Babba arrived in The First World (Canada), on 9th June 2015 after a long wait of 2 years. He had been planning his visit for past two years but somehow it always got shelved. So his much awaited visit actually happened in June 2015. After a strenuous journey of almost 22 hours (comprising of a 6 hour halt at Munich, Germany), Canada seemed a haven of life (in complete contrast to the scorching and humid heat of Delhi). During this time of the year, Canada was at its adventurous best with hordes of tourists and activities galore. The novelty of the place fascinated Babba....summer had brought so much culture from all over the world that he instantly fell in love with the cosmopolitan beat of the place. The scrupulously clean streets lined with well-groomed trees held him by surprise. The salubrious air scented with the fragrance of fresh flowers enchanted Babba and the grand abundance of nature and beauty of the place had him awestruck. Equally mesmerizing for him was the diversity of life in Canada- within a short space, a bustling market or a crowd at a festival, or a peaceful park or a tranquil island, each providing their own distinct setting.
What Babba seemed to love most were his sessions of morning walks where he could savor the natural beauty of the place in complete solitude. For him it was all about capturing the moment and translating it into an indelible picture in the deep recesses of his mind. The beautiful palace like houses with immaculate lawns seemed so welcoming. As he navigated fresh trails, the healthy trees laden with apricots, crab apples, cherries, were a treat to his eyes as well as to his appetite. His walks were interrupted only to pluck fresh fruits and savor them to the last bite. Everything about Canada was so perfect and in place.
As he started getting familiar with the life there, he noticed that everything in The First World (Canada) was bound by the law. There were rules to cross the road, to park your vehicle, to throw garbage, to keep a pet and much more. Indians by nature are free birds and very casual about most things. It took him awhile to get familiar with the stringent rules. However, the agility with which he adapted himself was a wonderful surprise for us. His favorite location was the library- with its generous offerings (one can check out 80 books at a time, all free of cost), it provided the perfect ambiance to his literary needs.
Babba's vocabulary also got enriched with some unique words which were so far completely unheard of. Words like Fob (a set of keys for a particular unit in a building), garbage shoot (a shoot in high rise buildings to dispose off garbage), scoop the poop (to pick up after you pet), poop bag (bag used to dispose the pet-poop), ticket (fine imposed by the police), were additions to his vocabulary and became a part of his normal conversation.
Babba also learnt about the garbage disposal squad. All townhouses and private property owners have a day dedicated (by the municipality) for their weekly garbage pick-up. They are required to keep their trash bins and other stuff meant for disposal, outside their premises. In our community, every Tuesday, the garbage disposal squad drove down in their huge green colored trucks.
Babba noticed that these days had many people moving around in the neighborhood with big bags.
It intrigued him and he decided to solve the mystery (read case) of "The People with Big Bags On Tuesdays". After a few weeks of thorough investigation, Babba closed the case with satisfying results. He concluded that these people were on the lookout of some stuff (from the garbage) which could be put to some good use in their household. These not so wealthy people rummaged through the discarded stuff in their desperate bid to discover something fruitful. It could be anything from a simple wok to a discarded vase or even a used mattress.
Babba concluded his case with a thundering comment. He said, "Canada's loot is comparable to maids in India whose poly bags are replete with the left-over food items, old clothes, accessories etc. generously given by their owners". A point to ponder and indeed a good observation there!
An area that initially troubles Indians staying overseas (and troubled Babba too) are the western toilet habits. After our daily session, we are accustomed to a hearty wash which is in sharp contrast to the use of the toilet paper that the westerners prefer. All Indians households (read washrooms) are characterized by a small container kept obscurely under the cam-ode. However western they may have become in their outlook; this is one habit that the Desis have been unable to shun. It is very heartening to know that this habit still binds all of us together.
Another factor that amused Babba was the change of names that Desis undergo in their bid to gain recognition in the foreign land- Navindra changes to Nav, Harsimar becomes Harry, Sameer transforms to Sam...
Babba made some good desi friends during his sojourn and entertained them with his rendition of old Bollywood songs.
However, as days went by and life settled into a routine, a feeling of nostalgia starting to creep in. Babba started to miss the hustle and bustle of India. He longed for the familiarity of his country. The picture perfect atmosphere of Canada now seemed paler in comparison with the warmth of his country and love of his friends back home. The same palace like houses that had looked so grand in the beginning seemed so ghostly and lifeless now. He longed for the colors of his homeland albeit not so clear and perfect, still exuding so much warmth and love.
His sojourn of six months had made him richer with some fulfilling and enriching experiences of The First World. But as the saying goes, “East or West, home is best", the charm of The First World could not lure him further and he desperately awaited the time to get back home and share these experiences with his near and dear ones.

Shanu Pande
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