Friday, October 24, 2008

A Report from the Frozen North

The Baron in muftiI spent the last four days working at my real job off-site in the exotic banlieues of Toronto. I went up there fully expecting mild climatic discomfort, since the nighttime temperature was predicted to hover between 32° and 45° F (0° and 8° C), with rain expected.

The rain, however, turned out to be snow. Although it didn’t stick, there was a bitter damp wind blowing the whole time I was there, and the howling gale sometimes blew the snow horizontally along the concrete canyons of greater Toronto. The place was cold enough to be mistaken for Chicago, and it made me long all the more for the palm trees and coral lagoons of Central Virginia.

A Sikh taxi driver brought me from the airport to the hotel, and I discussed with him briefly the difficulties he had run into right after 9/11 when many Sikhs were mistaken for Muslims.

The first night we all went out to dinner at the Bombay Palace in downtown Toronto. Being a great fan of Indian cuisine, I was in hog heaven. The restaurant has an extensive and varied menu, and I tried lamb nilgiri there for the first time. I highly recommend the place to those willing to brave the rigors of downtown Toronto to get there.

Most of the staff at the Bombay Palace are Sikhs. The proprietor’s father, now an old man, tells the story of his experience in India at the time of the Partition, when he was caught on the Pakistani side of the new border. During the horrendous carnage that ensued, he barely escaped with his life. He was forced to hide under a mound of Sikh corpses and lie quietly until nightfall. After that was able to cross over into India, and later emigrated to Canada. Now he sits at a table near the entrance of his son’s restaurant and greets the customers who come in, and occasionally tells his story to those who are interested.

Toronto is one of the more Multicultural cities of North America, rivaling New York in its rainbow of diversity. Italians, Poles, Hungarians, Greeks, Jews, Indians, Somalis, Iranians, Pakistanis, Chinese, Koreans, Japanese — virtually every ethnic group is represented and has its own neighborhood in Greater Toronto.

I passed through Muslim areas, where the women wear hijab as they wheel their babies in strollers on the sidewalks. But the area in which I worked was right in the middle of an enormous Orthodox and Hasidic neighborhood. This past week was the high holiday of Sukkot, and most of the stores up and down the street were closed. All day long the families would go by, the men and boys dressed in black coats and hats, the men with beards, and the women wearing their finest dresses. All those Orthodox Jews with their children, and every single one of them a big middle finger held up before the shade of Adolf Hitler.
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It made me happy.

Viva Cuba!One of the first things you notice after you pass through customs at Pearson International in Mississauga is that every luggage cart in the airport advertises vacations in Cuba. Each one bears a photo of an attractive young couple in bathing suits sporting in crystalline blue water that breaks gently on sparkling white sand. The ad invites the reader to vacation in sunny and friendly Cuba, and offers a URL to help the prospective traveler with his planning:, the Cuba Tourist Board in Canada

Welcome to the official Web site of the Cuba Tourist Board in Canada. Our mission is to provide you with the most Comprehensive, up-to-date bank of information for planning your Trip to Cuba.

The largest Caribbean island, Cuba offers breathtaking beaches and scenery; fascinating history; rich culture; ecological wonders and more. Bookmark this site, then start your tour!

Canada has a “special relationship” with Cuba, and is possibly the island’s largest trading and tourism partner since the Soviet Union rang down the curtain and joined the choir invisible in 1991. Huge numbers of Canadians escape to Cuba every year, bringing the Castro regime (Raul, not Fidel) infusions of much-needed foreign currency.

So the next time a Canadian gives you a lecture about human rights, remind him of the extent to which his country props up one of the most despotic regimes on the planet.

When I was looking for the Cuba Tourist Bureau website, I originally went by mistake to, which is evidently a completely different site. It’s basically a shell, with almost nothing in it. The photo in the header, with the very young party-girl frolicking on the left side, is obviously — at least to me — a subliminal reminder of the notorious prostitution industry in Cuba’s tourist resorts. Uncle Raul pimps out hundreds of underage girls just like the one in the photo in order to rake in more dollars and euros to keep the Politburo in its accustomed style.

Except for the “News” tab, there’s nothing on the website. But the news items are an indication that this really is an official Cuban government site, and not just a scam designed to siphon off would-be tourists who happen to type the wrong URL into their browsers.

