Thursday, April 29, 2010

Creative Tweets 2

Here are more of my tweets (140 characters including space and punctuation marks) for the week that I have just split into 4 lines each for convenience's sake:

Delectable dishes before me
Pizza, tacos, sushi and salads
But I long for the smells of my mother's kitchen
Mixed with her love divine!

On a lazy Saturday morning
I lounge around in my PJS coffee cup in hand
Using my imagination to turn my home
Into the sanctuary I deserve!

Viewed from my roofdeck
A tiny skiff pulls a lumber-laden barge
Hugely reminiscent of our burdens
As we go with the ebb n flow of life.

The rain pelting on my window
"Water Cycle" learned as a child
Is this the same water then, I wonder
That the dinosaurs of yore drank?!?

Eyes open, in my bed at 5.30 AM
The glorious yellow orb of the moon outside my window
Dissipating all of y'day's Full Moon angst

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Visit To The Law Courts

Teaching a class of immigrant students comes with its own perks and advantages. A core component of the curriculum is going on field trips and I make full use of it to educate my students about anything and everything they might have in mind about Canada. Yesterday, Gayane's class and mine went on one such field trip to the law courts in New West, arranged exclusively for us by the Justice Education Society of BC. Our students learn about English for the workplace, work skills, the Canadian workplace culture, labor market information, employability in Canada, and other related settlement issues. They learn about labor laws, working in BC, the court system in Canada, and so on, and it was in this regard that we got the unique opportunity of visiting the courthouse and watching the legal system at work.

We were met in the lobby of the courthouse by a Sheriff who explained the do's and the don'ts to all of us while the courts were in session. He also listed out a list of interesting trials that were going on in the different courtrooms. No wonder then that most of us zeroed in on a sensational murder trial that was on, one that involved cocaine trafficking, prostitutes, and a triple homicide! It was very difficult to believe that the innocent looking defendant could have been capable of committing such heinous crimes. It was quite riveting to watch the prosecutor and the defense attorney in action in the august presence of the judge, and considering that this was a high profile case, the entire action was behind bullet proof glass, with the arguments amplified by microphones for the benefit of the audience seated behind the glass barriers. We were free to walk into any of the courts that were in session, and we all took turns visiting the provincial courts on the second floor, the small claims courts, and also the superior courts. Quite a lesson about the legal system, I might say!

We also had the unique privilege of having a private session with Judge Steinberg, and what an interesting Q & A session that was! Mine was the first question for him: "As a judge, do you get to pick and choose the cases that you like or want? If not, who assigns the cases to the various judges?," I asked. From there, a volley of questions from the students kept flying, and I was quite proud that they all asked sensible questions indeed. Let me just say that even Judge Steinberg was impressed! He was very keen to find out where my students hailed from and having learned that they came from different parts of the globe, commented that this was possible only in Canada. True indeed, it was a valuable lesson of sorts for these new immigrants from Korea, China, Japan, Thailand, Russia, Mexico, Iran, Cambodia, Brazil, etc., etc. The judge seemed to have visited many countries himself, and when I told him I was originally from India, he asked me if I came from Madras. It looks like he had visited Madras a long time ago, and was interested to learn that the city has since been renamed Chennai.

The visit to the courthouse reinforced the fact that the judiciary is a vital part of any efficiently functioning country, and along with the executive and the legislative branches, forms virtually the backbone of a nation. The respect and deference accorded to the judge and the attorneys almost tempted me to abandon my teaching profession, join law school and take up a legal career in the future. How old is too old to start a new career? Who knows, perhaps I might!!!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Creative Tweets 1

Strange how boredom at times can lead one to creative spurts in the oddest of places. I take public transit to work every day and keep hopping off from bus to skytrain to bus, day in and day out. The commute can get kind of weary were it not for my Blackberry Bold. It's like a toy in the hands of an inquisitive child and I keep dabbling with it incessantly, just to ward off my boredom. I have become increasingly tech savvy, I must admit, thanks to my smartphone. Not only have I downloaded the Facebook app on my Blackberry, but quite recently the Twitter app as well. And I have learned to sync my tweets on Twitter with my updates on Facebook! :) God bless RIM and hallelujah to the smartphone!!!

