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 – CCCXVII. Montreal (9 of 9)

My relatives must have wondered about their hick cousin.  By the time I came, they have been living in Canada for 7 years, thus many aspects of daily life had become routine.  I, on the other hand, was full of questions.  The adults in the family were discreet and simply answered my questions, adding additional comments where appropriate; but what about the children?  Joey and Pearl were too young and did not clue in; Albert and Alice were another matter; they were old enough to realize that the guest from Israel was totally out of touch!  To their credit, they never said anything (at least to me) and managed to keep a straight face at all times.

What do I remember after all those years?

For their snack, the children are requesting chips.  I am wondering if Adrienne will leave everything she is doing and go fry chips for them!  Apparently, it’s a simple request:  she goes to her cupboard, take a plastic bag marked Humpty Dumpty, open it and place some in a bowl.  Cold chips!  From a bag!  In Egypt and Israel we thinly sliced the potatoes, and fried them.  Not so in Canada, you buy them ready and eat them cold.  But don’t they taste terrible?  Certainly not; I am urged to try one.  Before I know it, I am dipping my hand in the bowl, and competing with the kids!

The family is having ice cream; I am pointing out that they are lucky it’s summer time since in winter they cannot have such a dessert.  The kids have a bemused expression on their face; they don’t say why not, but it’s written all over their faces.  Adrienne steps in and explains that because the houses are heated, you can eat ice cream any time you want.  In Egypt we ate ice cream only in summer, it was unavailable in winter; in Canada you can go at any time to the supermarket and find big tubs of the stuff.

Same story with beer; it was available in Egypt only in summer; in Canada you can tipple at any time, you need not wait for summer!  In Israel, it was available the year round but it was mostly consumed in summer.

(Today, of course, packaged chips, ice cream, and beer, are universally available at all times; remember that I am talking of the mid-‘60s.)

The children are dipping their food in a thick tomato paste that’s coming out of a bottle.  Nothing wrong with that apparently; it’s called ketchup, and it adds taste to the food.  “Try it with your French fries,” I am told.  Well, I’ll be damned, it really enhances the taste.  “It’s a new invention?” I ask.  Not at all, it has existed since the 19th Century!

Albert is watching television, and listening to the radio at the same time.  How is that possible?  Not a problem apparently, he can do both; it even has a name: multi-tasking.

The outside world is just as mystifying.

I go for lunch in a place called a luncheonette; there are no tables, just a horseshoe-shaped counter, with stools, around it.  I perch on one of the stools and ask for a menu; no menu, the lady points at a board affixed to the wall.  I make my selection, but the lady frowns; apparently there are set choices for lunch; for 85 cents, I can have a soup, a main meal, a coffee or soft drink, and a dessert.  Fine, she is the boss, I listen to her!  The meal I select is hamburger and fries; the meat patty is poorly spiced, my mother would have spiced the daylight out of that patty!  But this is Canada; I need to adjust to many new things.  I noticed that ketchup is available, and I use it to inject some life into the bland food.  For dessert, I have pictures of French pastries swirling in my mind.  No such luck; no choice is available, dessert is apple pie; never heard of it, therefore, I decide to pass.  Not so fast; try it, you’ll like it.  Well, I’ll be damned, I did like it!

I heard of a type of food called pizza.  Again, I am in a luncheonette, and pizza is available.  And so I take the plunge and order it.  Which kind?  You mean there are many kinds?  The board on the wall is totally confusing to me; too many choices; I am ready to give up and order down to earth food; but the waitress suggests the all-dressed.  Fine; when it arrives, I look at that big pie on a tray and I am totally overwhelmed; I am a small eater, how will I do justice to it?  The lady next to me quickly catches on, I am a foreigner, and quite at a loss here.  “I can never eat more than half, the rest, I take home,” she tells me.  I feel so much better I am only responsible for half of it!  The taste is quite intriguing, and I am enjoying it; the problem is that after the first quarter I am full, unable to eat even one more bite.  I embarrassed myself and wasted 75 cents.  The waitress asked me if I want to take it home; I can’t, I am going to an interview, and I can’t walk in with an unfinished pizza!


1)     Montreal

2)     Mount Royal Park

3)     Lafontaine Park

4)     Canada

The Illustrated Columbia Encyclopedia

Columbia University Press

New York


5)  Federal Government in Canada:  Organizations, Institutions & Issues. Maple.           issues

6)  Provincial Government in Canada: Organization, Institutions & Issues                       institutions-issues

7) Local Government in Canada: Organization & Basic Institutions   institutions

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