Sunday, November 30, 2008

Top 5 :: Beach, Biking and Mondays :: Nov 2008

Hey everyone,

It's that season again. Can you believe that a year has past since my last top 5? At the request of friends I continually get emails > When are you coming home? And how come you don't share “real” stories about your trips? Well hopefully this rant will bridge some gaps in the past year.
On some other cool news I got offered a position to stay in Cambodia until May? My job is to guide a couple trips, do a little fundraising, and hopefully I get to read some stories to some kids [in Khmer!]. It’s a pretty cool job and I am really blessed to be a part of it. I miss Toronto and my friends terribly but this path is what I feel destined to do.

I am extremely nervous about sharing this Top 5 – more than the norm. This post has been sitting on my desktop for at least 3 months. My hands are shaking as I type this - so I hope you enjoy it as I bare part of my soul.

So let’s start the journey.
It's been a boring year for traveling: with no illegal border crossings, no avoiding army check points, no sneaking into UN refugee camps and I didn’t get robbed once [okay well that just happened a couple weeks ago] But it’s been a season of a deeper travels instead, this year I have had to wrestle closets demons and end seasons in my life. This season has shown me more about my personal life, dreams and of course living on an empty wallet [yeah that got stolen as well]. It’s all lead to a deeper peace about my calling in life. 

So after 10 years of travel I realized that I am not eternal and that one day that bus will flip over, that plane will crash or some punk kid will get lucky and get more than my wallet.
Life is too short to dwell on those possibilities but I am peaceful regardless of any outcome.

1.      Sue + Biking = Cambodia?

Last year's random meetup with Sue at a Queen West Art show in Toronto got me thinking about biking, especially after my adventures in Tibet. Sue’s a hardcore city biker and after a cup of coffee I was willing to face the fear of city biking.

I purchased Chuck Norris an electric bike similar to what I rented in Cambodia 2 years earlier. Unfortunately Chuck Norris was too ahead of his time for Toronto,  but he did make ALOT of friends [once a cop stopped traffic to ask me what I was riding and then told off an angry driver to let me pass] Chuck had to be chucked due to constant repair but I was hooked-line-and-chain.

Soon after Jackie Chan entered my life, unfortunately 3 weeks later in repair he got sidekicked and lost more than a couple balls. During my escapades with the Chan, he whispered that I should apply for an internship with a biking NGO in Cambodia.

Next came Jet Li, he was a little too swift for the west side and while rockin out to the Go! Team - his skinny hipster tires fit right into a drain and I flipped over the handle bars. After a while in the x-ray dept, I knew that I fell in love with city biking.

Cambodia is the craziest/coolest place to city bike - your life hangs in the balance on every bike ride. One minute you are talking to the person next to you and the next second their [or your] ass is on the asphalt as they just got run over by a motorcycle… but then again you can do anything in the world you want to do on a Cambodian road as long as you do it slowly.

I heart it here and I bike a lot in the city.
Thanks Sue.

2.      I am way tooo young to feel and see this shit...

Dear God,

You are cool – I like you. You are also quite quick. You created the earth, my future wife and gummi bears in less than 6 days! You and Jack Bauer should chat sometime, I thought he had long days.  So did you really rest on the seventh day or was there an eternal “plan” to show me the shit I witnessed in March?

I understand that 10 years ago you wanted me to work in a children’s home in the Carribean. You guided me through some intense relationships with them and I was blessed to watch them grow up from the cradle to the cricket pitch. Kinda like a Cain and Abel thing but without any annoying animal sacrifices.

Seven years later you decided that the path would change and you sent me to Momma T’s in Kolkata. Eternally grateful, that path rocked my world.

So I was quite excited to save up my pennies and make the return journey to see my kids. I was even hinting to you that I wanted to go back to the home and work.

I know you are the master of micro managing since you apparently had a hand in creating every blade of grass, so I knew that things would evolve in Trinidad – little did I know what evolution meant.

I didn’t expect more than half of my kids to be out of the system, a couple on the verge of a mental homeless breakdown, and one living on the street with HIV. You shocked me with your work on that one. Many will defend you to the death for this - including the one with HIV, but it’s obvious that he will soon visit you – especially since you don’t believe in condoms and sexual education.

Yes that’s harsh.

My view on development and you shifted completely, and for more than a month I found myself staring out the window thinking about your “will” and my kids. It drove me to the point of tears sometimes in the middle of a class presentation.

Why God? Why? Was it the fact that more than $100,000 was spent on each kid over 10 years? Was that too much? Did that make you angry? Was it the fact that I would spend every spare time working with those kids instead of reading Leviticus? You got me double thinking at one point – what if I stayed and didn’t follow your path to India? Is this my fault? Because I completely feel like it’s my fault. And 8 months later I am still wrestling the “choices” I made.

I don’t hate you – I just hate your hate.

Wait let… me better rephrase that… You are obviously a God of love and you have blessed me with a spoilt life.  I just don’t understand this charity/development work that people do in your name. So it’s not your hate that I hate but your followers hate.

