Canada: Toronto

by Prottusha Sarkar, Staff Writer

The only reason almost fifty Canadian dollars had been shelled out was standing-or rather lying-in front of me. Black and white and cuddly as ever, Da Mao chomped down on some bamboo. His large paws that lacked opposable thumbs grasped tightly to the stalk of his favorite food. A crunch resonated through the air.

The Toronto Zoo is famous for its two pandas: the female Er Shun and the male Da Mao. They were major money-making capital, their pictures plastered on highway billboards and anywhere there was a spare cardboard sign. And, just like I imagined them to be, they were lazy. Da Mao relished in the afternoon sun, lounging about in his hammock. When the sun got too bright on his left, he shifted over to his right. Ooohs and Aaahs followed his moves.

Toronto’s air was refreshingly clean and crisp. Its streets were not dotted with dark gum splatters along the sidewalks, those that described New York. Though only August, everybody on the streets donned jeans and sneakers. Bloor Street sparkled with the red and white lights of the Time Horton’s franchise. They offered everything that Dunkin Donuts did, just in a red and white plastic package.

However, China Town was a different story. This part of town shone with lights in Chinese characters and the smell of authentic cuisine. It was active, bustling, capricious. It was more like home than any other part of Canada had been so far. But the street signs did not proudly proclaim numeric streets and avenues. There were actual tram lines on the ground, with red trams servicing them. And if I googled my location, it wasn’t New York, NY that came up, but Toronto, ON.