Sunday, July 28, 2013

Mesopotamia and Memories

I noticed signs recently when I was in downtown Toronto, for the Mesopotamia exhibition at the ROM. I wanted to go! 

So that week I said to Tori when she came upstairs to help me prepare for dinner guests, "I would love to take a day off work and take you and Tippy somewhere during the holidays; would you like that?"

Excited eyes, and a big smile answered louder than words.

"But where?" 

"Well," I said casually, "There is the ROM. They have an exhibit on Mesopotamia, which is known as "the cradle of civilization," at the moment--or," I added; because part of me felt that I was offering them a frog on a plate for lunch; "we could go anywhere else, if you prefer;" .

I suggested that she and her sister Tippy, Google, "Places to go in Ontario," and said that I would take them anywhere they wanted--the main thing was to go somewhere together.

To my delight and surprise, a few days later they said, "We would like to go to the ROM!"

So on Friday morning, my granddaughters came upstairs at 9.30, right on time, and peeked around the corner; Tippy in jeans and a red plaid shirt over a tee shirt, and Tori in shorts and tie dyed tee shirt, both with light brown hair, long and shiny, and ipods and ear buds at the ready. 

"When did they get so tall?" I thought; their height matches, and will soon outstrip, mine.

I shut the laptop on which I had been finishing last minute work, and focused on heading out into the sunny day; feeling like I was playing hookey from school! We headed down highway 400 and then the 401 to Yorkdale, where we would park and get the subway.

There was a tangible frisson of anticipation in the vehicle. We live not far north of the city, but our home is in a hamlet in the country. I said what Mum would have said at such a moment: "Isn't this exciting?"  The girls agreed that it was.

"There's a restaurant at the ROM named Druxy's," I said, making conversation.

Tori, laughed, "That's the name of a restaurant? Drugsies?" 

Giggles filled the car at my, "DruXy's!" setting the tone for a day of fun.

Walking towards the subway station through the crowded mall, the girls stuck as close to me as a double shadow.

"I remember when we were here before, there was a man playing a cello," said Tippy, "I love the cello."

"We may see someone else busking today," I said, and already we heard strains of jazz from a keyboard in the tunnel leading to the subway. As we dropped some coins to show our appreciation, the black musician nodded his thanks, and murmured a smiling benediction on our day.

We boarded the train that drew into the station almost immediately, and sat down. The long corridor of connected carriages snaked this way and that, following the curve of the tracks, people lining each side deep into the distance; people bending over phones; tapping with their thumbs; scrolling through pages of kobo readers; ear-buds in, listening to music. 

There are as many ways of creating privacy in a public place as there are people it seems. In spite of that I watched them, the woman in black absorbed in her book, the beautiful black woman with a voluptuous lower lip and prominent cheekbones, hair drawn back into a black, taut, bun; shiny, and rippling in spite of the tightness, she looked like a Nubian princess. So many people, so many stories that we would never know.

At St. George Station we swayed to our feet and exited onto the platform. I gave myself a few seconds to get oriented and then we were on our way, up the steps and through the turnstiles, out into the bustle of the streets of Toronto.
File:ROM Crystal.jpg

The tang of mustard filled our nostrils as we passed a street vendor, as well as exhaust as we headed towards Bloor Street West.

We rounded a corner and Tippy spotted the beautiful and controversial Michael Lee-Chin Crystal at the ROM not too far down the road.

Our first stop inside the museum, was Mesopotamia, and we wondered at the beauty of artifacts such as an exquisite rearing goat with flowering plant

We watched a  big screen virtual tour of Babylon, fascinated to think that this was the city to which the captive Israelites were brought and where the book of Daniel was written. As I reminded the girls of the pride and downfall of king of Babylon named Nebuchadnezzar, we came face to face with a tablet that proclaimed in cuniform script, his many accomplishments.

But the girls really lit up with interest when we left Mesopotamia and found the natural history floor. Tippy has a great affinity for nature and Tori wants to be a vet. They knew far more than I did about the birds, insects and strange, exotic creatures we saw.

