Saturday, December 20, 2008

Joyeuses fêtes

It's that time of year again ... To friends and relatives who read this blog, and to all who happen to land on it from your searches on French writers, artists, etc., have a wonderful holiday season.

Je vous souhaite tous une joyeuse fête et une bonne année remplie de belles surprises ...

Friday, December 12, 2008

Un bout de lumière

"La vie c’est ça, un bout de lumière qui finit dans la nuit."

Voyage au bout de la nuit par Louis-Ferdinand Céline

That's life, a bit of light that fades in the night

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Sarah Brightman in Toronto

Sarah Brightman in concert last Sunday at Air Canada Centre.

"Et quand dans la nuit, tout s'endormit
Je vis les cieux devant mes yeux fermés

Extract from Dans la Nuit - Chopin adapted by Peterson. Lyrics by Strasse-Petersongs/Warner/Chappel

And when at night, all went to sleep
I saw heaven with my eyes closed

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Arstcape Wychwood Barns Gala opening

The gala opening and fundraising for Artscape Wychwood Barns last Saturday was an amazing example of how hard work and dogged determination can make the vision of a community come to fruition. I had been to the first fundraising many years ago, when the Streetcar Barns were just that, unused old buildings languishing, an eyesore, but the idea of making it a creative centre for artists had germinated and caught the spirit of the community. Seeing the results last week was such an uplifting moment.

When we entered the renovated building through the main hall with its high ceilings and large warehouse-style exposed parts, my friend Maryse and I were overwhelmed by the buzz of over four hundred people already milling around, drinking, and tasting appetizers from restaurants in the neighbourhood. Artists displaying their work in the studios, musicians, and performers infused a rich and inspiring atmosphere to the event. I met artists, writers, filmmakers, architects, dancers, environment advocates from the community and they all shared their positive feelings about this creative hub.

Mayor Miller gave a speech which you can view on this blog

The Wychwood Barns will not only focus on art, but will also have a weekly organic food market. It also plans to be environmentally friendly. More info here

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Dawn at the farm

It is truly magical waking up early and watching the fog lift up, the rising sun weaving through with its transparent glow. Mist has an ethereal quality that fires up the romantic imagination. But here, I feel deep loneliness, yet total communion with this random, filigreed pattern of bare trees.

"Et le paysage à moitié construit à moitié démoli
à moitié réveillé à moitié endormi
s'effondre dans la guerre le malheur et l'oubli
et puis il recommence une fois la guerre finie
il se rebâtit lui-même dans l'ombre

Extrait du poème Le Paysage Changeur par Jacques Prévert

And the landscape half-built half-spoiled
half-awake half-asleep
crumbles in battles tragedy oblivion
and then it starts again when the war is done
it rebuilds itself in the shadow

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Venus d'Ailleurs ... From so far ...

Last week, I reconnected with Mauritius through two documentaries on African and Indian migration to the island. They are part of a series of four (the one on French and Chinese migration still in progress) titled Venus d'Ailleurs ... From so Far ..., produced by David Constantin and Alain Gordon-Gentil, a prolific man who has written nine books, and won a prize at the Cannes Festival for a short film he produced on Gandhi.

Gordon-Gentil was in Toronto to present his documentaries. The first one I saw on October 22nd at Alliance Française de Toronto was about how Africans came to Mauritius, a poignant account of their plight when they were sold as slaves to work on sugarcane plantations owned by French colonizers. The other presentation on October 23rd at Bai'tul mosque in Maple was about the migration of Indians hired to work on sugarcane fields in Mauritius after slavery was abolished. The documentaries put us into the heart of the people through evocative writing, music, dramatic shots, interviews, and pertinent historical information. They stir compassion for the struggles and difficult living conditions of Africans and Indians who first arrived in Mauritius. At both events, guests were very moved, some to tears. For me, it was a journey that awakened long-dormant attachments to the rich, multicultural aspects of a country I left a long time ago.

