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The stories my peers from Ontario told me about getting homesick in Canada felt like some kind of prank as I still have not faced anything similar in the Third. I wondered why, then I started noticing how similar the Third’s culture was to mine, a surprising resemblance in ways of life to cultural heritage and politics, I couldn't help but marvel at the uncanny similarities that connect this remote island with my beloved homeland of Kerala, India. From the flavours that grace our plates to the rhythms that fill the air, the Third and Kerala share a unique bond that has made this corner of Canada feel like a second home to me.

Food: A Fusion of Flavors

Just as the backwaters of Kerala are known for their tranquil beauty, Cape Breton's bays and inlets offer a serene backdrop for an extraordinary culinary journey. The locals here embrace their roots with a passion for seafood that resonates with the seafood-rich cuisine of Kerala. While the seafood chowder might not be the spicy fish curry I grew up with, its heartiness and coastal charm remind me of my mother's cooking.

The emphasis on the farm (or Ocean)-to-table freshness here is reminiscent of the way we embrace locally sourced ingredients back in Kerala, where spices and coconut make our dishes come alive. In the Third, I've found a willingness to explore new flavours and adapt to different cultures that mirrors our Keralite openness to diverse influences.

Alcohol Culture: A Toast to Community

From the energetic ceilidhs in village halls to the toddy shops nestled amidst Kerala's lush greenery; the social aspect of alcohol is an undeniable link between the two worlds I hold dear. Just as Thirders gather to share stories over a pint of craft beer, Keralites come together to savor coconut toddy and share laughter.

Both cultures understand that it's not just about the drink itself, but the camaraderie that it fosters. This sense of community, fostered over a drink, reminds me that no matter where I am, the human spirit craves connection and togetherness. The joy of raising a glass, whether it's to the sweetness of cider or the sweet tang of palm toddy, serves as a universal thread binding people together.

Nature's Embrace: Landscapes that Connect

While the terrains of Kerala and Cape Breton may appear as divergent as night and day, their shared reverence for nature creates an indelible link. The lush backwaters of Kerala evoke the tranquility of Cape Breton's inlets and bays. The constant presence of the Atlantic Ocean's breeze mirrors the soothing rhythms of Kerala's own Arabian Sea. These geographical parallels highlight the universal appreciation for nature's beauty, a sentiment that resonates across continents.

Navigating Potholes and Imperfections

As I navigate the roads of the Third, the familiar jolt of hitting a pothole draws an unexpected connection to my Kerala roots. Just as Kerala's winding roads are marked by imperfections, Cape Breton's rugged landscape sometimes gives rise to road challenges. Yet, it's these idiosyncrasies that add character to the journey. Embracing these imperfections has shown me that whether in Kerala or the Third, the road itself is as much a part of the adventure as the destination.

Harmonizing Through Art and Melodies

The evocative melodies of Cape Breton's fiddles and bagpipes have struck a chord deep within me, reminiscent of the classical ragas that grace Kerala's temples. In both lands, music, and art are avenues for cultural expression and preservation. The intricate tapestry of creativity and storytelling that Cape Bretoners weave mirrors the cultural pride and heritage that define Kerala's artistic traditions.

Island Identity vs. Mainland Contrast

Keralites have long embraced their uniqueness from the rest of India, and similarly, Cape Bretoners take pride in their island identity. This geographical separation fosters a tight-knit sense of community that resonates with the ethos of Kerala's close-knit villages. Whether it's the way locals gather at community events or the shared respect for nature's bounty, the spirit of an islander holds common ground with that of a Keralite.

As I reflect upon my journey from Kerala to the Third, I am filled with gratitude for the unexpected similarities that have made this place a haven of familiarity. While my peers in Ontario and other provinces might pine for home, I find solace in the thread that links Kerala and Cape Breton. These shared aspects of food, drink, nature, music, and community have woven a narrative of unity, proving that despite oceans and miles, a sense of belonging knows no bounds.

These common threads have woven a narrative of unity, reinforcing the truth that connections can be forged even in the unlikeliest of places.

Photos by and Vivek Kumar on Unsplash

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