Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Forwarded Email And Emotional Blackmail !

On an entirely different note from the other celebratory blogs of this month, here's a post on a topic I've been mulling over for quite some time. I receive numerous forwarded emails from well-meaning friends, most of which I enjoy. Some of them, I must admit, elicit appreciative laughter, and some of them make me go "Wow!". I'm happy to be the recipient of such emails that put a smile on my lips or make my heart sing. The bone I have to pick with is about those emails that need to be forwarded to a required number of contacts within a said number of minutes to enjoy a blessing or whatever, or else...! Let me confess... I never forward any such email, but promptly hit the 'delete' button without any qualms whatsoever!

I do not believe in chain mail that warn me of dire consequences or bad luck if the chain gets broken, but if I'm part of the unbroken chain, then I'd reap rewards untold. That's the best nonsense of the millennium and hardly do I give credence to such b.s. even for a split second. In the whole cosmic sequence of events, one simply can't bring on good karma by sitting on one's dainty bottom (I'm being decent here!) and forwarding emails of this kind. The other kind of email that makes me fume is the one that says Bill Gates is giving away his fortune to those who forward the said email, or the one promising me a new iPod or iMac (substitute this with cash or any other popular electronic item of the day) if I did the same. As if Bill Gates and Steve Jobs have nothing else worthy going on in their lives, and as if their only mission in life is to heap said rewards on recipients unknown to them!

Some of the forwarded emails are truly brilliant in creativity and ingenuity as I keep marveling at them and keep scrolling till the very end, only to find the last few lines asking me to forward them to all the folks in my contact list. I have better things to do, and being on autopilot, I hit 'delete' without any question. Of all the kinds of such email, the ones that rile me the most are those that use religion to emotionally blackmail me into forwarding them to others. "If you truly believe in Jesus, then send this to all the people you know," or some such crap implying that I'm not a true Christian or sadly lacking in Christian values if I didn't forward it to others. I see no need to prove to anyone that I'm a believer just by forwarding emails of this kind, so again..DELETE!

As we head into the New Year 2010, let me assure all the friends on my contact list that I do value and enjoy your funny, smart, intelligent, thought-provoking forwards, but if at all you do require me to forward them to others or keep the chain unbroken, then FUGGEDABOUDIT!!!!

Here's wishing one and all happy and sensible emailing in the new year!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Cool Yule!

Now is the time of the year to reflect on life's blessings and take stock of all that has happened in the months past. I MUST acknowledge with humble devotion and gratitude that despite all the accompanying downs that are very much a part of life, the ups take precedence of all kind! How lucky am I!!! I had a wonderful Christmas with the family and celebrated with utmost joy and thanks, the 14th birthday of the kid. Needless to say, it was a cool Yule, quiet and understated, yet overwhelmingly joyous and merry in its own way!

Though my faith as a Christian runs very strong and leads and sustains me through life's uncharted territory (excuse the cliche), I am definitely not the Bible-toting, regularly church-going, obsessively ritual-following kind of Christian. However, the family and I were extremely pleased to have attended on Christmas eve, a church that is just a stone's throw away from where we live now. The mood at the inter-denominational church was upbeat and festive, the message positive and hopeful, and the celebration truly joyous and uplifting. It was an awesome feeling to walk back home in the cold winter's night, reflecting on the service we had just attended!

Christmas Day being my son's birthday, there is always the wonderful feeling of God having granted us the best gift of all!!! Our son is truly a blessing, but we always have a muted celebration in deference to the birth of the Christ Child. Dinesh usually has a party in advance and so had his friends come over last weekend for endless hours of video games and fun. See picture below! On Christmas Day it was just the three of us, with all the attendant calls, of course, from friends and family to wish him well. Surprisingly, he did not have a wish list of gifts this year, which is quite unusual for a 14-year-old. His explanation: " I'm a more mature person now. I have developed morally...!" I just couldn't believe my ears...bah, the words of wisdom from the mouths of babes!!!

What with the lamb biriyani, chilli chicken, uppu kari (mutton fry), and onion and cucumber salad, accompanied by the requisite celebratory red wine and simple presents to each other, it was a day of gaiety and mirth in the Kanna household! In retrospect, it was a cool Yule indeed, and I'm truly thankful for all of life's blessings!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

An Enchanted Evening, Tequila Shooters, And More!!!

It's been fun so far this holiday season, what with the workplace party at the Empire Landmark, the staff lunch at Pasta Polo, the potluck party in class, and to top it all, an amiable, raucous and fun-filled party at Ewa's place last evening! Ewa and her handsome husband (sounds alliterative!) Jarek threw open their doors to ten of us and played the perfect, impeccable hosts (double emphasis here!) to us starry-eyed guests. It was a much anticipated evening of camaraderie and socializing, one that lived up to all our expectations! Yesterday being our last day of work before we closed for Christmas, it was only fitting that we ended it on a "high" note, both literally and metaphorically!

