Thursday, December 20, 2007

Remind you of anyone?

It's Steve Jobs - co::founder of Apple.

A friend sent this pic to me today. This looks like my room. 
My friend just told me that Steve is a white version of me ::
India both changed our lives, 
we both have the same type A personality, 
same b-day, 
we are both left handed 
and we share a slew of other common traits...

This man is definitely my long lost uncle!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Xmas Parties

I hosted two back to back parties last week - Thursday Class Party and Friday's friends clash.
It was alot of fun and I was exhausted from cleaning on Sunday.

/dr meets guitar hero

Class party! Crazy dancing + some good food!

Class gift - they know how much I heart cupcakes.
This set is from the "Cupcake Shoppe" on Eglinton :: 2nd best in t.O

cheers to dan + graham for the jazzie background vibes!
+ blake for "eternal" grabbing the enoch original light from the love feast.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

One of these isn't correct.

i'm in london. i hear you're in markham. karen says hi.

Can you guess which one?

Friday, December 07, 2007

Record clocks?

Since this place inspires me constantly, I keep giving myself little projects to do.

Today I took an old record and turned it into clock.

Record :10cents + Clock :$1.00 + Time :3 minutes = One fun Xmas gift for a mate.

Plus I am making a couple for the place.
One for India. One for the Uk. One for Canada.

My landlord is a sculptor and our lives don't really intertwine for his periodic visits for studio sculpting - so it's weird to have the whole space to myself.

It's friday nite and I home with a nice cup of darjeeling tea + feist.


On the move AGAIN.

I sat down and figured it out today.
I haven't lived in one place for more than 9 months in the PAST 9
years. I should be a bit more messed up than I am now - but for some
reason it doesn't feel like the end of the world and I feel fine.

In keeping with that tradition - life played itself out where I had to
move again, this time
I-sort-of-got-accustom to life in a condo in a pretty ritzy part of
town. It was a bit tooo posh for me, but I felt blessed everyday to be
in that space. It was a really different world for me with a Huge HD
Tv, $3000 couches and glass shower. Now I don't really miss any of it
except that I really miss my roommate.

This time faith moved me to the complete opposite side of the tracks
to bloor and lansdowne. I did a community walk of the area and
literally feel in love with it. It has the same vibe as my old hood
Queen and Broadview before the Starbucks + pretentious people moved
It has the same Bank of Montreal, value village, jerk chicken, cool
beer place, a local community centre [aka strip club], train tracks
and a slew of really cheap variety stores and neighbourhood groceries.
+ there are no commercial box stores for a 15 minute walk in any
direction. I heart that!

So I am in love with it and this new loft that I am living in is
tucked far away from it all in the corner of the hood + it's full of
interesting artist + bricks walls + high ceilings.


Monday, December 03, 2007

delaying homework - looking at links - this is sooooooooooo cool. IT RULES!

I heart spacing and going to skip at couple hrs of homework to attend
the party tonite. Mostly to check out the new LEED certified church on
queen east.


We need one in Toronto. Dan start one.

Insane weekend.

Following Adrianne's comment on my health. I have some good news to
report - I am feeling alot better and the meds are slowly wearing off
- I feel kinda normal.

Saying that I am still in shock that I pulled of this weekend alive and well.

Friday was suppose to be the mom/son weekend retreat - but she didn't
want to leave town so we hung around Toronto at the Keg, watched a
movie and brewed some homemade tea.
Craziness happened when my baby cousin felt ill and we rushed to visit
him at the hospital - he's less than 6 months so it was intense to see
this beautiful spirit sick.
We took my other baby cousin home and then next day I showed him how
to cook breakfast for adults. I miss hanging around young children -
they give me sooo much energy - adults have so much drama.

Then I went back to the new apartment to clean - yeah - I moved this
weekend as well. The new place is a huge departure from the old place
and it kinda looks like the apartment from Rent. I really like it ALOT
- but it's also ALOT of cleaning and the high loft ceiling makes the
wind chime with some freaky creaky rythmn.
Headed off to a friend's Bday bash, watched the snow storm and went to
bed around 4amish.

Woke up at 10am - meet my friend at the Grapefruit moon for brekkie -
went home did homework for a billion hours and then headed back to the
4am house to help make sushi and attend the church love feast. The
feast reminds me that our community is cool and sometimes, just
sometimes that all the politics is worth it.

I got home around 10pmish and just in time to do homework and hit the bed.
Hurray for Toronto - I love it here!

Now I have some essays and assignment due in the next bit - so I am
off to hide in my loft to finish em up.


Monday, November 26, 2007

Sittin at a B and B in Orangeville.

I think I am becoming more human. Well not quite - but I as I get older I am starting to miss people a bit more and more.

For some reason I almost started to cry and I got a little flustered when I realized that my cupcake buddy was sitting alone in the east end waiting for me with a red velvet cupcake.

Due to my lack of internet at home - I missed my cupcake time with LL and only found out about it 6 hrs later.

So my best mate and I did the one hour hetic drive to get the last batch of cupcakes in Toronto.  Then I lost my cell phone and I had to play telephone tag with the lovely sue to figure out the rendevous time with LL before her and Sue moved to New York forever happily ever.

It was hetic and fun - but at the end of the morning I managed to see my friend for 10 mins, apologize with 8 cupcakes [there were a dozen but the temptaion was wayyyy too much] + some gift from Tibet. 
Then I made the mad dash to the subway to head to Orangeville to co-lead some workshops on cultural sensitivity and travelling in India.

On the subway I started to cry because I really miss my platonic cupcake buddy and well my world is really different/same here in T.O this year.

Whatever happened to this Jam? I kinda want him back.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Still sick.

It sucks to be sick for the past two weeks and then suckier to know
it's going to happen for the next two weeks.

Some cool things have happened in all this sickness - I spent last
week at a schmoozer Fundraising conference. It was weird to spend my
time in a suit, politely handing over business cards over roast beef
and wine + it was weird to meet people that give $20 million to a

It was a mandatory school event and it was fun and awkward to network.

Speaking of school - I am in the middle of writing a $1million
campaign for a not-for-profit Christian group - really excited because
I think we can actually raise that much money plus much more.

My world is sooo weird.


Friday, November 09, 2007


Yeah it's been happeing for the past 3 days.
I feel sooo ill - vomitting, headaches and I just feel weak.
This is the re-action to the antibotics that I am taking to get rid of
some india bugs that I had since July?. It's been a tough ride dealing
with it for the past couple of months but I grew accustom to the

I also don't like meds - I rarely take em and would honestly have
nothing to do with these ones - but this is really important and I
tried some herbal stuff in Nepal in August with no resutls.

So for the next two weeks life is going to be me dealing with this
sickness while attending an important school conference.

Plus I feel like a big baby when I get sick because I rarely get sick with meds.



Cupcake, Cafe Latte and India

It's weird being back. I know that I have been back for 2 1/2 months
now but it still feels really crazy to plunge into a COMPLETELY
different world. In early Sept I was sitting on my boat in Pokhara
reading "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" drifting towards the
mountains and then suddenly a week later plunge myself into the world
of Fundraising.

Now that the dust has settled and India has come to a seasonal close -
I really miss some of my dear friends from last year

I deeply miss LL - she was my monday nite cupcake partner and we
talked about everything under the sun...she moved in August to New
York and is now designing hotels...her current Brooklyn pad looks

I miss LTK - she was my lifeline with India and I developed a deep
platonic working crush on her....she moved to the Netherlands before I
left for India and it took me a couple week to get over the fact that
she moved when I got back home. I have some immense respect for this
women...her current pad also looks amazing.

I also miss my old roommate/neighbourhood coffee buddy Neil - we would
randomly go for coffee on the east end and chat with people on the
I also really miss checking "Now Magazine" to see if he is performing
and sneaking into his apartment to steal clothes or clean his place. I
walked by the old flat the other day and I started to shed a tear...
Neil moved to Montreal to dance and knowing Neil his pad is probably

I miss it all...but I thank God for the new season and the new
adventure of life.

