I began in a symposium in a huge, high-ceilinged room where academics presented ideas, questions and research data then responded to audience queries. Measured. Hushed. Thought-provoking.
Next, I followed an underground passage (a segment of the 29km ‘PATH’, the world’s largest underground shopping complex) to a shopping centre (Eaton) that stretched on and up in dizzying layers of commercialism…and curious reindeer. Bright. Buzzy. Busy.
I emerged into the outside city on the corner of a square. Snapshots of the popularised world flashed across myriad screens bearing down on me. Religious folk of various persuasions peddled their ways and their wares both with dignity and raucously. A slim youth with beautiful skin asked me if I had sons; evidently they would love the music cd he wanted me to buy. People rushed through, lugging bags, engrossed in conversations with people no-one could see, gulping food. Music boomed. Lights dashed around screens. I felt like the only still point as I stood on the spot and stared. Unsettling. Demanding. Imprisoning.
Finally I extricated myself and crossed the road to a river of blue. A couple were standing side by side each painting a portrait in their very different styles on a single piece of large fabric. Students sauntered between classes and chatted in clusters. Restorative. Inviting. Future-oriented.
Nearby, the Ryerson University Image Centre was exhibiting “part of an ongoing journey … (of the) history of activism in indigenous art”: Ghost Dance: Activism. Resistance. Art.
Back on the streets I realised I was walking at the same pace as the old stooped man in front of me who appeared to be wearing a sleeping bag cover on his head. I needed to pick up the pace if I was to cover all the ground on my day’s itinerary. (This post is an amalgamation of two days.) Here, smells of mass subterranean humans and machines wafted up through grills in the pavement. The slightly sickly fragrance of soaps and candles loitered outside a health shop. And there were waffles, whose very aroma seemed to raise the temperature a notch. This oddball, jumbly neighbourhood transitioned seamlessly into the sleek Mink Mile further up.
Real trees; an artificial tree; trees that looked like poles; poles that looked like poles and also like trees that looked like poles; weird circular concrete lumps that looked like tyre tubes and which have clearly failed in their duty to protect the trees within. Perplexing. Saddening. Contrasting.
The harbour front:
At the Chinatown ID parade, shrimps were easy; nuts a breeze; sea cucumbers, recognizable; shark fins an outrage. For the rest, like a good detective novel, the clues were right in front of me but I didn’t get them. Here even their identifying labels were impenetrable. Concerning. Orderly. Curious.
Dinner from the sunken barbecue in the table of a Korean restaurant. Smokeless. Spatter-free. Omnivorous.
Toronto: Multi-cultural. Communitied. Bountiful.