Tuesday, February 28, 2006

I Wish I Had Pictures

Anyone ever been for dim sum?

It’s like the Cantonese version of brunch, except with foods that are barely recognizable.  In Hong Kong itself, one might distrust the food that was being consumed; in Canada, you’d think it’d pretty safe, right?

I was amazed at just how many people go on a Sunday morning.  So much so, that there is actually a line-up for it.  After sitting down, you get this scantron-type (reminded me of multiple choice tests) card with all the food on it.  One thing I learned was that if you ever wanted jellyfish in Calgary, this restaurant was the place to go.

We filled in the little squares of such food as delicate tripe, curried squid, honey bee, shrimp dumplings, and Japanese spring rolls.  The preceding three are boring, but the tripe turned out to be a bit interesting.  It could’ve been described as “Unidentified meat parts that didn’t make it to the supermarket.”

From what I could tell, there was some stomach in there, some intestine, some liver, and some piece of matter that tasted like moth balls.  Oh, and I can’t forget the pieces of tendon.

I always that mystery meat was reserved for McDonalds and shady restaurants in foreign countries.  Apparently, I was wrong.  

Monday, February 27, 2006

Chinook Watch

One of the many oddities that make up Calgary weather is the Chinook.  It is essentially

“…moist weather patterns, originating off the Pacific coast, cooling as they climb the western slopes, and then rapidly warming as they drop down the eastern side of the mountains. The Chinook usually begins with a sudden change in wind direction towards the west or southwest, and a rapid increase in wind speed.MountainNature.com

Translation: warm winds that allow us to wear shorts in the middle of winter.

An example might be waking up to -15, only to see the temperature increase to +15 in a matter of hours.  It’s great when you go to work in the morning (when it’s freezing) and then come out when it’s golfing weather (good thing the clubs are still in the trunk).

Well, today promises to be one of those days.  It’s -13 now and the forecast is that it’ll go up to +8 in the afternoon.  We’ll go from having a beautiful, snowy winter to a slushy mess in no time.  I’m not sure what’s worse.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

It's All Over

Got a little behind in my Olympic updates....

Overall, Canada was only 1 medal shy of our Olympic Committee's projection. The biggest winner of them all was Cindy Klassen, with 5 medals (1/5th of our total count). One interesting stat to finish off with is the twelve 4th place finished we had. Translate those into some medals and we're challenging the Germans for top spot.

At least there'll be plenty of international sports action in the coming months...namely the World Cup and Tour de France.

Friday, February 24, 2006

That's Probably Not a Good Idea

Can someone remind me that I’m not in Mongolia anymore?  After last night’s display, I’m not so sure I even know where I am – let alone what actions to take in certain situations.  Here is one very good example:

To get home in Mongolia, walk onto the street and flag someone down.

To get home in Calgary, use public transit or call a cab.

Apparently there is something I don’t understand in that last sentence.  What I decided to do was apply the Mongolia action to Calgary…at 2 AM.

So there I was out on the street waving someone down (alcohol was involved…I won’t lie).  I wouldn’t expect anyone to stop, even on a good day.  Then all of a sudden a car slows down and it turns out the driver is from Eritrea.  I’m almost positive that the only reason he stopped was because he was used to people doing the same thing I was in Eritrea.  Seriously, what are the chances of flagging down an Eritrean driver at 2 AM in Calgary?

But the fun didn’t stop there.  After meeting some friends at Denny’s (didn’t end up eating), I got a ride home from a kind police officer.  I wasn’t in trouble, but he sure was proud that I didn’t choose to go home with a drunk driver.

Nice to know you can still have fun like that and not have to be in India or Mongolia.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Pictures


The sky is so much nicer (and clearer) in Calgary as compared to smoky Chandigarh.


What I woke up to this morning. I think it snowed a total of 5 inches.

Sheer Excitment

Short-track relays might just be the most exciting event at the Olympics. Any time you have 16 skaters on hockey-sized ice going around and around tight corners, you’re in for a great event. Add to it the possibility of crashes, and you have yourself the best Olympic sport.

Well, our Women’s 3000m relay team just picked up the Silver…adding to the already great day by our athletes.

