Death by Gulab Jamun, eh?

Oh, this story is so sad (thanks, Filmfat).

Police have charged a Brampton woman who sent hundreds of rambling emails to Premier Dalton McGuinty with threatening a member of his staff – but she contends it’s all a cultural misunderstanding.
Neelam Vir is also prohibited from contacting McGuinty, his family, staff or any other politician, and barred from Queen’s Park.
“I never meant to harm anyone,” says a tearful Vir, 40. “My Canadian dream is shattered. I just want to go back to India.”

The level of misunderstanding in this story is so epic, it could be a script for a comedy of errors. Unfortunately, a confused woman was jailed twice for her inability to negotiate different cultural norms; that’s not really funny-haha.

The charge follows an incident on Sept. 30, when Vir sent a packet of mix for making gulab jamun, an Indian sweet, to McGuinty to express her “love and affection,” dropping it off to staff member Monica Masciantonio.
The same night, she emailed McGuinty, asking whether Masciantonio had given him the mix.
“I said, `If she didn’t give it to you, I’ll kill her.’ It’s just slang,” Vir said. “I use this term all the time with my husband and my kids. In Hindi, it’s, `Mein tumarhi jaan nikal dungi.’”

Well, you can surmise what occurs next…

Vir received no reply but, on Nov. 20, after the election, half a dozen police officers showed up at her door. They confiscated her laptop, cellphone, camera and papers, and hauled her to jail on a charge of conveying a death threat. There she spent a frantic six hours until her husband bailed her out. “I was so upset I couldn’t stop crying. I kept asking, `What wrong did I do?’”

But wait, it gets worse. In a move which inspires forehead-slapping, poor Vir frantically emails the Premier to make amends and proclaim her good intentions…which results in a second arrest, for violating the terms of her release. For her clueless efforts, Vir was gifted with a psych consult. But let’s start from the very beginning, a very good place, to start…

Vir’s tale starts with the typical immigrant story of struggle and a quest for belonging.
After immigrating in 2002, she and husband Baljinder could not find jobs in their fields though both have PhDs attained in India – hers in botany and his in entomology. So Baljinder opened a butcher shop, and Vir temporarily returned to India to teach. She also completed a degree in education there, but after returning to Canada in 2005 could only find supply-teaching jobs and work as an airport security guard.
As a freelance writer for a Punjabi newspaper in Mississauga, she often met politicians at community events. A prolific emailer, she sent messages – mainly decrying the plight of foreign-trained professionals – to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Immigration Minister Diane Finley, the provincial labour, education and health ministers and provincial opposition leader John Tory, many of whom she had met on assignment.

She didn’t just “send” emails…she SENT emails:

She sent the first of about 200 rambling emails to McGuinty last July. “In India, you can’t even approach a politician. Here, they’re accessible and open to hearing from constituents, so that’s what I was doing,” Vir says.

Prepare to cringe and feel awful:

Thrilled to get a form-letter reply from McGuinty that used her first name, Vir mailed him a rakhi (symbolic thread) last August, referring to him as “Big B,” her big brother.
At a Sept. 17 Liberal news conference at a Toronto bookstore, Vir handed McGuinty’s teacher wife, Terri, her resumé in the misguided hope she might help her find a job.
Vir took her daughters, Aanchal, 14, and Muskan, 9, to meet McGuinty during a roundtable with Punjabi media in Woodbridge on Sept. 28 where she heard him say he likes gulab jamun. The premier posed for photos with the trio, who presented him with bouquets and handmade cards.

Aanchal is failing in school as a result of all this unintentional, unnecessary craziness. Vir needs pro-bono representation. Canada needs to get a grip:

Shalini Konanur, the clinic’s executive director, calls the incident an overreaction to an honest mistake.
“One of the trickiest things when you move into a new society is understanding what’s colloquially appropriate communication. It’s almost impossible for new immigrants to navigate. I think she realizes now it was a mistake, but really, how would she have known? There’s no settlement agency that teaches you how to be politically correct in Canada.”
It’s a question of cultural semantics, adds the Toronto-born Konanur. “In some parts of India it’s quite common to speak that way. … I can’t speak for all Indian people, but in my family in India they use that kind of language all the time, `Get the milk or I’m going to kill you.’”
She believes the incident could have been kept out of court if officials had consulted agencies that deal with immigrant settlement.
“Obviously on one hand they want to take the safety of the premier and his staff into account, but there really needs to be a vetting of legitimate threats and ones that are made as honest mistakes.”

