By Kinjal Dagli-Shah
Seven hours away from Canada, and homesickness took on a whole new meaning for my three-year-old. As we landed in Zurich, Switzerland, and waited to be checked into our tiny (by North American standards) hotel room, my daughter began missing her own space and asked when we planned to return home! It took your parents a few months to plan this trip with two kids in tow, and we haven’t even been here a day, I responded, but only in my mind. (After all, I was to need all her co-operation in the days to follow.)
As we took in the beauty of the mesmerizing Swiss and Austrian alps, ‘I miss my Canada home’ became a kind of mantra we would hear every time she was tired, hungry or in need of comfort. As we travelled further to the enthralling city of Prague and onwards to Budapest, from where I write this column, we took in sights and sounds we had only heard of or read about. Museums and monuments, rivers and Renaissance, we walked as far as our tired feet took us and absorbed as much as our entranced minds would. For the rest, we vowed to come back. There were times when my daughter missed ’Daddy’s Canada car’, and we did too, especially when it rained and we had to rush to buy an umbrella at a palace in Salzburg that cost us 22 Euros. The many times that she fell asleep in her stroller as we were returning to our various hotels, I could bet she was dreaming of her Canada home, the children on our street, the stores and parks in Stouffville, and Miss Janet at the library.
In time, of course, we too missed the things we are used to back home and so often take for granted – elevators and English-speakers. Europe is beautiful, and this has been a dream vacation. But the soulful rendition of ’O Canada! Our home and native land’ by the father-daughter duo that I heard as I walked into our hotel room after breakfast this morning would have overshadowed even the most famed operas of central Europe.
Kinjal Dagli-Shah is a writer/journalist and mother to a girl and a boy. When she’s not tending to the machinations of her million dollar family, she likes to appreciate, equally, the bounties of nature and the beauty of raising complex human beings. She lives with her husband and children in Stouffville.