Ah! Christ [sorry for the pun about your son]

Well God please save me from your “followers” then and their endless devotion to religion, doctrine and old school ideoligies. Let them think about your children.

Your lifetime partner,

P.S. Thanks for Obama.
P.P.S Can you make the leafs win the stanely cup or is that one beyond your power :>


Dear Jam,
I know your not really a hater or a player. It’s moment like this that I know you struggle with development, this man made idea of “religion”, and life. After 10 years on the road, life moments like this will surely creep into your moral fiber. I know you feel alone and separated from rocks that were constant. Seriously - you should just chill out, go to a beach and grab a Guiness.

Your eternal lifetime partner,

P.S. Your faith is quite cool – other people should check it out.
P.S.S. The leafs will never win the stanely cup. I don’t have that sort of power, but I can check into it.


3.      Posh Living | Loft Living | Couch Surfing | Dog | Artist

The life of a nomad is fun. I move a lot – every 4 months for the past 3 years? And every 9 months for the past 10 years. Life is definitely not boring, but this year I had some pretty cool living arrangements in the past 9 months.

On my return from Tibet last year I managed to rent a small space in my friends swanky apartment in Toronto. No one had kids, everyone owned posh dogs, and the building oozed of uber hottness. Every elevator ride was fun. 

After that brief stint of HDtv - I moved to what is now the trendy/ghetto area of Toronto > Bloor and Lansdowne. I lived with a sculptor in this amazing bohmenian loft - no tv, massive ceilings, and a ground shaking soundsystem.  The winters were full of loft drafts, feist, candles, tea and some damn fun chocolate fountain parties.

To save money for my future trips - several months later I couched crash with my old Canadian participant.  She had two dogs who constantly sleep with me and I became a dog lover again, it was nice to finally “stay” in the Annex and live like my folks in the 70’s. At some point in your life if you are Torontotian you have either lived or were planning on Palmerston.

A Full-Time Couch Surfing Rules of Engagement:

  1. Always leave the place exactly the way you found it and occasionally “tip” their couch full of loose change.
  2. Always clean up and occasional clean more than your share including places that never ever get cleaned – which includes that back spot in the fridge.
  3. Let the house beat you occasionally at halo 3 – this is the key in letting them think that “book” smarts is way cooler than “bananas in pajamas”
  4. Occasionally pop by with cool food and mucho alcohol - stuff that your friends love.
  5. Most important rule! Love your friends and love their couch and they will love you in return.

Nomad life is pretty exhausting for me right now and for some reason I crave a little bit of stability for myself. It’s kinda weird because I have it down to the science in terms of logisitics of moving and can feel comfortable in almost every environment in minutes.

4.      Because we are your friends:

At the traditional new year’s morning breakfast – we toasted the year of 2008 being the “year of friends” – well that toast didn’t disappoint. Soon after in Feb it was impossible for me not to open a magazine, watch tv or read my fave blog without seeing one of my friends on it.

Most of us at some point decided that we would work for more from than the 9-5. So we followed the dreams that few understood and it meant fewer pay. We knew that we were destined to live life a different way – must respect! So after years and years of toiling in the shadows our jobs now just kick ass.

My toast for 2009 is that I get to buy illegal bootleg copies of their work in Cambodia. 

5. Kid + beach + math = 94 percent Mentoring Mondays:

For the past couple of years Monday nites have emerged into a regular routine. The pattern has emerged from the “24” nite to Monday nite cupcakes with LL to last year’s mentoring Mondays.

The mentoring chats this year, reminds me that the “kid” is no longer 15 and I am not 22 year. It’s scarry how fast they grow up.

We meet every monday nite which is major commitment for a commitment phobia man like myself and we shared out thoughts, I felt at several points that he was mentoring me… most times I walked away from the night thinking WHO is this amazing kid??
I stated several years ago to him that he has more potential in his pinky finger that I do in my whole body and well 7 years later it’s definitely true.

Several months later on a Monday we found ourselves on a beach in tobago with some friends - sharing our bday together and staring at one of my fave beaches in the world. 
At one point he starts drawing math equations… I couldn’t help but smile - this pic
is strange…
Go Kid Go!

About 3 1/2 weeks ago we had a chat about my role in Cambodia and that I didn’t think I was coming home anytime soon. It felt like the end of an era [but it really wasn’t]
I got really emotional and there was complete silence on the phone on both ends– what do you tell someone that knows everything about you - whom you have the utmost respect and trust that you aren’t coming back?

Well I hope you enjoyed this year's top 5. I will be posting #6 - #10 on my blog for anyone's amusement over the next week.

Peace and Blessings to you all.



Saturday, November 29, 2008

Prop 8.

Keith Olbermann
Amazingly heavy and full of questions, peace and love.

Cross posted from JB. Thanks man.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Re-post: Nov 6th 2006 :: My female twin

My female twin

There is a girl sitting across from me at mercury espresso who is
wearing the same shoes, black shirt, blue jeans, drinking the same
coffee and we have the same laptop

I am tooo scared to go say hi...

will the universe collide?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A great letter from the ex.

