Saturday, August 15, 2015

What is it Like?


Being a new immigrant feels like a fish being compelled to ride a bicycle, in other words, you have to completely discard your identity and assume a new one and that is something which feels grotesque and unnatural, much like what the illustration portrays. My friends will vouch that throughout my entire stay in Canada the expression on my face was exactly like that of the fish on the bicycle. 

No country can give you everything that you want. If in one country you finally had the hard won life you created for yourself, centered on what you value most, another country might have eventually given me the quiet and dignity that I desired. However in my case, it seemed to be at the expense of all that I had striven for till now. ‘What do I value more?’ was the question that I asked myself frequently in the midst of my immigrant dilemma. The longer I stayed on searching for something which I began to suspect did not exist, the further away I kept moving from the path that led to all that I held close to my heart. The consequence was great unhappiness and an acute loss of confidence. Whichever part of the world you live in, the truth is what an illustrator who has also been through it all once told me – “The only happy place is inside our heads, when we are drawing and being kind...”












4 comments:

AntiquityTravelers said...

I've just read through several of your older posts - how difficult it must have been on your Canadian adventure, but with moments of such kindness from some of the people. I hope that being home has been like slipping in to a comfortable pair of shoes.

There was a time that I felt like you, I confess it was not another country but might as well have been. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest and moved to Manhattan out of college. I am an introvert who enjoys the space inside my own head, and NYC felt like someone punched me in the face ... most days. I eventually got used to it, but it was me who had to change for that to happen.

I still prefer life elsewhere. That will probably never change

Karine Swenson said...

First of all, the drawing is wonderful. I do think moving to a different country requires incredible courage. Everything is different. I can only imagine what it is like. I admire you for trying it, even if you found that the shoe didn't fit.

Robyn Gordon said...

Something you needed to do.... All part of the search and growth process. Nothing wasted and much gained, even if you are not sure exactly what. When you told me you were going to Canada it felt very strange to me.... To think of Priya away from exotic India just didn't feel right but ... I reasoned, perhaps Canada needed a splash of exotic Priya. The illustration says it all 😊 I sometimes feel that way when invited out to dinner by new friends.

The Mushroom Hunter said...


First, I would like to say how sorry I am that you could not find what you were looking for in my country, and how ashamed I am of our immigration system, that clearly does not do enough to facilitate the integration of immigrants. Canada is supposed to be a land of opportunities, not a cemetery of newcomers’ dreams.

That being said, I am quite impressed by the depth and openness of the three previous comments on your post. It shows that your illustration, which is incredibly funny by itself, is also a poignant and powerful testimony of the « immigrant experience ». This is what makes it, in my opinion, a truly great work.

Also, I find it revealing that you think of yourself as a fish here. A fish on any land, on whatever side of the ocean, is still out of the water. It’s only « happy place » is in the sea, or as you say, inside you head, where hopes and dreams cannot crash on the shores of reality. Which makes me want to conclude with this extract from a sad but beautiful song from Jacques Brel (The Ostend girl) :

« there is the time that waits
and the time that hopes.
There are two sorts of people:
there are the living
and the ones who are at sea. »