It was also my first time in a mosque and I was touched by the atmosphere of tolerance it fostered in hosting the screening, welcoming guests of different ethnic and religious backgrounds, even treating us to a buffet dinner. After the presentation, Gordon-Gentil mingled with the crowd to answer their questions. His easy-going personality, unbound enthusiasm about his work, and interest in people made it a pleasant and inspiring evening for all.

I'd like to thank my good friend Paul Comarmond, Secretary General of IOCP (International Organization of Creole People). He made possible Gordon-Gentil’s presentations in Toronto by including it in Creole Month, an event he helped establish to recognize the importance of Creole in the world.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Quebec City

I was in Quebec City during the Francophone summit with my dear friend Pam, the Washington correspondent for Weekend. Over 50 heads of states were there, among them the Prime Minister of Mauritius, but President Sarkozy was really the big buzz. Glad he didn't bring Carla with him. There would have been hordes to deal with. I was already overwhelmed by blocked streets, helicopters hovering above buildings, soldiers in army fatigues positioned around the Congress centre. Add to that a constant stream of black limos with official flags, followed by cars, vans equipped with security and it was enough to make you feel Quebec City had been transformed into a tense, scary place, a danger zone. Once you got past tightly-guarded Congress Centre, The Hilton and Chateau Frontenac, and walked along Rue St. Jean, the city was its usual self with restaurants and shopkeepers eager to please. Vieux Québec was charming as usual. Rue du Petit-Champlain's cute stores, their stonewalls covered with climbing plants, exuded a cozy atmosphere which made you want to stroll along lazily, listen to music, sit in a café and do absolutely nothing ... or well, perhaps flirt with those friendly Québécois.

Passion Francophonie, a show at Palais Montcalm, treated us to talented francophone singers and musicians from Vietnam, Haiti, Madagascar, to name a few. Nightlife was fun. We listened to a Québécois singer strumming his guitar while singing ballads and country songs at Le Pape-Georges, a cavernous space, so tight that people sit huddled against each other. This proximity allowed us to chat with the musician and even ask him to play songs for us. Jazz at the the Clarendon Hotel was the opposite, the lounge expansive with plenty of distance between patrons, the music pleasantly mellow.

Fleuve St. Laurent shimmered as we walked along the boardwalk. I love Quebec city, especially when it's not -35º C. It was neat to rediscover it with Pam and her warm enthusiasm.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Nobel Prize Winner's ties to Mauritius

It was neat to hear that the Nobel prize winner Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio has ties to Mauritius, the island where I was born. This article in The New York Times mentions that his family is from there, and that he divides his time between Nice, Mauritius and Albuquerque. Another article from African Press Agency even mentions that he is dedicating his prize to Mauritius. I imagine it'll be a great boost for the island's tourism industry.

I've read only one of Le Clézio's book, Le Procès-Verbal (The Interrogation) a while ago, and I remember feeling the same disconnection in his main character as when I read Camus' l'Étranger (The Outsider). It's not the kind of book that makes you feel great afterwards, but it does makes you go deeper into yourself and question what life is all about.

It's so inspiring to hear that he is a world traveller, that his experiences living in different countries have guided his writing. I now want to read all his books to understand better why he won the Nobel Prize.

Monday, October 06, 2008

To be creative is certainly Canadian

Word on the Street was packed and Nuit Blanche kept us awake till dawn. Toronto's enthusiasm for art and culture is here to stay whether Stephen Harper believes in it or not. Margaret Atwood's Globe and Mail article, To be creative is, in fact, Canadian, explains the importance of creativity in our society, its positive impact on our economy, and why it should be supported by our government. Yeah, it's right on and reflects what I believe.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Artwalk 2008 exhibition

I'm gearing up towards my photography exhibition for Artwalk, the St. Clair Arts festival and studio tour. Please drop by to see the show, and taste a chocolate sample.

A photography exhibition
exploring sensuality through form, movement and texture.
Location: Chocolate Sense, 1129 St. Clair West, Toronto
Time: Saturday September 27, 11- 7 pm, Sunday Sept 28, 12-5 pm

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The St. Clair Jazz All-Stars

"Music and rhythm find their way into the secret places of the soul" said Plato. I'd like to add that music, and art in all its forms are essential for the nourishment of the soul. They give us a sense of well-being, and connect us with the deeper part of ourselves. So, here's an opportunity to feel terrific: A fun evening with many talented musicians while raising money for Artwalk, a festival to celebrate art, music, and writing.

