Just like George Costanza from Seinfeld, I’m a guy that likes to keep my worlds fairly separate. My work stays at work. My family stays at home. And my friends are sprinkled in between. Even in Sri Lanka, I managed to keep things in nice neat boxes most of the time – except that it all was much more random and way more sweaty.
This past weekend (with VSO volunteer friends from Sri Lanka Bill and Wendy visiting from Kamloops) was one of those rare times when I purposely planned to bring everything together to see what would happen. It was like my own little 24-hour social science experiment where I mixed up everything and everyone around me and jumped in head first.
Bill and Wendy had no idea what was in store.
The weekend started off in Montmartre, Saskatchewan, for the running of the 11th annual Perogy Run.
A 45-minute drive from Regina and known as the Paris of the Prairies, Montmartre is a nice little Prairie town that erected a mini Eiffel Tower a few years back to help boost local tourism. The 10k race is a fundraiser for the local community centre and features a massive perogy, post-race buffet lunch.
Needless to say, if you want to know what Saskatchewan culture, tradition and hospitality is all about, just register in next year’s Perogy Run and see for yourself. What makes it so Saskatchewanized you ask? Well, here’s a few things that come to mind:
- Instead of offering power bars or Gatorade before the race, homemade cinnamon buns are handed out – all you can eat!
- A horse normally leads the runners out of the starting gates. (However, the regular horse is getting too old to run, so sadly had to watch this one from his stable).
- Your race numbers aren’t used to accurately mark your time, but rather as your ticket into the lunch afterwards.
- There are more volunteers working at the race than runners.
- The run winds through a golf course, trailer park, wheat field, dirt road, graveyard, regional campground and finishes up at the church.
- Everyone who runs the race gets a door prize.
- The best prize goes to the oldest runner (congrats Bill!)
- There are enough perogies to feed everyone 15 each and the old Bubbas working in the kitchen are always worried that there won’t be enough.
That’s Saskatchewan in a nutshell.
To switch gears after the race, I took Bill and Wendy to Regina’s best freak show of the year – the Cathedral Village Arts Festival street fair.
Held every year at this time in the neighbourhood where Trina and I live, the arts festival offers the best people watching in the city, and some pretty great food and other creative stuff. The street fair features close to one hundred artists, musicians, inventors and nutbars selling their products and potions. The whole city descends on the neighbourbood on one day every May to view the spectacle and it is a sight to behold.
“There sure are a lot of different people in this city,” remarked Bill politely.
“There sure are Bill. There sure are,” is all I could say, feeling strangely very proud of Regina and the neighbourhood where I live.
After the festival wound down, it was time to complete the day of colliding worlds by heading for an authentic Sri Lankan meal at a high school friend’s parent’s house (whom I have never met). Two years ago setting up something like this would have never occurred to me. But now, as soon as I heard Bill and Wendy were coming, I thought – “Why not try and setup a supper at these stranger’s house?”
As I had assumed, we were only strangers for about two seconds as we all exchanged greetings and hugs at the door, and then carried on for the next four hours like we’ve spent our entire lives living together in Sri Lanka.
The curries, sambol, vegetables, biriyani, cutlets, etc., etc., were outstanding and Kevin’s mom packed me enough leftovers to last until Trina gets home in July. And, it was great to chat again using the familiar Sri Lankan English phrases like ‘those days” and ‘these days,’ as well as throw in the occasional flippant hand gesture and slight head bobble.
It was one of those days where worlds colliding felt more like worlds gently melting together to form something new, something special. It felt like home, maybe even a new world, and I liked it.