June 30, 2008

Bridges That Unite

Accompanied by an Ismaili friend of mine, I ventured to the Roundhouse Community Centre in Vancouver's Yaletown district to take a look at the Bridges That Unite exhibit that was on display for a limited time only. After being greeted by an usher, volunteers led us through each stage of the exhibit and explained the work of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) and what Canada has to offer to the world at large. AKDN is a non-denominational organization that restores sites of cultural significance, provides educational opportunities for people in rural areas, and is involved in a host of other activities. I was not aware of their wide reaching activities, so this exhibit provided a valuable learning opportunity through the use of guides, multimedia, and physical artifacts.


"Canada has succeeded in an area where the developing world has one of its greatest needs: How do you build pluralist civil society in the developing world? Look at Africa. Look at Asia. What is one of the characteristics? The inability of different groups of people to live together in peace in a constructive environment to build civil society." - Aga Khan

June 29, 2008

Italian and Greek Days

June 22, 2008 - A sunny Vancouver day meant the crowds were out in full force for a handful of open air festivals. After taking a quick stroll through the Sapperton Days Festival to warm up, I headed for the Italian Cultural Centre, with singers and dancers on stage, food stalls, and a hall full of people watching the Italy versus Spain Euro 2008 quarterfinal match. There was also a Lamborghini and Vespa on display, and a miniature racetrack where toddlers could drive around in red Ferrari coloured go-karts. Paralympic medal winner Donovan Tildesley was on hand raising awareness and signing autographs.

I did not eat at the Italian food stalls, holding out for some Greek instead. In conjunction with BC's 150th birthday anniversary celebrations, Greek Day was taking place in Kitsilano. A large portion of West Broadway was closed down to vehicular traffic, allowing throngs of people to walk about freely on the street. Arts and crafts, children's activities, live performances, appearances by politicians such as Premier Gordon Campbell, Mayor Sam Sullivan, and Attorney General Wally Oppal, all played second fiddle to the main event - the food and wine. I had pork souvlaki and loukoumades (Greek mini donuts) to satisfy my appetite, before heading home.

ARNABabe Note: Both the Italian and Greek female audiences have been underrepresented in the quest for the ARNABride. They share many important traits with Indians, from a strong sense of family and community to a love of food and culture.

Summerbeats 2008

First scheduled for Mother's Day and then rescheduled two more times, Summerbeats finally took place on June 22, 2008 at the Orpheum Theatre. The audience was full of energy and participated fully in the festivities, singing along and dancing on several occasions. With a balcony seat, our view was only partially obscured by the silhouettes of men with disproportionately large heads and women with disproportionately large noses who insisted on walking in and out of the concert hall throughout the night.

A packed roster featuring Atif Aslam, Kailesh Kher, Richa Sharma, and Amanat Ali allowed for around 45 minutes of stage time per performer. Since the show began half an hour late, headliner Atif Aslam's performance was cut short since he came on stage at the very end. My fan girls momentarily switched their allegiance to the singer, and chants of "Atif! Atif! Atif!" echoed throughout the hall. There was no grand finale that had the audience on its feet as was the case with all the other singers. Amanat Ali's youthful energy, Richa Sharma's professionalism, Kailesh Kher's soulful Sufi melodies, and Atif's Aslam's stylish renditions provided something for everyone.

June 16, 2008

EAT! Vancouver

May 23, 2008 - I had some time available in my busy schedule before heading off to watch the premiere of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. It also happened to be the opening night of EAT! Vancouver - the Everything Food + Cooking Festival. I did not pass up a chance to savour some tasty delights underneath the giant dome, and picked up a few recipes to add to my extensive repertoire at the same time.

There were sculptures made of chocolate, a wine tasting area, and many nations had set up booths sponsored by their respective tourism departments. Several stalls of prominent Vancouver restaurants were selling appetizer sized dishes for a couple of dollars worth of money. Cash had to be converted into coupons first, and then these coupons could be redeemed for the food items. Luckily, many other restaurants and food manufacturers were offering free food samples that were eager to fill my empty stomach. From sushi, jam, and pizza to dog food, pudding, and popcorn, I tasted the gamut of available treats. Somewhere through the culinary journey I developed a rash, but since I had eaten such a variety of dishes I could not trace the source of my discontent with any accuracy.

At the Food Network Celebrity Stage, I watched a cooking demonstration by BC's most famous chef Rob Feenie. Once he was finished, I posed for a photograph with him. I asked him whether he had ever cooked turtle, a specialty of mine, but he replied that his son would be very upset with him if he even attempted to do such a thing. Having satisfied my inner gourmand, I exited the premises just in time to see Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan roll past me. It was another unexpected treat in a night full of them.


