Monday, April 30, 2007

Good 'Ol Fashioned Family Fun!

My littlw cousin elebreated his First Holy Communion yesterday and like most big (or any) occassions, the family was out in full force to celebrate with him.

After much anxiety over the weather - last week was dull and rainy - Sunday dawned bright and sunny with a promise of a high of 20 degrees! Everyone was thrilled - though Captain (my cousin visiting from India) declared that she was still cold!

Preparations for the event began days... and weeks before with various family members being handed their respective "duties". The household was busy all of Saturday as there was fruit for dessert to be cut, gram to be boiled, sandwiches to be made (cheese and chutney) and the give aways to be packed. Somehow in the middle of all of this Captain and I managed to fine time to visit an old high school teacher who is currently here in Toronto visiting her family.

My brother, uncle and myself went over to the event venue early on Sunday morning to set up the tables and move the majority of the food, misc things over. We only had about an hour to do all that before we had to rush back home to get changed and ready for the mass.

Family and friends were represented in full force at the Mass and we needed much more than the 1 pew reservered for communicants family! The service was really enjoyable as the pastor was nice and dynamic and kept everyone interested throughout. After mass, we all trooped over to the reception and the festivities were soon underway. Many more guests joined us over the afternoon - I think we must have been about a hundred in total.

With DJ R (another cousin!) at the helm, there were enough party tunes being belted out to keep the dance floor crowded all afternoon long.

The kids had a blast chassing balloons, playing hide and seek and generally running around adding to the noise and chaos that is most of our parties! Guests drinks were being well looked after by rookie bartenders who were very generous with pouring out the pegs!

And of course there was FOOD - snacks consisted of batata wadas, pakoras, chips , meatballs and sandwiches.
The main course was pure Parsee delight with sali boti, chicken, and fish parsee style combined with potato chops and sorpotel. And let's not forget dessert - Laganoo custard and a chocolate fountain hat you could dip fresh fruit into - big hit with the little kids.... and some big kids too!

As guests began to leave, it was cleanup time .... and with many helping hands the room was back to normal pretty soon.

All in all, a lovely afternoon with family and friends!

In other news, I finally got a call for an interview tomorrow morning at 9 am - rather a prescreening. It will be like a brief test - I will have to write an essay type answer, 2 short answers and also do a personality test. The job is with the Central Toronto Employment Centre and the position is that of Training Application Coordinator. If I get through this round, I'll have an interview with the manager there. *fingers crossed*

Spring seems to have finally made an appearence in the city. The past week was wet and rainy, but the warm sunshine over the weekend seems to have made a difference and forced the trees to push out some tiny buds. Hopefully before long, things will be green again.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Old friends, New Obsession

After a week filled with nothing but sitting at the comp surfing job sites and applying for God knows how many jobs.... I was really looking forward to the weekend and meeting up with the gang again.

Started things off with a bang on Friday night as I headed over to Menace's for dinner and drinks (a lovely BIG bottle of red wine) and then out DANCING with the girls - Cosmo Girl and Big Blue Eyes. The very lovely and the newly single and very hot Drama joined us gals on the dance floor with some bustin' moves of his own! Guys be warned.... Drama is on the loose!

Saturday with Menace was nice and relaxed. Beatutiful day for just taking a walk, catching up and getting high on my latest addiction - Veronica Mars - seasons 1 & 2!

It was a nice reunion with my friends on Saturday evening - not too drunk, not too crazy... good times and lots of news being exchanged. Should "formally" congratulate Brooksy and Carolyn on their soon-to-be new addition to their family - Clumpy Brooks, we fondly await your arrival.

Rounded up the weekend by taking advantage of the sunshine to clear away a lot of the mess and wild bushes from the backyard. Its looking a lot better now, but there's a long way to go before we'll have that oasis of tranqulity we all crave! Some more eppys of Ronnie Mars and fantastic grilled fish dindin... and my weekend was done!

Monday morning now.... and its back to the mundane life of an ex world traveller who's now looking for a job..... any job.....

