Montreal Musings-day to day life III!

Now the writer in me has started understanding the difference in going on a planned holiday on a tour and living at a destination for a reasonable period. Taking a tour is like going for a movie and then to go back to your routine. Whereas staying at a place is like reading a long novel. Enjoy it part by part. And keep on doing it for a much longer duration.

The leaves are changing the colours but not as fast as I have seen at other locations. In Montreal maybe only the Maple leaves change the colours, others only wither as winter arrives. Hopefully, within the next few weeks, I will come to know what happens.  I said this, and I saw some lovely colours today when we went out for lunch.

Public transport is one thing that I am enjoying; I don’t get that opportunity in back home. It feels nice to say hello or good morning to the bus driver while swiping the card. The response is also always a smile. Some of us may think that it is a bit mechanical, but it is anytime better than ignoring each other. Now my French vocabulary has reached the level of Merci and Bonjour! Priya shared one experience with me, which was shocking. Once while Priya was in a bus standing, a lady struggled to climb up with a walker. The driver did not start the bus as she was struggling and must have been hoping that someone will provide her with a seat. The driver even requested people to do so. But it took a few minutes for someone to decide to offer her a seat. Jaya and I are sometimes offered with the seats, but maybe we do not look old enough.

A couple of days back there was Environmental March which 50000 people attended. On that day, Montreal city contributed in a very innovative way. The public transport for all the people was free for the whole day, to encourage people to attend the march.

One thing I observed about the weather is when it is raining intermittently, the temperature may be higher, but it feels damp and cold. Five degrees cooler with Sunshine feels warmer even in the shade.

There is one interesting service offered. In our area, there was a power outage for about four hours due to some cable related issue. The affected zone was isolated, and the power was restored. It is now four days, but the fault is yet to be rectified. But that is not the end of the story. Electricity people have made some temporary arrangement with wiring and have provided power continuously to affected people for these four days using a truck-mounted generator.

Though I see at least one beggar at most Metro Stations (but never more- which is a surprise).

The developed countries have their own different systems and facilities for the pets. I see many shops catering to pets. I see many veterinary doctor’s clinics too! Probably many couples prefer to have Pets instead of children. These shops keep different clothing available for the pets. These include wedding dresses, clothes for winter, raincoats for use during rains and so on.

Another interesting thing found here is the number of flowers and flower beds, currently. People know that the flowers are going to last only for six or seven months, every year before winter takes over. But they follow this expensive hobby!

One fascinating place to visit is the festival of lights at the Botanical Garden, near the Olympic Stadium. Inspired by the ancient Chinese tradition, this event has been enchanting people since its creation. Glittering lanterns of various shapes illuminate the Chinese Garden and the eyes of thousands of visitors who come to enjoy the magical spectacle. The Japanese Garden leads you along a meditative illuminated path inspired by the seasons, and the First Nations Garden features an intense multimedia experience that lets you feel the beating heart of the Cycle of Life. One interesting thing; the path in the Japanese garden is quite dark, but they have made the displays with the help of mirrors, the trees appear as if they are full of fireflies! One more speciality was the Bonsai trees. One of them was as old as 160 years.  Montreal Olympic Stadium Tower in the background of light festival.

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Even as late as 15 years many Indian food items were difficult to procure, including the raw material like dal etc. But it is a pleasant surprise that most of the things are available here in Montreal reasonably easily. One can imagine their availability in the Bay area in SFO and New Jersey!

It appears that the preparations for Durga Pooja, Garba in Navratri and Diwali are already on or are being discussed. I will feel happier when assimilation of festivals also takes place, and friends other than those of Indian Origin are invited to celebrate such festivals.

I hear of Indian people who have been living in Toronto and Montreal for more than forty years. In the initial phase of their lives, it must have been trying for them to live an Indian way of life. But with more and more people living in different parts of the world, I was not surprised to see a typical store in one of the malls selling Agarbattis! Business is the ultimate leveller in this world. I read somewhere recently, that Agarbattis worth Rs. 800/ crores were imported in India from China. When we were on the Alaska Cruise about three years back, there were at least forty different Indian food items available in the spread. These included Dal- Khichdi and Malvani Fish!

With more and more Indian professionals becoming financially more comfortable at a young age, they are going to travel more, and I won’t be surprised if Indian items become very popular like Indian Curry and Indian Restaurants in the UK! Add to this, the children of Indians born in foreign countries; so, this number is going to become very big as keeping touch with home base  has become more comfortable with video calling and internet calling.

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By the way, we went out today to eat Pani-puri and Wada-Pav! But I had Wada-pav and Thali!  The joint is started by a French guy who got himself trained in Mumbai.The Chai was served the Indian cutting way.

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The day before yesterday, I had breakfast in a restaurant serving middle eastern food, on top of that it was vegan. There was some lovely omelette, another item which was like our Sanja and a dish made out of lentils with a nice bread! I had fun.

