“Would you like something to drink, sir?” the flight attendant asked with a polite yet firm voice.
“Some tea please,” he replied in a monotonous voice.
“Ice tea or hot tea?”
“Oh, I mean hot tea.”
“Do you want anything in it – Milk or sugar?” The attendant inquired again as she poured the tea from a steel jug into a paper cup.
“Both – milk and sugar…”
“Is half-and-half okay?”
“No, I want only a little bit milk in my tea…”
She handed him two tiny sealed cups of creamer, with label- ‘Mini Moo’s, half-&-half’.
“Oh, that’s what you meant by ‘half and half’…!” Before he could finish his sentence, she had already moved on to the next row of passengers.
After deboarding the plane, the passengers collected their luggage and lined up in the ‘Immigration and Customs’ section. Upon his turn, he was interviewed by an immigration officer, who asked him all kinds of questions.
“When were you married?” The officer asked without looking at him.
“Two years ago.”
“How long your spouse stayed with you in India?” His eyes glued to the computer screen as he continued the inquiry.
“Is she the one sponsoring you?”
“When was the last time she visited you?”
Finally, after a few more questions, he got ushered to a small cubicle where a white female officer with short red hair greeted him
“Welcome to Canada!” She said with a smile, shaking his hand and offering him a seat.
She told him about different facilities available for the new immigrants; she explained the job search options and how to apply for Social Insurance Number, and so on…
Finally he was guided to gather his luggage and follow the ‘Exit’ signs.
His wife greeted him with a big hug and a bouquet of multi-color roses as he came out of the immigration area. She was wearing red top and tight fitted light blue jeans.
“How was your flight?” Her voice was quite pitchy with excitement.
“It was okay,… long!”
“Finally! You are here!!”
He smiled as he looked around half nervous and half excited.
“I am parked outside.” she said in a hurried voice. He started to push the luggage cart, following her to the parking lot.
The whole things felt like a dream to him, a slow surreal experience. For the first time after a long time, he felt as if he had no control over the situation. For the last two days, he was like a piece of chess being moved from place to place, every move logical yet he could not grasp the full picture. The whole thing was overwhelming.
She hopped in the diver seat and told him to fasten his seat belt. Leaving the parking lot, they got on a highway.
“How far is Burlington?”
“Not far, about 30 minutes”
Driving down the highway, the surroundings looked so different to him, as if a fast moving scene in a computer game. The cars were flying down in a choreographed fashion, each one within its own lane and no one honking the horns. The roadside greenery was picture perfect, as if some artist had painted the nature with different shades of green.
“It is so green everywhere!” he tried to make a small talk, while she was fiddling with the satellite radio.
“What do you mean?”
“It looks so pretty!”
“Yeah!” she kept changing the stations and finally settled on Adele’s ‘Rollin in the deep..’.
“It is very different!”
“I hope different ‘good’!” she said with a smirk.
He smiled and leaned back into the passenger seat. Continue reading