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

To Do List

  • Find a Job
  • Sort out banking matters
  • Put away travel clothes
  • Clean up room
  • Find a Job
  • Upload Japan pics onto Flickr
  • Buy new sneakers
  • Sort gifts from trip
  • Find a Job
  • Get over 4 year relationship
Did you know that in addition to Naval Combat Information Offices, Military Policemen and Naval Combat Systems Engineers the Canadian Forces have 52 job openings for MUSICIANS???
Cross my heart..... its true! I didn't know soldiers got piped into battle these days...... 

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

New Game, Old Player

You know things are not going well when you return from a 4 month vacation and your supposed boyfriend doesn't contact you for 3 days, nor does he reply to any of your emails or voice messages. Even I - Ms. Optimism herself - was troubled.

Well, we finally made contact last evening, and split up. This time for good.

So here I am in the middle of a new game. But I'm an old player and I need to figure out the rules for myself. And I can't cheat and ask for help either as that would mean I lose and would be stranded mid game.

Why am I speaking in metaphors? I don't know. I suppose it makes for a more interesting post instead of just blabbing on about a breakup!

Everyone (even me) knew this was coming. Things have been crappy for ages. It still doesnt make it any easier, and it still makes me want to go over every detail and wonder what I could have done different. But its too late now and I need to figure out my next move.

So I'm officially signing up for a new team now. Let the games begin.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Reality Bites

I went away for 4 months hoping that he'd miss me.

Turns out he didn't.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Journey to the Ends of the Earth.

April 11 2007

0800 hrs (Japan time): Leave home for airport after being up all night with Sakura House pals.
1000 hrs: Arrive at airport find out flight is delayed.
1200 hrs: Find out flight is delayed some more.
1327 hrs: Finally depart Narita International Airport (delay of 2 hrs 27 mins) for Mumbai, India via Bangkok and Delhi.

Movies watched in-flight: Dreamgirls, Eklayva.

April 12 2007

0246 hrs (IST): Arrive into Bombay 3 hrs 36 mins behind schedule.
0415 hrs: Arrive at grandparents home and crash.
0800 hrs: Wake up.
1015 hrs: Go to family Doc for last in series of Hep shots.
1045 hrs: Go to bank and conclude banking matters. Withdraw lots of money!
1125 hrs: Go shopping for last minute gifts etc etc.
1300 hrs: Lunch
1415 - 1535 hrs: Phone calls to all and sundry.
1645 hrs: Meet VBF her mum and her bf JJ who's down from Glasgow for a holiday.
1650 hrs: Find out JJ and VBF got engaged 2 days ago - run around and shriek madly.
1715 - 2020 hrs: go ring shopping for JJ's ring. Find nothing other than the knowledge that there is a LOT of ugly a** jewellery that exists.
2025 hrs: Get back home, finish packing. At. Last.
2100 hrs: Dinner (and more phone calls)
2230 hrs: Leave for airport.

April 13 2007
0215 hrs: Leave Bombay for London on BA 138.
Movies watched in-fight: Stranger Than Fiction, The Holiday (seemed apt), Casino Royale.
0731 hrs (GMT): Landed in London-Heathrow
0731 -0820 hrs: Sat bucked up in aircraft on the runway waiting for a free docking bay.
0830 - 1300 hrs: Wandered around in Heathrow airport.
1300 hrs: Departed London for Toronto on AC 857.
Movies watched in-flight: Driving Lessons, Charlotte's Web, Eragon
1529 hrs (EST): Arrive into Toronto.
1720 hrs: Arrive home.

The End.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Sayonara Japan, Arigato Gozaimas!

I've finally come to what I'm sure will be the last post on this amazing 4 month adventure. I leave Japan for Bombay tomorrow morning, then its on to Toronto on Friday the 13th. (Auspicious na?)

Moved on to Kyoto on the 8th after my 3 nights in Osaka. Kyoto was a far more interesting city than Osaka and I had more than enough to see and do here to fill my 2 days. I didn't have time to see it all of course, so chose to see the "top 5" of Kyoto:
  • Toji Temple - highest 5 story pagoda in Japan
  • Kinkakuji Temple - famed "Golden Pavillion"
  • Ryoanji Temple - amazing Zen garden
  • Fushimiinari-Taisa Shrine - 100s of red Toriis line the path to the main shrine

Day 2 was supposed to be spent in Nara, but met up with some fellow Canadian (they insisted they were Quebecers... but I soon put a stop to THAT!) at the hostel and decided to hang out with them in the Gion district instead. Caught a Maiko Odori show as well (performance by apprentice Geisha) that just about put a crowning cherry on my amazing Japanese experience.

