I went to Montreal last weekend. It was a dual purpose weekend. The first was to see Fetneh of course. We spent three days together. The second was to see Hong Lan and continue our eduction, more specifically, my education.

I arrived on Friday afternoon after an excruciating time with the security people at the Island airport. The security lady did not accept the letter from the hospital that alerts them to my scissors. I need the scissors to cut the flange that holds the bag in lace. I do not need it all the time. I went through a period where my stoma was slightly inflamed which required trimming of the flange before sticking it to your body. This requires scissors, sharp pointy ones.

She did not accept that. Nor was she happy with the can of air freshener I carry with me. Much needed that can. Burping my bag, the art of subtly releasing the gases that collect in the bag, also releases an odour that could be used instead of fire alarms. Whole countries can be vacated to avoid the smell. Buy a smaller can she says. No such thing available, I say. Nothing doing. I lift my shirt up to show her the bag. I need the scissors for this. I understand she says. Why, do you have one of these? Well, uh, no. Then how can you possibly understand? I ask to see the supervisor. She is the supervisor.

She decides to make a couple of phone calls. She comes back with a photocopy of my letter, writes down my name and telephone number on it and the fact that I have a pair of scissors. We then tackle the can of air freshener. There is no way you can take that on board. I lift up my shirt again. This bag is full of shit. I am not swearing at you. Just that it is. The burping will inconvenience all the other passengers. I am past the point of embarrassment. People can look at my bag all they want. Other passengers are going by. Some stare at you as if some sort of terrorist evidence will leak out. Others ignore, or at least ignore the situation and walk through.

The security supervisor lady finally writes on the paper that I also have a can of air freshener, taking great care in writing the brand name on the sheet. I am not totally sure what the purpose of this paper is. I would hardly advertise my intent if a terrorist internet on blowing up a plane of ten passengers headed to Montreal to celebrate 9/11. I was sending a package to someone a number of years ago. The post office clerk made me fill out this very small green form. Maybe 5cm square. She wanted me to put my name and the contents on this form. Nothing really fit on there. I asked what this was about. She says they would need to identify the package if it blows up. I asked her what her think this tiny piece of paper would survive the explosion, and what makes her think I would put down the right information if there was a bomb inside. This was previous to 9/11. She just shrugged. Rules are rules.

We often put these rules in place as if they mean something. The security person at the airport has a piece of paper now that will tell everyone that she knew I had a pair of scissors on me as well as a possible incendiary device. Yet, she let me on. How does the piece of paper protect her? Or help in any way? Or have any purpose whatsoever?

I am finally allowed to go through with the scissors and the can of air freshener. 30 minutes of my life wasted.

I arrived in Montreal around mid day. I go for a walk. It is a nice day. I get a bite to eat at Basha’s. There is a couple behind me talking about work. She is speaking in English, he replies in French. There is proof positive I am in Montreal. The strangest part is that she speaks with a French Canadian accent. I have a light lunch and just observe people milling in and out. I am to join Fetneh at 6:30PM at Mahin’s for a Persian meal. Mahin has gone to extra length to make sure all the food is perfect for me. Organic meat and all. I go back to Steve’s apartment which he has kindly lent me and lie down. I have a lot of time ahead of me.

I decide to walk and see how far I get. Not a fast walk, but a gentle stroll stopping once in a while for a coffee and water. I am exhausted after two hours and not feeling very comfortable. I take a cab to Mahin’s to get there on time. The meal is delectable. There is way too much of it and I gorge myself.

We leave and I get back to my place to rest and prepare myself for Hong Lan the next day. I overdid things today and am going to pay the price at some point.

That point is not too far away. I have a restless night and develop a small stomach cramp just to the left of the liver. I also have pains along the bottom of my rib cage. These come and go and have there for a couple of weeks. Finally, I seem to be suffering from the beginnings of nausea which happens very rarely. I take a couple of Tylenol 1s so I can sleep, and a nausea pill in the morning. I carry a pharmacy with me at all times. I take a cab to Fetneh’s office and get there on time.

Hong Lan is gracious as always. She makes me watch a two hour video from a Dr. Bruce Liption. The basic message of a number of these people is that a positive attitude helps in fighting whatever it is you are ailing from. The cancer card is played since Cancer is at the forefront of all current conditions. You also feel very uplifted when watching the video. The message is positive and it appears to make sense. The seems something innately right about what he is saying.

The video goes into a discussion about genes and how they do not control our bodies as originally thought. The Genome project lists only 34,000 genes instead of the expected 200,000. The conclusion they have come to is that cells to the actual controlling of everything and we are understanding more and more every day the mechanisms used by these cells to do their job. Genes create the template upon which cells are created.

How are genes distributed to a new born child? It appears that the distribution starts taking place two months before conception. The thoughts, level of participation, attitude of the parents help determine how much of the father and mother’s genes appear in a child. It all sounds very cool. Two months before conception? What about accidental pregnancies? Too many questions arise and the original question remains unanswered. How is the distribution of genes determined? We still do not appear to know conclusively. Why do girls look like girls and boys like boys?

The discussion on the nature of cells was quite detailed. The only discrepancy tat I can see is what activates the cell to play its role. It is one thing to say that a cell receives a signal and acts accordingly. It gives rise to the question about how the signal gets to the cell. How does the body decide what signal goes to what cell? A bit of magic perhaps.

