Saturday, June 21, 2008

Toronto's population is probably the most diverse of any city in the world, for whatever that's worth. Miami has more foreigners, but Toronto has more people from different parts of the world. In high school, I had friends born in Europe, Africa, South America, the Caribbean, South Asia, the Middle East and, yes, even Canada. I've met people from Albania, Yemen, Azerbaijan, Laos, Eritrea, Botswana and Nicaragua. Every time there is a tournament such as the FIFA World Cup, the World Cup of Cricket, or even the current Euro 2008, you find out where everyone in the city is from.

Today, in the Battle of the Balkans, Turkey defeated Croatia in the quarterfinal on penalties. The other quarterfinals are the Battle of the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Italy), the Battle of Countries with Red, White and Blue in Their Flags (Russia and the Netherlands) and the Battle of Germany and Portugal (Germany and Portugal). Not long after, Yonge Street was filled with Turks waving flags and honking horns, and this was still the case three hours later. What perplexed me is that I had actually never met anyone from Turkey, and since I didn't really talk to any of those people, I still hadn't.

There's no Little Istanbul in Toronto, no Turkeytown or anything of the sort. For all I know, these were Croatian bandwagon-jumpers cashing in on the rise in Turkish stock by picking up Turkish flags at one of the countless souvenir stands all around the city that sell a variety of flags large and small, for waving and installing on your car. The same questionable entrepreneurs who sell fireworks from street corners before Victoria Day, Canada Day, Simcoe Day and Labour Day also sell national merchandise and Che Guevara merchandise when business is slow.

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