Friday, June 30, 2006

Why?

#23 on the list of things people do that I just can’t understand:

Why is it that people take the elevator when they’re only going up one floor? I was in the elevator today and a lady came in, perfectly capable of walking up the stairs. She hits the “2” button and all I could think was, “Oh man, how lazy has our society become?” The lady got off at the second floor and didn’t appear to have any remorse about what she had done.

All I can say is that if you’re capable of walking up the stairs and you want to go to either the 2nd or 3rd floors, take the STAIRS.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

My World Cup Crystal Ball

Maybe I’m flogging a dead horse by continually going back to my World Cup predictions, but I just can’t believe how correct they seem to be…with exception to the teams I actually guessed would be in the final four.

Spain is even worse for that, so I’m going to go out on a limb and say the country will lose in a shootout in the round of 16 to a heavy underdog.”

In two days time, get ready for Spain’s choke show against France.”

The first quote was on June 9th and the second was the other day. Watching today’s action, I couldn’t help but notice that Spain got spanked by France. Ok, so the Spaniards didn’t lose to a heavy underdog in a shootout, but they sure did choke.

“If there is one team I want to see make some noise, it’s the Ukraine. Those stylish yellow jerseys are sure to blind opponents.”

Well, Ukraine in fact has made some noise.

My other predictions were pretty much off, except, I guess, for Italy being one of the more boring teams to watch and Holland being the most selfish team. The latter became evident after Van Persie went public with his comments about Robben getting too much of the ball. A classy move by a selfish individual.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

What'd I Tell Ya?

I swear this is the last time I’ll ever pick the Dutch for any major international soccer (football) event…good-for-nothing choke artists.”

That’s what I said two weeks ago. I’ve all but given up on the Dutch in international competition. At least they went down swinging today. I think there were 16 cards handed out, 4 players sent off, and other fisticuffs.

In two days time, get ready for Spain’s choke show against France.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Year It Was

Perhaps I’m selling out by doing the dreaded “Clip Post” on account of the one-year anniversary of my blog. I can’t believe it was one year ago today that I was introduced to this phenomenon known as blogging…definitely have to thank Dody and Adam for that.

Looking back, there have been quite a few memorable posts:

First ever trip on an Indian bus

My question is this: what can't happen on a local Indian bus? The only thing I didn't see was farm animals...although they could've been on the roof. Having to stand for an extended period, or having to sit on a railing or having someone sit on your lap for 7 hours, in a hot bus is a true Indian experience.”

The Great Monsoon

“I get out on my bike and immediately start getting soaked...no problem, right? I get to this point where the puddles is covering the whole road and what do I hear? a motorbike engine revving up. I was like "don't even think about it," even though I feared the worst (as you can probably guess, my quote was the family version of what i really said). Wooosh! The guy drenches me with his bike.”

The Ascent to 13,000 ft

The air was getting thinner, heads lighter, and breathing deeper as they made their way up to 13,000 feet. At the top, there was the usual bustle of activity that comes with a tourist spot in India - food and drink stands, horse rides, etc. Unimpressed, Kent took off to find what he was really looking for...the Himalayas.”

Riding the Toy Train

“I started by standing, then I found some room to sit down, then these two Indian guys that couldn't stop laughing told me to lay down in sort of a reclining position (will post a picture soon). So there I was, leaning against a bag with my head on some guys knees, with the entire population of the train laughing at me.”

The Indian Headshake

I was on a bus in Delhi on Sunday and executed my first involuntary headshake while trying to understand his accent. I said, "theek hai?" and the headshake just followed. The best part was that the guy just laughed and said, "You are Indian."”

A Love Affair With Food

Who really cares what it's made of? It's part of the reason why I like choosing items from menus I can't read. If I don't know what I'm getting, I have no expectations. Disasters, like the ones happening in the colons of new trainees, are bound to happen...like ending up with a plate full of chicken livers, however it adds to the risk of ordering food and, thus, increases the reward. Nothing feels better than getting a great meal from a menu you can't comprehend.”

