Juanita Wallabong’s tour was just about wrapping up in North America with a final performance in Montreal at “The Cote St. Luc Residence for Retired Musicians, Roadies and Groupies”. Well we were enjoying a few glorious days off as this trip was about my education not simply music. I fell in love with Montreal as it was in North America but so un-American! I discovered Fairmont bagels, Schwartz’s smoked meat and kosher dill pickles and of course Mont Royal a wonderful mountainous park just off the centre of the city. There were jazz and blues clubs galore. There was Vieux Montreal too that took you back two hundred years in time. And of course in addition to falling in love with the city I fell for a dusky eyed beauty at a falafel joint called Basha on St. Catherine Street. A daughter of an immigrant family from Iraq she was working slinging tabbouleh on falafel sandwiches. Our eyes met and it was all fire and brimstone. Being half Indian our relationship, or fling if you want to call it that, was tricky with strict parents that watched their little flower Minah like a hawk and if they knew that she was consorting with me it would be toast for us. It was bad enough she was refusing to wear a burka steadfastly saying to her parents, “I do not want to be a burka babe!”. Our relationship consisted of a few hot bagels, some kisses and some hand holding. Having been fed some anti-Muslim propaganda at King’s College for Young Men in Bombay I was aware this was a situation that might put Minah in danger if not in peril of her life through an honour killing. Her brother Abdul had suspected something was amiss and she thought she would be followed. He seemed to be sending an inordinate amount of time sharpening his sword.
Fate may have solved the danger as I had to return to the first term at my school. Juanita would finish off her tour in Japan and China and be home in a couple of weeks. I broke the news to Minah and we agreed to stay in touch. Somehow I knew I would be returning to Montreal as life without Fairmont bagels, Montreal smoked meat and the Iraqi gem Minah was going to be difficult.
Juanita took me to Dorval airport for my flight to New Delhi on Air India. Little did I know the finality of my good-bye to Juanita my mother.