Hidemi’s Rambling by Hidemi Woods

Singer, Songwriter and Author from Kyoto, Japan.

A Shopping Mall in Laval hr561

Near the hotel I stayed in, there was an indoor shopping mall called Carrefour. I walked on the bridge that crossed a 10-lane highway and caught a glimpse of the glass ceiling of the mall up ahead. As I came closer, the mall got bigger and more splendid. It was my first visit to this mall which beauty made my jaw dropped. Although it was a one-story complex, its ceiling was about three-story high. The passageways are wide, and in the middle of them, there were cafes, kiosks, shop wagons, trees, and life-sized decorations that looked like a park. A classic car-shaped cart was running around to help shoppers who had difficulty in walking. I felt as if I was strolling around an elegant European town rather than a mall. It was undoubtedly the most gorgeous, fashionable mall I’d ever seen. I passed high-class brand shops and bought accessories on sale at Old Navy. To have lunch, I was headed for the food court that was the fanciest one I’d ever been. Sunlight came in through the glass ceiling high above. Glittering chandeliers were everywhere. The restaurants weren’t just for fast food but for steaks and seafood as well. I had a Chinese dish at a cozy, clean table with a gleeful grin all over my face. After lunch, I strolled about the department store Simons that was on one of the wings of the mall. I couldn’t tell whether it had to do with a French-spoken region or not, shoppers there were all fashionable and somehow good-looking. I was embarrassed that I wasn’t pretty enough for the place and felt the need of more serious dieting. The merchandise the store carried was colorful and stylish, which was the kind I rarely found in Japan. By the reason that I couldn’t get any of those in Japan, I talked myself into impulse buying of a bag, scarves and gloves. And I took a rest on a bench in the mall having ice cream. I had never been in such a pleasant mall like this. Of course Japan has big modern malls in suburbs too, but those are crammed with idle housewives and noisy kids. Restaurants are chronically too full with them to get in. Remembering how uncomfortable life in Japan was, I was impressed by this town Laval afresh. People were nice and kind. The town was safe and relaxing. And it had this beautiful and gorgeous mall. I couldn’t believe a place like this existed on earth. I craved to live here and wished I had money to do so. I had liked to live in my apartment back in Japan since I moved in five years ago, but that life seemed miserable now that I knew Laval. Time is limited. With each passing day, the remaining days of my life decrease. That thought pressured and threatened me. I was assailed by a strong urge to move to Laval as soon as possible…

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It Is Laval hr560

On the sixth day of my trip to Montreal, I moved to a different hotel in a Montreal suburb Laval from downtown. The hotel rates there were a little cheaper, and I also wanted to visit Laval that I had never been to even when I lived in Montreal a long time ago. I looked out the window at the lounge in the hotel. A vast 10-lane highway ran straight through a wide stretch of plane land covered with greenery as far as the eye can see, which reminded me of Orlando, Florida. Across the highway from the hotel was a new building of the space camp attraction beside which a tall replica of a rocket stood. Right next to them, there was a movie complex which building had a futuristic, UFO-like shape. Looking at all of them against the background of twilight, I felt as if I had traveled through time to the future or I had actually arrived at Tomorrowland. I thought I should have known and come to Laval sooner. It was kind of an exquisite mix of openness in Anaheim, California and chic in Montreal, which added up to an ideal place for me. I wished I could live here someday. Just before leaving Japan for this trip, I saw the biggest, clearest rainbow I’d ever seen from my apartment window. Since I watched a movie ‘The Muppets’, I’ve always felt like there is a dreamer’s place on the other side of a rainbow as the song in the film says whenever I come across one. And one morning in Laval, a rainbow appeared. I was in the bathroom when my partner shouted, “Here’s a huge, beautiful rainbow!” Although I quickly came out, it had vanished already, and only my partner’s ecstatic face was there. He had taken a photo of it and proudly showed it to me, as if he was the chosen one to have seen it. For some reason, I extremely resented and kept wondering why I was in the bathroom at that moment. I was grumpy all day long, thinking that meant I wasn’t good enough to live in Laval, Laval rejected me, I was disqualified, all of which was merely because of one missed rainbow. I returned to the hotel room exhausted and still sullen early in that evening. I casually stood by the window, and saw what was in front of me. It was a gigantic perfect arch of a rainbow against an orange sky. I felt awed and relieved at the same time. As the way and the look of the rainbow that appeared for the second time in one day were quite mystical, I even thought the rainbow was trying to tell me something. I may have passed through the big rainbow that I had seen in Japan and have reached to the opposite side of it. This place could be that one on the other side of the rainbow. Or, more possibly, three biggest rainbows ever in a few days simply occurred by sheer chance…

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Casino de Montreal hr559

I visited the casino in Montreal for the first time in seven years. It had been remodeled into an even more gorgeous, glorious place than before. I arrived there before noon and had an all-you-can-eat buffet lunch at a fancy restaurant. I enjoyed the splendid buffet at an incredibly low price. Compare to the amount of money I was about to spend for gambling, everything seemed cheap. Every time I lose, I always try to calm my anger by thinking the money I spend here somehow serves to make the city better since it’s a public-managed casino. The city is so beautiful that I regard what I lose in the casino as an entrance fee to a theme park called Montreal. I used to live in Montreal but had to leave as I became short of money for life abroad. When the time to go back to Japan drew near, I seriously thought of gaining money to stay in Montreal, by gambling. I determinedly sat at the slot machine of a high progressive prize for a couple of days. On the last day, it happened. As the slot I had played kept gobbling up my money, I moved over to another slot machine and a middle-aged woman came to the one I just left. She turned it for only five or six times and hit the jackpot unbelievably quickly and easily. If I had continued for five more quarters on that slot, I would have won. She snatched $100,000 away from me right before my eyes. While she screamed for joy, the lights flashed, the sound blared and the casino workers scurried toward her with papers, I was running into the bathroom. I couldn’t help crying in there. I was trembling with chagrin. I cursed my bad luck and my coming life in Japan. A long time ago, my mother asked a fortuneteller about my future. She told me that according to the fortuneteller, I would often come close to big money, but it would slip away each time. “So, you will never be rich,” my mother said to me. I remembered that and I thought I saw proof that she was right. After I returned to my apartment, I wailed out loud like a baby. My former self was that stupid. Now, I play the slot machine just for fun. I sat at the minimum bet slot with a low prize. If I was lucky and won a little, it meant that I could play longer with that money. The band started playing at the stage on the casino floor and I enjoyed soft drinks that I took from the free drink bar listening to it. I won a little, which let me stay and play there longer than I had planned. As fatigue from the long flight began to kick in earnestly, I got back to my hotel room and fell into bed. It was an excitingly fun day at the casino that cleaned me out yet again, as usual…

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