Monday, January 25, 2010

Hospitality of Montreal

I just came back from a day trip to Montreal. it is now 7:30 and i am now writing about my day in Montreal and how refreshingly hospitable it was in such a big city as itself. Maybe its a once in a lifetime hospitality that I'll never experience from complete strangers again.

We left this morning, me and Derek, and started driving in the rain. We talked about a poetry reading we went to the other day and how one of them was very good. He managed to talk about Canada in a positive way but at the same time exposing what is negative about the country. I really like his show. if you want to see him, he is here.

to get back to the point, we drove through the rain. The mist from big trucks was hard to see through.

We made it, without getting into an accident. We made it with our bodies intact, with eye balls still in the socket. We made it to the second largest city in Canada, with confusing traffic signs and even crazier drivers that don't really care if you swerve two meters away from them. We went through the endless traffic of downtown Montreal, with faces of black, green, brown, many brown, white and all sorts of colours that there is no label for. We make it to our destination and head to the elevator.

I am lead to a room, a waiting room, which is so modern i feel like i am at the Jetsons cartoon show. It eerily has the same colours except there is no escalator to lead us everywhere. While we waited, a Mohawk comes through and he has to be at least 7 foot. Huge. I looked up to him and shook his hand. He did the English recording. Imagine that, a Mohawk encouraging all Canadians to become RCMP officers. And out of nowhere he says he hates the RCMP. He hates the RCMP, he doesn't get along with them politically. He says fuck this and that. He seems to be on his ground, but i wish he wasn't so angry, then i realize he has a five hundred year history with the authorities and the RCMP is one of them again: to encroach their ideas of justice to another group of people not like them.

In half an hour I am done with my recordings. At the beginning, the guy says he will be my director. I ask him to direct me on what? he says on my recording. So, i ask him how can he direct me when he has no idea what i am saying, unless he can learn Inuktitut in five minutes, only then will he direct me. He gave me an uncomfortable smile. I instantly start feeling bad for him and try to help him out as much. At the end, he shakes my hand and says i did well.

After the recording, i go meet up with my buddy Derek again, at a restaurant. We talk with another lady and have some soup and the greatest falafel sandwich ever. i was amazed by the taste and the atmosphere of the restaurant is peaceful and hippie-ish.

After lunch, we go to the bus station and he drops me off. I didn't have my ritual of smoking after eating, so as soon as i buy my bus ticket to go back home. I go outside in the rain for a cigarette. Now, i have been outside of that bus station many times and have been asked for a cigarette many more times. But this guy goes up to me and asks for a light. I give him one. He jerks his head so fast to look to towards me that it almost frightens me and asks something in french. In my best french i say s'il vous plaƮt anglais? He smiles and says in french accented english: I just came back from the country after two weeks, you want to smoke a joint? I say, no (pretty rare, if you ask me) and tell him i still have to work and be on the bus and says, "me understand, i don't do in front my parents too."

I didn't think much about it. And now a "guy", another french man, goes straight up to me and says something in french again. I say, sorry, i don't speak french. and the first guy who offered me weed, starts translating for me. At first i think he is kidding, but realize that the "guy" is serious. The "guy" asks: do you have 50 cents, i am trying to get to Quebec city and i can smoke with you. I hear this through a translator and i think he is kidding but he is serious. I had just arrived to the bus terminal and have been offered two joints in a matter of five minutes. Now this is strange, i don't usually get offered free weed. What is even more strange is the fact that the "guy" has shaved sideburns, with a hint of grey hair and on top of his head is nothing but neon green hair. I start thinking: he must be the oldest Emo that this country has! of course he asks me if i am chinese or first nation and i say no to both and i am glad he doesn't ask again about my identity.

I said no to them both because i learned on TV when i was a kid that a mother once said to her little girl, "never take offers from strangers" and i go off with this thought.

an hour ago now, i was getting off the bus and a student from University of Ottawa bumped into me pretty hard. he doesn't even look back to say sorry or just to acknowledge that he walked into someone. Nope, he doesn't, he just walks and bumps into other people as well, without regard to them. I start thinking, since this is Ottawa, his parents must be bureaucrats, that walk like a zombie as much as he does.

And Montreal was so hospitable!


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