Jan 2020 09

“That man, the Iraninan General. He was a bad man, Andrew. And it is good he is gone.”

I have become that person. I talk to every Uber driver and cabbie about life and politics and real stuff as much as possible. It may affect my rating in bad ways, I dunno. But I do it. Because people are fascinating.

“But not like that”, he added. “Trump is just causing more problems.”

We talked about Iran and the situation in the middle east and puppet regimes. All kinds of things. Modern life.

“It’s hard to keep up with what is going on in the world”, I said. “Like, I’ve been in a meeting for a couple of hours. Did I miss anything? Did anything bad happen? Any more on that plane crash?”

We agreed it was terrible thing for the Iranian-Canadian community. And I thought about a man I bought a Persian rug from in Parkdale last year. He is Iranian, Persia as the region was historically called. The rug we picked out was the first thing I bought for my new apartment.

My driver was from Pakistan. He’s been here for 11 years. He goes back every year to spend time with family. It is a troubled region and has been for a long time. The relationship with India is complicated. I thought about how ‘Paki’ was a slur that was thrown around quite liberally in Rexdale when I was growing up. We didn’t know the context back then of how calling someone this who was from India was a huge insult to them, specifically. Words are less hateful when you are young. You are throwing dull knives, not understanding their power.

We both agreed that the world is becoming increasingly fucked – Australia, the Amazon, Iran, America, on and on and on.

And more than anything, we definitely agreed that we were lucky to be in Canada.

“Here, we can express ourselves however we want, Andrew. You and I we can be ourselves and for the most part know we will be safe.”

“Do you want to bring the rest of your family here?”

“I do. We are all working on it. I like Canada a lot. Not big problems. Just small ones. Here there are only the three double-yous as problems.”

“What do you mean, double-yous?” I wondered if he meant the worldwide web (WWW).

“The three Ws. The letter. I have trouble with them. First W – Work. This job is hard to make a living at. Second W – the Weather. (yes it was fucking cold last night). And the third W challenge here I am learning about… Women. I am trying to understand the women and meet one.”

“I was born here but I have the same challenge with all those Ws, too.” I said.

Our car wandered into Parkdale on the cold January night, and I got ready to scramble out. Somewhere there is a war waging. Somewhere there are crazy fires burning, killing things that will never come back. Somewhere there are people who are mourning loved ones killed in a mysterious plane crash.

I have small problems. The Ws. I’m lucky.

Yes, I have become that person. I talk to my drivers.

 

Jan 2020 07

10

Posted In Blog,The world

“Well, you know what today is,” my sister said on the phone.

Sure. Tuesday. What? And why was she calling me at 1 pm? I only answered because I thought it was bad news. She never calls me during lunch on a weekday.

“… So I wanted to check-in and see how you’re doing.”

“Today?”

January 7th…? I had to think.

And then I realized. Fuck. Our mother died today. Ten years ago today.

I’m glad I didn’t remember. It means I’ve moved on.

My sister said “How does 10 years go by so quickly? How has a whole decade passed?”

But I know how. Some days, especially at the beginning, seemed like weeks. And others, most of them, come and go in your life with as little notable as what you had for Saturday breakfast three weeks ago. Do you remember what you had for breakfast three Saturdays ago? You think of the departed on Mother’s Day, holidays, her birthday, your birthday, and strange times like when you hear a certain Elvis song, or catch your niece throwing you some serious shade in a way that resembles her Grandmother whom she probably doesn’t even remember but certainly can channel. Genes run hard.

But I didn’t wake up thinking about it today.

It was a sunny day. Just like today, actually. I showed up to the hospital midday to visit and brought her something. Some Chinese Food – shitty, greasy, sodium-maximized stir-fried mall food court noodles, her favourite – because she hadn’t been eating much. When she didn’t want it, perhaps I should have known something was up. She was quiet. She was lying on her side, since it was more comfortable. A large tumour in her abdomen wasn’t helping. There were plans to try to remove it in a couple of days at Princess Margaret Hospital, where she was waiting to be transferred.

I read her a bit of the newspaper and we made small talk.

My dad showed up.

And, restless, I decided to leave. I decided to go home and get ready for the coming days when I thought the real war was going to happen. But truthfully, I felt helpless. I like to have a purpose. I like to feel like I’m doing something or making difference. I could not. I could only fucking bring noodles. So I left.

My last image of her was in the sun. It was beaming in through the hospital room window, illuminating her, as she laid almost in fetal position. Such a hopeful last sight of someone who could cast such long shadows when she wanted to. Such a sour disposition for someone who could also cast so much light sometimes. When she let you see in the cracks that she quickly sealed up.

“Thanks for coming by, Andrew” she said softly as I was going.

I looked at my dad, who would later call me, stunned, as in the background I could hear frenzied doctors and a defibrillator machine going off once, then twice, as they tried to shock start a heart.

