Sunday, May 27, 2012

Some Old Friends

Sunday May 27, 11:35 p.m.

It's been a bit of a reunion week of sorts. Mrs. Perth and Mrs. Alp of my old student collective in Chiba, The Beehive, arrived in Toronto. And so, I was off to the Sheraton Gateway Hotel at Pearson to pick them up. Almost didn't make it due to a major subway snafu involving the suicide of a high school student at Castle Frank which had hundreds of commuters pouring out onto the streets trying to smash onto the hastily arranged shuttle buses or hailing taxis. I was lucky to have shared a cab with three others so that I could get to St. George Station where the trains were being turned back westbound.

But I did get there right on time, and Mrs. Tulip was there with her van to pick all of us up for a round of dim sum at a Mississauga restaurant called Summit Garden. It had been almost half a year since I last saw the group that I'd been teaching for 13 years, but it felt like yesterday when I saw them. Afterwards, Mrs. Tulip picked up some mussels at the local Costco to make up dinner for the ladies at her place. I spent a few hours there just to reminisce before I had to head on home.

On the Saturday, I met up with Perth and Alp again and gave them a small tour of the downtown area. Specifically, I first took them down to the St. Lawrence Market. I had been kinda iffy about this place being voted the Best Market in the World, but it looks like the weekends actually do help give the place a lot more excitement.

The three of us went for a DIY Ploughmans Lunch of sorts. We made full use of the market's facilities by picking up gravlox, prosciutto ham, olives, apricot cheese and Montreal bagels. It was the right call...better than settling for the set meals, although they are also good. Alp and Perth were suitably impressed with the variety and taste. In fact, Perth decided to buy half a dozen of the bagels to bring back to Japan. Just by the largest coincidence, my old friend Eriko just happened to be taking a lunch break from an all-day course in the area, so she joined us for the meal.

The weather was just perfect for a walk down to Harbourfront. It was warm but not too humid unlike the steam bath of Friday. We had been thinking about getting on the ferry for Centre Island but coming upon the huge lineups at the ticket booths, we decided to just enjoy drinks at Queen Quay's Terminal. Talking there for a few hours just reminded me of our old sessions on Tuesday morning.

Of course, with the weather being so gorgeous outside, the TTC declared the season "Construction"and closed down the Bloor-Union leg of the Yonge Line, so we took the shuttle bus up from Union Station. Man, it was like going on a JR Bullet Train during Golden Week. The three of us were lucky to get seats and that we got off at the other end of the bus route.

The last part of the tour ended in Greektown where I showed the ladies the wonders of Mr. Greek. Greek cuisine isn't exactly cheap or plentiful in Tokyo. Not to say that Greek fare is dime-a-dozen but it's all-so-reasonable here in Toronto. If they had come here a month later, they would've been privy to A Taste of the Danforth, but c'est la vie. Still, they were happy enough with the hot spinach dip, calamari and souvlaki. And of course, I had to order the literally flamboyant saganaki.

We were joined by a young Japanese-speaking Korean lady who is buddies with another Korean who had been good pals with Mrs. Perth back when the latter had been living in Australia several years ago. Very engaging and talkative, and her Japanese was so fluent that I kinda crumpled up inside in terms of my pride.

And of course, the night in Greektown wasn't complete without having dessert at Demetres. However, I just settled for the far more liquid Iced Cappucino since I was just so stuffed from the souvlaki. However, the three ladies were happy to engage their sweet tooth by munching on a cherry cheesecake.

I was the complete host and took them all the way to their hotel near Spadina Station. It will be a long while before I see any of the Beehive again, but hopefully either next year or the year after I may get a chance to visit Japan again.