Living in Canada, Exploring the World


by msabaye

I was listening to a radio program where people talked about their experiences of coming to Canada. They spoke of challenges and struggles in achieving certain standard of living. So far, all the experiences have been quite similar: we came, we worked very hard, and we obtained cars and houses and jobs.

I did feel for every single speaker as this is a familiar story to most of us. I remembered the days of learning a new language, a new way of life, obtaining information, education, ...

For me, living in Canada has been about anything but material gain. I have established a mere adequate standard of living, but that is all. All my friends and relatives, of the same age or older, who live in Iran have houses and cars. Some of them have paid both off; I haven't! And I don't think I will anytime in the near future. Many of them are ready to retire soon and do other things. They are too young to sit in the porch for the rest of their lives, and they are thinking about change of career, working on contract, or new degrees. 

The main explanation probably is that I kept moving (studying for so many years didn't help either), and they stayed put. Accumulation of wealth, for those working on salary, requires stability. I think I have spent most of what I have earned on moving expenses from one country/city to the next. But, for the most part, I enjoyed it or deemed it necessary; so I have no regrets.  

For me, the most valuable thing about living in Canada has been the chance to look at my homeland and my culture from a different perspective. I have been learning new ways of observing, thinking, and evaluating on a daily basis for the last 20 years, and I think I will continue the same way for the rest of my life. I acquired tools and skills I could use to explore the culture, art, and history of my origin.

Also, I often thought we were the only people who were this or that meaning good or bad at one thing or the other. Traveling and living in Canada has given me a chance to see people of many different places on this earth. This has made me re-evaluate my old beliefs. It is people who are both good and bad, who are both honest and dishonest, who are both trustworthy or unreliable...  I have seen people of many nationalities suffering from addiction, inflicting pain/abuse on themselves/others, engaging in fraudulent activities, not taking responsibility... I have also seen people of all nationalities selflessly devoting their time, energy, money into well-being of others, caring, loving others. We are not unique in any of these respects.

That every culture has its own characteristics that may be unique has not escaped my attention. I am still looking for another culture that includes fresh herbs with meals (sabzi-khurdan); I don't know why, but I really like to know. That is what I love about people: they are so different in their beliefs, their habits, their views, and their actions. Yet, we are all bound within the framework of being human; thus, at the end of the day, we are very much alike. And that is a good thing. How else could we feel sympathy and compassion toward each other if we didn't feel the same way when we are hurt?

I learned about all our commonalities in a country known for diversity. And I learned so much more about where I came from thousands of miles away from her. I think this is T. S. Eliot:
"We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started...
And know the place for the first time.”


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my advise to mssabaye

by yahoo_yabo on

if you ms sabaye find yourself being compassionate more tha greedy, if you find yourself debating things like social justice and God;s existence then in my opinion you are more attracted to non material things in life.  If however, you do your best to cheat and fool others to become rich thenyou are materialistic.

if you are the former which it soun ds to me you are, with mcuh sadness I inform you then you will always feel like no one understands you as long as you live in Canada.

I suggest you work really hard this year to save up money and make money, and make plans to spend all of 2011 in your hometown in Iran or another city where your relatives wouldnt be so nosy and to give you a semblence of freedom.

if ever since day one, you have felt home sick even after decades in Canada, unfortunately it won't get better.  I think you ought to go back to Iran.  If you have no family yet, plan on establishing your family in iran first then you could decide to move back to Canada if you still feel like it. 

you only have one life.  no matter how rich or poor, your kids will still love you.  if you are super rich, your kids will become too complacent in life.  if you are poor, then you kids will always be pushing the envelope to get ahead and make it.  so reallly there is no win or lose situation as far as money is concerned. 

Do what your heart tells you, and calm your mind.  Do not go and spend 1-2 months in Iran to see if you like it.  you won't.   spend a longer time.  and dont worry about the nay sayer in Iran who are like "how dumb where you to leave Canada and go to Iran."  For those people their goals and priorities in life might be different.  to them money might be all that matters.  However, for you peace of mind is what might matter and the naysayers might not be feeling what you are feeling.


Dear msabaye,

by Monda on

I copy/pasted yours of Elliot verbatim, because that is what I remembered too, in gist anyway.. exact words don't matter to me, sometimes.  I enjoy your blog very much. 


