Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas!

Woke up with a call from my brother in far away India. Then listened to a Punjabi Christmas Jingle which my friend had sent via WhatsApp. Meeting a friend in the afternoon for lunch. And here I am, picking up my writing once again.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Brewery Tour & Wine Making Class

I've been taking classes....oh yes, I have!

Last Saturday, it was to Minhas Micro Brewery that I went to learn a bit about Beer. And I am enlightened! Beer = Barley + Water + Hop + Yeast. Beer is the world's most widely consumed and is likely the oldest alcoholic beverage. It is the third most popular drink overall after water and tea.

Now I know the difference in taste between an Ale and a Lager! Ales tend to be fruity while lagers are clean-tasting and frequently described as "crisp." To a Brewer, the main difference between an Ale and a Lager would be in the type of yeast used during fermentation. The "top-fermenting" yeast would be for ales while the "bottom-fermenting" yeast would be for lagers.

The owner Moni Minhas, father of Manjit & Ravinder Minhas who runs the Brewery came up for a little chat and narrated a bit about how he came to Canada with 4 Dollars in his pocket all the way from New Delhi in India. What a story! Well, he's made it!!

The Growler that I got home - Sunshine Lager

I bought more Beer .....White Wolf, Lazymutt and got a sample of the original Cream Soda!

This evening I was off to learn how to make wine at home! It was an introductory class teaching us all about choosing our first wine kit to bottling and everything in between. It seems not so difficult and knowing that my current Boss too makes wine at home I think I too can do it. I would just need some space to set up my wine making kit....the Primary Fermenter and the secondary Carboy.

Don who took the class today and shared the tricks he learnt over the years.

The lessons have been exciting! And now I'm looking forward to making my own wine!

I pumped gas!!

Last evening, for the first time in my life I pumped gas! And I'm feeling super thrilled! 

Until I came to Canada I only had Gas Attendants pumping gas for me but that was how it was in all the countries that I had lived so far.

Ever since I got my car last October, I've had friends/work colleagues coming along and helping me in getting gas. They did the work while I looked. Few months back after getting detailed instructions from a work colleague as to what I should do as soon as I slide into a Gas Pump I was all ready to do it by myself. However it so happened that the Gas Station I went to on my way back home had a Full Service that I was not aware of. This meant someone doing it for me! Since then I had been going to this particular Gas Station.

However yesterday I was at another Gas Station. Was feeling a bit apprehensive if I would get it right. I got out of my car. Tried to open the Gas Tank lid but it just wouldn't open! Ultimately had to ask for help to the Truck guy pumping gas just beside my car. Made me look so incompetent?! Then I lifted the Gas Pump Nozzle....selected the type of gas I wanted....put the nozzle in the tank and squeezed the trigger and felt the gasoline flowing into the gas tank! Yay!! I pumped gas!!! Finally! Whew!!!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

My first year here in Canada!

It's been a while since I wrote anything and other things consumed me but again I know it's no excuse. A recent praise ...."Good Blogger" from a person that I know remotely....even though he may just be biased to my writings has given me the much needed motivation to do a post today. So here goes....

I completed a year here in Canada.....a few days back! Time sure flies! 21st of Feb 2015 around 7pm I land at the Toronto Pearson International Airport. It was cold......I had flown straight from Dubai via Paris. After living in the Middle East for the past 13 years.... Brrr! It was freezing here!!

The first 2 months passed by searching, connecting, applying to quite a few companies for a job. It was a bit frustrating as days passed by not knowing when I would find a job or if I would get a job in my own field. An advise that I was getting from well-wishers ......"pick any job"...."don't be choosy"..."get some Canadian experience".....was freaking me out! Why should I pick any job? If the job was to play a movie star...sure! But that was not what they were hinting at.......being in retail...they were pointing at me applying for a "shop girl's" position. 

Am glad things worked out my a job in my own industry and I couldn't have asked for a better Company! It was a cold call that I had made. First day...interview with 2 AVPs. Next day interview with the VP for Planning! A week / ten days later, a voice mail on my phone (had missed the call) from the VP updating me that they were still interested....just that the process was taking long since the company was a part of a big Conglomerate, the Corporate HR procedures were being followed. In just over 2 months here I was with a job in a Company that I really like.....and my Bosses are all so nice! People say I'm lucky!

