Walking Montreal...

One of the ways Dianne and I take a vacation involves walking and exploring: last summer it was London and this summer it has been the Berkshires and now Montreal. We have walked and watched - listened and laughed - a lot this summer. It has been refreshing in all the right ways. And now in these final days before Labor Day and the return to a whole different kind of energy back home, we decided to wander 250 miles north for a few days of being in a new place.

Montreal is a beautiful place with a rich multi-cultural history. It is very, very humbling and good for me to be in a place where my language is not a part of the dominant culture. Good because it pushes me into paying attention to others, being open to learning from others and genuinely trying to be a gentle guest. I learned French when I was a child, but chose Spanish as my other language of choice while living and studying in Central America, working with the Farm Workers Union and living in the the desert Southwest. To hear French again is refreshing... and to have to figure out directions and distances is a sweet challenge. Being with such tender bilingual people is also energizing and humbling. Makes me think of the stupid and fear-based arguments that have been raging in the USA for the past 15 years about "English only" and the anti-immigration legislation that has sprung up like a mean-spirited rash. Many (if not most) of the signs here include a smaller English language explanation for that is one way of expressing cultural hospitality. Yes, the Quebecois are the majority here, but they are a minority in Canada and there is something in scripture about "remembering when your parents were wanderers... in a foreign land" that runs deep.

I never would have thought it but apparently I look French because I am always being addressed as a Quebecois - I always thought I favored my Celtic roots - so this is kind of a hoot! (Must be the metro-sexual thing, heh?) We've walked all over the Old City and the Rue St. Denys today - stumbled upon the town's "Bowery" by accident, too - along with our exploration of the river front and major art galleries. Tonight we're headed out to "Club Soda" - a rock venue in the heart of the red light zone featuring one of our favorite Euro-bands, Cinematic Orchestra. Di said if she'd seen the venue BEFORE buying tickets she might not have done so as it is surrounded by sex shops and... "alternative businesses." Should be more fun.

Comments

Kevin said…
Dont like the comment just erase it, typical new age response, REREAD Ezekiel, Jeremiah or does the TRUTH bother You.
RJ said…
Erase it, man, I don't even understand your context?!? And what references in Ezekiel and Jeremiah are you concerned about, Kevin? It always helps me to share a FOCUS so, bro... how 'bout it?
RJ said…
ah.... now I get it - I don't agree with your premise - but now I get it: you are equating the destruction of ancient Jewish culture by the Babylonians with the potential destruction of the USA...? Canada? by those with different languages and customs? Well, let's just say I believe that scripture requires interpretation and 6th century Israel and 21st century hold some fascinating differences that are worth considering when it comes to hospitality, welcoming the stranger and loving our neighbor - and there is NOTHING new age about that. Tag, your it!
Black Pete said…
Hmm, I seem to have jumped into a controversy here, so I'll just ignore it.

Brother James, you are in our most European, cosmopolitan city, bar none.

Interestingly, French is nearly the minority language (yes, you read correctly) in Montreal, because of the amazing diversity of cultures there. Every nation on the globe is represented, as are most of the languages. You're just as apt to hear Yiddish or Kurdish as French, and I don't even have to mention the amazing cuisine diversity.

We can even forgive the city for giving us William Shatner (Or. Can. We?), it is so wondrous. And, now that you mention it, plenty sleazy in places...

PS: If I read things rightly, I agree with you re Kevin's reference.
RJ said…
Thanks for your words, brother Pete. I can believe that French is the almost minority language given the wide diversity. We had a ball and even get a kick out of Shatner (in small doses, yes?)How is your book publishing coming? Now that I am back from vacation I want to get caught up.

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