My Thick Accent

Crafting a Place in Canada's Diverse Mosaic: Voyage from Pakistan to Canada | Ft. Ali Malik Ep. 048

September 28, 2023 Gurasis Singh Season 1 Episode 48
My Thick Accent
Crafting a Place in Canada's Diverse Mosaic: Voyage from Pakistan to Canada | Ft. Ali Malik Ep. 048
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Our guest for this episode, Ali Malik, offers a candid perspective on his journey immigrating from Pakistan to Canada. In a gripping conversation, Ali shares the cultural and professional hurdles he encountered and the invaluable lessons he learned along the way.

Navigating a new country can be challenging, but Ali’s experiences provide a fresh perspective on life as an immigrant. He lays out the realities of starting anew, the importance of networking, and stresses the need for a financial cushion before moving countries. We also delve into the unique workplace culture of Canada and how understanding cultural nuances can make a world of difference. Our chat wouldn't be complete without acknowledging the pivotal role Ali's wife played in their journey, her unwavering support serving as a constant source of motivation.

As we wrap up, we venture into a compelling discussion about cultural acceptance and the immigrant experience in Canada and the US. Ali highlights how these countries allow immigrants to preserve their unique culture, language, and lifestyle. Ali proudly shares his journey to becoming a Canadian citizen and leaves us with some sage advice for his younger self.

Discover the inspiring story of Ali Malik and the realities of immigrant life in this fascinating episode.

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Want to share your story? Or know someone I should invite next on the show? DM us or write to us at Hello@mythickaccent.com


Gurasis:

Hi, this is Gurasis Singh and you're listening to My Thick Accent podcast. In the vibrant and ever-expanding world of podcasting, as I reached the one-year milestone with My Thick Accent, a truly enchanting facet of this podcast is its remarkable capacity to bring together captivating individuals who hail from the farthest reaches of our planet. This medium possesses a unique power, I believe, and almost magical ability to dissolve the very borders that separate nations, enabling connections, dialogues and exchanges that might otherwise have been considerably more challenging within the confines of our own homelands. I consider this an extraordinary conduit, one that transcends geographical, cultural and temporal boundaries. It functions as a virtual bridge, deftly spanning chasms and creating a space where discussions can flow freely, unburdened by the constraints of physical distance or political divides.

Gurasis:

This freedom to converse, explore and connect is a testament to the profound impact of this medium, and today I welcome an individual who is also from the Indian subcontinent, also from Punjab, but from the other side of the border. Originally from Pakistan, he embarked on a journey that took him from the vibrant streets of Pakistan to the welcoming embrace of Canada, an individual whose experiences resonate with countless immigrants striving for a better life. Our conversation will navigate the intricacies of immigration landscape, shedding light on the challenges faced, the wisdom acquired and the relentless spirit that fuels the immigrant's journey. We'll delve into the nuances of cultural adaptation, contrasting work environments between our homeland and Canada and the vital significance of setting realistic expectations on foreign shores. Without any further ado, please welcome Ali Malik.

Ali:

Hi Gurasis, how are you?

Gurasis:

I'm great. Welcome to the podcast.

Ali:

Thank you so much for having me. This is a great platform that you've built over the past one year. I've listened to a lot of your podcasts and learned a lot, and it's interesting how a lot of the stories resonated with me, because our experiences as immigrants are very, very similar in many ways, and there is a lot that I've learned from some of the guests on this podcast. So thank you so much for creating this platform for all of us.

Gurasis:

No, I think thank you for listening in, tuning in and reaching out as well. It's always pleasure hearing that okay somebody is listening to it. You do see those numbers but having a face to that number, a voice to that number, is absolutely amazing. So, thank you. Thank you so much for that. So, Ali, let me start by asking you tell me, do you have any favorite inspirational quote or saying that resonates with you?

Ali:

So the famous quote be the change you want to see in the world. I feel that that quote inspires me and it has inspired a lot of people around the world to take initiative and take the lead in a lot of things in their lives.

Gurasis:

Okay, and is there any habit that has changed your life or something that has become your second nature?

Ali:

Yeah, I think having a structured routine in life is very, very important. Unfortunately, back in Asian countries we sleep late and we are in the rush every morning. That is a problem that I've seen across many different countries. That is something that I changed here, because sleeping on time, waking up early, getting to work early, that is something that I've seen. People are very disciplined in North America and people take this very, very CNC stuff. I think that habit has helped me become more efficient in my life.

Gurasis:

I'm sure it also happens in terms of having the food. For example, I think in my house, even till date, my parents have food at like 9, 10 pm, but here, I think by 9, 10, I'm literally on my bed sometimes. Is that the same with you?

Ali:

Exactly. I had never imagined I could have dinner at 6 pm and now I'm the one who's encouraging my family to have dinner at 6, 6, 30. So it definitely changes you and your whole approach towards the daily routine.

Gurasis:

Yeah, absolutely. Speaking of families and speaking of the time you spent in Pakistan, let me take you back there. Tell us I will listen a little bit about the time you spent there. Tell us about the city you are from and what the focus was on growing up.