Nothing seems to be working out:

Vir is supposed to report back to India for a teaching job in June, but she isn’t allowed to leave the country.
“I’m going through hell for a silly mistake. If I’m guilty of anything, it’s being naive,” she said.
“I supported the Liberals in the election. Now I feel they betrayed me.”

I hope this women gets the help she needs, and that people who read rambling emails for the premier– and probably forward them all over the office for kicks– acquire some common sense. Heavy-handed much?

93 thoughts on “Death by Gulab Jamun, eh?

  1. The charge follows an incident on Sept. 30, when Vir sent a packet of mix for making gulab jamun, an Indian sweet, to McGuinty to express her “love and affection,” dropping it off to staff member Monica Masciantonio. The same night, she emailed McGuinty, asking whether Masciantonio had given him the mix.

    As the old song goes…

    I chew my nails and I twiddle my thumbs I’m real nervous, but it sure is fun C’mon baby, you’re driving me crazy Goodness, gracious, great balls of khoya!!

  2. 45 · razib said

    Totally, people in india are sssooo accepting of heterodox behavior.

    We are actually. Thank you for noticing. It comes partly from good, politically incorrect humour.

    48 · rax said

    “I’d tell you but then I’d have to kill you” doesn’t literally mean what it says.

    Great example. Shows that this multicultural thing is overblown; it was easy to understand what the poor woman meant. Those responsible for her arrest are twittering idiots who should be made to pay expenses for the operation from their pension funds

  3. 47 · gm said

    Since it was mentioned that she worked various jobs, I wonder if she understood or had enough exposure to the local customs, expressions etc. It looks like one of her former jobs was an airport security guard. Was that job also in Canada and what did it involve? Are the Canadian airport secuity people trained to look for threats in any form? At least in the US airports, any sort of reference, joke, hint, limerick, (or whatever) about killling/bombs/terrorists is a red flag.

    I am not sure where she worked as security guard. But there are several grades of “security guards” at Pearson Airport. It is more likely she worked there, given that she is from Brampton. I don’t think security guards hired by private companies recieve extensive training in those matters. They are very peripheral to the airport security.

    It is sad that she has to go through this. It is slightly better that she recieved a psych.consultant now. Being in Brampton seems to be the worst of both worlds for her. There are still native country notions of ‘prestigious’ job and conforming to community pressure (she writes in Punjabi newspaper) and yet, there is a need to navigate through local customs and political correctness with no cultural feedback/education. Brampton may be nearer to Queen’s Park in physical distance but very far away in social mores.

    I hope something comes out of this with regards to immigrant training in cultural issues. There are many deluded people (even though highly educated in India) with different notions on how to survive in Toronto. I agree with Emma above on the job issue.

  4. If I say I like brownies (is that code for a desi fetish?), I expect brownies, not some crappy old aunt Jemima mix (that’s not racist, I hope). I’d be pissed too if you gave me some $2 mix past its expiry date, and tried to palm it off as a favor.

    On the flip side, something packaged is considered a lot “safer” than hand cooked. We are talking “gulab-jamun mix” which is like agarbatti for whitey : exotic and not easily accessible. She hoped his white wife knew how to knead, fry and soak.

    What, you consider gulab jamun powder anthrax-like? Wow! You noticed! I mentioned it because I wanted that connection to be recognized. Remember those post 9/11 days when anything white and powdery made alarm bells go off? Even the damn coffee creamer tin in my office was switched to safe/sealed sachets. Again, who gives a shit about what the manufacturer put in, as long as it wasnt another psycho human trying to poison you while you drank your coffee sweetened with aspartame.

    And, sending them over 200 emails Have you mailed your congressman ever? 200 emails is what you need to send, unless you can afford a lobbyist.

    What would be funny though is if like 200 desis got together and mailed Mr Premier a packet each of Gulab Jamun mix. “From India, with love”.

  5. No, no–things are worse in Canada. You don’t have the problems Suki talks about (and documents!) at anything like that level here in the US. Not that the level is zed. ;-)

    It true. I have big family in Calfornia with 5 aunt and uncles and 12 cousins all between 28-45 and they all live between Fresno and the Bay Area. This is the area with probably the biggest punjabi community in the United States. But they all have made some effort to blend into american society and they do have friends of other backgrounds and don’t just live in there punjabi only world.

