Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Young at Heart

Today is my Nana's 85th birthday! I spoke with her (and Papa) briefly this morning but I do wish I could wrap my arms around her and give her the birthday hug and kiss she deserves.

Happy Birthday Nana. And many more!

Picture taken in Feb 2007 at my grandparents house in Bombay. She was all dressed up for a cousin's wedding. Isn't she just the cutest?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Playing Tour Guide

After a whole month of impatient jiggling (read: anticipation), Jules was finally IN THE T DOT! Her first foray out into the city on Sattyday was to get her hair cut and styled (the girl sure has her priorities down right!) and so I headed over to Yorkville to meet her post coif. Got to the salon only to find that they had temporarily relocated and when I tried to call Jules on her "emerg US cellfone" found that I had copied down the wrong number. So, after hanging up on the very confused lady somewhere in Ohio, I called Trippy who trolled through my email and found me the correct digits. Watson - the game's afoot!

Jules and I had a joyous meeting on a Yorkville street corner where after I paused to duly admire her new cut, we proceeded to my favourite Vietnamese restaurant at Bloor/Avenue Road and over a nice big bowl of Bun Cha and spring rolls, we chitty chatted to our hearts content.

Our tummys full, we started on the Tour de Toronto; down Avenue Road past the ROM, through Queens Park and onto University Ave. Headed west on Dundas and peeped at the Ontario College of Art & Design and the brand spanking new AGO before settling down for a post lunch pint (for me) and a coke (for Jules) at one of my fav T Dot pubs - the Village Idiot. Continued our Discover TO walk through Spadina and Chinatown and then down to Queen West and back over to Nathan Phillips Sq and City Hall before making our way over to the Rogers Centre to find my brother at the Jays merchandise store and score some free passes to the CN Tower. This is a little bit of what we saw up there - just with less snow!

And finally, we capped off the day with dinner at the Rhino on Queen W where we were joined by Trippy and some other friends for dinner and more drinks. Btw, if you're in the T Dot and partial to good brews, check out the Rhino. They've recently renovated and now have an AMAZING selection of hoppy goodness both on tap as well as in bottles. I'd also recommend the spinach and chicken fettuccine. Yum!

Met up with Jules again on Sunday and headed over to the Distillery District for brunch and a wander around the shops and galleries. So intent on wandering was I that I totally forgot about the planned hockey game at 4pm and thankfully Jules has HER head screwed on tight and reminded me about the same. A mad dash over to the Richo Colosseum followed, but we were well in time to meet up with Beer Baron and Trippy and taken in the excitement of the Toronto Marlies vs. the Syracuse Crunch in some AAA hockey action!

It was only the second time I'd ever been to a Marlie's game and for a relatively cheap price, we managed to get a whole lot of entertainment such as kids on Zambonis.......
......and people running around in bubbles impersonating gerbils in between the game periods........
And of course - the actual hockey game which was terribly exciting as the two teams were evenly matched and both fought hard through out. Yes, there was also an all out gloves-off, face-pounding fight as well so Jules was able to experience ALL aspects of a hockey game!
Afterwards, Jules and I said goodbye to Trippy and Beer Baron and headed back into the city to find a poutine place. It turned out to be closed, so we settled for Japanese food instead. Just as tasty and much less heart-attack inducing as well!

Jules is probably busy at her conference right now - the real reason for her trip to the T Dot and we have plans to meet on Wednesday for a dim-sum lunch in Chinatown!

I also found out over the weekend that Conks, a neighbour/friend from Bombay who now lives in Atlanta is planning to visit me in May. Thanks to Beans and Jules' visits, he's going to get the super duper polished version of the Pixy tour of the T Dot!
Huuum... now there's a career option I could consider for Scotland!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Looking Back

It's been "Spring" for about a week now, but here in Canadialand we are far far away from budding trees and spring flowers. So, here are some pics of my trip to Japan in March/April 07 and the abundance of Spring that I experience there.


Friday, March 27, 2009

O Happy Day!

Finally... FINALLY received "the" call from the visa office to say that my passport is available for pickup this afternoon. Bar Stewards.... they certainly took their time - especially since I got the OK from Ottawa on Monday. But I'll have it in hand by 5pm today, and then I get to finally tell all and sundry about my plans. Keeping it inside for this past week has been TORTURE!

And if the visa news wasn't exciting enough, that's not all! My blogger friend Jules arrives into the T Dot this afternoon for a combo work/vacation visit. We've been "blog buddies" for some years now, but this will be the first time we're actually meeting and I can't wait! I have gone into super tourist guide mode and have HEAPS of exciting surprises planned for her over the weekend.