It's a short update. Just seven lines. But as soon as I opened it up I knew it was going to sound cool.

For the past seven weeks ive been living in a tent out in the forest spending my days following lemurs, walking set tracks recording what i see and interviewing the local people about how they use the forest. Here until just before chirstmas then heading over to South Africa to start making my way up to Ethiopia.

Now just to double check I had to wiki lemurs.
Wow they look sooo cute. 
On another side note: Blogging from the KLCC Station in Malaysia. There are alot of crazy people here that
have suitcases and it looks like they are waiting for the 3:30am bus to the airport. I am one of em'
Okay should go - I have been kicked out of this area already tonite and right now 2 security guards are walking towards me. 


This is soo sad.

I am shocked by this.
As a biker I am a bit outraged, sadden and just confuzzled.
I biked that street sooo much last year.
Toronto? is this your late night skin?

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Today I went up this.
Oh yeah I am in Malaysia. I came here for an ethical tourism conference about 3 days ago and it's been weird.

People at the conference keep asking me if I am a student from Malaysia or they think I am a radically activist.
One reason I keep getting stared at is because 9 out of 10 people are wearing suits at this conference and I completely not dressed to impress... I was informed before I left that I should dress business casual - for me that means shaving and a non faded black shirt. So the first day of the conference I just felt soooo uncomfortable and sat at the back.

Back to the towers - the base is a glorified mall with uber posh stores - the view from the bridge is impressive and the design is quite phenonmenal. The best part was sitting in the park staring at it surrounded by green grass, public pools, happy families and good weather.
I love the public free ad space.

Well tomorrow I get to sit back in conferences - tomorrow we get to examine cases studies of ethical tourism. EXCITED!

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Road to Hell.

A book that every fundraiser, aid worker and donor should read. I have been in positions similar to this - but this is extreme and it makes me feel totally uncomfortable in my field of work.  

I do love the fact that it makes me ask questions - that is something rare to get when you are engraved in this work.

The old cliché says: The road to hell is paved with good intentions. That is, the best of intentions often result in the worst of consequences. Yet, although everyone would certainly agree that feeding starving children is one of the best intentions that anyone could have, few would ever imagine that such noble humanitarianism could have disastrous consequences. 

The Road to Hell, by Michael Maren, is a brutal indictment of the whole business of humanitarian intervention and the industry of aid. And for most of the participants it is just that: a business. Just as war is big business for defense contractors, the purveyors of food to starving children likewise gorge themselves at the public trough. 

Maren is well qualified to make such an indictment, having spent much of the last 20 years in Africa both as an aid worker and a journalist. And just as Maren has written for Harper’s, The Village Voice, and The New Republic—not exactly known for their advocacy of free markets and limited government—so The Road to Hell is not a polemic against the welfare state and foreign aid. But therein lies the strength of the book. It is a brutally honest personal account of what the book’s subtitle calls the ravaging effects of foreign aid and international charity. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The last 3 and a half months....

on paper sounds horrid.

An old friend asked me yesterday if I needed any meditation since he heard that I was sick recently. I emailed him off an update for the past couple months and then froze:
  • I finally left India
  • Hospitalized for Dengue + Malaria
  • Moved to Phnom Penh, Cambodia to start an internship
  • Saw the most horried/terrifying concept of development. It shocked the SHIT of me. I cried alot and didn't sleep for a week.
  • Did my first 200km weekend bike trip - Yeah!
  • Wallet got pinched - bank card is gone - ate alot of pb&j sandwiches that week and still do.
  • Moved again to Siem Reap
  • Pinched a nerve/threw my back - could barely move for a week
  • Got bite by a dog - my worst fear while travelling [seriously: I laugh at people when they hold me up]
  • Evicted from an apartment that I actually liked
  • had a really funny mental breakdown for 5 days
It also seems that while you live in a bubble the good stuff get's pushed aside AND there has been plenty of good shit.
  • I really love my job and the work they do.
  • I also love the office peeps and meeting new expats is fun.
  • Can't get use to this new touristy town called Siem Reap, over 2 million tourist are expected here in the next 3 months and less than 100,000 locals live here - but the food and coffee is amazing. 
  • Angkor Wat is an amazing place to bike - especially when it's in your backyard.
  • Every week I take Khmer classes with my monk at the temple and it's surrounded by butterflies, pagodas and good karma.  It's really fun.
  • Feel in love with a great Bono Book.
  • Next week I get to go a great conference in Malaysia.
It's all good at the end and I see it as a normal life of nomad/humanitarian.
Though your meditation and positive vibes are always welcomed.


Thursday, November 06, 2008

Blog Facebook Apps? Blogger Apps?

While experimenting around for a work blog - I had to do spend the morning creating a test. It's weird to create a facebook Apps but it's amazing how easy it is.

In other news:
Still apartment hunting.
Dog bite has healed but I still have 2 more shots to get in the next 3 weeks.
The back was good because I could finally afford to get a 2 hrs back massage and just spendtime walking.
In other words the bad luck of last week is slowly leaving!! Excited.