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Born in Male’, Maldives |

Yasser left Maldives at the age of sixteen and, after a brief stint in Metchosin, arrived in Vancouver. While living there, Yasser never truly fell in love with the city, but he did fall in love with someone. During the final year of his Master’s degree, he had his heart broken. Without this love, he figured nothing tied him to the city. He considered Montreal, Berlin and London, but never Toronto. However, in the summer of 2011 he came here for a wedding.

“I was struck by the grittiness of the city and the unabashed realness of the people here. I loved that I did not stand out in any way because everyone was of a different colour, a different style—everyone had a different voice but managed to speak to each other in a brilliant cacophony.”

He found the city youthful in spirit, a great place to overcome his loneliness and his lovesick heart. During those ten days in this new place Yasser decided to give Toronto a try. He loves that people here rarely begins conversations with him by asking him where he is from, whereas in Vancouver it was a common opener to conversations with strangers. The fact that he is surrounded here by people who have also left home creates an emotional comfort. He has also been surprised at how winter brings people closer together rather than further apart. Currently Yasser works as an evaluations and monitoring consultant and also writes short stories.

 Toronto as Home

Yasser wanted to be photographed in his room with his houseplant, that he has named Amelia Strongheart. After spending a year in Toronto, he decided he was going to stay in the city for the next five years at least. To celebrate, he went out and bought himself this 20-year-old indoor ficus tree. In a conversation with a fellow wanderer, he had heard that in some places, when someone moves into a new home, they plant a tree “to send down roots”. This tree continues to provide him with a sense of nourishment, enchantment and sturdiness.

Connection with the past

Yasser is holding a coral that his niece picked up for him during a family picnic they had on a sandbank in the Maldives, in 2011. The coral reminds him of a moment in time when his family stood so strongly by him and offered him all their love so that he could grow from that strength into the next chapter of his life. This piece of coral reminds him that “like the ocean, love ebbs into our lives indiscriminately, wherever we make room for it”.

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