The other day I asked for road directions from a passerby in downtown Toronto. His answer was not as impressive as his looks. “Two blocks up north, then head west, take the 110 South bus, and there you’ll see it…third building on the eastern end” he said cheerily and sauntered away! Huh?
This leaves me to deduce that the Toronto subway has been most definitely designed by a man. Train stations are a maze of criss-crosses marked East, West, North or South Bound, leaving a new immigrant utterly lost.
It can get even more complicated. There is a Dundas East, Dundas West, Eglinton East and Eglinton West. The famous Yonge Street (pronounced ‘Young’) takes pride of place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s longest, stretching 1,178 miles. It starts from the glitzy downtown Toronto and meanders through forest wilderness, the Great Lakes and prairies of Northern Ontario right up to the Rainy River on the U.S. border. Can you imagine what happens if you take one wrong turn?
To compound matters, buses are no better. They are numbered 76 West, 26 East etc. For example, TTC 34 Eglinton East bus is Westbound. TTC 32 Eglinton West is Eastbound. TTC 34 Eglinton East to Kingston road is Eastbound too.
So unless you are a Superhero with X-ray vision, have a GPS wired to your brain, work for James Bond, carry a compass or a Smartphone with inbuilt map tracking, you’re done!
If you’re born spatially challenged like me, make sure you hold someone’s hand every time you step out of the house.
Pray explain, how can you expect someone to go about town whole day and know exactly where they are located each time? Most other countries give arrows with station names clearly marked stating where trains are headed. God help people like me here.
If there’s one book that deserves the literary award for excellence in this direction, it is Allan Pease’s best-selling paperback ‘Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps”.
I can see some of you intellectuals snicker but honestly, how many authors, especially men, have read women so ingeniously? Mr Pease deserves not just the highest award for literature, but also for psychology, biological breakthrough and genetic revelation.
Most women can’t read maps, however smart and educated we may be otherwise. Period! We are not wired to figure out where North, East, West, South is.
Leave me alone on a boat and I’ll simply drown. There’s no way I’ll be able to steer it back to shore. I’ve not even been able to track the Pole Star far up in the skies or locate my neighbour through a magnetic compass.
Let me tell you, we may be spatially challenged but not intellectually. Explain locations to us with visual landmarks and see how fast we get there.
Better still, mark the stations with arrows directing us to shopping malls, fashion boutiques or jewelry stores. See how effortlessly we find our way.
Needlessly to say, I used to be quite lost in the subway till recently. It took me two months to be all enlightened. How? Simple! I have to hand it to my husband for this one.
His brilliancy found an apartment at the western end of the Toronto subway line. All subway trains from here head eastwards. Phew! Finally I know where I stand.
People here have been urging us to drive at our earliest. They warn us in menacing tones that once the temperature drops to sub zero levels, you freeze on your tracks. Without a car with heated seats you can’t even make it to the next block. I absolutely understand their concern…but what about mine?
Can you imagine what someone as ‘map challenged’ as me has to endure? It’s not the driving that terrifies me (well that does too but not as much); it’s more about losing my way. My deepest fear is steering out alone, never to find my way back home again. Trains, buses or cars…please make location finding simpler with easier road signs and new immigrants will blaze trails like you’ve never known before.
Men never understood women but fortunately God does. Our new apartment couldn’t be better located. Shops and grocery stores are a 5 to 10 min walk away. A mini mart in the apartment adds to the convenience. A school is right next door. The subway, bus terminus and taxi stand are all close at hand. We were guided to the perfect home for me. Thank you lord!
A month after our arrival, life slowly settled down to some kind of order. Then my older offspring got through a prestigious university. She received scholarships from all universities in Canada except this one. It was quite an honour for her to be selected here hence we decided to let her go for it despite our financial crunch at the time.
Fortunately, Permanent Residency in Canada weaved its magic once again. Just when we were wondering how to cope, the gates of the university flung open to welcome us with a special grant that virtually covered her entire tuition cost for the year. The decision was fuelled by my offspring’s high IB test scores. All we had to do was pay for the residence. We were ecstatic beyond words.
True I can’t read maps, but I congratulated myself for my astute woman’s instinct that guided me towards a better future here. Ahem…I do admit it was my husband’s decision but behind every successful man is a woman, right? (Wink!)
Despite all the challenges, it was a good decision to migrate to Canada after all.