Ali:

Yeah, so I grew up in a very smart town called Nushaira, near Peshawar, so I learned the language there. It's a great culture, very different from Punjab, where my father's family actually belongs. For him, and emphasis, just like any other basic family, was education, being good with your grades and making sure that you're successful in your career. Those things are very important. I unfortunately lost my dad when I was seven, so I was a single child. I grew up with my mom, so my mom was a doctor, very disciplined, workaholic woman, and she wanted me to become a doctor as well.

Ali:

Unfortunately, I wasn't inclined towards a medical profession, so the second acceptable profession my family was engineering, so went for a bachelor's in engineering, but I was working for a digital marketing agency after that and I realized that I had had an interest in marketing and I was lucky enough to be accepted at Pakistan's number one business school, which is not in Bihar. So I joined that program and after that I was working as a brand manager for beer, which is a German giant. It's a company in pharmaceutical, consumer health and agriculture chemicals. So I was working in the agriculture services and agriculture chemicals division in Lahore. They very different from my current work but would be exciting work.

Ali:

I got to work with farmers and small landholders throughout Punjab in Pakistan and I was taken aback by some of the challenges that farmers face these days due to global warming and water scarcity and extreme weather during my time there, so it was a great learning. And also we had a great team of individuals in our organization. Learned a lot from them, both technical the agri agronomist and the agri technicians and also the management team in the head office, so it was an all around very, very nice experience.

Gurasis:

But how did you transition from engineering to digital marketing? Or did you have any discussion after that with your mother, who told you that what are your doing, or something?

Ali:

Yeah, I think career is something that is scrutinized by parents, and we talk a lot about what job you want to do and what career you want to be in. It's something that's discussed by the entire family, by parents, by cousins, everyone. But I feel like, at the end of the day, what matters is what you want to do, and after a time, I'd become independent and I was like Mom, I'm not listening to you, I'm doing my own thing. So it was that stage.

Gurasis:

So tell us, ali, something about Pakistan that people might not know about, and I remember, before the call, you were telling me about the diverse culture in Pakistan, where we do hear a lot about the Indian diversity, but tell us a little bit about Pakistan.

Ali:

Yeah, great question. So I grew up near Peshawar in the KP province. Kp is generally considered to be very small, a backward sort of a place, which is the case if you look at the macroscopic picture, but I feel like there are plenty of opportunities in terms of business opportunities, in terms of looking at the amazing people that that place has and the very rich culture that Pukhtul people have. So I've lived among them for over two decades and I can say that they have a great culture which has a long history like, just like the culture in Punjab or anywhere else in Pakistan. It's a very rich culture which is misunderstood by a lot of people and I feel like the food, the hospitality, the way they come together and whenever someone needs them, that is very, very unique to the Pukhtul culture. So I really love that and picked up a lot of my life long learnings from that culture.

Gurasis:

Okay, and is it true that, like the Bollywood, the Hindi cinema is very prominent? Was that a part of your growing up here?

Ali:

Oh yeah, definitely yeah. So I mean movies like Dil Chahta Hai or even like cheesy ones, like Kuch Huta Hai, those ones, those ones were very popular when I was growing up. So yeah, all these Bollywood stars are still very popular in Pakistan and we all love Indian music and I mean every Pakistani wedding that I've been to, we danced on Bollywood songs. So yeah, it's part of the culture. We made it our own in many ways.

Gurasis:

And is there a time that you'd like to go back and live again from your childhood, or just the growing up years.

Ali:

Yeah, I feel like. So I feel like things have changed a lot in the overall culture and the pressure that we used to feel as a generation growing up in terms of the focus on the grades and the focus on competition at school. I think that I wish that was not there and there was more focus on having fun and making friendships making like lasting, deep friendships at school. So I would change that if I were to go back in time, because I feel like there was a lot of pressure in our time on our generation to study, study, study, get good grades Okay.

Gurasis:

And is there something that from your culture or tradition that some people still preserve up until today, when you were in Canada?

Ali:

Yeah, I think one of the major things that I love about our culture is respect for elders, making sure you are always respectful of their opinions, of the fact that you, like I've seen this in my family If you're sitting, if you see an elder, a person, walking to the room, you stand up, you give them their seat. That is something that I've seen throughout my family, everywhere, and those are little things that mean a lot to elders. So I feel like that is something that I want to continue and hope to continue like.

Gurasis:

And what about the language? Do you make that conscious effort to instill the language in your children?

Ali:

Well, in Canada it's a bit of a challenge, to be honest. English is probably very easy for the kids to learn here, so they definitely are more comfortable in English than the local language, like our traditional languages. But yeah, we do make it a point to speak in our native language with our kids and they've picked up most of it. But at the end of the day, because they live in an environment where everyone speaks English, to them it is an easier language. So their choice is clear they prefer English.

Gurasis:

So now let's just transition into your decision of moving to Canada. Tell us what influenced it and how was the process for you like?

Ali:

Yeah. So honestly, a very emotional sort of a decision. One of my cousins she lives in Canada and she and our husband we had multiple conversations with them, me and my wife they convinced us to apply and they were like, why don't you just try? Try to see if you get through? And we were lucky enough to get through in the first attempt. And then we were like, okay, it looks like a good country. My cousin and her husband, they moved there about three or four years before us, so they guided us and we were able to go through the whole process and I was more like started out as, okay, let's try to see what happens. And then eventually we were like, okay, now we are, we got the PR, now let's go Okay.