Miss you guys.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Top Five :: July 2006 - Oct 2007 :: Tibet, Toronto and Tea

Here is the top that I massed email out to everyone last week - unfortunately I goofed up and didn't BCC the email - opps!
The plan is to post 7- 10 this week. Enjoy.
1. India, Rishikesh ::
During my last update in India - I set of for a month of meditation and peace. Eventually with the help of Tibetan hipsters, I ended up in Rishikesh. I spent my days mediating by the river Ganges, engaging my bones in morning yoga and my mind by attended some interesting lectures based on Buddhism, Christianity,Gandhi, Hinduism and Jesus.

Faith was kind to me, because a couple weeks prior I gave all my money to a Mother Teresa's project. So I spent a good chunk of my time starving and I only had $75 to live on for the whole entire month and it was seriously ONE of the best months of my life.

I was constantly starving and weak, but I continually kept giving all my possession away - at one point my only meal for the day was a watermelon that I could only afford at the nite market.  I usually shared this meal with my amazing neighbours in the ashram.

When I returned to Kolkata 4 weeks later - my friends didn't recognize me and even the nuns I worked with for 4 summers thought I was a homeless Kolkatan.
My blog for June tells some really cool stories.

During this time I learnt more about food and my life than anything that was thrown at me in the past 6 years+

2. Tea, Lhasa :: Tibet :: The nunnery
Tibet changed my life. I was very blessed to spend 3 weeks in Lhasa. During this time I got an apartment [the former HH - teacher's pad], purchased an ass-bike, took Tibetan classes at the university and spent every afternoon at the nunnery [see pic below] hanging out with nuns. I heart Tibetan nuns and every afternoon I practiced my Tibetan with everyone in the cafe - it was amazing to witness a row of elderly people showing me how to count to 10 and teaching me customs for eating.  Most importantly I learnt to share every meal and every cup of tea with EVERYONE in the cafe and this became an automatic part of my life.  As soon as your glass is empty you automatically fill it for another person, it was a great sign of respect.
Pics are here::

3. Media :: Youtube
It's kinda funny to be off the grid for a couple months - no tv, no magazines  and no hipsters... then I come back home to the west and see the new fads.  Last year Youtube shocked me and then online video journals shocked me. I have been doing this since 2001. now I am all camera shy...

Facebook: "A stalker's wet dream" [and the C.I.A] I am very sure that I will have to join facebook before the end of the school semester, because even my teacher uses it for networking and I am constantly left out of class events. Does anyone know who owns facebook?

Music: My left ear is currently listening to Indie band "Miracle Fortress" My right ear has " Kevin Drew" and for some bizarre reason M.I.A is making my feet move.

Tuesday Night is date nite: It started off as let's-see-how-well-we-can-get-to-know-each-other-date. Then it progressed into a weekly event and now it's my goal to introduce everyone to her. So here I go... Pushing Daises is now my biggest crush and it's easily the most magical hour of television.
The writing is soo good [un like my blog] that I usually watch it twice just to get the in jokes. Move over Feist - Anna Friel is slowly becoming my new crush. [LL you should work on this show and you ARE chuck]

4. Toronto :: Dishwasher/Pre-Chef
Simple living it's been a process of the past 5 years to build up this point, but the constant struggle of need vs want has to be put through the grinder every couple years in order to keep life interesting. After my return to Toronto last summer I really wanted a different life.  So I decided to got a job that ends at 4pm - no extra hours and no unnecessary stress. I applied to wash dishes in a neighbourhood restaurant [believe it or not this is one of my dream jobs] and 3 days later found myself promoted to prep chef as well. It was soooooo aweome to learn how to cook some really creative meals and work in an industry that I knew absolutely nothing about - I found it riveting and exhasuting.
I also got a very simple aparment - and decided to live life very simple. I got 2knives, 2 forks , 2 plates etc & I decided to built almost all of my own furniture and kept it neatly bohmenian. Community living was amazing - I had tabs in all the local hotspots,[even had keys to local pub!] and would only purchase goods from the community - if it wasn't from the East End then I would think long and hard if I ever actually needed it. This was an extremely hard season for me, but I really wanted to know if I could take 8 years of travel experience and international work and bring that lifestyle to Toronto.

5. Best Email:
Hey Jam!
I hope all is well with you in Nepal and thank you for inviting me on the
trip and taking me under your wing. It's been amazing. I don't even know
what to say. Just know that the path my life takes it is in part due to the
influence you had in it:)
Safe travels,

This email rocked my world. I hired my former CWY participant to be my co-leader for the India trip last summer and we just kicked ass this summer for working together. It's kinda crazy that the person who has seen every side of me and who I have spent the most time with in the past 2 years is a 19 year old girl who lives in Calgary. Her boyfriend must be jealous.

6. Bonus::
FreedomizeIndia:: I am sooo blessed to go to India five seasons in a row. I feel even more blessed to take 2 groups this year - the first trip was easily one the best trip that I have ever been a part of...people got the vision and just rolled with it - it's been 6 months and people are still serving in Kolkata.
I simple stand back in awe every year and think of how much India, Mother Teresa and the people that I meet have changed my life. It's the constant struggle and joy to push myself + faith that makes it all possible.

I hope all is well with everyone and if you don't want to be on this list - please eletter me and I will fix it up.

Have a great day everyone!

peace and blessings
Mr. Jam



Sunday, October 21, 2007

Another long nite... + THANKS!

It's 2.30am right now..
Last nite it was 5am. With 3 back to back meetings of school groups
and india work...

I feel soo exhausted and I know I keep saying this...but it's sooo much fun.
I love living in Toronto and I try to make the most out of every
single day - visiting friends, stretching myself with intense life
lessons, patio munchies, homework and doing the stuff that I can't do
on the road. I really try to live each day to the max here...

I also wanted to say the past week I have gotten some
amazing e-letters from people that I didn't even know read my blog :>
I simply didn't even know what to do!
It was all soooo encouraging to read...still in shock from it
all...and it all when deep.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

one nite...

The last 5 days have been one big blur...
I pulled close to 3 all niters in the past 4 days and everything seems
to have melted into one. Today I finish the big assignment - only to
notice that there are 5 other "big" ones due in the next week - meh?

I went out with a mate to celebrate and my eye starting twitching and
I almost passed on from pure exhaustion.
Plus on top of that I am really sick - I feel like death. My meds [yes
I am that sick - i am actually taking meds!] are sitting right beside
my computer but I refuse to take all of em ... after reading the crazy
warnings and reading reviews on the net. I want my mind to be sorta of
solid for the next while. So I just need to finish the next 1 1/2 week
of crazy school work + life and then it can all come back to some sort
of "normal" I can take these pills and stop vomitting etc.

I do have to admit though - this is all quite fun. I love pushing
myself, my thoughts and ideas. Life has been shitty but these
wonderful distractions has given me some more time to focus quite
while on the crap.


btw>> this quote rocks!
After a certain point, money is meaningless. It ceases to be the goal.
The game is what counts.
"Aristotle Onassis"

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Good luck Chuck.

I sold chuck norris last week friday. I miss him - he was a good bike.
Unfortunately the high brake maintenance + constant moving makes life harder for me to keep him. 
I miss him and biking in the city - and now it's too cold to get a new bike :<

I am just happy that I faced my fear of biking in the city. It was short lived - but it was nice. Tomorrow I walk.


There are pockets in my life that I wish that I was just "normal" - well is "anybody really normal?" - well I wish I had a 9-5 job, monthly bills, friends that don't associate me with winter coats, more than a suitcase of possessions and living in one place for more than 3 months at a time...

This path is hard and when you fuck up and stumble it gets harder. The world really wants people like to me fail - they enjoy it...
Plus faith usually teaches me a harsh lesson.
Is this really worth it?

Thanksgiving weekend was hard being with the family, this week it's just hard being... I found out that I was right with a really small issue but then I approached it in an extremely wrong way and well my incompetence was unusually harmful and I just f**ked up. It's kinda funny that you can work soooooo hard and put your blood into something so intense and then you mess it up in one moment...
This is my life.

