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Imi was born and raised in Europe, Hungary. After finishing his school years, he moved to Canada to search for a better life. He lived in Toronto for 13 years and currently resides in Vancouver. He is a romantic at heart with a strong desire to always do the right thing. He would like to give hope to the Chinese and Asian ladies with his story and send a message that love eventually finds everybody.
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The Immigrant (Part 4) - Little Italy & a Meetup with My Angel    

By Imi
1942 Views | 1 Comments | 7/27/2015 2:11:18 PM

You can lose your heart in Little Italy!

    The week leading up to Marika's birthday was long and stiflingly hot. No one believed me in my family when I told them how hot the weather was in Toronto. For a few weeks, around July and August in every year, the mercury hit 35 and didn't go under 30, even at night time. People, especially elderly people, sought refuge in shopping malls if they didn't have air conditioners at home. Young people went to the beach for a dip (or two) and tried to enjoy their youth under the blazing sun.

    I envied them. I wasn't that old – only twenty-eight, – but, as a young man in a new country, I had more important things to do. I barely spoke the language; I needed to study. I worked for less than the minimal wage and urgently needed to find the way to get a better job and advance further in my life.

    These were the thoughts that kept my mind occupied as I stood at the bus stop. It was 11 o'clock. The bus was late. People fanned themselves around me, with whatever they could put their hands on – baseball caps, newspapers, documents. I had nothing on hand; I just stood there and melted together with the asphalt. My long hair was in a ponytail, but it didn't make any difference. My head was hot, and I felt uncomfortable.

    I should really cut my hair and be bald. I wondered how it would feel. Hmm. Not a bad idea

    I looked up after a few more roasting minutes and, finally, saw the bus, approaching in a wobbling heat mirage. The bus stopped and opened its front door. It puffed out a waft of cold air into the people's faces, and everybody started to smile. It was air-conditioned. After I had gotten on it and the cold touched my skin and scared the hell out of the sweating bullets that were running down on my face, one self-made expression came to my mind: rolling fridge.

    Why is it that lately I've been associating everything with food or kitchen appliances? Roasting minutes, rolling fridge? Apparently, I'm getting fed up being just a dishwasher, or am I still hungry after my grueling diet?

   My energy and good mood seemed to be coming back as I sat in a seat on the cool bus and started to chill out, after I had almost reached my boiling point at the bus stop, waiting so long under the baking sun.

    I really should have stopped with these stupid kitchen-related words at this point.

   But I couldn't stop. I was in too much of a good mood. That night, I was going to see the angel again so I continued to entertain myself as I sat on one of the racks of the rolling fridge.

    I started to watch the people and tried to determine what kind of food they could have brought to represent their nationalities if this bus were really a refrigerator. The good thing about Toronto was that – besides being very clean – it had a culturally diverse population. If you wanted, you could have found people of any nations of the world within 5,900 sq km of Metro Toronto. 

    I began to fill up the rolling fridge with my international food selections. The bus driver was a bit pudgy, and I guessed according to his looks, he was Canadian with an English background. I imagined, looking at his waistline, that he could have brought a pack of greasy Canadian bacon.

    The guy sitting behind him in the first seat wearing an Italian soccer jersey was an easy guess. He had an undoubtedly Italian background. I liked Italians. My room was in Little Italy – that's how Italians called the district among themselves – and I felt very much at home. The area was vibrantly European. Its people and its energy reminded me of home. The first time I was in that district looking for a room, I was kind of lost, and I needed to ask this old man for directions. He stood in front of the window of a store with a cane in his hand, and his old pipe dangled loosely in the corner of his mouth. I respectfully asked him about the address that I was looking for. He looked at me and said, “Mi dispiace non parlo Inglese,” and sent a puff of smoke after his sentence as a period.  

   The sound of that one sentence made me feel at home – it breathed Europe – and I knew that even if the room were not going to be in good shape, I would take it. Then, the old man pointed his cane at the door of the shop and said again in his nicotine-rasp voice that sounded to my ears like it came from a mobster movie: “Perche non vai a parlare con il macellaio.” I didn't understand a word he said, but his pointed cane cleared it up for my puzzled mind. Eventually, I got the right direction to the room from the owner of the shop, and I moved in soon after.

