Origin Stories: Feeling at home living the Canadian dream
After making a go of it in America, this family from India found their home in Halifax.
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In 2010, Pradeep Majumdar lost his job. He and his wife Meenakshi were in America on work visas. And they had $200 left in the bank.
They considered ending their seven-year stint in the land of opportunity and going back home to India.
Instead, Meenakshi suggested they go camping.
So they hit the local Wal-Mart, loaded up on gear and drove to upstate New York.
They spent the weekend in the woods. And on the drive home he got a call: a job interview. A week later they were on the road heading to Virginia to start again — again. And it wouldn’t be the last time.
“We have nothing to lose,” he said, reflecting on that camping trip. “Either we go back, or we stay and give it a shot again.”
Within months of moving to Virginia the couple bought a house. And when life finally started feeling stable, they welcomed a baby boy, Onir, in 2014.
But after years of trying to make it in America, shelling out thousands for a master’s degree and fees for immigration lawyers, buying a house, and starting a family, Pradeep and Meenakshi made the decision to move to Halifax last November. Donald Trump had just won the presidency, and life for immigrants looked to become even more precarious. They haven’t looked back.
“Today whenever me and my wife have our morning coffee we look at the ocean and remember those old days and we feel so blessed that we made a right decision and moved to Canada,” he wrote in an email.
“In a few months we have explored many places like Quebec City, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and many places in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. The more we explore, the more we fall in love with this place.”
It was falling in love with Meenakshi that Pradeep credits for every success in his life.
Both were born in India. He from a modest Bengali family, she a wealthy Punjabi one. It was a cultural divide that took “some struggle” to make their parents understand and accept, he said. But after building a solid friendship, the pair started talking about the future.
“When you talk to a person like this who accepts you for who you are, not because you’re coming from a rich background or something, then you feel more connected,” he said.
“No matter what hurdles, you get hurdles in your life, still you will overcome because you’ve got someone to support you.”
They supported one another through their time in Virginia. And when the life they were building started to feel on shaky ground, when they learned citizenship could be 20 years away.
Pradeep looked to Canada on the advice of friends.
“You definitely need a place where you’d like to raise your family, you’d like to feel safe, you’d like to enjoy life,” he said.
In many ways Canada and the U.S. are quite similar, Pradeep said. But aspects of American life, like the gun culture and high cost of health care, had weighed on his mind.
When his visa renewal was rejected, the couple took it as a sign and pushed ahead with their plans to move to Canada.
They left just before Trump became president. Though Pradeep doesn’t cite his election as a main reason for leaving, he said many of his friends from India who had already moved to the U.S. or were considering it are rethinking that choice.
“In the back of their mind, they are thinking maybe now is not a good time to stay in the U.S.”
Since arriving on the east coast, the couple have started their own IT company, something Pradeep said they couldn’t do in America. But most importantly, he said, Canada was welcoming.
“You’re not painted as an outsider,” he said. “It’s friendly. It’s welcoming. Everybody enjoys their life. I hadn’t felt that in the States.”
“In Canada, you feel home.”
What I miss most
I miss my family back in India which includes my parents, my brother and also my friends. Although the tickets are expensive, still now I can travel to India to meet them or they can come here to meet us.