Rainy weekend with Anthony Bourdain (and about hating Toronto)

One of my guilty pleasures is watching one of Anthony Bourdain’s food and travel show. ANY of his shows (now that he seems to have three of them that I know of – No Reservations, Layover and Parts Unknown).

This weekend was just filled with rain. And what better way to spend a rainy day watching Bourdain travel around the world, eating, drinking and really going off the beaten-path while you daydream that you are right next to him sharing his adventures?

Believe me – most of my fantasy vacations ideas stem from Mr. Bourdain.

And so I was at my parents’ place while Chaeli was at her equestrian riding lessons watching a 2012 episode of Layover. This one had him discovering the gems of Toronto:

It was, for the most part, a great episode of Toronto. The places he visited and the people he interviewed showed the true nature of my city. And while there were quick, random shots of the main attractions we are commonly known for, Bourdain quickly explained these areas as being just that – tourist traps – and quickly captured areas most tourists fail to every discover when they visit Toronto.

One thing that caught my attention right off the bat was one woman, at the very beginning, saying that Toronto is pretty much hated by all other cities and towns across Canada. That “they will find any reason to hate Toronto.”

To be honest, it’s something I’ve known for quite some time, but never actually experienced until I visited my husband’s hometown, Thunder Bay. And I never took it personally until the day came where I found myself treated in a way which was an extension of this strong dislike of an entire city.

THEN… it became personal. Imagine not being able to say anything around “family” as everything you say becomes judged based on the fact that you are from “the big, bad city.” Imagine that you are “the reason” all things they don’t agree with when it comes to their precious son. Imagine your extended family showing almost zero interest in your career because it depicts the typical big city career that is opposite of the simple country lifestyle that they fight so hard to keep alive.

I still remember the proud moment I spent months working on a digital, hard-bound, professional photo book about their first grandchild for my in-law’s Christmas present only to hear them say, “Oh… um… thank you.” Apparently, the digital photo book was replacing the old-fashioned handmade scrapbook which was a sign of how lazy people were getting (and these lazy people is what is depicted of the big city – on the contrary, I did not see myself as lazy but it is the best I could do with what little free time I had). And so, to try to do something they would really like, I made a handmade mini-scrap book for mother’s day only to be told that I should have written at least where the photo was taken or what the event was from (my husband was there and I saw him nudging his mother, whispering, “It doesn’t matter!”)

In some ways, I’ve been learning to actually not take it personally – this attitude from my husband’s hometown. The fact is, their discrimination has shielded them from not getting to know me. I was doomed before I was even born and on this path that lead me to my marriage and therefore, this union to my in-laws.

When they gripe about Toronto, most of it stems from jealousy – how we get all the attention and development, how we don’t realize how good we have it, etc. The list goes on. Basically, it’s the same sad story I hear a lot of people gripe about when their own lives has become unsatisfactory. I’ve been there myself, so I know exactly what I’m talking about. Many of life’s lessons learned that have helped me grow up.

This is what I want to say…

Get over it.

Do something to better your position you are in. A big move or small move. Anything. Rather than point fingers, lay blame, get all nasty and bitter, change YOUR situation so you needn’t be filled with so much hatred towards a city that, like any other city or town big and small, will have bad people and horrible things going on… but we also have great aspects and fantastic people as part of the community and larger culture.

Toronto is not everyone’s cup of tea and that’s okay. But this “Hate on Toronto” is getting real tiring. It’s time to move on…


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