Stay tuned!!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

This one's for Penguin Pal

A bit late I know, but I only just heard about this from a friend last night. It seems that Percy Penguin the unofficial mascot of the London School of Economics (LSE) was stolen some weeks ago. All that remains are the feet and the base of the statue that was a donation by Canadian LSE Alumnus Louis Odette.
What is even stranger is that a similar penguin statue also created by Toronto artist Yolanda vanderGaast was stolen eight years ago from an Odette-funded sculpture park in Windsor, Ontario.

Officials are pretty sure it is no more than a prank and most certainly alcohol related so chances are, they're not going to put a whole lotta effort into tracking down leads. Understandably, LSE students are upset and some point the finger at their rivals at King's College.

Penguin Pal, no doubt you are troubled by this blatant act of penguin terrorism and so here's something to cheer you up.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Looking Busy Doing F*ckall is a term that I first heard used by my cousin Rebel some years ago. It generally means putting up a good appearance of diligent work at your desk/cubby, but all the while indulging in frivolous web activities like checking emails, Facebook, blogging and such. Used in a sentence: Pixy, I was LBDFing all day long and it felt awesome!

And that's pretty much what I've been doing these past 2 days ever since I got the email about my visa application being granted. I've tried, seriously tried concentrating on the VERY IMPORTANT PROJECT that I have due in two weeks time and the host of other emails, phone calls and general admin stuff that is piling up on my desk at an alarming rate.

It's just no use.

All I can think about is moving to Glasgow, being with Beans, travelling around Europe and a whole host of other de-lovely thoughts that have not the slightest connection in the least to work and work related activities.

And to help me with my "research" I recently discovered two blogs that I just added to the new section "Project: Destination Scotland" to the sidebar. Both are by young women in their 20s who moved to Scotland from the US to live/work/study there. Or my new favourite read - Three Dog Blog about Laurie, a journalist and travel enthusiast (the best combination I think!) from St. Paul, Minnesota and of course her 3 dogs Riley, Boscoe and Toby. Personally I think Beastie would get along great with her! Laurie has made several trips to the Emerald Isle and her vivid accounts of the country and its people have me longing to visit there myself. Hopefully, Beans can show me around his native land soon.

Started this post with Rebel, and so should end with her as well. Just found out that she and her husband are expecting their first baby around mid September, hurrah and congrats to them both.

Oh look. It's almost time for lunch. That was a lovely morning of LBDFing!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Like Alanis said......

.... isn't it ironic that the federal government announced today it is spending $60 million to bolster the Employment Insurance system, as the number of laid-off Canadian workers continues to surge. The money, Human Resources Minister Diane Finley said, will be used to hire more staff, process claims more quickly and extend the period of coverage by five weeks.

I don't know whether to be glad that many more people will be employed in the short run or be afraid that these jobs were needed in the first place.

Monday, March 23, 2009

I got back from lunch today, and logged onto email.....





Glasgow, here I come!!!

BTW, I'm at work now and since no one at work knows anything about my plans, I can't really rejoice the way I want to right now - run up and down the office shrieking madly!!!! So I have to be content with posting this, sending out a text message to a few friends.

The anxious potty dance has turned into a mad, crazy (suppressed) Happy Dance!!!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Guinness Book - take heed!!

My good friend Shutterbug is getting married (again) in Israel on August 9. I say again because she and her husband had a civil wedding here in the T Dot this past January. On the exact same day as another friend The Blonde One tied the knot which resulted in me doing a mad dash from Shutterbug's ceremony at City Hall at noon, to her apartment for a quick brunch and then back downtown for The Blonde One's ceremony and reception at the Arts & Letters Club.

My dedication to being a wedding attendee is well documented based "wedding journeys" to Bombay (3 weddings!!), Denver, Sydney and Scotland and it is no chance that I've been bestowed with the title of "Official Out-of-Town Wedding Attendee." But here is my most ambitious project yet!

The details are still fuzzy but I plan to travel to London, England this August for a college friend's wedding on August 7th. Beans (who will meet me there) and I will then fly out to Israel the next day and that way we can both be there for Shutterbug's religious ceremonies on August 9th.

Doable? Probably.
Tight? Definitely.
Crazy? Most Certainly!!!
Fun? Absolutely!!!

