Thursday, June 25, 2015

Madras to Montreal :)

Okay, It is time to unwind.

Like most of us, I have landed abroad in search of greener pastures, economically as well as professionally. I want to give some tips to my friends and family on what to do and what not to do. These are mainly intended for people who immigrate as permanent residents by quitting their jobs in their home country. Of course, for people like me on Intra Company Transfer, there are different things to consider which I will devote a separate section.

The PR Route:

The best time to immigrate to a foreign country WITHOUT a job is when you are still in your early to mid twenties without heavy commitments. The older you are, the tougher it is to accept and adapt to the new environment.Every Country has their own rules and laws, Please do your own detailed research before signing on the dotted line on the immigration application.

Canada requires Canadian experience for virtually any job that is being posted.
Now you may wonder why do I need Canadian experience when you are well experienced in your field. This is a requirement by the Government to give preference to the local population. So DO NOT EXPECT to find a job as soon as you land. Have loads of cash in hand for your day to day survival. I have seen people with Masters Degree working double shifts in stores almost 7 days a week.

The next big thing, especially for Professionals in NON-IT sector is the P.Eng Certification. I was stumped by this requirement (Didn't do my research). Even if you are an IIT graduate from India, the person has to apply for P.Eng certification so that the person's credentials can be compared as an equivalent to Canada's standards. So basically, you are not allowed to use the Title "Engineer" until and unless you are certified as a P.Eng. Do you really need a P.Eng to be employable? No, an employer can hire a person without P.Eng but the person has to work under the supervision of a Certified P.Eng. For some one planning for the long haul, a P.Eng is a must to further career prospects in Canada. Now, I got this information from my friends in the office, Every province in the country has its own association so if you move from one province to another , you have to get yourself another certification but comparatively the process is easier as you already have one.

Okay, for someone from India, who wants to get P.Eng certification, he has two choices. If you are experienced enough, you can directly get interviewed by a Panel of members of the association, who will grill you based on what you have stated in your resume. Once you clear this step, you will have to write an exam for Ethics and complete the certification.
If you do not have much experience, you have a stage called Engineer in Training wherein you will have to get experience by working in projects as well as take lessons from university and clear some exams for certain subjects. Imagine, an IIT engineer who will go through these steps !!

The problem is that there are so many immigrants from various countries with fake degrees that the country has set up this system. I wish the Indian Government collaborates with its Canadian Counterpart and set up something which ensures that Indians with recognised degrees from Indian universities do not go through this hassle.

The next surprise is the hiring and firing culture. Many companies hire just when a Project is won and dismantle the team when there are no projects. Of course, if you are good, they will keep you :)
In India, of late the IT companies have started using these tactics, but this was a real surprise to me. It is the North American culture as they call it.

The Intra Company Transfer Route:

For ICTs, your spouse will have an Open work permit and you hope that he/she will get a job. Do not negotiate for a lesser salary based on this. It is very difficult for anyone to get a tech job without Canadian Experience. Of course, he/she can do part time jobs in some stores if you are in dire straits.

Most companies will offer a full load container from India to your new city. Make the most of it if you have existing decent furniture. A good shipping company will bring your stuff almost in good condition (except for a few small scratches here and there). Plan and ensure that you follow the rules and do not bring in stuff which is forbidden. Ensure that you sign the packing list. In my case, I left in a hurry and it was my dad who signed the packing list. The customs officer in Montreal wanted to open the cartons and inspect it just because of that. The container took about two months to reach me. I guess this is the worst possible time period that you can plan for.

Of course, some companies will provide you with relocation allowance and arranged accommodation. The relocation allowance will be paid in lump sum with almost 50% of it being taxed. Negotiate for higher, if possible double of what they initially offer you. Arranged accommodation was 6 weeks for me. But it took almost 3 months for my stuff to arrive from India (was sent late from Chennai). Fortunately, the company took great care of me and I was able to get some rented furniture until my stuff arrived. Negotiate for 12 weeks accommodation if possible.

Getting a house for rent is another big headache as owners will not let out their houses to new immigrants as they do not have a credit score in Canada and also because a temporary resident can just vanish :). It took me numerous visits to select a place I like and to get a landlord who was willing to rent me a house. Have this in mind, when you step into a country like Canada. Also, the lease agreement is not a mere formality like it is in India, you are virtually liable to be sued if you break the lease. There are also penalties associated with it. Be careful, before you sign the lease.

