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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Weston Village

Saturday mornings is my time. I generally leave home to go to do my weekly groceries and buy my weekly transit pass.

When I have to also go to the bank at Keele and Lawrence, I stop by at the Flame restaurant for one the best home-style omelette, toast and tea. It’s owned by a Greek-origin gentleman. Some months back (in April) I took a photo of the grilled cheese veggie omelette I was having and posted it on Google maps. It’s got an overwhelming number of hits (135,900 at the last count).

Then, on some Saturdays, I have to visit the pharmacy at Weston and Lawrence, to get my medicines from Mohamed Ahmed, the Somali pharmacist with a Poona connection (he studied in there), or to meet the other Mohammed from Afghanistan, who runs the laundry and alteration place.  On such days, I usually walk down Weston to be in the midst of one of the most interesting streets in Toronto.

Weston has a history and heritage. I’ve developed a sense of belonging to this stretch of road from Lawrence Avenue to Highway 401. To its immediate west is the Humber River; to its east is the railway line on which the new Union-Pearson Express operates. The village was an industrial hub long ago and has changed in its composition and character over the last century (as has most of other neighbourhoods in Toronto). Wikipedia has some fascinating historical information about Weston village.

On some weekends when both Mahrukh and I are at home together (which is rare) we go to the P&M Restaurant on Weston. It’s also a Greek place and serves delicious breakfast and lunch. Since I stopped having meat, I restrict myself to omelettes, and this place, too, has arguably one of the finest omelettes in Toronto. The place is family-owned and everyone tries their best to make you feel you’re a part of their family.

Earlier this summer, Mahrukh and I walked down Humber River into the ravines and crossed the river on a wooden bridge. In autumn the trees on the river bank turn yellow and transform it into a surreal, magical psychedelic place that you’d only find in children’s storybooks.

Further to the north is the Weston Library, which celebrated its centenary in 2014-15. Originally constructed through an Andrew Carnegie endowment in 1914, the library occupies a heritage building. Entering the building is like taking a journey into the past because it evokes a sense of being in an early 20th century wood and red bricks home with stained glass windows. The original structure was expanded and extended to accommodate the growing need for space sometime in the 1960s.

(Read about the original building here and about the extension here). 

Since I made Toronto my home in 2008, I’ve regularly visited four libraries – the main Toronto Reference Library (at every given opportunity/excuse), the North York library when my workplace was at Yonge and Sheppard; the Amesbury Park library when I lived on Keele and Lawrence, and now the Weston library. The Toronto Reference and the North York libraries are grand architecturally, and the Amesbury Park one is functional. The Weston library makes me feel at home because of its ambience. It’s not at all like a library. It’s a place that encourages browsing of books arranged in neat rows of bookshelves, with the original section of the building housing fiction books.

Today, I went to the library to return a book and borrow another one, and while browsing through the rows of fiction books, I saw my novel Belief nestled between David Bezmozgis’s The Betrayers and Rachel Billington’s Perfect Happiness on the shelf. That made me smile. I took a photo on my phone and showed it to the library assistant. She peered into the phone, and smiled and said, “Is that you? Your book? That’s great! You must write another one now.”

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