In April of 2015 I did a bit of travelling inside Canada. I visited Niagara-on-the-Lake in Southern Ontario where you have the Niagara Falls. It was a beautiful day and it was awesome to see the Niagara Falls which I had seen in books/magazines/movies. 

Niagara Falls....awesome sight to see.

Here's a church that I passed by as I walked down to the Niagara Falls. Nestled between the leafless trees just at the bend of the looked quaint and beautiful.

I also got to explore a bit of downtown and midtown Toronto. To walk around with no hurried agenda is something that I really enjoy. Love the old houses, the's so rich.

Casa Loma in Toronto. This is a Gothic style house and the history about the man who owned this is equally fascinating.

CN Tower (on the right looming from the trees) visible from Lady Mary's bedroom in Casa Loma.

Spadina House was another old house that I visited. This is now a museum.

It was again in April that I flew to Calgary a small city in the province of Alberta.....a city that is beginning to grow on me.

Calgary Skyline

Another small town I got to visit was Banff, located in Alberta's Rockies. This is a resort town and is a popular touristic destination.

8th August 2015 - Chuffed to bits! My first challenging hike....2300 feet vertical gain / 17 km / about 6 hrs!! National Geographic describes this hike as one of the World's 20 Most Thrilling Trails!

Crypt Lake, at last! Worth the long hike!

8th September 2015 - Weekend Trip to the Okanagan Valley, BC. Walking from one vineyard to another in Kelowna and Penticton tasting wines and buying bottles of most of what we tasted!


The Buck that Sal and I chased away! (Sal, owner of the vineyard where we stayed. Sal in the above photo pouring me some wine...."just a splash"!)

4th October 2015 - Another great hike that I did, Rawson Lake Hike. Rawson Lake is a beautiful alpine lake buried in the mountains above the south side of Upper Kananaskis Lake in the shadow of 10,414 ft Mount Sarrail. The trailhead is at the farthest end of the Upper Kananaskis Lake parking lot which offers amazing views across the Upper Kananaskis Lake.

Upper Kananaskis Lake from where we started the Hike.

None of us expected snow when we started! And here we were....but it was really a good hike!

Rawson Lake was an exciting year! Coming to live in a brand new country, new job, new company, new colleagues, new friends! It's all worked out so well. Am grateful for that!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

I got my Canadian Immigrant Visa!

Nearly after 4 years of my application, my Passport was delivered by the courier guy yesterday with my Immigrant Visa stamped on it. Whew! What a long wait it has been!

Do, I want to immigrate? I don't know. Only time will tell. I have the visa and so I have the choice to visit and look for a possible employment there. Currently too I am not in my own country but in the Middle East for more than 10 years on a resident visa!

I have till mid of 2015 to make my first landing. So I have time to decide when to land as an immigrant. Once I land, the process of getting a Permanent Resident Card will be automatic which I would receive shortly in the post and be valid for five years. During this period I would have to stay a minimum of 2 years to be eligible to apply for a Canadian citizenship or maintain my status as a Permanent Resident. The 2 years period need not be continuous too.

Well, 2014 has been a year of lot of beginnings! It's not been easy but then who said life was meant to be a roller coaster ride?!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Once again....

It's been a while since I wrote anything here.....but here I am. Let me just try bringing up to speed.

2011 - I moved to Dubai...a new job in a company who expected me to live and breath it 24/7. Never have I been so stressed not knowing when I would get a call on the weekends to ask about the Brand that I was managing, about the sales & its performance and which store/mall I was personally overlooking to check all is well!

The silver lining was that I got to travel 2 new countries - United States of America and Italy! Even though it was a business trip I did manage to do some sight seeing and it was wonderful!

2012 - The year began with hectic business travel (Buying) to Frankfurt, Germany....just a day after my Birthday. Even though I had visited Germany way back in 1997, I hadn't been to Frankfurt. The early morning walk down by the River Main....down the bridge festooned with many love was lovely but at the same time felt it would have been much better if I was with a friend. I also climbed right up to the top of the winding stairs in Frankfurt Cathedral from where I too this shot. It was worth the climb!

