How Cold Is Canada and How Happy Are You?

Yam Ghimire

How is life in Canada? This is one of the buzzing questions friends, relatives and people at home and abroad keep asking me on voice or non-voice chats. I do not have a solid and consistent answer to this question. Some of the models of my solutions are: it’s going on; everything is OK; not bad; and so on.

I asked the same question to one of my friends with whom I often engage almost daily or weekly.

“What are you doing now? How is life in Canada?” I shot these teasing-like questions over the cellular voice. Asking “How is life in Canada?” to another fellow Canadian who lives just 5 minutes behind the wheels away from what the life I have, is more a witty thing to do than any other genuine interrogation I could ask.

“Oh, life is not that easy. Both testicles are frozen to death by cold. What about yours?” he answered, giggling and a bit with the intention to make fun of my question as usual in a morning of winter in Canada with a forecasted – 45 degree Celsius.

His answer caught my laughter hormone, and we laughed and giggled on the phone.

“What about your penis? Is it frozen too?” I added after settling down from our tearful laughter.

“It is not but hibernating. It has been folded and squeezed far back behind. I just pull it out with a tongue when I need to pee and do not disturb it the rest of the time.” He shot another laughter bomb.

Never mind. It is normal. Men’s chats go like this when they are free of anyone around.

Though born and raised in Nepal, I decided to migrate to Canada after living at home until my mid-thirties. People here in Canada think I am from Nepal, so I am acclimated to harsh cold and Himalayan weather. Indeed, I am one of the thin-skinned people in Nepal who has never combatted such a cold climate and has not experienced the Himalayan weather-ecology so closely.

It is freezing cold in winter in Canada. Weather Canada, a government agency, always keeps citizens alert in advance if anything goes beyond and above the risky level for human and domestic animals weather-wise. Weather warnings from media sound like this:  “Extreme cold warning in pace; do not expose your hands and feet to open-air cold. In a minute or two, your toes or fingers get frozen and need to be amputated.”  

In another weather warning, Weather Canada says, “Dress for the weather, keep extra layers in your vehicle just in case, watch your kids’ dressing and footwear, drink and eat hot food and stay home, if possible, to do so.”

Looking at such harsh weather conditions, it is miraculous that Canada stays ‘alive’ 24/7. Buses, trains, and cars keep running, and the workplaces, schools and markets remain open for the operation. Life does not stop whatsoever.

My father, 75, during his recent visit to Canada, had his daily kind of assigned responsibility to pick up his grade-one granddaughter from school at 2:40 pm. So, he faced some of the brutal cold days here. I had bought some warmest winter coats for him to survive the weather when he walked to school and back.

My father never faced anything below zero degree, as far as I know. Born and brought up in the cool weather zone of the hills of Panchthar in Nepal and spending the rest of his life after 25 in warm and hot weather, he has no experience and clues of dealing with arctic-like weather on earth. Dealing and barely surviving –45 degree Celsius for about 20 minutes as his usual routine Monday-Friday, one day, he said, “I do not understand why you guys are living in such a place. What a place it is! I don’t again understand how nothing is shut closed but is running and in operation even if hearts get frozen in no time standing outside the house for a few minutes. Are you guys really happy here? Is it true that you have a better life than you could have it back in warm and tropical Nepal?” He showered questions at me back-to-back and released his winter frustration, surprise and annoyance — all at a time. I just stayed grinning at his reaction to the Canadian cold. 

Yes, it is cold in Canada. Therefore, all houses, buildings, and most of the sheds and barns are insulated to avoid the cold from outside. Houses and buildings are ‘air-shield mechanical units’ to prevent the heart-piercing draft from outside, where the central heating system runs 24/7 to keep the hearts and beds warm. But remember: This cold does not happen all around the year! We have sunny, bright, green and jolly summers for about five months when people come out of their vacuum-shield residences, topless or in bikinis, to suntan or sunbathe on beaches or in the public parks. Parties, picnics, camping, hiking, touring, climbing, anything that you are into, should have been finished in this period and one has to pack up before the first mighty showers of heaven start making Mother Earth whitely glittering and glowing, sometimes as early as in late September or sometimes as late as in early November. But this fun season flies very fast here and the winter, as mentioned, prevails to stress my dad and probably all the immigrants originally from the tropical weather countries. 

There is a conventional saying in Hindi which can literally be meant “Laddu from a wedding is such a thing that those who dare to eat it regret, and those who dare not regret too.” 

Choosing to migrate to Canada is like the laddu from an Indian wedding. If I had not migrated to Canada, I would have never seen the world with my own eyes, and would not have experienced how human beings in the world are living with all these diverse styles, cultures, values, practices and traditions. If I had not migrated, I would never have experienced the type of life we live here, no matter how disturbing disparities immigrants in new lands might think there are. Regardless of love, emotions, and sentiments of nostalgic childhood back in our motherland that keep hitting us daily in one way or the other, memories of the families and relatives left back in the country of origin make us feel lonely sometimes and feel the lacking of something unknown, though we are honestly not sad and frustrated with what Canada has given us whole-heartedly. And so are our children. If we dared not to migrate to Canada, we would regret, as many of our frustrated contemporaries do now, for not migrating to any developed world at the right time. The reason is not that hard to guess or understand for anyone. Nepal’s productive and fertile youths are depressed with the malfunctioning politicians and their customization of laws and governance on the ground of their notorious double standards and highhandedness to manipulate the constitutional order and governance of law.  Almost exclusively, all youths of the nation don’t have faith in the educational system and want to study abroad and settle in America or Europe. Why? No need to discuss the reason here.

Nevertheless, my wish is that the political and social hope will soon rise to hold and prevent the feather-flickering youths from flying to any alien world, leaving the nest and the mother behind.