Quarantine Diaries: Random Conversations

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Image swiped from here.

Quarantine Diaries: Random Conversations

My dad called me from Pakistan this morning at the unearthly quarantine standard time of 7:49. I heard the ringing, struggled to the edge of the bed and looked down at my disgruntled cell phone complaining loudly and saw “Daddy” on the screen. I turned back over and pulled the covers over my head knowing he would have a couple things to say to me when I called back.

At about noon I remembered I was supposed to do something but the Internet had sucked me into its bottomless hell and I wasn’t quite sure what it was I had to do. Till my cell rang and “Daddy” blinked accusingly at me. Daddy will be referred to as Eccentric South Asian Boomer because nothing could explain the enigma that is him better.

This entire conversation took place in Urdish (Urdu-English). Below is a close translation but some treasures will be lost in translation unless you understand Urdish.

Me: “Hello, Salam alaykum!”

Eccentric South Asian Boomer: “Walaikum As Salam bhai (bhai means brother but is used when a rant is about to follow) where have you been?”

Me: “I’ve been-”

Eccentric South Asian Boomer: “I have been calling you forever!”

Me: “I didn’t-”

Eccentric South Asian Boomer: “Why don’t you answer your phone?”

Me: “I-”

I realize it is pointless so I let him go on for as long as he needs to or runs out of breath.

Eccentric South Asian Boomer: “All I get are your messages that sound like ‘mamamamam’? What are you doing? Why don’t you call back? DO you know how worried I have been? You never call!”

Me: “I didn’t get a single call from you. Are you-”

Eccentric South Asian Boomer: “What are you saying bhai? I called so many times, I got your messages, you kept mumbling ‘mamamama’ what is that?”

Me wondering if someone with a similar number to mine had been kidnapped and gagged: “I didn’t send you any messages, and why would I mumble like that?”

Eccentric South Asian Boomer: “Messages on your cell phone bhai!”

Me: “You mean the answering machine thing on my cell phone? That is not me sending you a message, that is just a recording. And I don’t sound like ‘mamamama’ is your hearing ok?”

Eccentric South Asian Boomer: “Mujhe budda kairee ho? Chaurral!” (Are you calling me old? Witch!”) Laughing at the ridiculous thought of himself being old. You know how dads call their daughters sweety or honey affectionately? Mine calls me Witch.

Me: “You are old. I didn’t get a call from you, at least my cell phone isn’t showing any notifications otherwise I would have called you back. When did you call? And by the way, I have called you like a dozen times on Whatsapp and you never answer!”

Eccentric South Asian Boomer: “Haan bhai! (Yeah brother) that’s exactly what you would say, I didn’t get any calls from you on Whatsapp. I called you about fifteen-twenty days ago.”

Me, preparing to hear an earful after my next statement: “I was in Morocco.”

Eccentric South Asian Boomer: “WHAT!?”

Me: “Eldest Child took me to Morocco.”

Eccentric South Asian Boomer: “Have you both lost your minds, do you even know what is happening in the world right now?”

Me: “We left when it wasn’t crazy like it is now, also Morocco still has a very low number of cases, it had barely any when we were there and of course we wouldn’t have left if things were the way they are now, I’ve been home for more than a week now. Calm down. Aren’t you happy I got that amazing opportunity? You know I have never done anything like that in my life.”

Eccentric South Asian Boomer changing the topic abruptly lest it should start a comment on his parenting and my lack of fun experiences in my early life: “Are you taking care of everyone’s health? Are you taking Moringa? Do you have access to Moringa? Do you know how beneficial Moringa is?”

Moringa has been his favorite topic for the past few years. He is a walking encyclopedia on Moringa and family members are now reluctant to invite him to family dinners because he can’t talk about anything else.  He is also the major (only) supplier of Moringa to the entire extended family (that is his remaining sibling and the offspring of all his siblings as well as cousins and their offspring). He carries around a huge duffel bag full of carefully wrapped packs of dried leaves. Yes, my 75+ South Asian, arthritic, father is a dealer. Of Moringa.

Me: “I promise I will get some Moringa from some health store when the lockdown ends.”

Eccentric South Asian Boomer: “I can send you some from here. You should all be taking Moringa every day, especially now.”

Me: “I don’t think mailing me a pack of dried leaves from Pakistan is a good idea. And don’t worry we are all taking vitamin C, warm lemonade with honey, none of us are going out. We are all fine, no symptoms.”

