The bitter cold wind blusters past us as we march with conviction along the sidewalk through Toronto’s financial district. It’s -6 degrees Celsius and has just started to snow. We are on our way towards Lake Ontario and treading with effort through the crosswinds, moulded by the overarching architecture. We are cold and feeling a little sorry for ourselves. Then up ahead, a site to make us reconsider our outlook.
A man, haggard and old, with likely 60 or more years of life lessons learnt, is sitting solemnly on a subway grate waiting for the warm updraft generated by passing subway carts. Moments of relief on a terrifically cold day.
He sits alone.
A metre or so away, on another similar subway grate is a pizza box. An impromptu heater, keeping the man’s solitary sustenance warm.
The moment is sobering.
We stand surrounded by pantheons of posterity. The financial district glistens with a shine that can only be generated by a wealth that far surpasses that of the multitudes. Metres away from the poorly man is a reception area for a bank with an elegant fountain shooting jets of crystal clear water into the warmed air. A handful of well kempt indoor tropical trees stand proud, almost stoically, supported by proper nutrition and perfected thermal conditions. A receptionist sits in a summer dress, absorbed by the brilliantly white iMac screen that adorns her desk gracefully.
The old man shivers as we walk past, through what seems, to the outsider, almost criminally unfair.
Suddenly, and quite paradoxically, we feel both warmer and at the same time cold.