Monday, August 31, 2009

indian travels

Because I was finally able to log into my old livejournal account for the first time in months...crap, I've been blogging longer than I remembered... and I don't want to forget these memories live from India:

2/22/07 09:12 am - Homeward bound

So after many adventures, I bid adieu to India tonight. I just returned to Delhi and am exhausted. The past few days have been a whirlwind of adventures.

I'm actually really sad to be leaving. To be honest, I feel like I was just starting to get to know India and now I'm leaving.

While in Udaipur, the guy that gave me the ride to the Ranakpur temple introduced me to his friends, and I spent the past 2 days hanging out with a random collection of his friends, all male, but super friendly and lovely. Went on a series of wild motorbike ride adventures, and trust me, when I mean adventures, I mean, 3 people on one bike, in traffic! And Indian traffic is NOTHING like Canadian traffic!!! Picnics in the country, parties in a restaurant. It was great fun. But it was great, even though I was oddly surrounded by about 15 men, I had a blast. And I got to see sides of India that I was able to see just as a tourist. So it was great. Yesterday I went to a picnic in the country, and when I had to leave to catch my train I was told that it sucks that I'm leaving so soon.

After Agra I was really looking forward to coming home, and I still am, but less than I was before. Don't want the adventures to end, or to have to return to reality again. And I definitely want to return to see the rest of Rajasthan and southern India.

Current Location: New Delhi

2/20/07 11:37 am - Udaipur

In Udaipur, having a good time. Relaxing. Thought that I'd go for a massage, but it looks like not. Went to Ranakpur yesterday, which was 2 hour drive through the country. It was beautiful. In Ranakpur there is an old Jain temple, which was nice, but the country drive was by far the best part of the trip. I love how even the poorest of women wear the brightest most beautiful sarees. It's something to behold, the desert landscape and women carrying baskets on their heads with bright blue, pink, green, orange and yellow dresses. I wish that I could have taken a picture, but alas, no such luck.

Actually I did something that was a bit crazy yesterday. I met this guy who after chatting for an hour, offered to drive me out to Ranakpur if I paid the gas. Now, of course my main thought was, ok, that's not really a good idea. But I took a chance and took him up on his offer. I know, I'd never have done that at home, and I could have gotten hurt... etc, etc... but here I am, safe and sound, and I had a lovely ride through the country for it. Actually I kept thinking of that line "I've always relied on the kindness of strangers..." from the movie " A streetcar named desire." I feel like that that line has been a theme for my adventures in India. In almost every city I've been in, there has been one person that has offered to take me somewhere, be it a tourist site that I can't go to alone as a woman, or a silk factory, or a private tour through the largest Sikh temple in Delhi... Each time that I've ventured out of the prescribed behaviour and decided to trust someone that I hardly know, I've been pleasantly surprised by the new side of India that I've discovered. In fact, more so than anything else, it's been these "risky" adventures that have made my trip. Crazy. The scams and touts, and attention I get here can be very tiring, but as I've said before, I think that travelling alone has also created opportunities that otherwise wouldn't have existed. All in all, I find the people here incredibly friendly and welcoming. Even if I am somewhat of a curiousity!

It's funny, I keep asking these people that go out of their way for me, why they're doing this, and the answer is always the same: Money isn't everything. You have to take time to live life and experience new things. Us talking and hanging out means practicing English, showing you things that you haven't seen so that you see the real India, and gives me the opportunity to meet a new friend. That has been the same answer I've been given by 5 different people. It's very intriguing. All I can say back is that in Canada it would be very unlikely that anyone would be so friendly and accomodating. Which is not to say that people are rude in Canada, but I don't know, it's just not anywhere near the same. Now of course, I'm not stupid, I also am aware that it is almost always men that offer these invitations, and that there is a veiled romantic interest behind some of these gestures. But with my trusty husband lurking in the background, most of that attention is neutralized and overt displays of intention are always avoided.

I was originally going to take a tour bus to Ranakpur, but when I got to the tourist bureau I was actually told that it's currently the off season. Yeah, I'm a bit surprised, but apparently the prime season is from Oct to Jan. If I just missed the rush, I can't even imagine what the peak season must be like!

Off to finish my souvenir shopping today. Where I'm going to put these souvenir, damn if I know! But somehow I'll find a way. I think I might be leaving some old things behind! Didn't really need that towel, or that grey t-shirt!

Udaipur is very quiet in comparison to everywhere else I've been, but it's relaxing. I'm enjoying the down time. Anyways... a shopping I will go!

Current Location: Udaipur

2/18/07 12:06 pm - Elephants, camels, and monkeys

Wow, I have to say that there are more of you out there reading this than I expected. Thanks for the feedback.

Latest photos.... (omitted... see original blog:

Elephants at Amber Palace in Jaipur.

Snake charmers:

Random woman in Amber, Jaipur. I just thought it looked pretty!

You might not get the effect, but this room is covered in mirrors, it was really beautiful actually. Also in Amber, Jaipur. Apparently it's even better in candlelight.

Moving on to camels:

I actually saw a camel with patterns similar to the flowers on the elephant trunk above shaved into the camel's behind... All I could think was: "Alice the camel has a shaved butt..." Didn't get a picture unfortunately as we were driving by it. It just seemed random to shave a pattern in the camel's backside when it's pulling stuff...

Next up, monkeys!

I went to a Monkey Temple in Jaipur, but it was full of people for some festival, so I didn't get to spend any quality time with the monkeys. In fact, I sort of ended up feeling like a circus monkey myself with all the hellos, hi, namaste, namaskar, and random handshaking going on. It was funny because one woman reached out to shake my hand, which was surprising because it was the first time that an adult female shook my hand, and she started giggling after she did it. Something tells me that it was her first handshake with a white woman. What do you think?

So all these people were there doing puja in these baths, men in one, women in another. Here's one:

Next I went to this fort called Jaigarh, it was pretty spectacular actually. It was in the middle of this barren landscape, totally remote. It felt like I was all alone in silence, and then there was this amazing garden with the following view:

The picture doesn't do it justice. It was probably the most beautiful place I've been to in India. I can't even begin to describe how fantastic it was. You needed to experience the solitude in order to feel how this garden was this oasis in the midst of nowhere.

Final visit was Nahargarh fort. The fort wasn't as thrilling to me as Jaigarh was, but the painting done throughout the building was intriguing.

So that was it. I decided to head to Udaipur after all. Shopping be dammed, I don't have any room left in my bag anyways. Think that I'm going to have to buy a 2nd bag. That or get rid of some stuff, or mail things home. Not sure which choice I'll take. In Udaipur now, and am glad that I made the decision to come, it's very beautiful here and I'm just going to take the time to relax. Read, medidate, try some yoga and a massage.

