The Land of the Bad Hair-do

Montreal, Canada

In a place where daily temperatures heat up to minus-8dC (17dF) on warm days keeping the biting wind out and retaining all the body heat one can means wrapping up in as many layers as your outer coat permits, ensuring always that this bulk does not prevent you from getting into taxi-cabs or store entrances. Mastering the layering technique is equally critical as one will undress and redress many, many laborious times during the tourist day. Getting the sequence right is critical as is recalling the correct pocket location of all the sundries – scarf, then neck warmer, then hat, then gloves. Doing this going in then out for each store, coffee-shop, restaurant or ‘point-of-interest’ makes for an exhausting experience for the first-timer.

The local Montreal Canadians do this effortlessly of course, with better choices in clothing but also with a grace and flow that is worth watching and aspiring to. They smile at the congregation of tourists (like us) blocking shop doorways as we work troubled zippers, look for the other glove and get ourselves ready for the blast of cold from the chilled outdoors.

The hat is an essential. But those unused to hats, like me, find them strange, itchy and a nuisance. Canadians, having been born wearing ski-hats, have no such issues and adorn them with a flourish. Colours and shapes are plenty, with fur being a popular decorative add. Indeed number-one-son, the Circus Boy, and the reason for our sojourn in this city, has a great example of such which he bought – of all places – in Tokyo.

Hair is the casualty of the hat of course, and I don’t think there’s a good hair-do to be seen in the city. But nobody local seems to notice nor care even, and restaurants and bars (we saw plenty of both) are populated by bad hair-do’s.

You can tell people from the south amongst the throng though, they’re the ones continually patting-down, hand-combing, seeking unattainable engineering hair feats, anxious about their appearance in-case, maybe, that someone from the office might see them in this unruly and unkempt state. Quebec-ers meanwhile enjoy their Molson and Poutine, and smile knowingly.

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