Eccentric South Asian Boomer: “Okay listen, I have a new number to use for Whatsapp. You need to write it down.”

Me: “Okay, but you know we can Whatsapp on this number too right?”

Eccentric South Asian Boomer: “No, no just write the number, it’s Zong.” (Zong is a network).

Me: “Okay I’ve got a pen.”

Eccentric South Asian Boomer: “Ready?”

Me: “Yes.”

Eccentric South Asian Boomer: “OK write…are you ready?”

Me: “Yes, yes tell me the number already!”

Eccentric South Asian Boomer: “Ok write  zero, three, three….you know you have to add nine and two first ?”

Me: “Yes I know, ok zero, three, three then?”

Eccentric South Asian Boomer: “Zero, three, three..”

Me: “Yes, after that?”

Eccentric South Asian Boomer: “You got the zero, three, three?”

Me: “Oh my God, yes. What is the rest of it?”

Eccentric South Asian Boomer: “Okay, nine, two, zero, three, three, four…

Me scribbling out the second set of nine, two, zero, three, three.

He finally manages to tell me the entire number.

Eccentric South Asian Boomer: “Okay now I am calling you using this new number on Whatsapp.”

Me: “Okay.” I hang up and wait.

Ten minutes later he calls me on Whatsapp not from the new number but the previous one.

Eccentric South Asian Boomer: “Hello? Hello? Hello?” He constantly touches the screen of his phone while yelling hello and the screen disappears.

I call him back.

Eccentric South Asian Boomer: “Hello! What’s wrong with your phone I couldn’t hear you?”

Me: “That is because you kept touching the screen and wouldn’t stop yelling. If you stop yelling you would actually be able to hear what I have to say.”

Eccentric South Asian Boomer sticking his smiling into his phone: “Tum tho bohot moti hogai ho!” (You have gotten really fat!”

At this point, I must explain, this is not meant with ill intention, but it has been so ingrained into that generation’s minds that it is okay to say shitty stuff to other people and that the recipients of shitty stuff should laugh at their intelligent wit. It is a good thing the Boomers didn’t give birth to the Millennials.  Only Generation X can put up with this kind of nonsense.

Me: “Thanks, that makes me feel really special.”

Eccentric South Asian Boomer: “Look at me, at this age look how well I have taken care of myself, I am only eating one and half chapatti at a meal.”

Me: “I am 5’6 and weigh 129 pounds.”

Eccentric South Asian Boomer: “Oh well that’s not fat.”

Me: “No it’s not. Even if it was, it is not something to say to your daughter. Or anybody else for that matter. It is considered very offensive now.”

Eccentric South Asian Boomer: “Well your face looks really fat.” Laughing at his own intelligent humour.

Me: “Thanks Daddy.”

The line drops and I try to call him back. He does not pick. I call three more times then give up. After ten minutes my cell rings again.

Me: “Hi why weren’t you picking up? I called you like four times.”

Eccentric South Asian Boomer: “Oh my phone didn’t ring.”

Me: “You need to get your phone checked out.”

Eccentric South Asian Boomer: “Oh there’s nothing wrong with my phone. I just keep Whatsapp off.”

Me looking for a brick wall to pound my head against: “Why would you not keep it on? And how do you turn it off? No wonder you didn’t pick any of my calls ever. What is the use of you having a cell phone if I can’t call you?”

The irony that I have had to parent my parents, as well as my kids (and husband), is not lost on me.

Eccentric South Asian Boomer: “Okay listen, I have another number that I use as well, grab your pen.”

Me horrified: “What? Why can’t we just use either of these numbers?”

Eccentric South Asian Boomer: “This is the Jazz number. The first one was the PTCL and the one you wrote was Zong.” As if any of these cell phone networks would make a difference because he kept his Whatsapp “off” anyways.

Me going into mom rant mode: “No, no more numbers! You don’t deserve more networks, you need to learn how to use your cell phone first! I have eight different numbers saved for you! Are you kidding me! No more new numbers!”

Eccentric South Asian Boomer: “Just write it.” He starts dictating the number. We do a replay of the previous number writing scenario. Exactly the same.

Me writing it down finally: “Ok I got it.”