The world of appears, I have always imagined, works a lot like the body. A brain addressing and sending signals to parts of the body that are required to perform a task. All the parts of the computer have an address allocated according to predetermined rules. A signal is sent to a device at a particular address which then responds and behaves as expected. Once in a while, a device gets corrupted and ceases to respond and we have a general failure of the system. The signal that is sent to eh device in question is bidirectional. The device responds initially by sending a signal back confirming that it received the signal and outlining the nature of the orders it has received. No room for ambiguity here. Doe the body behave the same way? Are there predetermined addresses for everything? Who or what has decided the order of things?

The video also talks about nature vs nurture, and decided that the two work hand in hand. We are also introduced tot he concept of consciousness trumping both. We assume that what is written in us in our first years particularly are etched in stone. It turns out, as some of us have already discovered, that everything can be rewritten. The term of writing tapes is used to illustrate the point. The tapes governing your life are written pretty much in the first 6 years of your existence. These tapes can be rewritten. You can also, through the powers of consciousness, rewrite the nature of your genes. Consciousness trumps all. Positive thinking is the ultimate message.

I spent 7 hours with Hong Lan. I was exhausted by the end. We came out of the day with three action plans. I forget the third, so convenient n’est-ce pas? The first one is to turn this blog into a book. I will have to talk to Sharon Singer and Shawn Smith about that. The second is that I should pursue my picture taking more aggressively.

I was supposed to visit Mehran and Noushin at their farm in the Eastern Townships on Sunday. We rented a car for the purpose. The family has been fighting a cold for a little while now. It seems they have all sharing the germs. Mehran was still ailing and we could not go. Too bad. I hope he is feeling better. We might reschedule the visit for my next visit to Montreal. We kept the car and decided to run a number of errands for Fetneh. Stuff she would normally do by bus or taxi or with someone else who has a car. We also decided to pay a visit to my mother’s grave site. I said I have to prepare her for my visit.

We never made it tot he cemetery. The Montreal cemetery is on the mountain that is located at the centre of the city. There was a bike race and all access tot he mountain was blocked. We went in circles looking for a gap in the proceedings only to come away empty handed. Mom is not ready to receive me yet. Good news for me I guess. I was exhausted from the activities of the previous two days. The cram in my stomach was still there. It was more awkward than painful. I slept in the afternoon on her couch. Three hours. Longer than I expected.

Sunday evening saw us having Shwarma for dinner. I could not eat much. The meal of Friday night was still with me. In fact, it stuck around for about a week. We decided to visit Mahin again for a cup of tea. She was in constant communication with Fetneh wondering when we would drop in again. Gigi and Ivan were there. We had cups of tea. They kept filling them up. I had little choice but to keep drinking. We had a great time with the Vidals. I got to bed around ten. Two more Tylenol 1s to make sure I slept through the night.

We had breakfast with Mitra and somehow ended up spending the whole day with her. I had to leave to catch my 4:20 flight home (delayed to 4:45). Mitra and I are old friends. We spent much of my time in Montreal together. You forget these things until you spend a bit of time together again. It was very easy and relaxed. I was home.

Security out of Dorval was another beast of an affair. They accepted the letter and allowed to keep my scissors. The air freshener gave them hiccups until a supervisor placed it in one of their plastic bags. It fit in there perfectly making it a legitimate item to carry on. The security person then decided she had to check the rest of my bag. She went through everything, a bit like going through customs. I am not sure what prompted that exercise. She finally found an object to confiscate, my half used tube of toothpaste. Victory! I was free to go.

I rested the rest of the week recovering from the excesses of Montreal.

6 Responses to “Montreal – September 2010”

  1. great post – fine reading for a Monday morning – you just have a special voice – see you later, xoxo Di

  2. HA! You know what I've noticed? You get harsher treatment going from Canadian airport to Canadian airport than you do going from a Canadian one to an American one. I suppose we'll see what it's like on the way back.

    Nice post. You never told me about your Montreal trip because I tired you out too much with my own events and happenings.

    talk soon.
    love, D.

  3. have been looking here for words from you. thank you for offering some! sounds like the trip to Mtl was a really good one, notwithstanding the few obstacles . and you stayed on your own! ever the independent fella. big blessings.

  4. Hi Farokh,

    I have been doing a big catch up on your blog in anticipation of seeing Janet next week at the big party and wanting to know in advance how she is feeling based on how you are in your blog. I went back to early August and saw that 2 others had read the August entries today as well. It made me wonder why different people feel the need to do a catch up on you all at the same time. Know that you have many blog stalkers and many more people thinking about you and praying for you than you can imagine. Much love Anne

  5. Hello!
    Had a wonderful afternoon yesterday. Hope it didn't wipe you out at all–I was actually impressed with your energy! Anyways, here's the link to the bread I was talking about. I've been making the normal size 'city loaf' with the warmed pan method. Made it again today (again only followed the instructions loosely!) and topped it with rosemary. It's only just come out of the oven so we'll have to see what it's like! Maybe some day soon I'll be brave enough to tackle your rice. Love to the rest of your fam, as always!

  6. What do you think of the positive attitude theory? Can we change our situations, is that what you were saying or am I misunderstanding the chat about the video? When you feel up too it, maybe you can write more about that part. Take care and God Bless, always in my prayers. Katy

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