VankUber: short stories and travelogue de Vancouver, BC

VankUber: VankUber is a fusion of a travel blog and series of short stories based on real events. It is the lovechild of fiction and travel writing genres, if you must. With upwards of 50 million people on the move this Thanksgiving, here are some insights and flashbacks from my visits to Vancouver earlier this fall – I’m thankful.

 

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A warm welcome to Vancouver.

The most memorable moment was on the train ride from the airport in to the city. An old handicapped woman in a semi-modern, electric wheelchair, with a dog in her lap. The gates opened and she dragged herself along in to the lives of the strangers on the train.

‘Excuse me!’, she yelled in her bold but wrinkly-old voice.

‘Please let me in, I’m just going to back into my corner here, and then you young folks can circle back around me!’ And she backed into her corner, the dog gently licking her face. She was wearing a bright yellow t-shirt.

 

First impression of the city on the train ride in from the airport, Vancouver is diverse! Being inclusive is always a trait for an ideal city. Check. Heavy Asian influence, heavy. Vancouver is diverse, but it doesn’t appear to have one, unified culture, rather dis-aggregated. For instance, Montreal carries the same vibe through out. So does New York. New York’s vibe also has an inherent variance to it, but there is an overarching NYC vibe. Vancouver seems a little shy of a unified culture, yet. Vancouver is a smooth blend of cultures, intermingling at every street corner.

Vancouver lives though the rains, inspires philosophy. The city never stops. Neither did I.

 

Oh fresh pacific petrichor, a drizzly folklore!

 

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English Bay / West End

 

Walk by the English Bay on a later afternoon, rain drops are falling on my head. A little gloomy. A few large vessels floating short of the horizon exude hope. Hope from the physical movement of things and people, to new places, for better purposes. On one end of Vancouver lay these giant vessels, shipping the western Canadian shale.

 

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A little boy asking the vessels why they’re here and where they’re headed

 

 The other end, the Waterfront, offers an interesting seaplane-watching sight.

 

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Watch North Vancouver from Canada Place

 

Vancouver has a very ‘in your face culture’. A congregation of micro culture, disaggregated. Open, inclusive, but bubbled up, silos floating on hot air balloons. A few panic room blocks in the mix of downtown, nothing unique so far. Vancouver has shady AF back drops, an Asian film student’s dream.

 

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Vancouver is a city you could lose yourself in, if you ever had to!

 

Yet again, I stood waiting for a taxi near a bus stop. Almost sold on the idea of taking a yellow taxi to take me to the airport. Yes, it was up to the taxi drivers to take me to the airport, or wherever my desired destiny is. That is, if they ever fuckin’ stop! After three buses passed in the hopes of a yellow taxi, I jumped on the bus. Number 250. 4 stops to the Vancouver City Center Train Station that went straight o the YVR.

 

A Korean massage, Kara-Miso Cha-Su Ramen and a limited edition Black Sugar Pearl White Tea Latte later, the train ride back to the airport was going fun, yay!

 

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Canada (never) dry

 

The train ride was going fun, until this kid started crying. A couple, late twenties to early thirties, walked in. The mother looked like the third musketeer was due along shortly. The younger kid, Jackson, was with the dad. Young Jackson appeared to be a little over one year, in his grey and blue polka dotted shirt. As the train moved, the mom found a spot with the elder boy. An older Asian woman sat across from the mother and saw the quaint father in his pink shorts balancing baby Jackson with every minor treble of the moving train. She got up and waited to catch the fathers eye and offered him her seat. He was waiting for someone to offer, he didn’t even hesitate once. ‘Yeah, thanks!’, went and sat across from his transient opponents. Meanwhile, another Asian woman stood strong without any support with 4 barely pubescent kids. Each one of those kids appeared supremely independent. One of the young kids was trying to impress a 22 year old on the bus as he flaunted his moves along the pole!

 

wait, what?