I look at my cell phone, I now have “Daddy” with eight different numbers saved, “Daddy 2” which is the Zong number and “Daddy 3” which is the Jazz number. Ten numbers that he will not answer when I call.

Eccentric South Asian Boomer: “What is your husband doing?”

Me: “He is cooking.”

Eccentric South Asian Boomer: “What? Why is he cooking? Why aren’t you cooking? What is the matter with you?”

Me, contemplating hanging up: “Listen I am in quarantine, I explained that to you already, I was in Morocco remember?”

Eccentric South Asian Boomer: “Yes, you need to be very careful and stay quarantined! Are you staying away from everyone?”

Me: “Yes, I am. I know what the word quarantine means. Also, I have cooked for him for twenty-five years and-”

Eccentric South Asian Boomer: “And you will cook for him for the next twenty-five years!”

Me: “AND Prodigal Son can cook and so can Middle Child if they feel their father needs a break. You do know everyone is at home doing nothing right? There is no school and no jobs, everyone can cook!”

Eccentric South Asian Boomer: “But it is YOUR job, you know that right?”

Me in my head: No but I know which generation’s job it was to ruin the world now.

Eccentric South Asian Boomer: “Okay I gotta go get some sleep, it is late here. You go back to enjoying doing nothing. Call you soon.”

Please don’t.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

After listening patiently on the phone to me yap on endlessly about how my daughter and I finally made it out of Morocco amidst this Corona crisis my friend commented on it being my very own Planes, Trains, and Automobiles adventure. That would be pretty accurate, just replace the two white American men with two brown Canadian women. Add in a bit more panic, a touch of neurosis and a global pandemic.

Just to let you better understand the situation, I am a control freak with OCD when it comes to organization, neatness and time. My daughter constantly loses her things because her default setting is havoc. Sometimes I can’t believe I gave birth to this one. She will be referred to, forthwith, as “Her”.

We had been in the desert with no wifi or data when flight cancellations were announced. We were so young and naïve back then, looking forward to the Blue city and the Medina in Fez. Not knowing the world had turned upside down and there was going to be a very different adventure waiting for us.

Me to Her over the Japanese student tourist sitting between us : “Is the data on your cell phone working now?”

Her to Me: “Yes.”

Me expecting Her to give me more obvious and relevant info without twenty questions. Her maintaining silence as we traveled in great discomfort in the cramped back seat of the tour van with three other tourists. One of which was a grumpy young Brit with a permanent scowl on her elegant face. Our Japanese friend was on his cell frantically looking at the news and info on possible ways out of Morocco.

Me to Her: “Did you email the airline?”

Her to Me: “No.”

Me still waiting for more than monosyllabic answers. Her being unaware. Or just annoying af.

Our Japanese friend: “There are no flights to Japan!” Me and Her both emit sounds of condolence and also reassurance.

Me to Her: “Maybe email them? Ask when they will schedule our flight?”

Her to Me: “Pointless.” Two syllables. That’s an improvement.

Me screaming at Her in my head, “Can you please look for an alternative f*&^ing flight?” But maintaining silence knowing that it would be pointless at this moment and I needed to calm the f&*^ down because she was right. Instead I reassured our Japanese friend that everything would be okay and not to worry. I continued to maintain calm and watch the Moroccan landscape change from city to farm to mountains to valleys to city.

It was an 8-hour drive to Fez before we could get our hands on a laptop and see what was going on, but of course the airlines were not answering emails or calls. The only other flights leaving Morocco were ones going to Europe, most of them were full and there was no confirmation that once in Europe we would have a flight to Canada. Neither of us wanted to get stuck in a busy, congested airport in Europe with Corona ridden uppity Europeans. Plus, Europe was expensive as hell if we did get stuck without a flight home. We decided to stay put and see what options there would be after the two-week lockdown was over in Morocco. Still faithfully hopeful that this would all die down. The virus, of course, had other plans.

The Canadian government announced that they would be sending repatriation flights some days after our flights were canceled. We felt better since these were going to be direct flights and we would avoid Corona contamination in Europe. We were in an Air Bnb in Fez and to be honest quite comfortable, there was no panic where we were. Things had shut down but grocery stores and the bank remained open. Moroccans were strictly following social distancing. Our host had let us know that he would extend our use of the place for as long as we needed it. Others were not as lucky as we heard fellow Canadians that had been in hotels were now being turned out as everything went on lockdown. Sometimes it pays to be meagrely financed. It was very clear by this time that it would be months before things cleared up.