At church I got my heart pulled out by the sermon that was specifically ordained for me... and man... did the that ever hurt, being proven an asshole is one thing but hearing it subliminally[?] told to a whole church + friends is another. The truth hurts and the pastor even looked up at me and I felt like judgement day at the pearly gates was on...
I sat there and prayed, but God left me in Kolkata during a rainy monsoon in June and his peace + spirit has not returned since...

So prayer didn't help one bit, vipassana meditation didn't help either and so I decided to tuck my tail in between my legs and limp out straight to my sin - the unfair trade coffee at Second cup. Standing there in line after ordering a soy cafe latte - I turned around to see and old friend and my heart instantly sank even lower... WTF is she doing in Canada? Why here? Why now? [Abe] What are the odds?

I couldn't deal with the awkward hello and small talk so I whisked out hoping that they she didn't recognize me [few people in Toronto really know my face in a crowd] I put on some Across the Universe and decided to take the long walk home...hoping to hell not to bump in Gandhi and Marilyn Manson smoking weed in the park.

Now the latte has conflicted with my stomach meds and I feel sick + with a whole all nighter of homework is coming up...


Monday, October 08, 2007

I heart thanksgiving and my family...

However being around them is more depressing than uplifiting. It's the constant disapproval of my life, the travelling, the "poverty" and ...  and it's getting harder as I get older...

On to other news ::
The best letter arrived from my former participant in Sri Lanka - I love decoding em'!

you now i will go to jaffna naxt week if you werth me you cuod hawe go to jaffna werth me . its will be good for you bechors  i now you good trewala  .JAM I WHONT  ARAUNDE IN THE WERLLD HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

I am also looking for insurance for "Chuck Norris" - does anyone where I can find that in Toronto?


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

At home sick today...

My head hurts, my throat is so sore and my spirit feels weak... I just walked about 20 steps to the bathroom and couch and I feel exhausted...
It's 1pm and I am going to back to bed...


Monday, October 01, 2007

My weekend in pics...

After a morning peek of LTK's blog, the pic of her new fancy pink bike [which I love] got to my heart. So here is my response - my weekend in pics...

School + Red Bull + car + girls = corporation yuck!

Halo sunset from my roomate's pad.

Saturday I volunteered with my friend Scott and planted trees on the island - these are my trees!
My bike aka "Chuck Norris"- Esther from freedomize suggested a name.... I picked the first one that came to my mind...

Riding around the island really rocked - the weather was perfect and the sky was beautiful...
Sunrise view from my balcony after the long nite at Nuit Blanche.

I heart this city.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Today is going to kick ass...

Yesterday I spent the entire afternoon hanging out with my best mate - drinking exotic beers and laughing ALOT.  It's a really nice distraction from the world [buddhist monks in Burma] + I didn't even think about school once and it's good to be exhausted from anything else beside school.

I saw "The Kingdom" last nite - and I highly recommend this movie! The intro is just simple amazing...
and the rest just follows...the ending is superb.

Today ::
Breakfast with the Community "Guru" Andrew + Tree planting on the island + Mom's B'day Dinner + Nuite Blanche + All nighter with friends = THE BEST TORONTO DAY EVER!

I am so excited that I might pee my pants...

Tomorrow = homework, I really love school - it's fun and fantastic.

Can't wait to post pics...


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

School presentation...

Doing a short class presentation on Cause Marketing for Non-Profits and came up with some cool links to check out...
I might buy one for my family as a xmas gift...
Toronto - I heart you - this is 500% better than american apparel plus porn free!
Damn funny - Jesus I also heart you

Okay it's 1.30am - late nite post are always crazy, must stop homework and go to sleep....


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Ass bike? Nope - it's pimping time

With TTC prices on the raise starting next month and after my random coffee with Sue, I really started to look at other options for travelling around Toronto. I really wanted to support the TTC but with prices going up every year and my part time career actually costing me more money to do than what I make - it was time to start doing something a bit different...

So for the cost of 5 monthly passes - I purchased an electric bike!

The last time I biked in Toronto was 4 years ago and it scarrrrred the shit out of me - biking in Delhi and Tibet felt sooo much safer...So this is weird and every time I get on it - I face my fear of biking in Toronto, and this is part of the plan to constantly face the fear head on until I love it.

It was kinda weird yesterday standing in the store and picking out bikes to ride up and down the street... I kinda felt a bit giddy and it reminded me of being a high school kid driving my first car...

The store owners were quite nice that with my subtle Asia bargaining skills I was able to get a damn good deal on a red moped style helmet, a lock and a tarp!

The e-bike reminds me of the one that I had in Cambodia last year and I really thought that I picked a simple looking bike - but all my friends admit that it looks pretty pimped and it's a sweet smooth drive. It's also good to have random conversations with strangers again... I probably had over a dozen people ask me questions about it in just one day.

Well back to doing homework - it's kinda funny that it's a perfect Saturday morning and I am inside doing homework.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Young African American women tortured

My friend from L.A. emailed me this last nite and I couldn't sleep for
a while...
I couldn't believe that this still exists...

Racist sickos allegedly tortured black W.Va. woman for week

Wednesday, September 12th 2007, 4:00 AM

Megan Williams is comforted by mother, Carmen, in Charleston, W.Va.,
hospital bed as Megan recovers from horrifying ordeal of torture and
rape, allegedly at hands of racists.

Suspects in abuse Lured into a house of hate, a black West Virginia
woman was raped, choked, stabbed and forced to eat dog and rat feces
as her six white tormentors berated her with the N-word, prosecutors
said yesterday.
The ghastly week-long ordeal for 20-year-old Megan Williams ended
Saturday when she stumbled out of her captors' shack near Charleston,
pleading for help from cops responding to an anonymous tip at the
Among those facing hate-crimes prosecution in the gruesome case are
two mothers and their two adult children, officials said.
"This seems like outright malice. It's something you'd see in a
horror movie," said prosecutor Brian Abraham, adding that the FBI was
assisting the investigation.
Williams, 20, is in a hospital recovering from days of torture, but
she may never recover from the emotional trauma she's endured, her
mother said.
"Every time they stabbed her, they called her 'n----r,'" Carmen
Williams told The Charleston Gazette. "She wakes up in the middle of
the night screaming, 'Mommy.' What's really bad is that we don't know
everything they did to her. She is crying all the time."
While the Daily News tries to protect the identities of
sexual-assault victims, Carmen Williams insisted the press identify
her daughter so that the public is "aware that things like that will
Cops said Megan Williams was intentionally lured into the trap by two
people she thought were her friends.
"Apparently once they got her there they planned to do this," said
Logan County Deputy Police Chief V.K. Dingess.
Arrested were Frankie Brewster, 49, and her son Bobby, 24. Also
nabbed were Karen Burton, 46; her daughter Alisha, 23; Danny Combs,
20, and George Messer, 27.
Police were searching for two others, who allegedly drove her to the house.
The suspects took turns beating, stabbing, choking and sexually
abusing Williams while constantly threatening her with death,
according to a criminal complaint.
A rope was placed around Williams' neck, her hair was ripped out and
she was made to eat dog and rat feces, drink from a toilet and lick up
blood, the complaint charges. At one point, she was sexually assaulted
while scalding water was poured on her body.
She was stabbed in the leg at least four times and both of her ankles
were cut by a female suspect who allegedly taunted her, saying,
"That's what we do to n-----s around here."
"They abused her sexually, stabbed her and probably would have killed
her if they had not gotten caught," said Magistrate Leonard Codispoti.

punitive measures only continue to foster violence...

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Tibet pics...

Are here.

It's a sneak pic. I am working on putting the rest of the pics from India and Nepal up in the next couple days and then a mass email to actually tell people that I am "home"

This one here is not on the website yet... this is house wine from the House of Shambala - it's hard to find good wine on the road and well my Lhasa friend and I polished off two bottles - who can resist with a story like that? [read the fine print]

peace +


Tuesday, September 18, 2007


I decided to spend the afternoon by myself - just walking around the city and getting back into the groove of things.