Current Location: Udaipur

2/15/07 10:44 pm - New photos

Ok, 5 pictures for your viewing pleasure!

Varanasi, take 1:

Varanasi, 2:

The Taj Mahal, Agra (partial view)

Marya, at the Baby Taj, Agra (detail carvings... might be sideways due to technical difficulties?)

Hawamahal, Jaipur (visited today, Feb 15th)

Current Location: Jaipur

2/15/07 05:15 pm - Rajasthan

Ok, I think it's official. Jaipur is my favourite city to date! I love it so much I might just stay here for the rest of my trip. Rajasthan (an Indian state) is beautiful and clean (almost on par with Montreal) and my hotel is amazing. The owner came and picked me up personally, is super nice and his hotel is beautiful. I'll take pictures and try to post them later. My room is super cheap so not much to write about, but the restaurant and hotel in general are lavish and exotic. Might try to splurge and upgrade. If I went to Udaipur I'd be paying double what I pay right now, so I figure if I go up 1/4, I'm still paying less. Then I'd have a room to write about.

And the shopping... let's just say that I'm going to need a bigger box! (or suitcase for those who don't get that!)

The surrounding landscape is fantastic, the people are fine, not as bad as Agra and Delhi, but more children begging. But did I mention the shopping? I'm drooling. I mean, do I want 1 pair of sandals or 10? Ok, ok, 5...

And I finally found an appropriate gift for the boy to say thanks for taking care of the kitty. Thank god, it was starting to stress me. Somehow I didn't think silk would be his thing, you know?

Went wandering today, checked out the big central sites. Very lovely. And there's so much more that I want to see, around Jaipur, in Jaipur, etc. I should have just come to Rajasthan I think. Like it so much more than anything else I've seen so far. It feels like what I expected India to be. Anyways, tonight I'm headed to see a Bollywood flick, all in Hindi, so I'll have NO CLUE what's being said. 3 hours of not knowing... We'll see if I make it that long.

Apologies for my last Agra post, I really didn't like Agra, wanted to leave sooner and should have. One day was more than enough. Suffice to say that I'm feeling much more positive and really enjoying myself here. Body weary again from walking, but in a good way.

Met this guy from Slovackia (sp?) who is going to see some tigers... thought I might join him, but I might have missed my ride while wandering the city. Alas, what can you do? That's fine, tigers weren't really big on my list of things to do anyways. It would have been nice to have some company and have seen more of the countryside, but I think that given all the things that I want to see in this region, I should be able to check scenic country views off the list! Tomorrow I'm going to try to head to a Monkey temple and see a puppet show at night. Should be interesting. And I have to find out if my hotel can actually accommodate me for another few nights. We'll see.

So my ATM card doesn't work in India and most places don't take credit cards, or if they do, you have to be careful! Go figure. So I had to withdraw cash from my credit card today from Thomas Cook travel. Thankfully they do so, otherwise I'm on my last few dollars from the travellers cheques. Maybe that was part of the reason that I hated Agra so much, money stress. It was really complicated to get travellers cheques cashed there and when you found a place they charged way too much. I literally cashed enough to get out of town!

Trying to think what else to share. The train was late again, by 5 hours. Seems to be the norm. Though listening to the loudspeakers, I have to say that I've heard 6-8 hours being listed as delays. How a train gets delayed that much puzzles me, but who am I to question Indian trains!

With that, I'll sign off. I have nothing that exciting to report, except for that things are going better and that if you had to stay somewhere in Jaipur I'd recommend where I'm staying hands down. It's pretty sweet, even by Canadian standards!

Current Location: Jaipur

2/13/07 04:47 pm

So I think that the norm for my India travels is a combination of loving and loathing each destination in question.

The Taj Mahal was anti-climatic and cost me 20$ to see... soooo not worth it, especially considering that it started pouring while I was there. Given all the monuments I've now seen, it was really just a bigger version of things I'd seen before, for much less! So it really felt like a rip off actually. But whatever, I've seen it.

The rickshaw drivers in Agra are really something else. They just don't take no as an answer. I've ended up yelling at them to leave me alone. That's how bad some of them are. It's really frustrating. All in all, Agra is not my favourite place.

However, that said, the Red Fort here is lovely, I had a really funny rickshaw driver yesterday, and my hotel is the best I've stayed at so far. So there are positives. The really hot shower, the first I've had since arriving in India, I think takes the prize! I feel clean for once in my life... Using a squat toilet for.... is the true low point!

I leave first thing tomorrow morning and I'm happy to go.

I think that all of the hassling: buy a postcard, a snowglobe, a richshaw ride, an auto-rickshaw ride, have a cup of chai with me, see lovely jewelry, marble... etc, etc... Chocolate, rupee, money, food, please, 1 rupee... it's just starting to wear me down. I feel like my whiteness marks me as a target. Or just my foreign status... I feel like I'm being expected to be this rich donator, or person to scam because there is this perception that I have money... and I don't, not really. I feel like on some level I'm being held to this standard of accountability, or this idea of wealth that doesn't really exist for me. Now granted by comparison, I am wealthy, but I hate saying it but I feel like as a foreigner I'm expected to pay, I'm expected to remedy the situation for the people approaching me. And as awful as it sounds it's starting to anger me because I look at the way that these people that expect this of me are treating each other and at times I'm horrified.

Maybe it's just Agra. But I saw a kid left to wander the streets full of traffic be hit by an auto-rickshaw driver, when the kid wasn't paying attention and walked into the rickshaw, and then have the family freak out on the driver for being a bad driver... never mind being a bad parent! I've seen dogs with legs broken in the middle of the road with people walking by it while it howls, and they're completely indifferent. Did you know that cows will eat garbage? Or that a sadhu, this holy wandering hermit of sorts, will yell a dog and her puppies, spit on them and throw rocks, and then ask for money from me. Parents that wack their children, hard, in public, shit in the street, piss, spit. Traffic so backed up and crazy that it's frightening! I would NEVER drive here! But I don't know, it's not just Agra, but I think that Agra has become the point where my tolerance has been pushed to its limits. You know?

Don't get me wrong, there are things that I'm loving. How friendly people can be, how helpfully (when wary of the scam), how interesting the culture is, the architecture, the way of life. I could never live in a city here, it's pure madness. But on the other hand, the beauty of the landscape is fantastic, and the places where you find tranquility, precious and magnificent. Maybe it's the contrast, maybe it's just the location itself. I don't know, but they can really be something else.