Artwalk, the St.Clair Arts Festival and Studio Tour presents The St. Clair Jazz All-Stars, a fundraiser featuring some of the hottest jazz St.Clair has ever heard.

BEN D'CUNHA vocalist

Thursday, September 25th, 2008, 7 - 9:15 pm
St. Matthews United Church.
729 St. Clair Ave West

Tickets: $30.00 general admission

On sale at or Ellington Café,
805 St. Clair Ave. West

The 2008 St.Clair Arts Festival and Studio Tour takes place the weekend of September 26 & 27. For more info click here

Monday, August 18, 2008

Olympic Medal for Mauritius

Just heard that Mauritius, the island where I grew up, is guaranteed to win a bronze medal in bantamweight boxing. Its first medal ever. The hero is Bruno Julie. He doesn't seem fazed by the fact that he's just made history. He sounds feisty and ready for a fight for gold.

I haven't been watching the Olympics on a regular basis, just a few highlights here and there about how Canadian competitors are doing. Many of us in Canada tend to cheer for Canadian athletes as well as those from our countries of origin, but I have to admit that I don't keep in touch with sports achievements in Mauritius, and had no idea it was sending competitors, let alone how good they were. O ye of little faith! So, it was such a wonderful surprise and an incredible thrill to hear today that tiny Mauritius, an island of about 1 million inhabitants, will win a bronze if not a silver or gold medal. Way to go Mauritius! Go for Gold!

Friday, August 08, 2008


"Les grands nénuphars, entre les roseaux,
Tristement luisaient sur les calmes eaux.
Moi, j'errais tout seul, promenant ma plaie
Au long de l'étang, parmi la saulaie ..."

Extrait du poème Promenade Sentimentale par Paul Verlaine

Water lilies among the reeds
Sadly glimmer on calm water.
Alone I wander, and walk my woes
Along the pond, among the willows.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Théâtre en plein air

There is something about outdoor theatre that makes it the perfect embodiment of summer. Saw the Shakespeare play As You Like It. Along Philosopher's Walk, in a sort of nook flanked by U of T buildings. The grass was humid but had that fresh summery smell that makes you feel like rolling in it and staring at the sky. We sat on a blanket and were so close to the actors we could see the slightest twitch on their faces. The acting was amazing,. It swept us into the emotional tangles of a world filled with thou, dost, hath, a world peopled with dukes, shepherds, ladies in love, courtiers, and a clown dressed in Hawaiian shirt and shorts. Laughing out loud in the open air felt as liberating as summer. I also loved it when night spread like a dark canopy above us, goading our imagination while we watched the happy dénouement of the play.

This production of Canopy Theatre runs until August 2nd.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Hot Toronto

It's hot and humid in Toronto. A few days in the countryside with its refreshingly cool breeze from the lake made it difficult to come back to a city that feels as hot as a giant cauldron. But fortunately there are enough openings in the cauldron to release the pressure. Went for a long walk through the Don River ravine, one of the many hidden ravines that weave secretly through the city. These nature trails are a welcome haven from the frenzy of city life. It's so soothing to walk along the river, let the clear rush of water drown the sound of traffic, inhale the warm smell of earth, and let the wonders of nature overwhelm all your senses. I love that about Toronto. It looks like such a staid city but it's so full of surprises.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Art Festival on St.Clair

I volunteered to help with Artwalk, the St.Clair Arts Festival and Studio Tour. And as usual it's taking much more of my time than anticipated. I thought I'd learned over the years not to offer my time when I'm already swamped, but I seem unable to resist the pull of a worthy cause. In this case, to help artists show their work, and bring a creative flair to the atmosphere of my neighbourhood.

If you're a Toronto artist, you can apply online The deadline has been extended to August 15th.

