Wednesday, July 26

With my one year anniversary of leaving for India coming up in a few days I've been thinking longingly of the country. When I left I never thought I would, not that I didn't love my time there but I was done and ready to move on. But like people say, India gets into you (in more ways than your stomach) and makes you miss the adventures and the insanity of diversity and seemingly endless inconsistencies that begin to make sense the longer you stay.

So with my thinking about India I decided to rent Deepa Mehta's film, Water .

After making a splash when they first tried to film it in India and caused riots and death threats the movie was almost dropped but in 2004 they went off to Sri Lanka to film. I guess that explains when the supposedly 1930's holy town on the Ganges looked more like a modern day, clean mock up of Varanasi. Despite some of the set looking a little to clean and contrived the movie was amazing and Lisa Ray, a Canadian who plays one of the main characters, was heart breakingly beautiful.

The movie is the story of a group of hindu widows who are ostracized from Indian society with Ghandi's rise in 1930's India as the backdrop. It's a fantastic movie and I read it will be coming out in India around diwali. It's gonna be a controversial movie in India I'm sure. Maybe even more than the DaVinci Code (haha). For one there's no singing or dancing and the controversial stuff actually happens in India unlike say, Salam Namaste where audiences could easily brush off topics like abortion and premarital sex because it's set in Australia.

So if you're in Canada I know you can rent it and if you're in India watch for it in a few months and let me know how you like it and how you think Indian audiences will respond.
nicholas, 8:40 PM | link | 3 comments |

Chai Talk

Tuesday, July 18

Location: Casa de Kent (near University Station on the Calgary C Train)
Rating: ****.5/5

The Casa de Kent is a quaint and hospitable home with one of the most forgiving and generous hosts you are likely to find on the face of the earth. After an hour long C Train ride through the Calgary Stampede kick off crowds I was ready to see a friendly face and the old women who was drunk and sitting beside me on the C Train didn't count. My host met me at the C Train station and despite me being an hour late he was still there standing in the sun slowing roasting. Actually it was very reminiscent of our meetings in India where one of us was always at least an hour late.

We embraced back on home soil for the second time since leaving India and it quickly was like old times. A stop at the liquor store for beer later we arrived at Casa de Kent. A homey bungalow that makes up for a lack of furniture with a bbq in the back yard that I understand was rescued from an uncaring owner in an alley not far away. We quickly got to making chicken tikka which Kent had marinating in the warm sun, Chandigarh style. Then it was fun and sun as the shirts unwisely came off as they always seem to when I'm with Kent as we got the bbq warmed up and the beer chilled in the backyard. The chicken tikka was done to perfection and literally melted in my mouth. The side of an aged cheddar cheese, fresh bread and tomato gave the meal a north american twist though I did miss the mint sauce and raw onions of the traditional meal. After reminiscing, talking future plans and generally taking trash over what some might say is too much beer for 4 in the afternoon, we headed in for chai and and Indian pop music.

I knew that Kent had picked up some prime ingredients and I was not disappointed when I saw him whip out fresh ginger, green cardamom and I believe Dajeeling tea (correct me if I'm wrong). As the mixture bubbled the scent of far off adventures filled the room and the sounds of almost forgotten parties filtered down from Kent's computer speakers. On first sip the chai threw me off with it's milkyness however we quickly realized that it was because Kent forgot the sugar. A small but vital misstep which cost a half point however understandable since India is becoming a memory and we both had more than enough beer and sun for the afternoon. Once it was fixed I allowed the chai to take over my senses. A perfect mix of spicy ginger, the tang of green cardamom and the subtle dark seduction of truly fine Indian tea. One cup was not enough but another is a pleasure that will have to be saved for a later day since both Kent and I had to move on. The memories of the chai and the sunburn have stuck with me and reading the tea leaves in the bottom of the chai pot I know that our fates will come together again for more Chai Talk in the future.
nicholas, 8:41 PM | link | 2 comments |

I'm Thinkin About You Mumbai

Wednesday, July 12

Mumbai was one of my favorite cities in India. It is more than any other city in the country a world city. Like Toronto, New York or London, Mumbai is filled with people from all over it's own country and from around the world looking for the opportunities that only mega cities provide. The city embraces it's colonial past but has created an urban feeling that is all it's own. While shanty towns surround the city it is these people who make it run. From wandering the hanging gardens, sunset on Chowpatty beach and just walking along the peninsula it's a great city that everyone should visit.

