So, it's almost the end of the World Cup, and it's my first World Cup in Montreal. Who knew it could be this exciting?
Montreal is pretty well known for it's diversity. Whereas, say, Toronto (not to name names, but...) has a reputation for being more of a melting pot, Montreal is the quintessential mosaic. People come here, love it here, but are fiercely proud of their heritage and lineage. It makes for very cool little neighborhoods, and sporting events as I have never witnessed them in my life.
Anyway, with the World Cup going on, it's inevitable that people will wear jerseys, and have little flags or something, and maybe gather at a sportsbar on a Saturday to watch a match or two. But here, here the World Cup takes on a life of its own. At 11am on a Tuesday, people were driving their cars up and down the main streets with flags and banners and megaphones and horns, and possible booze. And not just one car - no no no - parades of them, honking and yelling and generally getting in my way, but in a non-irritating way because people should be able to celebrate when their team wins, or scores, or whatever happened.
I was also struck by the vast number of countries that were represented in these little parades. There wasn't just Brazil, Germany, Argentina, you know, the big teams. Portugal had a huge following, as did Italy. Even the French were not too haughty for once to join in. But no one seemed to be disputing. At least not in an overly aggressive way.
On Friday, after Italy won their match against the Ukraine, we took a drive to Little Italy. The streets were closed down and hundreds of people were marching and singing and waving flags. One guy had a giant afghan that I'm guessing his nona made him of the Italian flag. People had tiny jerseys on their tiny dogs while they waved flags, ate gelato and tried not to get anything on their Gucci shoes. Maybe it wasn't exactly like Rome, but at the very least it was like New Jersey, HBO style.
I feel lucky to live in a city like this - where I can experience all these cultures so authentically, from people who care about and are proud of where they came from. And I love that I can be curious about them, without feeling like a tourist.
I just wish they wouldn't slow the traffic up quite so much.