“Dad, go outside the hospital room” I would tell him firmly but calmly. “And sit down. And do not move. I am on my way. Do not come back in this room. I will be right there.”

I recall my drive to the hospital. And talking to the doctor, and telling him to stop CPR. It had been over 30 minutes. My call.

Ten years ago.

No, I didn’t remember. Thank fucking god.

It’s Tuesday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jan 2020 06

Don’t tell me I don’t know how to relax. Pfft. I relax like a mf’ing champ.

_#Belize #zenstate #2020
Instagram @henrysperson

Dec 2019 30

“And Andrew, don’t pick up any hitchhikers.”

This was the only advice my father gave me. And although I am long past the age of needing advice from him, I was on my way to drive around Belize, his home country, for a week.

So, good advice.

Which is why I let out a long, internal sigh, when I gazed in my rear-view mirror at the man whom I had picked up and was sitting in my backseat.

There is a stretch of highway in Belize that says ‘Prison Area – do not pick-up hitchhikers’. And this is where this person had hopped into my rental vehicle.

I had been in the country for about an hour.

How did this happen, you wonder?

Well, the roads of Belize are as wild as the interior jungles. ‘Paved’ is a relative, loose, term. The better arteries are chalky, pock-marked surfaces that resemble the better parts of the moon. And the rules of the road can be just as structure-free. Expect to be passed at wild speeds, ramshackle Belize buses to be coming at you in the wrong lane, and the ‘sleeping policemen’, as they are called – sometimes unmarked speedbumps.

Many times in the past I have no doubt wrecked the suspension of a rental vehicle in Belize by taking these too fast.

It was at one of these bumps that I slowed down to take at a reasonable, polite-Canadian speed, and a Policeman signalled me to stop. This happens once in awhile in Belize. They checkstop to make sure you don’t have any unwanted stowaways.

As I slowed down to talk to the Policeman, he went to open the back passenger door and tried the handle a few times. It was locked. Silly me. So I did what any law-abiding Canadian does – I unlocked it. He opened it and got in.

“Thanks for stopping. I was going to take the bus.”

What?

“Who are you?”

“Dunkirk, sir.”

“Where are you going?”

“Belize City.”

He was grinning ear to ear. His very proper and clean uniform said ‘Prison Guard’ on it. Not a cop.

I was blocking traffic. I had a moment to decide. Pick this person up, this stranger of about 25 years old who was baking in the afternoon Belizean sun, or be a complete dick and drive off, scared.

Sigh. Non-dick mode engaged.

“Fine. Get in.”

Sorry, Dad.

Over the next 30 minutes, we had a conversation through the rear-view mirror. Me in the front, Dunkirk in the back. I learned that Dunkirk worked at the Belize Prison. For the last 8 months. He had a Belizean degree in Agriculture but was finding it hard to get a job, so he took what came along. The Prison.

We small talked about family and how he was waiting to get a girlfriend because he wanted to be financially stable before doing that. He wouldn’t be going out on New Year’s Eve because he didn’t want to hang around with the wrong crowd.

In Belize City, it would be very easy to get in with the wrong crowd.

“Where are you going, Andrew?”

“After one night in Belize City, I have no idea. Maybe a Jungle Lodge. Then a beach town. Who knows? No plan. I have family here in Belize but no one knows I’m in the country. I’m trying to stay off the radar.”

Basically, you could kill me and leave me at the side of the road and no one would know I’m missing. Shut up, Andrew.

We continued our talk, covering Belizean politics, corruption and the state of the country, and I began to appreciate all the things back home that I take for granted. My job. My first-world status. My knowing that a bus will come along every 5 minutes. My ability to just say ‘Fuck it, I’m hopping on a plane for Belize tomorrow and gonna do whatever for a week.’

I stopped near the phone factory to let him out, as he asked, pulling up on the dusty gravel shoulder and kicking up a cloud.

He opened the door to exit into the said cloud. I turned in my driver’s seat and we shook hands.

“Good luck to you. It was nice meeting you.”

“Thank you, Andrew. You, too.”

“Oh, and don’t stop for any people dressed as Belizean Army. There are a lot of robbers impersonating them lately.

Good to know. Prison Guard might be a good guise as well.

As I watched him scamper away, I thought about how I’d probably never see him again. Will he find that girlfriend and start a family? Will he find a job in Agriculture? What am I doing here on some crazy mission to feel the homeland under my feet? Where do I belong? Who am I? Where am I heading tomorrow?

It is a few days later. I am at a lodge in the Jungles of Belize. As I type this, I am also speaking to someone who says she writes books about unlocking the divine being within us. 2019 is going out the same way it came in – full of embracing odd opportunities that come along. And opening my mind. And remembering you get back what you put out there.

We’re all passengers on this ride. Buckle up.

See you all next year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dec 2019 29

 

 

 

 

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