Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sisters. India.

If you think that India is crowded and noisy and, well, just a bit overwhelming, you are right. About some areas. But, India is the world's seventh largest country by land mass and, if you want to take in some culture without the mayhem of crowds, you might consider heading south to Kerala.

During my trip to India in May, my class met with the guys from Ideaworks. They presented the class with an idea challenge. The prize? An all-expenses-paid trip to Kerala (aka God's Own Country). How could I resist a prize like that!

And, I'm a winner, baby.

While the prize was technically just for me, the Ideaworks guys went the extra distance and made arrangements to include my sister when I mentioned that she would be joining me.

Starting with a few nights at a homestay on Lake Vembanad, Meriah and I had a chance to taste the best of India. Peace, nature and a touch of a different culture. We were of just a few 'western' tourists in the area, which gave the place a seemingly rare feel of an authentic indian experience. Our location was perfect for checking out the 'backwaters' and local life, including daily stuff like kids going to and from school in a tuk tuk.
I'm not a safety expert; however, I would venture to say that 13 kids in the back of a tuk tuk would not pass any inspection in Canada. Then again, it appeared to be a perfectly efficient and appropriate means of transporting these little guys around.

We had heard that 'houseboating' was popular in the backwaters. I was apprehensive at first, given that my impression of houseboating is shaped by the frat-boy-replicas who take over certain areas in the okanogan every summer. But, houseboating in India is a bit more of a family affair. And a luxury one at that. Equipped with televisions, air conditioning and a kitchen, despite their aged appearance.
We took a boat out to see the bird sanctuary, but it turned out that the birds are only there in the spring time.
Nonetheless, it was a nice nature walk, and we spotted a kitten, a puppy, a turtle and some hooligans (my sister included).
Our next stop, Kochi, was a bit busier, with locals and tourists. But, with the crowds came a new indian experience.

We took in theatre,
martial arts
I've been to a few cultural shows over the years and I have to say that the quality of performances in Kochi was among the finest. These weren't contrived displays of hula skirts or masked men, they seemed to be legitimate and unique performances.

This country is so large and diverse that the impression one comes away with depends on where you go and who you are with. Between the lake Vembanad, the backwaters and Kochi, it was such a pleasure to introduce Meriah, and myself, to India in this way.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Another Round Please. Singapore Edition.

Life after INSEAD is a bit like life after a night of drinking. Sure, it hurts a little bit. But, somewhere deep inside, you are still a little bit drunk. And, when the opportunity arises to have another round, you take it.

That is why I came out to Asia a few days early (I travel to India with my sister next week) for INSEAD's annual Monsoon Ball (and the 10th anniversary of the Singapore campus). I wasn't the only one to make the trip.

Fabio, the pilot from my class, literally flew out from Frankfurt. Christian and Verity made a weekend trip from London (13 hours each way). Stan from Paris, Rob and Nada from Dubai, and Ana from Australia, also deemed it worthy of a weekend trip. Add to that the handful of friends from Vietnam and Kuala Lumpur and another bunch who are currently living in Singapore and you officially have a reunion. And a party.
Just as I was after my last reunion in Paris in September, I'm left wondering...when can we do it again?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Ten Most Important Things

I recently met with a good friend of mine who, through the course of his life, has relocated to a few different countries. On the subject of moving back into my house, he asked me to name the ten most important things that I had in storage. In fact, after bikes, it was difficult to name ten things, let alone the ten most important things.

Perhaps that explains why it's been more than one month since I received the keys to my house and I'm still surrounded by unopened boxes. Sure, it's partly because Housebrand is still not finished working. But, frankly, it's also because I'm having trouble figuring out why I need most of this stuff. For the past 16 months, I have lived out of a suitcase. Three continents, 27 countries, and pretty much everything material that I needed fit into couple of suitcases.

I'm not saying that there are not ten things that are important to me. I'm just not sure that they all fit into storage boxes.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thursday Afternoon at the Office

It's September in November in Calgary. Awesome!

Monday, November 1, 2010

When Adults Play - Part 3

I'll admit that I'm a sucker for costumes; I'll take any excuse to dress up. And, those who make the effort to do something original have a special place in my heart. So, the Beans and Barley this year was especially fun for me.

Among a large field of contestants…
This one takes the cake!