Gurasis:

So how long was the process for you like getting the PR?

Ali:

In my case, this was back in 2017 when I initially applied. So at that time 2017, so this was, yeah, pre COVID, so at that time, it wasn't very difficult. Honestly, like my profile was ideal for immigration I don't remember the exact number, but my points were way above the benchmark and I was easily able to get an invitation. In fact, I got an invitation I wasn't able to complete, like provide the documents during the time I was required to do so. I couldn't, and then I rejected that invitation and next month I got the invitation again. It was so easy at that time.

Gurasis:

And did you do any sort of like a pre arrival preparation before coming?

Ali:

Yes, so I think most of my preparation was focused around finances. So making sure we had enough money to bring over, making sure we were able to find a place to live and you know this better than me versus, like the housing crisis unfortunately, is pretty bad right now in Canada. It wasn't as bad in 2017, 2018. So we were able to find when we came here. We found Airbnb in the beginning and then we moved to an apartment with a one year lease, so it wasn't that difficult. But we did talk to a lot of people before coming here, making sure we understand what the process is, how the contracts work, what are the best locations.

Ali:

When you come here, you don't have a driver's license, you don't have a car, so it's better to live in a location where you are able to access cross-ree shores and other important stuff. So we chose a location in Mississauga, ontario, which was very close to a Walmart, so that we would be able to get groceries, and unfortunately, when we came, it was December, it was winter, so it was a big, big shock for us, because it was minus two or minus three and I came from the hall where zero is the ultimate goal, like, if it's zero, people, people go crazy. They're like it's zero degrees straight. It was a big shock for us when we could see snow and minus two degrees and something like that. So in the beginning we spent a lot of money on buying jackets and other winter stuff. So that in itself was a big shock, but we had planned for most of that. So I think it's good to set aside some money for emergency expenses as well and to plan your finances in the best way possible before coming.

Gurasis:

So you said you landed in December, right? Tell us about your first day, or what were your initial thoughts and emotions.

Ali:

Honestly, I feel like when you come here for the first time and it's your first time in North America the jet lag is crazy. I mean, making sense of what's going on is impossible. So it took us at least I think, three days to get over the jet lag. And it sounds crazy now because now I travel, I come back and it's not as bad. I don't know, maybe my mind or my body has adjusted now to going across the ocean, but I feel like the first time was impossible. It was so difficult to adjust to the new time zone, the new timings and the weather. So me and my wife we weren't sure if we'll have like warm clothes Went to a mall. We bought plenty of warm clothes for the kids. So I have two kids now there. Now my daughter is nine, my son is six. At that time my son was one and a half years old, my daughter was four.

Ali:

The first few days were very challenging, but the good thing is that if you have family in Canada, they're able to help you. There is no language barrier. I've heard stories of people moving to other countries like Germany or France, where there is a huge language barrier. You can't interact with people and public transportation is also, like, difficult to access because of the whole language barrier. It's very similar in Turkey as well. The good thing is that a lot of times, you have family or friends in Canada. If you don't have, try to network with people before coming so that you have someone who can help you with some of the basic things, because the amazing thing about North America is that once you get the hang of it, things are very straightforward, very structured. You should be able to find information and guidance on things, but you should know how to look for it.

Gurasis:

And I think you also came at a time where it started getting like dark by 5 pm. So you also must be thinking that what is happening here? The day is over just in like few hours.

Ali:

Exactly. Yeah, it's very challenging with a very small day and a very cold weather and with snow. I mean, I had seen snow before, but not like this, because it doesn't snow a lot, so it was a big shot.

Gurasis:

So you were talking about having that emergency funds initially when you come here and you were telling me also earlier that you didn't get a job for the longest time and your initial year was kind of challenging. Tell us about the whole first year. How was that like?

Ali:

Yeah, so I think the first year is always very challenging for any immigrant. Finding a job is like the first challenge that you face here. In my case, like I mentioned before, I was working in the agricultural chemical space, in marketing. Jobs like that are geared towards areas on the west side of Canada or the Paralympics, so I wanted to live in Ontario and so finding a job in that segment was very challenging. There were very few opportunities where I could find like for like so I had to transition my career. So I then started looking for jobs at smaller organizations.

Ali:

At that time I wasn't aware of how to build a resume for the Canadian market, how to prepare for interviews, so I was lucky enough to find someone through my network, someone who owned small agency like a digital marketing agency, where I started working as a contractual employee in the beginning.

Ali:

So I had to go back to the drawing board essentially to learn about this market, customers, the preferences, and when you work for an agency you're able to work with different clients and you're able to work with in different segments. So that helped me understand the market a lot better. And then I joined a program which was like a bridging program for new immigrants through access employment, where I was part of a group of I think 18 or 20 people who were all immigrants, were all in the sales and marketing industry and they were looking for a job in that industry. That program helped me understand how to approach the whole interview process, create a new resume from scratch for the Canadian market, and that helped me land a job at Canon, which is a Japanese camera and printer manufacturer, again in marketing and app transition since then to a financial services company called Lombard as marketing manager. Those were the steps that I took to understand the market better and then to approach my job that I'm looking for answers.

Gurasis:

You mentioned about this access employment I think a lot of my guests have also mentioned it who have transitioned into careers and who have we call it the initial start in Canada. Do you mind like elaborate a little bit on that for somebody who might not know about it?

