Very white, indeed. When I landed in Toronto last Wednesday night I was confronted by a huge dose of nostalgia. The orange sky at night, the bitter wind, icicles dangling from Gothic eaves, bare trees dotting an empty snowy park…it was like being in Chicago ten years ago.
And all the while Alexandre Desplat’s beautiful score for the film Birth haunted every moment. As you can tell from my photographs, I definitely had my undergraduate memories, as well as the film’s opening scene, in mind. But it was not all a sappy memory fest. I actually saw stuff and went places. Here are some highlights:
1. The Maharaja: The Splendour of India’s Royal Courts exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Even though it seems politically incorrect, given India’s struggle for independence during the twentieth century, I really enjoyed this exhibition. There was a Rolls Royce Phantom on display, as well as jewels, saris, and large-scale paintings. This was all together a wonderful display of this culture’s often baroque sensibilities.
2. Falafel, everywhere! I’m a few meals away from becoming a full-fledged vegetarian (something born more out of a fascination with vegetables, fruit, and beans than any political motivation) so the abundance of Middle Eastern eateries was very welcome.
3. The artist talk by Shary Boyle. I probably should’ve mentioned this earlier but I was in Toronto for a symposium. (My first international one!) And Toronto-based artist Shary Boyle was our keynote speaker. She started working with porcelain about a decade ago and actually learned it from hobbyists rather than art school. She shared a funny anecdote about one time when she was working on a figurine. The mature woman mentoring her couldn’t understand why Boyle insisted on deliberately placing the figurine’s arm the wrong way. But Boyle eventually convinced her that this was the look she was going for.
4. Wow, I was in Canada! Even though the flight from Chicago was only an hour long, I felt as though I was in a different country. The architecture, streetcars, cultural diversity, and friendliness were very impressive. My Chilean cousins always ask me why South Park mocks Canadians and I never really knew why. Now I understand that it’s most likely rooted in jealousy. Though their winters, despite my nostalgia, become unbearable after a few days.