When I was a kid my mother used to sew all my dresses. Besides the fancy ones which we had to wear at the birthday parties or the new year visits, the daily outfits were all produced at home:). We had an amazing basement where my father could do his wood work during his spare time and mom had her desk with her Singer machine and Burda magazines. Oh, and I forgot another point. Since I am born after the revolution alcohol was also banned in Iran (and still is) and since there was a war going on between Iran and Iraq, finding a bottle of wine, vodka or whisky was close to impossible. Therefore, besides all the production lines they had in this 40-m2 basement!, like so many others, they made their own vodka and wine with the help of us three (Me and my siblings) of course… If I want to summarize those days of my childhood I cannot think of three better words than: Optimism, Adaptability and Productivity. That generation had their dreams and they had their passions to live life to the fullest and nothing stopped them from reaching their goals no matter how bumpy the road was.
When I was 4 years old my brother was 10 and my sister was 15 years old and therefore both were always at school. My father was at work either in Tehran or mostly in remote places to manage power line projects and therefore, I used to accompany my mom everywhere. Most of the time we were in bazars searching for fabrics or in antique shops and flea markets to find nice old stuff. Time has passed and I have never realized the importance and the influence of these little daily habits in my life.
When I moved to Montreal I missed so many things from my home country. I believe all the immigrants do, from the tastes of the food to the people even to the smells. But it was not until last year during the spring time when I was truly connected to my childhood days. I wanted to get married and we were searching the city with my mom to find some fabrics for the ceremony and so on. Someone told us we have to go to St. Hubert street after the plaza to find everything. In Iran you have neighbourhoods and streets for specific products, one street is only luggage stores, one only underwear:)), or an area for appliances, so basically you never get confused to find what you need as you go straight to the specific street where there are tons of stores selling the same product! But Canada was never like that for me, I was lost for the longest time as I could not believe that I need to go to Staples for a simple ruler or a scotch tape. But I was getting used to find my small needs in giant stores when we discovered the city’s mecca for fabrics and all of a sudden I turned 4 again. I felt connected to my childhood as I was having the same shopping experience and that day marked one of the most memorable days of our wedding preparation. Not only we found what we needed but we experienced walking in an area that was not similar to other parts of the city and it has got an amazingly authentic touch of its own.
But we are all BUSY, therefore, I never went back there again; I passed by a couple of times but never walked through all those original stores after that day. Recently, to keep my eyes open and my mind curious and also for taking advantage of the short and sweet Montreal summers while I am not working for the first time, I promised to discover an area every Friday for a couple of hours and before I even thought of it the first one was St. Hubert. Visiting these areas remind me that the cities we live in are much bigger than we know and that they are not defined by some streets and cafes where we spend most of our times in. We are all used to our routines quite easily, we love the idea of seeing our clones, to see the people that wear the same outfits, talk about the same subjects and have the same tastes. But what is the definition of isolation if this is not? Why do we enjoy seeing the difference while we are travelling but not at home?
Unfortunately, St. Hubert Plaza and the street itself is becoming another trendy area where the cafe owners are invading and changing the existing ecosystem. I don’t know why we don’t allow some original places in the city to continue to live, to keep their stories and to own something that they belong to as a community?
St. Hubert still has its charm but I don’t know for how long! It is still different, it is vibrant and it has its own beats. The beats and the spirit that cannot be found elsewhere as it is not a “Copie Conforme” of anything else. It invites different people as it embraces variety and that is the beauty of it.