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Friday, November 18, 2005

A Canadian Prairie Boy In A Land Of Quebecois Frenchies

Another new city - except this time I only speak half the languages and know one person. It's quite the sensation, but one I like. Why take the easy short road when you can take the long road and walk it? This city, Montreal, meaning, I think, "Mount Royal" is a new city to me in many ways. This Western Canadian Manboy has met quite the city here, and I enjoy the learning curve it presents.

The language barrier is not as drastic as it may seem from first persepctive, but delve a little deeper and it reveals much of about the lay of the land. My French consists of basic pleasantries and some swears. Not quite enough to get me through a conversation with a die-hard Frenchy. My strong prairie english is not met with any warmth until I reveal I am new here. At that moment, a switch, much like being abroad and informing them you are Canadian, not American. They begin speak to me in the clearest english their tongue can offer and over-compensate with kindness. My guess is the French culture in Quebec resents the Anglo Quebecers' who don't learn the language. That is fair. I would consider it equal to the Western Canadian who is irked by the new Canadians english when they enter a taxi. I will try here. When I leave and say "Merci" they smile. An effort is all Frenchy wants, and an effort Frenchy will get.

I've also lost my glasses which doesn't make it any easier. A blurry language that you don't really know is a very tough one to understand. I cannot always read what I don't really understand. Talk about compounding challenges. Truth be told, I find it funny and enjoy the extra difficulty it presents.

I know that "Est" is East. I know "Ouest" is West. I now know that "Henri Bourassa" is the direction to head downtown on the Metro. Actual Conversation:

Brett - "How do I get downtown?"
Transit garcon - "Henri Bourassa"
Brett - "Thanks, Merci"
Bretts' thoughts - "What the hell? Since when is a name a direction?"

It's a quaint place, this city. In the downtown, a searchlight scans the populace atop one of the largest buildings, creating a lighthouse effect. Calming. Inspiring. It's as if it screams to the whole Island and beyond, "Here. It's all happening here". It inspires me to proclaim the same thing one of these days.

The Metro, the Montreal Subway, is not a Subway at all. It has rubber tires. It's clean. People are alert and awake on them. Real people. They talk and laugh. They are going somewhere, but they happen to be there, too. It's like an underground bus. I like it. The busses, somehow, are always full. That's odd. If you like standing on a bus, move to Montreal. Even the handicapped people don't get to sit.

The area I live in is apparantly the artistic capitol of Canada, according to the Globe and Mail I read last week. The postal code we are in is a highly creative area. All sorts of artists and freaks alike have converged on "Notre Dame de la Grace", which is shortened to "NDG" and in english, "Our Lady Of Peace". There's a train track that runs thorugh it and every ten minutes a new train speeds through. It's comforting. The main street than runs through it, Sherbrooke street, is alive and hub of activity. Foreign grocers are next door to old style banks which neighbour guitar shops and army/navy stores. Frenchies and Anglos seem to meet here and forget about langauge bullshit and just seem to live in a state of relaxation. It's a good neighbourhood.

It's a good city, Montreal. I never thought I'd spend time here as a resident. It's a good twist of fate. There's also opportunity for a man like me here to do something with the talent I've garnered over the years. This city, this island in the middle of a giant river, is helping me to become less if an island. I hope to continue to grow like and be like the mountain that sits in the heart of this place. A place to view all that sits below with awe and pride. Can't wait to scale my personal Mont-Royal.


Blogger denise said...

Hello my dear Brett,

Odd that I pick now to contact you, given all the catastrophic events recently; your sudden relocation to a fabulous city, my happy, arrogant dance celebrating the Oiler win over the stinky, rotten Flames, snow in South Dakota (since when did that become news in Calgary on Nov.28 - duh, it's winter everywhere north-ish), the ESKIMO WIN, over the sadsack, wannabe Stamps and the brilliant, hard fought GREY CUP CHAMPIONSHIP victory defeating the icky Aloettes.

So how are things otherwise?


5:05 AM


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