Thursday, December 30, 2010

All work + lovely flu =s little time and inspiration to write. More later :-)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Shopping - Check

Ahhh it's December 23 already! I'm going to squeeze in some gift-shopping before I head off to work this afternoon. Gotta love the holidays!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Countdown to the New Year!

I'm working straight through the holidays and haven't done any Christmas shopping whatsoever! But it's okay, better late than never right.

2011's just around the corner - can't wait! Have much to look forward to. It's going to be a wonderful year! I have more journalism gigs lined up, home-decorating ideas to go through with and a newfound resolution to invest more time to yoga and taking care of me.

Any resolutions to share

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Apples & Peanut Butter

Known to be nutritious and a huge energy-booster, meet my newest dessert fix - apples smothered in organic peanut butter. Scrumptious!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Almost but Not Quite

After a couple of weeks of struggling for work I’ve found a new part-time job – it’s non-journalism related but is a huge relief on my wallet! And now suddenly, I’m also getting more reporting shifts!
I was scheduled to hop on to a bus tomorrow at 6am with some of the Earl Jones Ponzi scheme victims, most of whom are seniors. They’re rallying in front of the Royal Bank headquarters in downtown Toronto (where they’ll meet with 20 other Toronto-based victims) and are hoping to meet with RBC CEO Gordon Nixon. They filed a $40-million class action lawsuit against the bank for ‘negligence’ five months ago. They claim many of their cheques which Jones cashed in were with forged signatures or sometimes, no signature at all.
The case could go on for years but the group wants RBC to cooperate swiftly so things are resolved sooner than later. Three of the seniors involved in the ordeal have passed away since...  
There's been some scheduling issues at the newsroom and now my opportunity to cover the story is a bust. Despite the over five-hour long commute to Toronto and back, and expected freezing weather, I was looking forward to covering the story.
It’s all good. I’ll get to cover other interesting stories this month. So long as they’re not funerals – I covered three last month!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Brownies & Oh Henry! Icecream

For the most part, I've been eating pretty healthy this past month - or at least healthier than usual. But then this week... I baked some brownies and later... went on to buy some Oh Henry! icecream from the grocery store.

It's my latest guilty pleasure. The combination of luscious icecream, consisting of chocolate chunks, caramel swirls and crunchy chocolate-covered peanuts, along with rich, moist chocolatey brownie squares is irresistable. I can't seem to get enough of it and fortunately for me, I don't have to share it with anyone either. Somebody stop me please!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Hello Winter Wonderland!

After missing it last year I'm quite thankful to get to witness the beginning of Winter this time round. It's absolutely beautiful outdoors. The heavy snowfall has brought this serene silence all through the city. It's numbingly quiet even on the streets of downtown; as though time has slowed down some for everybody.

I know drivers don't feel the same way. The snow-covered roads have been havoc for them. Luckily I'm a walkin!'  

Sunday, December 5, 2010

All Settled In!

For those who've been staying tuned, apologies for my delayed entry! The move wasn't easy, had so much to get done! But alas, things are finally falling into place. I still need some furniture but in due time I suppose. Once I got over the initial shock of isolation (had no TV, internet, etc.), I finally began to enjoy being on my own.

I haven't cooked any gourmet meals yet but am taking baby steps - doing some groceries and making some very basic meals. I've got all the essentials I need to make chai (loose tea, milk, ginger and sugar) and that's really all I need to make me feel at home.

My reporting shifts have been cut down right now and my receptionist days are over so most of my energy's going into finding more paid work. I'm being pushed to network more so that's the plan for now. I'm meeting some very interesting people. Crossing my fingers that something comes up soon!

THANK YOU to all my awesome peeps who've helped me through this transition (from making one of them IKEA do-it-yourself bookshelves to hammering in screws to priceless moral support). Words are not enough!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ode to Coffee

I tried decaf coffee for the first time this morning - it was awful. From now on, I'm sticking to my regular caffeinated coffee. It makes my mornings so much easier to get through!

I love the smell of coffee and that much-deserved first sip of warm heavenly goodness - especially when you're having to uncoil yourself from a cozy, heavily-blanketed slumber and come to terms with the teeth-chattering cold that's waiting for you outside!

Am uninspired to add much else this morning. Happy Wednesday!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

C'est L'halloween!

A photo I took at a fruit market in Navsari, Gujarat just as I was nearing the end of my trip.

The colours right now are reminding me of all the beautiful fall leaves brightening up the city during this time of year.

