Sunday, May 5, 2013

Cultural Conundrums in Canada

Cultural Conundrums in Canada

My grand daughter, Maria (18+), just arrived in Riyadh from Toronto on her summer holidays after spending a 10 day short stint in Huston, Texas with one of her ex classmates from Riyadh who is presently studying in campus in USA.

We are enjoying a great discourse on her experiences, travel, campus life, cultural sharing and it would be interesting to share some of her stories with you guys, too.

First, she thinks America is awesome compared to Canada. She says the infrastructure in USA is only an extension of her life  spent in Saudi with all the restrictions removed. Canada, she says is just another Sri Lanka with some icing on top. She vows to move to USA after completing her  education.

Her lab life at campus is also an interesting one to discuss. She has to work with different lab partners on each assignment they are given. 

The Saudi guy who was once her partner was extremely kind and accommodating. He even carried her books, laptop, and other gear for her all the way to the cafeteria and ordered the food and fetched it all by himself. It was no surprise for her cos thats how Saudi women demand treatment from their men. 

The Iranian guy was a total wreck. he seemed to think that she cannot complete her assignment by herself cos she's incompetent and hence he would do it for her. She told him off and proved to him that she could and even ended up getting a better result than him. He was totally cheesed off.

Her colleague, Raj (a female Tamil gal of SL origin who was born in Toronto) also had an Iranian lab partner and she was unable to handle the dude and let him do the project for her. Maria said she was shocked at Raj's attitude.

Then she met Raj's fiance. Another SL Tamil Canadian born dude. He was like a Maharajah, she says. He sits at the cafeteria table while Raj carries all his books, laptop and hangs on to his pizza walking down the stairs, struggling not to fall down to pieces with all that stuff loaded on her back. Her bf sits smiling at the table. When Maria points out to him showing the dilemma that her friend Raj is having and then tells the dude in no uncertain terms to go and help her, he reluctantly walks up and does her bidding, not showing any embarrassment or remorse at all. What kind of kids are the Tamil diaspora breeding in Toronto?

I was amazed!

Maria also shops in an Asian market in the Scarborough area which is frequently patronized by the Tamil Diaspora. She says she has a hard time parking and pulling out as the dudes simply dont care about how they park their vehicles, in front, behind, or even alongside hers. She, on several occasions, had given them a piece of her mind and they are all amazed that a Sri Lankan origin gal in Hijab should tell them off. The Tamil gals are too timid and oppressed by their male counterparts, she says. Nothing has changed, even in Canada, it seems.

The University has a special "Women in Need" area fully staffed to manage all types of issues that women face in and out of campus. These include rape, stalking, gender bias, abuse, and other forms of hostility. When Maria first encountered this she was simply shocked that this type  of need exists in a developed nation. All she has heard from the media during her first 18 years of life in Saudi has been that it is the Arabs who treat their women badly.

Guess we learn something new every day?

Even in the supermarkets, she says that it is the ladies who push the cart and carry all the stuff, including the babies. In Saudi, it is the men, or the maids, who do all that. The wives will never lift a finger.

So, the gal is learning what life is all about on the other side of the planet, the hard way. She is smarty pants and a tough cookie who will call a spade a spade and wont blink an eye, even if she was raised in the burning desert sands.

The Americans, she claims are extremely friendly compared to the Canadians, white, black, brown, and even the diaspora.

Maria has several SL origin Tamil's in her class. All of them born in Canada. many of them whose origins are from Jaffna treat Colombo as the enemy. Knowing that her family originates from Colombo they boycott her completely. The brainwashing that the parents are showering upon their children is horrifying. What will they all turn out to become when they are in their 30's and 40's? Unimaginable but scary too.

Having led a very easy going and peaceful life in Saudi all these new adventures are opening her eyes to the real world out there. She is learning and it will be valuable for her future when she chooses to spend the rest of her days in the west.

English language competency among her colleagues is awful she states. They all speak their native tongues at home. Especially the Tamil Diaspora. And they even try to taunt her for her inability to speak Tamil or even Sinhala. 

We drove to the local Computer shop last evening and I got her the latest Macbook Pro which she is busy setting up, right now as we speak, seated behind me at home.

Yes, Grand kids are wonderful.
Yes, We enjoy them very much.
Yes, they lean on their Grand Parents a lot.
Yes, we also learn a lot from their experiences.

I am sure she has lots more to tell me through the 2 months she will spend with us in Riyadh. It will be tough for me to see her leave once more, but she has got to do what she has got to do.


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