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FRESH OFF THE PLANE: Newcomer moves ahead without being pushy

I grew up in India and found it very difficult to queue up for something. Or, I should say that I could queue up all right, but when push came to shove, I took that very literally!

Like most other people, I understood the concept of queues just fine. And I should add that I am a law-abiding, rule-obeying person. But while that seemed to work in every other area of my life, a more basic survival instinct seemed to kick in when I had to stand in line for anything.

I can only say that this perhaps goes back to waiting for buses in Delhi. There we’d be, all waiting politely enough, some chatting with the person next to them, discussing the latest in political scandals, others mopping their brow and trying to read a newspaper at the same time. People even offer each other roasted chickpeas and peanuts that they purchase from street vendors as they wait.

So all very civil and convivial, you might say.

Up until the bus showed up.

Then all hell would break loose as everyone would push and shove – and elbow and even kick – in their rush to get on that bus.

Because not making it meant not only waiting interminably for the next bus, but also going through the same push and shove exercise all over again.

I have had my glasses knocked off while attempting to board a bus, my toes stepped on, been pushed aside by a heavy-set man who thought I was taking too long to get in...Once, much to my embarrassment, I had my face shoved into the hair of the lady in front of me. I spent the rest of the ride avoiding her furious looks – after apologizing profusely to her.

Canadians, on the other hand, are the other extreme. They are ever so polite, stopping to enquire if you are ahead of them at the grocery checkout. And they don’t crowd anyone. Sometimes there’s so much room between people supposedly standing in line that with my ‘training’, I am guilty of cutting in, not realizing that the person who seemed to be just browsing the magazine rack was also in line.

Most of the time people have looked surprised, and if I caught on – too late – and tried to apologize, smiled and told me to go ahead.

But there have been occasions when I was stopped by people who were annoyed by my behaviour and took no pains to hide it.

A couple of such incidents were good enough to cure me and now I stand in line with the best of them!

Sajiv Mathur

 

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: Mar 2, 2015

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