Saturday, 1 October 2011

Dancing between the rain-drops

When we first came to Hades in 2001, you could still smoke in restaurants. This was a bit of a shock to us because in Victoria, indoor smoking in public places had been banned for some time. Oh, there was a hullabaloo; restaurant owners and particularly pub and bar owners swore it would destroy business. Then everyone noticed that food tasted better and everything seemed cleaner and the fuss abated.

So we came to Ottawa and seemed to fall into a time warp, sitting in the so-called non-smoking sections and emerging into the streets stinking of tobacco anyway. We frequented the diners and delis along Elgin Street in those days, as we were living in a nearby hotel waiting for our house to be vacated. The Elgin Street Diner was one, and through the haze, I would gaze at a mesmerizing photo while waiting for my BLT.

It's still there, eleven years later. Poised like a ballerina about to take the stage, a lithesome lady in a veil hovers beneath a huge umbrella. Monsoon-like rain ricochets off the street around her beautiful bare feet. She makes the summer-suited men lined up across the street look ungainly and identical.

I've asked the diner staff about it; no one seems to know anything about it. I've googled and googled, thinking of every word combination to bring up the image, but am clueless about the identity of the photographer. Any ideas out there? Hello?

I can see the photo more clearly these days. A year or so after our arrival in Hades, smoking indoors in public places was banned. Restaurant and bar owners howled in protest, predicting economic doom. Everyone got used to emerging from eateries smelling of food and not cigarettes. We don't even need the rain to wash us clean.

Update: Some days later, the mystery was solved.

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