Edmonton Diaries: Genesis

Edmonton sometimes feels like a confluence of past, present and future.

Edmonton, Alberta

I came to Edmonton in 2007. I first heard of Alberta during my job search days of 2005. I was just fresh out of college and was looking for a job. Being a Chemical Engineer, like just any fresher out there, I just googled ‘Chemical engineer jobs’ and the first search result was a posting from the Alberta Research Council for chemical engineers. Being a fresher, I was sensible that applying for this job was a no go, since it needed someone with tons of experience. But as they say, ‘fortune favours the brave’, I applied and in days, I received a rejection letter, which politely refused my application. I was not surprised, but I was awoken to this new place in Canada, namely Edmonton where ARC is situated.

Outside Canada, the three Canadian cities that are renowned are known by an acronym MTV-Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. In the recent past, Calgary has started to get famous due to the economic boom arising from the massive oilsands development in the province of Alberta. But what escapes people’s attention, is that the actual surprise of Alberta is the lovely city of Edmonton.

When I first landed in Edmonton, the scale of city surprised me. I came from Abu Dhabi, a city of never ending construction boom and having seen the mad building boom in Dubai, Edmonton stuck to me as an oddity. Here I was in a place that had the second largest oil deposits and its city looked like a blast from the past. It was almost as if I had got into a time machine and went back decades into time. The Edmonton downtown was a pale, pale shadow when compared to any of the oil rich Middle Eastern capitals.

But what sets this city apart is its people and the friendliness and openness embraced by them. Throughout all 4 seasons, the city hosts a myriad of events which has helped it rightly own the title of ‘Cultural Capital of Canada’. It has everything for everyone and its one million population represents a melting pot of cultures.

Infrastructural progress is slow here but thats the way things happen around here. It takes it time and is done well. Dubai built an entire metro rail by the time LRT extended from University to Century park.

Edmonton sometimes feels like a confluence of past, present and future. It sometimes feels that it has just begun its growth into a city as the suburbs expand rapidly in the outskirts of the city. It sometimes feels like the growth has stagnated and there is nothing more left for the city to grow. But it survives and keep going on and on.

To be continued..

Happy New Year. Edmonton is here.

Hello all and welcome to a brand new year. Hope you have a great time this year.

Greetings to you from the winter city of Edmonton. Edmonton is the capital city of the prosperous Canadian province of Alberta. I have been a resident of this city for the past 7 years and has been witness to its excellent growth and progress. Previously known as the ‘Gateway to the North’, this city owes its boom to a vibrant and disciplined oil and gas industry that manages oil reserves which is second in comparison to Saudi Arabia.

Edmonton is now what I call home. I have experienced the best and the worst that this city has had to offer me. Being an immigrant, in all my time here, never did I ever feel that I was unaccepted. The people are warm, friendly and full of hope for the best that life has to offer. Being a winter city this city has its share of winter joy and helplessness. In spring, summer and fall this city is an absolute paradise. The air is clean and crisp and the feeling is beyond words.

Edmonton is also a sunny city and has the maximum exposure to sun that any city in North America. Having a diverse mix of residents from all over the world, this city is a true global city.

It is this diversity and hope that The Raya seeks to epitomise. We seek to help our readers in defining the next big opinion that would change themselves and contribute in the progressive march of our society. It is with this intention that we have decided to dedicate a significant section of the blog to all things Edmonton commencing from this year onwards. Before you begin to worry, please be advised that all the other sections would also be addressed with equal vigour.

Edmonton being a global city and an absolutely incredible place to live in, it would be befitting that the stories from this city are resonated in this blog for our readers from all over the world. These stories would seek to inspire, provoke and define your opinion as we move to a society that is in fact a melting pot. In such a society, everyone is equal in spite of their colour, caste, creed or sexual orientation.

Enjoy The Raya this year for some simple and inspirational writing.


Guest Post: To Discover The Me in Me

I want to do the smallest deed with fiery love, so that I embark on the path of excellence and feel intellectually renowned. I want to feel the benevolence of this world and not the burns of its disasters. I want to use the gifts of adulthood to fill colour and content to the vast green fields of my life.