Photo taken at The Brick Works, a large expanse of nature, a little oasis within the city. I feel like this waterlily right now, keeping my head above water, but flourishing nevertheless.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Ma pensée, c'est moi

"Ma pensée, c'est moi: voilà pourquoi je ne peux pas m'arrêter. J'existe par ce que je pense ... et je ne peux pas m'empêcher de penser."

La Nausée, Jean-Paul Sartre

My thought is me: that is why I can't stop. I exist by what I think ... and I can't restrain myself from thinking.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Article in Le Week-End

Pamela de St. Antoine, the Washington correspondent for the Mauritian newspaper Le Week-End wrote an article on Mauritians living in Toronto. You can read it online this week if you click on the America section.

As an artist, it's normal to expose oneself through one's ideas and artistic expressions, but in this article I feel more exposed than ever. Pamela is a good reporter, and has a talent for obtaining information, and I'm only too willing to talk. Even though I'm not that keen in having my private life in focus, I don't mind the discomfort if the article inspires the Mauritian community in a positive manner. And how could I say no to Pam? We've been online friends for a long time. Her enthusiasm, warmth, and sense of humour made it easy for us to connect. I felt as if I had known her forever when we took the ferry and walked on a grey, misty, spring day along the empty boardwalk of Centre Island, talking and talking, thrilled to share similar interests in people, travel, writing, food ... There were many magical moments and lots of laughter.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Bev's art exhibit: dirty pictures ...

Bev is a friend from way back when we were studying fashion design at Ryerson. Over the years, I lost touch with most of the Ryerson girls. But she dropped by regularly, once a year, when I used to sell my handpainted silk scarves at the One of a Kind show, and I was very touched by her kindness. She is a talented artist I've always admired. Hope you can make it to her show opening.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Le jour en feu

"Mon âme éternelle,
Observe ton voeu
Malgré la nuit seule
Et le jour en feu."

Extrait du poème Faim, Oeuvres Poétiques par Arthur Rimbaud

My eternal soul
follows your wish
but the night is lonely
and the day on fire.

Friday, June 06, 2008

The meaning of emotions

Last week I went with Suzanne to hear Gerry Cupchik talk about the meaning of emotions at Timothy's Café. Gerry is a psychology professor, a friend who describes himself as energy, and loves a good discussion. In the relaxed setting of the café, Gerry talked with conviction, hands making arabesques in the air, body and facial expressions totally engaged to seduce the audience with his ideas.

Even though it took a lot of concentration to get past the psychological jargon, I enjoyed the talk as I've always been fascinated by the intricacies of mind and emotions. I was intrigued when he talked about how the Eastern view of body and emotions is "one within the other" while the Western view is "one outside the other". And I totally got it when he talked about how artists relate emotionally and intellectually to their work, combining sensory qualities with representational meanings. You can read more about his theories on emotions here. He was a finalist in TVO's Best Lecturer competition, and you can learn more about him in this video.

After the talk, Suzanne and I had a long chat about emotions while eating fish and chips at Fran's. Suzanne is a friend I love going out with on little cultural adventures in the city as she has a wonderful enthusiasm for learning, and is always ready for a challenge and a good laugh.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Nature, cyclone, earthquake

she stopped with her dog
under dappled sunlight
nature's verdant glory
my feisty friend Judy

The golden glow of sunset on cows grazing lazily on fresh grass, the scent of purple lilacs, a fox jumping across the field. It was all so idyllic at Judy's farm. But coming back, I've been thinking again of the thousands of lives lost from the cyclone in Burma and the earthquake in China. The media brings these events so close to us that the suffering of these people seems palpable. My daily worries seem trivial compared to the upheaval and losses of the surviving victims. It is hard to comprehend the pain caused by nature's fury when surrounded by so much beauty.

"When the stars threw down their spears
And watered heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?"

William Blake - The Tiger, Songs of Experience

Monday, May 19, 2008


Went to Chalkers on Thursday night. Lynda had invited me to listen to the Jazz Jam. She was singing.

