Friday, August 2, 2013

Peel - Vendome - Bonaventure (from Metro Montreal)

See also Metro Montreal (one of my other blogs) from which this entry is taken:

Walked down from the McIntyre Medical Building where I often set up shop.  I have this little nook that I like to think of as mine.  It's in the Sir William Osler Library of the History of Medicine, in a spacious and clean part of the the 'bridge' that connects the McIntyre building 'proper' over to some of the other McGill buildings.  It has stained glass windows with various crests.  It's all old and very distinguished looking, but most importantly it's quiet and there are very few students.  I might encounter one student working along the opposite wall in amongst the book shelves behind me, and occasionally I might see some of the library staff on the level below, which is open through the middle part of the floor, giving the whole place a sense of open space.

I usually walk up there from where I work in the mornings at the main McGill library in the Sir John A. MacDonald reading room, where I have another nook with a good view of The Falcon statue by the main entrance to the library.  At 10:30 am I walk up to McIntyre after getting my coffee and watching the news at the Desautels Business Building.  From 11 to 12 I work at McIntrye/Osler then have lunch on floor five of the same building.  There's a row of six industrial-looking microwaves where I usually heat up my lunch.  This building is located at one of the highest points on campus, so you can take your lunch out, walk across the road and you're in the leafy environs of Mount Royal.  Usually I just eat in the cafeteria so I can get right back to work straightaway.

So, today, since it's so nice out, and since I'm probably working tomorrow as well, I decide upon a little metro ride.  I haven't been on the metro since being back in Montreal this trip, and I have this special blog devoted to Montreal's metro.  I head down to the Peel station by way of Stanley Street, and go down.  This station is right across from the YMCA where I used to take french lessons.  It's also right next to one of the better English language bookstores in town, and Indigo is there too.  I witnessed a couple airing their grievances there in public, and quite loudly, a week or so ago.  It was all very touchingly rough and tumble, with men transforming themselves instantly from slouchy-sweaty mopers into straight-back bouncer types to protect the woman from the 'bad guy' harassing her.

Down into that rabbit hole I go, heading for Lionel-Groulx station where I must transfer to get to Vendome.  I try to notice something interesting and it takes a while.  It's like no time has passed at all, and I'm just as jaded and calloused to it all as before I left.  But soon enough something hits me.  I notice that there are many people who will challenge the noise of the metro with their voices, determined to carry on the conversation no matter how loud it gets.  People talk very loudly over the squealing, screeching, and scratching sounds of the underground train, which only adds a whole other layer of madness to the scene, and makes it extra jarring.  There's also the heat generated from the rubber tires, and the heat almost seems to come from the sound itself.

It makes me think, is it possible or necessary to 'talk over the heat' in any sense?  I know this makes no sense, but it seems like something worth testing or writing about at least as a poetic exercise. I also notice at the same time older people trying to keep themselves 'neat', tucked in, hats straight (or neat, as in the rapper with his hat at just the right angle so it looks as though it will fall off his head when he nods off to sleep.)

Walking to Vendome to NDG and the Encore bookstore that is my final destination I think left/right as I'm passing some others on the street, getting tangled up in their trajectories, mixing up how cultural topologies dictate how we should treat each other as passersby.  I can stay on the left or on the right as needed in England or in Canada when I'm riding my bicycle on the road, but when it comes to walking I'm more confused than ever before, tending to chaotic shifting between staying on the left or on the right.  People in Montreal, much like I used to do, seem to want to 'force' things to the right even going out of their way to do so.  I could happily stay left for all I care.  In some places in England, on the tube, one is told (or it is implied for example on certain escalators) to stay right, though it seems against the English rule to drive on the left -- this is why I feel I have the right to do so, even though it violates Montreal cultural protocol.  This for some reason also reminds me how poor my french remains.

I'm walking back through residential Westmount to the almost finished massive McGill superhospital, surprisingly close to Vendome metro, I now see.  It hadn't seemed close in space when far in time it remained rubble pit or dormant structure.  Now this hub, hovering at the edge of Notre Dame de Grace/NDG seems happening.

Waiting in the Vendome metro on those J shaped reddy orange plastic benches that resemble elongated 3D elucidations of sitting the curve & back of the seats is simultaneously funky/retro and uncomfortable.  Video screens add to the retro, though they're flat.  Everything is a bit 'expo '67'.

Vendome to Bonaventure.  I mistakenly got off at Lionel-Groulx (Canada's most romantic metro? or it's most smelly -- I can't decide).  The screens are much larger here and flat against the wall (in fact they are projected images) showing movie previews.  A shot of the Olympic Stadium flashed past at one point with its bird- or alien-head structure and rotten roof (that part wasn't shown).  Georges Vanier - Lucien L'Allier - Bonaventure -- connecting to RTL and the south shore bus line.

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