99 things to do at UBC – Nitobe Memorial Gardens: A place for relaxation, reflection and voyeurism

Zubair Hirji

#42: Sit in the Nitobe Memorial Garden without taking a single picture

The Nitobe Memorial Gardens are one of the most prestigious Japanese gardens outside of Japan. The carefully shorn grass and expertly selected foliage manifest pure serenity. It creates a place of relaxation where your mind can wander; it’s a place where you can forget about all your mandatory court dates.

It is impossible not to be self-reflective at the gardens, and it’s horrible. I walked around the garden for quite a while, no cameras and no headphones, just my own shitty thoughts to keep me occupied. It was agonizing. I can’t deal with that much inward thinking. The only way to keep my mortifying memories at bay is via the distracting power of technology. Thank you Nitobe, now I have to deal the fact that, in Grade 11, I wore a morph suit to a party that I wasn’t invited to.

#43: Catch Two People Hooking Up in Nitobe Memorial Garden

The peace of Nitobe easily lends itself to a romantic midnight soiree of smashing faces together in the darkness while you listen for security. Witnessing an act like this proved difficult as it was daylight and groups of old people were touring the garden, but it was imperative I cross this off the list.

I lurked in the bushes, hoping to see some loving moments between them – a romantic spark. I’ve never felt more like a voyeuristic predator. My observations taught something about the twilight years of love: there is not much action going on. After watching these dozens of life-veterans I finally witnessed something that could be considered “hooking-up” — a woman helping her husband put on a sweater. This was the only affectionate, or even physical, interaction I saw between these dozens of people. Jesus Christ the future looks bleak.

#44: Hook up in the Nitobe Memorial Garden

After tailing these groups for an hour, I spoke to an older couple from Minnesota. While our meeting was brief, I shan’t go into detail – a gentleman never tells.