Should have also mentioned that before Beans and I had our conversation about going to Israel, the Beer Baron and I had "pinkie swore" to make a road trip to the Maritimes as a "last hurrah". IF those plans work out, looks like I'd be on a road trip in early July, leave for Glasgow mid July, go down to London first week of August and then fly out to Israel for approximately 10 days. Now that's travel packed!!!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Girls and Dolls

Ms. Barbie turned 50 some weeks ago and everyone was talking about it. On the TV, over the radio and all over the Internet. Everyone had a favourite story about their experience with the world's most famous doll, and as I listened to the sharing I suddenly remembered about my own Barbie experience from a long long time ago.
It was nearing the end of the the summer vacations of 1988 and us kids were tiring of the long hot days. Even the most innovative of games had grown stale and the unrelenting heat stifled any new creativity. To escape from the daily monotony, one of the neighbourhood girls managed to con/bribe/nag her mother into throwing a "Barbie Party" for all the neighbourhood girls. Of course this peeved the boys to no extent as none of them were "invited" and it led to them plotting revenge - but that's a whole other story.

For a whole week, the upcoming Barbie party was all anyone was talking about. The girl (who I shall call Diva) had her mum make up little party invites that said something along the lines of"You and Your Barbie are cordially invited to a party at..................." The invite also revealed that one lucky girl would have her Barbie crowned "Princess of the Party". Sure, we'd all had parties. Lots of parties. But never one with our dolls. FOR our dolls!

When I got my invitation, I was over the moon with delight. And in 3 seconds flat, that delight turned to despair. I so badly wanted to go to this party, but the only Barbie I had owned was in no fit condition for such an event. Some years ago, in a misguided attempt to make more "feminine" an aunt had gifted me a Barbie for my birthday (or was it Christmas?). I had promptly stripped her off her boring blue business suit and put her into an outfit better suited for some action packed adventures with GI Joe, He-Man and Strawberry Shortcake - who in case you're wondering was just as much of an action hero in my world. Barbie balanced out the team nicely and over the years had participated in some crazy adventures with the gang that had earned her the respect she rightly deserved amongst my playmates, but had sadly left her with broken limbs and deep battle scars that no amount of cosmetic surgery would cover. And there was the bitter realization that like the millions of women invited out to special events - she hadn't a thing to wear!

I knew there was no way I could take my Barbie to that party wearing her current ensemble of tattered T (borrowed from a teddy bear, fitted with safety pins) and home made skirt from my dad's torn handkerchief. So the next time I met Diva, I told her that I wasn't going to attend her party. Diva probed some more and when she found out that lack of suitable ensemble was my excuse, she exclaimed that she had loads and loads of extra "party" clothes for her Barbies (all 17 of them) and would be happy to lend me something for mine.

And so, I went to the party after all. I didn't want to take Barbs over in her "fighter" outfit, so I hastily wrapped her in one of my mum's silk scarfs and went over to Diva's. "Ok, I said, can I have something for my Barbie to wear?" Diva took one look at my Barbie and at me and then proceeded to teach me an early lesson in duplicity.

"Oh, how SWEET!" she exclaimed. "Look everyone, Pixy's Barbie is wearing a homemade outfit." And then to me, "Well, it would be a shame to ruin that special outfit you made her. Just let her wear it to the party."

Of course, I couldn't very well demand that she make good on her offer of a dress and didn't have a choice but to put down my "Home Econo Fashion Barbie" along side all of the other carefully coiffed and dressed dolls. The party was absolutely ruined for me and I remember not being able to eat a single thing that evening even though Diva's mum had prepared a veritable feast. About half way though the evening, I made some excuse about a tummy ache and went off home taking poor old war weary Barbs with me. Hardly anyone even noticed my departure, and as I walked home I could hear the shrieks of delighted laughter behind me.

I never fully understood why Diva had gone back on her promise. Perhaps her aim had been to embarrass me all along, or perhaps she just changed her mind at the last minute - like a lot of 8 year olds tend to do. In either case, she taught me an early lesson about the Divas of the world and that perhaps it was better to use my imagination and play with a bunch of ragged, but loyal buds than try to befriend the cool kids who's idea of friendship was false smiles and broken promises.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Yards and Yards of Red Tape

It's only been 2 days since I submitted by visa application, but what a 2 days it has been. All day yesterday I was literally too nervous to work, constantly thinking about the visa and that dreadful "what-if-I-don't-get-it" thought hung over me like a big shadow of Doom. Logically, I know that I meet all of the criteria outlined by the British High Commission and I know that I had supplied all of the correct documentation etc. Still, anything that involves an interaction with a bureaucratic authority is a painful and nerve wracking process fraught with nail chewing and hair pulling along the way - mainly because of their overall lack of clear instruction around processes and ambiguous wording on documentation. Here is my evidence of the same:

I went over to the visa agent's offices on Wednesday to drop off my application and supporting documents and have my biometric scans taken. I had read and re read the instructions on the website and had every document they asked for neatly in a folder. The lady at the counter asked me what was my intended date of travel. Early July I told her. She made a disapproving clicking sound. "You're applying too early. They only issue visas 3 months in advance of the travel dates." Now readers, I'd read that website backwards and forwards. There was no mention AT ALL of this "rule". What it DOES mention is that there is a specific per annum quota allocated for this type of visa and no exceptions are made once the numbers have been met. I asked her about this and said that I could wait another 3-4 weeks to apply, but what if I am too late to meet the quota?

She looked doubtful.

She then told me I'd have to write a letter stating that I'd like to postpone the visa start to end June, for travel in early July. That way I could meet the 3 month criteria and the visa officers would know not to issue the visa right away so that I don't "waste" 3 months of it. I pointed out that Q1 on the application asks for intended date of travel. "Do I have to write a letter even after I've answered that question right on the form itself?"

She looked doubtful.

"Write the letter" she repeated and added "Don't worry, we have a lot of people who apply too early and they all have to write this letter." So I asked her if she had a template that I could follow that would tell me who to address the letter to, and what the subject line should be etc etc.

She looked confused.

Turns out, even though they have encountered "a lot of people" in the past who've needed this letter, they didn't once think to have a standard document prepared, or a sample template that one could copy from. But what am I saying? That would require forward thinking - and this was a government agent.

I wrote the letter.

That settled, we moved on to proof of funds. I said that I had a letter from my bank stating my current balance in all accounts as well as a letter from my investment company stating the total value of my current portfolio. "Where is your bank statement?" she asked. I explained that because I do online banking, I don't get a monthly statement in the mail. It is emailed to me instead. And because the website clearly stated that all documentation must be original and must be on the bank's letterhead I cannot include an emailed version. I assured her that the letter from the bank clearly states my current bank balance.

She looked doubtful.

I asked her to have a look at the letter and tell me it was acceptable. She declined saying that as agents, they were not in a position to give advice to the applicants. "But you have a helpline listed on the website that says one can call for clarification on documents or the process." She agreed, but apparently SHE couldn't advise me. If I wanted clarification, I would have to step back outside, call in to the office (the same office I was currently standing in), ask my questions.... and (here's the kicker) be billed $3.50 per minute for the call!!!!!!

That was when I knew I was in a loosing battle. It simply didn't matter how well I read the website, or how well I'd complied my documents or how well my supporting letters were written. I was going to experience application anxiety regardless for this is how all government processes work. So there was nothing else for me to do but hand over my file and leave...... and then spend the next 5-15 days with a large Cloud of Doom hanging over my every move.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Invasion of the Gaggle Pack

I could not figure out the abnormally high percent of teenage and young 20 something girl gaggles I passed on my way to the subway after work last evening. Sure it was March break, but that usually brings out the kiddies and their 'rents - not this lot. They were everywhere. And in the way of persons like me trying to run for a particular train.

As I (literally) pushed my way past the 7th gaggle, it hit me.

Britney's Circus concert was playing at the ACC and these were all the clowns.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

For Better or For Worse.....

..... the deed has been done!

Earlier this afternoon, I went along to the UK visa application site here in the T Dot and submitted my paperwork and supporting documentation for a Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme visa.

If I get this visa, I will be able to live and work in the UK for up to 2 years. And of course, I will be closer - much closer - to Beans.

I had actually been thinking about going to live/work in the UK for a while now. My initial choice was London, primarily because of a uni friend who lives there and assured me of (rent free) accommodation for as long as I wanted it and also because at the time it seemed a natural choice as I'd been to the city before and enjoyed it and wanted to know more about it. My primary focus was of course the proximity to half a dozen (and more) European destinations that I was just dying to explore.

Enter Beans, and suddenly living and working in the UK isn't a nice day dream anymore, it is a reality that springs from the need to find a viable way to build on and sustain our relationship. In between all the touring and sightseeing (and the oodles of making out) that we did when he was here, we also did a lot of talking.
About what we both wanted - short and long term.
About how we viewed this relationship.
About our personal and life goals.

