It’s been about 7 days now since I left Sydney, and I now find myself having spent about 5 days in Montreal. This is the second time that I come back to Montreal after having lived overseas for a substantial amount of time.
Despite that I was riding from Pierre Elliot Trudeau airport at about 1AM, there were already things that I could clearly noticed.
First, the roads. Yes, I know everyone in Quebec generally complains about roads being total shit, but the generalisation exists for a reason– the roads ARE shit. If you compare them to the roads of Sydney? Huge difference.
Part of the equation is that Montreal uses much cheaper road materials than other provinces. But the other part that people often forget about is winter– a combination of snow, melting and freezing in the smallest cracks of roads has the ability to jack things open. On top of that, the harsh chemical “salts” and the mechanical cleaning by snow plow services rake the roads. So really, the situation is that we’re just suffering bad roads as a result of being physically located in an area that’s not hospitable to human travel techniques.
In Sydney, from what I’ve seen, there is no snow problem, so they can spend good money on having mostly good roads. Not only that, but they generally have nice sidewalks.
The smell of the cities is different. I recognised Montreal by its smell almost immediately, especially when I got to my hometown of LaSalle.
Though I’ve been gone for over a year, there isn’t that much that’s changed in my hometown. The businesses are mostly the same. Some of the neighborhood kids suddenly seem that much larger.
I knew, before booking tickets to Montreal, that the reason I was being called home was because my grandmother wasn’t doing all that well. By the time I was well into exam period with finals, I knew that she was out of the woods and out of the hospital. That was some good reassurance.
A lot has happened in the last year that I didn’t know about, despite that I call home usually every 2 or three weeks.
My grandfather is doing much better– when I left Montreal in 2011, it sounded like he had really bad asthma. It was a huge effort for him to do anything and it always sounded as if he was always short of breath. It turned out to be a side effect of one of the heart medications he was on, which results in firbsosis in the lungs. During a routine hospital check, one of the doctors recognised the symptoms and, right on the mark, asked if grampa was on a certain med, and then recommended it be discontinued. Over the weeks after that, he was back to his old, full lunged self again.
But he’s 80% deaf now, which explins why we have such one sided conversations whenever I called home via VoIP. I thought it was my toysanese and cantonese that was failing, but it was mostly that he could barely hear what I was saying.
Other than that, he seems like he’s in pretty good health though.
My parents and sister are in better physical health than before. My sister’s started rock climbing, which is surprising. But, I guess it suits her. She’s pointed out that compared to stronger friends, she can often climb just as well because she is lighter and much more flexible than most.
My dad look in great shape for his age. Despite that he hasn’t done any marathons in a while, except for the white hair you wouldn’t peg him for his late fifties.
My mom seems to have gained a bit of weight, but at the same time, she’s got a routine on the eliptical machine now, and she and my dad go out every now and then for longer bike rides.
It’s good to know that most people are in good health.