    Everytime I been to big family party there, there usually have been people of other backgrounds there.

  6. She has a husband who is a PhD and working as a butcher, she herself apparently is a PhD, I am sure had they stayed on in India they’d be doing far better than what they are doing in Canada working as Butcher and Security Guard, what is this fascination of supposedly educated Indians to migrate to foreign countries where you dont seem to qualify even for a Basic clerical job??????? Guess she had it comming CHAMCHAGIRI doesn’t work all over the world……….

  7. Suki, as a fellow Canadian I empathize with your sentiments on this subject. I have a pretty mixed (leaning negative) view how Canada’s official multicultural policy has played out. The sentiment’s good, and desirable, but in practice it (or rather, it, in conjunction with a variety of other peculiarities of how a good portion of immigration plays out in Canada) has lead to a lot of counterproductive self-segregation. My parents have lots of Indian friends, and lots of non-Indian ones. When we first moved to Canada we spent a few years growing up in rural NF where, well, I was pretty much the only non-newfie around; that more or less eliminates any impulse to self-segregate ;)

    Yeah there is no one here who has a more negative view of multicultrism then me or had been affected by it more then me.

    I blame my arrange marriage to multicultrism. It played a big part in why I was forced to get married just before my 20th birthday.

    Like I’ve said before, I grow up in area that was 99% white and my parents raised me very western. So when as a 19 year old in 1996 when I want to India I was very clueless about almost everything punjabi. I could not even speak the language that well and that made alot of people very mad. My parents everywhere they want were told what a bad job they did raising me. The people who did that most, were my relatives from the Vancouver area who come to Canada but made no effort to intergrate into Canadian society. These people were my parents uncles and aunts and cousins.

    My parents did not want me to get married when they 1st get to India. But after a everywhere they want and they were bashed to death for forgetting there punjabi roots and alot of pressure from my grandparents gave in to them. The amazing part is that the my parents aunt and uncles who were the worse to me, have grandkids[my 2nd cousins] who are dead or in jail due to the gang life style. Yet they had a bigger problem with the way I was raised. While I have never fully forgive my parents and never will, it was moving to the Vancouver area where I took of some of the blame off them. When I saw what the punjabi community was like, I could have grown up with alot worse parents.

    The only thing I had in control of what happened to me,was that I was a male. I could only image what a bigger nightmare my life would be if I was punjabi female going through this.

  8. 55 · Suki Dillon said

    It true. I have big family in Calfornia with 5 aunt and uncles and 12 cousins all between 28-45 and they all live between Fresno and the Bay Area. This is the area with probably the biggest punjabi community in the United States. But they all have made some effort to blend into american society and they do have friends of other backgrounds and don’t just live in there punjabi only world. Everytime I been to big family party there, there usually have been people of other backgrounds there.

    I hope you are factoring in 0.71% Asian Indian population in San Francisco (a bit old data-2000) with ~10% South Asian population in Toronto (Not adding GTA-2007).

    1 in 5 persons in Toronto is a recent immigrant (arrived in 90s). About 49% of total population is foreign-born. So, is the cultural feedback going to be easily available in everyday transactions with almost every other person being from somewhere else?

  9. I agree with the posters who stated that Canadian multi-culturalism policy has had a much more direct effect than the non-intervention you see the in States.

    I heard a theory though that the Canadian gov’t isn’t so much interested in the v. qualified, hard-working adult immigrants that come here as much as they’re interested in their children.

  10. hope you are factoring in 0.71% Asian Indian population in San Francisco (a bit old data-2000) with ~10% South Asian population in Toronto (Not adding GTA-2007).

    1 in 5 persons in Toronto is a recent immigrant (arrived in 90s). About 49% of total population is foreign-born. So, is the cultural feedback going to be easily available in everyday transactions with almost every other person being from somewhere else?

    Yes I’m aware of this as I live in Vancouver where 9% of the population is south asian. Here in Vancouver over 80% of the south asian population is punjabi, where as in Toronto while the punjabi population is huge, it not as big % of the south asian population in Vancouver.