For want of nothing better to do while on transit, I have started tweeting on the bus about things that I see or hear about. The limitations of having to tweet within 140 characters is an inherent challenge that I particularly seem to enjoy. The tightness of the tweet is really sweet, yet liberating in its own way. Here's my tweet about the cherry blossoms heralding the Spring season in Vancouver:

Pink and white cherry blossoms
A canopy above, a carpet beneath,
An endless wave of hues
Awash on the canvas of my soul.

The kid who I'm very proud of has told me not to brag about him on my blog or elsewhere. The proud mother that I am, I snuck in a tweet about him, much to his embarrassment:

My 14 year old, 6 ft. baby
Towering head and shoulders above me
Gentle giant, lovable monster
Energizing my life with meaning.

Much has been read and heard of the volcanic eruption in Iceland, but still, here's my tweet about it:

Volcanic eruption - molten lava, spewing ash clouds
Stranded airline passengers
Each made a modern-day Ulysses
On epic overland odysseys.

I hope these creative spurts continue endlessly. Happy tweeting to myself!!!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

On Being A Strict Non-vegetarian

I am by far a notoriously strict non-vegetarian who definitely lacks the will power and strength of mind to stay away from meat or seafood, the latter being my food of choice. I have the greatest of admiration for my friends who have converted to vegetarianism, but then again they are few and far between, few enough to be counted on the fingers of my hands. I have heard people tout vegetarianism with conviction and gusto, read countless printed material that preaches its merits and virtues, but just when I'm about to have a change of heart and turn vegetarian myself, the smell of fried fish or the sight of crab, shrimp, lobster, and other assorted seafood makes me dig in my heels. Can't say the same for meat though ... not a big meat lover, but I'm positive I definitely can't renounce seafood, EVER!

I'm the kind who goes to the aquarium, sees all these beautiful fish swimming in their tanks, and is assailed by an urge to rush home and cook some spicy fish curry for dinner. As if the right place for fish, in my mind, is the cooking pot and not the aquarium! Strange how the mind works! I guess I might have picked up this fondness for seafood from my paternal grandmother whom I used to visit during my summer vacation as a child. I would hold her hand and traipse along with her to the market on Sundays, and one of my favorite stops was always the fish stalls in the market where my grandmother would pick and choose the best ones to be cooked for lunch that day. I would watch the maid gut and clean the fish and prepare it for cooking, but it was always my grandmother who actually made the fish curry. She was the chef nonpareil, the connoisseur who took the making of fish curry to the level of an art form. She would have a special earthen pot singularly dedicated for cooking the fish curry, her belief being that the clay or mud pot brought out the unique flavor of the fish unlike a metal one. It did, I most certainly would say.

My father inherited this love for seafood from his mother, and I seem to have got the trait from him, I guess. I remember one of his postings in Kerala as an officer in the Southern Railways, and his living quarters was right next to the ocean. We would walk on the beach and buy freshly caught fish directly from the fishermen as they hauled their catch ashore, a memory etched in my mind to this day. I was a little child then, but I vividly remember eating fish for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and never growing tired of eating it for every meal. The same went for crab, prawns, and lobster. Cracking the crab shell was an art honed to perfection, and I remember my old grandmother getting at the succulent crab meat with a nicely rounded pebble/rock when she had lost her teeth and couldn't bite into the crab any longer.

