Monday’s walk seems so long ago. I think it’s week 29, which means I’m past the half-way mark for the year! [Update: It was actually week 24, so not quite halfway]. I finally finished reading The Underground Girls of Kabul, one of the best books I’ve ever read. Roshni stayed over for the weekend, and we had a big breakfast before I set off. I walked up University and past the rose bushes near Queen’s Park. What a lovely scent! I continued through the MARS centre and up Yonge and eventualy made it to the reference library where I ran into Robin. Robin facilitated my Laughing Like Crazy stand-up comedy group. She spent three months with us, helping us craft jokes and providing feedback and was the MC the night of the showcase. She is a feisty spirit and always has a smile on her face.

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Me and Robin at the Toronto Reference Library

Then I went to Balzac’s where I tried to get some work on done on my writing assignment while I waited for Roshni. This week’s assignment was to write something light-hearted, which was a refreshing change from all the serious stories we’d been writing. I wrote about my experience rock-climbing in Thailand off the cliffs of Krabi with Amy and Neesha. I was scared to go to the top but with the encouragement of our little Thai instructor (“You can do it!!” I finally made it there).

Roshni came and showed me her new shoes that she’d bought from the Bay. She couldn’t stay long since she had a flight to catch, but there was enough time for a picture!

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Me and Roshni at Balzac’s, Bloor & Yonge

I continued to work and overheard a conversation nearby that a woman was having with a German couple who were in town visiting. She told them that they absolutely had to check out the Swaminarayan Mandir, and that it was built from marble imported from Italy. They seemed intrigued, so I joined in the conversation and mentioned that my sister had gotten married there and showed them one of the most stunning pics from the wedding. The woman said “It is a beautiful temple, but an even more beautiful couple”.  How true! On my other side was a conversation between a young man and woman who were networking and discussing jobs in consulting. That’s what I love about the long table at Balzac’s – it is so easy to make friends and join in conversations.

In the evening I went to see Emma Straub speak at the Bluma Appel Salon. She is the author of Modern Lovers and The Vacationers, which I haven’t read, but I think I might now that I’ve seen her speak. She was so funny and light-hearted, and brilliant too. She spoke about how she had an obsession with a couple who lived near her, and her obsession with them led her to write her book. I thought about my own obsessions and how they inspire my writing. She also talked about her writing process, and now that she has two kids and is very busy, she must write each day whenever she has a chance, there is no ‘waiting for the muse’ so to speak. I loved the story she shared about how hard it was to publish a book – for years she had tried to publish a novel and had gotten rejected every time, and then one day out of the blue when she was selling merchandise, somebody just came up to her and asked if she wanted to publish a novel. She had to go home and put together a manuscript, and it was a collection of short stories. She said she is so grateful that it’s out there because it never should’ve even existed. After the talk, I debated whether to buy her book but it was hardcover and pretty expensive so I think I’ll just get it at the library.

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Emma Straub, Toronto Reference Library

On the way home I passed by this poster at Nathan Philips Square. It reminded me of a movie I watched recently with Roshni called “Arranged” about a friendship between a Muslim woman and an Orthodox Jewish woman who are both teachers and are struggling with racism as well as the pressures of getting married. It was a pretty ridiculous movie only because it seemed unrealistic for Brooklyn to have such ignorance where people are startled at the mere sight of a Muslim woman, but who knows. This poster was put out by OCASI, which is the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants. I wonder if posters like these work – either way it caught my attention!

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