When I was in Iran, I used to talk incessantly, all day long.
Occasionally with men, but most often with women: my colleagues, ninety-nine percent of whom were women; my refugees, again ninety percent women; my mother, my babysitter, my daughter, and of course, my sister.
Of all those women, only my daughter is still by my side in Halifax, this beautiful alien ocean city. We still talk a lot together, but the conversation of my five-year old girl, fascinating though it is at times, tends to revolve around Disney princesses (she wanted to borrow the Disney Princess Guide from the library AGAIN! ) –in particular her current favourite Aurora, the Sleeping Beauty- her barbies, and her daycare adventures. When I met a female acquaintance the other day on the street I heard myself talking hysterically about the psychological and bureaucratic steps leading to the registration of my two children in Halifax daycares, and I sensed her eyes glazing over with boredom. I realised I need to talk and I need to talk to the women I knew, with whom we dissected the minutae of our lives, our men, our mothers, our children, or lack of, our jobs, our feelings, our hatreds –oh most of all our hatreds. Tehran is a big city pretty well full of hate as well as smoke and car fumes. The eyes of my women in Iran would never, ever, have glazed over with boredom if I were telling to them about daycare for my children. Their beautiful curious shining dark almond eyes. My children were theirs as well, figuratively. Here, my children belong to the Government of Canada.
O Canada! Cold Canada! So many people of my hot country are vividly, passionately interested in you, have tied up their fate with yours, or are longing to do so. So many people breathe a sigh of envy and delight when they hear somebody in emigrating at last! O Canada! Land of the visa queues, land of legions of burly female immigration officers, land of desire, land of lovely lovely universities, land of children! Land of loneliness and distance. Land of free women. Land of job applications and visa applications and waiting and waiting. Land of government loans and money. Land of waiting. Even when we are here, we are far away.
So here is the traditional introduction to my blog: I am a newcomer to Halifax, Nova Scotia, a city not too big and not too small by the ocean, home to the world’s second largest natural harbour, so I was told by my loud-voiced pretty Haligonian tour guide, and I intend to record the trials and challenges of my family as they settle down and try to make a success of this immigration. Or not, as time and you will tell.
This blog is also instead of e-mails. I owe so many people in Iran e-mails, they want to know (or am I flattering myself?) how I’m doing, WHAT I’m doing, how much I pay for RENT, WHAT my husband is doing, HOW we are feeling, HOW MUCH we are paying for groceries, HOW FAST the children are learning English, HOW are we trying to find jobs, WHAT the professors at Dalhousie University are like, WHAT are the courses like, WHAT do the Canadian girls look like, WHAT do they wear, WHAT do we eat?? WHAT do Canadians talk about? WHAT is Canada like? This blog will attempt to answer some of these questions, while documenting the difficulties and pleasures of bringing up children in a foreign environment, which means basically our general living experiences. Now that I’ve written it, it sounds like a daunting task…