[URBAN NOTE] “An immigrant security guard’s triumphant homecoming”
The Toronto Star‘s Nicholas Keung tells the story of an Indian immigrant whose experiences as a security guard at a downtown condo inspired his first novel, one he ended up promoting at that very same condo.
The last time Mayank Bhatt was in this Forest Hill condo building he wore a navy blue uniform and worked as a security guard.
It was one of the new immigrant’s first jobs in Canada, a position the Mumbai native landed just weeks after arriving at Pearson International Airport with his wife, Mahrukh, and son, Che.
Seven years after he left that job, Bhatt, 54, recently returned to the warm embrace of the tenants he used to serve at 260 Heath St. W., but this time as a published author invited for a reading of his debut novel, Belief — the story of a new immigrant family’s struggles in Canada. The book will be officially launched at the Gladstone Hotel on Tuesday evening.
“I wanted to read at this condo building. I came to Canada not knowing anyone. I was a complete stranger and they welcomed me. My new life started here. The residents in this building were the first set of people who made life possible for me and my family,” said Bhatt, his voice choked with emotion.
“My idea was not to come to Canada to become a security guard. I wanted to come back to show what I have become today, that I’ve lived up to that expectation. This is a bit of a homecoming for me.”
The Heath St. condo was also an apt venue for the occasion because this is where Bhatt first conceived of the idea for his book and started crafting the story while working the graveyard shift guarding the building and protecting its residents.