A quarter of the visible minority population in Canada is South Asian so it only makes sense that our struggles are kindda real too. It's not always easy being a Desi in Toronto but at least our eyebrow game is surpassed our city's fashion standards. Whether you are Indian, Pakistani, Bengali or Sri-Lankan, you can relate.
1. There are either too many of us or we’re entirely singled out
Of course having gorgeous brown skin does not come at a cheap price. We can sense our fellow Desis from a mile away. But in group settings there is no middle ground for our numbers. We either take it over or become a token visible minority.
2. Toronto biryani is good, but Mama’s biryani is always better
I’ve had the privilege of having not just international biryani from Karachi’s street styled rice to Markham’s Best Biryani to big time joints like Lahore Tikka House, but nothing ever compares to mama hands. Maybe its her essence or maybe its her one secret ingredient to turn the rice yellow or maybe its the X gallons of oil she puts in, there is truly nothing better than your mom’s homemade biryani on a Sunday afternoon. Sorry chef Ramsey, try again.
3. Being on ALL the dance teams and your entire family comes to support you
Being Desi, Bollywood runs in your veins and will continue to no matter what part of the world you travel to. Sure you can get down at Government but when they start playing Shila Ki Jawaani, your inner Katrina Kaif surfaces. You’re also the first to audition for your school’s cultural show cases. And if, excuse me, I mean WHEN you get the part, your family and cousins trice over are there to cheer you on no matter what. They’re probably half the crowd to be honest.
4. Parents forcing your friends to eat when they come over
Your parents just can’t take no for an answer. And because you already know the results, you warn your friends that its better to say yes then to delay the augment which they’ll eventually will lose either way. When your friends finally gave in and say they’ll have ONLY ONE serving, they still get a decorated mountainous plate of goods enough for a mission trip to the moon and back. But you gotta love your friends open minded Torontonian spirit to always be willing to try new foods.
5. Cricket in your blood but Jays on your head
You most probably know nothing about cricket but when there is a match your Desi senses kick in and you automatically start yelling at the TV from timezones away. Even though you try to embrace the spirit, your inner Blue Jays still wonders why there are only two bases and why the bats are flat..
6. On the go hot sauce
There is spicy and then there is Desi spicy. You can order a spicy chicken burger at Poppeys but you’ll make sure to ask for extra packs of hot sauce on the side while you return the ketchups. It’s either that or carrying a travel sized hot sauce bottle everywhere you go. This gets really problematic when you want to share a plate with your friends and they eat mild.
Plot twist: Homemade Desi food is too spicy for you while other take out is just too plain.
7. Starting to swear in Hindi/Urdu when in a heated debate
We've all been here: when calling someone Toronto insults like 'basic' when you're 'cheezed' because they need to 'swerve' out of your vicinity just isn't enough, you remember your dad yelling in your native language while driving and spew those dirty words. The best part, you're probably not using them in the right context but its okay because the other person doesn't get it either.
8. Gerrard Street memories consist of getting your clothes dirty by eating pani puri
Gerrard Street, also known as little India, is bae when you need a nice bargain. Eating a messy plate of goul guppas while the water drips from the side of your mouth is literally a go to on summer evenings or on festivals like Eid and Diwali.
9. Desi Fest Toronto is on point
Every year you and your friends head down for some Desi beats at Young and Dundas. Even though its crowded as ef, you manage to show off your Bollywood moves with your besties surrounded by sweaty wannabe rappers. The crazy DJ names slowly start to sink in and you always make the most of the night.
10. There are 500 versions of your name: your family's and one for everyone else
It sounds so sweet and kind when your family pronounces your name in conversations but you have to listen extra carefully when the substitute teacher takes attendance or you'll be marked absent for not raising your hand. Not to mention the barista always spells your name wrong on the cup. Nonetheless, you would never trade it because your culture is your pride.