We knew we couldn’t stay for an unknown number of months. So, when the first flight was announced we tried to get our seats. What we didn’t think of was that there were more than 4ooo other Canadians also trying to book the flight. The website just froze up and before we could even get through, flights were already sold out. I started to feel an impending sense of being trapped. This had happened to me many years ago, I was stuck for twenty years in a place I didn’t want to be. It’s a long story. Please wait for my best selling, edge of your seat memoir. I am a catastrophe magnet.

I tried to keep calm as panicky messages came from well-meaning friends in Canada who had no idea what awful memories this was bringing back. My daughter tried to keep my growing anxiety at bay, at the most we’d be in Morocco for sometime longer-not forever. We had food and a roof over our heads, we’d be fine.

We tried to stay positive, did our groceries, made videos of our grocery trips because boredom gives you the courage to make a complete fool of yourself publicly. And hey you never know when the internet might decide to give you your five minutes of fame. Unfortunately, we were just too lame. We missed our one chance to become Insta Famous. Who knows when the next pandemic will come?

We had no idea how we would get from Fez to the Casablanca airport as all public transport was shutting down. We couldn’t just leave our one safe place to stay and go to Casablanca on the chance that we might be able to book tickets at the airport. Casablanca was a three-hour drive away. We ignored those suggestions from our well-intentioned advisors.

When the second flight was announced the same thing happened and again, we missed our chance. I tried to mentally prepare myself that we might be stuck here for months. The thought was not very appealing. I missed my kids at home. Also, I was really longing for biryani. I didn’t think I could go much longer without biryani. Biryani is life.

I attempted to make biryani, it was a complete failure without the needed ingredients. I was going to be trapped in Morocco with no access to biryani.

The government announced two more flights were being arranged. I was constantly checking my email to see when we could book the flights. We needed to get that third flight, it was starting to look like there might not be a fourth one.

When I found out the third flight was announced I tried again in vain to book the flight, this time I was getting through but the Air Canada website was not accepting any of our credit cards. The indignation of not having a credit card accepted online was the same as you feel when it happens to you in the grocery store and everyone in line behind you suspects you of fraud.

It was time to call in foreign aid. I phoned my husband in Canada, it was almost 6 am there, he didn’t need that much sleep anyways. He woke his trusty assistant, Middle Child, because clearly booking tickets was a two-person job. After many instructions from my side and much mansplaining from his side, we finally had our tickets. Now we just needed to find a way to Casablanca.

At this point I would like to let you know that I am not a regular traveler. I can’t afford that kind of lifestyle, my daughter had convinced me it actually wasn’t something that was out of our range if we planned it right. We didn’t do all the luxury stuff, we just wanted to experience the art and culture, not the high-end hotels. But at this point with our round-trip tickets gone down the drain and the expensive air Canada tickets we had to book to get out we were pretty broke. The affordable train was no longer running, neither were the local cheap taxis. There were private cars. We cried for joy when we found one that agreed to take us, and then sorrow as we kissed the last of our money away to book that car. We are now officially open for any donations you wanna send our way. Artist for hire. Will work for biryani.

I packed my things with relief and unease. We weren’t out yet and things were changing by the minute, what if our flight gets canceled? What if our expensive taxi doesn’t show up? What if they don’t let us travel out of the city? What if our taxi driver is the Moroccan version of John Candy?

The evening before our flight I pestered my daughter to pack.

Me to Her : “Can you pack your stuff?”

Her to Me: “Yes.” She continued to watch life wasting tictocs.

Me to Her after I had cleaned the kitchen for the fourth time: “Can you pack you stuff?”

Her to Me: “Yes.” She continued to watch cute cat videos which was an improvement.

Me to Her: “Can you do it now?”

Her to Me: “OMG.”

Me to Her: “If you do it now, you have enough time to pack in an organized way and know where all your stuff is when you need it. You never know where your stuff is.”

Her to Me: silence.

Me to Her: “Can you please…”

Her to Me: “I’m done with you.”

Also Her to Me at the Montreal airport the next night: “Did you pack my sim card? I need it to call us a taxi.”

Me to Her: “I’m done with you.”

