me as one of their own, I could never have belonged.
In part 4, I want to discuss Islam and culture. I have heard from many people that in many ways Canada is more of a muslim country than Islamic countries, while other people have said you can only live as a true Muslim ONLY in an Islamic country. To me, that is a fascinating topic to explore.