In hockey, Canada and Russia are tied at zero going into the 2nd.

1,2 Finish

This is turning out to be a good day for Canada.  Just a few seconds ago, we picked up Gold and Silver in the Women’s 1500m Long-track Speed Skating event.  Cindy Klassen won the Gold, her 4th medal of the games, and Kristina Groves won the Silver.

Any India Trainee Can Sympathize

England is set to play a test cricket series against India in the coming weeks.  I remember reading that the team had arrived in India last week sometime to play some warm-up matches and to acclimatize.  The news today is that four of the players have stomach bugs (BBC Sport).

Even though these players are eating at first-class restaurants and not at local dhabas, they are still prone to the infamous “Delhi Belly.”  This phenomenon is a unique advantage for India.  The only thing its players have to worry about when going to England is the general “blandness” of the food.

I couldn’t help but laugh over this predicament.  I’ve been down that road, so has everyone else I know that has lived there.  As is the great adage amongst trainees, “It’s not about if [you get stomach problems], but when [you get them].”  If I were the England coach, I’d have my team live in India for 2 months before playing and eat nothing but street food.

A Snowy Gold?

Woke up to two completely opposite and mutually exclusive things today: a gold medal by Canada and a thick blanket of snow on the ground outside.

The Gold coming in Women’s Cross-Country Sprint, compliments of Chandra Crawford.  I should also point out the Becky Scott was 4th (we had another 4th yesterday in Women’s Bobsled).  I think that puts our 4th total up to like 8 or 9.

There wasn’t any snow last night, but in typical Calgary fashion it started snowing like crazy after I went to bed.  When you see the outside situation through blurry eyes in the morning, the first thought that runs through your head is, “Do I have to go outside today?”  The unfortunately answer to that question is the affirmative.  Too bad I don’t have my snowshoes.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Gold!!!

I feel it is my national duty to broadcast to the world that our Women’s Hockey Team won the Gold medal today.  From what I understood, this was the expected result.  On another note, we had two 4th place finishes today – one by 3-one hundredths of a second.

Haircuts Are Much More Exciting in India, or so I thought

An interesting thing about Indian haircuts is that they look terrible after they grow out. So yesterday, I made the executive decision to get it cut. But where could I go that would make the experience one I could write about in my blog? Not to a barber shop or salon, that’s for sure. I ended up finding a place of extreme convenience and excellent service: downstairs.

My good friend, Magi (don’t even get her started on how her name is pronounced), lives below me and does a little bit of hair-cutting on the side. I was downstairs last night and decided that it would be a great idea if she could cut it (even after she kept saying, “You can’t kill me if it’s bad…no complaining.”).

Besides the ball of hair that inadvertently went into my mouth (I swear she did it intentionally) and the water that kept running down my face from when she was trying to wet my hair down (once again, I’m convinced it was intentional), I was impressed with the service. Here are some of the perks:

  1. It’s free (except for a homemade food item used as a tip)

  2. Got to watch TV

  3. Magi excels at small-talk and she acts like a real hairdresser

  4. Her attention to detail is remarkable
I’m pleased with the result, although I probably shouldn’t be the judge of that considering my level of standards.

“I’m gonna wear an apron this time so that I don’t get hair all over me.” But won’t hair get into the food?

Congrats to Pierre Leuders and Lascelles Brown (Bobsled) and Cindy Klassen (1000m long-track speed skating) who picked up Silver medals.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

How Many More Phases Are There?

As reverse culture shock phases go, Phase 3 lasted about 5 minutes before school slapped me back into the Stone Ages.

Last night, it came to the sudden realization that I can’t live the same lifestyle here that I did in India. This means, no:

  1. Eating at restaurants/ordering food every night

  2. Going drinking whenever I want

  3. Going out to the club all the time

  4. Seeing friends every day

  5. Procrastinating

  6. Watching Olympics 24/7

  7. Sitting on the balcony talking about all manner of things
Seriously, when school raises its hand, you best sit down, shut up, and start working on that essay you keep avoiding.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Just In...

