All entries for Monday 15 September 2008
September 15, 2008
I often wonder why I like Canadians so much.
I'm in the international accommodation over here, and it's been an odd presentation of my own bizarre little prejudices to myself. Most of the presentation has to do with it being more or less entirely correct. The man from the Netherlands is a 6 foot 6 blonde giant, and the girl from Japan is a tiny precious porcelain doll that I'm afraid to hug in case I snap her spine. The Australians are constantly drunk, and the New Zealanders are exactly the fucking same as the Australians, no matter what either party claim.
Faced with such selection I often feel giddy with the choice of who I wish to visit on any given night. It's almost like an incredibly cheap form of travel. I get to experience tiny amounts of the culture, based on my choice of which corridor to visit. International students are, invariably, awesome -- and awesome in the original sense of the word. Many have ridiculously interesting and complex stories; such as Steve's detailed account of his worse date ever (she actually obtained his police record and questioned him about it) or Andy's accounts of growing up in post-war Vietnam. Different tones for different occasions, but always shockingly vivid and magnificently told.
I've also found out how much I like Australians. They are always drunk.
It's peculiar, then, that when presented with some of the richest and most rare eggs of society to spend my time with, I frequently elect to spend a night with my frosh group. A group of first year, fresh-blooded Canadian undergrads -- some still 17 -- rosy-cheeked and innocent minded (for the most part). I wonder why?
I suppose more than part of it is the attention whore in me needing to be gawped over like a sureally plumed bird in a zoo, as much as the attempts to copy my accent pains me. Whilst I admit this, however, I do consider myself to have deeper reasons; which fuelled my decision to go to Canada in the first place. Canadians are brilliant. They often read as a selection of some of the best qualities from other countries. The staunch seperatism of Scotland, but without the cloisterism; the openness of America, without the acute stupidity; the grasp of culture of the English, without the stuffiness; the food of France, without anything else at all French.
Actually, that's a lie. They don't have the food of France at all. If you will allow me to digress into a rant (and if you didn't fully expect off-topic rants then you may find you've been reading the wrong blog), Canadian food is Terrible.
It is impossible to eat food without going to a restaurant, and even then - it is sketchy. The Wal-Mart near to my accommodation doesn't even have a fresh fruit and vegetable section. It has an engine parts section. I may buy engine parts. The good news is that they're getting one in 2010. So only two more years of scurvy to go.
Seriously, it is ridiculous trying to get food over here. There is no choice on items when there should be (if you want curry, you'd better really like madras), there is insane choice on items there is no need to be (the breakfast cereal isle spans four time zones), the bread tastes like doughnuts, the doughnuts taste like sugar, the sugar tastes like brain damage, the cheese appears only to have originated from milk in the same sense that communist China originated from Karl Marx (incredibly heavily processed, with all the good bits taken out), the bacon is only sold in packs of fifty and tastes like gammon, the chilli has no taste, the mustard tastes as though someone got mustard seed - then urinated on it - then took the mustard seed out, the salads are big enough to slay an ox and bland enough to be mistaken for packing paper and the bread is truly horrible. I know I mentioned the bread before, but frankly it deserves mentioning twice. I didn't think it was entirely possible to screw up bread on this level. It is bread. There is, however, a way. All of it, bar none, tastes far too sweet. This is alright with peanut butter or nutella, but with cheese or bacon it's just wrong. It's an abomination.
This is my only real problem with Canada. Why can't they do good food? Would God sue them for having a copyright infringement of heaven? Canada is an incredibly pleasant ointment, but with a fly this unbearable you can be forgiven for forming an opinion of the Country as a whole. It is, truly, dreadful.
Anyway, back on the railroad, I like Canadians. I like them disproportionately. It says a lot about them that when I met one in Jersey and told her I was going to Kingston, she gave me the names and addresses of five of her relatives that lived around the area that she fully expected me to stay with. The thing is, I could stay with them. I need only rock up with a suitcase, mention the name, and be escorted into the main bedroom. They're that nice. It also shows a lot of Canadians that I'm willing to use the word 'nice', which is so limpid and insipid that I generally prefer just to leave the sentiment out altogether. The problem is, they are nice. A girl in the street saw me struggling with a duvet and offered me a lift in her car to wherever I was going. She offered me the lift before she knew where I lived. I could have hopped in and said "Azerbaijan", and I've no doubt that she would start driving.
Canada is a brilliant, pleasant environment, which makes me happy in some hypothetical, shiny disney film sense. I feel better for being here. I just really hope they fix their bread. It's hideous.