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I grabbed our valuables and ran


By Lovina D'Souza

New in Canada and happily settling in on the 12th floor of May Fair condo in Malvern (at Neilson and McLevin in northeast Toronto), I knew little about fire alarms.

My husband was out on work and our kids were at school.

I was the only one at home, all alone, when the building fire alarm sounded. Years of living and working in India and the Middle East without encountering fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, I was startled by the loud sound.

All I knew was I that I had to vacate the building immediately.

In a panic, but thinking fast, I grabbed the bag with our certificates and my gold and rushed out, thinking if everything burns down, at least we will have these to restart our life with.

Quick thinking on my part, wasn’t it? Now I look back and laugh.

I was surprised to see no one in the corridors and wondered why they weren’t worried about their lives or safety.

Were they quick to get out and was I the only one left, standing there, clutching my certificates and gold?

Had I done the right thing?

I tried the elevator and waited but it would not come up.

I did not know that elevators turn off and one is supposed to use the stairway in case of a fire.

Then I thought of the baby-sitter who lived on the floor above ours and ran up to call her.

“Oh, don’t worry,” she said calmly.

“It’s usually a false alarm! They will check and make an announcement if we really need to go out. Just stay home and wait for the announcement.”

Still worried for my life, I tried not to show my fear.

From the balcony I watched the fire fighters converge at the entrance of the building.

After the longest few minutes of my life, I heard the announcement. It was a false alarm.

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 canada-boundimmigrant@rogers.com.

Posted: Aug 6, 2010

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