The Day Party

Imagine my confusion after finding myself in a club, under the influence, at 7 PM on a Sunday. It seemed out of the question after checking my cellphone clock that it could possibly only be 7:15. Hadn't I been out partying all night? Wasn't I about to find my way home to my woven bed, only to wake up the next morning with a ferocious hangover? Apparently not.”

Razor Ramblings

His shaving kit consisted of a small metal bowl, a razor, a horsehair brush, healing stone, cream, and a bottle of what I can only assume to be Ganga water. I guess sometimes it not what you have, but how you use it.”

Saving a Horse

As the cart began to tip in our direction, boards started sliding off, almost crushing Ryan.  All that cycling he does paid off because he used is cat-like agility to get out of the way.  Finally, the guy was able to get the horse out.  Luckily, the horse’s leg wasn’t broken, but it was extremely weak.”

New Years in Kolkata

This "walk of death," so to speak, was like a hazing ritual. I had my balls grabbed, my face slapped, and numerous attempts were made on my pockets. I came out feeling like I just had the crap beat out of me...not a pleasant feeling.”

Back in Calgary

I had a twenty dollar bill in my hand and went, "Is this worth anything?" It is, in fact, worth 740 rupees, but because it only has the number "20" on it, it seems almost worthless. Don't even get me started on the coins....”

The Beef Program

Grilling steaks and kebabs on the BBQ was a favourite activity of mine, but it seems so far away. When asked if not eating beef in Alberta was illegal, my friend replied, "I don't think so." Has India left that big a mark on me that I won't even eat the main meat product this country has to offer (except Canadian bacon)?”

Hitchhiking

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.”

The New Grill

Here's the fine looking piece of grilling ecstacy. Some might say that it looks like it just survived a nuclear firestorm, others might deem it "rustic." Irregardless, this is one beast I didn't mind meeting in an alleyway.”

Dus

“What a great movie.  Never have I laughed so hard for a full 146 minutes.  If you are planning on watching this classic, do be prepared for a test of patience.  The plot moves slower than molasses and it’s really tough to decipher what’s going on…even with subtitles.”

One Year Ago, Today….

365 days ago (or was it 364?) today, I left for India. I can still vividly remember the ride to the airport, the check-in person almost not letting me on my flight because my return flight date was after my visa expiry date, the feeling of “didn’t I just go through this 6 months earlier?,” the unagi (grilled eel) for lunch on my flight, the agonizing 8 hours in the not-yet-improved Taipei airport (of which 1 consisted of a less than delicious “free” meal), the pleasant feeling of being given a free International Herald-Tribune before boarding the plane (only to realize that reading it was going to be difficult due to my inability to keep my eyes open)….”

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Ahhh...Om Sweets


Benjamin from Germany is on the left, I'm on the right, Johanna from Germany is taking the picture, and our favourite desi (local) is in the middle. This was my last day eating at Om Sweets - our dhaba of choice at lunch. We were by far their best customers and we got excellent service once we started tipping. The guy in the background is definitely looking sharp with the 3-piece suit.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Glad That's Over

Wow, that was a tense Stanley Cup Playoff. Not since 1990 (I was 7 and hardly aware of my hatred for the Edmonton Oilers) have I had to worry about a hockey team I so desperately despised winning the Stanley Cup.

I was in one of those dilemmas that nobody likes to be in: disliking both sides and wanting neither team to win. You undoubtedly end up choosing the lesser of the two evils which, in this case, happened to be the Carolina Hurricanes. Do I like the fact that the Stanley Cup is going to a city that cares more about NASCAR than hockey? Not particularly. Is it a good thing that an American team won? Not in the least. However, is the city of Calgary (and its Flames’ fans) better off knowing its bitter rival could only manage to get to the exact same point it did only 2 years ago? Absolutely.

So, better luck next year, Edmonton. After all, it was the same thing your fans were saying to us after Calgary lost in game 7 to Tampa Bay in 2004, right?

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Comida Mexicana

Ironically, one of the hardest ethnic foods to find in Calgary is that of the Mexican variety. It is, in fact, the closest country with a cuisine that isn’t “western,” and yet for some reason we just can’t get it right. I blame the Tex Mex phenomenon for their butchering of traditional Mexican fare. Believe it or not, a “taco” as us North Americans know it does not exist south of the “other” border. And this whole concept of fajitas and taco salad…only in America (or so I’m told).

