Sun Yat-sen and Three Men



I was down at Sun Yat-Sen Gardens in Vancouver on Sunday. I hadn’t been there for a few years and I’d forgotten how beautiful those gardens are, especially on a sunny day in early November.

So many shapes and sizes of red, gold, and shades of tear-dropped and spiky green leaves. The reflections off the pagodas made more interesting from ripples. The pudgy Koi were swimming leisurely under smoky pea soup-coloured ponds.


We spent quite a long time wandering, soaking up the sun.


We admired the shadows, the shapes from the white window cutouts that were emphasized that much more in the sunshine, the nooks and crannies, the bamboo, black and green, the mosaic of rocks that form the pavement around the pond. Gwen even managed to hit the gong for good luck with a dime or a nickel or whatever she threw at it.




Afterwards, we walked by a new store on E. Pender called Bam Design Vancouver. The guy who owns it with his partner had spent three months doing a massive restoration on the inside of the large space. The walls were now fully exposed original brick and towards the back, the patina of wood was like an art installation, attractive in all the variety of tones. He was selling furniture, and other artifacts, made locally and he was a really nice guy.

Near the back against the wall was a large glass cabinet. He’d put the artifacts that he’d found behind the walls inside. There was a scrap of pink floral wallpaper, a postcard from the early 1900’s, a small piece of scrap paper ripped out of a notebook that said, “Fuck you Dave” written in both Cantonese and English.  I should have  been paying closer attention. We really liked that he’d saved some of what he’d found from the history of the place.

Afterwards we wandered to New Town Bakery to get warm. We sat at a round communal table, cupping our hands around the plastic cups made hot from the liquid inside.

It was really busy, even though it was mid afternoon, so we sat down at a table with two men. One was originally from Hong Kong, the other from the Philippines. They were both immigrants who had come to Canada and started small businesses.

The older man recommended the steamed pork buns. “Best pork buns anywhere,” he said and he was right. “Best location of New Town,” he said and I can’t comment on that.

After he left, the man from Hong Kong told us that the other man was a really well known art dealer. He then flipped open his iPhone and began showing us photos of the ceramics and pottery that he had collected since meeting the other man. They were gorgeous sets in perfect ceramic symmetries. He must have had quite a big house to display it properly.

As Gwen pointed out, if we’d made assumptions about these two guys based on their outward appearance, we would not have pegged them as entrepreneurs.

Everyone makes judgments when they meet people.  It’s impossible not to, within three seconds, if you believe the studies. But, it’s good practice to acknowledge the thought and let it go.

When it comes to guessing what people do for a living, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll be wrong.

It was a great afternoon. I really enjoyed myself.

I think Vancouver is a city in dire need of communal tables, especially round ones that force us to face each other, to talk with each other, to put down our phones.

I think I will dedicate this post to Mac Rymal, a friend who died early on the morning of November 5th, 1998, and yet it still seems so vivid to me.

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