Ottawa: The Sitar

ottawa I guess this is a year of rebirth of sorts. I have moved away from friends and family. I am struggling to recover from the end of my first significant relationship. I have my first real job. I feel alive with loss and potential. I am electrified by questions of who I want to be. Every new person I meet contributes to my evolving self-portrait.

It is natural to have trepidation on a first encounter. One’s expectations are probably a good barometer of where you fall on the optimist/pessimist spectrum. For my part, I expect nothing good to come from this. Almost immediately I see how wrong I am.

The young Vietnamese waiter passes a note to Dave. It reads “You seem like a nice man. I would like to get to know you better. Please call me.”

I volunteer to work on Ottawa’s new non-profit arts tabloid. I write and do graphics but, most importantly, I meet Roy Stanley. Only, Roy Stanley doesn’t exist. He is a warm and passionate man who draws commitment from those around him. He gives me a copy of a wonderful story he wrote about mowing the lawn. I meet his wife and she in turn becomes a cherished friend. Only, Roy Stanley doesn’t exist.

“My oldest brother, who is an engineer, sponsored the rest of the family to come to Ottawa in 2004. We arrived on Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day. It was in the coldest part of the winter. Wow. When you think of the hot temperature of Pakistan, it was like coming out of the oven into the ice.”