Well, today’s stop on      my tour of ethnic restaurants in Calgary was at a Mexican restaurant. The name, Salt and Pepper, somewhat puzzled me, but the establishment itself was of top quality. Greeting customers was a former Mexican national with a solid accent and the Mexican pop music in the background (I believe the lyrics were something like, “I like gasoline” or something) worked wonders for the ambience.

I ordered something that I couldn’t pronounce (often the mark of a good restaurant)…Tamales Oaoxaquendos, perhaps? It was cornmeal and meat stuffed inside a corn husk and baked in mole and salsa. Accompanying the entrée was rice, refried beans, and guacamole. I was pretty impressed overall. The fact that I was full definitely helped as well.

Where the restaurant really earned its “I’d definitely go back there and recommend it to everyone” rating was when we were offered a free dessert each (anything on the menu) just to move tables. This amounted to about 5 feet and I ended up with some Arroz Con Leche (a delectable rice pudding with milk) for it.

Muchos Gracias, Salt and Pepper.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Michaela in Botswana

After an extended absence, Michaela is back with a story of intermittent internet and Slovakian herbal vodka. Ironically, I think Marian brought some of that to India for us to sample...or was that 170 proof apricot schnapps?

I know it’s been a long while but I am still alive, the internet connections really do nothing but aggravate me, so I have been doing my best to stay away. Really the only time I am able to use it is during my lunch breaks and lately we have been to busy to take lunch and therefore no internet. On the days I do get away I walk for 15 minutes to the café, spend usually about 10-15 minuets waiting for a computer then spend my 15 minutes checking an average of 2 emails- im talking about 3 minutes to load a page- my frustration levels start to rise the minute I walk in there. Welcome to Africa!!!!!!!

I went to joburg two weekends ago, I was lucky enough to be invited by friends from my dads past, I was very welcomed and after a night of Slovakian herbal vodka I heard some most interesting stories about my dad!!! The thing that struck me the most about the city was how much it was exactly like a western city, take away the walls around the houses and the tropical looking trees and you could be in Canada. I was a bit disappointed, but Liz (my dads friends daughter) took me to some really great places on Saturday and I was able to see more cultural aspects of the city. She also took me to the apartheid museum, which is an worth going to joburg for alone. I don’t really know how to describe the experience in an email but I am so glad I was able to go and see it, it is very well done.

This past weekend we went up to Mantshwabisi for the desert race- a 1000 km race around and though the Kalahari desert, undertaken by trucks, dune buggies and other adventurous vehicles. The best way to describe it is to think of the whole of Gaborone taking a camping trip, the drive up there is just a progression of cars filled with tents, camping gear and lots of coolers full of refreshing drinks. The other important thing to note its that its winter here, so the majority of the population who have never experience weather colder than -5 believe its quite an undertaking. And I have to admit, it does get really cold here at night and in the morning (a lot colder than I would have thought) but as soon as the sun rises its nice and hot, it makes it hard to dress for the day!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

German Tongue Twisters Everyone Should Know

Compliments of Benjamin.


"Und aus des toten Recken Hose wuchs eine rote Heckenrose!" ("From the dead warrior's trousers grew a red wild rose.")

"Am Zehnten Zehnten um zehn Uhr zehn zogen zehn zahme Ziegen zehn Zentner Zucker zum Zoo." ("On October 10 at 10:10 ten tame goats dragged ten centner of sugar to the zoo.")

"Zwölf zünftige Zipfelmützenzwerge, die auf zwölf Tannenzapfen saßen, aßen zweihundertzweiundzwanzig zerquetschte Zwetschken. Als sie die zweihundertzweiundzwanzig zerquetschte Zwetschken zerzupft hatten, zauderte Zwerg Zwei zu Zwerg Zwanzig 'mich zwickts im Bauch' darauf Zwerg Zwanzig zu Zwerg Zwei 'mich auch'." (no translation ;))

"Der Dachdecker deckt dein Dach, drum dank dem Dachdecker, der dein Dach deckt." ("The roofer is roofing your roof, therefore thank the roofer who is roofing your roof.")