So I set out for a long walk and hit the queen west art crawl - which was quite amazing to see all those crazy hipsters in one place...i loved it.... then I randomally bumped into Sue [who also went for a walk to get back in the groove of Toronto] and it was perfect timing because I needed advice on a rare sweater purchase.  Her sweater advice was pretty impressive so we went out for coffee and talked about random summer tidbits
After that I hit the damn good Ehtopian Vegan restaurant on Queen West for some lite samosa's and then my fave bar called the Rhino for my friend's Bday. It was fun meeting people again that I haven't seen in months...

Then I made the mad dash to the Film Festival for a weird brother/sister tradition.  Midnite Madness.  My sister and I have for the past 5 years started watching horror films together - we usually put up our hoodies, duck our heads, cuddle up together and scream out loud... + we usually have a good history of pickin films...Well this French film just didn't disappoint - [ has a good review] it was the goriest movie that I have sever seen and it completed the crazy nite. Midnite Madness fans are usually the best of the festival - it's like watching a movie with 500 hundred of your closest friends.


Saturday, September 15, 2007


For some reason I really miss London - my good mate flew over to join me on the last 48 hrs of my trip. It was kinda weird for us to meet for such a short time after not seeing each other for 5 months, but it was SOOO much fun.  I took him to my favourite pub [which recently got voted best pub in London] for a guiness and then it involved into some sort of crazy pub crawl/tour while pretending to look at english football...
We capped off the nite by having fish and chips on the thames while looking at the london bridge - I actually it occurred to me that I knew London pretty well...and was pointing out sites, making a list of things he must see and places he has to eat/drink.

It was also fun to see my Cambodian bike mate and chill with her for 3 days - she's a load of fun to chat with and has a pretty unique view of Londoners...

Oh this is all sooo last week and I my world is soooo different now..


BTW>> Tube security alerts suck! The journey to the airport was only suppose to take an hr, but thanks to the security alert it took over 2 hrs +. I made a mad dash to the airport and got there 40 mins before my flight was taking off...thank God for online checkin - it saved my ass + I also got to bump into Simon Pegg and a wack load of other stars who were all running late for the late... I am not a star struck person so it was more annyoning that he got ahead of me in line and I naturally got pulled over for a security check.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Back home.

There are times that I just don't like being brown... I get stopped at EVER police/security check known to man. I now just automatically walk straight to the each line without question.
Sorry if I not coherent for the next few days - school started last week and I am arriving one late week.
I haven't really slept more than 5 hrs a day for the past 10 days, still don't know where I am? it all feels weird... and my body is screwed up from flights, India illness and I haven't gone home yet - just going straight to class now...
So looking forward to catchin up with everyone.
Lhasa I am glad you can hear me - I miss you.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

in london...

and everyone is so hot? why?

yes sue :: I will be coming back to toronto in the next couple days and DAMN excited! [BTW - your pics are freakin awesome!]
I usually do a friendly stop over in London on my way back to set myself up for culture shock debrief/seeing family and friends and de-stressing before I get back to Toronto.

And I will be abusing the next 3 nites of sleep because on Monday morning I start school!
I just found out that I got into my secondary program of choice in Toronto - and even though classes started about 5 days ago...I passed the phone interview and jumped through most of the hoops...I just have one small hurdle to clear, but I can make it.

So it's nice to be back here I miss London, the people the smells, the vibe... I have been coming here on and off for around 8 years - sometimes for a nite, a week and then there was that time I stayed for like 9 months in England...damn that feels like an eternity ago... but, the change hasn't been that drastic like other major cities and I am just in love with the laid back city life + my friends here are damn cool.



BTW>>> Yesterday evening while going for a random walk in Delhi - I saw this girl that looked like my friend from Toronto, I raced up to her and then did and awkard smiled when it wasn't... About an hr ago I bumped into her again but this time she was lost in the London Tube and needed directions...
I love when things like this happen.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Leaving India...



I really wanted to blog about the last week but everytime I sit in front of a computer something weird happens...

the 1st I started to write - I forgot exactly happened - sooo much went on in 48hrs that I couldn't fit it into one blog....

the 2nd time I started it there was a group of tibetans sitting next to me checking out an online tibetan girls dating service and I got distracted - no - not by the girls - but by the MONK who was checking em out' - A MONK!
I have to admit that the monks here hang out with some of the cutest hipster tibetans and foreigners...there is a rumour that Germans come to Dharamsala and specifically look to steal em away... LTK is this your plan?

the 3rd time got interrupted when I had to write a random essay for school [yeah I am trying my best to get into one!]

This time I am going to finish this post - if it's the last thing I do before leaving India.
That and drinking a chai by the temple...i am just it love here... these tibetans are tooo cute...


Monday, September 03, 2007


I had the most grueling 48hr + trip.... still in pieces from it... now readjusting slowly to the world around me....will post something soon.

Friday, August 31, 2007


If you are religious person - then pray for me. If not just send me positive vibes - while I try to figure out school for the fall [it's really crazy!]- + the next 30hrs is in transit back to India + money is low so I am eating one meal a day + I definitely have a bug from Kolkata, everything I eat comes out [in some bad form] + finishing NGO report from Nepal =
On the plus side I feel really happy...but really nervous about it all...


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I love emails like this...

My dear Jam,

now I am here in Dubai and I still see the picture of Friday night when we said good by in this ugly noisy street and you went away, your head down, not looking back. I felt very sad and at this moment and stood there for al longer time in that street. I knew that you are definetly one of my most valuable (do you say so?) and important man I met on my trip. Maybe it sounds strange ... but I really miss you, Jam.

Thanks for the good time we spend together and thanks for the good conversations.

It reminds me of the reason why I travel - why this is all worth it. I saw Theo almost everyday for 3 weeks while in Tibet - sometimes for a quick 15 min cup of coffee - or for 5 days on my trek... I learnt alot from this man about financial planning, life and he counselled me on many great struggles I had during my time in Lhasa...
It's weird to see him go and not potentially see him ever again - now I am in Pokhara riding a boat/writing reports and he is on a motorcycling biking across Iran - what a strange connection the world weaves...
Miss ya buddy

ummm... so where do I check my paddle...

It's been a crazy day today - I went to bed around 1am working on this project. Got up at 5.30am to head out of Kathmandu - I really need to leave otherwise I would get sucked into another life... The bus to Pokhara was suppose to leave at 7am but we left at 8am and arrived in town at 3pm... a good 2hrs+ late but still on time for Nepal.
When I arrived this place seemed a little tooo touristy for me - too much hippie hotels and restaurants - but absolutely stunning...the lake is amazing and peacefully... so as usually I just grab all my gear [this time I had an extra bag of books/reports] and went for a 45mins in the heat until I found some sweet cottages by the water - unfortunately the mass Israeli camp beat me there first - so I started again and 10 mins later ended up at a hotel exhausted and ready to have my breakfast/lunch on the lake [they are now one meal] ....
Just when I thought it would be impossible to find something quiet on the lake ....I spot a cute house across the lake and enquired at the hotel about the owner - apparently they own it - it's cheap and empty.
A guy came to pick me up in a boat and we paddled across the lake. The house is amazingly/cheap and the best part of it... it doesn't' have a road into town. So I have to paddle into town everyday! I love it! and PLUS they gave me my own boat!! ... which is quite awesome and when I boated into town this afternoon - I was kinda wondering - where do I put my paddle?
Man I have the best luck finding hotels - I love not using guidebooks - I should write my own.


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Fear. Part 2.

I don't like it - taking the next several days to think about it. Tonite is also my last nite in Kathmandu - so this makes the transisition easier for me before I head home.

Side note ::
The last 24 hrs have been extremely exhausting - I have spent most of it in meetings planning for next year's trip. Meeting with Program Directors, Directors of ??, Staff and local community leaders... I got alot of information about I am quite excited, but I am truly exhausted and relieved that it is all over - now to process these meetings on paper and submit it for a proposal to the Toronto NGO for approval.
Now this is the hard part and I made a promise to have it ALL done in the next 4 days!!! - my last proposal in Nov was 30 pages...

How the heck am I going to do this in 3 days? Me and my big mouth [as they say in Trini...]

