Monday, May 29, 2006

Dayton Temple

Vancouver Dairies -6 will be out in a couple of days...:) Till then, here's some photos I took over the Memorial Day weekend....

Dayton Temple - retouched in Photoshop

Dayton Temple - With a Pastel Shades filter in Photoshop

Friday, May 26, 2006

Ella Enchanting!

I have wanted to listen to jazz music for a while but I never got around to it. B made me a CD of "Ella in Rome - The Birthday Concert". I had never heard of Ella Fitzgerald until B mentioned her. On a really cloudy, rainy Thursday evening, I popped this CD in and turned up the volume. Tired as I was, I just sat back, closed my eyes and relaxed.It turned out to be the perfect music to listen to on a slow, rainy evening! :)

For a 1958 live recording, the sound is amazingly clear. In today's music, with all the synthesised sounds,voices and instruments, sometimes the real voice of the singer is hard to hear. Not so with this album. I could hear Ella's beautiful voice loud and clear in all its vibrancy. I could feel her enthusiasm and emotion in singing every song. A few lyrics - "Stomping in the Savoy" and "The Lady is a Tramp" - cracked me up ( you can hear some people in the crowd laughing too) . "Angel Eyes" and "I Can't Give You Anything but Love" were my favorites. Another thing special about this album (maybe because it is live) is that you can feel the spontaneity. Spontaneity, especially in the singer, is truly infectious. I have seen it in SPB's concerts where he totally enjoys the nuances of a song as he sings it and the crowd gets in step with him..:) Ella reminded me of SPB.

Overall, it made for an excellent music experience. Do try to listen to it if you get a chance. Thank you, B! :)

PS: Strangely, what started all this off was a monotone, B &W picture of Unnikrishnan on one of his CDs. I was listening to it and B thought the image resembled Ella! Strange how music around the world connects...:)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Confessions of a pinkaphobic!

"Confessions of a Shopaholic" by Sophie Kinsella is maddeningly addictive. When RS lent me the book, the very pink cover seemed to shout "Stay away" to me. You see, I hate pink (Ahem..Why do girls have to like pink anyway?).

I expected a girly-girl book and it was sachcharinely so! All Becky Bloomwood seemed to do is shop, shop, shop. So much so, that all her days seemed pretty much the same to me. I flipped a few pages and I was going, "Huh? Is she nuts?". Then I flipped some more pages and I got bored. Becky seemed such a far cry from myself and anyone else I could relate to. Do such utterly irresponsible, disorganized, confused, aimless, shopaholic people exist in this world? :) (I admit I am pretty confused myself but I do know to stop shopping if I have a $5000 debt on my Visa card! And I very definitely won't hide my bills in a drawer and hope that they'd go away.) I couldn't take the overdose of shopping at one go. I put the book aside.

A couple of days later, I went home for lunch and saw this book lying around. Hell, I'll read a couple of pages just to keep me entertained (Yes, I do have this very bad habit of reading while eating. My parents tried in vain to correct me. But alas..). And before I knew it, I kept reading a couple of pages every day and now I am hooked. :)

Despite being a pinkaphobic, Becky has successfully gotten my attention. I hope to finish it off this weekend.

Friday, May 05, 2006

The Vancouver Diaries - V

"Class, we're going to have an ice cream business as our business project... .."

I've always struggled for a balance between knowledge and ignorance. Knowledge means growth and growth is always painful. The more you know, the more you question, the more you think. A refined thought process is said to make one a better person. But there are some moments when I stop to ask myself: is it really worth going through some experiences or gaining knowledge? It is like the concept of 'Maya'. Knowing that all the world is just an illusion and there's a higher truth behind it all doesn't give you peace. Somehow the idea that the world around you could be an illusion is a shattering thought, isn't it? It means that all you believed is not true. So, you seek more, question more....But people who haven't even bothered to think of this idea can be peaceful, happy simply because they are ignorant!

"....We are going to run this business for one month. Representatives from this class are going to be executives and I won't interfere for the course of the project..."

Of course, my experience was nowhere akin to seeking some higher truth..:) But if I hadn't gone to Canada, would I have been for the worse? So what if I didn't know how to survive in another culture? How was any of this going to help me out? How different was I going to be from my friends back in India? Wouldn't it be awesome to be naive, ignorant, trusting and simple?

"....We will see how well you can apply business principles and the profit we make is going to be turned over to charity.."

The fact was that I was stressed, lonely and irritated and I was searching for meaning behind having to deal with all these things. I'd have so preferred to be a normal school kid in India with her friends, her own small circle of people she could depend on, familiar faces, familiar places, a set path for life....How nice would that be!

I was lost in the contemplation corny as it may sound, the meaning of Life (I do sound so confused like Becky Bloomwood from "Confessions of a Shopaholic"! Eeks!) when someone prodded me from behind. Startled, I half-rose from my seat.

"Okay, Subha, you want to be VP of Finance?"

"Huh...err..ahem," I mumbled with embarassment. What was going on? I had tuned off Mrs. B's voice a long time back. VP of Finance? I turned around and glared at Barbara who sat behind me.