Duff Gibson and Jeff Paine just won Gold and Silver medals, respectively, in the Men’s Skeleton.  In fact, we had 3 of the top 4.  I think it’s safe to say that we pretty much dominate the event.

Olympic Update

Dominique Maltais has just picked up a bronze medal in Women’s Snowboard Cross.  We now have a total of 9.

There is one other bit of news involving Canada that kind of disturbs me.  It involves a protest made by the Canadian Short-track Association that would give us an extra bronze medal.  

In the final of the Women’s 500m event, the Bulgarian skater crossed the line 2nd, but with her skate blade in the air (an illegal action).  The winner of the B-final was a Canadian.  As a result, she gets a 4th place finish.  So what the Canadians have done is protested to the International Federation that the Bulgarian should be disqualified, which would move the Canadian into 3rd (and Anouk Leblanc-Boucher into second).

One thing about the Bulgarian’s finish is that she was basically falling over and couldn’t help but raise her skate blade.  

This seems like a dirty protest to me.  Whether or not it will actually go through is still up in the air, but whatever happened to sportsmanship?  The Bulgarian skater gained no advantage by doing what she did and I’m convinced it was a result of protecting her own safety.  And apparently the Canadians have a short memory.  I seem to recall a certain Norwegian coach helping out our cross-country ski team when he was not obliged to do so.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Cold Not Seen Since Mongolia

Yes, it’s a tad chilly outside.  I’ve heard something like -23 with a wind chill factor of -38.  I have been outside and can tell you that it is bloody cold.  But it isn’t as cold as you might think.  For one, only your exposed skin gets cold, so if you wrap up enough you’re ok.

Personally, I like this weather…sunshine, icy cold, crunchy snow, clean air…beautiful.

Medal update – Jeffery Buttle of Canada picked up the Bronze medal in Men’s Figure Skating.      

Clean Hair

It’s very possible to shower 5 times a day in India and still never reach that elusive cleanliness standard we all seem to have.  Some people tried 45 minute showers; others experimented with different types of local soaps and shampoos.  After 7 months, your definition of clean far differs than that of your contemporaries back home.  I only realized this the other day when my trusty Himachal Pradesh shampoo ran out.  

When my hair had finished drying after the first use with the new shampoo, I couldn’t believe the difference.  “Is this what clean hair feels like?”  I pondered.

Or maybe it’s just a chemical in the shampoo that’s tricking me into believe my hair is actually clean.

In Olympic news, Canada picked up a whopping 3 medals today – Silver in both the Men’s and Women’s long-track speed skating team pursuit and a bronze, compliments of Melissa Hollingsworth-Richards in Women’s Skeleton.  Our total is now 7.

And, Ryan, your country picked up a Silver in the skeleton event.  Hope you’re happy.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Epitome

(Note: names changed for anonymity)

Meet Fred.  He works for Askus and recently attended a function at the business school of the University of Cowtown.  His main goal was to find a Co-op student that would work in the Risk Management area of the company (or a finance student looking to do the trainee program).  While making his rounds, he stopped at two students talking about their recent international experiences.  The usual introductions were made and Fred got right down to business.  When told that one of the students had just come back from seeing three countries, all he could muster was, “Interesting.”

This epitomizes the attitude in downtown Calgary…and I want nothing to do with it.  For once, I felt as though the shoe was on the other foot.  It was my turn to say, “Sorry, not interested,” and almost pick and choose as to who I wanted to talk to.  Not that I’m trying to be cocky, but it wouldn’t have been like this before I went away.

In Olympic news, Canada picked up a 2nd bronze medal.  This one coming in Women’s 500m short-track speed skating, compliments of Anouk Leblanc-Boucher.  What a great sport short-track is.

I also want to point out that the winner of the men’s mogul event was a Canadian who now competes for Australia.  His reasoning: brutal Canadian sports program.  I think Brian Williams has been playin’ that tune for years.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Tagged!?!?

Tagged by gauriposwal

Yes, I’ve been tagged. It’s interesting because I never knew I was in the game and usually I’m good enough to avoid being tagged in the first place. Unfortunately, my blog never moves and is basically a sitting duck. Anyways, here it goes…not sure what my 10 year memory is like, though. See you on the other side, my journalistic integrity.