  11. The thing about Canada is that it becoming 2 countries now. There is the big cities of Toronto,Montreal,Vancouver and Ottawa which are very multicultural. But the rest of Canada is over 90% white and the #1 minority group is people of native background.

    I have start to notice that more the last few years anytime I leave Vancouver and go back to my home town to visit.

  12. 48 · rax said

    About the killing bit: My german/euro biz manager says “die! die! die!” if I tell him that IT wont be delivering something he needed last week. The first time he IMed those words, it was a bit weird, but it is quite apparent that it was in jest (i hope).

    He was just saying “the the the!” in German. \ducks (sorry, couldn’t resist)

  13. 60 · Suki Dillon said

    1 in 5 persons in Toronto is a recent immigrant (arrived in 90s). About 49% of total population is foreign-born. So, is the cultural feedback going to be easily available in everyday transactions with almost every other person being from somewhere else?

    oai. be kind to toronto yaar. we REALLY are that special – and every day is like falling… nay, soaring… in love all over again. Dude!! where else would you have a minister talking about wearing a senior’s diaper as a statement that it is good for extended use. [i'm still processing whether to smile or groan... but it's still different and interesting - so it's good]. of course the same minister was united with his partner in an ojibway ceremony uniting the unique two-spirited people. equirepresentation my man is the thing. when we’re all different there is no pressure to conform. DAMN! I love this City.

    Neelam needs counselling – though I would stop short of suggesting psychiatric help or a restraining order. I agree with her tho’ that ministers in canada are much more approachable than most anywhere – but what she was doing transgressed the bounds of good behavior anywhere – i do wish she wasnt couching this as cultural differences. I do wish they would not have let it come to this that we have to get the government to do the right thing. just expensive, time consuming and not the best use of public money. a little common sense would have helped but there may be background that is yet unknow.

  14. I take issue with comments which make this out to be a desi problem, I don’t think there is anything uniquely desi about her behavior. She may have psychological problems and that is what we should talk about. I don’t think stalking is uniquely desi and it is ludicrous to suggest otherwise.

  15. The GJ (Gulab Jamun) lady knew exactly what she was doing.

    She knows all the snazzy terms like “cultural misunderstanding”; “betrayed me”; “being naive” and then dismisses her email as a colloquial expression? Really?

    Please spare us all those “immigrant settlement understanding” and inability to understand a new country’s mores etc.

    A sensible person does not innundate a Premier with emails and gifts and definitely does not follow up with their staff unless they are angling for something. In this case it looks like GJ wanted a job through any means possible and aimed at getting Premierial influence to get one!

  16. Haha, I agree completely. Also, Liberal Party members, especially from metropolitan areas, have been around plenty of brown people that they would know the difference between cultural differences and stalking.

  17. Vee Indians know vell how to play this race “patti” of yours, no?

    The lady is a kook! Sending him raakhi, calling him Big B, sending the GJ mix as a token of her “love and affection.” Forget about the national security threat. That’s stalking!

    Cultural misunderstanding? Let her try sending Mr. Manmohan Singh 200 “rambling” e-mails, raakhi and gulab jamun mix followed by threats to kill somebody. She will be eating roti and paani in some women’s prison in India in no time.

    Miss Vir is an embarrassment to our community and a slap in the faces of those desi women who really struggle to establish a foothold in a new country, who work all day, come home and cook dinner for the family and still spend time helping their “Aanchals and Muskans” with homework.

  18. Okay, a different take. Imagine Miss Vir has a Muslim last name and she is living in the US. She sends Bush 200 rambling e-mails, raakhi and gulab jamun mix with threats to kill somebody. What do you think Homeland Security would do?

  19. Floridian,

    Exactly, she has some problems and I believe her being brown is only incidental, I don’t think she has these issues because she is brown as some have here suggested that this kind of behaviour is ok in India.

  20. Oh well, I’m from desh, and I had no idea we could tell a politician ‘I’ll kill you’ in desh. She has been here for quite a while (3 years) and holds a PHD. I suppose that’s good enough a duration for someone to learn some of the cultural differences? And sending someone 200 emails in itself is enough to freak someone out – be it anyone. I won’t justify her behavior as a cultural difference.