People say you either love or hate India. I can't say it's one or the other. I think my experience would have been very different had I come with another woman, or more so if I'd come with a man. Being alone has at times afforded me the opportunity to sit down with a local over a chai and get to know more about the culture or city. Overall, what strikes me the most is really the gap between rich and poor, and the indifference to it that is exemplified at all levels. It's really something else! I suppose it's understandable, I'm working on the premise of being indifferent in order to get by.

If I ever came back again, I think that I'd go south, or north to the mountains, and stay in villages. Indian city life is a bit too intense for me. People say that it's real, or raw, and I guess that I agree. But in a way that's not so positive as they tend to spin it. I feel like the rawness is there, but only because there are so many people and an inability to support it within the infrastructure. I guess that despite it all, as much as I have loved parts of my trip, India really makes me feel like I'm part of the problem. What we have is not the norm and our glass palace will have to shatter sooner or later, because places like India are bursting at the seams. I'll end my diatribe before launching into a full out rant.

Anyways... don't know if this sounds too negative, but really it's what I've been pondering while here.

Current Location: Agra

2/10/07 12:40 am - last day in Varanasi

It's pouring! Torrential downpours pouring! And I went on a rip roaring motorcycle ride in the rain to visit a silk factory. I saw silk being made by machines, and by hand, and bought some pretty things! It was fun. I'm drenched and will be leaving the city in a few hours, but it's definitely ending on a good note, even despite the rain!

Yesterday I went to Sarnath, saw where Buddha gave his very first sermon... It was a bit underwhelming actually. But I had a bicycle rickshaw ride, which was nice. Very cool as I could see everyone and everything. Had conversations with people on other rickshaws, waved at kids, felt very much like a memsahib! Which was somewhat disturbing. Not sure that I like feeling like the rich lady with the servant... will probably stick to auto-rickshaws from here on in. But I did it once and it was an experience.

That's it for now. Going to have a cup of chai.

Current Location: Varanasi

2/7/07 10:05 am - Live from Varanasi (aka: Benares)

Arrived in Varanasi today. Survived a very long train trip and learned that Indian trains don't identify the station. The only reason that I was sure that I was at my stop was because the people sitting with me were also getting off at Varanasi. Hopefully I will be so lucky in future rail experiences!

I don't even know where to begin since my last post. I've been so busy that I literally crawl into bed each night physically exhausted. Which despite how it sounds, is a good thing!

My last days in Delhi were full, saw pretty much everything that I wanted to see and then some. Hung out with this guy that offered to be my tour guide, free of charge... I bought him dinner as payment. Which meant that I was able to experience some local culture and go places that a girl alone can't go (namely to the top of this tower that gives a great view of the city). The next day I started off alone, and ended up with a driver that drove me all over and then gave me a personal tour of the famous Sikh temple. While also taking me to a bunch of shops. The drivers all get a pay-off if they bring in tourists, even if they don't buy. So I went to 3 and he earned 300 rupees. The same happened the next day, but I managed to get a free ride for agreeing to go to various shops for him. Hell, they make more money off of that than the actual fare. And all I have to do is say no, just looking. Well actually it's a bit more complicated than that, they are very good at what they do, the salespeople here. It's hard to say no, and put up an argument that they don't try to undo... but I stood strong!

Varanasi is proving to be an interesting city. It's a dirty maze. Literally covered in cow shit! Oh yes, I'm serious. And it's super easy to get lost because it's a crazy web of side alleys in the Old city. Crazy. But the people are surprisingly nice, and I don't feel as harrassed by them in terms of the sales, or sexual innuendo. In fact, for the most part the people here have been lovely and helpful. Now if only I could say the same about the Ganges and the burning ghats (where they cremate their dead). It doesn't smell as bad as I thought it would, there is that! I really thought that human flesh would be an awful smell... but it's on par with bbq... with more smoke? Ok, maybe not bbq (no smell of sauce and I don't want to eat!)

Oddly enough the drug scene here is pretty pronounced. I've been offered hash at least 3 times. Totally taken aback by that, but whatever. No way in hell am I repeating Amsterdam!

There's some sadhu festival going on right now, so there's a random collection of gurus, men covered in ashes, naked, etc walking around the place or hanging out in make-shift tents. It's interesting.

Going to explore the city tomorrow, try to see some temples, then take a ride on the river. I actually think that I might have over-estimated the amount of time I need here in Varanasi, but my train ticket out is booked, so I'll just take it easy for a couple of days. Go on a sweets tour, watch them make fabric and carpets, and try to go to Sarnath, which is where the Buddha went after attaining enlightenment. It's only 8km away, so totally do-able!

All this to say that despite the ups and downs, I'm enjoying my stay immensely. The poverty is very pronounced, but oddly enough, not as bad as I thought it would be. I think it's because it's sometimes hard to distinguish between abject poverty, poverty and existing here. The line doesn't seem to be clear. Moreover, for some reason, even though it's in your face all of the time, it's easy to ignore. Maybe because it's just everywhere that you become desensitized? The standard of living is so different. I'm staying in hotels that I would considered dumps back home and wouldn't dare spend the night in, but am quickly coming to see that by the majority of Indian standards, they are perfectly decent accomodations. Crazy!

Anyways, going to sign off, have a cup of chai, relax and read a book. Woo hoo!

Current Location: Varanasi

2/6/07 10:05 pm - Pictures from my first day in Delhi

Don't worry, it's just a selection!

First stop: Qutb Minar

The colours aren't great, because ironically, it was too bright!

More of the Qutb

Inside the ruins:

Next: Lodi Gardens (also known as lover's lane... ok, not really but it might as well be.

More photos to follow later. It takes a long time to upload them, so when I'm less tired!

Current Location: Delhi

2/4/07 06:10 pm - What to say about my first day in India?


Got in last night, took 2 hours to get out of the airport. My ride was still there, thankfully. Trip into town was fine until we hit the Paharganj distinct. I honestly felt like I was being driven into a slum. I had a moment of panic that I was about to be scammed, or worse, left at the mercy of my cab driver! But we arrived, and it was fine. Saw a dog and a cow eating trash in the middle of the road, lanes are completely optional here, shanty shacks on the main drag, a woman walking in the middle of the street talking to herself (not that different than Mtl!), and my cab driver harrassed me into giving him a larger tip. And my hotel room is dirty. The real highlight of my evening was experiencing my first "Eve teasing." This guy in the car next to me was staring at me so intensely that it was not only unsettling in its letcherousness, but also in the idea of road safety. I felt like he was going to drive into my taxi and run me off the road. But on the positive side, no cochroaches or bed bugs (yet!) Whatever, as long as I don't know about them, I'm prepared to co-habitate in ignorance. Yeah, so on the cab ride into the city I went from feeling like ok, this is it, it's ok, I'm ok to crawling into bed thinking what have I done!?