As I journey towards the northern lands of Alberta to reunite with my soulmate, I’m engulfed with mixed feelings. Like most times its the dimmer, “feeling low” side of the emotion that stands out. There’s only an inkling of excitement towards opening up to a bright new weekend and an inkling more to feel up the pleasures of companionship. The clarity I’ve developed in deciphering the ratios of feeling types at this phase in life is the gift of adulthood to me. I’ve realized that a full blown mature adult has the power to feel life and the reigning universe with all its multiverses. Deep meditation, introspection and fitness for a clear mind makes more sense now than ever before. The mystical gift of deciphering feelings is a heart touching one indeed, but when it all leads one to feel up the low side of things it gets much more than a tad bit annoying.

So, looking out at the vast lush green fields as I journey, doesn’t fill me with hope and brightness, rather it resounds with this eeery feeling of vast emptiness that surrounds my existence. Luckily the adult me who’s introspected just too well, knows the feeling place of this emptiness. It sadly arises from the knowledge that the world is a stage and I’m an insipid actor rather an extra in the play, lacking passion and adorning sluggishness covering my face from the audience, waiting for the curtains to drop.The hope lies in the account that the hunger and passion I had when I set out to audition for my role hasn’t extinguished yet. It lies deep down in the valley of nothingness wanting to climb up the steep slopes and show up at the horizon. Such are the pains of adulthood.

Having turned 27 this year, I’ve assessed the pains and some of the undeniable pleasures that intertwine and complicate adulthood. Pleasures of knowing what love with and without lust is, what nature really does and doesn’t and that fiery ambition is all it takes to get the standing ovation on this world stage. The accompanying pains  being that with love comes compromise and sacrifice, with natural benovelance comes disasters and with every fiery ambition there is inertia, sluggishness and jeering from the audience. It is this pain that empties my soul, undermines passion and catapults it to the pits of nothingness. In times of pleasure and ambition, I’d rather strangle the over powering pain of lowliness and emerge a warrior against physical and mental resistance.

Henceforth the ambitious me wants to forget my past as a failed actor. I want to kick start my passion each time it’s plagued by inertia and sluggishness. I want to do the smallest deed with fiery love, so that I embark on the path of excellence and feel intellectually renowned. I want to  feel the benevolence of this world and not the burns of its disasters. I want to use the gifts of adulthood to fill colour and content to the vast green fields of my life.

Tinu Abraham

Image Courtesy: Reddit

RBC: Serve them not. Teach them to serve themselves!

Today yours truly, went to the nearby RBC bank to withdraw money  from his account. Unusual for a Saturday, there was a long lineup of people waiting to be served by the teller. Due to the recent CBC allegations into RBC-iGate-foreign worker scandal, the RBC staff was being too nice to many ‘pissed off’ customers for a change. Normal transactions that took minutes before, took forever to complete and the line kept growing.

After what seemed like an eternity in time coordinates, it was the turn of yours’ truly to be served. As I walked up to the counter, I tried to strike a conversation with the teller. After the customary introduction, without wasting any chance, I asked her “In the wake of the recent controversy, have you seen any increase in account closedowns, in this branch?” The lady looked at me sternly, following which she sheepishly said “no comments”. As my transaction went through, and after she handed me my money, she spoke “I am here to work, I have been paid to work and I try not to know anything!”. I nodded my appreciation.

As I walked out, I could see that the welcome teller post had been totally revamped with a multitude of self-help, touch screen computers where all your questions from house loans to mutual fund investments can be availed by clicking on the options displayed on the touch screens. I turned back at the teller posts, where there were three ‘human’ tellers working and wondered ‘how long before they too…?’.

I am a Hindu Christian!