The drive to the Casablanca airport the next afternoon was hassle-free, the three hours went by quickly as our driver chatted with me the whole way about Morocco. The car (that cost us an arm and a leg) was really spacious and comfortable. We were not stopped anywhere luckily. All intercity travel was restricted but we had a letter from the Embassy to let us get through if we did get stopped. There was barely any traffic on the highway. I have never been so happy to see an airport in my life. And I hate flying.

We boarded our plane and I was relieved it was only a 7-hour flight as opposed to the 10 hours it took to get to Morocco from Canada. The irony is we did spend 10 hours on the plane. Nothing in my life should seem ironic anymore though, as I said catastrophe magnet. Take off was delayed as we waited for about four passengers who for whatever reason had not made their way to the airport yet. I had mixed feelings when three ladies finally made their way down to their seats laughing and waving to people they knew. Mixed feelings of I wanna get up and smack them and I wanna lock them all up in the bathroom for the entirety of the flight. If you ever get trapped anywhere and are lucky enough to book flights back home, please be on time for the flight, thank you on behalf of 446 of the other passengers.

The next 7 hours were spent watching movie after movie to keep our minds off every traveler who was coughing. Basically, 98.9 percent of them. In the back of my mind I could see little coronaviruses floating around the plane yelling “Geronimo!” the whole time. It was great to finally get to Montreal, except for the fact that it was now midnight because we had taken off so late. We called an Uber to get to our motel which my daughter had booked with the foresight that if we missed that last train/bus from Montreal to Toronto we would be stuck sleeping on the floor of the Montreal airport. I mean we would probably find a cushy seat, but the floor is more dramatic. At the motel we were informed that the motel was not taking guests due to the lockdown. At this point I wasn’t surprised, we were both catastrophe magnets.

Luckily, they had made arrangements for us to be put up at another Comfort Inn and the guy called and paid for the taxi to take us there. Our cab driver enlightened us with all his theories on why the Coronavirus lockdown was probably a government hoax and had anyone actually seen a sick person? I refrained from any comment because at that point I didn’t trust what was going to come out of my mouth. He did however look to the bright side and said it had opened everyone’s eyes to the things that are really important, to which I agreed.

I showered off the exuberant Geronimo yelling virus from the coughing passengers on the plane and fell asleep like a baby. It was the first time in more than a week that we had slept on a bed. We had been sleeping on the sofas at the Air Bnb. Why? Obviously, because one of the bedrooms was declared haunted by my daughter and we couldn’t both sleep on the single bed in the second bedroom.  The haunted bedroom is a complete story in itself, I will share that someday. Probably in that best-selling memoir.

It was amazing to wake up in Canada. We got granola bars, cupcakes and an orange in a paper bag for breakfast. Don’t even ask. That was good enough for us. There was coffee though, and it was good. We scrambled to grab our stuff and make a run for the train when we realized it was going to take longer than we had planned to get to the train station. The train ride, oddly lonely as passengers were asked to leave several seats between themselves, was five hours. They graciously provided granola bars and water. It is amazing how snacky you get when you have nothing to do. It was just a little while longer I told myself and got busy letting everyone I knew that I was home safely.

Union Station was like a ghost town which I was really glad to see, please stay at home! The Uber driver to Mississauga was another Coronavirus expert and filled me in on how the Chinese government had planned that whole thing to make the Stock market crash so they could then buy cheap stocks. I am not sure how this made me feel, my once in a lifetime trip had left me broke just so some businessmen in China could buy cheap stocks? The world is a crazy place. I am just glad to be home.

My prayers for everyone to stay healthy.

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Quarantine Diaries

I am self quarantining myself since I have come back from Morocco. How I got there in the first place is a pretty interesting story that requires more brainpower than I currently have. I am still a bit jet-lagged, also confused about whether all that really happened or was just a figment of my strange imagination. So, for now, I will share my text messages to my kids that have resulted in me being well-fed. I have to admit I don’t understand most people’s complaints about the whole staying home and social distancing. We have books, internet, TV, spring cleaning, phones, social media and snacks. We also have clean running hot and cold water, electricity, pets, a roof over our heads and food on our table. These are luxuries to many people in different parts of the world who are not as lucky as we are. Let’s not make this out to be harder than it really is and just stay home!

Meanwhile, take some inspiration from how I am making the most of being confined to my bedroom while my kids cook and clean.

