Month in Toronto 

I came back home in the middle of February. I was told that Toronto was having a mild winter. Then I arrived and the city gave me a warm welcome of -30C weather and back-to-back snowstorms.

Toronto CN Tower Toronto downtown Toronto sign skatingWeather is never an excuse when you’re in Toronto. If you ever find yourself in my hometown in the winter months, just throw on some layers and start eating your way through the neighbourhoods. Continue reading

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Best Travel and Expat Blog, eh?

Friends, readers and fellow bloggers,

I am thrilled to announce that thanks to your support, my blog has been voted Best Travel and Expat Blog in the 2014 Canadian Blog Awards. I was beyond humbled to even get nominated. So, this is a HUGE compliment.

Thanks for reading, liking, commenting and sharing. I hope to keep giving you reasons to keep doing all of that.

Much love,

xxR

best travel expat blog
PS: That’s me at the Amber Fort in Jaipur. A post is on its way!

Places I Called ‘Home’ in 2013

Places I Called Home in 2013

2013 was a great year for travel. When I look at my nerdy country count, I am surprised to see that I only visited five new countries this year (Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Australia and Singapore). But, I went back to a couple of old favourites and found myself packing and unpacking my life five times.

Truth be told: I am a little burnt out from moving around so much this year, but I wouldn’t trade my blessed 2013 for anyone else’s. (Except maybe Jennifer Lawrence’s. But how much I want her life is another story for another blogpost.)

Highlights of 2013 included snorkelling in the southern Great Barrier Reef, wearing at Dirndl at Karneval in Koln, having a picnic on top of a glacier in the French Alps, almost capsizing a boat in the canals of Amsterdam (with all my friends in it!), seeing a koala, living in the most amazing apartment on Coogee Beach in Sydney, and managing to completely fill up passport (took me less than three years).

Passports

The concept of ‘home’ changed throughout the year as I lived in five amazing cities in 2013. ‘Tis the time for the annual year-end recap of places where I received a postcard or two in the past year.  Continue reading

5 things I miss most about Canada

Canada Day 2012

Parliament Hill, Ottawa. Canada Day, 2012

Eleven months ago, I left Canada to chase my wanderlust and get a degree while I was at it. I have since lived in three countries, including my current short stint in Singapore, and travelled to many more. While I enjoy embracing new cultures, I often catch myself saying, “If I were in Canada, this would be different.”

There are also moments of “I wish I was in Canada for this.” That includes Stanley Cup playoffs, friends’ birthdays and other milestones, and the Canada Day long weekend. For the last two years I have been road-tripping to Ottawa to celebrate Canada’s birthday, and also fume over the hooliganism of our young, intoxicated, underage Canadians.

The most I can do this year is rock a red and white outfit (which also happen to be the colours for Singapore’s National Day in August) and actively miss Canada.

After almost a year of living abroad, here are the five things I miss most about Canada:

1 – Tim Hortons

Whether it’s with classmates before lecture or coworkers before the big 10am meeting, lining up for Timmys is an integral part of our daily routines. Yes, it’s not the best coffee in the world. In fact, it’s quite awful and many of us can’t figure out why we are so addicted to it. But, I haven’t found any other coffee chain in the world that is cheap, addictive and part of a national identity. Continue reading

Mile Zero

Folks may recall an older blog post where I introduced two of my friends, Jean-Francois Taylor and Remy Sexsmith, who were raising money for an exciting journey and an important cause: they were going to ride their scooters from Toronto to Mile Zero in Victoria and raise money for prostate cancer research.

I am happy to report back that they raised more than their goal and had a fantastic trip, snippets of which can now be seen through a short film I recently edited. Mile Zero is a narrative documentary where J-F and Remy talk about their motivations behind this trip, the highlights, the boredom of the Prairies and the catharsis. You can watch the film here and feel free to share it:

Continue reading

The Fudge Factory at The Falls

Cheers from Niagara Falls folks!

I have to be in Niagara for 11 am tomorrow morning so Mom and I decided to put the long weekend to its appropriate use and show up a day early to explore, eat and re-explore.

We’ve been to Niagara several times before. It is ritualistic among the South Asian community to bring all your visitors to Niagara for a day trip. We get a lot of visitors every year. Therefore, we come to Niagara Falls several times every year.

But, it was the first time that Jacques (my Canon 60 D) came with us to Niagara. Naturally, he was up and about soaking in the Niagara downtown. Since I’ve taken countless tourist photos in front of the falls, I was determined to steal some shots of the non-Falls-attractions in Niagara and there are tons! My favourite of the day has been The Fudge Factory. Enjoy these photos from Willy Wonka’s Wanna-be Wonderland and more!

