I love this city; this country; the people that populate this furrowed land. And when I first came here in 1999, I knew my love affair with Glasgow was just beginning. I knew that after my year abroad here, I would come back. I HAD to come back. Glasgow was a city in which I felt home.
But by fate, I was born in Canada and when you want a "City Life", there are not many places to go in Canada for one. Montreal, perhaps, if you're bilingual; Vancouver, maybe, if you're already somewhere out west (and a pot head); but if you're where I'm from (Napanee), there's really only one place: Toronto.
As much as I love Toronto, and enjoyed living there, I was always dreaming of what City Life was like back in Glasgow. Were my university friends still drinking in Uisge Breatha and dancing at the god awful Garage? Had the enormous Cineworld on Renfrew Street been completed? Was Insomnia still serving up greasy Scottish breakfasts to students and sketched out pillheads alike at 4.00am? (Sadly, no, because Insomnia Cafe is now closed).
Now that I live in Glasgow, I can appreciate Toronto from afar. I love the plethora of cheap (and excellent) food; the diversity of cultures and people; the cleanliness of the city; the distinct neighbourhoods (Little India, Little Portugal, Little Italy, Parkdale, Rosedale, The (Gay) Village). And perhaps, most noticeably, I love (and miss) the harmony that exists between so many cultures and nations in Toronto.
And perhaps it's naive of me to think that such a harmony exists in Toronto but nevertheless, I believe that multiculturalism is now fundamentally what it means to be a Canadian. As an immigrant myself, I know how foolish it is to think that life as an immigrant is easy in Canada:
Clearly, all of Canada continues to struggle through multiculturalism issues and to define what it means to be a Canadian. Few countries have opened their doors to such a wide cross-section of immigrants as Canada and no city has embraced it more than Toronto.
Our diversity is a source of strength, not weakness. Millions of new Canadians have settled successfully in Canada over the last 100 years. They and their children are proof that multiculturalism works.
I know that I've been lucky in life and realise that having lived in Toronto, one of the safest cities in North America, I've been sheltered somewhat.
I love this city that I chose to make my home in but sometimes, it breaks my heart. Like any riveting love affair, Glasgow and I have our episodic highs and lows. The last time she broke my heart, I started sobbing in front of my boyfriend and his friends. And maybe it wasn't the actual violence itself that upset me, as pointed out by DaviMack (who does a really awesome blog with his partner/girlfriend) but rather, the casual attitude towards such violence. Perhaps it's both elements. Most likely it's because I've never encountered racially or religiously motivated crime in my life before living here.
Glasgow's done it again and this time, I only live about ten minutes away.
I know there will (most likely) always be crime and sadly, violence but come on, aren't we beyond tribalism and Us vs. Them attitudes? Aren't we beyond killing each other because of colours and football? Aren't we beyond attacking asylum seekers and blaming perceived social and economic problems on immigrants? Surely we know better in 2009? Surely Glasgow can only get better?
So, I love this city; this country; the people that populate this furrowed land. But I wish weegies could love each other as much as I love them. I know that's cheesy but hey, it's true.
Anyway, I'll leave it to the talented Chris Rock to break it all down: