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FRESH OFF THE PLANE: Newcomer lands in a semantic soup

In India, we had soup only occasionally. The ubiquitous tomato soup sometimes or the sweet corn soup when we went out for a Chinese meal.

I discovered soups in their entire gamut of flavours and consistencies (including lentil soup or good old dal!) after coming to Canada.

In cooler months – so half the year, basically! – we had soup for dinner very often.

I learnt to make carrot and celery soup and butternut squash soup, etc., and we enjoyed a hearty bowl with crusty bread.

Sharon, a colleague at work who has become a good friend, is also interested in trying out new restaurants and we often plan an evening out with both our families.

We go to some of my favourite restaurants and to some of hers. It’s our way of introducing our children to varied cuisines. We also like to go to ones neither of us has been to before.

So when I first heard of a soup kitchen, I thought we must try it. A whole restaurant devoted to soups!

The next day, I asked Sharon if she wanted to try a soup kitchen.

“What do you mean, ‘try’?” she asked. “You want to volunteer at one? What a lovely idea!”

I was happy that she was on board with the idea of going to a soup kitchen, but didn’t understand the volunteer bit. Did one volunteer at these restaurants?

Were these soup kitchens like the restaurant we’d seen in the Far East where doctors, lawyers and other professionals volunteered their time at a restaurant?

They cooked, cleaned and served, all for free, with the proceeds of the day going to good causes.

Was a soup kitchen like that?

I have a talent for making a short story long and by the time I’d finished explaining the concept to Sharon – with a few digressions along the way about our trip, the fabulous shopping and the like – she was looking a little dazed.

“No, no, a soup kitchen is not a restaurant,” she managed to interject when I paused for breath.

She then explained what a soup kitchen really was, a place where they served hot soup to the needy and homeless, people who needed the comfort of coming into a warm place and seeing a friendly face.

I agreed that it was a lovely idea indeed and our next family date was at a soup kitchen when we signed up to volunteer with our spouses and children.

– Jyothi Ramachandran

What’s your story? Every newcomer, no matter how savvy or where he or she comes from, has a Fresh Off the Plane (FOP) story to share about their early days in Canada. Do you want to share your story? E-mail it to us at canadaboundimmigrant@rogers.com

Posted: Jan 5, 2016

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