One of the cool pluses that happened today was meeting a German writer who overhead our NGO meeting - we spent a while chatting after and he wants to include me in include me in his new NGO book!  He loves the unique trips that I run and is willing to fly over after he finishes his next book to interview me.... it all sounds really exciting and I would love to connect him to some other people I know that do some AMAZING work - my head has a huge list.

Weird day - but then this is me...

peace in fear [sounds weird]

Monday, August 27, 2007


I love it. It's a scarry and exhilariting event to be in complete fear when you know you are in a safe environment...but today I am scared - unable to move and sometimes even's complex.

The "book" in 1st John 4 > that I should shun fear and choose love instead. 
Rent [the musical] > Main theme is to "give into love or live in fear"
I don't have a clue what buddha thinks...

Now I am off to face it - in the face of a terrifying phone call.

Sidenote :: I don't want to be in Kathmandu [this is not part of the fear] - I rather not be here at all, but I am planning out a trip for a Toronto NGO next year and so here I am here sitting at the computer - look at schedules, reports and planning out some future events. Tomorrow I meet with the NGO director and then take a sample tour of the community. I requested to do this undercover - so know one knows who I am... this is all going to be fun and in theory ALL of this should be fun - but instead I wish I was in Lhasa learning tibetan and smiling with people... that country got me.


Saturday, August 25, 2007


Since being back in Kathmandu - I started to notice that I have been a bit edgy lately. I really miss Tibet alot - the culture, the religion, food,friends and my bike.

This is starting to show and the big city of Nepal is slowly getting to me ::

A couple nites ago someone offered my some drugs [which is a normal thing in backpacker hippie areas] I usually put up my hand or just walk away - but then the offer came for a women and then a kid and that irked me. I asked him again just to make sure... and he repeated it - we had a quick exchange of words that were more unpleasant on his side... so I grabbed his shirt and pushed him up against the car.
"No - don't ever ask me that again, or I will kick your ass - do you hear me?"
"I am not scared of you - what can you do?"
Then suddenly I am surrounded by 5 + men [all short young Nepalis]

His words became unpleasant and then i realized that he was completely drugged out... but I didn't back down and then I mentioned some police, NGO groups that work with children and some other crazy things in my perfect Cdn accent. I was starting to get scared inside but at the same time I was totally upset - and for some reason I kinda felt time stood still..

One of the other men came up to me and clearly said that he didn't want any trouble...and then I slowly backed off...told him to NEVER ask me that again.

It's funny because I haven't seen that group since in the past two days and i am quite relieved about it....because I don't know what I would do if I did.... this is the world and it's a bit frightening...


Thursday, August 23, 2007

Back in Nepal...

The ride was INSANE. One of the craziest and most beautiful jeep rides that I have ever taken in my life - I thought I was going to die several times over - soooo much fun, pain and torture at the same time. At one point our jeep almost toppled over the cliff - have some video that is quite amazing to see...
I love that my journey took 3 days instead of 1 - I wore the same clothes for 3 days, ate 2 meals and didn't poo once... but I took a billion pics and had alot of laughs + I also saved alot of money [which I don't have...] by hitchin/cheapin' it through with my tibetan friend...
Less money means more adventure and Tibet was everything that I own in my life - from the little I made this summer - but soooo worth it. You have to spend money to plan these future trips and learn so that others don't make the same mistake.
I seriously can't wait to do it again.
It's good to be back in Nepal - looking forward to connecting for some NGO work and being here before means that I can do it cheaper + old friends that I meet in Tibet, India and everywhere else - it seems that the world is here for the next 3 days. I am going to be really busy...
Now going to have a solid meal for the first time in days...
Uploading pics soon - got several email request for em'
Oh!!! Listen to this - thanks dr/ for the link - I LOVE THE STARS!
The night stars here...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Quick Departure :: Stuck on the border...

I love Tibet/China - things can happen fast and at random.  Due to transport issues and my the ever impending day of Visa expiry... I had to leave Lhasa 2/3 days early.  I found out 8 hrs before I had to leave and I didn't have time to mentally prepare myself.
I sat in my bed and cried the nite before I left - I didnt want to leave...
I was just getting in the groove of actually understanding Tibetan - making proper sentences.  I had proper Tibetan friends that I would teach English too, go cruising on their motorcycle around the city, I started to recognize local and have proper conversations with people... potential long term plans emerged with foreigners and locals .... then I also left my Lhasa friend - my heart broke in this city of smiles and love.
I do have to admit the long ride home [which was suppose to take a day] has now turned into three days - which is concidentally when my Visa is over [rumor has it china charges you 50 yuan - 7US an hr for an over due visa]  The scenery is spectacular the best that I have ever seen... and I even saw Mt. Everest in full this morning.
So I am stuck in a small village - waiting for the landslide/road repair to finish so I can head back to Nepal - will write more soon. Very soon.
In the meantime enjoy the pic - our jeep on the mountains and then a random blue truck full of school children.
Peace - shit truck leaving have trooooo run...

Saturday, August 18, 2007

long live the ipod...

I seriously have the worst Ipod luck in the world - it seems that every year I have to go through a new ipod. Last year my ipod broke on my way back from a month long meditation retreat and then it was stolen in Thailand along with 6 months worth of pics and podcasts. [I never back up ANYTHING on my ipod after that and then realized that all those silly extra contraptions are just a waste of time and money] 
A couple days before I was heading out my friend got this crazy new phone high tech phone and decided he didn't need his shuffle. I took it even before he had the chance to think twice about it .... Loaded it with feist,rent,bss,s. steven and fworship.  The shuffle worked well and in my opinion it's the best ipod for me - I don't need 10,000 songs and I love the random feature - however after 4 months of the same music I kinda got bored a bit and then faith stepped in...
I left my shuffle at the internet cafe here in Lhasa and the next day when I returned it was still here but unfortunately all the music was erased and then I later found out it's just corrupted and wouldn't boot up on anything... I am a bit vexed - this is my 6th ipod and well nothing seems to be working for me...
Yesterday I gave it to my Lhasa friend - she claims she's a nerd and has an ibook to prove it. I am hopefully that I get it back in working order...
Oh! It's raining here alot - so for those long rainy nites [everything closes early here - well everything nice that is :>] I purchased a wicked ass DVD player for $25 - the complete season of heroes [everyone keeps raving about it] for $10, 24 and lost and well just started to catch up on North American culture - it's been crazy to watch tv from 11pm - 3am everynite and then wakeup early for class and stuff but I love it! Save the cheerleader - save the world!
A friend joined me last nite and we watched the 1st season of lost - it's kinda crazy to really be that behind on a tv show, but I love TV that challenges the soul... 

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


I signed up for a 5 day trek which was pretty damn awesome. The scenery was simple stunning...Everytime I turned a different direction I was left breathless - and yes being 5000m up didn't actually help with breathing either.

I went with 3 other people that I meet on my trip to Lhasa - a german who is biking around the world, an amazing spaniard [that has done EVERYTHING under the sun], and an Egyptian Londoner who just finished a stint of traditionally tribal hut building in Kashmir .... all together we represented the UN and we had a shit load of laughs and fun.

I immediately fell in love with the yaks - they are amazing creatures that keep chewing while giving milk + they can win any ultimate starring competition. In the pic you can see how beautifully they are dressed and the owners treat them with the ultimate respect.

During the trek I realized how out of shape I was... especially on the 2nd day after our 9hr hike + 1 litre of water + 5000m up [the highest I have ever been] = one really sick jam.  The third day was ultimately better, but with the views and amazingly clean air I couldn't stay sick for long...
By day 4 all was normal the altitude adjustment was already in my blood - it's kinda funny that I could bike for hrs at 3000m with no problems but going uphill I just get breathless and feel really dizzy...

My Lhasa friend and I are heading to a lesser known nunnery this weekend with some hotsprings and I am excited...but not excited to leave Lhasa I love it here ALOT.


So what does Jam do all day?

I decided to take pics of my day and kinda compile them...however I can't access my blog here in China/Tibet and posting via another method - so here are the descriptions....

