My Past week – fighting a fire in Toronto

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Last week, in fact Monday, I had a work request to travel to Toronto for fighting a fire so to speak. I booked a flight Monday evening at a cost of over $2k. Tuesday morning I reluctantly got out of bed at 5 AM. I was so used to not travelling now that getting up early brought me creeps. Imagine how it is to get up when it is dark outside and you only hear an occasional car driving by. Then you have the chill in the home that will pin you in bed. Imagine getting up to get a quick shower and dressed to drive out after a fast cup of brew. The world outside is still sleeping for the most part. It took almost 15 minutes in the car and 45 minutes after waking up to get past the fighting for acceptance. The drive to airport was easy. I watch the sun slowly rising and the sky turning a dull glow. As time passed, fellow drivers caught up and I felt past the hump. Now home was behind and the day ahead came into mind. Getting the airport on a Tuesday morning is a lot different than a Monday morning. You need at least a good 30-40 extra on a Monday morning depending on when you get to the airport.

The flight into Toronto was smooth though delayed. Immigration was cool. The young woman at the counter asked some pointed questions and let me through. A smart Punjabi stopped me on the way out to check if I needed a taxi. I definitely needed it. Usually I would go up to the taxi line and pick one up so as to give everyone a fair chance. But I didn’t want to be untrusting that day. He took me to his limo all the way talking about himself. By the time the 35 minute drive was over, he had painted in my mind a picture of his whole life – how he came to Canada, how his brother and family had come but couldn’t stay because they didn’t like the place, how it was hard on his parents to stay in Canada since they had aged, how the land prices in Delhi had skyrocketed and how Indians in India were better off than him. His 33 years in Toronto passed quickly and I tipped the chap generously for the interesting topic he provided me to blog someday about.

I landed at the office and was soon immersed in understanding the situation. Met a couple of colleagues who were already into the midst of the fight. Long story short, the week ended with things stabilizing but there was still slowness that was worrisome. Tuesday evening we went out to the ‘3 Brewers’ which is an excellent place – had some good, healthy pizza which was all of thin crust, light cheese and some vegetables. Beer was good after a long day. The place was crowded with young food-seeker who typically end up in a bar like restaurant trying to find company where much really doesn’t exist. People come in crowds, and stick to their own crowd. Anyway, I took a cab to the Renaissance which is adjacent to the Blue Jays stadium. Many of the rooms in the first and second floor are suites that have a private lookout into the ground. I had to settle to peek into the stadium from the restaurant. There was a full house as the Blue Jays had a home game.

Next day, Wednesday, work went well. But this blog isn’t about work, at least much about work. The great thing about a downtown, and so much about a downtown such as Toronto’s is the choices to eat. Plenty of restaurants and choice in them. We had lunch at a food court and I settled for some salad at a Mediterranean place.  The same evening I ventured out for a stroll on King’s and Queen’s street and the neighborhood. By the time I got to Bay’s tower which has a great food court, there were all closed. So I found this Indian restaurant ‘Kama’. There was a dinner buffet and lots of food. There was no one to receive and sit you despite the board asking patrons to wait. The girl who was behind the bar counter, hidden from incoming guests, was curt and pointed me a table to sit. As I walked past a table, she almost stopped me. A hostess must take a patron to a table not just show where to sit. I had my first taste of service. The food overall was too heavy and with this started my dislike for the typical restaurant Indian food. I hardly ate much for the $26 I paid. No point bad mouthing a restaurant. Time will tell but best to avoid it next time and not recommend to friends.

The whole of the week, till I left on Friday afternoon, I would walk to work from the hotel in the morning. It was a 30 minute walk. When you walk in downtown, you can’t but help notice that people are in a rush. Most of them are stoic and seem to be going on about life in a routine fashion. Imagine how life can be a drudgery when things are mechanical. One can take some extra time and enjoy the walk instead. Why should we all stick to catching a specific train – after all there are many. In the days of extensive project planning and tools to remind us of upcoming appointments, we can’t get out of home 10 minutes early and find time for an easy pace of walk. Ironic.

Thursday evening, after work, I searched for vegetarian restaurants and found ‘Fresh’ on Spadina. The menu looked awesome and I decided to walk the 1Km to it from the hotel. It was a walk well walked. The food was awesome. The drink – energy-c – kicked up something in me to make me really feel the release of energy inside. The soup was tasty. The sweet potato fires with peanut sauce was excellent. Another energy-themed entree with tofu and vegetables was great, but I should have opted for brown rice instead of noodles. Anyway, Fresh is a restaurant that was packed with energy – full of people, talking away the after-work hours. The waiting staff were all smiling and was a refreshing change from Kama. I wish we had more of such healthy places to eat in the Philly area. Cheese steak – come on, if you look at one, it almost feels disgusting and unhealthy. When you make great food at home or eat great food elsewhere, a cheese steak never makes it to the list of great food. That’s my take anyway and you are free to take one yourself.

The trip back home Friday was smooth and I was glad to be home. I was waiting on my Yamaha-mg102c mixer to be opened and I had a whole weekend to experiment with it. This is the topic of my previous blog.

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