Monday, August 31, 2009

Picnic Guests

It was an absolutely crazy weekend trying to prep for a big presentation today. And as such my poor boyfriend spent a lot of time waiting for me or watching me work this weekend. Yesterday was no exception.

However, since we had to eat regardless, Jimmy decided that we should get take out from somewhere that we have wanted to grab this summer but haven't. As we decided where that 'somewhere' might be - we went through some of the standard options: Peter's drive-in, Angel's, Mexican. And then I remember that Jimmy really wanted to try Chicken on the Way. I mean really, how bad can it be??

So as we pulled up to our stop, we both took a deep breath, noted the clientele was not as bad as one might expect and headed in. The fry cutter rattled away as it rumbled out freshly cut potatoes. Everyone behind the counter was pleasant. The floor looked clean. The condiments were nicely organized. Wow - what a pleasant surprise! I honestly thought this place was going to be the biggest dive.

We placed our order for some fries, coleslaw, chicken and gravy. Everything was ready within minutes. And to further increase my surprise, they then nicely packaged everything but the chicken up in a little brown bag and wrapped the chicken box in brown paper. Quite a cute little touch. Then Jimmy pointed out the newspaper clipping they had on the wall for the 'grand opening' back in 1958.

So back we came to my little apartment to enjoy dinner on my balcony. Unfortunately we had barely taken a bite when suddenly a family of hornets arrived. After my childhood trauma with the wasps I have learned to ignore these pesky little guys unless they are flying at my face.

Jimmy however was showing off his best moves - ducking here and than moving there. Within seconds he was packing up our picnic dinner to take it inside muttering that he is 'going in so he doesn't get stung'. LOL - when he was grabbing his plate and running he must have realized how that sounded so he then mentioned he wanted to go inside so I would not get stung. Mmmmm - really.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Table for Two

After a full day of visiting some great friends and rescuing some other great friends, Jimmy and I were looking forward to the opportunity to grab a nice dinner and go for an evening walk downtown in Hallifax. We decided to also endulge ourselves with some dessert. It took a couple failed attempts but we finally ended up at this little patio at The Carleton restaurant (which has fantastic desserts by the way - just in case anyone is interested).

As we were being seated I noticed a girl sitting at a table by herself. She was wearing a cute little dress and wrapped in a shawl. In front of her was a glass of wine, a glass of water and a basket of partially eaten fries. She seemed to be intently reading the paper and keeping abreast with her friends on her blackberry.

At first glance, it was a familiar scene. As I travel for work, I quite often find myself enjoying dinner by myself with texts home to friends and family and a good book or the local paper. Suddenly we hear a frantic male voice asking her if she had been waiting long. My heart sank as I realized her look of 'intensity' as she perused the paper was more a look of controlled frustration.

And than the dreaded response: 'About an hour and a half'. The rest of the conversation was him nervously chatting as she pressed him on why he was late. The story that followed was certainly not an academy award winner but involved tales of his cell phone dying, a trip out of town, relying on someone else to drive him downtown . . . blah blah blah

Finally she stated, 'Well I am freezing so let's get out of here. I just have to pay my bill.' He proceeded to sit their while she went in search of her waitress to settle up. After all of that - she still paid her own bill.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

And we are off

So for some reason, I seem to smell of trouble in airport security. Despite the fact that I am a seasoned traveller - have my liquids and gels in their little bag, take them out of my purse and lie them in the tray, ensure I have taken my belt off, emptied my pockets, if i am traveling with a laptop, it goes in it's own tray, know which items are best in my carry-on - makeup and jewelery. Make-up because it is the most expensive to replace for 1 or 2 days if I lose my luggage, my jewelry cause it can add 5 pounds of weight easily!!! - I still seem to be pulled over.

This time I set off the metal detector thanks to the bling I had chosen to wear and they needed to swab my bag for whatever reason.

After a thorough pat down and arms out wanding, it is off to the swabbing station I go. As the gentleman is routing through my bag he hits the jewelry bag. He pulls it out and starts looking through my things. He then comments 'so much jewelry' to which I respond, 'Oh - I left most of it at home'. As he continues to look through the various items he continually mutters 'what beautiful jewelry' and 'you are certainly a lady who has nice jewelry'.

Finally he is off to investigate the remainder of the items when he stumbles across my make-up bag. Of course you have to know that is going to cause a stir as well. He is still muttering about my things when he hits my eyelash curler. It is one of those red and white plastic curlers. He turns it over and over in his hands. When he finally holds it out to me - I am kind of chuckling and mention that it is my eyelash curler. To which he responds with a smile.

As he tries to pack my things away into the make-up bag again he is struggling with closing it. Finally I offer to do it for him - unsure if that is allowed with our security regulations or not - and he grins away at me. Repeatedly muttering - such a beautiful lady with all these gadgets and jewelry. Such gadgets and jewelry.