Ali:

Okay, yeah. So access employment is a government funded organization based in the GTA. They have multiple locations throughout the Greater Toronto area and they are considered the experts in helping new immigrants find jobs or increase their probability of getting interviewed for positions in their field. So they have these bridging programs for different segments, like for engineering, for supply chain, for cloud computing. So I was part of the sales and marketing bridging group. So it was like a five week program, three hours a day on, delivered live on Zoom. It was a collaboration with Humber College. Humber College is also a very reputable college in Canada, so the curriculum, some part of the curriculum, was coming from them. So it was a great, great program. It helped me connect with a lot of people who are in the same boat as myself. People from all over the world, like India, china, japan, korea, sri Lanka, feel that everyone should sign up for similar programs. There are other programs similar to this one, but this definitely gave me the right information and the right guidance to approach my job search in a more structured way.

Gurasis:

So this was about you. Tell me, how was it like for your children and your wife? Like, did you guys at any point question even the decision of moving to Canada?

Ali:

Well, I did. But my wife has been a great motivator. She's never questioned this decision Of moving here. She's been motivating me and the kids. I think. Easy to understand.

Ali:

The kids were very young, so adjusting here wasn't a big issue for them. But it was challenging for me because finding a job, settling into a career, was a big challenge, especially given the fact that I was in a very stable career back in Pakistan. So for me it was a more psychological thing. Have I made the wrong decision? Why did I quit my job? I should have just taken a holiday, like a vacation, and come here and should have done a soft landing and I should have gone back. I mean, all those questions came to my mind. But I think my motivation came from my wife, who supported me throughout the process. And not only did she just say things to encourage me, she also supported me by taking care of the kids. The house chores allowed me time to focus on my job hunt, on my job itself. I used to sometimes go to the public library nearby and sit there and apply for jobs all day long. Literally from 9 AM to 5 PM, my only job was to apply for jobs.

Ali:

And then what she did next was incredible. She actually started her own business right from our apartment. She has a background in architectural engineering, but she had an interest in photography and she started a little photography business back in the horror as well. But here she started from our apartment. I was like why are you doing this? We don't have any space to, we don't have a studio space. And she was like just watch and see how it's done. She was that confident and gradually she built a very loyal base of customers and now she's very well established in that space. So I think it's about supporting each other, learning from each other. I think a lot of that confidence comes from having trust in your relationship.

Gurasis:

So you are going to complete your five years now, I believe in December, right? So how long did it take you for your first break to the first job, or what was the moment? Like you said, you questioned initially right, Goodbye, did I come here? Things were not going your way, so when was the moment you felt like, OK, now I think I can have a life in Canada? When was that moment?

Ali:

I think it's a difficult question. There were many moments where I felt very, very happy, but I feel like when I got my, when we as a family, when we got our citizenship last year, that was a great moment. When we became Canadians, Because it is one of those things which people strive for and people hope and pray for and work hard for and we were able to get that within four years. It became very easy for us because we decided to stick with it. Like a lot of people come here, they fly back to their native country or if they're working in some other country like, for instance, the Middle East or Singapore, they tend to go back and then they're never able to make that decision to finally come to Canada and get the citizenship and settle here forever. But we made that decision literally from day one and we decided to stick with it. And then we're really happy with that decision because I feel like we did not confuse ourselves by thinking of going back or regretting our decision of coming here.

Gurasis:

And just from my knowledge, I'm just curious to know does Pakistan also allow the dual citizenship or it does not?

Ali:

Yes, pakistan allows dual citizenship.

Gurasis:

Yeah, oh, wow, ok, so India does not, if you know it. I think that's one of the reasons people don't get the citizenship.

Ali:

Yes, I understand that India is among a lot of other countries that do not allow. I believe countries like Germany also don't allow dual citizenship. So yeah, thankfully Pakistan allows to have a dual citizenship of Pakistan and Canada.

Gurasis:

Ok, so Ali you have worked in Pakistan as well, like you just shared with us earlier, and you told us that your wife also had a business there and now she's continuing to run her business here in Canada as well, and you also work here in Canada. But I'm sure there must be a lot of culture differences, even in the working environment or how people even exchange and work with each other. Give us a comparison of working in Pakistan and comparing it to the other countries, and then you know you can also work in Pakistan and comparing it to working in Canada.

Ali:

Yes, I think that's a great question. Cultural understanding is very important for anyone to function in a society, and not the American culture not just Canadian, but not the American culture is very, very different from Pakistani culture. I think one of the major things that I noticed here was professionalism making sure that everyone is on time, what the requirements are. Communication is always very, very important in customer interaction and professional interaction. Also, I think the awareness level of the customers is very different.

Ali:

Customers here are very aware of whatever service or work you're providing. They are aware of your competitors, they are aware of their rights and in work culture, like when you go to work for any organization, you would feel that it's very different from South Asian culture because you're not supposed to always agree with your manager. You can challenge them, you can say things like sorry, I don't agree with you and this is the reason why I don't agree, and you can provide that reason. And a lot of times your manager will say, yeah, you're right, I was wrong, and that is something that you don't see a lot of times in South Asian culture. Also, in my wife's experience, I've seen that there are a lot of multicultural customers, so you have to be aware of using language that is appropriate, being very, very aware of different cultures.

