Montreal, Canada

 It had been almost  3 years since we all graduated medical school and it was time for a circuitous reunion via Canada. About 10 of us headed to Montreal, in the province of Quebec from our various residencies around the country. We  had arrived at my friend Reuben Strayer’s place like a series of refugees. He had been in Montreal for the last several years and was always singing the praises of Montreal. The official agenda of the trip was to attend a much hyped series of parties to celebrate Reuben’s 30th birthday.

The City of Montreal

To walk around Montreal, is to feel like you are in Europe. Not just because the French that is spoken here but more so the atmosphere. Strolling around bohemian neighborhoods in the Latin quarter and the Plateau every French Canadian seems to be on the streets heading somewhere to celebrate. When I first emerged from the metro there was a festival right at the entrance where people danced to samba music and cheered, a friendly welcome to a friendly city. Street mucians, tiny art galleries, and myriad parks abound in Montreal. Historic old Montreal with its churches, city hall, and the old port is a brilliant sight. Everywhere you go in Montreal you come across sidewalk cafes, restaurants,and small stores selling fresh produce and flowers on the sidewalks. Montreal is clean and the subway system is efficient.

The Party

The festivities began Friday at Reuben’s bachelor pad in the heart of Montreal. Reuben was the source of endless humor in med school and perhaps it was a testament to his quirkiness that he has the capacity to summon 10 classmates from around the United States to fly to another country to celebrate his birthday. The “Reuben in med school” stories are many, it is hard to pick one the would be  most reflective of his audacity. Perhaps the most illustrative story would be during our surgery rotation as 3rd year medical students when  as a lowly medical student he wrote in a patients official chart that the radiology attending needed to improve his handwriting under his assessment and plan. The humor was lost on the attending and he was sent to the chief of surgery’s office to explain himself. Reuben would later state he was told in no uncertain terms that he would have to work very hard to just pass the rotation (he apparently passed). Reuben’s exploits with large obstetrics nurses, his odd gifts to dates, tales of his failed conquests, and most recently  buying looted boxes of black market candy bars from Algerian immigrants in southern France were and still are hilarious. The first night he gave us a tour of the bohemian streets of Montreal and walked to a peir with a sensational view of the St. Lawrence River. He also somehow managed to offend a waiter in chinatown where we all  dinned on mystery vegetables.

The party would get started Saturday at a Thai restaurant and proceed to a club he had rented out where  perhaps 150 people showed up for the party. Okem was there and for those of you who knew him in med school it used to be said in med school it isn’t a party until “you sweat like Okem”. Okem it should be said is a profuse sweater and few people I know in this world can sweat as prodigiously as he can. He just has an innate  talent for sweating and I would conjecture he could sweat on command if you asked him too. Okem is my good friend but he  is the only person who’s humor comes close to Reuben’s. The first time I met Okem he was at his desk in the medical school where we each had our own desks. On his desk he proudly displayed a glossy 8X11 inch headshot of himself. Not him and someone else, or him doing something interesting, just an absurdly narcissistic large glamorshot-like picture of himself grinning widely. Since med school Okem has grow an impressive set of dreadlocks, and although he recently spammed a text message to everybody lamenting he was going to cut them he couldn’t go though with it. Like Samson he would be powerless to make women swoon without them and indeed Okem is at the epicenter of the Manhattan social scene these days. His dreds as I think Minh once said “have lifted many an exclusive club’s velvet ropes and opened plenty of buttery thighs across NYC”.  Minh another crony  from med school was most know for his talent for saying dude with more than 100 intonations and his uncanny ability to sleep in for 20 hours in a row. The list goes on and on, Peleg who can can speak faster than most people can drive, Scott  master of the timepiece and many others……..

The celebration at the club lived up to all the hype, and the after party which began after 3am that was just as fun. The after party was at Roy’s pad, another UT Southwesten alum who also happens to be doing his residency in Montreal. There were all manner of drinks and foods, the most interesting of which was specially concocted gourmet yogurt drink blended  by a mysterious south Indian resident of Montreal  who goes by the singular moniker “Gandar” (he even left a business card). There was a platter of some smoked deli meats from Scwatz’s deli  that apparently is quite famous in Montreal. The party even featured cheesy karaoke ballads. Eventually we left but the party seemed to continue on the street where an inebriated French Canadian lobbed a half eaten sandwich our way narrowly missing us for no apparent reason and muttered something in French, it certainly has not been a night out on the town if a French Canadian has not thrown food  at you, go Canada!  Sunday the festivities were over, indeed it had been quite a fun weekend but everybody headed back to the realities of residency…… alas we all plan to meet up in New York in July

return to main page

left to right, Steve, Roy, Minh, Reuben, Me, Okem, Peleg, Eric, Scott

Cheers in Montreal Restaurant


City hall

Old Montreal