We wandered through the halls devoted to various civilizations and I was able to connect the marble bust of the Roman emperor Augustus with the birth of Christ during his reign. It was fascinating to look at the face of the very man that ordered the census that brought Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem.

In Druxy's for lunch, the man taking our order from behind the deli counter, flummoxed the girls with his flirtatious reference to me as their sister and for once Tori was lost for a quick enough comeback. Tippy laughed loudly and I just told him that he had earned many points with his flattery. I ignored my best intentions for a healthy lunch, and instead joined the girls in ordering poutine, my favourite guilty pleasure.

Revived for a couple more hours we finally ended our tour in the gift shop, probably the best part of the day for Tippy and Tori. We  happily browsed there for what seemed like a very long time, and they carefully chose gifts with money given to them to spend by Paul. Tippy bought a small brass dragon for her new room, which has black, gold and red as a colour scheme, while Tori (a girl after my own heart,) bought a beautiful journal bound in chestnut leather.

Then, all three spent of money and energy, we decided to begin our journey home.

The sun blazed and the heat hit us as we emerged from the cool of the museum. We had only gone a few yards along Bloor Street when Tori said, "Ice cream!" at the sight of an ice cream truck that was parked at the curbside.

I ordered two chocolate shakes for the girls; I personally had not a smidgen of space left for even ice cream! We sat on a wall, people watching, while the girls enjoyed their shakes and all of us enjoyed resting our tired feet.

I had bought a copy of The Book of General Ignorance at the gift shop; intrigued by the statement on the cover that "everything you think you know is wrong." I pulled it out and had fun asking questions such as, "How many nostrils have you got?" The answer is not what you think!

Tippy began to flip through the book, laughing at the unexpected answers. When she got to the question, "What do bananas grow on?" she gasped as she read out the answer, which surprised us all. Not on trees as we thought--but the banana plant is actually a giant herb.

"My whole life has been based on a lie!" said Tippy, "The banana is my favourite--berry?"

We slid from the wall and headed towards the subway again, past the street vendor we'd passed in the morning. The same tang of mustard filled the air.

This time the subway cars were full with commuters heading home. There was standing room only and we had to hold on tight to the poles to steady ourselves against the lurching as the train stopped and started again at each stop.

But we were soon back at Yorkdale and on the rooftop of the parking garage my little black Honda Fit waited to carry us home.

The girls plugged into their ipods and I listened to my latest gripping Tess Gerritsen murder mystery on CD from the library. We would be home in no time, but there was no rush to end this wonderful day--a day of priceless memories.

7 comments:

Dave Hingsburger said...

Oh, isn't the ROM wonderful. We are members there and go several times a month. Because we live so close we can go for an hour or so and explore, really explore, a room at a time. It's awesome. We saw the Meso exhibit ... loved it ... and I thought to write you about it but then, sadly, forgot. I'm glad you were able to catch it. The girls love the natural history part - they are ceaselessly thrilled by the bat cave! Sounds like a perfect day with your grand daughters.

Belinda said...

I knew we were kindred spirits! :)

Anonymous said...

So how many nostrils do we have?

Belinda said...

To my surprise we have 4, just like fish, but 2 are latent.
This is from Listverse.com:
"Four. Two you can see, two you can’t. This discovery came from watching how fish breathe. Fish get their oxygen from water, most of them have two pair of nostrils, a forward facing set for letting water in and two ‘exhaust pipes’ for letting water out. So, since humans evolved from fish, where did the other nostrils go? The answer is, they migrated inward, towards the back of the head, to become internal nostrils called ‘choannae’ – Greek for ‘funnels’. They connect to the throat and are what allow us to breathe through our noses. Some recent research on noses shows that we may use each nostril to detect different kinds of smells."
Cool hey?

Belinda said...

This is not to say I believe we evolved, but just that we do have these parts I wasn't aware of! :

Anonymous said...

We have the exact amount of nostrils as God designed for us. From fish?? Good grief.

Belinda said...

You said it Anon. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. :)