Posted by : VANITY Blog Friday, 14 February 2014

Christopher John SSF


I like change just as much as I like uncomfortable situations, which is to say, a lot. There’s something about the novelty, that extra rush of adrenaline triggering my lizard, that makes me want to seek it out and bathe in its sweat-inducing, blood-pumping, knee-jerking effect. I become the change physically, mentally, and spiritually. Or maybe I’m just an adrenaline junkie who drinks too much coffee, that’s much more probable.

I’ve been in Canada for a bit more than a year now, and alas, I’ve fallen into a monotonous routine birthed by school and my ever-persistent aversion to homework. Albeit, my methods of procrastination may not be the most conventional for a teenager. I prefer books to the internet (Twitter and Tumblr are too complex for my simple minded self). I suppose at first, it was just my utter loneliness that drove me to take a shot at finding companionship in books. Soon, it turned into an addiction where I could hardly pull myself away from this fictional world of metaphors and similes. I’m trying to find a balance, now that I actually have some friends.

It’s challenging, making friends in a country that has a culture vastly different than what I’ve known all my life (there’s quite a disparity between watching American T.V and living it). Now, people that know me will attest to the fact that I’m an extrovert that finds pleasure in attention and random conversations with strangers on the skytrain, but I was conflicted; I wanted to “be myself”, but High School turned out to be a runway where “myself” wasn’t good enough. I went through a black clothes, head down, loner phase that I’m in all honesty, rather embarrassed about. I’m not insinuating that people that wear black clothes and don’t have much in the way of company should be embarrassed about it, just that I wasn’t a person that could be satisfied that way. In my defence, it was because I missed India. I missed being semi-popular, and I achingly missed my best friends, (let’s call them Z, P and D for the purpose of this text). Being invisible seemed like a better option than attempting to fit in, with my barely understandable accent (pfft Canadians can’t even pronounce my name right), my accidental use of British English (people look at me weird when I say ‘dustbin’ instead of the Canadian-accepted ‘garbage can’), and a somewhat jet-lagged brain. I also don’t get my fashion sense until the start of my Grade 12 year, though admittedly the few outfits that turned out well were probably those that I ‘borrowed’ from my elder sister. 

I’d enter a mall, get assaulted by the sudden, comforting warmth and remember, for the tenth time that day, that I’m in Canada where Heaters beat Air-Conditioners, even in the summers (though disappointingly, I haven’t met an actual Eskimo that lives in an igloo yet). I missed Mumbai’s salty, humid air that had a lingering scent of spices, and more often than not, urine.

But other than these moments where depression and longing would hit me faster than I could say ‘kutta’, I was happy. Living the dream, even! The roads were well-paved and the buildings didn’t have paan stains on every wall. I was surrounded to the point of being swamped by people of all races, from far away countries that spoke a multitude of languages. It was different, fascinating. Vancouver happens to be one of the many multicultural cities where I didn’t stand out like a sore thumb but I was still an individual with a valuable story. So I embarked upon a perilous journey, fraught with dangers of the unknown, personal demons and skeletons in closets. A generally non-judgemental folk (not necessarily including High Schoolers here), allowed me to experiment with clubs, volunteer organisations like Leave Out Violence (LOVE), subjects I liked, and an education system wherein my future did not depend upon the much dreaded End of The Year Final Exams. I explored this new land, while at the same time delving into the depths of my mind, my thoughts about religion and spirituality, my sexuality (I could be something other than heterosexual and that would be okay? Mind blown!), my passion for history, psychology, sociology, and other social sciences, and my music (I went to my first live concert!).

I found ways to express myself positively to the people around me and suddenly, I didn’t feel as socially incapacitated and oppressed as I did in India. I’m not implying that India doesn’t have its glories for me. As cheesy as I may sound, growing up in such a tight knit society that was above the petty grievances of religion and language barriers with an unquestionably peaceful co-existence (SHIKHAR), gave me a well-rounded perspective of society and the relationships we form in it, making me what I am today.

A part of me will probably always be the eight-year old Rhea who eats pani-puri at the roadside stalls every other day (which may or may not be hygienic), and buys 50 paise Coffee Bites by the dozen at Mahavir’s.

I realize that I’ve probably been a little too candid in this emotional purge of words, and that makes me feel vulnerable, so I shall end this rather cathartic rant on a quote from one of my favourite poems:

“I am large, I contain multitudes.” –Walt Whitman, Song of Myself. (Section 51)



- Gargi Parkale (Guest Blogger)

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Vancouver Immigrant Youth (VANITY) Blog is an online space made for youth, by youth. Here, you will find stories and experiences written by youth immigrants who once felt how challenging it was to be a newcomer in Vancouver. If you are a newcomer in Vancouver (or anywhere in Canada), we hope to give you all the resources you need to feel comfortable in this country. We hope to give you tips and advices on how we adjusted to our lives here as youth immigrants. Through this site, we want to empower you to bring out your full potential.

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