Pollinator Paradise

I get a bit of cute aggression when I see fuzzy bumblebees in my garden, especially when they fall asleep in a trumpet flower with their chonky behinds covered in pollen sticking out of the flower. They are the cutest garden visitors ever. I have dedicated several art pieces to these adorable muses and their plight, including three at art battle, which I am happy to say went to new homes. Thank you to all the amazing collectors and buyers who support me! A portion of all sales and paint events are donated to charity.

As you can imagine I was completely over the moon when I was awarded a neighbourhood impact grant this year, by the Mississauga Arts Council, to paint a public mural dedicated to pollinators, featuring my favourite flying floof, the bumblebee. Not going to lie, writing a grant is a huge pain, but it was worth it. I also found out that strangely enough even when you offer organizations a free mural, they seem to hibernate/go on vacation/disappear from the face of the earth/not want to email you back in time.  Luckily I was finally able to nab one organization that was not only responsive but just as excited as I was with the possibility of bringing this mural to Mississauga. A huge thank you to the Parks, Forestry and Environment Division of the City of Mississauga! You guys are honestly the best!

It was so satisfying to paint large scale, although very physically exhausting, I feel blessed to have been working at a project where I couldn’t wait for the next day to get back to work. Fringe benefit: it was an incredible workout, everything hurt, but #lifeisshortsoimcramming ! The wall was actually rocky so painting detail was such a challenge, getting fine lines to work on such an uneven surface was extremely time-consuming. Another huge shout out to Parks and Forestry, especially Anna Ferguson, who prepared the wall with three coats of primer! That wall just sucked up three coats!

Another huge shout out to the weather for being pretty cooperative most days I was out painting. It was such an amazing experience, bringing art to the community is always a joy, thank you to the Mississauga Arts Council for supporting artists to do what they love to do. You can visit the mural, Pollinator Paradise, at the Mississauga Valley Park. Fingers crossed for more public murals to beautify Mississauga!

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Tip of the Iceberg

Turquoise Spray. 10 X 14 Acrylic.

As I sit here trying to write this blog, I’d just like you to know I have wasted quite a bit of time procrastinating and I really should be cooking dinner right now. And that is basically the theme of this post. We only see the tip of the iceberg. You will only read the blog and hopefully like it, not knowing that I am sitting here in the most unflattering sweat pants and a worn-out shirt that I didn’t bother to change out of this morning because if I am at home, then I believe in spending the day in my PJs. I am not sitting at some aesthetically pleasing desk on a fancy laptop. I am sprawled on my little sofa covered in sesame seed brittle crumbs and surrounded by their wrappers. I am also talking to my cat because he agrees with most of what I have to say and contrary to popular belief cats really are non-judgmental.  The point is, that stuff you see posted on Social Media is just the nice stuff. The painting I sold, the mural I completed, the workshop I conducted. The smile on my face. But I like being honest, and that is not even half of the story. The truth is I have dozens of rejection letters for every project I did get, and poured blood, sweat, and tears into every painting I made-not all of them sell. As an introvert, I have had to battle with myself to overcome my dread of talking to people even if I know them, I never know what to say, I never quite fit it. I’m blunt and don’t have the tact of a politician, so I will say something that maybe I shouldn’t have-and often do.  Don’t even get me started on how hard it is to introduce myself to new people. But I do all this and eventually, over time, it pays off. But it doesn’t happen overnight, no one hands it to you on a silver platter. You have to put it in the time, effort, have thick skin, fall, get up and dust yourself off, wipe your tears, suppress your ego, your anger, your frustration. You have to suck it up.

I felt the need to say all this because I have been getting questions from many artists just starting out. The answer to many of your questions is above. There is no overnight magic. The tip of the iceberg is what you see on social media, the truth is there are tonnes of ice below the surface that I built up over the past years to get that little bit above the water. I have practiced, I have pursued learning, I have done endless amounts of research and reading. I have put in ridiculous amounts of time looking for opportunities and spent equal amounts of time writing up proposals, artist statements, artist bios, and taking and editing pictures of my work. I have saved up to invest money towards art supplies,  entering exhibitions and applying for memberships. Half of which replied with polite but ice-cold “no thank yous”.