  21. Wow, this is embarrassing. I actually cant let this woman’s stupidity count as cultural miscommunication. She has a PhD! I mean if she was really that naive – she would not have used ‘I’ll kill you’ in an email to someone she barely knows. I am a DBD, lived in Vancouver for 8 years – trust me – I know how that phrase is used but this is someone she probably met once. On top of that, she sent 200 emails – that is stalker and maybe a bit obessive to say the least.

    Maybe she does have a genuine mental health problem. I would blame her – having a PhD and working at an airport wouldnt do much for the brain cells. But the person reading these 200 emails and the person being told they would be killed to have a right to be a bit alarmed. I am guessing they probably got the 200 emails, ignored her as a crazy woman but when the same person sends an email saying I’ll kill you – it might have been enough to get the alarm bells ringing.

    I know I harsh but I would much rather have someone else get away with cultural misunderstanding – someone who genuinely didnt know better than this person. She seemed to cross every line. I mean when she was specifically asked not to be in contact anymore with the premier after getting a bail – she emails him. That is pretty straight forward instruction and she still emailed him. I do think this woman needs help but crying cultural misunderstanding is not the way to go.

  22. With St. Patrick’s Day approaching, I got inspired to write this extremely pathetic (but cathartic) limerick which breaks every single meter, grammar, syllable and rhyme rule (for limericks). Also, this is not to offend, mock or hurt any Canadians, Punjabis, Irish, English teachers, Police officers, poets, or anyone who uses Gits mixes. Since I am a teetotaler and a strict vegetarian, I am unable to enjoy the “pleasures” of corned beef and green beer. Therefore, I feel left out on St. Patrick’s Day and the only way to get the spirit of this delightful holiday is to write some inane limerick.

    There once was this Canuck lass from Punjab who had a mix of jamun flavored with gulab The box was lovingly sent to McGuinty along with innocent emails aplenty literally translated from Hindi (so she really isn’t guilty) yet it sent coppers into a frenzy The Gits pack serves only four Pray the lass won’t serve twenty (to life or more)

    I really think Mrs. Vir should get some psychological counseling and career counseling. Handing a resume to a Premier’s wife at a news conference probably isn’t the best way to network when job hunting. (This is from the link that was provided http://www.thestar.com/News/Ontario/article/306896 )

    She is clearly not a threat to society in my opinion and should not be locked up. It looks like a huge heap of taxpayer money was wasted on investigating and temporarily imprisoning this innocent, harmless lady. It probably should not have gone this far (with her getting jailed twice, etc.) I do agree any email or any sort of communication with the words “kill” that is directed to anyone must be investigated , but people need to see the whole picture and use plain common sense.

  23. 42 · SSK said

    Hence the protectionism. Plus, most people here just do it for the various taxcredits and grants.

    i always knew sunny leone was shrewd. perhaps, she’ll play teacher for an intern?

  24. 56 · Bedoon Esam said

    She has a husband who is a PhD and working as a butcher, she herself apparently is a PhD, I am sure had they stayed on in India they’d be doing far better than what they are doing in Canada working as Butcher and Security Guard, what is this fascination of supposedly educated Indians to migrate to foreign countries where you dont seem to qualify even for a Basic clerical job??????? Guess she had it comming CHAMCHAGIRI doesn’t work all over the world……….

    it’s difficult to get a research job in india, because universities are underfunded. they concentrate only on education, and don’t really recruit for research jobs. while there is considerable nepotism in india, let’s not fool ourself about how egalitarian the job market in the US is (I cannot speak to Canada here); even wall st which prides itself on meritocratic recruitment, hires at schools where the bankers etc have alumni connections. i have seen quite a few people wrangling internships and jobs based on who they know. as far as grad school goes, recommendations and calls from a professor who has friends at others can work wonders. if i were you, i would not underestimate the power of chamchagiri in the american workplace and grad school admissions process.

  25. He was just saying “the the the!” in German. \ducks (sorry, couldn’t resist)

    I lol’ed :D

    I don’t really have any sympathy for this woman. C’mon, I do know some families who use the expression “I’ll kill you” and they all know better than to use it against a politician! And 200 e-mails?? C’mon! This isn’t about brown identity or race, this woman clearly has some psychological problems and needs help.

