Tuesday, July 3, 2012

old wines and a night by the grill

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I had a boozy weekend. Lots of corks pulled, but in the midst of all the fun, I suddenly realized it's July and oh shit, I need to get started on those business school applications.

Last week, on my way to the Art Gallery of Ontario, I walked through Chinatown for the first time in years. On Queen and Spadina, quite possibly the busiest intersection in all of downtown Toronto, I saw something that froze me a little. An old (Chinese) man was in the corner, selling vegetables. Chinese vegetables, that he was rinsing in a bucket of water, then laying out on newspapers. It struck me as odd, to not only see someone (illegally) selling produce on street corners, but also to see an old Chinese immigrant doing it.

I wanted to know . . . does he have children? How long has he been here? Is this what he wanted; to immigrant to Canada, and end up hawking vegetables on the street?

When my grandparents visited us many years ago, they found it quiet and boring. My grandmother actually entertained the idea of helping out at a church, or senior home. But the situation that this old man was in . . . I don't want to judge, but I question how he's being taken care of. I mean you have to wonder; just what steps were taken, what uncontrollable circumstances would lead one to immigrant to a new country thousands of miles away, and sell fucking produce on a Chinatown street corner??!! I'm reminded that decisions, no matter how small, cumulatively affect your future. We immigrant to North America to look for a better life than what we had in the old country. In the case of the elderly, it's to be closer to children, and to have someone to take care of them. Above all, I think I'm just shocked. Maybe I'm wrong; maybe the old man insists on selling his vegetables out of boredom, out of routine. Maybe he grows it himself, and selling it is better than throwing away excess. But that kind of work is not how our elderly should be spending their twilight years.

We drank nothing but riesling this weekend. Old Mosel, old Rheingau. It might have been a brief moment of bliss, but it was still a moment. Angus beef short ribs and veal rib steaks on the grill - smoky and tender, a mouthful of happiness.

DF

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