Thirst and water are only the same thing if you’re a fish

I remember the days when I was a teen. Those were the days that followed a childhood of school-going with the key around my neck, of coming home by myself from the 10-minute walk, then making lunch before my parents got back from work, then set down and doing homework only to be ready to get out and play by the time they actually walked through the door. A life of many children at the time, one of independence and self-reliance.


You could say that I was already “primed” by the time I turned 10,11 12 or whichever age in whichever country is considered to be the “next one” after, the simpler, early childhood.

Image courtesy of Ali Tawfiq through Unsplash

Once you’re there, your physical universe expands and the walks to school soon become the walks out and about, the bus-taking to beautiful places that you remember reaching before, but have no recollection of how you got there. Now you know. You learn the paths, you learn the city and enjoy it to a different level.

Staying a perpetual tourist in your own city is a wonderful way to stimulate your mind and keep yourself mentally fresh. To detach yourself from chores and routines, and instead, create social routines and interact with your friends as well as strangers in a million different ways.

Or you can keep it just between you and the city.

Image courtesy of Matthew Henry through Unsplash

Cities offer a coherent system of social interaction. Restaurants, parks, even the streets themselves are constructs of experience and they are designed no different than the living room you love to decorate yourself.

There are practical requirements, spatial limitations, maintenance issues, budgets, and most importantly, the want to make the spaces inviting, pleasantly usable and keep them valid and relevant for a long period of time.

Rarely we see cities as entities to interact with on our own, and often we forget they have personality and a “pulse”. In urban lingo city, references resonate with anthropomorphic qualities. Just think of New York revered like a person. New Yorkers are proud of being New Yorkers almost like.. in a marriage-like relationship. They honour the city, they enjoy it, they help it how they can, they rely on it and share it.

Toronto does not have yet quite that level of international cult but it does have a local flavour like no other. It is here for you to interact with it in a very personal way.

Image courtesy of Zach Heiberg through Unsplash

As a single child, I enjoyed going around the city by myself a lot. I would walk the streets and look at the people, I would admire the buildings. Granted I do understand that partly this interest in the city and the built environment pushed me toward my path toward architecture and later, design and that not everyone likes going out and about staring at buildings, after years of carefully observing how people react to their immediate environments, the place they are in at a given moment – be it a restaurant, a park, their living room, a new hotel room or lobby – I realized that we all connect with it and get affected by it. And I’m not talking about the statistically emotional connection that one has to space proportions and colours that have already been studied and tabulated. That is only a small morsel of what this is truly all about.

What I’m talking about is the flow between your mind, your body and what is immediately interacting with your senses. What is in your arm’s reach to touch, what is in your cone of vision to see, what is in the air to smell, what reverberates around you to hear.

Toronto Aquarium | Image courtesy Dochia Media

If you were a fish, it is all just water. Moving through it is a given, you are porous, the water going in and out, seamlessly you belong to the water and the water belongs to you. You never crave it, you never need it, you never see it – it’s just part of you. It nourishes you, you cannot live without it.

Cities are like this for the occupants. Or rather cities can be like this if you let them.
This column will be filled with the beautiful things you can do in Toronto, the ones that I do or would like to. Some may be for you, some not. Find your own and get out there and do it!
This is the beginning.

This article first appeared in My 2 cents on design
how to curate a better lifestyle through design
part of the SOCIAL SELF \\ a DOCHIA FOCUS lifestyle series

👍 If you liked this you may like..

Leave a Reply