An oasis can be defined as a” calm, pleasant place in the middle of somewhere busy and unpleasant” Goodness knows I need one, particularly of late and I have found one. It is the Vancouver Public Library. I went there on a whim on Saturday, well a whim and to return library books. But I made two tremendous discoveries when there. Readers to this blog will know of my never ending desire to make this city an even greater place than it already is. However, in order to preform that task it is necessary to know the city’s structure, learn of its rules and regulations, find out who is supposed to be doing what and to whom. I found a source – go to the fourth floor of the Vancouver Public Library, turn right and there are computers, turn on, scroll down and there is everything anyone would ever want to know about this fair city. The library staff is so incredibly helpful. Now I have tools at my command. I could aim as high as becoming mayor or merely serve on a citizenship committee but I am determined to make this a better place. So there!
The library is not perfect however. Signage in this city is woefully inadequate and the library is no exception. Finding the loo is like finding a needle in a haystack, one has to ask staff for directions. How inefficient is this? Particularly when there is a line up and one desperately needs the facilities. The staff agree with me, so my first mission is cut out for me – a washroom sign. Start small – work up to something bigger. Eliminate ripped jeans, get mufflers on motorcycles and expensive cars and then: the sky is the limit.
The other discovery made at the Vancouver Public Library was a photographic exhibit.
Finding it a bit difficult because it was poorly signed but this persistent soul succeeded. It was so informative and interesting. It was not organized chronologically but that did actually enhance the experience as it was possible to view the history in its totality. I took photos of two of the photos as they were particularly meaningful to me. One, a black and white photo, taken in 1907 shows broken windows and boarded up facades because whites (I guess) went on a race riot rampage and destroyed the businesses of the Chinese living in Vancouver, How shameful, on two accounts. That it took place in the first place and that we were never told about it. I paid attention in school and I have a great memory – no mention of these atrocities. I had to go to a lecture at the British Library in London England last year to learn there was slavery in Canada. So very pathetic! Redress is being made to the Chinese community but it took years and an incredible amount of effort on the part of of the Chinese community.
But another picture did my heart proud. It was a photograph of the Lytton Chinese Museum. The owners of the museum are a Scottish couple. I am Scottish, I am so proud of them and the country of my origin. I am so proud to be a Scot, living in Vancouver. So there! While at the exhibit I was chatting with a charming Chinese couple, talking about the importance of respecting different cultures and cultural differences. I told them of a ‘sort of’ relationship I had with a man of Chinese origin. I realized, at the conclusion of the relationship, that I was so eager to please him that I was even changing my personality. But I laughed with them. My sense of humor is my salvation.
Me: But it was doomed! Because no matter how hard I tried I could never be Asian and that is what he wanted and needed.
They: You are right! Not with that white hair, pale skin and blue eyes – you could never pass.
Me: Yes, it is best I figured this out sooner rather than later.
So I am back being myself again. I was talking with cousin Gail on the phone the other morning.
Gail: I was really starting to like your new personality
Me: Tough S*** It is never coming back – it did not get me anywhere and it was too much work.
Gail: (laughingly) O.K.
But this is the truth. Who needs a new personality? I was walking out of my apartment building and this dog pulled at its leash, eager to greet me. The owners were astounded – the dog couldn’t leave me alone. We were laughing, as the dog, they said was usually really shy.
Me: Is it a girl dog or a boy dog?
They: Its a boy, his name is Enzo.
Me: It figures! First it was men, then it was children and now it is dogs. Where will this end?
They: Has this been going on your whole life?
Me: No, since London about two years ago.
I am feeling like Helen of Troy except my face is the face that launched a thousand shits, not ships. Pictures of the Chinese Journey Through Canadian History follow.