The public transportation system in Montreal is really wonderful and there is no need for a car. Having a car , maintaining it and fuel and Insurance costs are really high and it makes sense to have a car only if you need it and if you are not worried about saving money to pay loans back home.

The next step for an ICT employee is to apply for PR after about 1.5 years of arrival in Canada. If you want to work longer in Canada, a PR is a must. Each province has its own rules and lots of documents to be produced. It is always good to know what are the documents required and to start collecting documents on each visit to your home country.


Do not make a hasty decision to go abroad, think wisely, do research especially about Employment, Visa and Local life. If you are doing really good in your country(loan free), there is no need to chuck your jobs and come to Canada. Generally, the Canadian government advertises that they require so many people to come to Canada as there are so many jobs available. A whole lot of the economy is based on these immigrants namely government agencies, driving schools, rentals for apartment, etc . It is a vicious cycle if you do not plan properly, your hard earned money from India (taken on loans from relatives or savings) will go down the drain in no time.

If you coming as an ICT, make the most of it and apply for PR only if you really want to be there for a few more years.


Saturday, September 08, 2012

Phase 2 begins......

Phase 1 of my life is over and it has been largely satisfying except for a few regrets here and there. Phase 2 has begun on a warm note. Hope it will propel me to greater heights. I don't have much to write at the moment but will do so soon....

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Life - These days !

The last couple of months has surprised even me to the hilt. I was wondering how will I manage myself, the house and the loads of free (lonely, sad though) time that I have.
The day starts off pretty early, Nowadays ,I wake up without the help of an alarm or my dad's constant murmur to get up. The result is that the maid has found it easy rather than ringing the bell for 10-15 mins or leave the house with me not answering the door.  A brisk walk to the station enriches me with energy. Workload has begun to increase at office so does my interest in Extra curriculars.
I am ,now, part of the Sports committee as well as the Cultural Committee. It is really ,a touch, taxing to organise and conduct even a couple of Nets Practice sessions. I had to face a lot of tough situations but they make me better prepared to handle tougher battles. More on the cricket, a little later.
The cultural committee meetings were really creative. Planning for events was fun, Preparing and Organising them would be real fun. I am really looking forward to the Diwali celebrations. I hope I can host a program like the good old school and college days.
All these extra curriculars leaves me with just enough time to do my work and I have reduced the chitchat with my colleagues to a large extent. I must admit it is virtually impossible to have zero chitchat at work.The evenings are spent in the office gym where i have found a steady partner who would coax me to lift some weights(not exactly , heavy). I hope the gymming continues for some more time.
The evenings are spent as I like. No one to ring me up and ask me where are you ??? I eat what I want and I come home whenever I want to and I sleep whenever I want to. That for me is the best part. But yes, i do miss my parents sometimes as I never had to bother about anything when they were around.

Now , coming to the cricket part. I always wanted to play real cricket ,i.e., with the cricket ball and ABB has given me the opportunity. So the Saturdays are spent on Cricket.We had a couple of practice sessions and I thought I was bowling quite well. There was an opportunity to test my skills when we had a friendly match. I was asked to open the bowling with the new ball. To be frank, I had never bowled with the new ball, but I didnt want to miss out on such a chance, who knows, the match will be over by the time the next spells come around.
But it turned out to be a disaster, with the ball out of control everytime the ball leaves my hand. I was all over the place and was rightly smashed around. Needless to say the match was lost then and there. I felt bad and in the next few practice sessions, I wanted to practice with the new cherry and I did find the right technique to control the ball and was confident of doing well the next time.
The next match was with a S/W company team as bad luck (or should i say good luck) would have it, almost all major players were out of town or injured or unavailable to play the match. I was asked to be the Captain and organise the match. The kit bags were accounted for and kept ready to be taken for the match. Now the first problem was to have 11 players, I was running throughout all floors in the office to get 11 players with few last minute drop outs. Finally, at the end of the day, I did manage 11 players. I had arranged a guy to take the kit bags from office too.I was preparing strategies, bowling line ups, batting line ups and field placings, etc the whole night and was so excited that I hardly had 6 hours of sleep. (Normally I do sleep heavily )
I got up pretty early in the morning and to my utter dismay, it had rained quite heavily the previous night. My dreams of leading a side in a real match went into the drain along with the rain water. It was really disappointing and when i called up my parents that morning, they were pretty surprised. Didnt you go to play today ????
Monday Morning, my colleagues were asking the same question. What happenned to the match ?