Welcome to The Fudge Factory

And deliciousness awaits you inside

You are faced with the tough choice of what to get to satisfy your sweet tooth craving

Continue reading

Uh-oh Canada!

Devoted followers of my blog (yes, all four of them) may recall that I recently became Canadian at the end of 2010. Since then I have successfully used my shiny new passport to travel to Central America (without needing any Visa – woohoo!) and Southeast Asia; voted in the federal election, even though clearly my vote didn’t count; and continued to enjoy identifying myself as a proud Canadian.

Given my new-born patriotism, it was obvious that I needed to be in the country’s capital to celebrate my first Canada Day as a Canadian. Plus, Will and Kate were in town. So I made a quick road-trip to visit my friend Sheila in Ottawa. The morning of Canada Day we played my newly-invented game called “Eh to Zed of Canada” (sorry, if someone has copyrighted it already) where you go around the table reciting the alphabet and name off a Canadian word starting with that letter. For example: Apple, Beaver, Canada, Deer, Elections… YYZ, Zipper etc. There were several toasts to celebrate my initiation to this wonderful nation, and yes, even the Quebecois attendees raised their glasses.

Then we embarked on a strenuous journey from the suburbia to Parliament Hill. A twenty minute walk later, we got on a bus full of intoxicated young adults who were clearly not patriotic but just needed an excuse to act passionate and repeatedly chant O Canada! Take a look…

Continue reading

Documenting the Documentary

For my last semester of Journalism school at Ryerson University, I only had two courses: the very theoretical Journalism Law and Ethics; and the very practical, challenging, exciting and awesome course called TV Documentary.

TV Documentary is a fourth year destination course for broadcast journalism students. Students not taking this course can choose between Radio Doc, Senior Reporting, Advanced Photojournalism and other courses that require individual effort. TV Doc, on the other hand, is all about team work. Students are divided into a team of five and choose their roles within the team.

My group consisted of the amazing Joseph Casciaro, our Producer who was responsible for overseeing the entire process; my very talented best friend, Sachin Seth, was the reporter for this project; Phoenix Tarampi, who I interned with earlier at Daily Planet, was the cinematographer; and Christine Fitzgerald was the senior researcher. Just as I had wanted, I was the editor of the documentary.

As painful as it sounds, locking yourself and editing a piece is actually one of the funnest things I got to do at Ryerson. And this is the part: When you work on something, for say a few hours, and bring in your team members to the edit suite to show them what you put together, and they like it – that’s such a rewarding feeling! On the last day of class, our professor also mentioned that editing really helps shape the final product, making it a very important part of the process.

And I am happy that I got to see this piece from start to finish. I had pitched the idea of doing a story about the men who get mail order brides: what are they like? why do they choose an international marriage service to get a wife? what kind of backgrounds do they come from? Continue reading

Oh, Canada!

2000 – Applied for Canadian immigration 

2005 – Moved to Canada

2009 – Applied for Canadian citizenship

2010 – Became Canadian

It took me ten years to become a Canuck so I appreciate my certificate of citizenship (signed personally by Jason Kenney), perhaps more than people who were lucky to be born in Canada.

My co-workers at Daily Planet keep saying “Welcome to Canada” (I mean, what else do you say to someone who just got their citizenship? “Happy Canada Day”? “Happy Canadian Day”?) and my friends ask me “how was it” so this is a post dedicated to the details of the not-so-glamorous process of becoming Canadian.

After I completed my “time” as a permanent resident in Canada, I applied for citizenship. I applied in May 2009 and heard nothing from them until January 2010 that they had started working on my application. And then my permanent resident card expired. I didn’t re-apply because, why would I? I was going to be a Canadian soon. Ah well, not so soon. For almost a year I was passport-less, permanent resident card-less, stuck in Canada, hadn’t shopped at Buffalo, bitter, little immigrant.

And then, one fine day when the sun shone bright… (I actually don’t remember the weather that day) I got a letter telling me to come take my test for Canadian citizenship. Having been to school in Canada, I was confident I would nail it until I discovered how much about the history (and military history) I needed to know. The night before the exam, I studied. The day of the exam, I was irritated to have to wait an hour and a half to write an exam that took me five minutes to complete (the officials had to verify every applicant’s papers – that’s what takes so long).

At the exam they told us it would take 3 to 4 months to get a date for the oath of citizenship but to my pleasant surprise it only took a little over a month. Continue reading