Vacations come and vacations go. Some meet your expectations, some disappoint and some surprise you. Toronto was a surprise package for us.
If you have been reading my series of posts on Canada, you would already know about How We Got Permanent Residence for Canada and also about our arrival and New Beginning in Canada. In my last post, I left off our story at where we had received the required documentation to land in Canada and now all we had to do is go there and grab our PR cards. In the jargon, they say, we needed to become “Landed Immigrants”.
We weren’t ready to move bag and baggage yet and so we planned an immigration-vacation in Toronto for two weeks. This was way back in 2015 and much has happened since then, but it remains one of our most unforgettable holidays.
I still remember that coming from Ivory Coast, we had a long journey via Brussels and then Montreal. Since Toronto was our final destination, we had expected the immigration interview to take place there. We only had a one hour layover at Montreal and we hurried out of our previous flights to make sure we would get the next one to Toronto. Surprise, surprise! We were steered away into an immigration office and told to wait. Ten minutes turned into forty and we were sweating from the thought of missing our connecting flight.
“Too bad,” they said. “You will have to complete the formalities first.” Once they started, it didn’t actually take long. A quick look through our documents, a couple of questions and we were given a thumbs-up. By then, we could barely think straight. We literally ran to check in for the next flight, only to be told we were late by five minutes. The airline however, accommodated us into the next flight to Toronto an hour later at no extra cost. There wasn’t much time for that either. We had to collect our luggage from the previous flight, check it in again and make haste to get the security check done.
It was in the middle of running around like mad-hens that it suddenly struck us- we had done it! We were officially Permanent Residents of Canada, now that we had landed and cleared the border. I still smile at the memory, but we really did come to a sudden halt in the middle of the airport; we grabbed each other, hugged, kissed and started laughing with joy. A long-awaited dream had come true!
That was just the beginning of a grand holiday. An hour later we were in our cute AirBnb rental, a condo in Downtown Toronto. I think we only waited to take a shower each before we headed out. We couldn’t wait to see more of the country that had adopted us!
In the days that followed, we walked an average of 10 kilometres a day, scoping out all of Downtown Toronto on foot. We swung between being immigrants, when we opened bank accounts, got social identity numbers and attended job fairs; and being tourists, when we climbed to the peak of the CN Tower, took a boat out to Toronto Islands and shopped at the Eaton Center. Each corner of Canada, each experience softened our hearts a little more.
By the end of the vacation, we were torn. Canada had won us over, heart and soul. We wanted to settle down tomorrow and yet, we had a well-paying job, a comfortable house and a car back in Ivory Coast, while we had nothing in Canada. Not even family. Our dilemma reflected in our lives in the weeks that followed. In the privacy of our bedroom, we had put up Canadian flags and photos from our trip. But to the world, we breathed not a word. We were not yet ready to disclose our PR status to the world, because we ourselves were not sure what we wanted to do.
What happened next changed everything. Life had to be looked at from entirely different lens. I conceived; we were expecting a baby!
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Piyushi Dhir is the author of 'In Search of Love', 'I'm Yours, The Next Time', 'Silent Promises' and 'Enmeshed Evermore'. She is a contributor in 'Nineteen Tales of COVID-19', a collection of short stories. A voracious reader, a keen traveler, a businesswoman and a mom, Piyushi currently resides in Canada. A nomad at heart, she loves to discover new places and capture the hues of life with her pen.