“Are you any good with computers?” asked the lady who’d knocked on my door. To take part in a photography competition, she had to compile her pictures into a PDF. She baked me cookies in return.

That’s how I met Susan the photographer, my opposite neighbour.

Supposedly, we have nothing in common. A bachelor Iranian mathematician, I’ve been living in Montreal for three years, while she, as a kid, would go to King George Park in Westmount for tobogganing and watching the young Leonard Cohen play his guitar.

But indeed, we have one thing in common: we have both studied…


I received a PhD in mathematics and then worked as a postdoctoral researcher at three universities for five years. Now, I am taking a one-year break from mathematics; I enrolled in a graduate program in journalism at Concordia University in July.

Mathematics is an art; it’s about creating beautiful structures. A mathematician makes an elegant proof just as an architect makes an elegant building or a musician composes a piece. The major difference is that ordinary people thrill by looking at the architecture or listening to the piece, but very few people can even understand the mathematical theorem you have…


I am standing next to my girlfriend, wrapping my arms around her shoulder and pulling her towards myself. Her left shoulder touches my diaphragm, her head rests on my right cheek. We are in our sleeping clothes, looking at the camera and smiling drowsily. In front of us is a small, plastic Christmas tree with gifts sitting around it. Beside us is an empty metal mantelpiece with a chimney going up to the roof. In the wall mirror, the image of the chimney and a vase of pink flowers atop a dark brown wardrobe can be seen. …


On a sunny afternoon in August 2012, I entered my supervisor’s office at the University of Waterloo in Canada. He greeted me, then got up from his chair and closed the door behind me. I became anxious a bit as he never did that — -have I done something wrong that he wants to talk to me privately? Then he told me the news: he was planning to move to Australia! He got a prestigious position at Monash University in Melbourne and would start in January 2013. The news was still confidential, that’s why he had closed the door.

He…


After two years of living in an apartment in Waterloo, my roommate and I decided to move to a new place. We found a third roommate and a spacious three-bedroom semi-detached house in a pleasant neighbourhood. It was a good deal as our individual rents would decrease and yet we’d get a larger common area and a small backyard. So we signed the contract for 1 September 2011.

On that date, my roommates, who were also Iranian graduate students, would be visiting home for the end of term vacations. So I agreed to perform the move. …


In September 2009, I moved from Tehran, Iran, to Waterloo, Canada, to start a graduate program at the University of Waterloo. I was 23 and had been living with my parents. This move brought two major changes to my life: first, moving from a large middle eastern city to a small western city; second, transitioning from living with parents to living with a roommate. That meant I had to do half of the cooking and cleaning in the house. I had done negligible housework before.

Was I terrified? Not at all. Now that I think about it, I find it…

Abbas Mehrabian

I’m an Iranian-Canadian living in Montreal with a journalism degree from Concordia Univ, and also a freelance journalist and a Google DeepMind AI researcher.

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