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Thursday, 29 December 2011

Reflecting on 2011...

2011 - what are the moments that defined this year? I am not sure if there is one moment that defined this world. I am not sure if there is a moment or a word that defined the year. Looking back, we experienced some historical moments - Ghadafi and Bin Landen are no longer with us, we have a very different landscape in northern Africa, the earth suffered earthquakes and other natural disasters, teams achieved a lot and a city suffed because a team came in 2nd, and people much more. How does this affect me? As this year ends, all of this reminds me that I am able to control one! I can control my love, my forgiveness, care, my emotions. These re thins that can make my world a better place. Not settling for anything less than the best, not becoming upset over things I can't control, ensuring that I am surrounding myself with amazing friends who deeply care about me as much as I care about them, and respecting all those that come into my life. I don't really have a resolution - I mean, I would love to become more in shape and am taking steps to do that, I was oiled appreciate having someone special to share my life with, I can probably do with more visits to friends and family living abroad. But I think and believe that I can be happiest recognizing what I share with the world. It would be amazing if more people can recognize their hidden gifts!! Wishing you peace and love in 2012!

Saturday, 10 December 2011

we are young....


time to recalibrate...

sometimes i realize i just need a break, i believe this is true for all humans. theres a saying out there - "we are not machines." i find this a bit funny, because even machines need to be shut down every now and then. i dont know what there is about my system, but i just know. something ticks, something just says....its time to slow down a bit sameer. in the past i would move until i burnt out, i think with age and experience, i have gotten to know what my limitations are, what my breaking point it is. i can catch myself better - this is a great thing for me and for others in my life. 

what do i do to find some balance? there are many things that i enjoy doing that help me relax, in no particular order, they are:

being with close friends and family
sharing a conversation with an old friend
sleeping in
praying and meditating
watching a good movie (bollywood preferred)
sitting in silence
writing this blog

there are other things as well....want to share some of what you do? i would appreciate more ideas...

thanks for reading as always!


Tuesday, 8 November 2011

home...where the heart is

we all have various definitions for home....i know that i use the word interchangeably with a lot of different places, and people often do get confused. i use the word home to describe vancouver, the place where my parents live in dallas, the hotel that will check into if i have been on the road....and so many other places. each place is unique and is called home for various reasons....

i am in nairobi, kenya for work this week...and well, guessed it - nairobi is home for me this week. but this isnt like a hotel home, or a temporary home. this is very much a real home - just like my parents house. this is familiar, this is warm (literally and figuratively), this is loving...this is where my heart is! in feb of 2008, i made my first trip to my ancestral land (kenya) and it was amazing! upon landing there was a feeling of nostalgia that i felt - it was like i have been here before. i spent time with my family here - people who i respect and love beyond belief, people who are so kind and who understand the real meaning of the word family! i was just here for a short trip, but on the trip, i was asked to relocate to nairobi. without hesitation, i said YES!

i had the opportunity to live in nairobi and travel through east africa in my two and a half years here. it was a great experience. being here taught me so much about life and struggle and that happiness is what you make of it. being here also showed me that i have a home here. i have people who i love and care for, and who love and care for me. i have people who i can laugh and cry with, people who are close to me and people who i can depend on. i had a purpose here. and well, now is no different. as i run into familiar faces here, i realize that this is home, this is where my heart is...this is one place that i can be happy and i can thrive! this is true for kenya and tanzania...i have been spoiled here....when i am back in canada, i do ask myself what would life be like if i were still here....and well, it would pretty amazing. one day, i hope to return to my home in africa!

asante sana kenya, tanzania! asante sana...

peace and the rain falls in africa....

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

sameer's bollywood picks...

hello friends :)

I write this with bollywood on my mind. I have just left India, and am now in Dhaka...I guess part of this blog is dedicated to my time in India, trying to hold on to that amazing culture and country. Part of this is looking forward to my time in Bangladesh and understanding the culture here - its been less than 24 hours so far, but I have been picking up on the observations - thats for another time.

This time, I figured I would focus on some of my favorite Bollywood movies - there is no order to this...and I would ask, if you want to share your favorites with me, please do!