I had to enlist my husband's help (as I always do) in ferrying me to and from Ewa's place in Surrey. The time on the invitation said "6.30 P.M." and I thought I was being fashionably late by arriving at 6.40, only to realize that I was actually the first guest there. After I had been introduced to Jarek, and after popping my tandoori chicken and onion bhajias in the oven to keep them warm, I sat down on the couch to have a chat with Ewa. I must digress and talk about Ewa's beautiful house here. It was a magnificent home, so elegantly decorated and spotlessly maintained, a reflection of Ewa herself, I must say. The first thing that caught my eye was the real wood-burning fireplace, something of a rarity these days in our parts. Such fireplaces have been banned in newly built houses, which feature only gas or electric fireplaces nowadays. In fact, this was the first wood-burning fireplace I've seen in my 6 years here in British Columbia! Just as I was exclaiming about it, and as Ewa was pouring me a glass of red wine, the next set of guests arrived - Alan, Roz's husband, followed by Roz herself and my good friend Gayane.

The tour of the rest of the house had to wait because we were waiting for the others to show up. Slowly the momentum built up, replete with shared stories and jokes and raucous laughter. It was interesting to listen to our hosts' stories of their escapades in the Dominican Republic, their accounts of the ribald behavior of men in Greece, the need to bargain for goods around the world, and so on. All the others pitched in as well, regaling us with their own reminiscences of their travels, from Roz's experiences around the world, to Gayane's jinxed elevator rides, and Sandy's most recent celebrity spotting of the oh so hot Vin Diesel in LA! The wine, beer, vodka, and not to forget the tequila shooters in the kitchen for the bold and the brave (accompanied by the requisite Spanish chants, of course!), accounted for the rising decibel levels, needless to say. God bless Ewa's neighbors! The colorful spread of food was as varied and interesting as the guests ourselves, and when Jarek turned on the music system, it was time to trip the light fantastic toe! It was interesting to watch Esther swing her hips a la (insert appropriate accent here) Shakira, and Gayane as usual let her hair down with her smooth grooves on the hardwood floor. She truly had a match in Ewa, while the rest of us laughed and clapped and just soaked in the fun and excitement of it all! See the merry group below, kind courtesy of Ewa! I chose this one where we're consciously posing and all our faces can be seen! :) Note Ewa's delectable spread of short eats on the coffee table!

I have to go back to writing about Ewa's house. Inhabited by beautiful people as Ewa and Jarek and their sons Dorian and Oscar, it was a home where the walls echoed with cheer and laughter, and each room painted with the colors of love. Every nook and cranny of the house was opened up to us and we had a greater appreciation of Jarek's renovation of the house, from the ocean blue of Ewa's bathroom to the redone family room to the inviting deck invoking memories of summer barbecues and parties galore. The evening was a time for all of us to bond together, especially with our new faculty - Elena, Natalie, Neil, and Keith. It would be remiss of me not to mention Alan, Roz's genial husband, who seemed to fit right in and was very much a part of all the merriment and jollity.

After an evening spent with my wonderful hosts and friends, the husband and kid came to pick me up at 12.40,well past the "witching hour." The night was redolent of the Christmas gaiety and spirit as I sat back and reflected on all the cherished moments we'd just had. I drifted off into a deep slumber at 1.30 A.M. and slept like a baby for eight hours straight. No telltale headaches, no hangover this time, but just a warm, happy feeling and the afterglow of an enchanted evening, tequila shooters and more!!!

God's in His Heaven and all's right with the world...that's how I feel right now! Merry Christmas to you and yours, my friends!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Trimming The Tree And Memories Galore!

Vancouver had its first snowfall of the season this morning, after minus four degree temperatures last night. With the feathery snowflakes falling outside and some heavenly jazz playing inside our cozy home, my son and I were trimming our Christmas tree, as we chatted away about our fondest memories of the season. Each tree ornament had a fond story behind it and brought back memories galore from the past. With just that touch of snow, life's perfect, I thought, with a white Christmas just around the corner, but I couldn't help but think at the same time of all the Christmases past. My childhood holiday season had been way too much simpler, with none of the glitter or the glamor, yet fun-filled and pleasurable in its own way.

As the youngest of four children, I always watched in awe as my older siblings worked their magic on the family Christmas tree. Those were the days when synthetic trees, pre-lit trees or fiber-optic tips were unheard of. In a hot, humid city as my hometown, pine trees or any conifers were unseen, and ingeniously enough, the closest we could think of to a Christmas tree were casuarina branches that grew aplenty in the region. It always fell upon my two brothers to fetch home a worthy tree branch that could pass off for a Christmas tree. My sister joined them in decorating the branches with festoons of crepe paper and cheap tinsel. The ornaments were Xmas greeting cards tied to the branches with a piece of string threaded through the holes on top. There were a mish mash of colored paper balls and cut-out figures of Santa, snowmen, etc. thrown in the mix. The tree was simple enough, but brought about a great deal of childish delight in me.