Got up at noon today, wandered through the area I'm staying, not as slum like in the day!, was less slummy in feel, thank goodness! Went for breakfast (lunch) at this place that was recommended by my guidebook in this area. Watched 2 cochroaches run across the floor. Little to medium sized. And I still ate a croissant and had tea. Figure I might as well get used to them!

I have to say that it's been an interesting day. Again I've fluctuated from feeling like I can't handle this to feeling like no, I'm good, this is fun. I'm constantly being approached, everywhere, by men, always. And everyone is trying to sell you something it seems. There have been a couple of genuine exceptions, but as a rule it's always the same. If it's not to sell you something from their store, or try to harrass you into taking a cab ride, or trying to accompany you into a store so that they get a commision on anything you buy, then it's to look you up and down. It's very tiring! But some are better than others at taking the no. Everyone asks me where I'm from, and they all have friends in Canada.

The last one commented on the fact that I was smiling and seemed happy (I was, because the last "scam" had been very forthright and good natured and we'd had a pleasant conversation). So this one asks me again, where am I from, and when I say Montreal, he asks if I speak French, when I say yes, he asks me if I can translate a letter that a friend sent him. Sometimes it's easier to say yes, so I did figuring it was harmless. Oh no, I went into his shop only to find myself reading a personal recommendation about travel tours. Then was told that my plans weren't going to afford me the time or ability to see various things. I said yes, I know, but what can you do, India's a big place and there's no way I can see all of it. And I've booked my train tickets, so I'm set. Then I'm told that my tickets can be cancelled, etc, etc, etc... So finally I get out and a guy who'd tried earlier tried again. Telling me that I need to be open to India and to trust, even though if he was in my shoes....

So I'm exhausted!

But on the positive side, I was approached by one guy who was very nice, sat and had tea with him and had a lovely conversation about Delhi. He didn't try to sell me anything, just wanted to chat and see what my impression of the city is thus far.

Oh, and I'm wearing a fake wedding ring... and everyone asks if I'm married, how old I am... but half don't ask my name! The most common response is why isn't my husband with me, I'd get harrassed less. Go figure!

Anyways, long post ends now. Going to seek food, in a hopefully hidden cochroach zone! :{

Then I think it's bed. I'm exhausted. Old Delhi is the plan for tomorrow.

Current Location: Delhi

2/3/07 11:37 am - Dubai

London: check!

Had a great time. Finally saw the Tower of London, Big Ben, etc, etc. Felt like I spent more than 2 days there, it was full of adventures. The weather was beautiful, 12 degrees to be exact. Felt like spring. Rode on a double decker (ok I've done that lots before...), drank wine in a wine cellar bar, very cool but not for the clausterphobic! Follow the link if you want to see what I mean:

Helped the friend pull (pick up for us regular Cdn types) an interesting bloke! Drank way too much while I was there.

Saw the Phantom of the Opera, never seen that before. Check and done, more things off the list of things to do before....

Flew to Dubai with Emirates air, which is a pretty sweet airline. I mean, you're still squished like sardines, but the service wsa pretty sweet. Movies, games, great food... yeah, I was impressed. Which is strange to say, but so far, they've been the best airline that I've flown with.

Anyways, going to go check out the airport. Never been the only white girl (or one of the few) before. I'm both interestingly aware and not aware of it. Strange I know, but whatever.

Only 2 more hours until I leave for Delhi. Woo hoo! I'm soooo excited.

The Catholic Marriage Preparation Course

All in all, it was better than I expected. There were aspects that were inspirational and irritating. Taken in context of it being a Catholic marriage course, it was far more liberal than I would have ever anticipated.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the courses pros and cons:

  • The entire conversation about living together before marriage and the arguments that couples who live together take longer to get married and statistically are more likely to separate. I won’t go into the details (cause it would be a long rant) but suffice to say that statistics can be manipulated to prove pretty much anything and that, um hello; you’re preaching to the choir… we were all there because we’re getting married! (most of us in less than 6 weeks)
  • The anti-abortion/birth control stance. Taking the pill isn’t an acceptable form of birth control because low grade estrogen pills essentially work by preventing an embryo from attaching to the uterus’ wall, thus technically being an abortion in the eyes of the church. I get that the church is against abortions, I do. But it rubs the wrong way. It really, really does.
  • That children, or being open to children, is such an integral part of what marriage means to the church. It accepts infertility but not the choice to remain child-free.
  • The pre-marital sex talk. Seriously. Its fine to talk about the hyper-sexualisation of our society and how we need to bring the sacred back into the act, but enough is enough. The room was full of people, some of whom already had kids together.
  • And seriously, if they mentioned pornography as an addiction/sin one more time, I was going to scream. I get it. Looking at porn creates false sexual expectations; it objectifies, and takes away from the quality time in a relationship. But only 2 speakers out of 10 DIDN’T mention it. What about when porn can actually be beneficial to a couple?

  • Really focuses on teaching both members of the couple that marriage was about doing the work and making sacrifices for each other in order to grow together (I know what there’s a knee jerk reaction to the word sacrifice, but they really did a nice job of making the idea real and very positive. I was very inspired by this particular aspect of the course).
  • Reinforcing that sexual fertility/prevention was the responsibility of both partners. Obviously the church is against condoms and birth control but in the discussions about family planning (using charting methods), they really reinforced that by having to have the discussion about whether we can or can’t have sex at this point in time, that both couples become accountable for fertility. Now in theory, this may have some loopholes and drawbacks to it, but I appreciate the idea that they were trying to teach couples that it isn’t solely a female responsibility. And bonus props for discussing (briefly) the environmental impact of contraception and the need to take it into consideration when making our choices.
  • That for all of the stereotypes of Catholics breeding like bunnies, they really emphasized responsible child planning. Having 7 children only works when you have the means and that there is no shame is saying, no, we don’t have the means or space or… [Insert reason] to have another child. And that the woman who was teaching us about charting only has 2 kids after 20 years of marriage. So it wasn’t just all talk!
  • Best of all: that it was nice to be in a room with people in the exact same place (often for the same reason (family pressure) as us) and that it really reinforced our decision and made me really grateful and excited about the choice/step we are taking together.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

cosmetic surgery in India

According to this CBC article, cosmetic surgery and skin bleaching are on the rise in India.

