News that India was restoring electronic visa services for Canadian nationals was a huge relief for Anishkumar Narayanan of Dieppe and his family.
Narayanan, a longtime chef who runs an Indian food truck business in New Brunswick, said he and his wife were able to travel to India without visas.
But their six-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter, both born in Canada, require visas for the annual trip to visit the couple’s parents.
Visas were suspended for two months after Canada alleged the South Asian country was involved in the assassination of a Sikh separatist in Canada. The electronic service was restored this week.
Narayanan, who was born in Mysuro in southwest India, said his children had been asking him every few days whether they would get to visit their grandparents this winter. He was happy to finally end the uncertainly.
“I told kids — I promise them — definitely we are going this year,” he said with a smile.
This will be the family’s 11th yearly trip to India.
Based on his prior experience with the e-visa application process, Narayanan is confident that it will only take a few days to get the documents.
For Narayanan, the annual trip is not only a chance to visit family but also a chance to teach his son and daughter about Indian culture and traditions.
“[They] spend the time with our parents, you know,” Narayanan said. “They can teach more things.”
He said the trip is also an opportunity for his children to meet people from different walks of life and to tour different regions of India.
“When they travel, then they see different places, so when they come back they appreciate more what they’ve got.”
Since Narayanan’s children are young it helps him to give them real-life experiences along with some home schooling during their long vacation. It is also a welcome escape from winter.
“Thirty to 35 degrees — that’ll be great … it will give you more energy.”
Narayanan says the trip is also critical to his food truck business. As an experienced chef, he serves Indian cuisine across the province and this is his chance to stock up on supplies.
His restaurant on wheels has gained more than 10,000 followers on Facebook since he began his business five years ago.
He said the secret ingredients are the authentic Indian spices such as cardamom, nutmeg, cumin and coriander that he brings back every year from his trip to India.
“Where I am from, around there they grow all kind of spices,” he said, estimating that 90 per cent of his spices are sourced in India.
Every year, he personally collects the spices from local farmers based in the South Indian state of Kerala.
“Those spices are always picked by hand, sun dried, and so those have its own flavour,” he said.
When you go to the grocery shop or a commercial place where you can buy — the flavour won’t be the same.”
If visa services had not resumed, Narayanan said, he would have had to make an arrangement with someone to ship the spices to Canada or upset his family by taking a solo spice shopping trip.