October 29, 2008

ARNABirth Celebrations

Three years ago, ARNABirth was celebrated amidst the hubbub of Durga Puja in Kolkata. I feasted on a sumptuous dinner of hilsa fish and rice at Oh, Calcutta. The upscale restaurant is located in the Forum shopping complex and serves authentic Bengali cuisine. Coincidentally, my travel companion was also born on the same day, so we paid for each other's portion of the feast.

Two years ago, I had returned to the fair city of Vancouver. The Shaolin Warriors were in town as well. I was awed by the superbly choreographed blend of kung fu and dance moves demonstrated by the troupe of traveling monks from China. Around 500 AD, a Buddhist monk had journeyed from India to China and established the Shaolin monastery. Discipline, spirituality, and martial arts expertise were united to form the Shaolin Warriors - the legendary masters of kung fu. Particularly popular was the artistry displayed by the miniature monks. The child performers impressed with their dexterity and high level of skill.

This year, the celebrations spanned several days. The global television audience trailed the World Cup and the Olympics, but family, friends, and coworkers all joined in on the fun. A BC Lions game, my first hot pot experience, and dinner at the Cloud 9 revolving restaurant were some of the mentionable highlights.

October 28, 2008

The Namesake

One of my favourite books is The Namesake, written by Jhumpa Lahiri. The Boston-based Bengali author tells the quintessential tale of a young man born and raised in the West to Indian parents. A Bengali man has an arranged marriage and then brings his new wife to North America. They build a life together and start a family. The son is caught between two cultures, struggling to define his identity. The father is a heart attack prone university professor and the mother is a lonely housewife. The novel was adapted into a film by Mira Nair and starred Kal Penn as the title character. My namesake, Arnab Sen , worked as an art department trainee for the movie.

"Two Worlds. One Journey."

October 25, 2008

Samurai Girl

I was taking an innocent lunchtime stroll in downtown Vancouver. Around the intersection of West Pender St and Homer St, a woman's voice yelled out "Stop!". Unaccustomed to hearing this phrase uttered outdoors, I came to an abrupt halt. The voice belonged to a women who was directing foot traffic on the sidewalk I was on. She said they were filming a show called Samurai Girl, and I would have to wait before I could cross. She conferred with someone on her walkie talkie before waving me through, sternly warning me not to look at what was being filmed in the alleyway that I was crossing. I only took a quick glimpse, failing to spot Samurai Girl in action.

Samurai Girl is a six part mini-series event that premiered on ABC Family channel. It is the tale of a teenage girl whose family is brutally attacked at her wedding. She trains to become a ninja so that she can find out who is responsible for the crimes and bring them to justice.

October 21, 2008

Comedic Talents

The most famous comedian to emerge out of Canada in recent years is Russell Peters. The Indo-Canadian comic focuses his talents on generating racial and rude humour, hilariously mimicing the accents of people from different nationalities. Russell Peters is often criticized for reusing material. Most of his fans have only come to this realization after repeatedly watching all his performances on YouTube. On his first tour to India, the first by any North American comic, he visited Bangalore. A mixed group of Bangalore's nouveau elite and foreigners were in attendance. He performed to a full house at Chowdiah Memorial Hall, an auditorium that was constructed in the shape of a violin.


Back in Vancouver, after enjoying a hearty meal at Hamburger Mary's Diner, I went to the Jupiter Lounge for another night of rib tickling laughs. The meal at the seventies style diner consisted of a mish mash of free Range Canadian bison, venison, and musk ox (the Arctic burger) and a chocolate milkshake. The Comedy Night for Diabetes was an event to support the Canadian Diabetes Association. Four comedians were scheduled to perform in the fundraiser but one did not show. A stand up stand in was quickly located and performed adequately considering he had no preparation. The roster included host Paul Breau, Seth Perry, the hyperactive headliner Simon King, and an unknown comedian.


"Somebody gonna get hurt real bad!" - Russell Peters

October 19, 2008

The Louvre

On the banks of the river Seine over 60,000 square metres of prime Paris real estate is occupied by the finest museum I have been to. As I am a man among men, the Louvre is a museum among museums. Opened in 1793, the Louvre hosts a massive collection of artifacts, paintings, and sculptures. Six million visitors a year wander its wings after entering through the glass pyramid entrance and descending into the underground lobby. Tickets can be purchased from vending machines. A useful map of the grounds that highlights the premier attractions such as the Mona Lisa, Winged Victory, and Venus de Milo is also available. With treasures from all corners of the world on display, it was an easy mistake for many tourists to make when they assumed that I was one of the specimens in the Louvre's collection and started snapping pictures.

The collection was so extensive that my entire day was spent at the museum, including lunch at the Louvre cafeteria. Several tourists took ill with cases of museum fatigue and had to be removed from the premises. The Musee du Louvre was formerly a fortress constructed in the 12th century. Three wings, Sully, Denon, and Richelieu, frame the central courtyard and the recently constructed pyramid. There is also a smaller inverted pyramid and an underground mall attached to the Louvre that I stumbled upon. The eight curatorial departments are (1) Egyptian Antiquities, (2) Near Eastern Antiquities, (3) Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities, (4) Islamic Art, (5) Sculpture, (6) Decorative Arts, (7) Paintings, and (8) Prints and Drawings. Room after room, corridor after corridor, new spectacles await.