Michelle Persad’s “14 Reason You Shouldn’t Visit Toronto”

Toronto has become a hot topic in recent years. But this city is not like others. I can only go by what I think and in my opinion, the socio-economic dynamics, a system of laws, cultural mentality and geopolitical spectrum of this metropolis are far from symbolic to a visitor. We all made the mistake of thinking that since Toronto looks like a city in the United States, that means, what worked in the States will instantly work here. Incorrect!

In my experience, Toronto does not fit the one size fits all cookie cutter approach which works for most immigrants or travelers. You have to be willing to learn new things when you come here. You will have to develop a specific approach for Toronto, which only works in Toronto. And you will need to know how to turn off your Toronto approach when you travel elsewhere. Toronto is a beast of its own species.

You eat differently, drink different, behave differently, love different and basically do everything different from what you were accustomed to in another city or you won’t get along with too many people. I grew to love this city. As I got to know her, my eyes became opened to situations I hadn’t considered before.

Photo credit: www.torontosun.com

Toronto’s Chinatown has to be the best when it comes to eating healthy. The food at Chinatown New York is oilier although you will find better choices of clothing, electronics, and furniture there. Most tourists immediately notice the squeaky clean subways here. Very strict moral, health and sanitation codes are leveraged with heavy fines in this city.

Here, there is no respect for pick up artists, hackers or self-taught enthusiasts. Usually, it’s not only the strict judicial system but the citizens themselves who blow the whistle. This is what makes this city different from others. For example, strippers are not allowed to booty clap, twerk or slide down the stripper pole when the smallest tip you can give is a 5 dollar bill.

However, an average call girl can look like J. Lo, K. Michelle to Meagan Fox, the weed might render you helpless and the liquor store clerk could look like a Djimon Hounsou who lives in a similar neighborhood as Wildwood, New Jersey. The point I’m making is Toronto makes up for what it lacks in one area by being abundant in another. Street cred might not be a big deal here but your quality of life could be higher than the same in most cities.

Photo credit: urbantoronto.ca

Before Toronto, I had only known people who removed their shoes to enter holy places like mosques or temples. Here, everyone takes off their shoes when entering a home. Yes, when you arrive at someone’s home, your Gucci, Jordan or Jimmy Choos are coming off and staying by the entrance.

But, just because you were forced to rock your socks or bare feet indoors, it does not mean you avoided traffic by taking a “hideous bike path.” A visitor may cry about the weather but I’ve also seen some beautiful winters here? When you get used to it, you begin to appreciate. Now, I actually feel weird when I wear my Timbs indoors in the States.

This is what makes this city unique. It’s different. People do not care who you are or what you know or have, yet, you may have more than you need. Toronto is so different, its considerable overpopulation of females has made it so women do odd jobs you’d expect men to do. Like piloting a train, farming, snow plowing or driving cabs.

There’s a huge difference between the norms in Toronto when compared to those of other cities in the world. From my experience, this city gets its recognition from being different… This blog is my response to the article “14 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Visit Toronto” by Michelle Persad of The HuffPost Travel.

Photo credit: www.torontosun.com

“No talent in the city”: Michelle Prescod should have pointed that when it comes to talent, the officials in this city have mostly concentrated on negative stereotypes. There are all kinds of talent in Toronto, however, talent is not highly respected here. The norm is to appreciate politicians and people who work for corporations rather than celebrities.

So, you don’t see Hip Hop kids honing their skills on the streets or an aspiring comedian telling jokes by the subway. These talents may be accused of trespass or disturbance when the police are called to drive them away. It may seem as though there’s no talent because the best talents loom in the shadows.

Toronto’s media rarely promotes talent. It NEVER highlights the accomplishment of an up and comer. It mostly reports on rappers who were gunned down generally to insinuate riff raff. Take me for example; I’m a Grammy-nominated rapper, who was commemorated on postage stamps in Africa. How many rappers do you know in other countries who have authored their own books?

Toronto’s media has never glorified this story when I’ve been posting this blog for 10 years. Does that mean I’m not here? There are thousands of talented actors, comedians, writers, producers, designers, singers, dancers, DJs, rappers, directors, promoters, etc., in this city, but you will never know it if you were a tourist. This city has some of the hardest working talents!

Photo credit: www.ramadaplazatoronto.com

“Their Sports Teams Never Does Anything Exciting”: The NHL, NBA or MLB are American leagues. The majority of officials, players, GMs or coaches are Americans, even if the team is in Canada. The team might do something amazing but it’s up to the fans to react. Like celebrities, athletes are not idolized in Toronto.

To me, it seems the authorities caused an environment where only a few athletes get their influence. The city is heavily guarded, not only by local police, the board of directors but also by the RCMP, OPP, and CSIS that have highly revered policies. No Canadian wants to attract negative attention from these officials.

I think it’s because there is no other source of income except for the supply that runs under the control of the authorities. There is a head count on everyone. If your team won or lost in a questionable way, this cannot be shown with a demonstration without getting into serious trouble. The law ensures a strict control over the people.

A local Torontonian may be too jaded at the thought of a demonstration. Here, people are more accustomed to avoiding unnecessary attention. I’ve found wild celebrations behind closed doors. You can show emotion during the game but when it’s over, you go home and demonstrate there. You can’t do it outside.

Photo credit: toronto.ctvnews.ca

“The Festivals Are A Total Snooze”: Normally, festivals are exceptionally gross with tomfoolery. Festive nights include euphoric chanting to popular songs, lewd dancing, promiscuity, and antics. Michelle’s reference was probably towards the domesticated nature of Toronto’s festivals. Even the Gay Pride Parade that is known for its antics, is not as outrageous as those abroad.

Take into account that local musicians do not have the artistic freedom needed to incite mischief. If they did, that song may never become the rave of this city. Athletes are limited to charities. The wildest musicians come from other countries. As bad as some might want debauchery, the heavy hand of the law is too close for comfort. It’ll have to go on behind closed doors.

The Caribbean Festival is the largest of African heritage in this city. In addition to the shows offered, it speaks of the cultural patrimony and public perception of the Caribbean community in Toronto. In a highly regulated and well-governed city, buffoonery could spark a negative reaction from the authorities and organizers. This parade is reduced to a cultural rave with mildly drunk revelers who remain on good behavior so as to maintain a positive perception.

It would be nice to see a greater variety of South African, Nigerian, Somalian, African American and other ethnic groups, playing music and waving their flags there. So far, an overly naughty celebration is a far cry from the rather clear headed festivals this city promotes. This does not make them a total snooze. To me, what it shows is that Toronto is a different place altogether. *

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