I've known Lynda for many, many years. We've helped each other when we were new mothers. We lose touch at times, caught up in our own worlds, but our friendship seems patient, ready to blossom whenever we meet. Lynda is a lawyer, and it was hard to think of her as a singer. I knew she was creative. I had seen her, paintbrush in hand, making dinosaurs roam along the walls of her children's room, but I had never heard her sing. When she took the microphone, and belted, I've got you under my skin, the full range of her voice undulated, softened, burst into an emotionally charged rendition of this classic song, and I was totally enthralled. Way to go, Lynda. If you happen to be at Chalkers on a Thursday night, listen to the sultry voice, and you'll know it's Lynda's.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A leap in the void

Got so caught up with photography that I had to put writing aside for a while. Wondering whether my multitasking abilities are weakening. Or maybe I just can't take more than one leap at a time when facing the void. According to this quote which a friend recently read to me from Anne Bogart's book, A Director Prepares: Seven Essays on Art and Theatre, "Every creative act involves a leap in the void."

I took a wild leap with Canadian Men Revealed and I'm relieved the landing wasn't that hard. I landed on a cloud, perhaps a bumpy one, but I'm still floating with the positive feedback while learning a lot about what I could improve. Now that I'm back to writing, I feel as if I'm ready to jump from a plane, parachute attached, knees wobbly, mind vacillating from fear of falling and thrill of flying. I'm still standing there looking down. I need a gentle push. Aaaaaahhhhhh h h h h ...

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Thanks, thanks, thanks

Thank you to the 80 to 100 guests who came to the opening of my photo exhibition Canadian Men Revealed. Thank you for your warmth, your support, and your encouragement. It was wonderful to see smiles on everybody's face, and then their deep concentration as they went through each photo to guess the right profession and ethnic/cultural background. And it was so much fun to hear the light-hearted exchange of information between guests. The hors-d'oeuvres were delicious, especially the crispy, melt-in-your-mouth, noodle-wrapped shrimp. Thanks to Tony Merante and the terrific staff at Regal Heights Bistro.

A special thanks to Terry Fallis for coming to the show opening despite his busy schedule and the euphoria of winning the Stephen Leacock Medal for his self published book The Best Laid Plans. For more info, check his blog.

For those who could not make it to the opening, the show is on until May 31st. Please, drop by Regal Heights Bistro, 1079 Lauder Ave.. Hours: Tues-Fri 5:00 pm-11:00 pm/close, Sat & Sun 11:00 am-11:00 pm/close, Monday closed.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Canadian Men Revealed

Who is the Canadian man? Without the trappings that mark his station in life, can you tell the firefighter from the architect? Is his ethnicity skin deep? Peggy Lampotang presents portraits of men without their shirts. She invites us to look past his clothes, past his skin, to guess his profession and ethnic background in this suggestive documentation which attempts to reveal his special place in our history. Best guesses win prizes.

Photography by Peggy Lampotang
Exhibition: May 1 - 31, 2008
Regal Heights Bistro
1079 St. Clair Avenue West at Lauder, Toronto
Tel: 416-651-2109

Opening Reception: Saturday May 3rd, 3:30 -6:30 pm

This exhibition is part of Contact Photography Festival

Note: During my last photo exhibition (August 21/06 posting), a few friends from my karate club said, "What about photos of me?" How could I resist such an offer? I admire beauty in nature, every form of it, and people have always been one of my main interests. But I wanted to go past physical beauty and explore other elements, like how do we define the Canadian man? This is an invitation to view the results, have a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, and lots of fun with the guessing challenge.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


I want to celebrate all the people I know who sing and/or play musical instruments. This posting is inspired by a cousin from England with whom I reconnected a few months ago. I was a teenager when I saw him last and he taught me how to play "The last thing on my mind" on my first guitar. Jacques Lim, an applied science teacher at London College of Fashion, recently retired but has always kept his passion for music. You can hear him sing some of the beautiful songs he wrote on his blog. The one I like most: "I think it's best"

My husband's niece, Sarah Putnam, is only nineteen and a talented singer. She was among 50 selected across Canada to compete for the role of Maria in The Sound of Music, a Mirvish theatre production that will be playing in Toronto this year.