Jimmy of course is standing over to the side killing himself laughing!! Oh well - it's pure entertainment most days.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Well you know Aunty

My oldest nephew just turned 6. Hard to believe I know!!! And yes, I know I know - hard to believe that I at such a young age could have a nephew that old already but it is true!!!

I called him to wish him a happy birthday but unfortunately we kept missing each other so he finally called me back last night.

After a failed attempt that resulted in a voice message where he repeatedly said hello, I called him back and was met with an indignant 'I was saying hello to you Aunty and you wouldn't respond!'

We quickly caught up on his parties, the money gifts he received and all the sounds that the new bumblebee helmet made. Soon tiring of this and expecting a certain amount of birthday etiquette he queried as to whether or not I was going to come to say Happy Birthday.

Of course I broke out in smiles and exclaimed"Yes, I can't wait to come home and say Happy Birthday to you"!!

It was met with a brief moment of silence and then I hear 'Well you know Aunty, you could say it to me right now'!

The poor guy - I hadn't even bothered to greet his sweet little voice on the phone with a happy birthday so stammering I responded 'You are right - I certainly could. Happy Birthday!'

The most professional thank-you was his response before he inquired if he could chat with Uncle Jimmy!!!

Uh oh! I certainly better do better than that next year. Jimmy cannot dethrone me!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

It was all worth it!!

We went to the virgin music fest at COP last night to watch Pearl Jam. 
Our friends have the perfect spot for it so we were able to meet at 
their house for a little refreshment first and then walk over to the 

The stage was set up at the bottom of the ski hill so it was a crazy 
incline to get down to the crowd. But once we were there we secured a 
spot against a retaining fence that went around the sound stage. The 
concert was awesome. The people watching a delight. And the company 
perfect concert goers!!!

However after 2hours of standing on a 90 degree grade we needed to 
turn around and climb back up the hill. By the time we were 2/3 up the 
hill I realized I needed to kick it up a notch at aquasize. My 
mercies. And I seriously can't be the most out of shape person nor was 
I 'wasted' after a day in the sun festivalling like many others 
appeared to be.

But once I made it back to the house, had utilized the facilities 
(there was no way I was risking a dark portapotty) and downed a big 
glass of water it was all worth it.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Won't make that mistake again

So for the past two years I have been going to this little place to get my brows waxed. It's a 45 second walk from my apartment, the ladies are a delight and for $10 and 5 minutes of pain I get brows that others rave over (okay maybe rave is a bit strong but I do receive compliments on them on a regular basis).

Now as I have learned - although the brows are fantastic and the price is reasonable, you do get what you pay for to some degree.

First the ladies all yammer amongst themselves in mandarin so you are never really sure if they are talking about you or someone else or . . . No worries on this because since I don't know what they are saying, in my mind I make up all these fantastic stories they are sharing about their gong shows the night before. After all if it was a place that I ran with my fantastic friends and we spoke a language other than english that is certainly what we would be doing.

Second I am not too sure how often they change the paper they have laid over the waxing table. No probs though since I usually go first thing Saturday morning, I just don't bother showering and changing into my 'going out' clothes until after.

Third, well let me tell you the third . . .

So, since I can't speak their language, I can never pronounce the name of my favorite girl. I usually wind up with her every other session and today was not one of those. The other ladies are not bad but they are not quite as good nor gentle. And today I got somebody new that I have never seen before!!

And although she was good - gentle is not in her vocabulary:
  • the wax was so hot that it burned as she applied it; after visibly wincing she did take a half a second to blow on it
  • she applied the wax to both sides of the brow all the way onto my lid before removing it
  • then she vigorously rubbed the strips onto my lid firmly pushing onto my eyeball
  • the strips were pulled off in one swift motion - not bothering to pull the skin taught (my eyelid was actually pulled off the eyeball during this motion)
  • she then proceeded to move to the other eye to remove the cooled wax causing her to rub even more vigorously and the eyelid to pull up even more

The end result is a delight - two shiny eyebrows that are glowing red with wax glummed onto the hairs that are left.

I think I might sign up for some mandarin lessons, I really have to learn the name of my favorite lady!!!

Monday, August 03, 2009

And so the season begins . . .

This summer I feel like I am 23 again! It is another summer filled with weddings. And the last time I had this many weddings in one summer was back when we were young and everyone was falling in love!

Saturday was the first 2 of 5 weddings that we were invited to. It all started with an early morning so we could be at Preet's wedding in time for the Baraat and the Milni. Jimmy and I were running late but thankfully so was the wedding party as we showed up 45 minutes late and still waited around for 20 minutes for the festivities to begin. In googling the Indian Baraat I found the following:

Indian Baraat

The traditional Indian wedding establishes a bond between two families and their cultures, apart from creating a very special relationship between the couple, who tie the nuptial knot.