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Another thing I saw on Montreal roads. Public charging of EV’s is now available. My little knowledge of driving cars for fifty-plus years tells me that fuel tank and the lid are on the opposite side of where the driver sits. But the Tesla I saw being charged on the road, had the charging on the same side as the driver side! Can anybody explain to me why this would be so? All other EV’s seen in Montreal followed the normal convention!

Some interesting things like Puneri Patya!

Wanderer’s surprises!

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I have been writing about early morning walks in the green areas, listening to the bird’s chirping and the exercise of walking. I missed mentioning one more significant benefit that we get by the wandering. You get to see the world. One can walk with friends; others walk with spouses, but I prefer walking alone. Each way has its benefit but has its downside too! With friends, you may end up having Chai after your walk, and with the spouse, your walking speeds may not match. You have a significant benefit of chatting in both these cases, but you may miss out observing certain things. Walking alone gives you the flexibility of changing routes, walking at your speed, walking as you feel like it.

Today I walked for one and a half times of my average time. I did the longer walk after a big gap and felt a little tired. But since I had changed my route I enjoyed it. Today’s most exciting aspect was that I saw a small procession. I was turning around a corner, and I could hear some hymns being sung. There were 10 to 15 people in a group which was followed by a minibus. The daylight was enough to observe details. At the center of the group was a man, their Guru, walking with them. Nothing special but yes, there was something special. The Guru was fully nude, including frontal nudity. He was about 45 years old. I was surprised and started thinking. What sect allows Guru to be fully nude, walking on a public road? Who were these people? Among these people, there were some ladies too. Rights, freedom of speech all are fine, but what about the rights of others? Can somebody sane and not a homeless person go around naked? Should’t he be arrested? Next question would be why not a nude Sadhvi’s on the road? People will then talk of woman’s modesty!

I am sharing another incident from today’s walk. I was passing by a Ganapati Mandir, of course illegal! Religious structures may be called illegal by authorities, but in the minds of people, all Mandir’s are legal. A newspaper vendor had kept his bike parked outside the Mandir. Since there was only one person inside the Mandir, I assumed that he was the vendor. I waited on the side to see what he was doing. I thought that the person must be very religious as he started his newspaper route after paying obeisance to Him. After he went away, I checked the inside of the empty Mandir. Our man was using the space to store his balance newspapers for the next round. The Mandir was his temporary storage!  Ganapati kept watch on the papers.

On the way, I saw a pharmacist’s shop which also was a general store. I saw a guy doing some work inside. I remembered that I had to buy Band-aids for home stocking. His sliding shutter was closed. I waited for him to open the shutter. When I attempted to open the shutter, he said, “Don’t open the shutter.” I said, “ok, I want to buy some band-aids.” He said that I could come inside. Till that time he had probably decided that I was a robber masquerading as an oldie with my morning walk gear! I was thrilled that finally, somebody was afraid of me! He did not have the stuff I wanted. While walking out, I offered to slide the shutter back in closed position; he said I need not bother!

Next one is a popular event. Various houses in our area have trees and bushes. Currently, these are in bloom, especially those with white flowers. People while taking a walk, stop at places where it is effortless to pluck flowers. The flowers are plucked for use while performing puja at home. This thought is very noble, but there is one small hitch. These flowers are not from your garden. So technically you are stealing them. Years back I had checked with someone who used to pluck flowers from our garden. He said, “ I am not taking these flowers for me; they are to be used while performing puja at home.” I said, “Puja will be performed in your home using your idols. It means that you are stealing the flowers.” He got annoyed and said, “How is it that you don’t understand such a simple thing? Flowers are for God!” I changed the expressions on my face and showed that finally, it dawned on me that the flowers are not for his personal use! In my mind, I apologised to his God!

On the route that I had taken, there were good footpaths some of them are quite recently made. Since decent foot paths are a new thing in Pune, people continue to walk on roads. Maybe people will start using pathways once they are used to seeing them free of vendors!

Another interesting aspect one can see are the walking gear that people wear. These are quite fancy and must be expensive. The fashion of carrying a walking stick is prevalent in our area. I asked a person using it; the person said that it is carried to prevent dog attacks. My observation is that dogs are busy in their activities. I have never seen any such attack.

Friends walk at different times to suit their routines. Working people take their walks early for obvious reasons but so do the retirees (they wake up early). But a friend has been walking after 9/9.30. I have suggested to the friend that it is not right to walk so late as heat could cause trouble.

At different corners, vendors sell fresh carrot or gourd juice. It appears to be the fashion these days. I remember one incident in which one 40-year-old lady drank similar juice after her walk, and within an hour she died. The juice was prepared at home.

Friends use your walks for exercise, to be near green trees. Use these occasions to look at the world. If you walk alone, you can really enjoy the human activities without any pressure of time. It’s fun, and of course in Pune, it’s the cool breeze and the birds chirping!

Other than points mentioned above morning walks

  1. Take you away from Diabetes
  2. With fresh mind you get better ideas
  3. With fresh mind you review your previous day and ask Him to forgive your errors

Happy wandering!

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