Monday, 12 May 2014

The place with the dollar bill..

A bill, however small always has its precedence over coins, however many. Coins are known to be neglected and forgotten about whether they are left in the corner of the room, lost pockets of old wallets or on a sidewalk with people passing by. Coins are always a supplement to bills, never a substitute.

When I first thought of moving to the States from Canada I couldn't think of many differences between the two countries. Of
course the difference in weather patterns hit me in my face the day I landed but nothing apart from that struck me as a stark difference. I started working for the first time in my life on May 22nd 2013 and my first day at work was pretty usual until it was time for lunch. I nervously walked up to the closest Deli I could find (just so I wouldn't take too long a lunch break on my first day) and stared at the menu while standing in one of the longest lines I have ever seen for food. When I finally had my turn to order I told the cashier what I wanted and opened my wallet to pay for my order. That is when it struck me, the States use a dollar bill. Suddenly the value of a dollar was raised by simply the appearance of it.

Everyone has their own moment when they realize the value of money. Most people have theirs when they receive their first pay cheque. I had my moment while paying for lunch at Bistro Burger on May 22nd 2013.

It was a transition I made from the place with the 2 dollar coin to the place with the 1 dollar bill.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Bursting the bubble (wrap)...

I first moved to a new home when I was less than a year old. While I was not expected to help pack then,  I soon realized that I was born into a family of movers and I would have plenty of opportunity to pack and move in the future. My family moves on an average of one home every two years. Why you ask? We like to learn, grow and succeed through movement! We’ve had local, national, and international as well as individual family members moving in the past. And through each of these experiences I’ve learned an important art: PACKING. So here are the 10 steps to packing:

 1. Illusion 
 “ I don’t have that much stuff to pack, it will only take a day!”
The first step of every packing event is the perception of minimal work. Whether you’re an experienced packer or an amateur, you always seem to undermine the power of THINGS. Nobody ever accounts for the fact that your drawer is a world in itself with stuff that amounts at least twice as much as you will ever have imagined.
2. Planning 
“OK so I’ll do the kitchen today and the bedroom tomorrow, there’s nothing in the bathrooms so one box would be enough”  
This is a crucial step for future humor. 99% of plans made while packing are flushed down by the time the movers arrive, the reasons for which shall be seen shortly.

3. Realization
“Oh God I’m screwed”
The realization of your plan being a super fail dawns upon you soon after the planning stage. Soon all your “planned” boxes are filled and you move on to the “just in case” boxes and you realize the bathrooms took up most of them! It’s time for some re-planning.

4. Disbelief
“When did I buy this? I swear this is not my stuff!”
This is the moment we all have been waiting for. When you stare at stuff you swear you have never used or seen or bought in your life. But this is also a good sign because you have finally reached the corner of the cupboard that you never cleaned or reached out for!

5. Reminiscing
“ Remember when we got this?”
This is the step for retrospection, old memories, happiness, tears and least productivity. No packing ever gets done if you look for a story behind everything you bought. So never keep your eyes open while packing photo albums because that would make you time travel back to Step 3.

6. To keep or not to keep
“Just because I haven’t used it for 4 years doesn’t mean I won’t need it ever!”
Parting with stuff you forgot you had can be very difficult. You try to go into your 4 year old self who bought it and look for a reason to keep it. You try to make a web of “What if I ever need it?” to support your decision.

 7. Desperation
This is the step where most of the packing gets done. You dump everything in sight into anything you can find. No mercy on any fragile items because you just want to be done. And soon you are done and you wonder why you wasted your time organizing the 1st few boxes. This is also a stage where you are confused what to label the box because it contains dishes, toothbrushes, books and a lamp!

8. Unpacking and Self Loathing
“ I’m tired I’ll unpack tomorrow. I hate myself, I can’t find anything anywhere!”
Yes unpacking is a step of packing because without it, packing would make no sense! This step takes on average 3 times the time that packing takes. If you’re a student you will always have boxes that you won’t open until it is time to move again. Although, you will always assume you would remember where everything is because you were the one packing it, most things you need would always be in the last box you check.

9. Resolution
“ I will not buy unnecessary things in this new house! Only stuff that is absolutely needed”
I guess this step explains itself. You promise never to put yourself through this process again because you’re the only one suffering because of it. But as soon as you're unpacked, you forget all about the resolution.

 10. Back to square one
“ C’mon, one little thing won’t create a clutter!”
And soon you are back to where you started, needing double the boxes the next time you pack and move.

So to anybody that thought packing was a piece of cake, here are 10 steps to burst your bubble (and that's a wrap!) :P

Freedom versus Laundry :/

“A year has 12 months,” said my 4th Grade teacher as I frantically scribbled it in my notebook. I woke up on every New Year’s Day and slept again on New Year’s Eve without wanting to relive the past 365 and quarter days. 10 years later, I realize the worth of the 12 months each year has to offer me.

As the seasons change, my world around me changes too. The year now starts with enthusiasm and determination. As the leaves shed off of trees, my enthusiasm begins to imitate them. By the time it is winter, I know I need more than just an alarm to get me started. The gloomy mood of the winter is brightened by Christmas and New Year’s Eve but my year hasn’t ended just yet. The cloudy winter gives way to the sun and I start to bloom like the sunflower. Then come the best 4 months of the year, summer.