"Es soll vorkommen, daß die Nachkommen mit dem Einkommen nicht mehr auskommen und dann vollkommen verkommen umkommen." ("It happens that the decendants cannot live on the income and then die completely depraved.")

"Die, die die, die die Dichterlesungen großartig finden, verachten, sind die, die diverse andere Dinge dulden."

"Schnecken erschrecken, wenn Schnecken an Schnecken schlecken, weil zum Schrecken vieler Schnecken, Schnecken schrecklich schmecken." ("Snails are horrified when snails lick snails, because to the horror of many snails, snails taste horribly.")

"Fischers frisch frisierter Fritze frisst frisch frittierte Frischfisch-Frikadellen."

"Er sagte über das 'dass', dass das das 'das', das 'dass' geschrieben wird, sei."

"Gibst Du Opi Opium, bringt Opium den Opi um."

Embarrassing

Wow, the Ukraine sure got beat up today. Luckily they played the toughest team in the group, Spain, and have the likes of Tunisia and Saudi Arabia left. But 4-0…yikes. At least Spain is still on track to choke in a second round game.

In other related news, I have to give props to the Togo coach. On one hand, he basically quit the team last weekend because he wasn’t getting paid enough. While that is definitely bad, he did re-take is place for Togo’s opening game against South Korea, I think. Anyways, unlike most coaches that wear suits on the sidelines, this guy was wearing a black collared dress shirt that had the top four buttons undone and jeans. He looked like he was going to the ranch and/or the bar. Classy.

Then there is the Mexican coach who just happens to be a chain smoker. Then FIFA tells that guy that he can’t smoke on the sidelines. Perhaps the second hand smoke was bothering the players or something.  

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Kelsey and Crazies

You sure do meet some interested people while in other countries. Kelsey has happened upon two that might just drive you to be a hermit:

Okay so there's been a bit of demand for stories involving the crazies i tend to meet. The first one was in melbourne, where i somehow found myself roped into a conversation with an eldery englishman who i think has lived at the hostel for about 15 years... he told me a very long story about how he was hurt in canada once and he refused the medical bills so now he's not allowed back in canada....i thought this was the end of the conversation, but just as i was about to do the obligatory, "wow that's something, gotta be heading to bed here" he somehow started onto a new topic. i somehow mentioned i was in english and that i had done paradise lost recently, so he figured i wanted to hear the bible paraphrased from beginning to end. figure that one out. by the time he got to cain and able i told him that i only really knew genesis, but he juts kept on going! the ark was almost loaded up by the time i got him onto a new topic. (It was 11pm at this point....my eyes were closing.) It was a lot like trying to stay awake in class. did i mention he was incredibly soft spoken so i could barely hear him anyway???

so he gets onto the topic of creative writing (i don't know why i kept adding fuel to the fire but he thought i was interested i supposed) and he decides to recite from memory, a story he wrote. i refuse to bore you with the details of it, but it involved a miner who found his wife in bed with another man and yadda yadda, romeo and juliet style story....i was SO CLOSE to getting out the conversation at this point. i accidentally spilled my juice everywhere so i jumped up to clean it up, but when i got back with paper towel he was already onto his next story.... i sat down and i ALMOST started crying right there....i was so tired and he was so crazy i just wanted to jump out the window. at one point i thought "this is what jail must feel like". so finally i mumbled something about not feeling well and i ran away.....that was crazy #1..

Crazy #2: I've decided that the reason i get proposed to on public buses, and the reason people like caveman ask to comb my hair on the subway stem from one problem. DON'T MAKE EYE CONTACT WITH STRANGERS. I try to follow this rule but i messed up and here's the result: I'm sitting at a lovely cafe sipping some water, and this crazy lookin guy with his hair everywhichway kind of ambles towards me...i think "oh shit here's another crazy person to deal with" so he goes "OY....whaterayou blah blah WHO ARE YOU?!?"

so he asks me where i'm freom and i tell him canada, so he lights a smoke and takes a seat across from me and starts telling me about this gang in new york that robbed him once when he was there, so he told me to write down the name of this guy so i could go and kill him. (did i have a gun???) he wanted to know....so i'm sitting there wondering when he's gonna pull out a knife, when the waiter comes out and was like "sorry mate you can't have a smoke here" so buddy GOES OFF starts throwing chairs and yelling and saying he's just talking to his friend (i guess that's me) and the guys like "look mate i'm not gonna fight yuo yadda yadda" so this went on for minute and the police just happenedc to drive by so they hopped out, the guys swinging at the police, it's turning into quite the scene, so they cuff him and chuck him in the back into a sort of SPCA cage-thingey and they drive off! The guy was screaming about how australia was going to shit, and the police were like, "pipe down, warren". guess they deal with him a lot.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

300th Post...and it's not even my own.