The marriage ceremony is a series of colorful events, spread over two to three days. One of the important and fun ceremonies is the arrival of the groom on the day of the wedding, at the venue.

The groom's family members, relatives and friends accompany him to the wedding venue, in a marriage procession called 'baraat'. Groom's friends and relatives are called the 'baraati'. The wedding baraat is held with high esteem and the baratis are pampered by the bride's family, when they arrive at the wedding venue. The baraat is received in different ways in different parts of the country. In the following lines, we have given description about the baraat in Indian marriage.

Indian Wedding Barat Traditionally in north India, the groom, dressed in his wedding attire, is seated on a white decorated mare, when he heads towards the wedding venue along with the baraati. Before sitting on the mare, the groom is adorned with a saafa (turban, preferably pink or saffron colored) along with a sehara (floral veil), which is tied around his forehead, by his mother. Saafa is mandatory, but tying sehara is not a compulsion. In some
regions of north India, a sword is also provided to the groom. In the mare, the groom is accompanied by his younger brother, cousin or nephew who acts as his caregiver, who is called 'sarbaala'.

The baraatis are often accompanied by music band, which provides them with entertainment, while on their way to the venue. The baraatis dance to the tune played by the band. A vivid display of fireworks contributes to the festive spirit of the marriage procession. A contemporary approach to the ritual is to make use of a car, instead of mare. For the purpose, people rent a car, in which the groom is seated. However, to maintain the tradition, the groom travels a certain distance via car and then rides on the mare.

After reaching the wedding venue, the groom and the marriage procession are welcomed by the bride's parents and the elder members of her family.The bride's mother performs the aarti, when the groom enters the venue. In the mean time, the other members of the bride's family welcome others in the marriage procession. The groom's acquaintance is introduced to the bride's family, friends and relatives. This ritual is known as milni.

The barati who comes in the procession are garlanded and seated. Cold drinks, snacks and sweets are served to them. They are also invited for dinner as the guests of bride's parents.

I was so excited to be able to participate in this joyous celebration - even
though I had no clue what I was doing and being the tall white girl it's not
like I could exactly 'blend' in. However, my vantage point meant I was able to
capture some excellent pictures.

Above, you can see Josh's family dancing as he enters. The music was soo fun!

Next is the traditional exchange of garlands between the groom's family and the bride's family. Again there was much dancing and clapping and cheering between the families.

Preeti's mom is absolutely stunning in her pink sari.

Once the outdoor festivities are complete, the groom can now enter into the altar. Great giggling ensues as the bride's family tries to steal the groom's shoes. After much giggling, running about the hall and the groom's family managing to steal them back a couple times, Preet's family had them securely in hand. According to customs, then charge a fee for their return. Rumor has it - the initial price was $1100 but Preet's family finally agreed upon $300.

After the welcoming aarti, the groom is made to stand at
an elevated level while the bride enters the wedding place, along with her
sisters and cousins where the groom awaits in the Mandap.

Mandap is usually in the form of a canopy and is beautifully decorated with flowers, colorful personal adornment, and other items.In the mandap, the bride, the groom the parents of the bride and the priest sit, while the rest of the family members sit around the canopy.

Below, you see Preeti presented to Josh by her brother and family.

The two then stand facing each other, holding a wedding garland made of flowers. After the two exchange the garlands, the bride and the groom are taken to the mandap where the other rituals and rites are performed.

One of the most significant rituals the bride and the groom perform is the Saptapadi or saat phere around a scared fire and light, which is symbolic to God. While the bride and the groom take the seven circles, the priest or purohit recites the mantras and speak of the real essence and significance of marriage. It is also during this time that the groom fills vermillion or sindoor in the center parting of the bride and puts mangalsutra around her neck.

Mangalsutra is the token of dignity and love given to a bride by her groom. On the wedding day, the groom ties the Mangalsutra around the neck of the bride, while the priest recites Vedic hymns and prays. It signifies the union of the bride and the groom, amidst the presence of deities, who are believed to be attending the marriage. In some regions, the groom ties first and his sisters tie the rest. Talking about its appearance, this sacred thread is made of two strings of small black beads with a locket or pendant. Sometimes, it is also made of small beads of gold and black beads, with gold and diamond pendant.

So that explains all the background that took place during the wedding ceremony. The real show is the family and friends that attend this event. Unlike traditional Christian ceremonies, the atmosphere is very relaxed among the crowd. People feel free to move about the hall, refresh their coffee and tea, pass snacks and play various hand held games. We could not believe the bustling activity that it was.

It was an experience that I will never forget.

Once it was all over, Josh and Preet sat at the front of Mandap greeting their guests. Preeti was even more stunning close up. She is absolutely gorgeous!