Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Kensington Market

Toronto is the one of the most multicultural city in the world, and the best way to appreciate diversity of the city is by walking through its hodge-podge of neighbourhoods. One such place is the Kensington Market, quite near my workplace.

Kensington Market Entrance From Spadina

Its location is a contradiction in itself. Situated right next to Chinatown, which itself is located beside the fifth most prestigious university in North America (think French academics and Starbucks and latte coffee), and bordered by Little Italy, Kensington Market contains some of the best local produce and meat shops in Toronto.

Main Street Of The Market

Besides its never dull. With Ramadan coming (fasting for us Muslims), I cajoled my colleagues to going for lunch at the market. And with a nice day, it does not take much incentive. These are a sample of the stores on the main street (the names are what we call them).

  1. Jamaican patty lady store (the ladies are really Ethiopians pretending to be Jamaicans), patties for 99c.
  2. The Falafel place - a Lebanese store with greetings in Hebrew, Arabic and English printed on the door. Falafel used to be 2 bucks but is now 2.15. Guy claims it's because of gas prices.
  3. This place that looks like it sells dope. Called Roach something. Probably is above board but one of the guys said the 70s could have been a different story.
  4. A store selling Texas style meat (ribs, tongues, what not, think grill meat), for some reason called European Meats.
  5. A fish store that really is fishy. My buddy bought some red snapper today and later we came and found out the guy cheated him on the weights (we have all sort of instruments at my workplace).
  6. A cheese place (French - what else?) that sells one type of cheese called 'Stinky cheese'. It really reeks! But tastes surprisingly good however.
  7. An army surplus store where you can buy army costumes for cheap if you are in a play. Coz otherwise I don't think its too much of a good idea to go walking around on the street dressed like a Chilean dictator.
  8. Loblaws. The last one I heard was extremely unpopular with other market residents who felt it would spoil the atmosphere.

And the market is never short of weird people. There's this guy we call black Jesus. Ever seen the traditional picture of Jesus? White guy, red beard, eyes shut, blue robe, stick in hand, shepherd-like? Now change the white to black and you got it. This guy stands at one corner at noon and sings Christian hymns for pedestrians.

Then there's the DVD guy. He sets up a rack and sells pirated DVDs, always very quick to move away whenever the police comes. He really is quick, once I saw him pack and bike away in less than 2 minutes. I don't really know why he doesn't set up ware at Chinatown, just on the next block.

Today one hobo cornered him, picked up a DVD and challenged him, "What if I steal this from you, just as you steal from the movie producers?"

Then he saw us nearby and called out to us, "You buy from this man, you agents of the serpent! I should just clobber you with this-" He pointed to a can of baked beans in his hand. Ofcourse he did not know that my office guys are ALL ex-army (except me and another guy). One of them just walked up to him. No word, just walked up to him. The Baked-Bean Guy took one look and fled.

Rickshaws In The Market

I don't know why these rickshaws are here, but they are in front of a FRENCH store. Having been to India, Bangladesh and Thailand myself I can tell you that the left most one looks like it's from Calcutta, the middle one is Dhaka, and last one could be from Bangkok.

Even the rickshaw exhibit is multicultural.


Safiyyah said...

Hey, I'm from Toronto too! And I love Kensington Market! I live close by and shop there regularly. How come I've never noticed the 'rickshaw exhibit'? Where exactly is it located?

mezba said...

It's in front of the store called La Palette (if I remember right). It's somewhere on Augusta Ave, just south of College Street.