I'm not a big fan of opera but when I saw the performance of Takako, the mother of one of my son's hockey friends, I was quite taken by her radiant presence, her voice and the mix of east and west in her songs.

Francine Labelle, a friend from my karate club, sings in Tafelmusik's choir. I enjoy listening to Francine sing, like a bird twittering in pure soulful notes. She is the second from left in this photo

Andi Duncan, a friend I've lost touch with but whom I will always remember for telling me that "It's the journey, not the destination that counts" when talking about her musical career, sang, and composed the music and lyrics on this CD

I met Russell Drago when our sons were at the same school. It was relaxing to hear him sing at Trane Studio, a jazz club on Bathurst St.

Tom Melville, a friend who works full time as a lawyer, plays the organ in a band called Tokyo Giants that consists mostly of lawyers who work full-time and manage to find time to practice and perform. Saw his band at Chick'n'deli and had a terrific time dancing to their upbeat tunes.

My cheers to all other friends who play music: Judy, Wayne, Milène ... What's wonderful about Toronto is that there are so many venues for musicians who want to perform. Music is such a wonderful outlet, a great way to unwind from stress, long hours of work. Many friends jam regularly on weekends, and even perform at parties. They share the same desire to express their inner emotions through music. A few months ago, I shook the dust away from my guitar ...

Friday, March 21, 2008

The original writer

"L'écrivain original n'est pas celui qui n'imite personne, mais celui que personne ne peut imiter."
Le Génie du Christianisme - Chateaubriand

"The original writer is not the one who imitates none but the one whom none can imitate."

I prefer to believe that Chateaubriand is not being arrogant when he says none can imitate an original writer, that he really means it is impossible to imitate writers who infuse their craft with their unique experiences, talents, and personalities.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Anatomy of Love

I'm reading Anatomy of Love by Helen Fisher. It's fascinating, the numerous researches that have been done in the name of love. From Jean Henri Fabre's experiment with the female moth's "invisible secretion from her distended abdomen – a 'pheromone', the smell of which had attracted suitors from a mile across the countryside" to a study of how "we feel infatuation when neurons in the limbic system, or emotional core, become saturated or sensitized by PEA (phenylethylamine, a substance in the brain that causes feelings of elation, exhilaration, and euphoria) and/or other brain chemicals."

It's riveting to have love dissected and explained in scientific terms. It grounds us into reality, shakes up our romantic fantasy. Not that I'm now inclined to say, "The neurons in my limbic system are saturated by chemical reactions to your presence." Even though I don't agree with all her theories, it's certainly thought-provoking, Helen Fisher's conviction that love among couples lasts about four years, the time it takes to raise infants, then boredom settles and the search for another partner starts again - all this based on the premise that we still carry in us primitive, cavemen-type instincts when searching for love, or to put it more bluntly, a mate: woman looking for security, and man looking for fertile womb to bear children.

Taking or leaving what suits you, this book does offer some insights. It helps put some order and perspective if you're struggling to understand complicated emotions about love. It attempts to explain Blaise Pascal's saying: "Le coeur as ses raisons que la raison ne connait point." - The heart has its reasons that reason knows nothing of. It's wonderful to be enlightened by all that scientific stuff, but I still find the poetry and mystery of love more alluring.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Beat the February blues

How to shake off the February blues in Toronto.

1. Go to Montreal ... just kidding! Toronto is as much fun as Montreal these days. I feel its boundless creative energy, especially now that Mayor Miller is endorsing events such as Nuit Blanche, Luminato, Contact photography Festival, etc. There are art galleries sprouting all over the city. You can find some more established ones here but check the web for those in your area.

2. Hang out at the numerous restaurants/lounges/clubs that offer live music. My latest discovery is The Cadillac Lounge. My first time there was for Michael Winter's book launch. See photos I took here. I've been back there with friends to see Jack de Keyser sing. I still like The Reservoir Lounge for its intimacy and it's always a thrill to be greeted by a flirtatious Rod Stewart look-alike. The Orbit Room is still my favourite among the numerous nightclubs along College street as it's got great music and accommodates all age groups.