From the article:

 But, some say this desire to look European is deeply rooted in India's history and psyche because of the centuries of British colonialism and subjugation.
"We ape the West," says Susie. "We were ruled for 200 years by white people so it shows that a certain amount of power came with being white. White is beautiful. And beauty is power, right?"

While this may be true to some extent (I don't disagree that colonisation encouraged and reinforced such thinking - in fact the entire Aryan/Dravidian historical explanation for caste seems to be a creation of western orientalism), I think it may be a fallacy to lay all the blame for such attitudes at the feet of colonial rule. The fact is, texts like the Mahabhrata do reinforce some of the colonial interpretations associated with colour division in castes (although they did go and create a 2 race mythos to justify higher castes) as such, the infatuation with lighter skin does seem to predate European invasion/rule.

I'm still trying to work through my thoughts on the issue and will definitely have to do some research on the issue of skin colour bias and whether it really predates the British in India, and if it does, did the Portuguese have anything to do with it (as they arrived earlier). And I wonder how much of the light/dark caste division in the vedas and other texts is actually pronounced or based on cultural bias in interpretation.

Food for thought...

Friday, August 28, 2009

the agnostic attends a catholic marriage preparation course

photo credit

This weekend the boy and I are off to our Catholic marriage preparation course. It starts tonight at 7pm and lasts until Sunday at 4pm. (We go home at night…) I’m not really sure what to expect out of the experience. Couples we know who have done the course before us have all said that they enjoyed it but I’m not really sure if we’ll feel the same.


I suspect the main reason will be because we already live together and the couples we know weren’t living together before they got married. Things like finances, chores, and children are all things we’ve discussed before and continue to discuss. We’re 32 and 33, not 24. There may be some surprises, but I think we have a pretty good handle on things. We’ve talked about all of the important issues so far.

Faith, responsibility, values: check.
Sex, money, and family: check.

Besides, I have to admit to feeling trepidation about being completely honest in the course. Am I really going to be able to honestly express my views on religion and our decisions about religion in a room full of Catholics? I’m sure that other couples there won’t be devout Catholics, but what about the leader? What about the practicing Catholics? Worse yet… can we fail the course if I don’t toe the line? GRRRRR…

I’m sure we can’t actually fail the course, but I do feel a bit like the lone witch about to face the Spanish Inquisition. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes…

Thursday, August 27, 2009

15 seconds of wedding fame

Tee hee, wedding glee...
My ring books made it to the Offbeat Bride blog

hippie crunchy baby mama...

My morning commute was long this morning. The highways are packed. In fact, as soon as I saw that the traffic on the Met (the highway I take to work) was bumper to bumper, I turned up my radio and decided to enjoy the music as I settled in for a long drive.
Which also gave me time to think…

This morning I read a blog post that started off with passport pictures 10 years apart and this got me to thinking about my own span of passport images. (I’ll have to dredge them up for a photo op). My very first passport picture (the one that I took with me to Europe at the tender age of 18) features yours truly sporting long flowing hippie hair and a black hippie style top (more about that top later). Now, that combined with the fact that I have been blessed or cursed with sleepy eyes (I’ve been told I have bedroom eyes (when not thinking about sex), like I’m about to cry (when I’m perfectly happy), or that I’m completely disinterested (when I’m actually paying attention and thinking about what’s being said) because of said eyes throughout my life)… anyways… Given the combo of eyes and fashion at the time, it really is no wonder at all that during my trip to Europe, I was approached by a stranger on the Paris metro asking if I wanted to buy any weed.

The irony behind this? That my type-A self was not up for buying pot from a stranger and getting stoned in a strange city. No flippin’ way. Next stop on the Euro tour, Amsterdam, only served to reinforce my reasons way this girl will never again partake an unknown city. I do not like not knowing where I am, being too dumb to think, trying to communicate in foreign languages, and find my way about town. Yeah, maybe I wouldn’t admit it then, but now I’m comfortable acknowledging that I’m far too type-A for that type of adventure!

But back to that top. I loved that top. I wish I still had it now. It’d totally still wear it, provided that it still fit. In fact, rummaging through my make-up box this morning, I found my old perfume from my younger days, and putting it on, found myself filled with nostalgia for my former hippie crunchy self. Oh, no worries, my inner crunch has never completely gone away, she’s just a little more urbane and less idealistically polemic these days (really, I swear it’s true even if it doesn’t seem like it at time when reading this blog). Just you wait, in a few years she’ll be resurfacing though. I’m totally going to go earth baby mama when I get preggers.

Yup, I’ll be the mom wearing the baby wrap, dancing barefoot in the living room, making organic baby foods, and finances willing, travelling the world, baby wrapped and in tow. Oh yes, one day probably not so far away from now… (Paul would be horrified that I’m sharing that on this blog, particularly because I do so in the same post that I talk about weed (HA)… thank god for him, his friends don’t read this!) Whatever. In fact, I’m fully looking forward to crunchy baby mama days. I actually look forward to having my own child to frolic with. Although children can be restricting, in some ways I’m really looking forward to the way that they can also allow you to be freer with your expressions.

Talking out loud, totally ok when you have a baby.

Dancing alone in your living room? Considered cute and adorable when you do it with a baby!

Playing in the sand… a sign of a good mom.

Yup, for all of my worries about the restrictions of motherhood, losing my identity, difficulties in travel, financial stress, etc, etc, etc… I think the fact that I will finally be able to dance around in the living room without seeming like I’m crazy is a definite perk! And I’m willing to admit that I fully intend on making the most of it. Oh yeah, baby, it’s gonna happen!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

lizzie miller ~ glamour photo shoot

In case you haven't seen this Glamour photo of 20 year old model Lizzie Miller or read reader responses, you should check it out.

She's a beautiful, plus size model. That's right. Plus size. Looking around at society, I would hardly call this size 12 woman plus sized. In fact, she looks pretty average sized to me. So what the hell does that say about media and our perceptions of health and beauty if this women is dubbed as a plus size (particularly given the fact that a size 12 isn't even in the range of clothing associated with being overweight...) How does a size 18 or size 22 woman process being told that this woman is overweight and measure themselves up in comparison?

Monday, August 24, 2009

reasons to stay single, or never let my boy go...

I have nothing more to say other than OMG!!!

back to school

Today Montreal college students start their fall semester and the halls are filled with energy and questions as new students search for their classrooms and people to help them out. The difference is remarkable and really reminds me of the excitement of new beginnings that those of us in the Northern hemisphere associate with the fall. As much as I experience it while standing in the sidelines, I have to admit that the school geek that I am, longs to start a new course, pencils and clean notebooks in hand.