More news reporting to do this week-end! I've also got the keys to my new apartment. Won't have time to attend any of the Halloween jams... I've got navy-blue walls to paint over!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Few Bangkok Highlights

My thoughts on my week-long visit to Bangkok last January are rather conflicting. The bad is astonishingly bad and the good is really good.  I was both inspired and discouraged in the city.  Let me start with what I actually enjoyed about the Thai capital.

Beautiful People - Yes I can be shallow! But you'll honestsly find the most strikingly good-looking men and women strutting along the streets of Bangkok. It's where international models re-locate once they've landed their big contracts or where model hopefuls show up simply to be discovered.

Never have I seen so many gorgeous people all in one spot. You hear about models getting air-brushed and all during their post-photo shoots; but the ones I saw right before my eyes were absolutely flawless.  I had to stop myself from gawking at all the beautiful people above me!

Friendly Locals - The women I met at the salons, shops, etc. were extrememly nice and easy to get along with. Perhaps there was a tip-incentive behind it, but I didn't mind. I got to have great conversation with some who were happy to share a little insight into their lives. 

Many  of the local women complained about being unable to meet a decent, straight man in town. The ones they did know of were the "cheats." There's a high number of transexuals all through the city, or 'sheboys' as the ladies called them. Straight men were a rare find.

Thai Buddhism - I now understand why many travellers return from their Thailand trips mesmerised with Buddhism. I walked into some temples just for a quick glance but after a few minutes of sitting down, found myself unwanting to leave. There's an immense, almost elevated, sense of peace felt  inside the quiet spaces. It was the collective energy of everyone combined that made the experience so powerful and memorable.

Public Transportation - The train system was quite convenient, simple and inexpensive to use. I was able to switch train lines quite easily - and I'm a person who's known to get lost! The train was also quite clean, efficient and punctual with its schedule.

The only downside to the train system was that I love to munch though, so security would always ask me to discard my food or beverage before hopping on. That was a shame.
I never needed to use the buses but did travel by ferry; that too was extremely easy to navigate.

As for the dislikes, best I save them for another time...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Damas Restaurant - A Syrian Delight!

Damas Restaurant
5210 Parc Ave.
Montreal, Quebec H2V 4G7
Tel.: (514) 439-5435

As of late I’ve been exploring many of the scrumptious Syrian delights being served up at Damas Restaurant located in Montreal’s Mile End. Damas is the capital city of Syria in French; in English, it’s popularly known as Damascus. The restaurant just opened a few weeks ago and is already busy catering to foodies like myself! My friends and I have gone back a few times since our first trial for that consistently satisfying fix.

Fuad Alnirabie is one of the restaurant owners who also happens to be co-owner of Kaza Maza (which made the Montreal Mirror's List of Top Ten 'Best New Restaurants').  Alnirabie says the difference between the two is “Damas is more authentic and refined. It serves meals that you cannot find in other Syrian restaurants in Montreal.”
Syrian cuisine is known for its lamb dishes, stuffed meats and vegetables, grilled foods and mezzes.  Unique spices and herbs like aleppo pepper, cardamom, anis and sumac are incorporated. Olive oil is also a signature ingredient which does make the food a bit heavy at times – so head in with a large appetite!

The menu’s varied enough to cater to vegetarians and meat-lovers alike.  I’ve been trying to order something different each time I go. But the fattouch salad with pomegranate and fried pita entrée, along with their hearty lentil soup, has already become a favourite of mine. The last dish I tried was the Fatta Makdous (layered dish of minced lamb meat, eggplant, yogourt and tomato sauce) and I haven't been wanting to try anything else since. It's got to be the crème de la crème! 

Alnirabie suggests clients not leave without trying at least one of the four fatta specialties, the grilled cherry or pistachio kebab, and his signature lamb poutine drizzled with a  unique wine-based gravy.

I leave you now with some more photos of the many dishes my friends and I have tried thus far.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

I'll be adding a proper entry soon. For now, I'm adding a brief update. I'm getting a lot more reporting shifts - always a plus! But some stories have been rather challenging and yes, screw-ups on my part were involved.  At least I'm learning from it all.

I'll be getting a bit more experience in documentary production next week-end; it'll be a side project I'm quite looking forward to.

I've been vigorously looking for more work opportunities so I can transition out of this part-time receptionist gig. So far, only have one interview lined up but it's a start right!

My big moving day is also next week-end. Haven't started packing or planning for it really.

That's all for now folks!  

Monday, October 11, 2010

The 5K Walk

So my participation in the "run for the cure" event at Maisonneuve Park wound up being a stroll rather. My team opted towards the walking option instead of running. It took us over two hours to complete the five-kilometre path while some sprinters completed the course in twenty minutes! I was getting pretty tired after just three kilometres but watching this woman keep at it encouraged me.   