  Pasta dishes, sausages, pizzas, risottos, wines, cheeses, desserts. There were so many classic Italian dishes that this young Italian guy who sat on the bus could have brought to display his country's culinary art, but I chose only two: a nice, real Italian pizza and gelato.

   I played in my head like this all the way to the final stop where, by the time I got off, my imaginary fridge was full of delicious food from all over the world. It was very colorful, just like the city of Toronto was so multifarious and diversified and yet, peaceful.

   Why can't we do that on a bigger scale? Why can't the earth, with all its people, be at peace? Why can't we approach each other's differences with interest instead of hate?

    My head was foggy with these questions when I stepped into the kitchen and picked up my long shift. My earlier good mood had started ebbing away. And when I heard the first load of plates rattling in the dishwasher, three words began to resonate in my head: power, money, and greed.

    I had none of those, and perhaps that was the reason for my bad mood. I had never been consumed by the desire to have any kind of power. I did have hope though for having enough money to live a comfortable life. The word “greed” didn't exist in my vocabulary. Inherently, I was a modest and shy person who grew up in a small village of three thousand souls where everybody knew everybody and said good morning when they headed for work at daybreak. I felt that I did not fit into that big city where money controlled everything, including most of the people's minds.

    My deep thoughts dragged me all the way down to a place where a sense of inferiority began to drum in my head, and my thoughts tapped to the rhythm.

    I liked this girl, Marika's daughter. However, I knew, even though Marika worked as a waitress and didn't make a lot of money, her husband owned a construction company, and they were rich. I couldn't comprehend why Marika tried so ardently to bring me together with her daughter.

    I guess I'm going to find out soon.

  The time seemed to fly with my profound thoughts on that day. I checked the time. It was a quarter to ten. The restaurant would be closing in fifteen minutes after an average Saturday. The city was half-empty because of a long-weekend. People didn't need to work on Monday. The smarter ones left the suffocating city for cottage country, up north. My boss shook his head in an unsatisfying manner as I left the restaurant around 10:30 and locked the door after me. An average night on a Saturday wasn't good enough for him. He had a house, a red Chevy Corvette, and a beautiful wife, who was twenty-three years his junior. He wasn't old, only fifty-five, but a fast sports car and a shopaholic woman put a few extra wrinkles on his aging face. These kinds of relationships were typical for a big city like Toronto. A gold digger and a sugar daddy could work for a while until the money lasted. When the gold was gone though the young, and lovely digger moved upstream – even closer to the source – and started to delve again. I felt sorry for my boss, but I couldn't help him. It was his life. I had mine that I needed to steer toward the right direction.

    After I had gotten home and taken a shower; I put a clean pair of jeans and shirt on and headed to the bar where Marika's birthday was held. It was only five minutes walking distance away from my room in the Italian district.

    I was late, but I didn't hurry. We had a northerly breeze coming in that tried to cool the broiled city down to a tolerable level, and I enjoyed my late evening walk. 

    I was very close to the bar when I heard someone calling my name from a gateway. I turned around and saw my angel there with another girl standing next to her. My earlier inferior thinking of myself had been forgotten in the twinkle when I recognized her. I didn't feel that I was only an immigrant or a dishwasher. Her smile was so warm and encouraging that it gave me the self-respect to become the sanguine young man that I really was.

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#2015-07-27 14:17:39 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

Imi, this really is a great description of Toronto, and especially a nice description of Little Italy in TO. I hope our readers are learning something about Western men, particularly the ones who are in the process of adjusting to a new country and an entirely new life. I especially hope that the Chinese ladies are reading it and getting a feel for how different Western men from various cultures can be.

Most importantly of all, I hope you are helping us to Canadians finally erase that belief that many people have that Canada is covered in ice 12 months of the year.

You've also done a great job of leaving us wanting to know more about what happens between you and your newfound Angel. Great blog! (y)

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