This is my hotel - it has a unique spot in Lhasa as it used to be the home of "the man's" teacher, it's got a cool vibe, solar power on the roof, a cool library and the staff are ridiculously super friendly... I am in love with this place.

This is my ASS bike - I got it for $15 [and later found out I payed $5 tooo much] however it's cheaper than renting a bike for $3 a day. It has a basket, a bell and squeaky brakes but I love it dearly and when I left for my 5 day trek I gave it to my Lhasa friend [who is 1/2 way through her 6 month stint] and now she LOVES biking in Lhasa.
I love encouraging people to bike!

This is my classroom at the university. I signed up for Tibetan classes for a couple hrs a day [the alphabet is DAMN hard] - the clock is my teacher's - he is an artist and is quite funny!

After class I usually bike the nunnery [I really miss any nuns..] they have a really nice restaurant and for 50cents I get and endless supply of tea and some momo's. The Tibetans that eat there are really super friendly and sometimes I spend an hr or 2 just chatting with em...recapping my Tibetan lessons, talking about hidden places to visit - while they secretly make fun of my long Indian nose.

Then I usually spend an hr or two biking around every nook of Lhasa trying to catch up on sites and hotels for a possible trip next year. It's really fun work. During an out of the way bike ride I found this potential amazing bookshelf...Another day I biked to monastery in which monks debate in public about monk "stuff"...

After I usually end the day with friends that I meet in Lhasa or on my trek - these days it's been a mixture of Tibetans [yesterday I drank 2 litres of sweet tea just chatting with em' and felt ill] and some local NGO workers which are quite amazing...

I have been really blessed to be able to spend 3 weeks in Lhasa and actually get to know people and places personally. I kinda wish my Visa wasn't for a month otherwise I would be extremely tempted to stay here for a very long time...
Too me it's really a slice of heaven.


Monday, August 13, 2007

Listening to Mocky - and a day of blogging and pics!!!

I thinka I heard a feist?

Will be posting alot of stories and pics today... so excited to share about the past week it's been adventurous and fun!


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

this one jam...

not all the lyrics are true.... :> love the song...


Off to a 5 day trek in the mountains - a bit excited to see monasteries, mountains, rivers and spend time hanging out with yaks. I had a yak steak last nite - lets see if I can do that after spending 4 days with em'

I am actually quite sad to leave Lhasa - I seriously don't want to go - there is sooo much things to do...

Today I biked to Sera Monastery - it's a monastery where monks debate and it's quite and intense site to see monks shouting at each other - I don't know if it is real or staged but regardless it's a crazily amazing site to witness...
I got lost on the way to the monastery and spent 2 hrs biking in the wrong direction - I saw alot of army trucks and even a tank that was stopping vehicles on a 45 minute circular route...At one point the tank stopped when it spotted me and I ducked into a store for some quick tea and decided I must be heading in the wrong I just turned around...and quickly headed back...

On the way back I picked up a school kid who jumped on the back of my bike for 10 mins as we went a crazy speed downhill...he just kept laughing and I just repeated Hindi phrases to pass off as an India tourist.

All of this is quite fun and really a good distraction from some crazy moments that I face daily in my life...

BTW>>> Someone asked me recently "What is your favourite song"
The answer is "Will I lose my dignity?" by Jonathon Larson - it's from the musical Rent and the back story of it is amazing... --- check it out ---


Monday, August 06, 2007

Life is Lhasa

I have to admit that my life is pretty good here in Lhasa.
The hotel that I am staying at use to belong to the Dala Lamai's old teacher and has the historic feeling to it - in fact there is no locks on the inside just old wooden slates that slide across...
There is a brown cat that I kinda feel in love with - [I nicknamed it panchen :>]
Free Laundry and amazing guest from around the world and tibet....

A couple days ago I purchased [that's right!] a kick ass bike [with a bell and basket] and now I bicycle everywhere around Lhasa.  I love winding through the old corridors + the HUGE bike lanes [hurray China Urban planning!}

I usually eat lunch at a nunnery which consist of a flask of tea, some momos and again endless conversation.  Most people think that I Nepali and they just LOVE to engage me in conversation, when they find out that I am not...

So the group trip is over and some of us still hang out for dinner and the occasionally good meal. My hotel has a kitchen which is quite amazing and so last nite I made a wicked salad, the German philiopshy cooked a yak steak, the Egyptian and Mexican brought fruits and some cheap ass wine - all on the roof of my hotel...

Then the most amazing thing happened :: the skies went cloudy to the east... a double rainbow appeared which turned the green hills to white with snow and then the light show appeared...
A digital camera and my storytelling abilities doesn't do it justice...

So I hope this pic [please firewall Chinese Government show this pic...] Taken by Brendan on our group trip - with his kick ass camera...


Will try to post more pics and stories - if this blog goes through...

Saturday, August 04, 2007

A real post...

Tibet is insane. I cry alot inside and sometimes the pain continues...and then I meet a Tibetan and I just see love, compassion and tolerance - it kinda overwhelmns me at times...

Just getting to Tibet was quite fun - I signed up for a massive group tour [something that I RARELY EVER do], it's the cheapest way to get into the country [flying is double the cost and half the fun] and then I found out that I was travelling with 36 people for 8 days....ummm...I was not impressed but then after meeting the folks - they TOTALLY ROCK.

Amazingly Rock:
There are two germans who are biking around the world for charity -
Australian - DJ and games master - we did some really cool group games
A couple girls from Krakow poland - my next fave destination in the EU - I have to go there...
An Egyptian Londoner who reminds me of an old friend I dearly miss...
A frenchie doing his PHD in Tibetan Meditation
And even a Marxist from the West end in Toronto....
And sooo much more...

It's funny because I don't think we all like the big group thingy and sitting on a tourist bus high above everyone is not my thing - I like taking local transport and connecting with people along the way... That was the only pet peeve I had about the trip.  

So it was amazing just to connect with these folks and I learnt sooooooooo was actually quite fun, unpredictable and amazingly insightful - I don't regret it for a second and was totally happy to be proven wrong.

There is sooo much to talk about and I will write more about my experiences over the next couple days...



I just found out 2 days ago that I didn't get into school for the's kinda funny since I gave up the dream job in Uganda to go back to school - honestly thinking that I would get this is kinda unexpected for me and now I kinda have to figure out the fall I am going to spend a couple days on the internet sorting out stuff...they also have skype here so expect a call or two. 
Little Lisa you are very hard person to get a whole off...


For  some reason I can't access my blog in China - actually anybody's I am testing this while on the phone with 3xj...
I hope this works mate.


Friday, July 27, 2007


Damn excited - that is best way to say it. After a week of double checking and just plain crazy chinese officials... I have it in my hand right now - my tibet VISA. It got confirmed at 6.30pm [2 hrs ago] ...

In true Chinese consulate style it got handed to me at the last minute and my departure was pre-ordained for 5am the next day. Which was absoutely crazy for planning - some crazy items I needed to get before the stores clothes:

Hiking books
- 5 Degree sleeping bag
Rain coat/Jacket - I love this jacket!
Clothes - I need winter clothes after the India summer???- hat, scarf, sweater, wolly socks
And a whole lot of little gimmicks

Kathmandu is fantastic for finding those items fast and I got everything in less than 2 hrs while running around with my head cut off ...double/triple checking prices...

Unbelieveable I got everything for less than $100 Cdn...Now the trick is to make it all fit with my current partner - she can only carry 17 L

Unfortunately I had to sign up with a tour for 7 days to get across the border, but after that I have 3 weeks to roam around on my own. I don't know anyone who has spent 3 weeks + in Tibet solo and I am sooo excited to just wander around...

This is hopefully going to be part of my tech fast for a month?? - while avoiding land slides, scams, crazy corruption etc... I dont think some of the areas that I am going to have email or phone or even roads...sweet.

I have soo much to share about this trip and the potential but I have to wait until I get's been in the sensitive planning stages for a while and some parts are still somewhat sensitive... so I will share more later...

Have the best month everyone and write me some emails, I have alot of work to do when I get back to Kathmandu, so it's good to have something crazy to come back to...