  26. Sigh…I’m sorry, but this woman sounds like a bit of a nutcase. I was born in the US, but I find it hard to believe that in India, it is not considered abnormal behavior to send a politician is Rakhi, dry goods mix, calling him “Big B”, making a slew of handmade cards…not to mention the 200+ emails. That behavior sounds stalkerish in my book. If she were a kid, it would be cute to send those things (sans emails) but for a grown woman? Mmmmm…I don’t know.

    I do sympathize with the mixup about her use of “I’ll kill her” but the rest of it? Something is not right with this woman’s behavior, and as others have said, it ain’t a Desi thing. Poor kids!

  27. Sorry, but unless both of these two sorry, unhappy and somehow misunderstanding, whilst being “misunderstood” people, bought their PHDs in the Punjab, I have no way to even fathom what she/he/they were thinking. Has very little to do with “cultural differences”. Maybe they ought to pack up and return to the Punjab. Don’t the Canadian Authorities do any testing for prospective immigrants? Hope the are able to solve this crisis of theirs.

  28. calling him Big B… Cultural misunderstanding?

    Is his son’s fiance TMBWITC, and did she get married to a maple tree before the church ceremony?

    She is a certified home grown cashewnut.

  29. This is one example of “Political Correctness” run amok. All Political Correctness is evil, and a by-product of “liberalisim” which in it self is a form of mental illness.

  30. Just happened to share this post with Aunty-ji. She said that all those mixes were not worth a s**t anyway. Sorry, SM Intern, for the language.

  31. I’m not sure if we have all the facts in this case, but what I find interesting here is how people are transferring and projecting their own cyberspace fears and real-life ‘integration and assimilation’ issues onto the Neelam Vir story. The ‘stalking’ charge seems a bit over the top to me. It seems to me all she did was to use correctly a common idiomatic expression in the wrong context (an electronic communication with an elected official) which then was interpreted idiotically. I don’t know how much we can believe the ’200 emails’ figure – but an email a day over six months will get you there. She may well have believed that personal intervention from him could help her get a job or that ‘persistence pays’. Sometimes it does.

    With law enforcement reacting the way it did, of course she claimed it was a ‘cultural misunderstanding’, because she might have been advised that if the court believed that, she might be let off – so it is more a case of a disingenuous defence, testing the credulity of the system, and playing off its actual racism than anything else. It should not be confused with what actually might have happened – that she simply typed the wrong thing, and then inadvertently violated the conditions of her probation, which landed her in hot soup.

    This is not to say that public figures don’t get stalked, or to minimize the seriousness of stalking in general.

    Whether ‘Gits’ is any good or not is beside the point. Lots of housewives in India use it to make Gulab Jamun. My mother did, and we ate the result, and it was all right.

  32. 72 · gm said

    There once was this Canuck lass from Punjab who had a mix of jamun flavored with gulab The box was lovingly sent to McGuinty along with innocent emails aplenty literally translated from Hindi (so she really isn’t guilty) yet it sent coppers into a frenzy The Gits pack serves only four Pray the lass won’t serve twenty (to life or more)

    Hah, nice one! Some suggestions, jamun is actually a fruit, and is used in the name of the dessert as a visual description. How about “Jamun-e-gulab”? Also, the Liberals (party of Dalton McGuinty) are colloquially knows as The Grits. You could couple that with Gits. The 5th and 6th lines are the weakest parts and should be reworked.

    Also, does anyone else here watch Flight of the Conchords? Neelam Vir reminds me of the character Mel.

  33. Though Neelam’s action was out of proportion, but this type behaviour is not uncommon among newcomer Desi’s. Back in home, people often try to be closer to (but it is not easy) powerful (and often corrupt) politicians and use those relations for unlawful personal gains and status. When people immigrate to west, mindset remains same. And when they found it is so easy here to be close and talk to these powerful politicians, became wild with false hope of using the relations for personal gains and status as in back home. In most of the cases, this over enthusiasm subside with time with broken dreams. But in case of Neelam it backfires very badly. Sorry for her, hope it will be a eye opener for others.

  34. Thanks to SSK (84) for the suggestions and critique. Yikes, now one can see why I never majored in English or any other difficult Liberal Arts major! I actually believe the whole stinking poem was weak and rather pathetic.

    In addition to your excellent suggestions, I could have added something about the tenaciousness and persistence of Mrs. Vir (a reference to the 200 emails sent over a few months) . Then again, she sounds like she is not in the best mental state and I certainly don’t want to add to her or anyone’s grief. Looking back, I probably should not have dabbled in limerick composition in the first place.