 

Just like the Sardars on the streets of Vancouver, out of thin air, baby Jackson erupted into a cry! Just like the sushi on Robson Street, you don’t feel the Volcano erupt from the moment it does! Baby Jackson teared his tonsils apart as if there was no tomorrow. The way he went on, fellow train riders couldn’t feel that day either, is this really happening?A few frowned, the lines of their respective foreheads tightened! A few pitied the poor father! I was too baked to find my headphones to mask the noise, somewhat. The bubble tea was complimenting the caramel edibles graciously imbibed earlier. So, I decided to hear out the kid. Listen to his demands. That kid made no sense!

 

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Fiyaaa

 

 

The train stopped at a station. The public service attendant, with his orange jacket, sitting next to the mother got up and offered his seat to the father. ‘Maybe you two should sit together!’ As the crowd moved between the couple, the father hesitated, and in return, handed over Jackson to the mother. And soon, he stopped crying. That bastard!

 

Fuck you, Jackson?!

 

I don’t know if it was ironic or meta or sad, but this couple was headed to the airport. In their situation, I don’t know, man! Soon, the dad noticed the young Asian kids hanging by the window at the front of the train. And obviously, the dad thought, ‘this would be cool for my boys to experience!’

As the train approached the next station, the dad saw some folks vacate the seats closer to the front of the train where the Asian kids were hanging out. He got up and publicly declared his spots to his family. ‘Hey Jackson, do you want to come up front with dad!’

Hey, dude, all due respect, mainly because we share a dressing sense, but Jackson doesn’t fucking care!

In compromise, he got the elder kid on his lap as he sat next to the Asian woman that was busy checking out the pictures she had clicked of her boys! She gave off the
“all these brats ain’t mine” vibe. But she cared for all of them. Maybe one of them belonged to her sister.

‘I want a window seat!’ The guts on the elder fuckin’ kid! And yet another Asian woman, the third one today, got up from her seat and let that white brat get what he wanted. Privileged much? The Asian woman accommodated on the front row with her boys. Jackson had mellowed down. And soon, the Mother joined her transient opponents.

The phenomenon of transient opponents is, more or less, bound to occur with a couple that has two (or more) kids, and a bunch of other issues. As the kids start to pair up with either parent, they start forming teams, which always keep shuffling, and they all hence become each other’s transient opponents.

Seeing the elder bro and father have share a good moment triggered a  fuse within Jackson’s mind, and boom, that bastard erupted into another cry! A more testing one.

 

Jackson, fuck you, really!

 

The plight of the parents, oh my, heavens! The look on their faces! Jesus, they were helpless! They had no idea how to console Jackson. Baby Jackson wasn’t most glorious when he craved for the reassurance that he was loved more than his elder bro!

Bring me a higher love, will you?

I, the hyperopic stranger standing on the corner sipping on his bubble tea prayed that this couple didn’t end up on his flight. Lord savior! As they the collective disembarked at the YVR Airport Station, and this family of 4 walked ahead of me, it dawned on me…

 

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Microfamilia

 

 

Where the fuck are they going without any luggage? Diaper Genie?

 

Vancouver offers a tremendous amount of similar, weird lapses that make you wish the city had Uber! Vancouver does have some sort of local peer-to-peer transportation service. It’s called Black Top Cabs. While waiting for a cab at 4 AM after an Anjuna concert, I did wave a few of these BTCs. In the labyrinths of my memory, there is a flash of this Black Top Cab stopping around the corner for a few ladies. A semi-sharp young African-American lad got out of the back seat and held the door open for the two wasted ladies. Whoa? Another sharp lad behind the wheel. Both lads dawning black suits and ties. If I recall correctly, one of them had a purple shirt and white tie, the lad that held the door open. Another un-suited lad in the passenger seat. And they sped away. Dafuq is happening? Through rest of my tenure in Vancouver, I closely observed these Black Top Cabs, and I never saw them stop for a gentlemen. On some research, I found out Black Top & Checker Cabs has an app and all that jazz, been operating in the city since 60 years with a vehicular fleet.

 

A vehicular fleet with weirdos behind the wheel?