The other most important change is my frequent visits to God's Own Country. What used to be a once in a year ritual is now almost every 2-3 months. Travelling has always been interesting for me and I do not have any regrets.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Rules arent meant to be broken

Hey, am back to do some blogging as i have enough time now :D
I was just thinking what are rules for, why are they framed and why are they being implemented. Definitely, it must be of some good to humanity.
Recently , on one of my flights as per the usual practice, the flight stewards had announced in 3 languages(including tamil) on what to do and what not to do on the flights. It was pretty obvious that all passengers were supposed to switch off their mobile phones. But the guy next to me wasnt even bothered about the announcements. He was on the phone with his kith and kin bidding good bye. Just as the flight was about to start, he stopped talking on the phone. After a few hours, as the flight was preparing to land, this guy saw that we are nearing the destination and took out his mobile phone and was frantically trying to make a call.
I thought he was just playing a prank but to my horror he kept on trying for a few minutes. I had to be a little rude to him and asked him to keep the phone off and told him that calls arent allowed in flights. Immediately, like a small child after being scolded by the teacher, he put his phone in his pocket.
Later , i realised that it was his first flight ever!! He was supposed to catch another flight on transit and he was having no idea. I felt bad for being rude to him and helped him with instructions to board his next flight.
A thought flashed across my mind, what if it had been bad weather and what if the mobile phone signal had intervened with the communication systems of the aircraft. Grrrrrrrrr!!!

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Save TADA campaign on the 8th of August

Chennai Trekking Club (CTC) is organizing a massive clean-up activity “Save Tada - 2” at Tada waterfalls on August 8th 2010. Tada is at a 2 hour drive to the north from Chennai city and is a favorite spot for families and trekkers. However, rampant pollution due to plastics and alcohol bottles has severely dented the beauty of this once pristine jungle. Also, Tada bas become an abode for anti-social elements. Visitors have been perpetually harassed by drunkards, who find Tada to be a safe haven for alcohol consumption and gang robbery.

CTC is planning to clean-up the entire Tada stream, including an 800m intensely polluted stretch. CTC is also collaborating with Forest Department officials to find a permanent solution to the problems created by pollution and anti-social elements. As of now, more than 250 individuals have registered to volunteer for this massive clean-up activity. CTC will provide garbage busting gloves and bags for volunteers to enable safe collection and disposal of wastes.

Chennai Trekking Club (CTC) is a 7000+ member non-profit group of trekking enthusiasts. The club is run by several passionate volunteers who organize various outdoor activities such as treks, biking, cycling, and environmental awareness campaigns. It has completed more than 230 treks, both within and outside South India.

Save Tada campaign is one among the series of environmental awareness initiatives undertaken by CTC. The first Save Tada campaign was on November 1st 2009. More than 230 CTC volunteers spent the entire Sunday collecting more than 2 tons of garbage. CTC also ran an online petition to curb the pollution and unsocial activities happening at Tada and collected more than 1200 signatures which were presented to the forest officials. CTC has also organized a massive beach clean-up activity on May 16th 2010 covering a 15 km stretch from Marina to Injambakkam. More than 900 volunteers collected approximately 5 tons of garbage in a span of four hours. Small scale beach-clean up activity has also been happening every weekend at a predetermined beach involving both CTC volunteers and public.

If you interested in registering for this event, please visit CTC’s website at to find additional details about this campaign.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A friend's spontaneous reaction