Kabhi Kushi Kabhi Gham
Seeta aur Geeta
Dhobi Ghat
Once Upon a Time in Mumbai
Dilwale Dulhaniya le Jayange
Kuch Kuch Hota Hai
Jab We Met
3 Idiots
Jaane tu ya Jaane na
Mere Brother Ki Dulhan
Qayamat se Qayamat tak
Aaja Nachale
Umrao Jaan - new and old
Om Shanti Om
Kal ho na ho
Jodhaa Akbar

This isnt an exhaustive list...I think I am losing some of my memories. This is a start...this may be one of the ongoing blogs...if you havent seen should!


Tuesday, 27 September 2011

bucket lists....

hello from India...or should I say Namaste! 

I havent been blogging as much - and I know I should be and more importantly, I want to be...its a habit I guess, something that takes time to develop - almost like a behavior. 

Anyways, here it goes...haha!

Todays topic...bucket lists. I dont know how I feel about them...I have spent the past couple of days thinking about this. I am in India - as I mentioned earlier, and being here, there is a lot that I want to do - some of these, some may classify some of these things as bucket list worthy. I guess I take the philosophy on living one day at a time - when I am in a place, whether home or abroad, there are things that I have planned, things I want to do, but clumping them into a list...hmm, I am not sure...feel free to comment :)

Some of the things that I have done since I have been in India which I have wanted to do include:

riding in a rickshaw in Bombay
singing an Indian song to a group - thanks CHEC Tour friends
seeing a bollywood movie in a cinema in India - saw Mere Brother Ki Dulhaan - go see it if you havent already!
crossing the street - sounds funny....try it, then we can talk!

This is a short list...and I am sure I am forgetting some things. Feel free to share things that I should do while I am here too...

There are things that I havent done - see the Taj Mahal - it is day it will happen. 

As always, thanks for reading...hope, if nothing else, this got you thinking!


Sunday, 11 September 2011

a day that stands alone....

there are days in history that stand out, some more than others for various reasons....the day world war 2 ended, the day the civil rights movement was at its pinnacle, the vietnam war, and the list can go on and on for recent events. in my life, there was a day that stands alone - september 11, 2001. this is a day where my world changed....and i day that i remember, almost like it was yesterday. 

some may ask, how such a day could create such an impact...why i remember it so clearly. yes, its the impact that it had on my country - the united states of america, the fact that an act of violence so large had happened in my home. but not only the fact that there was violence. 

like many on that day, i was woken up by a phone call telling me to turn on the tv. i did. and i watched in confusion at first, flipping the channels, thinking why is good morning america showing a movie. then i understood...and the confusion turned to shock...and thats when it all started. the emotions, the sinking in, the concern for friends and family...all rushing together! i remember the day like it was yesterday. i remember what happened as well like it was yesterday - the thoughts and feelings people had towards people who looked like me. needless to say, 10 years later, somethings have changed and somethings havent, but its about learning and reflecting and educating. 

there is one thing that has been consistent from watching the tv this morning...its a message of hope. there is a better future, there can be and has been for so many people. this is a lesson that i will take with me...and i will try to live to the fullest!

always remembering....


Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Rules of flying

What better time to write then when you cant sleep..haha! This jet lag thing is so overrated. Its about 323 am on Tuesday, September 6th and I cant sleep...ugh. I have to go to work later today, later meaning 7ish am. Oh what to do, but write a blog!

I am jet lagged because I recently came back to Vancouver from India. It was a long totaled out to about 3o hours with layover time, etc. The route was Bangalore to Frankfurt, Frankfurt to Toronto, Toronto to Vancouver. The Toronto leg broke the trip up a bit, although in hindsight it would have been great to fly direct to Vancouver - I was tired at that point already. There are many keys to flying - things that can make my trip more enjoyable. One of those things is an aisle seat - I love my travel agent every time I fly because of the aisle seats :) Thanks Jacqueline! Yes, I know first class would be better, but the aisle seats are critical for me. 

Every flight coming back to Vancouver was packed! Not even one empty seat in coach - which is totally fine, if everyone co-operates. An example of not co-operating was what the guy from  Bangalore to Frankfurt was doing. When on a plane, I ask you to stay in your space (i.e. look at the seat in front of you and let that serve as your boundary!). Try not to put your feet, legs, bags, etc. in your neighbors space. The arm rest on either side of you is a shared space - not just your space, but a shared space...samja! I know youre probably tired at 215 am, the time the flight does depart, but please try to adhere to these rules of flying...this will make it more comfortable for everyone you sit next to in the future (you are welcome everyone). I feel like I can write the manual for behavior on a plane, it would be interesting to have the flight attendants do a behavior presentation after the short video on the plane's safety features...hmmm, this could be a new project.