During the EID holidays, took a road trip to Oman with an Irish man and a Singaporean lady. It was so much fun! Can't believe reaching a hotel middle of the night and that too a quaint one which was not that expensive only driving away as the Irish found it too expensive for his taste to spend for a few hours! But complain. It was a blissful 3 days trip and I feel the other two too enjoyed the trip as much as I did!

Then in November taking advantage of the Al Hajra holiday just before the weekend booked myself for a Group Trip to Jordan a country I was eager to visit to see one of the Wonders of the World, Petra! I also got to see a friend and his family, a Jordanian who befriended us way back when we were college students in Delhi. It's always lovely to see a familiar face. Who would have thought that after all these years I would visit his country and see him and his family?!

I was also busy looking for another job even thinking of relocating to far flung places like Singapore!

2013 - This was a year of learning I can say on hindsight. In January, I got to travel to Lebanon, a country full of history and many civilisations. The Phoenicians were here and the Romans too. Earliest civilisation dates more than 7000 years back! The ruins of Baalbeck, Anjar, Byblos, Tyre, Sidon....were all so awesome!

Then I left my job. Couldn't take it anymore and by June I was finally out. This time I decided to do my own thing. And I decided to do it right here in the Middle East all by myself! The registration of a company and getting a new visa....the paperworks....I did it all! I also engaged a friend even though her charges were pretty high as I just like her creative side for getting my website done. It's been quite an experience. The website is still under construction as of today! 

I also travelled extensively in India visiting places that I have always wanted to go. First to the Andamans right after Cyclone Phailin passed by. I nearly cancelled my flight but thankfully the Cyclone passed away without much damage. The Andaman islands are still untouched. Out of about 532 islands or so, only a few are inhabited. I would love to go back again.

Finally in November I travelled to God's Own Country, Kerala. I travelled extensively using the public transport, the State Bus. It wasn't easy as I was lugging 2 suitcases filled to the brim and an equally heavy handbag on my shoulders! On one of my trips, the bus I was travelling in broke down and we were asked to get off and catch another one! Of course all buses passing by were packed and now you have us trying to climb in and finding space. I managed with great difficulty as someone was kind enough to lend a hand with my suitcases! It was a nightmare!

For future travelling....I plan to buy a good backpack and consciously pack accordingly! "Pack half the clothes and carry twice the money" I aim to follow this going forward.

Coming to Kerala, I landed in Kochi (Cochin) and was off to Palamatam straight away. After a few days caught a Bus for Munnar to see the lovely tea estates. Then to Thekkady and Periyar for a couple of days before proceeding to Alleppey and Kumarakom. Thereafter took a really long bus trip down to Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum). The Kovalam Beach was not exactly what I expected it to be like but I just wish I had spent more time looking around. From here I travelled back to Kochi to see the city, look at the Chinese nets (see photo below) and finally headed to Kozhikode from where I took a flight back home.

2014 - Just realised January seems to be a favoured month for travelling/leisure. Is it because it's my Birthday month?! Ha ha!

This January I travelled to Yemen the mainland as well as to Socotra an island quite isolated and a third of its life plant is found nowhere else in the world. Here I digress....just a day before I flew to Yemen I conducted my first meet up for my company. It was a start.....again no regrets. I have learnt quite a bit since.

And in April, I took my first group to Socotra. The trip was a success if I may say so. Everything went off well. Inshallah there will be many more!

My 6 months celebration to the day when things started happening....not much of a celebration celebration but just remembering the day....the evening in Starbucks in Ibn Batuta hosting my first meetup, the drive, furious packing for my travel to Yemen the next day....thought I had it all. Some food, a glass of wine, watching movies on the telly and then I got a rude awakening!

It's 13 days since. Waiting for visas to be sorted out.....should be soon. Looking forward to working in a nice place....getting good vibes from a recent contact.

How does it get better than this? What else is possible? What is right about this I am not getting? All of life comes to me with ease, joy and glory.

Life goes on.....