After returning from Kyoto late last night, I (mistakenly) thought I'd get a good night's sleep but of course that's something that doesn't really exist in Sakura House! All the gang was in attendance last night and we had a special guest appearence by some bottles of wine and (horrors) tequilla! It made me feel so good to be back in Tokyo again - almost like a home away from home.

Boo was nice enough to volunteer to show me around the parts of Tokyo I had missed, so when I finally surfaced, I gave her a buzz and we met up. She showed me around town - the electronic shops where all the geeks of the world unite, the by lanes where goods from sushi to souvenirs are sold, to Asakusa temple and area and to fashioneista centre - Ginza. I told Boo I had just 2 things I needed to buy - Sake and Hello Kitty socks. By the end of the day I had bought a whole slew of souvenirs for friends and family.... everything BUT the things I mentioned! But in my defense, I picked up COOL JAPANESE stuff that I won't find anywhere else.... and all really light so that I don't play any more havoc with my baggage situation! Finally did buy some Sake to take home, so at least part of my plans were achieved. Still can't believe I looked all over Japan and couldn't find one lousy pair of Hello Kitty socks! Unbelieveable!

Must really get down to packing up all my stuff. Want to get it done before everyone arrives back home - coz once they're here.... there'll be no chance! Looking forward to cracking open one of the Sake bottles. Kampai Japan..... o-sewa ni narimashita!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

There will be good times.... and then some bad!

My third night in Osaka now and its sure been an interesting ride! Spent most of Thursday in bed as I was totally knackered with all the late nights Id been having. It was worth it though as I woke up really refreshed and ready to hit the town! The only thing I had time for before the sun set was to check out the Umeda Towers (i think thats what its called) that boasted of spectacular city views - and I wasnt disappointed!

Met up with some Aussie guys at the Tower and we decided to join forces for the rest of the evening and together we checked out the Dombutori district in downtown Osaka where neon is the light of choice and "bigger and brighter" is the local mantra! After sampling some amazing cuisine (NO clue what I actually ate....) we headed over to a karaoke bar and rocked the night away to Madonna, the Backstreet Boys and AC/DC before we ran (RAN) to catch the last train back to our hotels!!!

Spent Friday in Hiroshima which is just about an hour and half away from Osaka on the Shinkansen (thank you GOD for inventing that and the handy dandy JR pass!!)

It was Good Friday, and a seemingly auspicious day to be in a city that spells a message of peace... and more importantly.. that of hope. It was a bright and sunny day and walking around the Peace Park, I was struck by how Hiroshima is not remembered as a city destroyed, rather a city reborn. By its very existance today, Hiroshima and Nagasaki are cities that stand to remind us about how ugly war is and how fragile and yet how resiliant life is.

I've been having such a wonderful vacation, that at some point or the other my luck was bound to turn - today was that day! Lost my wallet between hotels (5 mins apart) and spent all of the morning sifting through dirty laundry trying in vain to locate it. When that proved futile, there was nothing to do but call and cancel my cards. Amex was easy. Stupid Scotia doesn't have any local numbers so was forced to call les parents in the T Dot and ask them to do the needful. Fortunately I had most of my cash on my person and my passport and other documents are all safe - so really... things could have been worse!

Determined not to let this morning's events deter my vacation... I headed off to Hemeiji this afternoon to check out Hemeiji Castle - a Japanse Treasure and World Heritage Site. Glad I made it there as its definately a MUST SEE and wandering around there really lifted my sadly downtroden spirits! The super large super dark chocolate cone that I devovoured along with the other kids also helped! (yes, I'm sometimes 5.......:p)

Will try and get a good night's sleep now as I head off to Kyoto tomorrow..... after all as Scarlette said.... "Tomorrow IS another day!"

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Another day, another friend!