Gurasis:

It must be challenging also for her to be able to really learn about the culture or the needs of the people from different cultures.

Ali:

Definitely so if a South Asian customer is coming in, definitely they would prefer a family shoot as compared to some of the other cultures that prefer individual shoots, and our families are larger as well. So you have eight people in the studio versus four people in the studio with some of the other cultures, and also you see that when you interact with people from different ethnic backgrounds, you learn a lot from them. So that is also something that you don't get in Pakistan, because it's more or less like Lahore and more or less is homogeneous, with the same language and culture, same set of values. That is a major difference. So, yeah, definitely. I mean, these are subtle things that you learn as you progress through your journey.

Gurasis:

Yeah, and I think you were also telling me earlier about some accessibility of certain resources, which is pretty good here comparing to Pakistan.

Ali:

Yeah, definitely. In the photography business, especially in newborn and maternity photography, which is my wife's niche you tend to use a lot of props and a lot of these outfits that are important for babies and mothers. The availability of those things is very, very easy in Canada as compared to Pakistan. So, yeah, definitely, this is the major challenge back there.

Gurasis:

Absolutely. And how would you define the work-like balance of Canada, comparing it to?

Ali:

Oh, it's amazing because in Pakistan, unfortunately, even in bigger organizations, there is plenty of unpaid overtime that you have to put into your job to be successful, and it's very competitive. It's competitive here as well, but nobody expects you to work overtime. If there's work that needs to be done, you would get approval from your manager and then you'll be paid for that overtime. So that's a major difference. And also, I feel like people in Canada think of themselves as being this person who has job.

Ali:

In Pakistan, a lot of people link their identity with their career and their job. Their lifestyle at work is all they have in their life, so they do not have a life outside of work. I mean, I'm not just talking about everyone, but definitely there are a lot of people who associate all of their identity in their entire life with their work. So, which is very unhealthy, because I think, as a father, as a husband, as a family person, it's important that I spend time with my family outside of work hours, which is very important for my kids as they're growing up. And this is the important of having a healthy work-life balance, which, honestly, I've realized now that I've come here, which I did not realize back in Pakistan.

Gurasis:

Unfortunately, that is the norm in India as well. People, I think their work is their life, but here in Canada, their job is part of their day. It's not their day or it's not their life, and that's something which I absolutely love. When I came here and interacted with the people and saw the culture, that was one of the things most fascinating to me when I started working here in Canada.

Ali:

Totally agree. Yes.

Gurasis:

So you mentioned earlier that you also went back to school and you started studying the immigration consultancy right and you work in the same and you have a business of your own and you do interact with a lot of immigrants from all around the world, different cultures. Once again, and I'm sure they were some commonly asked questions that come your way, or just like general interactions or certain cases that come your way that you can share and people can just learn from those.

Ali:

Yeah, thank you for that, yeah. So while I was searching for my job, someone suggested that why don't you do something in addition to your regular 9 to 5 job and try to find something that you can adjust with your schedule? And I ended up doing this immigration consulting course for six months and wrote the exam for the license, and I've been doing this on the site for almost two years now and I've met some very, very interesting, some very competent people through this work. No-transcript.

Ali:

I feel like Canada is definitely bringing some of the best talent from across the world here, and people who are very established in their careers, very successful, are giving up their life to come to Canada, which is a major, major change for them.

Ali:

But I feel like some of them are not as prepared for life which is, in some ways, more challenging than their lives back in countries like Pakistan, india, nigeria, china, philippines, because a lot of these people are from privileged backgrounds in cushy jobs.

Ali:

They have a lifestyle where they have five different people doing different work at home someone weighing their lawn, someone else cooking for them, someone cleaning their house. So those things are very different here, because you have to do a lot of that work on your own here, so that lifestyle is different. Also, people who are based in the Middle East are not used to paying taxes and the incomes in those countries are much, much higher. So when they come here, for them it's a big, big shock because, to the welfare state, you have to pay taxes. The wages in Canada are relatively lower. It's a big shock for them as well. So I think whoever is planning to come to Canada, they should talk to people who are already here and who've made that transition similar to their path, whatever their path is, if they're coming directly from their native country, like Pakistan.

Gurasis:

India.

Ali:

Philippines, or if they are coming through another country like Saudi Arabia or Oman, uae, where you're earning a lot more than your native country and you have a lifestyle that is far, far better than your native country.

Ali:

In many cases, people are not aware that Canada is a little different. It's a great country, but it's a Western country, right, so you have to do things on your own. So that is one thing I think. Whoever is coming, they should be aware that they need to be prepared financially, but also psychologically be prepared to do things on their own in this culture. Also, I've met people who are very comfortable in their lives. They are frustrated about a lot of things in their surroundings and they look up to people who live in Canada or the US and they want to move here, but they're not ready to take that plunge. Some of the people back in their native countries are very comfortable in their situation and, even though they're very competent to make it big in a country like Canada, they're so comfortable in their situations that they do not even try to apply. And I tell them that you have a lot of potential and you can be even more successful in a country like Canada with a free economy with access to the US market, so they should access Canada.