Thursday, July 26, 2007

For the past couple days...

I have been checking out possible NGO's partners/hotels etc that I could hook up for a potential trip next year. The Toronto affiliate gave me a contact and after a quick meeting with last week we arranged to go check out some potential partners yesterday.
After my ridiculously early 7:00am Hindi class, I booted it down to the coffee shop to start the long day and she came wandering in with full nepali gear and a motorcycle helmet... I couldn't help but ask her...
"Are we going by motorcycle"
"Yes - it is a better way than taking public transit we have alot of things to see today..."
I didn't hesitate for a moment and jumped on the back of the motorcycle and we took off driving around the city. The city looks and feels different on a motorcycle and after 5 minutes I noticed that I was the ONLY guy on the back of a motorcycle driven by a women...probably it's a city thing...
The first NGO was fantastic and it's a very cool/unique long term sustainable plan to be involved in...the 2nd NGO was a bit out of the city and well the drive was AMAZING - we passed rice fields, small towns and went through a city called Bhaktapur.
The Big B was easily one of the most cleanliest and beautiful historic cities that I have seen in Asia. I kept asking my friend is disbelief "is this real" - "do people actually live here" - "are you sure this is a city" Unfortunately we were pressed for time and I only got a quick motorcycle drive-by..
We then proceeded uphill to a town called Nagarkot...which is a very touristy place for watching the Kathmandu valley, again it's amazingly beautiful and we went to tour a local school in the area. It's unfortunate that an area that is sooo over populated with tourist/hotels but has poor educational facilities for children - the government only gave the school enough funding for 5 teachers for over 200 students! This only provides the teacher's salary and there is no funds for equipment etc...
We talked for a bit with the principal and other teachers over chai about potential projects and I can't wait to see what my friend and I come up with in the future for a "sustainable educational trip"
This is going to be quite a challenge but I look forward to working with my friend/NGO and see what we come up with before I depart in Sept...
Leaving on Saturday for a couple weeks and then heading back to Kathmandu to check out and plan some more projects...

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Hindi Classes...

Class starts at the ridiculous hour of 8am.

My teacher is in his early 20's who's full of life, he hails from Darjeeling and speaks over 7 languages. He's here vacationing for the summer and taking some extra classes + learning more about Nepali culture since he was born here... He's been studying Hindi all of his life - taking every advance course in college he can take. He says that "Hindi is the most complicated language that he has every learnt - and after all these years he still can't figure it out"

Good choice of words to start the class.

well today I surprisingly found out that I know ALOT of Hindi at least over 100 words + ... The problem is that I can't put them into one full complete sentence. It's funny because I have that same problem in English.


oh! It was a rainy day today so after class I sat down with some good italian pasta and just read a book "Touching the Void" it's impossible to put down and it's required reading for any human being...
I simple cried at the end.

Friday, July 20, 2007

What do backpackers do all day? + why travelling hurts...

So really what do backpackers do all day? Well - after 9 years of travelling I kinda upgraded myself from backpacker to traveller - I can't recall exactly when the transition happened but the past 5-6 years have spoke for itself.

So my this is what a day in Kathmandu looks's kinda unlike me to share this much and for very long but for some reason I feel the need to share it.

the crazy 8am wakeup - i kinda need to find my bearings since I arrived late in the evening and I have no idea where in the world I am...

no breakfast - I am training my body right now for the past 2 weeks to eat less - to save money and to prepare for some of the really hard journeys ahead.. I have a handful of muesli and some does the body good..

run out to find a better hotel - I stopped using guide books last year [except in team cases] because they group people together and it's all hippie safe shit - travelling is an adventure.

So instead I meet people on the road and ask them for advice on places to see and things to do - if I miss something or get ripped off - well that's life...

The area I am staying is the hippie/backpacker area and I don't like it - it doesn't really represent Kathmandu - so I went for a 2-3hr walk around everything and found this hotel right on the outskirts of the backpacker neighbourhood- so it's nice if I need to check email or get something different to eat. It cost $4 cdn a day + they network with local NGO's + it's a hub for like minded travellers and I have 2 [that's right 2! ] balconies and the list continues... - [more pics later] - it's a great space to think and write...

So I immediately put down money for a week.

After that I decided to buy a sweater so I look good to meet some NGO's - however my luck isn't great and I am not able to connect with any of the 1/2 dozen contacts here... so I decide to sign up for some Hindi classes - they speak alot of Hindi here because of Bollywood and the proximity to India. I am excited to finally learn it properly but the price of $5 cdn a day is way tooo much and I can only afford 6 classes...

I take a walk to Durbar square and have to admit I am impressed... I now know why everyone loves Kathmandu...the people are fantastic and watching the mixture of religion-modernization and devotion in one place blows my mind...

I sit down to soak it up and I take out my journal to write down some thoughts and I can't find a pen... I look to the left of me and see this amazingly beautiful women - her feet are dirty from travelling, she's dressed in traditional Indian clothing and you can tell that she's soaking the moment up...I can tell that she's not Indian.... people make that mistake with me all the time, so in this case it takes one to know one.

On top of that she has this peacefully inner beauty about her - like the world is her oyster.

All of this from a 4 second glance - that's what travelling does to ya...and I am immediately attracted to her presence which is soo rare for me...

I am tempted to say hello and then ask for a pen but can't sum up the's my "thorn in the flesh" as they say...

So with this I am deep in thought - and by the time I sum up the courage to even look at her again she's gone. I look down at the square and I see her moving against the flow...

I decide that life is too short and I should run after her - [why not? what do I have to lose? - that's good advice from my friend R.J.] by the time I get down and make a left - it's a sea of people and colour... and she's now where in sight.

This is why travelling hurts - you know yourself and the world always pushes your limits. You are always alone and facing your fears means getting hurt and having few people to talk to about it. Most of the time the world pushes you to learn tough lessons. Sometimes feel like I am 50...

If the world wants me to connect with her then I will - in the mean time I decide to go for a walk to take in more of the "air" and 2hrs later I am still walking and pass a shit load of markets, parks and some damn near cool buildings...the architecture merging is amazing, I wish I knew more... I decide to duck into every alley I see and keep walking until I get lost... I love getting lost...

Eventually I come out to this temple and see a bunch of old men playing chess. I stand beside them looking like a local and watch 'em for about an hr...the games are really intense and everyone looks really happy.
I love it.

Then all of a sudden the seats part ways, the eyes focus on me and I find myself sitting at the table playing a game, it's been a while since I have played chess and I am playing the oldest men of the group who's won the past three games...

My first move is terrrible...the 2nd one even worse and it just goes downhill - people start to leave and I here the word "practice" being yelled out...People are yelling at me to move pieces and I can't understand a single word that is being's sad. I quickly decide that this game needs a bit of life so I decide to just confuse the hell out of the old man than trying to win...

A couple moves and the game gets really excited and more shouting incurs... I am actually putting up a tough fight - it's short lived and the game is over quickly.

I congratulate the man in perfect English and everyone is silent... then the normal questions start to come my way - "Where are you from?" "Why are you here" "Are you married" I realize after 30mins that they thought I was a Hindu/Nepali Brahman caste - it's an upper level caste and priest [which I didn't even know existed in Nepal - I thought this was a Hindu thingy...] so they were initially honoured that I watched/played with them - but later I showed no skill... My friend Dipar and I talk for about an hr about chess, life etc and then the I depart - not before getting exchanging addresses and a cup of tea... a couple days from now we have a rematch and I look forward to it...

I decide to walk back to Durbar square have lunch/dinner at the food stalls - hot dogs never tasted sooo good... on the way home I decided to take another route - I got lost for about an hr and bit, made my way to the phone booth to update my mate CDM on some travels and then I pass by the bakery for the 50% discount on breakfast/lunch goodies...

After I hit my hotel it's late but the New Zealander I meet on the bus - does tantric meditation and has has been living in Sikkim, India for over 8 years+ he says that "I should knock on his door anytime during the nite" - and well I am a curious man so I knock - but I here no answer, and so I head to bed.