Would the year still feel segmented if I chose a different lifestyle at University? Would each segment of the year still feel different from the other? University life gives you two lifestyle options. I call them the narcissistic approach and the ozone layer.

The narcissistic approach is when students choose to live on their own far from the comforts of home and everything they know whereas the ozone layer as the name suggests includes a protective shield of familiarity by living at home.

While the former includes returning to an empty apartment every night, the latter involves returning to a house full of guests from time to time. Which one seems better for a stressed student? Nobody knows. Narcissism includes caring about nobody but oneself but sometimes even that seems to be a lot of work. On the other hand, while the ozone layer can seem smothering at times, it protects us in the time of need.

In the past 4 years at University I’ve wondered how the scenarios are different and here’s what I concluded:

1. Student  - “I’m sick. *sniff*”
Student - “Mommy! Can I have some soup?”
2. Student  -  “I’m going to stay at the lab till I finish this assignment.”
Family - “When are you getting home? We have to go grocery shopping!”
3. Student  -” I’m starving and all the restaurants are shut down.”
Family - “I’ll heat the food for you, go change.”
4. Student  -  ” I’m lonely”
Family - “The neighbours are here to visit.”
5. Student  -  “I’m just going straight to bed, I have loads to do tomorrow.”
Family - “The neighbours are here to visit!!“(Ironic how this can be both good and bad)
6. Student  -  “I’ll just skip meals for now. Need to get this work done.”
Family - “Did you have lunch yet? GO GET LUNCH FIRST!”

After thoroughly scrutinizing every detail of both worlds, I’ve made up my mind. If a few years of laundry is what is going to make me appreciate my family, freedom and segment my calendar each year, then I need more detergent. :)

NOTE: Published as written on December 2012

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Do you want the ice cream anyway?

Being in 2nd year engineering is like standing in line for ice cream. Halfway through the queue you realize that the vendor has ran out of your favourite flavour. So what do you do? Stand and get an ice cream anyway only because you spent the past 30 mins in line and there are 20 other people behind you making you feel like you accomplished something by being patient? Or walk away realizing that vanilla can never be chocolate?

Having day to day conversations with every Engineering student I know has made me realize that most regret their choice. But quitting would mean making another choice and who can guarantee that being any better. Is it just a desire for a simpler life driving them towards rethinking? Or is it the actual lack of interest in vanilla flavoured ice cream?

Entering into a University's engineering program is glamorous.For the first few weeks people look at you with eyes filled with respect. As weeks pass by the same people tell you they have a 5 day spring break when you have 5 midterms.Self judgment stage ONE. Slowly, things get better as your perspective to look at things changes. You see a big pay cheque at the end of 4 years and that gets you through the 5 midterms.Now all you have to do is finish 2 easy assignments. But just when you think your life isn't bad at all, your roommate says she has 2 days off for no reason!So there you are back again judging yourself, questioning your choice, "loving" your professors and "loving" your University for treating it's Engineering students with so much "love and care".

In this viscous cycle of thought, 4 years pass by and you finally get your ice cream. And who knows maybe by the time you reach the vendor might have restocked chocolate again! It's your decision, stay for the Vanilla or leave for the Chocolate. Lucky for me, I always wanted butterscotch! ;-)

Saturday, 28 January 2012

When the Universe said Amen...

Be careful what you wish for, they always told me. But then again so do they say reading a book in low light ruins your eyes and Dr. Oz clearly proved them wrong!

I moved to the cold white north in September last year and I was welcomed with a breeze. To a girl from so close to the equator, that meant covering up in 3 layers of clothing. Little did I know that what we call winter back home does not even qualify as a Fall in my new home. The idea of 4 seasons was new to me and so was it to my wardrobe. Quickly adjusting to the new environment my wardrobe transformed itself to have more clothing than I remember.

And then prevailed Winter. The coldest, numbest feeling crept in me. My claims of "I like the cold better than the scorching Sun" fell apart all at once. The snow was pretty when it didn't touch the ground. The trees were leafless and I wasn't sure if they'd felt as strongly about the cold as I did. The pigeons that dodged me on my way to school everyday were all gone. (Trust me if you have ever been to Toronto and walked on the street you will not be able to convince a pigeon to give you way. They are stubborn like that.) Everything around me suggested I HATE WINTERS! 

I wished to have a warmer winter. I wished to see the Sun everyday. I wished there was no snow.

2011 went by as quickly as it came and it was time for the much awaited and talked about "End of the World" year. I was skeptical about the idea all along. But the winter suggested otherwise. Everyone was happy about a warm November, everyone was impatient about the idea of not having a white Christmas and everyone was terrified at a non-snowy January. Every rainy day of January suggested something was wrong with the Universe. It wasn't behaving as normal. The trees weren't sure whether to shed their leaves and the pigeons were confused what direction to fly to. The Sun was a permanent resident of the sky. Everything I hoped for had come true, and yet I wasn't happy.

The world might not end in 2012 but if we don't mend our ways, it might just be the beginning of the end.