Ten Years Ago
-I think I was in High School (Grade 8)

Five Years Ago
-Just finished my first set of provincial exams
-Only 4 more months til graduation

Last One Year
-Just finished enjoying Tsagaan Sar in Mongolia
-Roamed the streets of Ulaanbaatar
-Climbed the Great Wall of China
-Lived in India
-Stood in front of the Taj Mahal
-Got arrested at the Russia/Mongolia Border

Yesterday
-Studied
-Went to class
-Talked on MSN
-Other exciting things….

Five Yummy Things
-Enchiladas
-Gnocchi
-Fresh baked bread
-Boiled mutton soup
-Aloo Kofta Malai

Five Songs i know by heart
-Back in the USSR by the Beatles
-If I Had a Million Dollars by Barenaked Ladies
-Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes by Paul Simon
-Grapevine by Marvin Gaye
-I Feel Good by James Brown

Five Things I'd do if i had money
-Give it away
-Fund small business startups
-Get a world map for my wall
-Import paneer
-Buy my dad a cycle rickshaw

Places I Escape To
-the kitchen/refrigerator

TV Shows
-Pardon the Interruption
-My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss
-Iron Chef

5 Things I Can Live Without
-Commercials
-Multiple Choice tests
-Pop culture (that’s right, I said it)
-Endless flogging of oil sector
-Fast food

5 Favourite Ethnic Cuisines
-Mexican
-Greek
-Ukrainian
-Chinese
-Rotates between Mongolian, Indian, and Japanese

I Tag... Rajat (aka Mandrake) and Megan

Sportsmanship

We won another silver medal today – in Women’s 15km Team Pursuit – thanks to Sarah Renner and Becky Scott.

During the race, Renner broke one of her poles.  In a great act of sportsmanship, the Norwegian coach gave Sarah a replacement pole so she could continue on.

The ending was spectacular, as the Canadians came within 6 one-hundredths of a second of the Gold.

And Happy Valentines Day everybody.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Here's Some Quality For You, Ryan

Call this phase two of my reverse culture shock: sick and tired of people expecting me to go visit them.

I get the, “Hey Kent, good to see you…give me a call sometime,” line quite a bit these days.  As far as I’m concerned, these people can come see me…if it’s really all that important.

Maybe it sounds like I’m being a hermit or something, but I’ve gone to see a lot of people and it would be nice if the favour was returned.  This doesn’t include people calling me and asking if I would like to go somewhere (as in, being proactive), but it does include people being reactive and expecting me to plan things.

No doubt this will all pass soon enough.  This whole reverse culture shock thing is a mixed bag.  You think you have it beat and then BAM!!!!

And apparently I’ve been “tagged.”  By the sounds of it, I have to fill out one of those personal type survey things and post it on my blog.  I’ll do it, but it will be at the risk of losing my journalistic integrity.  The question is: who should I tag?  

Sunday, February 12, 2006

BRONZE!!!

Cindy Klassen - 3000m Speed Skate...Canada's first Bronze-medallist in Turin.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

GOLD!!!!!

Jennifer Heil - Freestyle Skier...Canada's first 2006 Olympic Gold Medallist.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Opening Ceremonies

Going by the song choices, I would say the Olympic organizes were trying to spice things up.  Numbers like, “I Will Survive,” “Hot Stuff,” and “Funkytown,” are certainly making the opening ceremonies enjoyable to watch.

It was nice to see the Mongolian delegation come out.  Brian Williams (CBC Commentator) related the story that I mentioned on my previous blog post.  Best part, though, was the hats, although, if you were an animal rights activist, you probably wouldn’t like them so much.  Basically, they had an entire animal (possible a muskrat or fox) on their heads.