Living in North America these past 13 years, we've thrown ourselves headlong into the Christmas experience, complete with a seven foot synthetic Christmas tree and glittering ornaments that outshine one another amid the twinkling, colored lights. Santas, snowmen, angels, fairies, silver, white, gold and red birds, pink elephants, golden shoes, colored hearts and shiny balls vie with each other for a hanging space on the tree - a sight relished by one and all. Each year after Christmas, each ornament gets carefully wrapped in tissue paper and goes into a special ornament box, only to come out the following year before Christmas. No wonder then that I've had most of them for more than ten years now. My sister gave me many of these ornaments and my son and I fondly recall the time each one joined our collection.

The Christmas season is always one of celebration, mirth, remembrance, thanks and nostalgia, and the tree that lights up our house reinforces the gaiety and exuberance of it all. Just like I have evergreen reminiscences of my childhood holiday season, it is my hope that my son builds for himself his own memories of Christmas in the coming years, and always looks back upon them with fondness and nostalgia.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

A Night Of Gay Abandon!

Funny how I've morphed into a party enthusiast though I've never ever been a keen party animal before! I actually had had no plans earlier of attending the workplace Christmas party, but the husband was the one who decided I ought to have some fun and encouraged me to go. He even promised to give me, and also my friend Gayane, a ride to the Empire Landmark Hotel on Robson in downtown Vancouver, the venue of the party. Gayane asked her son Artak to pick us up late in the evening, and he ever so graciously agreed to chauffeur us jolly women (read "tipsy!") safely back home.

Well, Roz, another colleague of ours decided to join us, and boy oh boy oh boy, didn't we three women have a blast! My husband and the kid drove us for an hour through insane traffic in the early evening hours and we were giggling like schoolgirls and talking incessantly on our way to the Crystal Ballroom. The topics ranged from our exploits around the world, to plans for Christmas, our international students, etc. etc., while the husband lamely volunteered a comment or two, and the kid valiantly tried to ignore our chatter by listening to his iPod. The truth was, we never gave the guys a chance to get a word in sideways! It looks like my son had some choice comments about our excitement, which he made to his Dad after we were dropped off and they were off to their sushi dinner downtown. The brat!

There were at least 150 people, our colleagues, elegantly dressed in their party outfits in the resplendent ballroom. The chandeliers were ablaze, reflecting the merriment on our eager faces. It was nice to see all of us professionals in a social setting! No more talk of Canadian Language Benchmarks or lesson plans or workshops or recalcitrant students! It felt great to unwind and let our hair down and hobnob with our colleagues from the various departments. Ewa, our manager, looked fabulous in her chic black dress (not to mention her shaking a leg to the Peruvian band!), and Claire, our instructional coordinator, did a fantastic job MC-ing the event. We were happy to reconnect with Christina who used to work with us and recently moved to another location. There was so much of oohing and aahing and hugging and grinning all around! The only one missing from our gang was Sandy "the Shoulders" Gidda, she of the figure championship fame who could put Michelle Obama's arms and shoulders to shame!The vodka and the Merlot and the beer were flowing fast, and the food was great to boot. When the chandeliers were dimmed and the strobe lights came on, with the DJ spinning his magic on the records, the flushed partygoers gravitated to the dance floor and began to "shake [their] groove thing, baby!"

Let me just say that we three ladies got home close to midnight, like Cinderella, after having to drag Gayane off the dance floor: "Gayane, Artak is parked outside, waiting for us...Come on, let's go!", I urged. She, who comes bundled up like an Eskimo in 5 degree weather, claimed she wasn't feeling cold at all on the street in the minus 2 degree temperature last night. Roz and Gayane felt we probably ought to have stayed on a little longer, but anyways, there we were, three happy women who had just had the time of our lives. We were back to our non-stop chatter in the car...I wonder what Artak thought of us! Interesting, what two glasses of Merlot can do to otherwise staid individuals!

The truth is, I woke up with the mother of all headaches this morning! The husband served me a cup of hot coffee with a much-needed Advil! I have a hammer-on-anvil concert going on in my head right now, but you know what, I'm grinning like a Cheshire cat and feeling more like a giddy-headed goat, if you get my drift! There's still the staff lunch on the 15th to which I'm now looking forward to. And maybe I'll go to Ewa's potluck party at her place on the 18th...the joie de vivre, excitement, and gay abandon of the holiday season are too potent to be ignored after all!