With my bags all packed, carefully taking the time to go through my inventory and travel documents, I take time to spend my last two days in Victoria doing what tourists do best – gawking at every little place of interest, being a nuisance with camera phone photography. Savagely I take advantage of the weekend deli specials, gorging on the homemade coffee and sandwiches, barely resisting the urge to purchase vintage toys and paraphernalia.
Taking the time to revisit the locations I’d passed by in the course of my stay at the Garden City, I encounter Paul once again and give him the web address to the blog, shaking hands one last time before going our separate ways. The last Sunday afternoon was spent at the Maritime Museum, where I am again reminded of my being a hopeless pervert.
The Maritime Museum was running an exhibit at the time for naval ships and historical steamliners. Aside from the occasional bouts of dirty-minded thoughts, the museum in itself is worth the price of admission; hardly anybody occupies the floor, leaving one to read each of the displays and occasionally meander about. Unfortunately my phone died as I was taking photographs which is an immense pity – the place is rich in atmosphere and design, that is if learning about history is your cup of tea.
Although the quiet of the museum is welcoming, it pains me to glance outside of it and watch the number of people flock towards the nearby pub instead. Most of the pub goers have gathered to celebrate Saint Patty’s day. I suppose in their case, not only as a man of simple pleasures, the appeal of browsing through history’s lost relics is not as entertaining as the prospect of boozing into odd hours of the night.
An older woman, whom I shall refer to as Miss Gentleman (her actual surname as she claims), remains at the cashier throughout the entirety of my visit. There was an immediate air surrounding this senior citizen, in that she not only spoke in a seemingly endless torrent about yesteryear, there too was some measure of wisdom to her voice. Naturally my curiosity got the best of me and I felt compelled to at least give her the time of day.
Miss Gentleman tells me a story relevant to the museum’s current exhibit, producing a pair of faded photographs depicting a tea set of Chinese origin. In the late 18th century, aboard one of many ships that crossed the Pacific into China, there once lived a Canadian doctor (I do not remember his name) that had served in the ship’s infirmary. Traveling alongside numerous immigrants heading for Victoria’s port, he operated on multiple clients – mostly of European descent – and performed a heroic feat during the midst of a violent storm.
One of the many Chinese immigrants aboard the vessel, suffering from complications with his appendix, required immediate surgery. Despite the racially tense atmosphere of the ship passengers, the doctor performed a successful appendectomy and against all odds his patient miraculously survived. Ignoring any form of merit, he returned back to Victoria, where he continued his practice and earned a great number of rewards; often times, Miss Gentleman recollected, his services came without any form of cost, each of his favors earning the admiration and support of his community
In time, the doctor returned to Asia, there to settle business of one kind or another. Upon his return to the same sea port, the doctor was confronted with an entire line of Chinese waiting at the docks, none of which had come to board the ship itself. What the doctor would learn was that the nameless patient he rescued was, in fact, a member of a large family clan; his return to that dock, alongside the careful observation of other Victorian locals, had alerted them to gather and express their gratitude.
The tea set is a labor of love, Miss Gentleman adds, that the clan had carefully crafted and designed each elaborate formation with painstaking effort. When the doctor had passed, he had specified that the set be returned to the clan for preservation, and a member of their latter generation had kept it for safe keeping. Tearing up gently, Miss Gentleman reveals that that particular member of the family had been a close friend, who had recently passed away of natural causes. In turn this artifact had been brought to her as recognition of their lifelong friendship.
The cashier briefly exchanges a glance with one of her colleagues and suppresses the urge to yawn. Whether her story holds any actual credit, the least one can do would be to send the tea set to an expert appraiser and confirm the story itself – instead Miss Gentleman, choking back tears, quietly puts her photos away and continues her many stories. I admit she was gone by the time I had finished my tour.
In hindsight, I felt a sense of sadness for Miss Gentleman; her story alone adds to the history of this city, a unique blend of cosmopolitan and classical feel to its architecture and surroundings. The fate of the little tea set would be a story that I would be curious about and Paul was right, I can be neurotic that way I suppose. There is always room for the gentle heart to spare a moment of time to one’s elders, that their words carry with them experience and credit; that in having perhaps dismissed the possibility of a fine fucking addition to the museum, I believe that is rather unforgivable.
Pushing past the building crowd of party kids and festively green adults, I make my way back to the hotel, periodically stopping to glance over the dusk. I try not to contemplate over these trivial sights and sounds, if only because my thoughts become clouded with overly philosophical nonsense. The astrological sign of Cancer is notorious for overly emotional and sentimental personalities.
I do, however, make it back in time to indulge on the green-colored whiskey specials.
Not to mention the absolutely delicious butter chicken.
I continue to indulge on the liquor because, quite frankly, I’m liable to be both frugal and excessive about the cheaper yet finer things in life. Not long afterwards, amidst the throng of college graduates caught up in booty shaking, beer pong, and the occasional wild holler that is louder than a gay porn movie; the liquor begins to get to my head, so I retreat to my room for the rest of the night.
What green whiskey and pub music feels like:
Next Update: Goodbye Garden City