On a side note, I did make it home safe and sound...and am now prepping to go back to the motherland - India - in 16 days. Bring on the frequent flyer miles!


Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Shukaran Allah...Eid Mubarak

Eid Mubarak...

Eid Mubarak! I was able to celebrate Eid today in Bangalore with the Ismaili Muslim community here, I am very fortunate. Being a part of the community of celebratory days like today makes me realize how fortunate I am. The Ismaili community is located all over the world, for me, this community provides comfort, its home, if I can call it that. The prayers were this morning and after the prayers there was rice pudding to break the fast and celebrate this auspicious day. Needless to say, since this is the first time in 30 days that I have eaten while the sun has been up, I did have the rice pudding and it was soo GOOD!

When I was in Delhi, I had a chance to visit Humayuns Tomb - a world heritage site that was recently cared for by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. I bring this up today because it was, not only a great trip with a great friend, but a very spiritual place. The experience for me was great, not only because there was a connection with His Highness the Aga Khan, but the space, the peace, the architecture and reflection that took place for me while I was there. This structure is located right in New Delhi - five to ten minutes from the Imperial Hotel where I was staying. Finding a place with such beauty, with such history and that can provide a feeling like I experienced in a city as large as Delhi is amazing! This is what India is all about. Its about a feeling - feelings in Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, Hyderabad, Bangalore and in the outskirts. 

Thanks for reading...gonna upload a video for Eid in a sec. 


Bangalore...the Garden city

I am now in Bangalore after a whirlwind couple of days. Sunday, I left Delhi and headed to Pune for a night for work, then to Hyderabad for a day on Monday and Bangalore on Monday night. It was intense, but it was great. I did "see" Pune and Hyderabad, kinda...haha, as much as one can see from a cab or bus :P

I am so happy to be in Bangalore for a few days. Bangalore is the garden city of India - so much greenery, great climate, amazing temples. Tomorrow will be great because its a late start for Eid. My fasting ends tomorrow as well! I have really been blessed this past month because I have been able to adapt my fasting while in Vancouver and on the road. It has been challenging, but I feel like I have gained strength through this as well. Eid Mubarak everyone! Thanks to all of supporting me during this past month. 

Back to Bangalore now...haha. I am staying at the Taj West End. Its an amazing hotel. When I arrived at the hotel, I was exhausted. I had been up since 3 am that morning and all I wanted to do was sleep. When I got to the Taj, the hotel staff was prepared for myself and my colleagues. Prepared isnt the right word - its like they knew we were all going to be tired! They greeted us with a Hindu tradition of candles and a blessing for prosperity, put a thika on our foreheads and gave us a necklace of jasmine, this was all done outside of the hotel main doors. When we walked in, we received a mithai (Indian sweet) and a coconut with a straw to drink the fresh coconut water - so refreshing! It was delightful and exactly what I needed! Thanks Taj West End - you made my night!

I will update you on Bangalore a bit later and share a bollywood video with you as well - I cant forget about that...

As always, thanks for reading!


Sunday, 28 August 2011

Indian Train Song...

All aboard....

Good day everyone! India is still an amazing place! I have one more day in Delhi...truly a special place. Anna is still fasting, roads are closed and the government is taking measures to move the Jan Lokpal bill through the process. There is a lot happening!

Yesterday I had the opportunity, if you can call it that, to travel by train in India. The group I am with travelled to Dehradun, just north of Delhi. The Shatabdi Express was our mode of transport - left at 630ish am and reached at around 1230 pm, we came back that same day. Dehradun is a lively place. Its a smaller town with lots of activity! The protests even reached there. There are some amazing schools that are up in those parts as well!

The train was an experience...I am not sure how many reading this have been on a train in India, if you have share your experience. I traveled in First Class, which dont get your hopes up high, its nothing like Air Canada first class, but its first class none the less. I was expecting an experience like Dil Se's Chayya Chayya - dont worry, I will post the vid. There was no dancing, no songs, no bollywood hero...however there was a mouse. You have all heard about Snakes on the Plane, well the sequal may as well be called Mouse on an (Indian) Train! It was some scary stuff. The locals were not phased at all by this...I was, and I know the other Westerners were also! The locals I think were entertained by our was pretty funny looking back at the whole thing...however, needless to say, I am going to stay away from the train for a bit!



