May Memories: Monthly Missives from The Dream Pedlar

Looking back to when we first arrived in Canada 10 years ago!

May Memories: Monthly Missives from The Dream Pedlar
Somewhere in British Columbia

This month marks exactly 10 years since KrA and I first arrived in Canada. We've spent much of this decade in this country, except for a brief 1.5-year jaunt to Australia where little D arrived. We returned to Canada when he was 7 months old.

Looking back now brings up a lot of the confusion and dismay we encountered back then when we first set foot on Canadian soil. As we had moved from the pristine efficiency of Singapore, Toronto appeared like a rather shabby has-been at first sight.

It also didn't take us long to understand that while Canada is reputedly a 'friendly' nation, there's a stark difference between 'friendliness' and 'friendship'. One doesn't necessarily lead to the other.

The realization that my parents in India were now 10 hours ahead of us and no longer a mere 3—4 hour flight away made my spirits sink even lower.

Our first visit to Niagara Falls was yet another disappointment. I had only ever seen pictures of the falls and had mistakenly believed that I'd find myself surrounded by natural beauty on all sides; little did I know that an entire little town of entertainment had sprung up all around the falls, the cacophony of its bustle drowning out the roar of the falls.

But there was one welcoming feature that stood out to me and made me marvel every single time. Each time I stepped into a subway car, I was amazed at the diversity of people there. To hear so many different languages spoken around me, to see folks from various backgrounds was something that stood out as uniquely Canadian to me.

Yet, among all the places we've visited and lived in around the world, Toronto was probably the first place I've wished to run away from almost as soon as I had landed here.

Turned out that the beautiful mountains and wilderness I thought I'd find here were several hours away in the western provinces. Ontario, on the contrary, was all plain flat land, mile after mile, with tiny hills attempting to pass for mountains on occasion.

I had signed up for a two-year academic program and KrA had secured a job transfer, so leaving immediately didn't feel like a viable option.

But we did the next best thing. At the end of my first year of study, we went on a 3-day-long train journey across the Canadian heartland. My heart expanded and grew feather-light at the sight of the mountains of British Columbia.

view of a range of distant mountains under a blue sky with white clouds
British Columbia

I didn't want to come back to Toronto after that glorious but all-too-brief dip into natural beauty. Luckily, I landed a summer internship with a company in Montréal and off we went gallivanting for a 4-month stay in Quebec.

That was one of the best summers we had. I made a lot of friends quickly at the workplace. Putting my French language skills to use always gave me that high of connection with the locals. Mont Tremblant quickly became our favourite weekend getaway spot.

In fact, we were in Montréal this past long weekend on a short trip, which was D's first visit to the first Canadian city I fell in love with.

interior of the Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal featuring sculptures of Jesus Christ and various saints under an intricate dome
Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal

When that summer of my internship drew to a close, we flew off to Sydney, Australia where I had signed up to spend a semester on an exchange program (in my continuing bid to run away from Toronto). At the time, I had no inkling we'd come back a year and a half later with little D in tow!

That grey cloud that had haunted me since the day I first set foot in Toronto came back to hover above my head once more. But this time, parenting and writing came to the rescue and kept me from getting completely unmoored.

We moved to Burlington shortly after I graduated from the University of Toronto with an MBA degree and a handful of amazing friends I cherish to this day. (M and H, you know I'm referring to you two here! 🤗)

Looking after D, and turning to writing as a means of self-expression were the balms my soul needed.

In D's presence, the local beach and the neighbourhood parks became places I could fall in love with. Taking a ride in the local bus became an adventure. Turned out that playing in the snow in the front yard could be as fulfilling as a hike up Mont Tremblant if only my heart could see it that way.

The mountains of the west still called to me. It was only when we went back to British Columbia a few years later with little D that I began to see the futility of holding on to my hiraeth.

the happiness that was neither in the mountains nor in the Tesla
the oft-repeated folly of looking for happiness in every place other than the only one it cares to reside in…

It hasn't been an easy ride these past 10 years. There were several personal and professional setbacks, which eroded my confidence and caused me to question every decision, doubt myself at every turn, and riddle myself with worry about the future.

In fact, the first three decades of my existence seem relatively charmed and kissed by luck and ease compared with how this past decade has been.

It was a classic example of erroneously believing that I'd find lasting happiness in some external event, only to chase it and find that the shiny object had long lost its lustre and had stolen mine too in the process.

In that sense, this has also been a journey towards contentment and fulfillment, towards finding myself, even though I was mistakenly looking outwards for the most part before I began to turn inwards.

And in that I see what a blessing these past several years of living in Canada have been. I feel so lucky to be here, in this land of seasons and diversity, of relative ease and comfort, not to mention the roots that I have begun to inadvertently lay in this little charming city of Burlington.

And because contentment doesn't mean stagnation, even now I have the desire to move, to wander, to explore.
I no longer seek a home or fulfillment outside; I've come to see that my home is in my heart, within me at all times.
Yet I have no intentions of settling down in one place for too long, like dust gathering on a windowsill. The world is too vast and too beautiful for that.

What about you? How has life changed for you in these past few years? Have you crossed any milestones recently in the journey of your life? Write to me and let me know!

Tales for Dreamers

the door Gods

I wrote this tale long ago, back when I was still living in Singapore. If I remember correctly (and I'm not sure I do), I took this picture at the Asian Civilizations Museum there.

It was around that time that I started to wonder about death and loss and uncertainty. And that showed up in all my writings. Even though it would take a pandemic to help me see that there are never any guarantees.

tales for dreamers: the door gods
When you meet the Door Gods, tell them you are my friend. And they will let you through.

Books You May Love

The sun is out, which means I've had little time to read this month. I do have two half-read books, which I can write to you about.

The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese is an expansive, multi-generation tale set in south India, spanning the decades before India's independence, focussing on a vast array of characters, both Indian and British.

I had only read about half of it, savouring each page as I went along, before my loan period was up and I had to return it to the library. Now I wait to borrow a copy again to finish the rest of the story.

Another book I've picked up is The Girl In The Eagle's Talons, Book #7 of the Millennium series featuring Lisbeth Salander, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. This one's written by Karin Smirnoff, and even though the reviews are mixed, I'm loving it so far.

Most reviews seem to compare this book with the rest of the series, and I don't recall having read beyond Book 1 back in the day. So I'm enjoying Smirnoff's novel, and will go on to read the rest of the series, I'm sure!

Additionally, if you're looking for some fantasy and sci-fi books to read, check out this promo over at BookFunnel. Several authors have teamed up to offer heavy discounts should you choose to purchase their books directly from their stores! This promo ends on 31 May, so take a look!

Sci-fi and Fantasy books Direct from the author!
Support Your Favorite Fantasy and Science Fiction Authors Directly and Save!

I'm looking forward to June. D will turn 8 next month! And we have another milestone birthday coming up in the family, which I will tell you about in next month's missive.

This upcoming time of the year is when I feel the passage of time most acutely.

When school closes for the summer.

When D turns a year older.

When the lazy days of summer remind me of those days of D's early childhood, when our calendars were mostly free of appointments and our schedules were dictated by the simple human needs to eat, sleep, and play, to love and laugh, to live and breathe.

~ Anitha