3. Enjoy Sunday brunch with friends. Every neighbourhood in Toronto has its special breakfast places. I love Sunday Jazz brunch at Regal Heights Bistro. Another great place for breakfast (served until 2:00 pm) is Boom.

4. Dance the night away. At Babaluu or Lula Lounge if you like salsa. Or dance at any of these lounges/clubs I mentioned above.

5. Go for walks in Toronto's numerous ravines (with the amount of snow we've been getting, you can even get your cross-country skis out).

Yeah, that's how busy you can get in February. As long as you dress warmly, it's fun and costs less than going south.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Happy Chinese New Year

Today there's a new moon. It's the first day of Chinese New Year. Just like the first day of January, Toronto is covered in snow. Every rooftop, tree, sidewalk is white, a smooth white that leaves one breathless. By the end of the day, there is a white mist hovering over the city, giving it a sad, romantic look as if couples should hug and kiss in this white landscape to complete a perfect picture.

I haven't done anything to celebrate the new moon. I've lost the little bit of Chinese culture that my parents tried to teach me. This is perhaps the casualty of generations immigrating and immersing in new cultures. Or perhaps the melding of an increasingly global society. I feel as if I don't belong anywhere and yet I belong everywhere. Toronto has that ability to make you feel that way, with its multicultural mosaic, its openness and acceptance, the way everybody seems to have a connection to another country whether it's Ireland, Israel, or India.

I still have the evening left to celebrate Chinese New Year. This is what I will do: I will make some Chinese rice crackers for my children. And I will dance and sing love songs to the moon.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The family

I'm reading Don DeLillo's book, White Noise, and love his writing, the way he describes people, events, thoughts, with original imagery while always digging deeper at the meaning of everything in life. I'm quoting a few words he puts in the mouth of a professor who spews out ideas continuously, and reminds me of manic, neurotic Woody Allen.

"The family process works toward sealing off the world. Small errors grow heads, fiction proliferate … Not to know is a weapon of survival ... Magic and supersitition become entrenched as the powerful orthodoxy of the clan. The family is strongest where objective reality is most likely to be misinterpreted." Don DeLillo - White Noise

I see an element of lucidity in this comment which at first seems distorted. It makes one certainly ponder about the family unit, about how it's gong to survive in this century. It's already moved from the extended to the nuclear family. And now we hear of families as dysfunctional, and divorcing, splitting into even smaller units while raising children in a creative array of domestic combinations. Does the strong family unit really create its own limited world, and promote ignorance to survive in this increasingly knowledge-bound world? I think it's a bit over-simplified but there's something there worth thinking about.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

A new year of hope

A brand new year in which I hope dreams are not just dreams, that they will materialize when fed with enough passion, focus, and hard work.

I woke up this morning to a winter wonderland. A fresh white coating of snow, like a breath of hope. Everything seems possible when surrounded by such beauty. It makes me generous, forgiving of those who have left an indelible hurt in me. I want to remember only the good times. I want to swirl with the snow, dance, and let myself drift away like snowflakes falling softly on branches.

We do need as much comfort as we can get from nature. A quick scan of newspapers informs us that our city's lack of cash is having a negative impact on its infrastructure, that our country isn't doing enough to help the poor, that U.S. economy is taking a dive and pulling us on its way down, that war-torn countries are doomed to more violence, that our planet is self-destructing –– enough bad news to get one severely depressed. I go to the entertainment/ book review section to cheer up and celebrate the positive accomplishments of artists and writers. It's not always possible to take an active role in saving the world, but there's always hope when we let nature guide us and give a little love here and there to better things in our immediate surroundings.

I don't know how I get into this heavy stuff. Let's lighten up with some Québécois humour. Here's a video from Têtes à Claques to wish you Happy New Year. For those who don't speak French, sorry, but I hope it'll be an incentive to learn it. Have a good laugh. Je vous souhaite à tous une belle année remplie de belles surprises.