An example, picked at random, from March 8, 2008:

Fidel Castro Choice Noble, Veterans

The Association of Combatants of the Cuban Revolution said that Fidel Castro’s decision to neither aspire to nor accept the Council of States Presidency ennobles him.

In a message published by Granma daily, the ACRC lauded the Commander in Chief’s determination as “far reaching, legitimate, and honorable.”

We convey our support and decision to keep up our struggle along the people and Raul Castro, elected by the sovereign will President of the Council of States and of Ministers, adds the document.

The Association pledged to brace the unity of which the revolutionary leader taught them, backing every action of solidarity with the five Cuban anti-terrorists imprisoned in the US since 1998.

Baroque agitprop of this ilk this died out in the Soviet Union long before 1991, but it’s still alive and well in the People’s Paradise of the Caribbean. It serves as a reminder of the grim reality just a few miles inland from the sparkling sand and the lambent surf in front of the tourist hotels. While the tourists play in the lagoons, drink rum in the bars, and take their pleasure with the comfort girls, real life goes on unabated in the slums and peasant hovels not far away.

With the help of Canadian loonies and European euros, true Socialism — honest-to-Marx Communism — is alive and well in Cuba.

But don’t expect any of the visitors from the Frozen North (or Eurabia) to remember that while they’re on vacation. Poking the Great Satan in the eye is good enough for them, and besides, the Cuban people have great health care, and they’re happy, right? They love Uncle Raul!

Ask the waiters and busboys and maids who work in the high-rises on the beach. Just look at them smile!

10 comments: said...

I am sorry to say Canada's #1 export is indeed sanctimony.
Our support of Cuba is just one on a long list. Look up 'peppergate' sometime when you are bored. Canadian Liberal PM Chretien and his good friend Suharto of Indonesia and how the PM had protesters assaulted with pepper spray when they, good Canadians all, protested the warm reception of this genocidal maniac in Canada.
Chretien's reaction to the negatve press?
"Pepper? Dat's some ting I put on my plate'
Canadians like most western peoples are victims of our own smug success as a culture and a people.

cousinarlo said...

Dear Baron:

I live in about an hour from downtown Toronto. You're right about the diversity here. If you can't find the type of food you like here (or entertainment for that matter) you're a hard person to please.

I appreciated your comment about the rigours of getting downtown, because Toronto's government has been anti car for many years. They close or plan to close more roads than any other big city.

You are absolutely right about our support of Cuba. Every time I hear someone tell me about their wonderful and cheap Cuban vacation I cringe and stifle my thoughts. I lay a lot if not most of the blame at the grave of Chairman Pierre Trudeau, our illustrious communist-loving, hippie-era Prime Minister in the dark days from 1968 to the mid 70's. That sob loved Castro.

Even though we have a (minority) Conservative government, they wouldn't dare risk the progress they've made (dragging Canada to the right in small steps).

Doesn't make it right but that's politics, I guess.

PS It is encouraging to hear that Raoul is relaxing the rules a bit.


One_of_the_last_few_Patriots_left said...

Vlad and cousin Arlo,

I infer from your posts that you are both from farther north than I am (here in southern New Hampshire.) Sadly, I have not played tourist in Canada since I was about 12 years old, so I admit to a twinge of envy for the Baron's recent adventure.
From everything I've read, things have not gotten better in Canada in the past 40 years, but who am I to complain? In about two weeks, if the polsters are correct, what was once the United States of America will be well on the way to becoming a Marxist $#!+hole like Cuba, so maybe next time you get an urge to visit a bankrupt third world DUNGHEAP, you won't have to travel as far.
*sigh...* Less than 20 years since the fall of the Berlin wall and Socialism reigns triumphant. Too bad that we never really won the Cold War.
Anyway... winter is coming, so keep warm, gentlemen.


I too have developed a taste for Hindustani quisine (and I even found a recipe for rice pudding which I've made which has won high praise from my co-workers :) ) There are several fine Indian restaurants in Worcester, Mass. and Nashua, NH and darn, Baron, your talk of food is making the saliva flow!
Glad to see you back and also, I'm glad Mahomet's thug cultists
didn't murder you (not yet, anyway.)