There were 20,000 participants overall.    Together, over $2 million was raised. Our team personally raised nearly $8000 dollars. We're aiming for $10,000 next year.

I'd consider doing it all over again. Partaking in a positive cause feels pretty good. But there are some things I'd want to avoid. The obligatory registration process that same morning was hectic. Thousands of people scrambled all over the place trying to figure out where to go. There weren't any visible signs outside the park for participants to follow. 

At the end of the course there were two white tents set up where complimentary snacks like bananas, bagels and cheese were distributed to participants. It was much needed at that point. But up ahead there was a much larger, colourful tent set up by the CIBC sponsors exclusively for its employees. They had an entire barbeque station available to them. Some participants were disappointed by the segregation, especially kids who didn't understand why they couldn't have what some of the other grown-ups were having. How do you explain that to children?

Anyway, I'm signing off with a few more photos from the Sunday, October 3rd event:


Friday, October 1, 2010

The Week-End to End Breast Cancer!

SOoooo I've found my own apartment space! The location's great and the cost of rent falls right in my budget! I love when things have a way of working out. The big move is mid-October. I can't wait to create my very own one-of-a-kind space!

This Sunday I'll be taking part in the CIBC Run for the Cure for breast cancer.  I think everyone knows of someone who's suffered from the dreaded C-word. I first learned of its seriousness in highschool.

My dear friend was too sick to make it to our highly-anticipated prom. We were all worrying about what dress to wear and hairdo to keep as she struggled through her chemo sessions. She stayed positive, forced a smile and made us promise to tell her about all the glitzy details. By the time the rest of us started collegeshe had died from leukemia. It's taking way too long but I remain hopeful that one day there will be a cure.

Our team reached our fundraising goal just a few days prior to the deadline. It wasn't easy squeezing donations out of people. Fortunately, our contacts came through just in time. A heartfelt thank-you to MEGHNA and all other generous donors for making it possible!

I'll be sure to post some photos of the week-end event. For now, I leave you with a new art piece of mine.

Monday, September 27, 2010

What to Do 'bout the Big O?

I got another day of reporting yesterday! It started off with an outdoor presser held by ADQ-leader Gerard Deltell.  It was a surprisingly cold morning, everybody’s teeth were chattering in the hub. Deltell’s opposing the $300-million budget being considered for the Olympic Stadium’s roof replacement.

He argued that we’re still losing money through the stadium so rather than waste any more of tax-payers money on the Big O, the public should get to chime in on what its future holds through a parliamentary commission.

Studies indicate it would cost $700 million just to dismantle the Montreal landmark – not that people would consider that an option now, would they? I asked locals in downtown what they foresaw for the future of the stadium but many could care less. Some said the roof should've been replaced yesterday, others want money-spending on the stadium to end and be invested on other things like health care.       

Anyhow, the stadium’s in urgent need of a new roof.  In 2005 it collapsed under the weight of heavy snow and has torn several times since. Let’s see how much longer this debate continues...      

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Postcard from Rajasthan

I'm sharing a photo I took of a man playing a traditional Indian instrument for passers-by in Rajasthan. It was in front of one of the many forts I visited, the name of which I can't remember at this moment. It'll come to me...

It's one of the photos I'm showing for my upcoming exhibit. I'm content with the way most of my shots have turned out from the trip. I only started playing around with the camera last year - I never would've guessed that I'd enjoy snapping photos this much and would actually become good at it. 

I wasn't allowed to touch the camera growing up because my hands had a tendency of trembling - my attempts were a waste of some quality film rolls. Thank goodness for the digital age, it's allowed me to practice a lot!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

When the Kites Come Down

Another photo I'm quite delayed in posting. I had written about the terrible Amdabadi traffic I was stuck in when I was rushing to catch my train to Mumbai. It just happened to be the night prior to the January kite festival; people were swarming through the markets to buy the best kites out there. The festival being held to celebrate Uttarayan, the welcoming of the sun god, was pure madness.

Anyway, this is the aftermath that was left in the city in the weeks that followed. The place was a complete mess. Wildlife officials were against the festival all along. They claim it's dangerous for wildlife; 1,500 birds get injured from the sharp kite strings that tug through the winds each year.

I think the tradition is here to stay though. Children look forward to the festival all year long - many adults are fanatics of it too!   

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Bangkok's Sukhumvit Night Market

Alright, so this is a bit delayed but as promised, here are a few photos from my week spent in Bangkok, Thailand. I got A LOT  of retail therapy - the temptation's immense with malls there only closing at 9pm.