If I stop and the ice below melts away eventually the tip of the iceberg will disappear as well. You don’t really stop, you have to keep working at it. So if this is your passion be prepared for hard work and failure (or as I like to think of it “lessons on what not to do next time”) for as long as you want to continue on this journey. It is a long ride, but I don’t plan to get off this train. I’m having too much fun.

Plein Air Painting

This year I finally did some Plein air painting. Pixie Blue Studio had organized a session at the Arts at the Port event this summer. Since I am in my #lifeisshortsoimcramming mode I thought I should finally try this out. So glad I did!

It was a beautiful summer day at Port Credit and I found the perfect spot, a view of the lake and the Port Credit gazebo through the trees. I painted my favourite muse, a nice little wave on the lake.

 

That first experience got me hooked! I said what the hell and signed up for the McMichael’s Plein Air event, not really expecting to get a reply. But they invited me! No harm in just taking a chance and applying I guess.

The McMichael gallery grounds are beautiful, but to be honest I had a hard time finding what I wanted to paint, there wasn’t enough water in the river that runs through the grounds. There were huge vicious mosquitos everywhere and I got tired walking all over the place trying to find inspiration. Till I saw this….

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I realized I would love to present a unique view to the audience. An ant’s eye view, everyone else was standing with easels to get a human’s eye view, this would be something fun!

Needless to say, I broke my back in the process.

However I loved the way my painting turned out,

Unfortunately, there were no points given for originality. All the winning work and honorable mentions were very group of seven style. But I should not have expected anything else, McMichael is the permanent home to more than 6 500 pieces of art, much of which is Tom Thomson’s and the Group of Seven.  I still like my ant’s eye view though! I guess I’m just a snooty artist.

The Secret Life My Family Doesn’t Know About (And Other Interesting Facts)

 

60% of your brain is fat. We are all literally fat heads. That’s an interesting fact.

Yesterday I was live painting at an event, I love to live paint, and when I was done painting I sat around enjoying the music. My toes were tapping, my head was bobbing and it suddenly dawned on me. I was at a hip-hop concert. My kids and husband had no idea. I have a whole secret life they have no clue about. I moonlight as a cool person. This is the height of awesome for the girl who used to wear green nylon bell-bottoms that her fresh-off-the-boat parents had picked out. Who even am I? It was such an epiphany. Then the dilemma, do I let my kids and husband know how cool I really I am? I mean I just live painted at an album release/hip-hop concert.

Will they believe I do all this cool stuff? No.

Should I just relish this secret life on my own? Yes.

Dilemma solved.

A huge shout out to Vivek Mehmi on the success of last night’s event, his album release #rightasrain. Also, hip hop with violin music is an amazing combination. Incredible violin accompaniment by Isaac Daniel Eng. You can find them on Instagram : Vivek Mehmi  and Isaac Daniel Eng. Thank you to Common Ground Cafe for hosting such amazing events!

 

All Photographs Courtesy of the Mississauga Arts Council.

 

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Street Art Mississauga

This summer was super busy but no complaints! A busy artist is an extremely happy artist. If you are driving around Mississauga then be sure to watch out for our growing number of public murals!

In May I completed two Bell Boxes for the Mississauga Arts Council’s Banners and Boxes Project, integrating heritage buildings along with some fun stuff. Who doesn’t love sheep and foxes? The Culture Department had arranged for nine artists, including myself, to repaint the Sculpture Court and Skate park murals.

If you pass by them take a selfie and tag me! Another big mural is coming up soon, if you see me painting a wall in a park then come say hi. Also please bring coffee and a bagel for me!

From Frumpy to Fashionista

Okay maybe not fashionista, but this is as close as I am going to get. Life is short, this may be my only chance to be cool. Or at least convince a couple friends I’m cool. So I am owning it. Excuse me a second while I cut off a really bad hangnail…aah that feels so much better. I couldn’t find the nail cutter so I just used my teeth, you’ve all done it too so don’t judge me.

Anyways. I was that frumpy kid in the class. The brown girl. The one whose immigrant parents went shopping to the equivalent of what is now …um…actually I don’t think they have anything that bad anymore. Oops never mind, God bless the internet, Google has informed me that Bi-Way is going to be resurrected. I am so sorry all you children of immigrant parents, I feel for you. I was there. I got through it. You too will survive. Maybe even become a fashionista. I was the brown girl with the bad haircut in dark green nylon bellbottoms. With shirts that can’t even be described.  It was traumatic. I still get nightmares. To top it off it was the 80’s. Even the fashionable fashion was something you never want to remember. Those awful white short shorts that George Michael wore ugh I bet he’s rolling over in his grave right now. RIP George, I will speak of it no more.

