Top on my Bucket list, after my retirement, was a carefree vacation with my sons in Philadelphia and Toronto. I wanted to compensate me and my children for the short visits I managed during my busy professional life.
The scenic beauty of Philadelphia takes your breath away-the pretty houses, the tall pine trees, sprawling meadows, etc. one can spend hours staring at the blue sky and the dancing pine trees. The houses with beautifully manicured lawns and window sills decorated with colourful flower pots, look gorgeous. People are courteous but reserved, nevertheless, one can almost see a sign board on their faces-’Do not Disturb”.
But Toronto is a different story. My favourite haunts were the Queens Park on sunny days and the café below our apartment, when it drizzles. Sitting in a corner and watching life go by is a beautiful feeling. More so, when you have hung up boots, no deadlines, no meetings.
The shifting moods of Toronto is fascinating. Bright, long sunny days of July give way to cooler days in August. Some mornings are glorious, but some sombre, cloudy and windy . I came in July , the middle of summer when Toronto was celebrating its blue sky , and long sunny days . The roads were filled with old and young. Every patio was brimming with laughter. You see young couples absorbed in themselves, elegantly dressed old couples walking hand in hand, noisy group of students and Homeless roaming around . Weekends and evenings are sacrosanct. Week end is party time and the whole city buzzes with music and celebration.
One of my favourite haunts was the Queens Park. I used to pick up a book and walk to the Park . After some time, more than reading, I used to become absorbed in being a spectator to the life around. The Queens Park presented the quintessence of Toronto life. Tourists taking selfies, parents pushing prams, youngsters jogging, office goers taking a quick lunch and walk , elders reflecting in their cocoon of solitude , homeless sleeping on the bench or screaming his head off in a drug induced illusionary world ., transgender couples loitering around..
This country gives a feeling of welcome, to one and all- be it migrants , students tourists, anybody ! The face of young and old look different . Young are busy, they have their targets to meet, but they do have their time to enjoy life. The old do not wear the exhausted, pensive look, but they look healthy, happy, with well-maintained physique. The goal keeper at my son’s soccer game was a 68-year-old man who run faster than all in the team. Bidding farewell to Toronto was painful for me. However, as the poet said, “what comes will go, what is found , will be lost again ”
Author: Sheila Sudhakaran