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FRESH OFF THE PLANE: Newcomer gets a chilli reception

As newcomers, we were welcomed to our apartment complex by neighbours who went of their way to take us grocery shopping before I got my driving licence, and also showed us how the dryer in the building’s basement worked.

For those who are wondering why we needed help with such a basic appliance, the answer is that we were familiar with washing machines but not dryers – in Mumbai, where we came from, you’d wash the clothes and string them up on the clotheslines that ran across the house, just under the ceiling!

Our neighbours also invited us over for coffee or brought over a plate of cookies. The one right across from us did this so often that we got used to opening the door and finding her standing there with a wide smile and another offering.

One morning, I was heading out the door on some errands when she came over, holding a large pot.

“I’ve got you some chilli,” she said.

I didn’t know of a dish called chilli and I misheard it, thinking she was saying she was feeling chilly (or cold).

“Yes, yes, it is very chilly!” I said enthusiastically. “But you feel it too? I thought you’d be used to these temperatures by now!”

The poor woman looked lost. There she was, holding a pot and there I was, going on about how cold it was.

“It’s great for a cold evening,” she offered, holding out the pot.

I realized something had been lost in translation, but not quite sure what, called out to my wife.

She was busy getting the kids ready to go out and play and took a few minutes to come.

Women are so much better at these things I thought, as she invited her new friend in while I gratefully made my escape.

That evening, my wife took the lid off the neighbour’s pot and served us chilli – a rajma-like dish with meat!             

– Manoj Uppal


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: May 11, 2020

May 2020

Centennial College

Immigration Peel Canada

© CanadaBound Immigrant 2016