So back to the point, yes I do get distracted, because life is short so I’m cramming, gotta get all my thoughts and memories out there. Don’t want to miss anything. I am now a fashionista. I know this because I go to a lot of events. I mean like there are some weeks where every night is spent out. That’s a lot of events for the lame brown girl turned fashionista. At these events, ladies will come right up to me and tell me they love what I am wearing. Then they will happily listen to the story behind where this incredible said outfit came from. That makes me a legitimate fashionista. So I have started reading up on fellow fashionistas. I don’t understand the language, or I do but don’t want to admit that I don’t exactly fit into those categories. For example, Queen of Fierce Outfit Inspiration, um no I need way more clothes than that, that is something that most people don’t even dare to wear at the beach. Also me+hijab. Total Boss Girls With Badass Style. I guess not. Not boss girl, even my cats don’t take me seriously.  Bold Prints, Graphics and Cuts. I don’t even know what that means. Monochromatic Street Style. I am too old to get on a skateboard and I don’t know if insurance will cover all the damage.  So where are the women my age? The ones who wear normal stuff and still look nice but all the cool people refuse to acknowledge? Is there a name for us? I will be fashionista to the underrepresented and marginalized. I have made my own category and I am going to own it. #fashionistatotheunderrepresented because that sounds better than #fashionistatothelame

My fashionista outfit for today’s event, the Arts on the Credit Tour. It got many compliments, thank you very much. I also wore it to an Opening Reception at Artworld Fine Art. Yes, I repeat outfits. So does Kate Middleton. I bought this gorgeous blue printed silk dupatta (long fabric draped over shoulders) in Lahore once. I have had it for years ( I will not admit to how many) when I recently went to Karachi I took it with me and bugged a tailor till he caved and sewed it to my specifications. He doubted my fashion sense at every step. I wish I could go tell him I was right and he was wrong. Whatever. I wore it with a neutral coloured tee shirt and creme coloured cotton trousers because it is still summer. I don’t care that pumpkin spice everything is now available.

This long cardigan style thingy can be worn over anything and make it look super elegant. I could wear it with ratty old jeans and a dirty tee-shirt and still look decent to go to a party. Also dangly earings help. When all else fails pull out the dangly earrings and wear them. Plus to all my fellow hijabis, turban style hijabs are life. Wrap that scarf around your head like a queen and no one will know you haven’t ironed it ever. Do wash them sometimes though. Please. No one wants to smell that unwashed hair aroma.

How gorgeous do my paintings look on those walls?

Spring Exhibitions Opening Reception at the Art Gallery of Mississauga

Haven’t been to an exhibition in quite some time, so I was more than happy to go to the opening of the Spring Exhibitions at the AGM (no not Annual General Meeting- the Art Gallery of Mississauga, we all get that in our heads too!). There are two exhibitions up for the Spring, ” niigaanikwewag” which means “leader women” or “they who lead ahead/ in the future” in Anishinaabemowin. It refers to the female artists as leaders in Indigenous Arts. The theme embodies the fact that  Indigenous women have always been present, nurturing art, culture, family, and community and that they are tied to one another and the earth.  There is beautiful (and haunting) work by Joi T. Arcand, Shuvinai Ashoona, Catherine Blackburn, Aylan Couchie, Ruth Cuthand, Thirza Cuthand, Dayna Danger, Raven Davis, Bonnie Devine, Maria Hupfield, Nadya Kwandibens, Amy Malbeuf, Jane Ash Poitras, Ningiukulu Teevee, and Arielle Twist. We were lucky to attend the Opening and witness a powerful and heart-wrenching performance by Raven Davis. It was a much-needed reminder of the past cruelties endured and more sadly the fact that even today countless Indigenous Sisters are missing and still being abused. I can’t put into words what a tragedy this is or how beautifully this artist portrayed that tragedy. You just had to be there. I will post about the second exhibition in another post as niigaanikwewag needs its own special place. It is a must-see exhibition,  and you can still catch the Curator’s Tour on Saturday, April 6 at 1 PM. Don’t miss it, the exhibition is up till June 16, 2019.

For more information: Facebook Event Page