Once upon a time, I loathed school (actually twice upon a time) and couldn't wait to leave and find work, make money and stop having to do homework. Now I sort of crave it again but realize that now is not the right time to return to the classroom, be it as a teacher or as a student.

Which brings me to another realization today: I'm not teaching this fall, something that fills me with relief and sadness at the same time. I don't know if I'm a good teacher or not, sometimes I cross the line between professionalism and privacy with my students, and sometimes I'm just tired and don't give my students the energy and preparation they deserve (I'm sure I'm not alone in this), but be that as it may, I'm going to miss my students this semester. Because for all that I dislike marking, working with students is something that I love doing. I love preparing a course that they've enjoyed and I love hearing their responses because even though sometimes I feel disheartened by their lack of originality (I've heard it all before...), other times I am awestruck by their creativity, energy and humanity.

This might sound corny, but as much as people can drive me nuts, my students fill me with love and wonder. Not because I love them in any individual way (hell, most of the time I hardly know them) but because I love watching them work through their discoveries and seeing them grow and learn new ideas. In many ways though, because I hardly know them, I get to see what's best in them (without all the trappings that really knowing someone tends to impose on our perceptions of them). It's really an amazing gift that, when I remember to step back and appreciate it, is just fantastic and makes me think that teaching truly is, if you can put up with the drawbacks, one of the best professions. But trust me, despite the fact that I'm waxing sentimental right now, I am not unaware of the many drawbacks of the field.

Michael Moore's Capitalism

According to Michael Moore, it's both a love story (an abusive one) and a comedy:

For all of Moore's flaws and heavy handed polemics (which, I admit, I tend to agree with for the most part - with clauses) I am looking forward to seeing his most recent attempt to stick it to the man! I expect it to be a response or sequel of sorts to The Corporation, of lesser quality but larger blockbuster appeal, thus more punching power.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

the tudors

Lately I've taken to watching the TV show The Tudors. While Jonathan Rhys Meyers isn't exactly what I envision Henry VIII to have been (starting with the fact that he's far too scrawny), he does a decent (though not great) job catching his tempestuous nature.

Anyways, I'm not looking to critique the show.. it's entertaining enough as is. What does strike me about the show is related more to historical accuracy. Watching the show makes me wonder about the accuracy of the re-creation and about the truly astounding success of Elizabeth I's rise out of such an environment. If you read historical accounts of Henry VIII's reign, they all talk about how his time was a period of enlightenment and humanism, though I'd be pressed to believe that that's what the average person recalls when they think of his reign vs Elizabeth I's reign.

I would wager that despite all of his great achievements, history will always remember him as the fickle, womanizer who left one wife after another in his quest for a son and to appease his lust. For all that he accomplished, he is remembered for having been ruled by his dick. Maybe that is crass, but true nonetheless.

What really strikes me as I watch the show (accuracy issues aside) is how hard it must have been for both Mary and Elizabeth to have reigned when then men around them were so determined to undermine them. That Elizabeth rose to such greatness is a testimony in and of itself. I know she had her flaws but I think history has been far gentler to her memory than that of her father. Just random thoughts, prompted by watching the show...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Elizabeth Gilbert: Inspiration, Creativity, and Sequels

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love is putting out a "sequel" of sorts in January 2010 called Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage (see NYTimes) and I have to admit that I'm looking forward to it.

I was originally skeptical about the Eat, Pray, Love hype (I'm a true pop culture cynic, what can I say) but picked it up last summer, read it, and loved it. Did it change my life? No. Did it speak to me? Yes. Am I going to follow the same path/search she did? No. However, I think she makes it clear in many of discussions about the book and her experiences, that this was never the intention. Fame being fame, of course people have tried to emulate her experience...

That said, the fact that her 2nd personal memoir book is coming out in Jan, months after my wedding, strikes me as fitting on a very personal level. I'm looking forward to processing my own post wedding sentiments and reading about her own thoughts at the same time. Will they be the same, probably not. But I'm looking forward to viewing the issue through her perspective because I find her writing to be quite inspirational and thought provoking (which is, in my opinion, a high compliment). In case you haven't seen in and are in need of a little inspiration on the nature of creativity, check out her TED presentation:

domestic violence

Sometimes a picture just says it better:

no more wedding blogs

It's officially arrived: the date that I stopped looking at wedding porn. I've deleted all but 2 cherished sites (for their written content and not the wedding stuff) from my google reader. I've been inundated for the past months with images of glamourous, vintage, alternative, shabby chick, etc, etc, etc, weddings and I've finally maxed out.

No more wedding porn for me. No more new ideas, no more thinking up new diy projects to put a little more of us into the big day. I'm done. That's right. Aside from finishing up the crafts we have on the go, there will be no more wedding related craftiness to discuss, debate, or dissect.

I'm a little bit relieved and a whole lot of happy! I've enjoyed all the great ideas that have come about from the wedding craftiness quest and have loved all the creative projects that have been spawned from my internet perusals. But the day is here: I'm done. No, not quite all the projects, but all the new ideas.

So thank you internet for inspiring, frustrating, and challenging me. It's been great, but wedding blogs be gone...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

lessons from the fool

Last night I went out to see the movie Adam with V (which was good, you should check it out) and she asked me a question that rekindled a spark of something forgotten in my life.

In my day to day life I don't spend much time talking about spirituality and my ideas about the universe but her question about tarot cards and wicca reminded me that once upon a time, not so long ago, I was very actively engaged in my new age, spiritual explorations and that I do have a set of beliefs that are actually quite solid and unshakable. So thank you V for reminding me of this and giving me the space to re-ignite my long lost enthusiasm for spiritual discussion about the mysteries of physics and magic in our universe.
Sometimes you don't what you've been missing until it's handed to you at the most unexpected of moments and then, like the fool, you just have to take a leap and run with it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

rollercoaster emotions

From 2009-08-16 Crafting

Photo from Paul's 33rd birthday...

While the world goes mad about Mad Men and soon to be declared east coast heat wave of 2009, I am quietly enjoying the dog days of summer, finalizing wedding details, and squeezing in as much swimming as I can before there weather gets cold again.

I noticed the other day, after scrolling over my recent posts, that I've been talking less about my life and thoughts lately and re-posting links quite a bit. Normally I'd say that this is due to my life being pretty quiet lately, but that's not really the case. I think I've just been so busy with everything that I haven't had time to really sit down and process anything long enough to have something worthwhile to write about in the past month. I'm not really sure if this is due to wedding planning, the heat, or just the frame of mind that I'm in. I suppose it's probably all three.