Near the end of my stay I killed a few hours at the Sukhumvit Night Market on Soi 38 which is open from 6pm to 1am. I bought loads of souvenirs, enjoyed bargaining, and took some great photos! I regret not buying more but I was running out of Bahts and valuable space in my suitcases!

There were aisles and more aisles of clothes and souvenir items to browse through. I definately built up an appetite there - it's quite easy to forget how much walking you're doing through the maze of items. Fortunately there were endless stalls of food and bars on the other side of the market.  It was a social hub for tourists and locals eager to get to know one another.

More photos to come!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Brunch at the Grange

I had a wonderful tapas-style brunch this morning at Grange Restaurant in Old Montreal. I went to do a video interview with one of the restaurant co-owners for my friend's very popular blog ( It went pretty well - we had some great cappuccino, food and conversation.  

The restaurant-lounge only serves brunch on Sundays but it's becoming quite popular, so they're considering serving on Saturdays as well.  Their slow-food concept was inspired by New York brunchers who make a day out of their brunch outing.  The owner wants foodies to sit back, relax, have a mimosa, share some great food and spend quality time with their company.

He says their McGrange Burgers are the most popular item on the menu; some even order it in the evenings but unfortunately it's only on their morning menu. I personally can't forget their mouth-wateringly delicious Belgian waffles! What an experience!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Funeral for Two Brothers

September 11... guess it was a fitting day for me to cover another funeral. This time it was for two brothers - Jean-Guy Roy, 59 and Richard Roy, 46.  It was sad - that's what I told the week-end producer when he asked me how my report went. His reply, "Which funeral isn't sad?" All funerals are indeed sad, but the context behind this one particularly struck me.

The father of the two men found the dead bodies in their St. Jude home last Sunday. Jean-Guy Roy's health was deteriorating; he died of natural causes. Richard Roy was living with Down Syndrome. His elder brother was his full-time care-taker. Upon his death, Richard was unable to take care of himself - he died of starvation. Their bodies were found in an advanced state of decomposition.

It's a story of loneliness and societal neglect. So much could've been done to prevent this tragedy from happening. Some who knew him said Jean-Guy didn't have time to look after his own health, he was so busy looking after his brother. He couldn't read or write and relied heavily on welfare. He was afraid to ask for help out of fear of being seperated from his brother once people would learn of the conditions they lived in.

Who takes care of the care-givers?

One mourner got it right. She said it's all about people helping people, be it friends, family or neighbours - it's what we need more of.      

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Painting Found!

I can breathe again. After coming across the painting my tiny little niece decided to gift it to her Mother without my knowing! I can't be angry with her; I'm flattered that she liked it that much!

Painting Gone Missing!

I'm pretty vexed right now. One of the painting's I had completed last week has disappeared. It was of a little girl sitting on a see-saw with a background filled with intense colours. Not to sound immodest but it was brilliant. I had left it aside to let the paint dry and when I went back to get it it was no longer there. Wish I had at least taken a photo of it. Good-bye my beautiful piece of art...

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Funeral for Rejeanne Pelletier-Charette

My assignment on Saturday was to cover a memorial service that was held for Rejeanne Pelletier-Charette - an 82-year old Sherbrooke woman who was murdered mid-August allegedly by a 16-year old run-away boy.  Witnesses say the boy was going door-to-door asking people if he could use their phone.

There were over 400 attendants. She had quite a large extended family and was an active church and community member. Like the rest of the reporters there, I needed to get clips from mourners who knew Pelletier-Charette and wanted to comment on their loss. Of course no one really wanted to comment. It's one of those moments when people despise the media and think all journalists are cold-hearted gossips.

Fortunately I did find some people who were willing to give a few words after the service about their loved one. Many said she was a remarkable, young-at-heart, kind spirit. 
I've covered a few funerals in the past. The hardest was covering two babies that were allegedly murdered by their father one Winter; the man was apparently distraught over his divorce. Some mourners from that funeral swore at reporters and cameramen. I felt like scum.  You could see the heartbreak on people's faces, they were devastated and understandably so. But an assignment's an assignment.

This job can be desensitizing. It's usually at the end of the shift that the effect of the day's unravellings start to sink in...

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Art in Progress

I'm nearly finished with this piece I started working on last month.  I've changed the colour of the text since my last entry about it. I'm liking it more now; just have to add a few finishing touches to it and I'll be done!

I worked on this a few weeks after returning from my India trip. It took me half an hour.

I've never done a piece like this ever. It's very unlike me, I think that's why I love it so much! I can't seem to figure it out.

This is a newer piece of mine, a work in progress. At the moment I'm just planning to add more petals to the background. But I may end up doing something totally different depending on the day and what frame of mind I'm in.