24 August 2007


There is something remarkably liberating to the act of fitting a year's worth of necessary belongings into one large backpack, a daypack, and a computer bag. Twelve months of simplified living, with a few minor luxuries (yoga mat, plenty of socks, favourite incense holder, iPod). I know that despite the light packing job, I will still bring too much to India. I cannot possibly anticipate all of the things I will need, and will instead assume that I might need a wool mid-layer, a sleeping bag and thermarest, and nalgene tupperware.

Jeff noted something today and while said in jest, I think he is dead-on. He remarked on my tendency to spend unnecessary amounts of money on gear when I am very capable of simply making-do with what I currently posses. This is a bad habit I picked up in recent years, and Kovitz made it all the more glaring when he drew attention to it this morning. I would very much like to leave such things behind when I board the plane on Saturday. So add "making do" and "moderation" to this year's goals. I think India will lend itself to such endeavors.

Time to read Harper's and hope for sleep.

22 August 2007

Shades of Gray

If I had to assign a colour to the cities I have visited, Toronto would be gray. Stale, slate, mid-March gray. Toronto should be the same hue as its concrete subway stations, the same shade as the late-summer rains that fall on congested Highway 401.

Portland would be a dark evergreen – the colour of a douglas fir. Seattle would be a deep sea blue, Santa Fe the burnt orange of adobe clay. Montreal would be red, as it is both the city in which I feel the most Canadian and the city that strikes me as the most socialist, the most creatively subversive. Tokyo would be neon yellow, the colour on the sides on the Canon Building in Shinjuku (or was it Ginza?). Of a more muted, spiced yellow is Kathmandu, the city of turmeric piled high in the marketplace. Kyoto, ever camoflaged with a veneer of projected and glorified history, would be the chalk-white of a geisha’s facepaint. Worcester will always be purple, Baltimore is the shade of its maroon-brick student row houses, and Honolulu is a bright, inviting teal. But Toronto will always be gray, no matter how much time I spend in or away from the city. We just were not meant to like one another, the GTA and I.

19 August 2007

Tornados in August.

What a turbulent, heart-wrenching few days! As many of you know, my mother - although slated for a full recovery - was in a serious motorcycle accident on Tuesday evening. She is currently in Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto, where she has undergone several surgeries to address a shattered right femur, broken left ankle, cracked ribs and chipped vertebrae. The surgeons and staff at Sunnybrook are both professional and attentive, and my entire family has been impressed by the hospital's quality of care. My mother's day nurses have been particularly supportive, and provide examples of the unique patience and positivity required of those who wish to enter the nursing profession. The next six months will be nothing short of difficult, as my mother heals and prepares for rehab and physical therapy. If you wish to contact my parents, please e-mail them at thedabels@yahoo.ca .


And then there was Seattle. And then there is India. And all of the excitement and memories and expectations associated with those two places. I spent August 9th-14th in Seattle, WA - and I fell in love, all over again, with that beautiful city. Snow-tipped mountains in late summer, an intricate maze of lakes, harbor, and ocean inlets, cyclists and fresh fish and environmentalism and community and potential. Every time I return to Seattle I am shocked by my feelings of comfort, of belonging. Having moved so many times, I sometimes sentimentalize our Ontario cottage as my only "home." But Seattle (in a way only Portland, OR can rival) involves and invites as if I had lived there for many years. Soy lattes foamed by women who ride fixed gear bicycles. Micro-brewed beers enjoyed beside an outdoor fire. Ping-pong games played overlooking scenic mountain ranges. Rustic mountain camping 90 minutes from the city center. How can one feel anything but excitement for all that Seattle holds? And don't tell me about the rain...I've seen it, I've lived it, and it just isn't that bad!

Of course, it helps that I've met this fantastic person who lives in Seattle, who can dangle Bainbridge Island and delicious BBQ salmon before my eyes as incentives to return in a year's time. Jeff, I owe you such gratitude for the incredible amount of laughter and relaxation (not to mention ping-pong and G&T's) that you have brought to my life this summer. I cannot wait to learn what the next year holds for you, and Thailand has no idea what madness we are about to release! You are, to use your own phrase, such an enticing "breath of fresh air."

(Blogging still comes so unnaturally to me. In my constant attempt to over-think every issue, I often find myself wondering if I share too much or if I dwell in the trivial. There is even a bit of the Bronte in me that wants to, tongue-in-cheek, address you as "dear reader.") (Oh the self-indulgence of it all!)


And finally, hopefully: Sunday, August 26th, 11:45pm IST I land in the Chennai International Airport (after, to spoof Nietzsche's concept, the eternal defer; although I should note here that, the eternal defer, like Nietzsche's eternal return, can exist merely as a hypothesis, and need not be real to have actual meaning and effect). I continue to waver between indifference, eager anticipation, and fear. But friends from around the world have offered their support and encouragement, and I begin to remember why I applied to Tara in the first place. Rereading The Rough Guide to India helps to rekindle my excitement. I can only speculate - and God knows I do - what the morning of Monday, August 27th will hold!

There are a few things I would like to strive for while I am in India. These are loose goals, hopes:
- Create and sustain a personal, at-home yoga practice.
- Take a traditional Indian dance class.
- Write, write, write. Finish the short stories I begin, rekindle my poetic voice (however feeble). Take creative chances with my writing and ignore my fierce inner critic.
- Live in the moment, thinking less and seeing more.
- Practice gratitude in the present, for the present.
- Take millions of photographs.
- Enjoy an entire year just for myself.

Baruch Hashem for sparing my mother's life! Baruch Hashem for all that 2007 and 2008 hold!