Gurasis:

Immigration so only we were also discussing earlier in our conversation that a lot of people who come to you, they are at such a desperate stage because their PR clock is ticking, their worker is expiring and they want to just get things done as quickly as possible. And they come to you and sometimes they ask you for the jobs and one of the responses not directly but the indirect responses the jobs are not in our pockets. It takes time, it takes work, it takes research and nothing will happen in a click. So I want to expand on that and the interactions that you have had with few of the immigrants.

Ali:

So, yeah, I think this is a great issue that I face day in, day out. People who come here are not used to finding jobs through networking, through meeting other people, through understanding what the job market looks like. A lot of people believe that applying online or through LinkedIn would be enough for them, which is definitely not the case. So it's important that you meet people in your industry, whether they are from your cultural background or not, but meet people through LinkedIn, through networking events, through other people that you know in your industry. Meet them, request them for their 15 minutes, take them out for coffee if that's possible, or set up a call on Zoom. Be very, very specific in your questions. Ask them what kind of jobs are available in the industry, request them to review your resume and ask them what kind of advice would they give you in your unique situation. So I think it's important that you reach out to people in your industry, in your job role, in your dream role, rather, and then ask them for advice, because they are the ones who know the industry much better than you and they can provide you advice that will help you. Also, a lot of people shy away from interacting with unknown people on LinkedIn because they feel that the other person might get offended or they might not get a good response.

Ali:

In my career, I've seen that if I have a premium LinkedIn membership, which is like a paid subscription, and if I reach out to people through their inbox, I get some great responses. That's because people understand that you're reaching out for a certain request or with a certain question that is relevant to you and it should also be relevant to them as well. For instance, if someone is applying for a job at a certain organization, I would highly encourage them to first apply online and then find some senior people in that organization and inbox them through LinkedIn with a very brief and to the point message which mentions why they are the most relevant candidate in that field. I try to do that for multiple employers and I'm telling you you'll get responses. You'll be surprised how many responses you'll get.

Ali:

My current job. I got back through this process and this was something that a friend of mine told me and it works wonders. But it's important that you invest time and energy in finding the right people, talking to them and asking the right questions. I think asking intelligent questions is half the battle. Once you convince the other person that you're asking the right questions. That is, when they realize that you are the relevant person for this position.

Gurasis:

Yeah, I think you said it so nicely that that's what I think people just forget that LinkedIn is a great platform. It's such a great resource that we now have we had before as well. I think when I came five years ago I had that. Maybe I didn't know I had the understanding how to use it properly, but it was in the pandemic when I really started reaching out to people and, yes, you were right, you'd be surprised that a lot of people reached out and they respond to you back and it did take time.

Gurasis:

Everybody is busy in their lives, obviously, but be a little patient and don't be disheartened or just get bogged down by having no response for a few people and it's absolutely fine.

Gurasis:

And also not to take things that personally, it's not about you, it is about their schedule and it's about their time whatever. And also, another thing you said is about the questions right, and I think I have always always said on the podcast it's not about having the right answers, it's about asking the right questions. That will leave you to the better responses, not just asking anything. You don't have to make a thorough research about the industry or the, for example, speaking to somebody who is in a position in the industry and you want to get into the same. The best thing is you ask them about the skills and ask them about what they did before they got into it. How did they get the job? How did they make that as you asked them, for example? Yeah, but even like, create it as you and give it to them and ask them to view it for you if they are willing to do so, yeah, I think the reason people shy away from doing something like that is because they're going off of their experience.

Ali:

In some of the Asian countries, unfortunately, the culture there is that people don't respond or people don't give their time. It's very different in Canada. People take out time, yeah, even if they're busy. A lot of people have given me advice. I can give you an example of a guy who used to work for Bell. Okay, he was an Indian guy. I didn't know him at all. I just saw his LinkedIn profile and while I was going through his profile, I found something very interesting in his profile and I messaged him and immediately he came back with his phone number and he said I have 15 minutes. If you're available, you can call me, and some of the advice that this guy gave me during this phone call changed the entire perspective that I had about the job search. In some other situations I've reached out to people and I've asked them to review my resume. That has gone really well because they've given me ideas to add projects and to add volunteering work to my resume. They've recommended deleting some of the information that might not be relevant to a particular employer.

Gurasis:

Exactly.

Ali:

So tailoring your resume for every job is also a very important part. A lot of people in Pakistan they just tend to create one resume and send it out to like a million jobs. That's not going to work in Canada. You need to tailor your resume for every single job, and something that our counselor at Access guided us was, like it's easier to delete stuff than add new stuff. So what she made us do was create a resume, a four page long resume, which had every single thing about our experiences, and then, for every job, she made us delete stuff from that master resume and make it into a two page resume. So it was a much faster process and for every job, I was able to spend like an hour editing my resume, tailoring it and then writing the cover letter. So it became a much faster process. So if you are not writing a tailored cover letter, if you're not editing your resume for every single job, you're not doing your share of the work which needs to be put in to find the best job for your situation.

Gurasis:

So, at least since you are a listener of the podcast, you know that no topic is off the table on this podcast, whether it's seratile, whether it's racism, and I remember having like a brief discussion with you about this topic in our early conversation that you have had the pleasure of speaking with people who have lived in Europe, who have visited Europe. You also have some friends who lived in, visited Europe as well and comparing the culture from there to Canada. In Canada, yes, there is racism, but it is always called out, but that's not the norm in Europe or in many other parts of the world. I want to tell a little bit more about those interactions that you have had with your friends and other people who have visited Europe or even some other parts of the world, comparing it to Canada.