Best Lid so far: Kyrgyzstan

Best Outfit: Germany (they looked like pimento olives)

I also liked the hats of the Indian delegation…straight from Himachal Pradesh.  In fact, I got one for my Dad.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Mongolia at the Olympics

Here is a great feel-good story about the Olympics:

“Mongolia made its Olympic Winter Games debut in 1964 in Innsbruck, but has never won a medal. At the Games in Innsbruck, a group of Mongolian cross-country skiers unexpectedly showed up at the competition, unaware of any application procedure, but were nevertheless allowed to compete. The 2006 Winter Olympics will mark the sixth time Mongolia has sent athletes to the Winter Games”UB Post

It’s surprising that something like this happened, considering the Soviet/Communist obsession with the Olympic Games. I guess the Soviets were not interested in sharing their knowledge of the event with their fellow Communist nations. That must’ve been one legendary trip from Ulaanbaatar to Innsbruck…I wonder if there’s a book on it.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Strange Occurrences

I think the strangest thing I’ve seen so far is some guy walking down the street and brushing his teeth at the same time.  I always considered this a task you accomplished in the privacy of your own bathroom…not in the middle of a public street.  My only remark was, “Ever heard of gum?”

Another aspect of Canadian life that was re-iterated to me was the number of people using cell phones.  Everywhere I go people are talking about who knows what (if I was in range to eavesdrop, I actually could understand what was being said).  Contrast this to India where everyone is SMS’ing each other and, hence, looking down and not watching where they’re going.

I am still plagued by the desire to say, “Accha,” and “Hanji,” anytime someone asks me a question or tells me something.  I’ve told most people what it means, but sometimes a professor might ask me a question and I can’t help but respond with the habitual, “Hanji.”  As for as I know, though, the head shake is gone.  Guess I’ll just have to keep it in reserve for the next time I travel to a country that utilizes it.  

Monday, February 06, 2006

What a Story

I would like to extend my sincere congratulations to my friend Stefan from Germany (I worked with him in India).  He wrote me an email about 8 miles (13 km) long about how he is now married.  It was an incredible story that should one day be made into a movie.  I wish I could divulge more, but I should probably ask for permission.  In the meantime, take my word for it…truly incredible.

Costa Rica Pictures


My Mom, Brother, and Grandma went on a trip to Costa Rica over Christmas and after much deliberation, 81 pictures have been made available. Check them out here.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Culinary Delights

Magi with her custom pizza - peppers, chicken tikka, jalapenos, herring fillets, cappicoli, peppered salama, black olives, feta cheese, tomatoes, pineapple, and mozza.

Liz with one of the best pizzas I've ever made - herring fillets, feta cheese, yellow and red peppers, tomatoes, black olives, and mozza. The only problem was the crust hadn't been rolled thin enough.

Raspberry Crepes.

Bread straight from the oven. It's a rye/wholewheat/white flour mixture.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Step 5 - Completed

Rare meat - tastes so good, yet feels so weird to eat.  That’s right, even after completing the first 4 steps of my program, it still feels weird to eat the meat of the animal that goes, “Moo….”

Tonight, I crossed the line that was fully cooked meat versus juicy rare steak.  When the waitress came up, I said, “I’ll have the steak…medium rare…actually, make that rare.”  Had I gone with the medium rare, who knows how the night would’ve turned out?  But because I went rare, my GI tract, taste buds, and psyche were ready for an all out battle.

I can tell you that the battle is still going on.  Not that I can tell you who’s winning, but it’s likely a good battle worthy of pay-per-view television.

If all goes well, I’m basically finished my recovery.  All that’s left is the crowning achievement that is a 24oz rare steak from Nick’s Steakhouse.  No rush on that, though…what’s important is that my ascent to beef-dom is all but complete.  

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Small-talk...What's That?

For the first time since I’ve been back, I finally felt some of the reverse culture shock I was expecting.  The whole occurrence made me realize that I still feel more comfortable talking to people from other countries than I do to people from my own country.  When you get into a social, yet very non-social situation like a club/bar, it really shows up.  All I have been doing so far is talking about my trip (mainly from people asking me questions).  But what happens when you get into a situation where people don’t ask questions?

To be honest, I didn’t know what to do.  What is Canadian small-talk?  I noticed the same thing when I got back from China.  I’d walk into a store and wonder what I was supposed to say to the shopkeeper.  What I found was that you could only talk so much about the weather.

Until I figure out how to small-talk in this country, club/bar experiences might be a bit rough….