Just before the start of the conference, I moved into a different place. I had got used to that nice hostel I was staying in near Spadina-Queen in the Entertainment district, but I needed a private room during the conference and could not afford one there. I thus moved to a student residence near Ryerson university in the Yonge-Dundas district.
I did not like that district as much. It was busy with shoppers during the day and almost creepy at night time. The big attraction there is Dundas Square, an imitation of Time Square, where they hold festivals and concerts. I was lucky to catch a bit of music, though. The main streets are fine, but once you go on the side street, it can get a bit scary, even if Toronto is a place where you usually feel safe.
The first night I stayed there, it took me ages to find a place to eat. I don’t know if it was due to my mood but I could not find anywhere tempting. Most places were too crowded, too empty or too expensive and I didn’t want to eat in a fast food. I ended up eating in a chain restaurant, The 3 Brewers, and I must admit that I enjoyed both the food and my beer.
The place I was staying in was ok, but it was just that: a student residence. The positive point though was that it had a roof top with a good view of Toronto and I was able to take a few pictures, although they are not that great. Still, I like to see all those lights and imagine what is going on in these buildings.
I had a bit of an adventure when staying there, not a funny one either. The way the residence is made is that there are different blocks, each block contains a few rooms (of different sizes), a kitchen and two bathrooms. Although I had a private room, I was sharing the block with someone else, which would normally be fine. One evening though, I heard the guy come back and making a fair bit of noise. As I was going for a cigarette, I saw him with his trousers down on his ankles in the corridor. Later, I found him sitting on the toilet with the bathroom door wide open (my room was just across the bathroom). Before leaving, I pointed these facts to the reception and was told that if there were anymore problems he would get expulsed. When I came back, they again told me not to hesitate to contact them and that they would move me to another block if I felt uncomfortable. Sure, I was grand, no need to move, the guy was probably fast asleep by now and I would be fine. The minute I opened the door, I was immersed by a horrible smell (yes, that’s what you’re thinking). Sure enough, when walked in, I saw that he had defecated on the floor. So, I changed room in the end, which wasn’t an easy task as you might imagine. Of course, this happened on the eve of giving my paper. I was exhausted and hungry because I had already spent too much time making the last corrections to the paper, and I still had to read one more time through it. So much for my idea of spending a relaxing night before the big day!
I am not the only one having bathroom problems in Canadian cohabitations. The narrator (who alternatively refers to herself as “I” or “she”) of Atwood’s story “The War in the Bathroom” (from the Canadian edition of Dancing Girls) also experiences her own difficulties with the other residents with whom she shares the bathroom:
“Someone came up the front stairs, slowly, with a limping step, and went into the bathroom, closing and locking the door. I have discovered that the walls are not thick and noi tend to carry. She was about to turn over and sleep again when the person in the bathroom began to cough violently. Then there was a sound of clearing and spitting and the toilet being flushed. I am sure I know who it was: it must be the old man from downstairs. The poor man must have a cold. He stayed in the bathroom exactly half an hour though, which is rather long; and he managed to make a number of unpleasant noises. I can see that the room beside the bathroom may have its disadvantages and I am beginning to realize why the landlord was willing to rent it so cheaply.”
As you can see, my memories of this area of Toronto weren’t the best; thankfully, my days were filled with the conference and that was loads of fun!