Ali:

So in my experience, what I've seen in the experience, the difference of the experience between people in North America versus European countries is that in North America, people are allowed, like immigrants are allowed to be themselves. This is a place where people are able to come, live and maintain their culture, maintain their language, their lifestyle. In Europe they do that, but they're always under that pressure to conform, which definitely is something that impacts the way they think about themselves, the way they bring up their children, and I feel like the freedom that Canada and the US provide to immigrants is very different, because if you see racism, you're going to see a lot of racism. It is there. It's not like this is heaven and we don't have racism, but it's called out. There are cultural barriers to engaging in racism here, so it's not easy to be racist and to get away with it, especially at a workplace, and there are plenty of minority communities in Canada and the US, so you're always able to find allies, not only among your communities members, but also among other community members. So I think it's a great place for immigrants and also, like you, have so many different cultural events going on, especially in the Greater Toronto area right here, so I had a friend come from Germany.

Ali:

He's been living in Germany for over a decade now. He loves that country, the welfare system and everything, but now he has family here. His sister lives here, his parents were visiting here and when he tried different types of Desi food here, he's like this is amazing, this is better than going back to Pakistan. So, and when you look at the calendar full of events from different cultures throughout the year, you realize that living as a Pakistani or an Indian or a Filipino or a Ukrainian is so much easier here. You're able to maintain your identity and still be part of this, of the mainstream of this country, which is very, very unique. You don't have many countries who do this sort of a mosaic of different cultures. So this is unique and this is. This is the reason I and my family felt so proud of becoming Canadian citizens, because we can be whoever we want to be and still be Canadians. So there's this acceptance in your lifestyle. There is acceptance of your lifestyle and the way you want to live your life.

Gurasis:

Yeah, yeah, you know, I have also witnessed some situations in context racism where they considered it. They considered that, yes, it's there and it's time that they should stop. But I think the whole conversation around the DEI is ongoing and I think there is still a long way to go regarding that, but I think, yes, we do see the change happening. Sure.

Ali:

Yeah, definitely Like this. This country is leading a lot of those conversations, which is very impressive because there are a lot of other countries that are very developed, very advanced societies, but the level of integration that we have in Canada is is very hard to find in some of the other parts of the world.

Gurasis:

So now we're in the final segment of the podcast. I call it beneath the accent because we are knowing each other beneath the accent. I'm going to ask a couple of questions. You can answer them in one word or a sentence, or how civil you feel like. The idea is just to know more about you. So ready, yeah. So tell me, what advice would you give to your younger self, and at what age?

Ali:

Yeah, age eight and I would say be more like follow your dreams, be focused more on what you want to do rather than be pressured by someone else.

Gurasis:

But why that age?

Ali:

Because I feel like there is a lot of unnecessary pressure on kids in our culture to conform, and this person or that person, that one is looking at, his cousin, that one is doing it this way, so there's a lot of comparison with people in our culture. So every parent has their own favorite other person who they compare you with, and I'm not like. I'm not trying to criticize my mom's parenting style, because every mom is like that in that culture.

Gurasis:

Everybody. I come from the same culture.

Ali:

So I mean, I really love my mom and she did the best for me, but I feel like there's a lot of pressure on my mom it's not just my mom Like there are other people in the family telling you to do what this other person is doing. Nobody says that you have to carve out your own path, like you have to do things in your own style and that's okay, right. You don't have to follow someone's example, you can do things in your own way, and I think that's the kind of confidence that we are at least trying to give our kids.

Gurasis:

Okay, is there something you recently bought and you're now regret?

Ali:

I've learned to be frugal since I came to Canada. I used to do that a lot in Pakistan, especially with clothes. But now I've come to a realization that, and also like I've watched this minimalist documentary on Netflix and all these things so I've come to a realization that we shouldn't buy stuff just to just to buy stuff just for the sake of owning stuff. So I've changed myself and probably because I'm growing older, so I've become a little more responsible with my, with my finances. But I used to buy a lot of clothes that I that I wasted back in Pakistan.

Gurasis:

If you had to describe yourself as an creature, what would it be?

Ali:

Oh, that's a very interesting question. I would say a dove piece.

Gurasis:

Okay, what's next on your bucket list?

Ali:

Oh yes, so in my immigration field, I have come across many different types of cases and different types of clients, but now I've begun focusing on business immigration and that is that is something that I'm very, very exciting, I excited about in this year and the next year. So bringing people, their money and their experience all to Canada, because I want, I want Canada to be a successful country.

Gurasis:

Okay, so who's your go to person when you feel stuck?

Ali:

Oh, it's a friend of mine. There's Mubin. He is the ultimate person in my life who gives me some amazing advice.

Gurasis:

What's the most unusual or unique food that you have tried and did you like it?

Ali:

Unique food I tried, cow say, a few months ago. It's a, cow, says. I don't know how to describe it. It's a, it's a. It's a dish with noodles and some sort of a gravy. It's, it's. It originated in Burma, but somehow a lot of Mamon families in Karachi adopted this food and and it's become their symbol now. So I tried that in in Canada a few months ago and I really liked it. It was very different. It was a mix of Southeast Asian and and they see food.

