Driving through the United States, even regions allegedly similar to my own, only emphasizes the cultural difference between Urban America and Rural America.
In a lot of ways, I have more in common with a middle class Delhi urbanite than I do a middle class rural American. It’s an entirely different ball game with different ways of speaking, different ways of living, thinking, and prioritizing. Despite growing up in rural America, passing through it now, almost ten years later, only emphasizes just how much of a “city person” I’ve become.
Do you have any ideahow difficult it is to find a decent cup of coffee out of the city?
Luke1and I rented a car together and drove up from DC to Montreal over labor day weekend. That’s 12 hours in the car, factoring in breaks and lunch, each way. Not to mention the 2 hour each way trip to Ottawa. I like to think that it is a good sign for our relationship that neither of us ended up dead on the side of the road during the 1500+ miles we put on that car.
I have a dear friend, Ashley, who lives just outside of Montreal with her fiancée, Mir and spends a great deal of time nerding out over WW2. I’m to be the best man in their wedding, and I fully expect that Ashley would have flown across the pond to the UK simply to hit me aside the head if I left this continent again without seeing her. Thus, we embarked on, what was for me my sixth country of 2011. Sort of. I forgot until the morning of to notify my banks that I’d be out of the country because Canada doesn’t really count in my brain. This is partially because I’m of French Canadian heritage and I grew up on the border (even took my swimming lessons in Canada) and partially because it didn’t involve an airplane. Canada, you are a different country and not America’s hat. Or, if you are America’s hat, it’s the sort of hat that totally makes an outfit and that everyone is jealous of. Because that hat has nationalized healthcare and Tim Hortens.
Our first impression of Montreal was: It was one really large shopping mall. Truly, they take their shopping seriously. They even have an “underground city.” Unlike our tour of Edinburgh’s underground city, this is not a maze of spooky old streets with a costumed guy telling us ghost stories. This is: yet another mall.
We actually did not spend much time in Montreal proper. We rambled about the Old Port, went to the Château Ramezay (which is often billed as “Musée du Château Ramezay Museum” which seems ridiculously redundant) and learned about Canadian history (compared to the 14th century castles I’ve been exploring, it’s so cute and young!) and ate some damn amazing crêpes at Muru Crêpe. Mostly, we relaxed. It rained off and on over the weekend, and a lot of things weren’t open on Sundays or that holiday Monday. We did make it out to Ottawa to visit a Cold War era bunker. We had a lovely tour guide, but I really had to resist asking what the hell Canada was worried about during the Cold War. That the Soviets would try to bomb out America’s maple syrup supply? Prevent the Mounties from coming to the rescue if New York City was bombed? I really can’t think of any reason why any country would attack Canada. They’re just too likeable of a country. I’m not thinking too deeply or analytically on this, obviously, but still.
We explored Parliament Hill that afternoon. I really did enjoy learning a bit about Canadian history – despite my heritage, I really know very little about it. I must say, they have a good thing up there, even if it comes with Québécois drivers (at least in Delhi I didn’t have to be behind the wheel directly dealing with the crazy drivers).
Mostly, it was good to see Ash and Mir and relax. Luke commented on the way down that it was an actual vacation for him: he actually forgot about work.
Me, my life is presently one big vacation. With rapidly dwindling funds, but it’s been nice to have a sabbatical of sorts. I should do this every few years.
1 Introduction: My boyfriend, acquired during this stateside summer. You can check out his web presence here.