Dear Monda

by msabaye on

Yes, this is the poem. I recited what was left of it in my memory. Thanks for the correction.


Living in Canada

by Raoul1955 on

As I read your article I also thought of what I have always said that it is one's mind that determines one's quality life, as it is the mind that sets one's expectation and one's view of life.  I grew up in Tehran back in the sixties, but I never felt that I belonged there.  When I moved to America in the seventies I felt that I was in heaven.   So it is not where you grew up but how you feel about a particular culture and environment that determines how you enjoy life and such.  Have you met people who grew up in Canada but never felt they belonged there and moved to India, Africa, or elsewhere?
One last issue: Being Iranian is just a nationality [citizenship] that one can change, just like one’s life style or one’s name, and not a genetic disease that afflicts one for life. If you look around I am certain that you will find folks who were born and raised where you live in Canada who feel lost in life and look for excuses outside themselves.


Dear msabaye,

by Monda on

I especially enjoyed this one of your writings as it resonates so closely with my own experiences of looking from the outside and need for exploration of values that really matter.

Canada has much to offer and not without her own problems to work with. 

I think this is T. S. Eliot: 
"We shall not cease from exploration 
And the end of all our exploring 
Will be to arrive where we started... 
And know the place for the first time.”


My $0.02

by Esther on

Msabaye, thank you for your lovely tribute to Canada and diversity!  That T.S. Eliot poem is one of my favorites. :)  I have always felt incredibly lucky that we should have the world come to Canada (well, maybe immigration more than the Olympics!).  I am not unaware that it is often at the expense of the world, both other countries who lose some of their best, and individuals to whom Canada promises more than it can deliver.  Thank you. :)

Oh, and if you are looking for another culture that includes fresh herbs with meals, try Vietnamese - you should get at least some of cilantro, basil, several kinds of mint, several other Asian herbs, bean sprouts, chili, and lime!

Bomannyali, I must say I find your tone rather presumptuous and disrespectful.  The stories of Iranians I have met are as diverse as the elements of your avatar.  Iranians, like anyone else, should have a meaningful choice to stay in their homeland, to leave their homeland, to return to their homeland, to adopt a new homeland, and/or to otherwise define, discuss, and pursue what they want from life.  You have a right to your choice.  Kindly show some consideration for the right of others who may choose (or be forced to choose) differently.


some iranians choose to be palestinians

by bomannyali on

And by that, I mean some Iranians choose to be homeless.

Iranians in exile will eventually achieve economic relief and perhaps prosperity but they will always feel unsettled.

These are the conditions for stability in Life:

1. Find a mate and get married.

2. Have some kids

3. Be a part of the community you live in.

For exiled Iranians, condition # 3 will be the main obstacle to stability.  Part of the reason, is no matter how much they try, their body revolts against the community they live in.

Also, Iranians in general are not religious or atleast care very little for social and communal religious activites.  This leaves them "out of the loop."

Furthermore, Iranians no matter how liberal can't blend in with their weekly football watching, basketball cheering, beer drinking peers.  Why? because it is not a part of Iranian culture.

Iranian culture is about family gatherings, going to the park and finding Hamvatans chilling on the grass or going to the green Bagh and barbequing- things that are hardly found in new found lands.

It is no wonder that Iranians upon turning 60 start itching for Iran.  Afterall, all the money they accumulated contrary to their expectations did not translate into happiness because they are as homeless as Palestinians.

Ofcourse, it certainly doesn't help when Iranians i Canada have to watch Canadian hockey players celebrating their Olympic victory on the ice ring by drinking beer and smoking cigars- Iranians are thinking I can't take this culture anymore.

For Iranians in the US, they have to deal with people like Glenn Beck, Hannity, O'Reilly, Limbaugh, grannies going to play the slot machines, young kids listening to rap and wearing loose jeans that expose their underwear and having to listen to repetitive filth about sex and cheating every morning on the radio.

That is why I chose to live the rest of my life in Iran and die in Iran.

Ofcourse, I took the United States to the cleaners before I left.  I took my rightful share before I left.  




by yolanda on

Thank you for the very interesting article....your experience reminds me of my days as a graduate student.......I met fellow students from different parts of the world....I had a great time interacting with was fun even though I was super poor! .......Right now I like the cultural diversity of Southern California!

Holden Caulfield

Nice blog. Thanks!

by Holden Caulfield on

How do you rate the Canadian healthcare system?