One thing was clear. We both wanted to have a REAL shot at "us". And we both knew that it wasn't going to really work unless we were together. And I knew that the person who would have to move - for now at least - would have to be me. Beans works in a highly specialized field and moving here would mean him having to give up a very lucrative post. On the other hand, I LOVE my job. I love the people I work with, the industry and the opportunities that I get every day to MAKE A BLOODY DIFFERENCE in a number of areas that I feel strongly about.

BUT I also love Beans. Very Very Much. And it didn't take me long to decide that in a tug-of-war between a great job and a great man, the man would win. Hands down.

And so, for second time since meeting Beans I followed an impulse and went ahead with the online application last week. Had to wait until I got some supporting documents from my bank and just as soon as they came though, I made an appointment with the visa centre for today.

And now I wait.

Which is the most agonizing part of this entire process as those of you who know me will attest that patience is at the very bottom of the list of my (many) virtues. But, wait I must; 5-15 business days.

And then, it will either be the dizzying happiness of endless possibility when the visa arrives, or the bitter heart crushing disappointment of failure and the reality of an endless time away from my love.

Friday, March 13, 2009

They said HOW much?

As planned, I headed over to one of the large chain book store locations last night to pick up my much awaited and anticipated copies of Cellist of Sarajevo and Geography of Bliss. Seeing as how I had a total of $75 in gift vouchers, I was confident I would be able to pick up some others as well.

I wandered around the store looking for deals, and finally after much deliberation decided on The Jane Austen Book Club (Karen Joy Fowler), The Last Wife of Henry VIII (Carolly Erickson), The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Kidd) and for that all important fluff factor, Remember Me? (Sophie Kinsella).

Arms laden, I went over to the checkout counter where the charming young man rang in the books, beamed at me and said, "That will be $132.65 Miss."

I nearly had a coronary! Even with the gift vouchers, that was a difference of almost $60 that I just couldn't afford. So, I had to choose carefully from the list and I finally came away with the original 2 + these ones below.

As I left the store with only half of the books that I thought I'd be able to purchase, it was a good reminder to me why I stopped shopping at the Evil Empire of Chapters in the first place and switched over the way more customer friendly BMV (Books, Music, Video) and ABC Books stores where I could have gotten a whole pile up of books for $75 and perhaps even a second hand freebie thrown in as well.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Joy Joy Joy!!

Received 2 book store gift vouchers for my birthday and today, I'll be heading out to pick up some copies that I've been looking forward to for a long long time! Both recommended by Lotus, but out of my grasp for lack of funds, soon.... soon... they will be MINE!!!! *insert maniacal laughter*
Thank you to Brown Boy, Gwilo and fake Brown Boy and to the Blonde One and Mr. Blonde One for the vouchers and making me a very very happy book lover!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Bubble Bubble.......

.....something is a-brewing in Pixyland.

Can't say too much right now, but I can tell you that it includes:
a suitcase
and a passport
and a city
and an Irishman

I'm sure you're all quite clever and will figure it all out, but in the meantime, that's all I can say.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Big Momma's Watching!

Text message received last night:
Spencer did you go to math on Monday and write the test? Mom.

My reply:
Either you misdialed, or Spencer gave you the wrong cell phone number. If its the former - hope he aced the test. If its the latter, I suspect a bad mark is not all he has to worry about.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Book Review - The Secret Diary of Adrain Mole; Aged 13 3/4

Recommended by Beans who said that he first read this book back when HE was around the same age as the protagonist, I found it an easy read. Written in a personal diary format, it is charming, interesting, real, funny and a very insightful look into the mind and world of a young boy on the cusp of adolescence talking about his life in a very open and downright honest format. The "Bridget Jones" of teenagers, Adrian Mole is a delightful character and I'm looking forward to reading more about him as I just found out that Sue Townsend has written a whole series of "diaries" aging Adrian from the gawky young teenager to a middle aged man.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Groundhog Day

Scene: Local coffee shop by the office.
Time: Too-bloody-early o'clock

Me: Could I have a toasted sesame bagel with butter please?

Girl: Right. *punches code in machine*

Girl: So, that will be a bagel?

Me: Yes *I thought I said this, but perhaps it was just in my head*

Girl: Toasted?

Me: Yes, toasted - with butter. *there, its out loud this time*

Girl: With butter?

Me: YES. *am I the only one who can hear me?*

Girl: Right.

Me: OH MY GOD. I'm stuck in the mini version of Groundhog Day. HELP!!!

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