Wednesday, 24 August 2011

be the change...

Good day from Delhi! This is the second stop on this tour of India....4 more more cities left in the next week or so.

Delhi is an amazing place...Mumbai is great - the energy, the youth, the water....there is something about Mumbai. But there is something about being in a country's capital - Washington DC, Ottawa, Nairobi, etc...each of these cities plays host to the political movers and shakers, where change has the potential to take place. In Delhi, if you have been watching the news, you will have noticed that there is one person who is trying to "be the change" and end corruption - Anna Hazare. He is on the 8th day of his hunger strike trying to get a message to the government...during this process, this very Gandhian approach, he has gained the support of millions of people....these are students, working class people, people from Punjab, Maharastra, all over. Could this be the next revolution in India? I am living at a very great time in this country's history!

To read more....check this out:

Thats it for now...India doesnt cease to amaze me...


dehli hai..mere yaar

in delhi...more to come...

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Another song and dance....

from Once Upon A Time in Mumbai :)

two things are invetible in Mumbai...

Thanks for all those that have read this so far, it may not be overly interesting, but its something...haha!

Mumbai is amazing. Yesterday I decided to leave the hotel and explore with a couple of colleagues that I was travelling with. We decided to go a part of Mumbai that I was really familiar with, so we went to Elco Market in Bandra off Hill Road. I highly recommend this area for anyone that wants to shop for clothes, accessories, and just random can pretty much find everything in this part of Mumbai. We decided to take a taxi from the hotel we are at (Hyatt Regency Mumbai), this was great because it was air conditioned. We however did run into TONS of traffic...which is the first thing that is inevitable about India! Its really mess - its kind of hard to describe in words, I didnt take a picture, I will try to and post. I guess the easiest way to try to describe Mumbai traffic is to think of 100 cars in 10 lanes, all trying to get into 4 lanes and they all want to be first. Oh and they are all using their horns. Its actual pretty incredible how the horns work, its like its another language...Did I mention to add to the mix of traffic and cars, you have auto rickshaws, motorcycles and cows, yes....I did say cows. This chaos is so interesting for me to watch, because it works...I guess it reminds me that no matter how crazy my life is, its crazier other places...haha!

The second inevitable thing deals with food - its sooo good! I think most places in India are amazing when it comes to food. I went to Sheetal Bukhara yesterday - I mentioned it in my first blog - we had the butter chicken, chicken bhiryani and navratan korma. OMG, I loved it all! It was an amazing meal! I highly suggest this place!

Two inevitable things in Mumbai then kids....traffic is crazy and the food is amazing!

Until next time...


Saturday, 20 August 2011

It wouldnt be a post from India without a song and dance...

Enjoy....its a classic....


Mumbai...meri jaan

I made it to India :) India is an amazing place. 160 years ago, my family migrated from India to Eastern Africa. There really hasn't been much of a connection with India, aside from the box that I would check on census forms or bollywood movies, but there is something to say about visiting an ancestral home.

Mumbai is a vibrant city, a city where you see class divides, where you find diversity, where one can be run over, literally and figuratively, if not aggressive enough. I got in last night, after the 27 hour journey from Vancouver. Landing at 1 am was amazing - seeing the lights of the city from afar, then getting off the plane and feeling the realness of the city through the heat and humidity.

Its monsoon season now in Mumbai...I hope I don't get washed away...haha! I haven't left the hotel yet, the rains have been strong, and they have been inconsistent. I am just watching bollywood movie now - there is something about Indian cinema that automatically gets my attention. I don't think its the comical fighting, or the cheesy sound affects...its def the songs and dances, and the hopeless romantic in me also fights for a happy ending (knowing that it will be there), so I wait three hours for the happy ending :)

Anyways, I do plan to get out and about and see the city and hopefully run into a bollywood star or two...

If you are ever in Mumbai, you should check out these places to eat - SO good:

Sheetal Bhukara:
Mumbai's Elco Market:

Thanks for reading! I will post more later...for now...

Peace :)