"Why did you poke me?" I whispered fiercely.

She mouthed, "Its ok." and gave me the thumbs up. I rolled my eyes.

"Anyone else interested?", Mrs. B asked.

Jenny, who sat in the next row, was the "cool" girl of the school. She was quite popular, involved in a lot of projects and generally nasty to everyone. She uncrossed her legs gracefully and stood.

"Okay, Jenny. You want to run for Finance too? We'll take a vote."

I got a haughty, condescending look from Jenny.

Oh, you are so sure of your popularity! How I wish I could punch you in the face!

Needless to say, she won and I was left red-faced and annoyed. I did end up with VP of Personnel but that wasn't much of a consolation to me! That should teach me to philosophize during class! Hell, I thought, why did Barbara have to startle me?


"Hey, you should try smoking once."

Eva and I were talking between brush strokes in our painting class.

"No Eva, I am okay. Not curious to try."

"No, I insist", she leaned toward me and whispered conspiratorially. "It is AMAZING. I do it with my bf all the time."

She giggled. I stared woefully at my dolphin. I wasn't getting the shades right. Darn! I forgot what Mrs. Tobin said about mixing charcoal grey and white! Hopefully, I should get a B at least. It would really stink if I got a "C" in Drawing and Painting.


I looked up distracted from my reverie. Eva was looking at me eagerly, her eyes dancing mischief.

"Uh..Eva, I think I am going to skip. I have to go somewhere this evening."

She made a face at me and laughed.


Physics 11 was my nightmare. The first day I walked in they had a "quiz". I was handed a piece of paper and some 20 questions on Newton's laws. All of them were numerical problems. I was used to the theory oriented methods of India and the jump in syllabus was really pretty startling. Totally taken aback and unprepared, I did horrendously. I was ready to burst into tears. But then, what's the point of crying?

Vicky used to sit next to me in Physics. She was a very friendly, helpful soul. But I disliked the number of "likes" she used in her sentence. In fact, I had a problem with that everywhere in Burnaby North. She, for her part, said,

"You know, you should like slow down. Like your English is just too fast and I, like, can't really get it. We are not like used to Queen's English."

Okay. Whatever.


English literature and English were my favourite classes for a while. I was comfortable with Mrs. T and Mrs. S. It was fun and I was in my elements. I enjoyed the way Shakespeare was taught. There were discussions about style, allusions, metaphors, oxymorons, contextual influences etc...We even got to act out a part of King Lear! I was supposed to be King Lear and I got the famous "Howl, howl, howl..." finale of Lear. I was afraid that if I messed up, I would be the butt of jokes. But everyone was much more tolerant than what I imagined. All kids made some mistakes while presenting and they shrugged it off. There was no expectation of giving a "perfect" talk or presentation. Mistakes were normal and you learnt from them. I liked that about Burnaby North. People were so casual (unlike India where you'd be the butt of jokes even if you made one silly error in front of class)!

Mrs. S was amazing with the Romantic poets. Byron, Keats and Shelley came to life in her soulful reading and dreamy interpretations. I can still remember, word for word, her reading of Shelley's "Ode to the West Wind". I still catch my breath when I remember the experience!


My brother and I were tickled to death with social courtesies. It was so unlike India. If you went to a desi party, the kids were consigned to a separate floor of the house (it was either the basement or the attic) while the adults talked shop and had fun. My parents really did not understand the philosophy behind this segregation and didn't see a reason for it. We, for our part, were quite unused to being hustled off to a basement as soon as we entered. One time we went to a party, we were dutifully in the basement of the house with 6-7 other kids. The host's son was a particularly short and thin kid of about 7-8 years of age. He, for some reason, took a dislike to my brother. He pulled all sorts of weird faces and expressions till my brother wasn't sure if he was having some kind of a spasm or if this was his normal state of being.

"Subha, what's with this guy?"
"I don't know", I whispered back giggling uncontrollably.

The conversation was unlike anything we were used to. The question of the evening amongst the other kids seemed to be this: Which is more gross? Picking one's nose or peeing in public?

"So what do you guys think?"

My brother and I looked at each other's faces struggling to keep our laughter contained.

"Err..I think its fun to hear you guys discuss it...", I said keeping my face straight. My brother was totally red in the face with supressed laughter!

To add to my brother's misery, for the entire length of the evening, the-kid-who-hated-my-brother kept asking him,

"Can I punch you in the face?"

The joke was that he was nearly half-a-foot shorter and skinnier than my brother! :)

"Subha, can I punch him? I can easily just floor him. He is driving me nuts!!"

"B, no way! You'll be in trouble with mom and dad. Shut up."

"Grrr.. I can't stand it anymore! Why do they have to shut us up in the basement with weirdos like these? I want to go upstairs and have some decent conversation."

And we were mightily relieved when the "party" was over! :)

Of course, not all parties were like that. The guy-who-hated-my-brother later became my brother's good friend. We began liking parties later on. But it is always the rite of passage that's interesting....:)