I was very sad to hear that once again there was a senseless terror attack in India and again in Mumbai. My friends were telling me that they thought it was strange that India was attacked but I told them about how there is actually a terror attack of some kind in India at least once a month but we don't often hear about them. It's heart breaking to think about all the people killed and injured in any terror attack but in India where attacks are frequent and will likely lead to some form of retribution it's doubly sad. I've read that Mumbai has had some trouble times lately even before the attacks with fundamentalists stirring up trouble but I know the city will get through it. Anyway this is just note to say I'm thinking about you Mumbai.

nicholas, 9:26 PM | link | 3 comments |

The Long Weekend

Monday, July 10

Last weekend ended up being a long weekend for me which was exactly what I needed after last weeks break and enter and then hearing I didn't get a job that I desperately wanted. It was a spontaneous weekend which grew out of my aunt calling to let me know she was going to Calgary to visit my cousins and my brother and his family from Hong Kong who were visiting. So I got off making muffins early and jumped in the big caddy and we were off to Calgary. We arrived just in time for a huge hail storm and a glass of wine before the kids woke up.

It was a fun family night with my nephews and cousins trying to play nice in a giant inflatable castle (yes I did get in for a jump)

The next day after being mercilessly beaten by my little nephews playing playstation I hoped the unbelievably crowded Stampeded C-train to get to my Indian buddy Kent's place. I was running on Indian time an hour late and I think I made Kent get a sun burn standing in the sun waiting for me. Nonetheless he we grabbed beer and he had chicken tikka and some sweet Indian tunes waiting for me.

After being drunk at 4 in the afternoon I had to go to bed early before having a free Stampede breakfast at the Coop and heading to Red Deer.

I found my friend Mandy (again I was late) and we started off and the quintesenssial summer drive in Alberta down gravel roads sourounded by canola fields looking for a lake. Gull Lake turned out to be a night around the camp fire with beer and BBQ. After a round of bachi ball I realized this whole weekend was a truly Canadian event.

I got me thinking about what I've been told while traveling, that family is less important in North America than other places in the world like India or China. I've decided I'm not sure it's true. We have the luxury of not having to be closely tied to our families if we don't want to be but that's because of the economics of the whole thing. After spending the weekend with my family and seeing hundreds of other families out I think family is just as important here as anywhere there are just fewer obligations tied to being family.

nicholas, 7:05 PM | link | 1 comments |

The Sad Tail of a Break and Enter

Saturday, July 1

So this hasn't been the greatest week ever. Actually it was alright generally except for Wednesday. I got home from work and put my key in the lock completely oblivious while contemplating the lyrics to a Sufjan Stevens song that was on my ipod (which thank Shiva I had with me). So I turned the key and the lock was open, that's when I noticed the crowbar marks on the door frame and I was like, crap, we got robbed. So I pushed open the door and looked around. Put on my macho face, if you haven't seen it I assure you it's very intimidating. With keys in fist I headed in to check it out pushing open doors including closets and the shower curtain because I think that's where I'd hide. No one was there luckily but neither was some of our stuff.

When my room mate got home we made our list which included digital cameras, laptop, jewelry, shorts and socks... Guess they were stocking up for summer but I'm pissed about the socks because they were nice dry fit athletic ones.

Anyway I've decided to pretend that it was a super poor person who had to feed their kids and 2 dogs that way in my head it's like a Robin Hood story except they didn't know we're not rich. If they knew they stole from a poor kid who just got back from India and a second year law student (aka been paying for university for 6 years) I think they probably would have felt bad.

So if anyone hears about a cheap laptop or digital cameras for sale around whyte ave let me know because I'll need to do some ass kicking. And by that I mean I'd call the cops.
nicholas, 10:24 AM | link | 7 comments |