We landed exactly 14 years ago on August 4thin Toronto and so today, we write on our first eventful journey to Canada. Eventful because it was not only a start of a new journey but also the amalgamation of several events. So much so, even the weather was against us leaving our home. It was the month of August and it rained so heavily in Mumbai that day that all roads were flooded, offices closed down early and trains were either shut down or running at a very meager pace. We were unaware of these events as we were staying in Vasai (a city on the outskirts of Mumbai) where the impact was less and all our attention was on getting our 8 bags packed, weighed and rearranged as per the allowable weight for each bag. Those who travel would understand our predicament at this point. And add to that mix of our two little children of ages 2 years and 8 months respectively along with our heavy hearts of leaving our homeland and our elders to start a new life in a new land. You could imagine the emotional turmoil as well as a physical roller coaster going through our home as well as our hearts. At this point we were totally oblivious of the onslaught of monsoon in the city.
The universe must have taken a clue of our impending difficulty and send two angels beforehand (my wife’s best friends – Smita and Manisha) to take care of the little children while we were packing. As destined, they decided to spend the last night at our home and were a great help with taking care of our children that day.
I came to know of the situation in the afternoon and arranged for the car to pick us up at 5 PM instead of 8 PM from Vasai. By doing so, I hoped and prayed to God to help us reach the airport on time for our flight at 1 AM.
After bidding farewell, we embarked on our car journey to the airport and as luck would have it, the roads started clearing and we reached the airport around 9 PM. We went inside with our friends and the universe sent us another angel (Smita’s Mother). She forced us to feed our 8thmonth old baby before we checked in. We were so tired and it being our first time flying, we were unaware of the proceedings of check-in. As we reached the boarding gate, I went to buy some snacks for my wife and as I returned, one lady asked us which flight we were travelling. When she heard our flight name, she looked at us and said “I heard the announcement for this flight quite a while ago and you are still here”. At this, I just broke into a run to ask for the flight gate and was just in time before the boarding gate, as they were just about to close the door of the plane.
Well, we got an earful from the flight attendants along with my kids who decided to cry together at exactly the same time. The head attendant instead of understanding our plight decided to give us a tough time by telling us that our carry-on bags were heavy and threatened us that we will have to pay $250 when we land in Canada. He only allowed us to take two carry on bags and in that mix – the carry on bag that had the pampers were put in with the other check-in luggage advising us that the flight attendants would give us things for our baby, if we needed it. However, the flight attendants provided us with oversized pampers for my eight-month-old baby and the bassinet was provided only for the first half of the journey. So we ended up carrying our daughter in our hands for the next leg of the journey from Rome to Canada.
We cleared customs and were approaching the counter for new immigrants. We waited patiently for our turn and the officer invited us to the counter.
He smiled and looked at me and said, “Good afternoon, how was your journey?”
I replied, “The past 36 hours has been a rough ride.”
The officer replied, “Let’s try and get you out quick.”
I nodded and he asked me for the passport and other documents. I provided him all the paperwork and he said, “Your papers are in good order. You left your home to start a new life in a new land. It appears you gave up everything to make it this far, isn’t it?”
My wife and I nodded and he said, “This is your new home and your new land, welcome to Canada.”
We thanked the officer and he replied, “Do well and I wish you and your family all the very best in life.”
My wife and I were overjoyed and we proceeded to collect our luggage and meet our relatives.
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