Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Days of Disorientation

Deciding to leave your country, your home and your people is a leap of faith. It is an act, the outcome of which cannot be proved ahead of time. No matter what you tell others or yourself, you do not decide to leave for a more prosperous life, but you choose to depart from the undesired and undesirable circumstances. It is an escape, not a vacation. And in most cases, it is a choice you make.

As with most choices, you may encounter doubts about your decision to migrate. There are stories of people barely surviving, there are anecdotes about families returning after having failed and then there is information about those who have done well and are thriving. The grass does not really seem greener on the other side; it practically looks psychedelic with all the colors, even the ones you deplore.

Remember when you had read and re-read 'What to Expect when you are Expecting' and had listened to all the free advice from mothers and others? Remember how all that did nothing to prepare you for the baby that you brought home for the first time? Pregnancy, labour and giving birth is the perfect allegory for immigration to another country. In such confusing times, the only favour you can do to yourself is trust your instincts, have faith and relinquish the contagious paranoia.

The free advice and ample fears being excreted by people in your immediate surroundings should be be ignored in entirety. Those people have never migrated, so they cannot know, says simple logic. The others who are happy for you and keep promising you that it's going to be ok also don't really know, but they love you and wish well for you. It is good to believe in them but with the prologue that you will have to work very hard for it to be all right. Those who returned to their nests, abandoning the change, are the ones who were not armoured for rough times that always precede smooth sailing. As for those who have done too well too quickly, facebook can be deceiving and may offer a myopic view of the coveted prosperity.

Coming from someone who has migrated two weeks before, I wish to enumerate a few salient points:

  • Take a direct flight and go for the cheaper option. A non-functional entertainment system and some stale food won't kill you. Be thankful that you are an immigrant flying respectably and not a refugee in a dingy dinghy. It is only 14 hours of your life that you can sleep through instead of running around transit points. It is not worth it, even for the 'paid for' airport hotel in Dubai. 
  • The first couple of weeks are difficult, like extended pre/post menstrual syndrome. You are homeless, scared and confused. Even though you had researched for months on the Internet, the new unfamiliar environment makes you disoriented [trust me, it does]. The experienced immigrants (if you know any) trying to help you out are sincere but not always accurate. On the other hand, the literature authorities provide you at the airport upon arrival as they welcome you to Canada is NOT trash. It is comprehensive and offers step by step guidance to all the items on your to-do, should-do, and do-I-have-to-do lists. Read the literature and start making informed decisions. I have lost 2 weeks in my disorientation. Trust me.
  • Do not look for apartments on craigslist. Just because you are not in Pakistan anymore doesn't mean you will not be scammed. In two weeks, we have experienced two failed deception attempts. Failed, because I have grown up in a rough neighbourhood in Karachi. I have been mugged at gunpoint, groped on buses and have witnessed some really twisted happenings around me. A yuppy con artist trying to take my money for stock images of beautiful apartments falls short of my crisis threshold. Just remember, Canadians are lovely people, but no country is perfect. Don't let down all your guards. Kijiji and padmapper are better sources of leads on house-hunting than craigslist.
  • Finding a job is not a piece of cake, no matter how brilliant you are or how amazing your Resume' is. Don't lose hope and be motivated to shut the phone on every single person [family or friend] who starts enquiring about your job hunt and laments about your unemployment from the second you land here. It takes time and major adjustments of self-image. Once I figure it all out and find decent (or indecent) employment, I will be in a position to elaborate more aptly. 
  • Stop converting the price of everything from Dollars to Rupees. If you don't, you will become suicidal very quickly. 

My dears, be prepared to change those poopy diapers, because it [immigration and/or motherhood] is everything but easy. More later.