After getting to bed as late as 3:30 am last night (rather, this morning)... waking up was rather difficult! Fortunately I had told Don I'd meet him at 11:30 in Yokahama and there was a direct train from Sakura House there.

As per Don's instructions, I was to exit the station via the "Central Exit" head out and right and wait at the "Soup Stock" - sounds simple huh? Well when I get to Yokohama, I discover that "central exit" does not exist; instead there is "West" and "East" exits and they're quite far apart from each other. A quick call to his celly doesn't help either as it goes to voicemail. After wandering around for a bit, I discover that he meant the WEST exit, and waited by the shop for this dude I've never met and who's supposed to show me around Yokohama but who is obviously directionally challenged!

The dude turned out to be great fun though, and we had an amazing day together!

With Don as my guide......
  • I explored my first Don Quiotxe store (very popular chain store in Japan that sells everything from socks to lightbulbs)
  • Gazed upon the Landmark Tower - the tallest building in Japan with the fastest lift
  • Checked out the Cosmo Clock Ferris Wheel - Japan's version of the London Eye
  • Wandered along the Osanbashi Pier
  • Chowed down on some yummy sushi
  • And reveled in the beauty of the landscaped gardens and relocated houses of Sankei En.

After a mad dash on the subways and the JR lines we made it (late) back in to Tokyo where we met up with Junko one of my friends from ASL classes in Toronto. Junko had just returned to Tokyo after some years studying in Toronto and she had suggested that we check out a baseball game at the Tokyo Dome. She managed to score some amazing seats right behind the catcher (in the upper deck of course!) and Don and I both most thoroughly enjoyed our first Japanese baseball experience! Had to try the beer (overpriced) and the dogs (cold and insipid) of course and came to the conclusion that some things are the same the world over!

The Japanese baseball fans are however in a class of their own, rivaling even the die-hard Bostonians over their passion for the sport. So enamoured with the players are they that the fans have come up with little chants for each player that they sing and do coordinated hand steps to each time a player comes up to bat. There was never a quiet moment in all of the 3 hrs and 20 mins of the game! Amazing!

Altogether, another good day in Japan all due to the efforts of both Don and Junko - thanks a million you guys!!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Sake bath anyone??

Today was earmarked as "Trying to see Mt. Fuji day", but thanks to the crap weather, that was quite out of the question. Went to Hakone anyway since it was pointless staying in Tokyo in the rain.

Beastie had reccomended an Onsen in Hakone that she had recently been to and since visibility was near nil, I decided to go check it out. For my first Onsen, it was really quite spectacular! There was the traditional section with the heated pools and hot springs and then there was a whole other section that was more like a family ammusement park with slides and theme pools and other funky stuff.

Some of the pools I paddled in today -
Coffee - more like Cappucino actually; it was all foamy
Green Tea - smelled kinda funny, like cold tea smells
Dead Sea bath - high salt content and everyone was all floaty

I peeked into the Red wine bath, but Beastie had already discounted it as mere coloured water, so I gave it a miss.

Finally, I loved the bath with the little fishies that nibble on your toes - they apparently love to eat dead skin! Its terribly ticklish though, and when you're by yourself its hard to keep a straight face while you're being tickled to death by fish fins!

Thanks for the recco Beastie, it saved my trip to Hakone from being a complete washout!

Hanami Sakua = Bloody good times followed by killer hangover!

My first Hanami Sakura was a truly amazing and I'm so thankful to Jo for inviting me. Before I met up with her, I went to Haraju station and people watched outside. Everyweekend, the bridge just outside of Harajuku station is filled with Japanese youth who all dress up in crazy costumes - superheroes from comics, baby dolls, goth charecters etc. - and parade about posing for the crowds of tourists who come there to snap pictures of the wackier side of Japan!

Also managed to take a quite look at the Meiji Shrine which is right around the corner from the station. Glad I did as there were a lot of weddings ceremonies going on and I had the opportunity to witness a traditional Japanese wedding party.