Gurasis:

So very interesting food. Yeah, yeah, if you could swap lives with somebody for a day, who would it be If?

Ali:

go. I would say Neil Armstrong, because he was my childhood hero, or rather like almost every kid's hero, because we read about the moon landings and Neil Armstrong and how he prepared for everything and how he was amazing and how he was cool. And a lot of parents in my circle used to say, like you should not just dream, for you should not dream to become a doctor or an engineer, dream big, think about becoming an astronaut. And so the only name that we had in mind was Neil Armstrong at that time. So maybe like a legend in my time.

Gurasis:

And do you have any quirky habits or rituals that you follow in a daily routine?

Ali:

So I try to wake up early every morning and do some yoga, but somehow, if I miss that time, I am not able to do any exercise throughout the day, which is a totally illogical habit, because exercise is exercise. If you don't do it any other time of the day, that should be fine. But I don't know. I need to go with a flow. So that's sort of a quirky habit that I have.

Gurasis:

If you could be a contestant for any reality TV show, which one would you choose, and why?

Ali:

I would go for Kaan Bhadne ka Karoor Pati just to meet Mr Amida Bachchan. He is an incredible source of inspiration for all of my family because my parents used to watch his movies and I used to watch his movies and we still do so just to see him.

Gurasis:

So imagine you are planning like a dinner party and you can invite three public figures or celebrities. Who would you invite?

Ali:

I don't know if you know about the book Deep Work written by Dr Kalan Jupor, and I would invite him because he is a big source of inspiration for me in terms of how I structure my life now in terms of productivity and managing my time, managing my energy and focus. And I don't know if you know about this YouTuber called Ali Abdaal, out of the UK.

Gurasis:

Absolutely.

Ali:

I love him, so I would want to meet him as well, because he is also a very interesting person and I have come to enjoy his videos, his work, very productive, someone who has a lot of depth. So yeah, these two folks. I really have been inspired by Kalan Jupor. Over the last like two years or so, I've been reading his books, I've been following a lot of the advice that he gives, which is amazing.

Gurasis:

You missed the third one.

Ali:

Oh yeah, so yeah. Third one would also be Dr Andrew Huberman from Huberman Labs. He's also a big source of inspiration for me. I've watched his videos.

Ali:

Some of that content is very complicated and complex in terms of the science and stuff like that, but he's also someone who's on a mission to make the complicated stuff make it simple for people to understand and implement in their lives. So I mean, I've come to a point in my life maybe I'm growing older but I've come to admire people who are very knowledgeable but very humble and try to make knowledge and complex things accessible to people like myself or many people who do not have access to, like scientific literature or do not have the skill set to decipher complicated studies and knowledge. So I think it's important in this day and age where we have access to all these channels, it's important for people who have knowledge to make it easy for a lay audience to start understanding that knowledge and then implementing it in our lives, because we have a lot of information but we don't have a lot of knowledge in today's world.

Gurasis:

So I see that you're pretty passionate about these people and these content creators. Are there any other content creators, or maybe any even Netflix series, for example? If you have any would like to recommend.

Ali:

I would say it's a slightly older documentary on Netflix, but it's called Digital Dilemma. So I would advise everyone to watch that documentary because that shows why all of us are so addicted to our phones and the kind of impact it's having on our attention spans, on our ability to learn. It has impacted us all very, very negatively. So I think it's important that all of us watch Digital Dilemma to understand what's going on.

Gurasis:

Was it Digital Dilemma or Social Dilemma? I believe.

Ali:

Oh, I'm sorry. Yeah, I think the name was Social Dilemma.

Gurasis:

Yeah, I have seen that. It's amazing. Next is Describe Canada in one word or a sentence.

Ali:

A mosaic, because a mosaic is where you have different colors and different patterns come together and they look beautiful when you look at it.

Gurasis:

So, finally, if you could leave me with one piece of advice, what would it be?

Ali:

Keep doing what you're doing. This is amazing. Please don't let anyone or anything discourage you, because you are connecting people who need advice, motivation and encouragement to be their best and be very, very successful, because everyone who comes to Canada is very unique and they have something in them. That's why they came here. So I would encourage you to keep doing what you're doing, because you're impacting so many lives with this.

Gurasis:

Thank you. Thank you, Ali, for your kind words and thank you for being on the podcast and adding value to my listeners. Thank you.

Ali:

Thank you so much, Graces. It's been an incredible experience sharing my story. Hope it helped someone.

Gurasis:

I'm sure it will. Thank you, hey listener, thank you for making it to the end. I highly highly appreciate you listening to the podcast. Subscribe to the podcast if you haven't as yet, and please share with your friends or anybody you think would like it. And, like I always say, we encourage you to follow your heart but also us on Instagram, the handle is @MyThickAccent . You can also leave us a review or write to us at hello at Hello@mythickaccent. com. So stay tuned and let's continue knowing each other beneath the accent.

Welcoming Ali
Diversity in Pakistan
From Vibrant Streets of Pakistan to Welcoming Embrace of Canada
Questioning The Decision of Moving Abroad
Commonly Asked Questions By Immigrants
Racism & Cultural Acceptance in North America
Tried Unique Foods