Kelsey managed to wake up on time to go get her dive certification. Although it sounds like she had a little trouble with sea sickness....

ahoy hoy! im' back on land! and i'm officially a certified scuba diver (i even took an extra course so i'm considered an ADVENTURE diver and i can go to 30 meters!)

sooooooooo anybody ever been sea sick???? holy crap guys it's something you might want to avoid. i thought i'd be okay cause i've been in boats lots. nope! i was chucking along with everyone else haha. the seas were VERY VERY rough. you weren't allowed to stand up and this lasted for a good 2 hours. one of the really nice dive instructors discovered that someone had puked in his wetsuit and he absolutely lost it. we were surprised the guy who did it owned up cause it looked like the instructor would chuck him off the edge.

i ended up doing 8 dives over 3 days and it was so much fun! we saw gray reef sharks, white tipped reef sharks, lots of turtles, eels, rays, FISH FISH FISH and....NEMO!! i saw lots of nemos, dorys and Gil's (all the instructors actually call these fish these names since the movie). I also did i night dive, which was exciting slash terrifying haha. the trip before, one of the instructors (the same one who got puke in his wetsuit) took 7 people out on a nightdive, and he got completely lost...he ended up taking the group to the wrong boat!! he said they were laughing their asses off when him and 7 divers climbed up the ladder to the wrong boat haha. he'll never live it down.

Perhaps the 400th post won't be from someone I'm living vicariously through.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Because Everyone Else is Doing It

Here are my predictions for the World Cup:

I have no idea if these combinations are even possible, but I’ll go with Brazil, Argentina, Czech Republic, and the Dutch as my final four. The final will be Czech Republic and Brazil, with the Czechs winning on account of Petr Cech’s heroics. In case you’re wondering, yes, I did pick my World Cup winner based on a pun.

I swear this is the last time I’ll ever pick the Dutch for any major international soccer (football) event…good-for-nothing choke artists. Spain is even worse for that, so I’m going to go out on a limb and say the country will lose in a shootout in the round of 16 to a heavy underdog. If there is one team I want to see make some noise, it’s the Ukraine. Those stylish yellow jerseys are sure to blind opponents.

Team to score most own goals: France
Most likely to choke in the group stages: USA
Underdog with the best chance: Japan
Most likely to choke in a shootout: Spain
Team with the most yellow cards: England
Team with the most red cards: Tunisia
Most boring team to watch: Italy
Most selfish team: Holland

That’s enough projections for now. Let’s hope some of these actually turn out.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

This Day in History

365 days ago (or was it 364?) today, I left for India. I can still vividly remember the ride to the airport, the check-in person almost not letting me on my flight because my return flight date was after my visa expiry date, the feeling of “didn’t I just go through this 6 months earlier?,” the unagi (grilled eel) for lunch on my flight, the agonizing 8 hours in the not-yet-improved Taipei airport (of which 1 consisted of a less than delicious “free” meal), the pleasant feeling of being given a free International Herald-Tribune before boarding the plane (only to realize that reading it was going to be difficult due to my inability to keep my eyes open), the anticipation of arriving in Delhi, the smell of the baggage retrieval area, the “what the hell do I do now?” moment of genius, the 38 degree suffocating heat at 3 AM, and, yes, the disaster affectionately called “The Delhi Debacle” that consumed the next 12 hours of my life…but that’s another story.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Kelsey Wilson, On Location: Diving Certification?

