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Tales of life in Montreal, Canada (Part 1, January 19, 2009)

Note:  The following abridged chronicles are extracts of very short stories of life in Montreal.  They were selected from a tiny French booklet written by Gisele Kayata-Eid, a Lebanese who immigrated to Canada.

Saint-Justine hospital, a semi-circle century old building   Babies and kids are bolding and pale.  Mothers are livid, anxious and wheeling chairs; they are pondering “why him? Why so young?”  Behind me in the return bus a dad and son are thrilled.  The kid is calling: “Hi mom, I am well.” The dad takes the cellular and confirms: “Yes honey, the tests are normal; nothing to worry about.  We are on our way”.  Today, Saint-Justine changed name: it is saint-Justice.

Caesar is an old homeless; he frequently visit a “friend” benefactor.  This friend smiles to Caesar and sometimes listens to his miseries; occasionally he offers him leftovers of his dog’s canned food.  It is 30 degrees below zero and the wind speed is over 150 km/h today.  Caesar asks permission to sleep on the porch; his benefactor denies him this favor on account that insurance would not cover the risk of Caesar dying on his property.  Dirty and smelly Caesar is not to sleep inside: the friend would have to repaint and change the carpet.

A typical voter on Election Day.  The person parks his car and calmly walks to a public building, a church, a basement, or a school where flags flap. He files in the queue by reflex; a badged attendant shows him the way to a vacant bare booth; a man and a woman agents wearing badges sit behind a sober desk.  The voter delivers his ID and is recited the well oiled instructions. The voter votes and then departs, as mute as he entered.

The church was well heated.  A whole team of attendants welcomes me, smiles at me, hand me the mass sheet, shows me the way and allocate me a seat, as if I were at an Oscar ceremony. The people hang stony faces and follow the game of standing up, sitting, kneeling, reading the document, and occasionally participating in the hymns of the chorus.  Mass lasts exactly an hour before the worshipers exit as silently and solitary as they entered.

Saturday morning at a hospital emergency.  I had an ugly deep cut on my forearm and blood was ejecting profusely.  I ran to the emergency of the nearest hospital. The shift attendant directed me to an empty room.  Immediately, a nurse showed up and kept asking me the same questions for over 15 minutes.  I am ordered to take a blue seat instead of the red one since I was served filling a questionnaire.  I had to wait another half an hour before I am ushered to a closed room.  Another 15 minutes wait before a white robed person enters. No, the person is not the physician; she is a nurse with a clipboard that needs to be satisfied with more of the same queries.  I don’t know what happened next: I had fainted this Saturday morning.

The public transportation in Montreal had a 3-day strike; unperturbed, the citizens of this City walked to work, confident that their authority will settle this problem very soon; they have to go to work because the workplaces are the main locations to talk.  At the exact time for the resumption of transport, the citizens are already lined up calmly and by reflex; they know that the doors of the trains will not be shut before everyone is in and seated.  The only time that moods flare up is when the media ask the citizens to offer comments on the strike

Kindergarten in Montreal.  There is this golden rule in kindergarten “It is absolutely forbidden for this father to recuperate his son”.  The personnel scrupulously notes down “His father came in, held up his son, put him down, whispered to him and then left him crying”. During the day, the workers in kindergarten take notes of every details for every baby’s behavior such as what he ate, how much, how was the consistency of his bowel, when he falls down, if he wakes up with the other kids, if he refuses to draw, color, or participate. Kids arrive before the sun is up.  Today, a kid never stopped crying because his dad picked up his brother to hockey training; the kid managed to skip outside the perimeter and was found sleeping in the snow


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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