...with warmest regards,


Spinoneone said...

Yep, sanctimony is alive and well in Canada. If you get a Canadian bugging you about human rights in the U.S. or elsewhere, ask him/her about the oh so politically correct stifler of free speech comically known as the "Canadian Human Rights Commission," pick your province.

Avery Bullard said...

You are, of course, correct about Canadian smugness...but couldn't the same thing be said of Americans? I'm always reading on 'conservative' blogs about how "we freed 25 million people" in Iraq. Calling what America has done to Iraq a liberation reminds me of Soviet Politburo language. Then there's the former Yugoslavia where Americans believe they stopped ethnic cleansing - then they stopped paying attention as the real cleansing (that of the Serbs in Kosovo) got under way. During the Northern Ireland peace process many Americans rather smugly claimed credit for it; Hillary Clinton did so during the run-up to the New Hampshire primary only to have David Trimble splash cold water on it. Then there are the seemingly endless claims that America is the freest, greatest country, not just in the world, but in the history of the world! No country has a monopoly on smugness.

Captain.H said...

Avery, you're absolutely right. The Iraqi people were much better off in the good old days under Saddam, eh? The big growth industry was mass grave sites, with any Iraqi with "American-like" views of "freedom" standing an excellent chance of residency in one of those sites.

BTW, a fellow American friend of mine returned from a fishing trip to Canada a few months ago and told me of being harangued by a couple of gas station workers on seeing his American plates and McCain bumper sticker. His car was also keyed. Yessir, Canada-istan, the land of smug provincialism.

Zenster said...

Captain.H: The Iraqi people were much better off in the good old days under Saddam, eh?

Only if you are nostalgic for rape rooms and people being slowly lowered into industrial shredders. Let's not forget Saddam's sons, the lovable Uday and Qusay Hussein. Uday was rather fond of stopping off at weddings he happened to pass by so that he could excercise his "droit de signeur". Too bad if the heartbroken groom committed suicide after his bride was defiled. Some of his less compliant victims were treated to acid attacks which they did not survive.

Not content with destroying the dreams of newlyweds, Uday also preyed upon the twelve and fourteen year-old daughters of a former provincial governor and threatened the man's life when he had the temerity to complain to Saddam about the rape of his childern.

Uday also oversaw Iraq's Olympic athlete teams. You can be sure that losers on the field came home to vicious torture sessions as their reward. Uday surfed the Internet in search of new and unusual torture methods. An iron maiden awaited those athletes who earned his special displeasure.

Not possessing his brother's flair for bestial brutality, Qusay limited himself to supervising mass executions, sometimes firing the starting gun into a few of the victims. On another occasion, Qusay oversaw the slaughter of fifteen families at once.

Even as average Iraqi's subsisted upon government rations, both brothers maintained a strong appetite for expensive foods, $100 Scotch and lavish parties. Uday would purchase hundreds of rare sports cars and confiscate from strangers those he could not obtain legitimately. As Bagdhad fell, Uday had the entire collection torched rather than have it fall into anyone else's hands.

Those are just the barbarous antics of Saddam's two sons. How many other excesses went on behind various closed doors is anyone's guess.

So, please Captain.H, unless you were being sarcastic, go ahead and remind me once again about how Iraq was so much "better off in the good old days under Saddam".

Afonso Henriques said...

I did not understood this post.

Why bashing Cuba when one's very own people is electing Obama?

And I must say I disliked that assertion over Canadians... so, you want to tell them where to go on vacations? As if Americans don't do the same in Southeast Asia... That blockade has been the main factor for the survival of Communism in Cuba. And you know what? Even if Cuba becames capitalist I doubt the Cubans in Miami will return.

Afonso Henriques said...

Zenster, I think Captain H was being sarcastic. Avery Bullard, on the other hand...

And Zenster, what about this:

How would Obama win the elections if, well, if America had not invaded Iraq?

Why do you mind about the muslims in Iraq? What about American's interests first? All the oil you got with this invasion is no good when faced with the consequences of the invasion.

christian soldier said...

Canadians LOVE socialized health care SO much ---that is why they cross our bridges and travel our auto tunnels to seek health care in Michigan and the rest of the U.S.! AND - they've been doing it for years!