  35. She has a husband who is a PhD and working as a butcher, she herself apparently is a PhD, I am sure had they stayed on in India they’d be doing far better than what they are doing in Canada working as Butcher and Security Guard, what is this fascination of supposedly educated Indians to migrate to foreign countries where you dont seem to qualify even for a Basic clerical job??????? Guess she had it comming CHAMCHAGIRI doesn’t work all over the world……….

    integrating new canadians into the workplace into roles consistent with their education is definitely a challenge. there is an element of racism – it is not overt – but a matter of perception. people make judgements based on perception and then play with facts to justify their decisions. so, when india/africa are generally regarded as cesspools of disease and poverty, it is hard to believe for a 9-to-5′er to believe that someone from those regions could be a skilled marketing professional or a manager or similar white collared professional. the barriers placed to getting a medical professional from these countries certified to practice in canada also reflect the same perceptions.

    That said, there’s a basic disconnect here in your personal beliefs and life in Canada.

    A butcher is a skilled tradesperson. Though I am not sure how well trained the husband was in this area, it is definitely not a ‘basic job’. it takes a fair bit of skill to slaughter an animal, to drain the blood and clean its entrails so as to not pollute the meat with faecal spillage. it is not an easy life, as with any tradeperson, but in canada you can enjoy a good life as a butcher.

    to take this further, if a person wnts to build a life as a tradesperson, he/she can enjoy a very good quality of life. it is not a comedown to become a butcher or a plumber or a cook or a carpenter. IMO, a PhD is awarded to a person for having demonstrated the critical thinking to solve a specific problem in one’s field of study. it trains a person to examine an issue in multiple ways to come up with the optimal solution. while it can help, it need not be linked to a profession. I am suggesting that if baljinder and neelam didnt get a job directly aligned with their field of interest – it is not a come down for them to work as a tradespersons. in fact, that would be superior to working as a ‘basic clerk’ or a paperpusher. I feel ‘desk jobs’ are spiritually regressive. a guy needs to (physically) sweat a little in his daily life anyway. it keeps the steel in the spine. if he can do it by swinging a hammer or a cleaver, good for him.

  36. there is an element of racism – it is not overt – but a matter of perception. people make judgements based on perception and then play with facts to justify their decisions.

    Quite similar in Australia. Sometimes, I wonder if Oz & Canada are twins separated at birth. Same mother – Britain.

    f a person wnts to build a life as a tradesperson, he/she can enjoy a very good quality of life.

    many tradies in Oz make well over 100K a year.

  37. 87 · khoofia said

    IMO, a PhD is awarded to a person for having demonstrated the critical thinking to solve a specific problem in one’s field of study. it trains a person to examine an issue in multiple ways to come up with the optimal solution. while it can help, it need not be linked to a profession.

    Good point, Khoofia.

    But how many people actually work in careers that have anything to do with what they studied or based on their university/college or a PhD/ Masters thesis? (the exceptions to that I have noticed include physicians, nurses, accountants, etc) I don’t have any statistics on hand, but most of my relatives and friends w/PhD’s go into completely fields that are completely different (from their studies) after graduating. Of course getting a PhD is very difficult and prestigious in my opinion. One PhD friend of ours beg to differ and called it a “poor hungry dog” degree. If that is the case, is an MD a “money dog”?

  38. she does sound a bit off. that said, the stressors of migration, assimilation, and downward mobility could have had a hand in that. sad, but hopefully she gets the help she needs.

  39. though both have PhDs attained in India – hers in botany and his in entomology. So Baljinder opened a butcher shop

    What, he sells cut up ants & grasshoppers ?

  40. It’s certain that this person is unstable. Phrase like “I’ll kill you” is not common in educated Indian Community. The history is bad too, tried to use unfair means to get job in school she volunteers and complaint to the authorities about people she works with. Does not want to do any work as “I am more educated”, no wonder why not able to get the job. This can be her political gimmick too to come in lime light. Why would a well-educated and politically active women not understand that her statement was taken literally? She blames it on her naiveté, but this is not naiveté; it is simple stupidity. Let’s not place the blame on cultural insensitivity, but focus on the fact that this educated woman lacked common sense. And trying to play smart to get politically active.