Friday, 27 July 2012

A Tourist or a Traveler In Toronto?

Friday 27th July, 2012; 15:37
Location: Sue and Tyrone's Apt (aka my old place), Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Why: It's like I'm still traveling. Sorta.

Well, it's been 3 weeks since I landed back in Canada for a little break from wandering the globe. I spent some time at the rent's house in Brampton catching up. Then settled in Toronto to ease myself back into 'reality' and have been staying with my sister Sue and her BF Tyrone. Their apartment is actually my old place before I moved to Vancouver back in 2006.

A snapshot of The Apartment before I moved to BC:

Wow, time flies and everything's changed. But nothing's changed and yet there are changes. Being back in this city after many years away has left me somewhat bewildered. Excited in some aspects and dismayed at others. It feels like I'm still traveling as I navigate the neighbourhoods that was once the centre of my universe.

One day, I crossed the busy intersection of Lake Shore Blvd West and Bathurst and made my way up to Queen West, the street that shaped my future as a teenager. It was exciting to feel the pace and vibe of this neighbourhood I loved so much. However, as I made my way eastward, it quickly became apparent how much had changed. For the worse.

No longer was boho Queen Street what it once was. I saw many of my favourite shops disappear, replaced by big corporate boxes. The last time I was here, the area was gentrifying itself. But when I saw that the long standing Peach Berserk clothing shop had closed, a little bit of me perished.

For those who know me, Peach Berserk created the possibility of the young adult I would become. It lead me from an artsy pixie co-op student at Mayfield Secondary School into the world of university, fashion and graphic design, and now a nomadic gyspy.

I was happy, however to see that Queen Mother Cafe is still standing strong.

Even better was seeing the sign had stayed the same for decades:

One neighbourhood that I was happy to see still retain it's charm without complete commercialization was Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD). The college which is adjacent to the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) on Dundas Street has undergone some significant changes over the past few years. I recall the AGO being a dusty mess of a reno in 2005 during the Massive Change for Action exhibition.

But it was dust well spent. The interior is scrumptiously organic in design:

When OCAD got an update, I was opposed to it's design; balking at how "out-of-place" it would look in the neighbourhood. But I have lightened up over the years since living in Vancouver. I came back to this hipster part of town for a gander and actually the college's modern facade lifted my spirit. I must say, I absolutely love British architect Will Alsop's OCAD addition.

It's bright and playfully modern. That's Sue in the picture! 

I wandered through a few more areas I used to haunt. They felt familiar and foreign at the same time, visually stimulating my senses. After a while, I was overwhelmed and emotionally confused. Was I a tourist or a traveler here? Was it still my home? Or is it Vancouver? Or Melaka? Ubud? Suddenly, I felt more displaced than ever. Even more so than when I first stepped on Canadian soil in early July.

A nomadic spirit I have become.

In the days following the initial tour of my previous life, I have started to settle in and adapt to the pulse of Canada's busiest intersections. As I take in everything around me, sometimes it feels like I never left; that I never went abroad.  But then a smell, a colour, a sliver of a taste will bring me right back to Thailand. The imported durian reminds me of it's abundance in Vietnam. A woman in a headscarf whisks me back to Malaysia. And a random backpacker coming out of the Global Villager's Hostel reminds me of all the guesthouses and hostels I laid my head in for so many months.

I look away, fighting back tears to be on the road again. I remind myself that France is only a few weeks away.

Absolutely incurable wanderlust.

Friday, 6 July 2012

And Then Poof! I Was Back In Canada

Friday 6th July, 2012 14:43
Location: My Rents' House, Brampton Ontario Canada
Why: Same Same But Different. I have incurable wanderlust.

It has been a few weeks since I've written a post so for those who follow me regularly, my apologies. While living in Melaka, I was getting use to the idea of having a daily routine, something that had been somewhat foreign in my travels up until this point. Well, except when I was living in Ubud, though everyday was different especially with the freedom of having a Scoopy to bomb out of town when it got too routine.

I had made my flat on Jonker Walk as user friendly as possible but found myself rarely at home except to do my yoga practice and take quick showers throughout the hot days of Chinatown.

On 23rd June, I went to my friend Nora's first solo art exhibition in KL. Joyce was my date and we had a lovely time hanging out at The Warehouse gallery in KL's Chinatown. Nora's show was inspiring and a great reminder of my goal of having a group show in the next two years. I spent the weekend at the Chan Clan house where we celebrated Joyce's brother, Simon's birthday.

Something switched in me that weekend. I watched in wistful nostalgia as Joyce and her family interacted with each other and suddenly, I longed to be home with my own family. Originally, I had planned to make my pit stop in the Tdot for 24th August. When I returned to Melaka from Joyce's all I could think about was laughing with my siblings, making funny faces with my nephew and running along the Lakeshore with the wind in my now long-ish hair.

I have always operated on my gut instincts, no matter how impulsive or crazy it may be. So, at 3 in the morning a few days ago, I punched in some flight dates on my keyboard and re-routed myself bound for North America. Then poof, like that, I was gone from my beloved Melaka. And before I could say Oh Canada, I was there. Here.

Getting my bearings as I marvel at my rents' house in Suburbia Ontario:

It's been 26hrs since I've been back and have been going through some reverse culture shock. I found myself wide awake at 02:30 (internally, this was 14:30 for me). I went for a quick 5km run this morning on the ever wide road that is the epitome of suburbia-land. Afterwards, I took a hot shower with real water pressure. A hot shower!! And ate Bing cherries. Cherries! And drank water. From. The. Tap. Ahhh, modern luxuries...

Walking through my rents' house has been strange too. Everything is still same same, but different. Only the 'different' isn't anything in the house. The 'different' is me. My perspective. My heart and mind has been re-shaped by 14 months abroad that I am not sure how I feel about being back in Canada. I feel like I shouldn't be back just yet but I'm so happy to see my family again. In fact, we are all going to Marine Land tomorrow! Say what?!

Diane is going to pick up Susan from Yorkdale station in a little while and Ryo will be coming over after his haircut. Cam should be home later tonight as well. Tai, well, he already came by the house last night. So tonight promises a Poc Siblings' shenanigan.

I know that in a few days time, I'll get used to the idea of being home again. And in about 11 weeks, I'll be on a plane back to the UK, making my way to France for at least 3 months. Oh, that's another post by the way. Wait for it.....

Hmmm already, I am itching to get back on a dodgy bus, creaky train, or delayed plane. I already miss pulling out crumpled fisherman pants from my backpack and picking up travel sized toiletries. I have incurable wanderlust.