Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Canada – CCCXIV. Montreal (6 of 9)

The airport was largely deserted when I arrived.  Only a few flights had landed at that time, and most of the passengers had collected their luggage, cleared customs and immigration, and left the premises.  Nothing unusual here, I move slowly and am usually one of the last to leave.  The quiet airport, however, was in stark contrast with my arrival at my previous destinations.

Italy was anything but quiet; relatives, friends, and the fact that my whole family was with me, kept me on my toes.  As soon as we arrived we faced many options, and had to take important decisions.

Israel as you`ve already been apprised was pure bedlam; and in the first few days we were simply overwhelmed.

Here I was alone; my brother would follow me in two months; my parents in two years.  Well, I was not totally alone; as already mentioned I had relatives; quiet relatives who were different from your average Egyptian; they were practical and did not confuse you with their advice.

After verifying my Israeli passport and my visa, the immigration officer welcomed me, in both official languages, to Canada.  He then inquired as to whether I knew of all the help available to me as a new immigrant.  I advised him that the embassy in Tel Aviv had provided me with all the information, contacts, and addresses I would need.  The last thing he did was note my address in Montreal.

Before leaving New York, Adrienne had provided me with their address, phone number, and the instructions I needed to get from the airport to their home.  I had no problem finding the airport bus that would take me downtown; and from there, I took a taxi to their building.

In hosting me, my cousins had two objectives in mind:  provide me with a place to stay, and, at the onset, guide me in my new country.  By the way both Adrienne and Victor are cousins of my mother; the exact nature of the relationship is too complex, and I admit that I never fully understood it!

The warm welcome I received was only the beginning.  I no longer remember all the help they provided, suffice to say that during the month I stayed there, they guided me every step of the way.  When I went to sleep on that hot July night, I knew I was in good hands.

In Egypt, Victor worked for the Prudential Insurance Company. When the family left Egypt in 1957, Victor`s company transferred him first to England for a short while, and thereafter to Canada.  By the time I arrived, they had been in the country for many years.

Their offer to host me is a testimony to the hospitality and the generosity of Egyptians in general, and my family in specific.

They had 4 children:  Albert, Alice, Joey, and Pearl (the only one born in Canada).  They lived in a small apartment on Victoria Street.  But even with 6 people, they managed to find room for me.  When I proposed alternative arrangements, they wouldn`t hear of it.  Their home was my home until I stood on my own two feet.

My arrival coincided with the Bar Mitzvah of Albert.  Adrienne, with the help of friends, had decided to cater the whole affair; it would be a small celebration for friends and family.  Nevertheless, there was a lot to for Adrienne to do.  To that add running the household, taking care of her (still young) children, and some part time work which she did at home.  How was she ever going to find the time to direct her cousin in his new country?  Well she did!  Nothing escaped her!  She made sure that I did the right moves to secure both work, and later on adequate accommodations.  Victor who was just as busy with his demanding job, and resolving the myriad of issues that presented themselves in his family, discussed my day and provided invaluable advice.

They lived in a nice area; and when time permitted, I walked around and enjoyed the order that has so impressed me during my early years in Canada.

The name of their street was Victoria; it was crossed on one side by Côte Ste. Catherine and on the other side by Queen Mary.  If I proceeded down Côte Ste Catherine, I would come across Côte des Neiges.  Across from their building was a small street, Dupuis.  I would live in both Côte des Neiges and Dupuis.

For some reasons, I never forgot a small supermarket just across the street:  Beauvais et Bédard.  Adrienne sent the older children for additional provisions; but the allure was to go there and buy treats.

Finally, at a distance, Victoria intersected with Van Horne Street; this street had a well-known bakery, a famous restaurant, and the Van Horne Theater which featured second run movies.  Finally, a Royal Bank branch was the lucky recipient of the meager funds I had brought from Israel.

And it is the sum total of all those memories that lends a special charm to those early days.

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