Rajesh Kumar

Optimizing life, one day after the next

A Measure of Solitude

13 May 2006

As much as I despise writing "what I did today" type of posts in the passé composé, this particular one caught my attention for reasons I fail to understand myself. Anyhow, take a stab at it, and let me know what you think.


I know my previous post might have left some of you out there in the dark, but to put it in a nutshell the size of a paragraph, allow me to summarize the intended hoopla.

I can't tell you how much has happened in the past couple weeks. From exam sittings, to vacating my place at Waterloo, to driving to Toronto, to returning back to Vancouver, to remembering that I had forgotten mes clefs, to reuniting with my family and cousins, to visiting all my old teachers at New West, to catching up with the surrounding gossip, to purchasing all that I needed for the next four months, to flying back to Toronto and to starting my new coop job here. My, that was quite a mouthful, wasn't it?

Now forgive me if I'm not as smart as you once thought I was, but the first day I landed in Toronto, I was lost. Lost beyond imagination. Now when I say lost, I mean lost, not just misplaced. Even the greatest of Wordsworths and Eliots wouldn't be able to articulate how lost I was. It's a given that Toronto is the largest city I've ever lived in my life, true, but after six intense years of Simcity 2000, I didn't expect any city to be more complicated than the ones I had built in the game. Should I take the bus or should I take the streetcar? The train, a plane, or which, the subway? What about Quiznos? Or should I just walk?

I somehow managed to figure things out and land myself somewhere in the depths of the much anticipated and the much chatted-about Downtown Toronto. Luck definitely not on my side, I had no map with me. I was relying entirely on my photographic memory of having stared at Google Maps the previous night for thirty minutes straight, consuming, pixel by pixel, every turn, every nook and every corner there was. Even still, I got lost on King when I should have been on Queen. And once I found my way up there, I promptly lost myself on Spadina when I should have been on Adelaide. The wonders of letting a Jamaican mouse loose in a Vietnamese cathedral.

Photographic memory to the rescue, I somehow managed to find myself on 20 Maud Street, an hour late. I had to ask a dozen people which way my destination was, and another dozen people on where I was to begin with. Some of them I encountered twice. It was at that precise moment that I saw it. I saw it so clearly, you wouldn't believe it. It was almost an epiphany, just not quite. The realization was astounding: I had been walking around in a very oddly shaped circular trajectory for the last half hour.


Today, Saturday, I woke up to a fire-engine backing up hurriedly. I became all gung-ho thinking there was an emergency at my residence, only to find it was my pesky alarm clock. I smacked it on the head, and went back to sleep.

Two hours later, I was woken up by the mild coziness of my bed. I got up, showered, brushed and had baby-buns with margarine for breakfast. It wasn't the best breakfast of all times, so I complemented it with a Quaker's Chewy Bar, a muffin, some cold milk and a banana to go. Lazy as I am, I turned on my laptop to check my email. Lots of email. Half of them were Waterloo related, so I cleverly relocated them to the trash. I decided to take a walk through the adjacent Carlton Park. At about 12:00 PM, I was bored beyond belief. So I decided to start on my PDEng Assignments. PDEng Assignments are weekly assignments that students doing engineering at Waterloo are presented with on their work terms. They are intended to develop students' soft-skills, as they say it. With a passion for all things soft, I worked on those for a bit, but then re-realized I was bored again. Soon after, I decided to go out and hunt for lunch. I found a seemingly south Indian restaurant on Bloor; amazingly enough, both the host and the food were Sri Lankan. I had my stomach's fill and decided to walk again. Walking these days has become my all-time hobby. I walk at least ten kilometers a day from Downtown to home. It's fun, it's refreshing and it brings about a real sense of fascination for the ups and downs of Canadian weather.

Just as I was reminiscing some of my fine moments, the sky turned black and the drizzles came pouring down. It was so sudden, I thought Canada had taken over Europe to make the clocks shift forward a half-a-dozen hours. Murphy's law applied here: I didn't have my umbrella with me. I quickly found shelter inside a dollar store on Landsdowne Street. Apparently, you can't get in and out of a dollar store without buying something. Or so the shopkeeper says. I heeded his advise, went in and bought some kitchen utensils, a bowl, a strainer, a fork and a spoon. I devised a master-plan to make some fried vegetable noodles in my dinghy little kitchen at home. I know I sometimes have a green thumb for things, but I don't know what colour thumbs chefs have. It shouldn't matter though because I'm mighty sure I have none that match theirs.

I completed my transaction with the shopkeeper and stepped out, and lo and behold, the sun was out. Bright and wide. Such is the almightiness of dollar stores. It was fresh and inspiring, with the scent of rich green grass and clayey moist mud in the air. I took to my walking again, this time only to stop at the grocery store. The standard loaf of bread, apples, bananas, pears and oranges, and I was out. I returned home, refrigerated the items that needed refrigeration in a very disciplined fashion, and off I headed to my laptop again. I resumed my ebook on C# programming for some time. Not much time had elapsed when the landlord came knocking on the door to pick up his rent. I paid, punctiliously tucked the receipt in my shirt pocket, and continued with my ebook. It was then that I decided I should update my website, partly because I hadn't done so for a long time and partly because it was a medium-priority item on my todo list. Plus I felt like typing something really fast and incomprehensible.

So I began typing. I typed and I typed. I kept typing. Then I paused. I sat down and wondered for a bit. I didn't know what happened after that.

You know, sometimes, happiness is simply a measure of an absence of sadness. If that definition of mine is any good, then yes, I am happy. I really am.

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