Friday, 23 July 2010

Vancouver day 6

It’s raining again. The relentless kind which I’m sure will last all day long.
I take a walk along Commercial Drive and stop to take some photos of interesting murals painted on walls. I stop at the Alice in Wonderland shop -front and take a photo. This turns out pretty cool as you can see me faintly with my hood up reflecting in the window.

I feel like I’ve not eaten enough the past couple of days so stop in at a Starbucks. I guess I go with some familiarity because I’m alone. I feel like I’m selling out in a way by going to a chain coffee shop. It’s crazy the amount of Starbucks there are here. Some are right across the street from one another. The cafe is very busy for a Monday morning. It always strikes me at home when if I’m off during the week how busy places are. I always thought it reflected high unemployment or something, but maybe it’s just a reflection of the change of working patterns. I have an amazing raspberry and lemon loaf, very light and tasty. I realise I’ve never had a cake at a Starbucks back home so I don’t know if we have these in our coffee shops.

A woman who looks in her 50s is sitting at the table next to me along with a woman who looks in her mid 30s and an older man, late 60s/early 70s. She talks about how we only use 1% of our brain. She says she feels like she doesn’t use any of her bran since she became a housewife. She then starts a conversation about skin and she tells the old man he has great skin.

After breakfast I walk further up Commercial Drive to join the 3-row bus queue for BCU (British Columbia University where I am meeting Jane). The queue is called a ‘line up’ and if you get on at the back or in the middle you don’t have to pay as it gets so busy. It’s called an honour system but it would be rare that you would be able to make it to the front of the bus to be able to ‘honour’ this honour system and put any change in the ticket slot.

This bus is much more pleasant than the number 20 and 22 bus. The people look a lot more normal and there are a lot of students. One cool looking guy in a cap and black top and jeans stands in front of my seat. He has a tattoo around his wrist of stars and writing in another language I can’t quite decipher. A young woman comes up beside him and sort of falls into him on purpose and says “Oh excuse me” At first I think this is the most blatant pick up I have ever witnessed on public transport but then she grins and I realise she knows him and they greet each other properly. She says “Hey duuuude” and they both seem very chilled and cool.

I’ve noticed that most people in Vancouver are quite skinny – the females are very slight and the guys are very tall (most of them appear to be over 6 foot). Around the Commercial Drive area a lot of the guys wear Trilby type hats, have jaw length hair and beards. A lot of them wear tight black jeans with checked shirts.

The bus journey out to UBC is just over half an hour. UBC is the last stop and is right at the campus, outside the student union. I meet Jane inside and the SU is massive, with a lot of choice of eateries. We settle on pasta to eat, I go with Torrota Tortellini with veg. It’s very tasty. It’s pretty cool sitting eating lunch in one of Canada’s biggest universities.

After lunch we head to the Museum of Anthropology. To get there we need to walk across the campus which is enormous. It must be terrifying for new students trying to find their way around.

The Museum of Anthropology is housed in a very cool building – it looks like the shape is based on Inuit sculptures. Inside there is amazing Native Indian artwork and ornaments, costumes and masks from all over the world. I can’t believe the amount of stuff they have acquired.

The museum also contains modern art installations.
I walk into a hall and stand inside the middle of a rectangle of mounted images, photos on canvas. There is a hum of a lost native language emanating from speakers in the walls. Standing surrounded by this art and this sound is very surreal. I feel like I have stepped inside an abstract film and become part of the landscape. It feels great, similar to the sensation of becoming absorbed in a great piece of music or inspiring and visually captivating film. Some of the photos are of people who live in the outskirts, speaking this strange dead language. Their pictures vibrate with their chanting and lyrical conversation. Some are photos of forests with place signs. I feel like I could stand here forever, absorbing this sound.

Another art exhibit is of sea landscapes. I put on a pair of headphones and the sound of the sea fills my ears. The exhibit is about reactions to other cultures. It says something on one board about how people feel... “Do you feel like killing them because of the smell of the curry coming from downstairs.” I think killing is a bit of a strong word, but I have to say it does annoy me when I come home to smell the curry from my downstairs neighbours floating up into my bedroom.

Another exhibit has rows of glass jars containing contributor’s idea of ‘home’. Some are disturbing; one contains a small doll sitting on a chair, gagged and blindfolded, a toy dog is stuffed inside one jar, a family photo in another, a teenage mutant ninja turtle in another...

Outside the museum are original houses where native Indians lived, surrounded by a square of totems.

We catch the bus back to The Drive and chill out at Jane’s. Later, on the way back to my suite I see an animal running around beside the parked cars on the street. My first thought is that it’s a fox but I realise it isn’t quite big enough. As it runs out in to the road beneath the streetlights I see that it’s a Racoon. It stops for a second across the road and looks at me then runs away into the shadows.

There's a very creepy rundown house down the road from me. It looks deserted and Jane says you never see anyone going in or coming out. At night I always see a light on at a top side window. I call it the Witches House. Cackle, cackle!

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