Came the husband and the kid, and I find their tastes are quite different from mine. The husband and I eat a lot of vegetables, and of course, a lot of seafood as well, but the husband eats fish only when it's hot and freshly cooked. I, however, am of the opinion that fish curry tastes better when it ages a day or two( in the fridge, of course!). The kid, on the other hand, is a meat enthusiast. It's chicken every day for him, or the meal is not complete. Suits me very well, I should say. My love for seafood continues unabated and living virtually close to the Pacific Ocean has only helped me revel in it more! As for my vegetarian friends, my admiration for them keeps growing as well, in tandem with my love for the ocean inhabitants!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Spring Break To Remember!

Had a fantastic Spring Break 2010, one I'll remember for years to come! Nothing mind-blowing or spectacular, but a welcome break from my daily routine, 11 sweet days of unadulterated bliss! The husband and I lead very busy, mechanical lives, day in and day out. That's life for you in North America, with no time to stop and stare or take in the simple joys of life. The weekdays are tightly packed and humdrum, while the weekends are devoted to the inevitable chores around the house - dusting, vacuuming, mopping, doing the laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, etc., etc. - and before you know it, the weekend is over and another crazed week looms large ahead. This year my break was special because my sister-in-law Anu (who's visiting her daughter in Ohio) came to Vancouver, and the husband, kid, and I got to do the whole tourist thing with her.
Anu at Butchart Gardens

I turned the house upside down for Anu's visit, cleaning every nook and corner and crevice and cranny, only to be made fun of by my 14-year old. "Why are you cleaning the back of the cupboard doors with anti-bacterial wipes, Mom? D'you think Athai's (Aunty's) going to check behind the doors and give you an 'A' for cleanliness?," he went on with his ribbing, but I plodded on, giving the house a makeover because that's exactly when the house gets one, when visitors come a-knocking! I was sooo looking forward to Anu's visit because she's more of a friend to me than a sister-in-law, and we have a sort of great history together (which I can't say of anyone else from the husband's side of the family!), so I was determined to be extremely hospitable to her and make her stay as pleasant as possible for her! If I felt that way, you can imagine how the husband must've felt about his beloved sister's visit! An itinerary of places to visit was made, the freezer and fridge were over-stocked with her favorite items, the menu was decided ... all for just 9 days of her stay in Vancouver. The kid was quick to comment: "One would think Barack Obama was spending the Spring Break with us!" Not that he doesn't love his Anu Athai, but he just loves to pull his parents' legs and mock them from time to time! :)
The husband and I outside the solarium at Butchart
Anu dwarfed by the Inukshuk in Whistler

For me, it was a delight revisiting familiar places all over again for Anu's benefit - the ferry ride to Victoria, the extended walk in the drizzle around Butchart Gardens, the leisurely stroll around the streets of downtown Victoria, the mindless shopping spree at the Seattle Premium Outlets, the sights from the Space Needle and in Pike Place in Seattle, the feel of the driving wet snow against our faces in Whistler, the heart-stopping gondola ride from the summit of Whistler to Blackcomb Mountains, taking her around Vancouver's famous landmarks such as Stanley Park, Capilano Suspension Bridge, Science World, and so on, window-shopping at Metrotown, visiting the Olympic Oval in Richmond, strolling along the Quayside in New Westminster along the Fraser River, taking the Seabus across the Bay and looking for photo ops in Lonsdale Quay - the list goes on and on. Throw in our eating at our favorite restaurants, cooking for Anu at home in between our sightseeing jaunts, and of course our non-stop chattering and giggling like school girls - the entire Spring Break was a sensory delight, I must say!

Brother and sister on the Capilano Suspension Bridge
The happy but tired trio after an endless walk in the Sunken Gardens
Braving the cold on Whistler Mountain

It was with sadness that we put Anu back on her plane to Ohio. I was spoiled rotten by the husband during Spring Break, courtesy of his sister, and now it's back to the grind again. Like a willful child, I keep wondering why life can't be an endless vacation?!? My heart yearns for me to take off into the parts unknown, take each day as it comes, and live life to the fullest. Wishful thinking on my part, but I can at least hold on to the memories of my Spring Break 2010 with Anu for now!