Headed over to Kichijoji to meet up with Jo, and I was SO excited I could barely stand still at the designated meeting spot. Jo was one of the primary reasons I was in Japan to begin with as I was so taken up with her discriptions of Japan and her many zainy adventures here, I just had to come see it all for myself! We'd been chatting with each other for almost 2 years now and I was terribly excited to be finally meeting up. And I was so not disappointed - she's just as lovely (and crazy) in person as she is online and I've had the best time with her over the past 2 days. We met up with a bunch of Jo's friends and went to the park and as we entered, I had a "jaw drop" moment. There were literally 1000s of people all over the place having little picnics everywhere. Every inch of ground was covered with groups of people - young, old, families, guys in business suits, gals in designer clothes - all eating and drinking (yes, you can drink in public here) and generally chilling out under the cherry blossoms.

Hanami Sakura liteally translates into "party to go look at the cherry blossoms". Hanami is party and Sakura cherry blossoms. Its a HUGE event in Japan and judging by the scores of people I saw all around, a very popular one as well! And I can see why! After all, who wouldn't like the idea of sitting in a beautiful park under a canopy of white and pink blossoms chilling out with friends or family and getting piss drunk in the process?? I certainly applaude the whole idea!

We were about 20ish people in our group and everyone had brought food and drink of some kind. Along the way random people joined in - including some drunk Canadians, some drunk Japanese, some drunk Brits.... well you get the idea.

Finally at about 10 pm we decide to pack up (only because it begins to rain) and head out to a bar. What kind, Karaoke of course! Many many rounds of horrendous singing later we (somehow) stumble home to Jo's place, get some late night food from the corner store and crack open a few more beers and don't go to bed until we're too sleepy and too drunk to keep sitting upright!

Suffice to say after the appaling cocktail of drinks I'd had (bubbly wine, sake, sochu, beer.....) I paid DEARLY for that today as I was Sick. As. A. Dog for all of today. Jo and I had planned to go sightseeing around Tokyo but all I could manage was to crawl from the bed to the washroom about 5 times to try and purge my sins.

We headed out to Shinjuku (Tokyo's entertainment district) at 5ish to meet up with some more blogging buddies and even along the way there I had to get off the train to get some air. I was *this* close to calling the whole things off and heading home when I FINALLY threw up all that crap that was in me, and immidiately started to feel better.

Meeting Beastie, Sigsy and Shiomi was another wonderful experience. Sigsy and Shiomi I know from blogging and Shiomi is Jo's friend. We went to this amazing little restaurant - Izakaya its called - and I tried all sorts of new kinds of Japanese food. Thankfully my tummy was behaving now and after having nothing but two bites of salad and tiny sips of water all day, I was quite ready to dig in!

I even got some prezzies today as Sigsy gave me a beautiful "Sayonara Doll" and Jo had earlier presented me with a packet of Hello Kitty pasta! In the course of conversation I found out that Sigsy is actually in my line of work - Corporate Training and coincidently her company is looking to hire! Huummm.... now that would be an interesting opportunity!

Many drinks, eats and laughs later, we had to reluctantly say goodbye but I will always have wonderful memories of meeting up with my blog buddies in Tokyo!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Not Lost in Translation

Turns out, I know a lot more people in Japan than I originally thought.

For starters, there's De the girl I'm currently staying with - daughter of mum's colleague.
Then there's the blogging buddies -
Jo, Beastie and Sigsy who I'm meeting for drinks and general fun times tomorrow night.
There's Don - a friend of a friend who also from Canada and who also went to York!


I just found out that Junko, a friend from ASL classes has just moved back home to Tokyo after 4 years in Toronto!

What with plans to meet up with all of them, my social life is quite hectic - considering I'm in a whole other country!


Spent yesterday in Kamakura which is about an hour and half southish of Tokyo. Like Nikko, its a "temple town" with little shrines and beautiful masterpieces of architecture scattered over a large area. Took my own sweet time wandering around, poking around little corners and (of course) taking hundreds of pics! Spring is just EVERYWHERE you look, and the Japanese gardens are simply amazing. Every tiny leaf and bud here looks absolutely precious! I took about 10 pics of the "totally cool tree" before I realised it was a MAPLE tree!

Day 5 in Japan, and I'm off for Hanami Sakura, which basically means sitting in a park, looking at the trees and drinking oodles of sake!


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