I have visited with several friends in the Vancouver area over the last couple of weeks. In particular I saw Marina, Irene and Catherine.
I spent an afternoon and evening with my friend Marina. She and I each have three kids, hers are all girls mine are all boys. She has two grandchildren and up until recently so did I. Now I have three (Yay!). We enjoy comparing notes.
Marina and I first met when we were both attending the Shambhala Buddhist Centre in Vancouver in the late nineties. Neither of us go there any more, but Marina is still in contact with many people from the centre. We used to go out to a nearby coffee shop, the Java Hut, and Marina still hangs out there. She's taking courses at Emily Carr College of Art and Design and the Java Hut is a place for her to read and do homework, not to mention eat, drink coffee and meet friends.
Anyway, that's where I met Marina that day. We hung out there for a little while and then went down to Kits Beach to walk. We walked along the beach and then past the old planetarium and boat launch and marina to Granville Island, we kept walking along False Creek a ways past the island. The Bard on the Beach tents were still up but I believe that is over for the season.
We decided to go to the Heaven on Earth Curry House for dinner, another of our old haunts. The restaurant is owned by a Sikh woman who comes to our table to chat with us about our respective families. She has two grown children, a boy and a girl.
The daughter married into a Washington DC family, it was an arranged marriage. In their culture, once a girl is married she becomes part of her husband's family and her own parents have very little to do with her after that. She continued her university studies in Washington along with her husband, graduated, and eventually had a baby. Her mother has only seen that baby once and has no plans to visit again in the near future.
The son is attending university here. He wanted to go into accounting but his parents insisted that he study engineering as they needed someone with an engineering background in his father's business. The son was initially not happy about that decision, but his mother says that he likes it better now. They plan to find a wife for him from India.
It seems very strange to Marina and I, we spend a lot of time comparing notes on our various children and grandchildren and can't imagine living like our host's family does. It is a view into a whole other way of living.
The food there is heavenly. Can't eat there too often! I've never seen this restaurant full so I don't know how she keeps it going, but it has been there a very long time. Maybe her husband's business is so successful she doesn't have to worry about making a profit, but she seems more practical than that.
I had dinner with Irene at a local pub. The food was unusually bad. I have eaten there before and don't remember the food being particularly bad, but this time it was. Irene complained and they gave us free appies in compensation, but the appies were only marginally better. What can I say.
Irene and I know each other from the strata we both lived in (in BC a condo corporation is called a strata). She sold her condo shortly before I did, and then I house sat for her after my condo sold and she went on vacation. That gave me a place to stay over the winter until I was ready to leave the province in the spring. For a while we were on the strata council together when our strata was going through a leaky condo envelop rehab. Stressful times.
Irene's parents are in a nursing home, her mother had dementia and her father is older and frailer. They share a room and are private patients so they pay over $8500 a month. Irene is not impressed with the level of care they get for their money, and is constantly on the nursing home's case to do better.
Irene doesn't let things go, she's a formidable "complainer". At one point this summer her father had an infection and both the nursing home and the doctor gave him up for dead. Irene insisted that they do better and as a result they gave him a second round of antibiotics that cleared up the infection. Irene also insisted on aftercare to get him back on his feet since his musculature had deteriorated from being sick in bed for so long.
The doctor complimented Irene for her dedication, but Irene felt that she shouldn't have had to do that, that if the doctor was doing his job then he would have seen that the first round of antibiotics had not cleared up the infection and would have prescribed a second round, instead of telling her that her father was dying. But Irene sees that the end is not far off and she should prepare for the worst.
Catherine and I went for lunch at a restaurant near where she works in downtown Vancouver. We met years ago when I was a manager and hired her as our senior technical writer. She and I had about the same level of experience as technical writers, but I moved on to become a manager and she remained a writer. That was a conscious decision on her part and I think she made the right choice. I think I would be less disillusioned about working if I had done the same, being a manager was not particularly fun. [Joke: What is the Middle Management Prayer? Sorry, middle management doesn't have a prayer!]
We exchanged a bit of gossip about what various people we both know are doing now, and caught up a bit on our lives thus far. Catherine has UK citizenship as does her husband, so she would like to move away from North America. Her dream home is near Toulouse, France. She's keeping her eye out for jobs there. More immediately though she's thinking about moving to Victoria; her boss at her current workplace says she could keep her job and work from home there. She's tired of Vancouver, it's too big for her she says. She has come to the conclusion that she's really a small town girl.
If she moves to Toulouse I will have to go visit her there! She says I can forget about her ever visiting me in Nova Scotia, she and her husband plan to avoid that end of the country indefinitely. I know that he grew up in Nova Scotia and does not have happy memories of the place.
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