Arshed Bhatti’s Story

I regularly cross ‘borders’ in my ‘physical present’, while on the parallel, in my mind, I keep crossing several borders as I interact with diverse and affable others in Canada.

I have crossed several international borders in the last 20 years; and I feel, many since my birth.

I live in Vaughan, which has internal borders of its sub-cities (Woodbridge, Maple, Concord); travel to work in Brampton and thus notice as I cross from York Region to Peel region, and vice versa.

I go to do a TV show in Mississauga (once every week), and enter Toronto from ‘GTA’ twice every week.

Inside me, the border crossing keeps happening as I interact with different skin-colours and step in to another language.

I feel at home with  people who my mind tells are ‘friends’ – regardless of skin colour,  gender or other sub-identities.

Once the ‘at home’ feeling smiles inside, the barriers and borders of language and culture coalesce, harmonize or evaporate.

It seems, ‘border crossing’ is something continuing from my previous generations: my parents were ‘forced-migrated’ in 1947 from East to West Punjab, from ‘home’ to a ‘homeland’, from being ‘at home’ to being ‘on the edge’ for the rest of their lives. The ‘home’ they left never coalesced with the ‘homeland’ they found themselves in.

I, as a 12 year old, moved from a village to a small city; to a bigger city (Lahore) in my teens; to the capital city (Islamabad) in my 20s; to Tokyo and London in my 30s; to Toronto in my 40s; and to a realization of this phenomenon of ‘part-choice-part-imperative’ of this self-propelled ‘floating’ last year.

The walk continues, but the journey seems slower than the physical movement. The cross-orbiting in the mind doesn’t stop, not even in dreams.

This ‘crossing over’ seems to be the next most frequent thing to breathing in my case.


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The Art Gallery of Mississauga is a guest upon the Treaty Lands and Territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit. This ancient land is part of the Treaty Lands and Territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit and the traditional homelands of the Anishinaabe, Wendat, and Haudenosaunee nations.