UPDATE: Montreal Resources

Some more useful resources for visitors to Montreal:

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Montreal Nightlife Resources

Check these out if you’re passing through Montreal:

Montreal Shopping Resources

Day 150 – Conclusion

_Captain’s Log, StarDate 2007.12.04-15.56_

Canada Flag

It’s strange how two geographic regions on the same planet can be so different. Different in ideology, culutre, topography, way of life, weather, mindset, demographics… different in so many ways. For me, it was an almost alien experience, and definitely a very educating one. There are things I liked (the fact that there are no crowds and there are wide open spaces), and things I didn’t (the mechanical way of life and the wastage of resources). I can understand now why people from abroad find Indian culture so appealing. It is because we live in chaos, and everything chaotic is beautiful (clouds, for example). Life in Canada is organized and regimented (by Indian standards), and although there are wonderful avenues of entertainment and recreation, everything is too predictable (even all the travel coffee mugs look the same). This is the land of plenty that has not devoured itself.

I believe now more than ever that it is the people who make or break a country (“Institutions exist to serve humans, humans do not exist to serve institutions”). Everybody has access to the same resources; we share the same planet after all. I’m sure that India, being an older nation, was once a land of plenty, maybe plentier. Others plundered, we blundered, and now we’re left scraping the bottom, and asking the world to stop driving cars because we’re choking on the smoke.

Canada is not only a country, it is also a brand. A brand that makes its presence felt on everything from keychains to petrol pumps (or gas stations, if you’re Canadian). It’s a way of life, and more importantly, it’s a way of life that Canadians are proud of. Maybe there is something we Indians can learn from this: instead of working out of the shadows and waiting for the world to wake up and take notice, maybe we should go out there and say – “we are here, this is what we stand for, and we’re proud of it”.

I also read somewhere that in Canada there are more women than men. I’m not sure about that, but what I’m sure about is this: women are treated as equals, in every sphere of life. Indian women, on the other hand, are unfortunately subjected to double-standards. Men who worship goddesses and devis as shakti, the strength and power behind all creation, treat women in their homes with disrespect and women in their workplaces with denigration. And then there are women politicians elevated to demigod status, surrounded by yes-men who I’m sure would have not even once said yes to their wives at home.

The last topic I want to touch upon is a touchy one. I have mixed feelings about how Indians are treated in Canada, and frankly I haven’t had enough time to form a strong opinion about it. There is no open hostility for sure. Professionally, we were treated well and towards the end, we earned ourselves enough respect to be treated as peers. But I do know that there were groups in our organization that harboured a feeling of dislike, which is understandable considering the fact that some of their best friends must have lost their jobs to us. But like I said before, there was no open hostility, nor any jokes being cracked behind our backs (which is something Indians are good at), and our experience was comfortable and peaceable.

There are a lot of other trivial but interesting observations I made. For example, the fact that in corridors, people pass you on the left, because they’re used to driving on the right side of the road 🙂 Like I said, interesting, but trivial.

On the personal front, I took back some interesting experiences with me from this trip. I managed to greatly improve my time management, which in retrospect was completely non-existent (or rather, lacked motivation to exist). I gained some more independence, confidence and the strength to deal with the outcomes of my wrong decisions because they were my own. I made some very interesting friends from all walks of life and hailing from all corners of the globe. I did some things that I always wanted to do, and some things that I never thought I would. I got to spend some time with myself, and with some long-forgotten friends. Professionally, it was one of the most rewarding and enlightening phases of my life. As I look back, I have only one regret – I should have brought back a speeding ticket!! 😉

“Release yourself, it’s a big sky/
Reveal yourself, it’s a big sky/
We love, we leave. We take, we give/
Release yourself, it’s a big sky”
-“Big Sky”, John O’ Callaghan feat. Audrey Gallagher

— — —

Whoever you are, if we haven’t met, we probably never will. Either way, I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed spending sleepless nights writing it. I would love to read about your experiences too; please leave me a comment, even if it is to let me know that you think that my view of the world is twisted and insane 😉

Cheers!

Bangalore, 17 Feb 2008.

Day 149 – The Departed

_Captain’s Log, StarDate 2007.12.03_

Despite my best efforts, I was still packing with 10 minutes to go. I had sqeezed stuff into every cubic centimetre of available volume, so much so that I realized that there was no space to keep my flight ticket in my rucksack. That, after leaving behind so much stuff that when we vacated the room, the housekeeping lady called the reception to say that we’ve forgotten our stuff behind. I did give away clothes to charity, and food and drink to friends, but there was still all sorts of stuff left behind – packing material, papers and magazines that I wanted to bring back for keepsakes, and genereal stuff that you would normally carry with you unless you were trying to fit in four suitcases worth of stuff in just two.

I wanted to write (by hand) a note of thanks to the hotel staff who had been the closest we had to family in our home away from home, but unfortunately I didn’t have those extra 10 minutes.

There was a snowstorm and pretty bad weather outside, and there were rumours that our flight might get cancelled. In any case, I donned two jackets and we reached the airport in good time.

There was some delay in the aircraft moving because even though the passengers had got in, the poor airline folk were having trouble loading the luggage onto the aircraft, what with the tractor slipping and sliding all over the snow and ice. It was fun to watch from the airport, though, the tractor’s snow chains were actually throwing up sparks into the air.

After the aircraft finally started moving, Montreal had one last novel experience left in store for me: de-icing. It is basically this crazy thing they do to the wings of an aircraft to get rid of all the ice that formed while we were waiting out in the snow for that tractor to finish loading. First, these crazy trucks come and spray the life out of the wings (with what at that time looked like hot water). Then, this crazier guy comes, riding at the end of an articulated, crane-like, arm of the truck, braving the elements, and sprays what looks like anti-freeze fluid with greater precision that the trucks did. I remember admiring his guts and his choice of profession. I also remember admiring the computer console he had, which was just out there, in the open, in what must have been about minus 17 degrees, braving the snowfall and uncomplainingly assisting its human controller in doing his crazy job.

The flight wasn’t moving, and they hadn’t started giving out the headphones and “refreshing tissue”, so I just plugged in my iPod headphones and started watching The Simpons Movie.

The flight back was uneventful. I remember watching the stars from the window while listening to Richard Gale – Phobos Anomaly (Deep Version), and thinking that the day is not too far when people would actually be watching the Phobos sky from their windows. For we have half-conquered sea, air and land, and there’s nowhere left to go but the heavens.

Day 148 – The Last Excursion

_Captain’s Log, StarDate 2007.12.02-11.03_

I made one last trip out there, braving the winter to pick up my 2004 Rally Japan Subaru Impreza 1:24. On my way back I noticed a shop dealing with anime and computer gaming merchandise. Too bad it was closed. Each time I went to Hobbieville, I was so focussed on the scale models I completely forgot to look around me for more interesting stuff. Ah, well. Maybe next time.

I also picked up some Christmas trinkets and some more electronic hardware. Now I’m pretty certain I have more than I have space for. Tonight is going to be an interesting challenge!

Day 147 – The Space We Are

_Captain’s Log, StarDate 2007.12.01-11.03_

“Give all that you can be
All you leave behind
Feed the state
That is in your mind”

-Ronski Speed, “The Space We Are”

Spent the better part of today dealing with one of my greatest nemeses (does nemesis really have a plural?), which is packing – the unsolved optmization problem of fitting in a seemingly infinite amount of stuff into a finite amount of space. I need to pick up some more stuff tomorrow, and hopefully everything should fall into space (I mean place).

Stumble upon an incredible movie called Legends of the Fall on TV at night. Perfect for a winter night.