I just want to share with all my friends about a real life incident which happenned approximately a year ago to my friend.  Let me start by describing him, A Miser who doesnt spend money. He doesnt talk much nor is he friendly. Everyone considers him to be rude and arrogant.
He was going to office in an autorickshaw. Normally he goes to office by train but on that day. He decided to take a ride. It started off in the usual fashion with him trying to haggle a cheap fare to his destination. He was very surprised that the auto driver agreed to Rs.80 when the normal rates were Rs.130.
Right from the moment, he stepped in the auto. He could notice the driver was edgy. He was nervous and under a lot of stress. He got a call on his mobile and he stopped nearby and started talking supposedly to a nurse in a hospital. He was saying "i will come soon madam with the money, please take care of her".
My friend was very curious . He asked him whats the matter. The autodriver said his wife is in hospital and it was the head nurse who called him on his mobile. He also asked my friend what is "breeched baby".
My friend is no medical expert but he knew that the situation was bad. The auto driver started explaining that he had been driving throughout the night to earn money as the doctors in the government hospital said it will ocst Rs 6000 odd for this problem and he had already made 1000 odd rupees. Now again the auto driver got a call and by the time the call ended he was in tears. He told my friend that he had asked the owner of the auto for money but the owner said make the money urself by driving the auto.
The auto driver was very much disturbed. In another 2 minutes, he got another call and he said sorry sir . I have to go now and i cannot take you to your destination. My friend asked him to stop by a ATM nearby and he gave him Rs 6000.
The auto driver was so overwhelmed with emotion and he fell at the feet of my friend on the busy 100 feet road. The auto driver noted down my friend's number and thanked him profusely.

My friend on his way to office was thinking whether the driver was a cheat. But then he consoled himself by saying that atleast i did something good today. My friend was surprised when he got a call at around 2 pm from the auto driver. He said " it is a girl and both wife and child are safe and my family will never forget you sir"

I was amazed by the incident. A guy who never spends a lot could shell out so much money to a stranger who he had met on the road. For the auto driver, My friend was GOD.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Lost and broke!!!!

My stay in Namibia was very enjoyable until the 17th of March. Usually, i keep the laptop bag in my bedroom coz i keep my passport in it. But, u never know when the burglars are going to strike. I was just making some food for the lunchpack i have to carry next day. It would have been 23.15 , when i fell asleep.
Next day, my room mate wakes me up at 05.15 saying that the window is broken. We examined the window and immedaitely our eyes went to the TV and Decoder. We felt relieved that nothing was taken, but then i just remembered that something was amiss.
Shit... It was my laptop bag, my backpack and my wallet which went missing. It was a hollow feeling. It took a lot of time for it to sink in me. We had just been burgled and i have lost everything including my passport.
I have the habit of having all my cards and cash in my wallet. Suddenly i remembered Dad's usual dialogues , he used to say keep the cards at home and carry only one card.
The morning was eventful. My manager and colleagues were very supportive and it was actually quite tiresome to reply to every one the same dialogue. Immediately, i swung into action by blocking all my cards.Next on the agenda was the police complaint. The Police station was quite similar to Indian Police stations. I was asked to make a statement and though it took lot of time to make the statement and register the complaint, the policemen were nice towards me. But one thing which struck me ,when i was writing the statement ,was the machete,crowbar and Iron rods with tags on the table beside me. That image just shook me a bit. There was lot of noise in the police station and when i enquired , they said it was just a prisoner pleading to get out of the cell.
Well, by now, i was clear that i am not going to get back any of the lost things. The police inspector came with a finger print expert to find something and he did take one print from the scene of the crime. They said the criminals have used a bolt cutter to cut through the grill and enter the room. I was feeling very relieved that they did not harm me. What if they had hit me with that bolt cutter. They also said that the criminals are from Zambia which is across the swollen river. They normally strike when the water in the river is high as it makes patrolling impossible. It seems they use canoes to cross the hippo and croc infested river. Man, i appreciate the guts of those guys!!!
The next thing on the agenda was to explore ways to get a new passport. My project manager had contacted the Indian embassy in Windhoek and i was asked to call the Attache to the High Commission. I made the call and surprisingly, the attache was very friendly and re assuring. He was only speaking in Hindi though maybe to confirm whether i am Indian or not. He gave me some instructions on filling the form and asked me to do it very fast.
Well, the applying part is done and i am hoping that i get my New Passport very soon.

It has really been an adventurous journey for me here in Africa. I guess many people in my company will remember me as the guy who lost his passport!!!! It has been a couple of weeks and i was just imagining what could it have been if i was on a personal visit abroad when this happenned.

Well, i also informed my parents about the theft. Actually , i did not want to. But i realised that if police enquiry happens for my new passport , then they will come to know of it. Lots of questions from my parents as to why you were so careless and all. Yet, they told me not to worry and assured me.
But then i told them that i have lost all money, all id proof and nothing to prove that i am Varun.
As an after thought, i said to myself that i should have said that.

But yes, i did get a call from the embassy who said that my application is being processed and i will be getting my passport in 10 days. The countdown has started and there will be a party on the day i get my new passport even if its on borrowed money!