 

All things considered, the lack of comfortable transportation is extravagantly compensated by the authenticity, breadth, depth and diversity in Vancouver’s food scene. I didn’t even have try Indian food in the two times I’ve been there – I’ve been told by some legit foodies about the quality and authenticity of Indian food in Surrey. Talking of India, Indians sort of seem to fit in this city, they don’t stand out. Primarily because every other foreign city depicted in the Bollywood in the 90s looked like Vancouver (or Seattle).

 

And then, a Sardar walks by. You realize it’s raining.

 

Time to get inside. When it rains, it pours. It’s always time for sushi! Order anything from the wide spectrum of fusion-rich black rice experiments to authentic thin-sliced nigiris, everything will blow your mind. Just walk into a place. Not just a sushi place, any Asian place around Robson Street.

Japanese:

    1. Miko Sushi on Robson: Legit AF! Chivas Regal is for CAD 8. 8 fucking dollars, Canadian. Note: they close at 10pm. Side note, food in Vancouver is affordable, it’s worth every penny. When people say Vancouver is one of the most expensive cities in North America, they are referring to real estate.
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      After hours sneak peak into Miko

 

2. Guu Original on Thurlow: Get their Karage Chicken with Tartar Sauce.Screen Shot 2018-11-21 at 7.23.10 PM.png

3. Black Rice Izakaya on Cambie (not near Robson): Best Miso Soup. Interesting Black Rice Sushi. Tapas place.

4. Tsuki Sushi on Abbott (near Cambie): Spearheading the sushi game on the Cambie front.

Asian:

  1. Dumpling House on Robson: Best soup dumplings ever. And not because it is next to Green Panda.
  2. Ramen Santouka on Robson: As depicted above.

Vietnamese:

  1. Phnom Penh on Georgia (not near Robson, in a shady ass neighborhood): Ohhhhmmmaaagaaaashhhhh, the Phnom Pehn Beef Noodle Soup was like heaven. I consider this Vietnamese-Cambodian place to be one of my best finds in the world. I was taken aback, and I have quite a few “best finds”.

Korean:

  1. Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie on Keefer (not near Robson): A happening Japanese Tapas Bar with classy potstickers and interesting (but not-so-strong) Japanese take on cocktails.

 

Eat your life away, Vancouver is gluttonous pleasure. Walk it off. Bike it off. Try Mobi bikes in Vancouver. Cheap trick: The first day (limited hours, not full day) is free when you sign up. If there for the weekend, just create a new account to sign up again on Day 2 and save an extra $15-20 for sushi. Bike along Stanley Park. Pick your favorite totem!

 

Meet Thunderbird!

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The Stanley Park bike ride is pleasant. There’s a statue of a lady in a bikini. In the water, on a rock. Random, I know! Just like the appearance of Sardars. They come out of nowhere. They make writing about the amazingly scattered experience of Vancouver – they are a perfect transition into the next bubble. Talking of Sardars, I met a friend of a distant friend, this Mexican guy called Alberto. During a smoke break at the Anjuna concert. Open air. So, Alberto (like most North Americans) is fascinated by my Indian origin that he starts sharing stories of his interaction with the Indian culture. I discovered that Antonio’s dad converted to Sikhiism.

 

This 50 year old Mexican senor chose to convert to Sikhiism, and he goes to the Gurudwara regularly to interact with the Sikh community. And the Bhai Jis, they impart their wisdom.

 

I was impressed by the effort and motivation, I’m planning to write about in more detail under the “Butter Chicken Tacos” cover. Coming Soon. In the meantime, here’s a picture of Alberto’s dad. Picture Credits, Alberto.

 

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How I Met Alberto’s Dad #HIMAD

 

Enough of about the city now, time for you to go fish, maybe start at Granville Market.

 

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Go Fish at Granville Island

 

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It’s hard to go wrong with fish and chips. It is even harder to make them perfect!

 

 


For more details on Vancouver, feel free to check out my instagram. Reach out if you have any questions, comments or concerns, or would like to know more about my experience in Vancouver.

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