So that's a typically day for's fun and I really love being stretched and challenged....

I am here in Kathmandu for a week - preparing for the next phase of travelling - so I decided since I will be on email catching up on life, finishing reports etc - it's fun to take actually answer post and take questions. So the next 7 questions I get will gladly answer em' - no holds barr I promise...

you gotta love the long post and good computers...


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Internet is slow....

So forgive me if I don't respond for a while... life has been very busy running around and such trying to meet contacts - plans change constantly on the go and it's been very crazy...
My phone doesn't work in Nepal and I have a phone date with several people this Friday to congratulate, catch up and get some advice...
speak to ya all soonish... 
BTW>> Fun times in Nepal: I have a meeting today with an NGO and I went for a quick shave at the barber to look pretty - he spent over 2 hrs giving me a shave and shaving my head. It was a work of art...he scrubbed my head sooo hard with a metal brush that I was in constant pain and then he took a lemon and squeezed it on my head - it hurt like hell...
Now my head feels soo clean that I refuse to wear my hat... 

Monday, July 16, 2007

Border Crossing - One simple rule...

NEVER EVER cross a rural border at nite - That's a major travel rule for myself.
Sine Morocco+ spanish hippies + border hitchhiking + drug dogs + army = sigh a very bad time :<
+ last year at the Thai/Cambodia border all the taxi drivers got together and suddently tripled the fare to the nearest town [they saw a jeep full of foreigners during low season]....and they refused to leave until we payed.... I think we all banded together and waited for 2 hrs for a reasonable rate...then I notice the sun was setting and I reminded people that we would be stuck here overnite unless we left now....
This time it was worse....Here is a short run down 24 style[I tried my best to guess the time]:
12.15pm: Left the semi-posh hotel for a 3 hr jeep ride to the Nepali border on a pre-booked ticket
1:00pm: Jeep is cancelled - it never made it back from the Nepali border this morning.
1:15pm: told - [more like shoved] to get on another 3 /12 hr jeep ride to Siliguri and then transfer to the border 1/2 hr - time is precious as the border closes at sunset...
3pm: Half way through the trip the jeep stalls on the road and we pull over...
3:45pm: Jeep is still in repair at the side of the road but with 2 more mechanics - driver has his shirt off and is under the car..I think the other 2 people are updating him on his stock porfolio...and singing him bollywood tunes
4:15pm : Jeep is moving...this time with bollywood music - then it suddenly breaks into Bryan Adams - cuts like a knife...our jeep is packed like sardines...
5:00pmish?: Ipods on and I fall asleep - and we pass the sikkim border they let us all through thinking everyone on boards are locals...I NEEDED an exit visa stamp...this is not good.
I am thinking police sirens and jail at some point...
5:30pm: Just found out we are close to the bus station for buses to Nepal. Unfortunately the last one left - 5 mins ago....however there is one jeep left and it can make it in 30 mins before the border closes...
5:35pm: I pretend that I am from Sril Lanka and mix a couple broken Hindi/Sinhala sentences with English [plus i threw in a couple arabic greetings for fun...] the taxi guy and I negotiate the whole jeep ride for 200RS - a damn bargain. I was sooo excited -- must try this often...
5:55pm: I learn to NEVER try to cheat the Indian man...  on our way to the border he started yelling out Nepal! Nepal! Nepal! and now the whole jeep is full! We even have people on the roof - plus in the little hindi I know he starts telling people that I paid 200RS for the front seat and people start laughing...I am literally biting my teeth not to swear...
6:10pm: Even Sri Lankans need an exit Visa for India - which is I take my small bag out of the jeep - tell the driver to wait 5 minutes and run off to get it.
6:20pm: I get the exit Visa and run back to the jeep - it's I am stuck in the middle of nowhere it's dark and i need to cross the border...because my visa is stamped
6:27pm: Army officer spots a bicycle rickshaw [ I am not a big fan of em'] he tells them to take me to the border and I am half heartidly jump on...
6:30pm: The border is beautiful - the sunset, the clouds, the river and the beginning of the himalayans mountains.... I sit still and soak it up with the slow bike speed and couldn't ask for more...
6:33pm: The rickshaw gets to the end of the border and drops me off with another passenger. I realize that I don't have any small bills...the passenger pays for me. I am stunned - wow Nepali people are very generous! I take this as a sign to a good start of the nepail adventure...
6:33pm: The man grabs my bag and we both walk across the border - nobody stops us and we keep walking and talking...
6:35pm: All of a sudden we are in the middle of a town - and I am confused...
I ask my friend :
"Where are we?"
"No my friend we are not in Nepal- we are at the border - where are we?"
"This is nepal"
"But where is the border?"
"It is there" and he points to way back there...
"But why didn' they stop me for Visa?"
"Oh because you are Indian - Indian people don't need Visa"
"But I need Visa - I am not Indian I am foreigner"
"Oh... come let me take you to my friends hotel - you can get Visa later"
6:36pm: My stomach turns flips and I feel really sick, it's been sick for a while - but now I have to go the bathroom...damn this local drinking water...
6:36pm: We grab my bag and walk to the hotel...I run upstairs and head to the dirtiest toilet I have seen in months...
6:38pm: Sitting there not touching anything and trying my hardest not to breathe in any air...I contemplate it all - Do I need a Nepali Visa? It will cost me $30 US - I can save that money and leave right now... seriously what harm can come to me? ------ ohhhhh what happens when I leave the country? I need an exit visa - do I even want to risk it? What happens if I have to fly home for an emergency? Crazy thoughts come to mind and the Indian leader mood kick in...
6:4-pmish: Walk downstairs - breathing clean air slowly...
I gently tell my friend "I need Visa"
"You can get Visa tomorrow - it is late. The border is close now"
I look outside - it's dark the sun has completely set. I am screwed.
6:50pm: I grab my bag, quickly give my friend my email address [everybody wants it but nobody writes...sniff sniff] and head to the border to see if I can get this Visa.
6:52pm: I realize that nobody runs in this town. Everyone is staring at me and border pimps [they want sell you everything from hotel, bus rides and bad beer] are asking me if I need help...I tell em that I need a Nepali Visa...
"No No India people don't need Visa"
"Do you need hotel"
"I am foreigner I need Visa"
After a LONG repeated talk - they point me to a house at right side of the border - it has no signs, the doors are locked and only one light is on.
My pimp [I love that term...] starts yelling at the place in Nepali..
6:53pm: ....after a while the only light goes off...
6:54pm: Now I am nervous..I start yelling in a full Canadian/British accent..the one lights goes on...and a man yells for me to come inside.
My pimp walks me inside, it's completely dark - he waits until the an officer appears and then says "I wait outside - I give you good price on hotel"
6:57pm: The officer who is wearing his officer hat is dressed in a lungi and white shirt...he looks extremely upset..
"Why not come get Visa at border?"
"Sorry Mistake - I didn't get stopped at the border...everyone thought I was Indian"
"But you are not Indian"
"No I am Canadian...this is my exit Visa I left India today - 1/2hr ago..."
This man started to grab some big books and papers and we start filling out the forms
7:00pm: The one light goes out...power is gone from the whole town...I grab my phone and we fill out the rest of the forms with my phone light
7:15pm and $30US later: I have my Visa. I run out pass the pimp to the grab the last bus...too late it already left at 5pm...I was screwed even before I got here...
7:20pm: Stuck at the border town for the nite, tired, exhausted and hungry... I decided to suck it all up and take the walk back to find a different hotel.
I wouldn't bored you to death with the rest - and to make things short...
My hotel owner is super friendly - we spent 3 hrs talking about life, marriage and cool sights to see tomorrow around town... 
They have a german beer here called tuborg [one of my faves]...
I got a semi posh hotel with a tv, no free soap but it has a fan...
Unfortunately it has bed bugs and lice.
I love travelling and the adventure of it all --- one of my fave hero says it best...
"How much better has all this been than longing in too great comfort at home"
Robert Falcon Scott
Died South Pole Circle, 1912
Unfortunately and fortunately for me - this is peanuts compared to the journey that awaits for me over the next month.
loving it all