Kelsey just can’t seem to stay out of trouble. Perhaps unfortunate for her, but certainly not for the blog. Enjoy her latest “frantic” episode:

So everyone sleeps in for something important at least once in their life. In first year i drunkenly slept through a spanish presentation, and nobody would be my partner for the rest of the year. This year in the summer i again (drunkenly) slept in and, being wickedly hungover failed to help my parents move all my stuff into my apartment for the schoolyear. But this, THIS was by far the most dissapointing and most expensive sleep-in i have ever experienced.

So picture this: 3 girls in a 4 bed-dorm. I go to bed early (10pm) because i need to get up at 5. Everythings going well. I'm drifting off to coldplay, the fan is blowing cool air, no giant bugs in the room, AND...AND the bunk below me is free! So i have all my stuff piled down there, ready to be put in my backpack. (There's really nothing like a perfect pack in the morning).
BAM!!!! door slams open...shut...open....shut....people pile in yelling in german, korean etc. etc. etc. My stuff on the bunk below? Scattered absolutely everywhere....i just need to sleep.

They keep me up until 5 in the morning when finally everyone passes out. (Half these people aren't even supposed to be in this hostel room). So my last thought before drifting off at about 5:30 was how horrible it would be to sleep in the next day and miss my big event.

FUCK! sun streaming in window....when does the sun rise???? it's too late! quick watch check. 7:30. where am i?????? quickly jump off the top bunk, roll ankle, worry about it later....what should i do!! put your pants on!!!! (a wise person who was late for school once told me this is the first thing you should do.) Gathering stuff, leaving things i can't fit. RUN to the diveshop. Nobotdy there....realise the strange looks i've been getting is because i didn't zip up my jacket....no time!!! RUN to the docks....nobody can tell me where the boat is. FUCKED. What should i do??? Call my mom.

When in doubt, I call my Mom. She managed to calm me down and when the diveshop opened i went in. Two options: 1) go tomorrow and meet up with the group, and you MIGHT get 4 out of the 9 dives in...MIGHT... 2) pay the standby fee (which is suspiciously almost the same as the actual fee) and go tomorrow. get all the dives in. What should i do??? Call my mom. She says to go for the expensive option. It'll be my birthday present (and then some).

So i leave the diveshop, tear stained face and adrenaline pumping to the max. A woman standing on the street who basically saw everything from the beginning asked me if it all worked out. I only nodded, so she walked toward me and hugged me, which is exactly what i needed. So everything is fine now,i've switched hostels and the wonderful woman who runs this one made me feel right at home (actually the hostel is full so i am staying RIGHT IN her home).

So the moral of the story is that good things can happen when strangers hug you (i've had another hugging incident here but that one will take up a whole other e-mail)

Sunday, June 04, 2006

My Life Works in 5-Month Cycles

My life is apparently one culture shock cycle after another. It’s been five months since I’ve been back and, believe it or not, I feel the same way now as I did after five months in India: why am I here again?

I can understand why it was like that in India, but Calgary is supposed to be my home. Good thing I learned how to deal with it the first time, otherwise things could get ugly. Who knows, I might make some hasty decision as to my September plans.

Speaking of which, I’m often asked what I intend to do when I graduate in August. To those, I say, “You’re asking the wrong person.”

Anyone have any suggestions? Because I am thoroughly perplexed.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Outstanding

I just read that, while in India, I inhaled numerous carcinogens and other substances with levels far beyond permissible limits. It’s always nice to get some good news in the morning.

Friday, June 02, 2006

In the Rose Garden

If y’all are looking for the best Thai food in Calgary, look no further than the Rose Garden on 8th Avenue and Centre Street.

You walk up into the place and are immediately greeted with a wave of Thai ambience (it also helps when your friend says, “This is exactly like Thailand.”): artefacts all over the walls, bamboo structures, and one giant, gold Buddha. Although completely unrelated to Thailand, each table is adorned with a bottle of wine. Picking your table, then, becomes a matter of find a wine that you like. They say wine is an acquired taste. I, apparently, have yet to acquire that taste.

We ended up with some cashew chicken, pad thai, red curried beef, and a whole lot of coconut rice. Top notch, as far as I was concerned, however I’ve never been to Thailand and, therefore, had nothing to compare the food to. Last time I had Thai was in India…go figure.