I'm trying desperately to not turn into a bridezilla but my emotions are just all over the place these days and so I can't tell if I am having moments of emotional instability or becoming a bridal monster. I'm really not joking or being overly dramatic in that statement, I swear. One moment I am filled with Pollyanna like enthusiasm and squishiness and the next I'm ready to bite someones head off. The last few weeks have found me feeling very short tempered and put out by the things that I normally might bitch about and then shrug my shoulders at. Is this a normal wedding experience? Or is it due to the fact that I just feel pulled in every which way possible and stretched too thin? School is about to start so everything at work is amping up, my car needed expensive repairs that I couldn't really afford, and we're trying to finalize the last details/logistics but having to wait for everyone to get back to us (I'm not a patient person at the best of times, so be forewarned if you're on that list of people we're waiting to hear from ...... hell hath no temper like Marya, stressed out and in limbo mode!).

Mostly I think, I just wish the day were here already so that we could move on to other things in our life. Everything is waiting on the wedding being done and I think it'll just be a relief to have the ceremony over and be able to actually enjoy the time we'll have with our loved ones. When I think about all the people coming and sharing the day with us, I just constantly feel filled with awe and happiness. And like a kid waiting for Christmas, just wish the day were here already so I can enjoy it instead of worrying about sorting out our flowers and readings.

Even within this post I've done a 180. I'm just feeling a little manic lately, so please bear with me and forgive me my emotional eccentricities at the moment. I promise that I will soon return to a calmer state of mind, post wedding.

Monday, August 17, 2009

diy secret compartment ring bearer book

Being the book geek that I am, I couldn't resist bringing books into the wedding!

Here's the step by step creation of my own ring bearer books

The books (cost $1.38)(pen to show the size)
I bought used children's books because our ring bearers are 2 and 4. A full sized book would have been too much...

From 2009-08-16 Crafting

Glue the pages together (I used modge podge because that's what I have and what I use for everything!)

From 2009-08-16 Crafting

Some instructions will tell you to glue the side and then glue to the back page of the book. For the sake of adding paper/ribbons, do this at the end (I followed the standard method and ended up undoing things... trust me, leave gluing the pages to the back cover to the very end).

Cut out the treasure/secret compartment (use an exacto knife)

From 2009-08-16 Crafting

This is where not gluing the back cover will make your life easier because you'll be able to access the back of the book and tidy up the corners.

The next thing to do is to wrap the book. I used the technique my mom taught me in elementary school with brown paper bags. I didn't take pictures of this process but here's a link with good visuals and instructions to help you out:

This is what mine looks like, with the first ribbon added:

From 2009-08-16 Crafting

And the inside (I used some extra paper I had to make sure the ribbon didn't come apart):

From 2009-08-16 Crafting

Add ribbons:

From 2009-08-16 Crafting

I used the 2 but alternately considered using the white ribbon glued to the book and then wrapping the 2nd ribbon as a bow around the book (like you'd wrap a gift) and then using the bow tie off to secure the rings to the outside of the book. But since we have young boys carrying the books I decided the rings would be safer inside the book.

Secret compartment rings:

From 2009-08-16 Crafting

A simple sewing pin hold the ribbon in place and can be pulled out to remove the rings.

Things I'd change:

As mentioned, I'd glue the back page in last (I did it in the beginning, undid it, and then glued it after adding the white ribbon... it would have been cleaner and more polished if I'd added the 2nd ribbon and then glued the pages down.

I would have ironed the ribbons before attaching them... (I will still try carefully)

Books instead of bouquets (alternative)

Omit the first few steps and skip directly to wrapping the book and adding ribbons and flowers...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

diy wedding program fans : results

From 2009-08-16 Crafting

We've been busy crafting up a diy wedding storm. (and I can share the results here because most of our wedding guests (98%) never read my blog... so those of you who do, you're in the know...).

These puppies have been surprisingly time consuming to create. They're not hard, but cutting the edges and assembling the fan plates takes us a whole lotta time. Crazy time... we've made 14 in like 4 hours. Yeah. That's right. 14 in 4 hours! Madness.

Friday, August 14, 2009

india reborn 2

Watching another segment of the mini-series India Reborn I was horrified and apalled by the comments of the owner of Kingfisher (beer/air). He actually had the nerve to say that poor Indians eat onions, potatoes with garlic and like it. It's simple but the food they like. He went on to say that no one in India dies of starvation.

Oh my god. Seriously. If this is what a local millionaire actually thinks, despite the glaring face of poverty everywhere you turn in India, no wonder India has one of the worse levels of poverty in the world. I'm horrified that he could be so callous and ignorant of the problems in his nation to believe such a thing or so willing to deny any responsibility to help that he completely denies awareness of the issue in order to save face. And I honestly find myself hard pressed to believe the former so am convinced that it all about saving face and denying responsibility.

That said, I really have enjoyed the segments that I've seen in the series. The documentary does a good job showing the different sides of India, from poverty to wealth, from indifference to action. It's very interesting and I'd highly recommend it. The show makes you think about just how divided traditional India is from modern India and the consequences and challenges this raises in the nation.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

disposable culture

From the Utne Reader:

There’s no doubt the recession has spurred interest in living more affordably—cutting back, scaling down, and doing more with less. There’s just one hitch with the prevailing frugal ethos: A fair number of penny-pinching Americans have confused thrifty with cheap, bargain hunting in discount shops that rely, for example, on low-wage labor or disposable design.

Taking a page from Ellen Rupel Shell’s Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture, Noreen Malone expounds in the American Prospect: “Houses won’t last and clothes won’t be handed down because we no longer ask that they be built for the long run. . . . We might be cheap, but we’re no longer thrifty. In fact, even if we recover that instinct, we’ll have left ourselves with gaping holes in the reusable products ecosystem.”

In a nutshell, an Ikea couch makes an unlikely family heirloom. And the longer cheap culture prevails, so ebbs the flow of quality goods to thrift stores and reuse centers.


Oh so true. Press board dressers and gyp rock do not good quality furniture and homes make!

Hilary Clinton loses her cool?

You may have already seen this video but I just had to share it:

Apparently there has been a great deal of hoopla over the idea that she didn't handle the situation very well. I don't know that I agree. Yes, her body language is exasperated, but can you blame her? Seriously? I know she's an ambassador and should maintain diplomatic neutrality but the fact that the man asking the question is bypassing her completely as an individual capable of having worthwhile opinions as the secretary of state (for crying out loud)is utterly ridiculous.