My rotund friend to operator of Indian food stall: I like butter chicken.
Stall operator: I can see that.


Me (after being banned from a VIP seminar on cheese): The cheese is so close, but so far.
Cheese server: Tell me about it.

June 10, 2008

The Madman

According to the Are You a Psychopath? Test, I am not one:

"You have many of the same qualities of a psychopath while also showing some delusional tendencies. This is deeply concerning, but there is a faint chance that with therapy and medication you could be a productive member of society. You're probably not a psychopath."

Four variables were tracked to determine my psychopathic makeup - empathy, delusionality, sociability, and lawfulness. I was higher than 13% of the other survey takers on the empathic scale, higher than 55% on delusional, higher than 20% on sociable, and higher than 36% on law-abiding.

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

In India, I would frequent sidewalk stalls or more refined establishments for the purposes of trimming my hair. I would also get a shave at the barbershop, and occasionally indulge in a head massage or facial treatment. I would vigilantly note whether the barber used a new razor blade to minimize my chance of infection. In Canada, I must perform the barberly duties myself due to my comparatively low standard of living. My previous duties were limited to seating myself in front of the barber and being aware of safety issues. They have now multiplied to include the actual act of pogonotrophy itself and the ensuing cleanup.

After many hours of blood, sweat, and hairs, I have become somewhat of an expert at cultivating the ARNABeard and in preventing the reunification of the ARNABrow. I pay carefeul attention to the follicles on my face, but I sever all emotional attachment to them the moment they are no longer attached to my bodice. I often neglect the post-trim environmental maintenance which includes tasks such as washing and cleaning all the tools of the trade - the disposable razor for a quick shave, the electric razor for more advances styling, and the miniature sewing scissors for shaping. The gathering of the fur that has fallen to the ground like rain from the heavens is not a task I look forward to either. Some of the hair escapes my attention and makes their way into the pipe and sewage system of my home. On one occasion, all the pipes had become clogged and were in danger of exploding due to the vast deposits of my threadlike fibre. A professional plumber had to be called in during this time of crisis to handle the hairy situation.

June 04, 2008

Defecation Diaries

After much thought and deliberation, James provides an alternate interpretation of the KYBO principle:

"I would make one adjustment to your definition of KYBO. KYBO is more of a general principal of not suffering the uncomfortable burden of holding it in. It's not necessarily someone who makes use of an outhouse.

KYBO Case Study: As a youth in Boy Scouts, Jeremiah had been indoctrinated with a belief in the KYBO principle. While walking down Granville Street one morning, he felt a powerful and immediate urge to expunge. Not being able to hold it in long enough to find a toilet, Jeremiah ducked behind an alley and released a fudge-monkey on the concrete."


An ARNABlog fanatic who is about to embark on his own Indian odyssey asks "Any tips on how to avoid the casual gifts from the sky? Even though they are supposed to bring good luck, I'd rather stay spared of that!". This is in reference to my numerous aerial encounters.

My advice was to consider wearing a hat and to avoid walking under trees or power lines. These locations provide birds with ideal locations for honing their KYBOing skills.

June 01, 2008

Commode Comments

After relieving the past, James provides a Vancouverites perspectives on the natural eruptive desires of man:

"In Canada, there's always been a fine balance between honoring the KYBO principle and suppressing an urge in order to find an appropriate locale to curl one's morning biscuit. Typically the balance is swayed one way or the other depending on several factors. Location: are you in the outback, or the city? Alcohol consumption: drunk-off-your face, or sober? Thus, if you're off-your-face in the woods, then it's entirely appropriate to release where the bears roam. However, being sober in the city requires considerably more self-control.

To complete the matrix... Being faced in the city often lowers inhibitions enough to make that alleyway entrance a great option. Vancouver's Granville St. or DTE will attest to the popularity of KYBO enthusiasts in this city. Sober in the woods? No problems there. We are well endowed with an abundance of wide open space.

In summary, we in Canada are only restricted when in the city and sober. Thus I think any office worker, or I.T. professional, who drops a morning dook in an alley on Georgia St. during coffee break is truly a vanguard in his/her time."

  • THe "Keep Your Bowels Open" principle refers to the usage of an outhouse or similar structure with a hole in it to deposit internally generated waste products.
  • The Downtown Eastside, one of the oldest and most interesting neighbourhoods in Vancouver, contains several alleyways that can provide a purveyor of plop with a steady dose of example excretions to mimic.