“Not until we see the richness of the Hindu mind and its essential spirituality can we understand India” Lyn Yutang

Couple of days ago, on Diwali, I had a great time with my friends. For the first time in my life, I went for a Diwali party with my friends. It was at the house of one of my North Indian friends here in Edmonton with his parents and his brother. After the initial gup-shup about politics and current affairs, we had puja conducted by my friend’s dad, the man of the house. It was an awesome experience on my part to take part in that puja. The puja lasted about 15-20 minutes during which yours truly also had the privilege to offer prayers to Goddess Lakshmi. According to the Puranas, the goddess of Wealth, Prosperity and Luck Lakshmi was born from the churning of the Milk Ocean, along with other magical beings and objects including Amrit, Kamadhenu, Chintamani, Halahal aka Poison, etc. I stood there and prayed these few words ‘ My God and my father, to me, you are everywhere and you are the very one we offer prayers now, bless us your children who offer prayers now on this auspicious day’. It was simply powerful and magical. I felt a voltage surge through my body (it happens always when I pray with that realm of spirituality, a vindication to me that God has listened to my prayer that very moment). I felt gladder than never before in my whole life. After the puja, we went to the mandir in Millwoods and offered prayers there also. Not to forget the awesome display of fireworks that completes the festival of lights!

Recently, there was very big debate regarding this very issue in the local church I go to. To the non-discerning reader, I am a reformed Syrian Christian (Nasrani) following the traditional Orthodox church of Kerala. The debate was over one of the members, actually following Hinduism or the various aspects associated with it. The debate was pretty fierce but it actually did open a whole new strain of thoughts which I feel I should share with you people. As a background, as mentioned earlier, I come from a reformed Orthodox churchwhich is very liberal in nature. Four of our ten bishops did their post graduation in Bhagavad Gita so as the official stance of our church that believes in our strong roots in the community. Again the reader might pose a question regarding why did the debate happen in your church in the first place. Well again the influx of right wing Pentecostal Christianity into the various spheres of the church has diminished whatever that remained of our strong traditions and propagated a false sense of teaching that is anti Christian and anti tradition.

I am proud to say that my church is so liberal in this method of thinking in a day where Hinduism is confused by many as a religion. To me Hinduism never was and is never a religion, its a culture. My culture and the culture of every proud Indian. The thaali that even Indian Christian woman wear today that symbolizes marriage is a powerful epitome of our culture and its strides, Similar is the case when we commemorate Onam, Diwali, Holi etc. These are inclusive of any religious setup as such. The respect we show to our elders; love for everyone irrespective of caste, color and creed; family values of love, honesty and trust; arranged marriages; etc are all Indian or to be specific Hindu in nature. The friendship, trust and respect that Duryodhana had for Karna, Krishna instructing Arjuna in battle which later became the Bhagavad gita, the ability of Ram to sacrifice and go to vanavas though he was wronged; the sacrifice of Mahabali; the motherly love of Yasoda; the faith of Draupadi to Krishna, the Hindu mythology has scores of examples that we Indian Christians boldly claim as part of our rich heritage and tradition. So I guess when we boldly claim all these, shouldn’t we be calling ourselves Hindu Christians?

If the teachings of Jesus who became Christ through his death and resurrection inspires us Christians to follow all these Hindu traditions from wearing thaali, to folded hands in prayers and the drawing of cross, I believe we are to be rightfully called Hindu Christian and I am proud to be one. Wouldn’t this thought actually help drive us from animosity as seen in Orissa and many other places to one of brotherhood and love. Far as I know, Jesus never wanted to convert anyone leave alone even establish a religion. He wanted his followers to spread his message to the ends of the earth. His legacy was his teaching which through eons, morphed into a religion of convenience for the Romans who incorporated their then fledgling beliefs into Christianity as the new religion was called. Antioch where the believers were called Christians took a different rout as some ended up being part of the East Roman Empire or the Byzantine Empire ultimately culminating in the Ottoman Empire. We see that Christianity was always a teaching and the dire straits that the Church finds itself today is because of the inability of the church to accept this very fact.

When St.Thomas the Apostle brought this teaching to India and people followed him, they dint leave their strong traditions behind. It was alleged that St.Thomas converted over 400 Brahmin families in India. But later on when the Roman Catholic missionaries came, they were surprised to see Christians in this part of the world with stronger Christ-like values, living in harmony with other religions than they could ever imagine. It made their task easier. That to me friends, should be the stand of Christians today. We are simply proud Hindus who have accepted the teachings of Christ into our lives. Let this belief lead us. We will be secular in a way we never thought we could and through our lives, people will actually realize what made Jesus the Christ he became in the end. Through this propagating the teachings of Christ will be easier and we can save more souls than we could ever imagine.