Sunday, 14 September 2014

On a bit of a tiff

Posted in Folyet
I ditched one of my carry-on bags at left luggage at Union Station. I then moseyed Westwards along the Skywalk like a salmon against the river of Blue Jays fans leaving the Skydome. Along the way, I past a Toronto Tourism office. I ducked into it where by dint of a clever stratagem (asking someone) I obtained a biking map of Toronto in anticipation of next year.

I then walked up to King Street and went West to MEC. I came across a prolonged hive of activity which perplexed me for a bit until the penny dropped: it was the Toronto International Film Festival or tiff (the acronym is in lower case for some artistocratic reason. There were signs on the sidewalk saying start of the "rush line" which probably means something that I will have to look up when I have Internet access.

At MEC, I acquire a Watchtower fleece jacket. I them strolled up Spadina to Dundas, going through Toronto's Chinatown. There is something slightly mystifying to me about Chinatowns everywhere. In addition to the explicable Chinese food and cultural products (music, DVDs, books, tableware, etc.) there is a huge amount of cheap, tacky kitsch that may or may not have a Chinese connection. Gold coloured or jade lion or dragon knick-knacks, fans and screens with Chinese writing and/or art work, chintzy clothes and the truly inexplicable. Exhibit A would be a prism picture that displays an icon image of Jesus or the Virgin Mary depending which angle you look at it. Is this what Chinese people think is tasteful? In Last Chance to See, Douglas Adams wrote about being confused by hearing European music being played everywhere in the China of 1988, up to and including the "Theme from Hawaii Five-O" at Tiananmen Square. He wrote "It was hard to avoid the feeling that somebody, somewhere, was missing the point. I couldn't even be sure that it wasn't me."
This moose statue, decorated in Chinese fashion, could be a case in point.

My intended destination was The World's Biggest bookstore where I hoped to while away a few hours and if I couldn't avoid it, possibly buy a book or two.  Alas, it turned out to have been shut down for reasons likely to be connected from the general mismanagement of Canada's book industry by Indigo-Chapters along with the specific mismanagement of the store by its owner Indigo-Chapters.

I loitered up and down Younge Street, before finding supper, followed by a beer near Union Station.  I retrieved my other bag and went to the lounge to get check in as a sleeper passenger. All that I really needed to have done was to be told that I was by default in the first call for lunch and supper on the first day in dinning car "A".   The crowd of people included about forty Brits who were an organised tour that may also includes a trip the Rocky Mountaineer.  As I rather expected, the bulk of the passengers were older than me. What I didn't expect was to be in about the bottom fifth percentile of age or so.
There was a copy of Tom Thomson's "The West Wind" hanging in the waiting room. I was not particularly surprised by this, but I was amused as another copy of this iconic Canadian painting has hung in my parent's house for years. My wait was interrupted by a phone call from Mummy to tell me about her and Pappy's successful two day ride from Montreal to Magog. I had contributed advice on the trickiest bit, namely getting from the St Lambert locks to the bike path to Chambly.

I boarded the Train and installed myself in my roomette in the Bliss manor car. The Brit across the hall was grumbling about how small it was. I am not sure what he was expecting. I know I am glad to have a roomette rather than a berth or a coach seat which has been referred to as "steerage" by us hoighty-toighty sleeping car folks. The train has twenty one cars, mostly sleepers. There are four dome cars each one with two lounges in addition to the dome. There are two restaurant cars for the sleepers.

After some bubbly at an intro event, I took a shower and went to sleep in my fold-down bed. I slept oddly with two or three strange dreams relating to the Train.

I could write more but I want to post this before we get out of cell range.

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