Some people have argued that the translation is off, but regardless of whether or not the wording isn't exact: why is he asking her about her husband?

I know that segments of African culture can be very misogynistic (as can our own), but the nature of the question only serves to reinforce the stereotype. She's in the Congo to discuss helping curb the violence and to propose a rather interesting plan to aide rape victims, and he's asking her about Bill Clinton's opinion. Hello, the point of her trip is completely missed and erased by such an assinine question. I don't blame her for being put out and reacting in a way to put the speaker in his place. She could have been much more outraged, I know I would have!

Monday, August 10, 2009

amazing friends and family

2 months until we get married, as of today!
Wedding planning has been bringing out the sentimentalist in me. It's true. I'm on the verge of tears, the happy type, a lot lately. The most recent cause: Camilla, Carole, Sean, and Rebecca. Yes, that's right, you people have brought out my weepy side.

"Why, what did I do?" you may ask... and the answer is your sheer willingness to make the trip, support us, and participate in our wedding. With only a few days left to rsvp, I'm starting to fell awed by the amount of travel my friends and family are willing to do in order to be there for us. Yeah, it's humbling and fills me with love that all these people would take the time to be with us.

My brother who is coming from Arizona; his fiancé who is making the trip from Cambridge, England; our old exchange student Camilla who is trying to arrange to come from Sweden; Carole and Karen, who I've known since grade 4; Ange, Kirsten and Ian flying in from the west coast; Jay and Simone, making the trip from Toronto; countless members of Paul's family making their way from Whitby and Ottawa; and my 75 year old grandma. I can't wait to introduce everyone to my grandma, she's amazing! Just amazing. She's one of my favouritest people on the earth... just thinking about her makes me laugh and feel happy.

So yeah, I am currently feeling very loved and touched by all of the people that have gone out of there way to be there for us. I'm more than a little awed by the fact that we're that important to you that you'd make such a long journey to be there with us. That includes those who live nearer and coming too! I really do have amazing people in my life and I can't even begin to express how sentimental I feel over that particular realization today...

Friday, August 7, 2009

ode to montreal

I just sent an email to be my soon to be sister in law (my baby brother is getting married next July...) to reassure her about Montreal weather in the fall and once again, thinking about fall reminded me just how much I love this city. Seriously, no where in the world even begins to compare to Montreal (or the east coast) in the fall.

I'm already excited to share the season with friends and family back home. I can't wait for them to see how gorgeous this city is at that time of year!

india reborn

Last night I watched a small segment of the 2 part series on CBC called India Reborn. In it, a young Indian woman was preparing to get married in a mock-up Bollywood style wedding ceremony. The price tag was exorbitant. It makes my wedding price tag look paltry.

The show went on to address her response to the poverty around her, the Bollywood films she drew her inspiration from, and the attitude of one of the guards who work for her family in regards to his own 4 year daughter's perspective marriage. The contrast was shocking, albeit expected. For all that I struggle with the dichotomy between my modern values and the expectations of a conservative family, the pressures that I allow myself to get worked up about are nothing compared to the idea of marrying a total stranger, in a wedding pageant that focuses on appearance for the sake of the community. Despite some of the similarities that I tend to scorn, I know that if I'm truly honest about it, my woes are based more on my frustration over not getting things my way than being oppressed by convention. No one was looking to marry me off when I was 4....

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

feeling a little bit blah

I've been feeling a bit under the weather as of late, I'll pulled a muscle in my shoulder, have been taking muscle relaxants which make me sleepy and my tummy feel funny, and add to, that Lucy is in the shop getting her brakes done and a few other expensive but brake area related things repaired (kaching, there goes my pocket book...)

So, even though it's my sweetie's bday and I know I need to drag my sorry ass out of my funky state, let me wallow in blahness for just a few hours more....

Monday, August 3, 2009

on being a preteen bookworm

After reading this post, I have to read this book!

From Pandagon:

Lizzie Skurnick has made an art out of addressing the adults who grew out of bookworm children, adults who may still have a taste for overwrought pornography, walking while they read, and books that have a lot of detailed descriptions of food, first in her blog feature Fine Lines at Jezebel and now in her book Shelf Discovery, a collection of posts from the Fine Lines series. Believe me, this book was nearly as hard to put down as Flowers in the Attic was when you were 13 years old. It’s just a series of reviews of YA novels---or books that weren’t really meant to be YA, I’m sure (like Flowers), but became that way because adults have the good sense to toss them against the wall, but kids are absolutely entranced by the fact that they’re reading pornography! and no one! will stop them!

vegetarian cooking adventures

From 2009-07-28 summer 2009

Lately I've had food on the brain. Healthy, well prepared, yummy vegetarian food. What prompted these thoughts? I think they began with a trailer for the upcoming Julie/Julia movie based on the blog, which prompted me to think about a parallel vegetarian cookbook adventure. Could I find the energy and self-discipline to work my way through a vegetarian cookbook classic, say Moosewood? Or the ever yummy Rebar cookbook?

These thoughts were then furthered by 2 recent discussions with girl friends: one about being lazy cooks because we never know what foods to cook or combine, and the other about the lack of fine vegetarian fare in high end restaurants. The paucity of yummy choices in fancy schmancy restaurants only furthers my desire to create a broader vegetarian cooking repetoire to show that there are so many yummy options out there, but my struggles to figure out what to pair with what prevents me from knowing quite how to go about doing so. Hence the picture above.

Last night's meal consisted of:

lemon tofu "chicken" slices

rice pilaf (with whatever I found in my cupboard: veg bouillon, dried carrot/onion/parsley mix, green pepper, scallions, salt, pepper)

brocoli with butter, salt and pepper

and a new salad adapted from the latest VegNews:

1 cup chick peas, 2 tomatoes, 1 pepper (I used orange, the recipe called for red), 2 scallions, 1/2 tsp parsley, 2 small home grown cucumbers and for the dressing 3 tbsps of lemon juice, 1/4 cup olive oil, salt to taste. The salad was simple, filling and quite good. I added more salad ingredients vs chick peas than the recipe called for (it wanted 3 cups of chick peas), and squeezed in more lemon juice and added a bit more salt, but it was a nice combo of light flavours and richness because of the chick peas. The original recipe also called for mint, but since Paul doesn't like mint, I omitted it. Overall the salad was a bit like tabouleh, but with chick peas instead of couscous.

Anyways, Paul cooks tonight and I'm already thinking up ideas for Tuesday. Let's see what yummy creations I can add to my vegetarian cooking repetoire.


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