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Monthly Archives: July 2013

1st Quarter Summary

Egads!? It’s been three whole months since I began this blog! Inspired by Zhonggou Jumble, I decided to introduce a summary covering a few highlights (and likely some lowlights too) for each quarter.

“And in the beginning…” I was encouraged my many friends in many places to share every day stories and observations about life in India, work in Asia, and reflect on a variety of experiences from the mundane to the remarkable. This blog is the result.

What I hadn’t expected, yet is hugely enriching, is virtually ‘meeting’ an amazing community of bloggers. Your stories inspire me further, make me laugh, sigh and I especially love it when contemplating a particular topic… up pops a blog about that very thing by another blogger with his or her own distinct perspective and interesting insights.



“Mauving to Manitoba” from Mumbai Monsoon

We returned to a decidedly wet Mumbai still very much in the midst of monsoon. In an amusing moment, just days after leaving Winnipeg, I was reminded of Manitoba at the most unlikely of places – a Mumbai spa!

View from the backseat... a tenacious Mumbai monsoon

View from the backseat… a tenacious Mumbai monsoon (photo: Carissa Hickling)

While I enjoy little indulgences and luxuries, I rarely prioritize such activities. Most days, basic grooming suffices with self-trimmed nails, no polish, skin and hair that gets the most rudimentary daily cleansing and moisturizer. I’m not fussy about getting ready and can go from a slovenly state to shower, make-up, clothes and out the door in 20 mins or less if required!

A dear friend of 20 years, by contrast, delights in pampering and makes a point in her annual visits to Mumbai to fit in spa treatments.  We normally have a month or so together each year, so it is a ritual that at least one mani / pedi / hair spa visit is made augmented by calling a masseuse home a couple of times.


“Wanna work in Jakarta?”

Whether it was contemplating over coffee shifting from “wants” to “needs” and becoming open to anything, catching up with a terrific ex-colleague in Bangkok at Terminal 21 or merely willing the universe to send something interesting my way, I find myself unexpectedly flying to Jakarta this weekend to kick-off a four month assignment in Indonesia.

Welcome to Jakarta Airport (photo: Carissa Hickling)

Welcome to Jakarta Airport (photo: Carissa Hickling)

Not only is the opportunity well-timed to combat my shrinking bank balance, it is with a gang of guys I adore! At 43, I’m the “baby” in the bunch and the only “broad.” If past experience is any indicator, we will work like maniacs and have an uproariously good time too!

In a delicious turn of fate, this rag-tag team of veteran consultants from the UK to Australia (loosely linked together by our ex-boss) beat our ex-company to win the contract – “Take that oh previous employer!” Naturally we have a ridiculously ambitious schedule to meet and there will be all sorts of unexpected twists and turns along the way, however I’m looking forward to the project on many levels.


“Your flight is cancelled”

It was not a promising beginning…. “I’m so sorry but your flight from Winnipeg to Toronto is cancelled.” Stunned, we explained we had onward flights to Brussels then Bombay so we really HAD to reach Toronto.

En route to the airport, we had just been discussing how in Canada planes now never fly empty. Why? If there aren’t enough passengers to make it somewhat viable, the flight is cancelled.

Ottawa Off & On (photo: Carissa Hickling)

Ottawa Off & On (photo: Carissa Hickling)

The good thing was the woman helping us immediately grasped our quandary and overcame all sorts of impediments to get us on the next flight to Ottawa connecting immediately to Toronto in time to change terminals and catch our international flight – provided NOTHING was delayed.


Jet lag and a wood chipper? Seriously??

My secret to avoiding conking out in the middle of the afternoon with ‘jet lag’ is keeping busy. We did brilliantly adjusting to the time difference between India and Canada until our first truly relaxing afternoon.

Wood chipper (photo: Carissa Hickling)

Wood chipper (photo: Carissa Hickling)

While I should have tackled sorting through 60 odd boxes of books, papers and various other items stored at my parents, the lure of a comfortable bed when we planned to camp for the next five days was just too enticing…

About to sink into blissful oblivion, we were startled by the most god awful screeching noise. Something howled and whined its way into the upstairs bedroom at a defeaning volume!

So much for nap time. Up and out I went to discover it was a wood chipper. Yup… a wood chipper.

Gotta admit, a wood chipper as ‘jet lag’ cure was a first for me. What keeps you awake when you are dying to snoooooozzzee??

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Home sweet home…

My nephew the monkey - aka veteran tree climber (photo: Carissa Hickling)

My nephew the monkey – aka veteran tree climber (photo: Carissa Hickling)

We’re back in my hometown of Winnipeg, Canada to visit family, friends and catch the 40th Winnipeg Folk Festival. As it is impossible on these trips to see everyone everywhere, my sister and her partner host a “Meet & Greet”. Typically on a Sunday afternoon, the tradition began almost 10 years ago with a Facebook invite to a few folks and has grown into a lovely multi-generational gathering with an age spread of a few months to 80 plus!

It was a beautifully sunny day with a glorious blue sky typical of the prairies – perfect weather for climbing trees and a BBQ. As always, we had a delightful mix of family and friends from various walks of life. I’ve not been surprised to see a priest joking with an ex con, 80s flashbacks of punk school shenanigans shared with earnest academics, folk fest volunteers, survivalist instructor, aerial dancer, politicos, film, digital media, nanny, scientist, environmentalist, geeks to creative types of all kinds, self-made international business person, homemakers (male and female persuasion)… It’s a kaleidoscope of near and dear – each distinct characters that come together for a rollicking good time. (more…)

TURF – Opening act for fest fun!

We all know the role of the opening act – the band warms up the audience, gets them into the grove and the main act then capitalizes on the energy built to great effect! Thanks to a fabulous friend – music publicist Rebecca Webster (Webster Media Consulting) – my partner and I were VIPs at the Toronto Urban Roots Festival (TURF) on Friday as our ‘warm-up’ for the Winnipeg Folk Festival.

We ARE awake - honest!! (photo: Rebecca Webster)

We ARE awake – honest!! (photo: Rebecca Webster)

TURF is a lovely 1st year music festival held in downtown Toronto’s historic Fort York Park – infusing urban energy into the 1793 site best known for the 1813 battle of York. At least the American invaders this time were of the merry musical persuasion and not military!

Here are a few of our TURF highlights:


Mega Malls for Meetings? Bangkok’s Terminal 21

Bangkok Terminal 21 (Photo: Carissa Hickling)

Bangkok Terminal 21 (Photo: Carissa Hickling)

Too much time in shopping malls and I get kinda spacey – a weird loopy ‘get me the hell outta here!’ phenomenon. My partner shares my tolerance level so we when we’ve hit our ‘limit’ – no questions asked, it is an immediate exit stage left right out the door of whatever massive shopping complex we find ourselves. We also do NOT step into a mall without a very clear purpose and focus.


O Canada!

Happy Canada Day!



According to the powers that be, I’ve spent too many years away from the land of my birth. I’m officially a non-resident which means a couple elections ago I lost the right to vote. I also seem to have dropped off the official Canadian Consulate invite ‘list’ for the local Mumbai Canada Day celebrations.

However I’m super excited that in just 2 sleeps, we’ll be heading to Canada. To me, the heart of any place is the people and can’t wait to soon be visiting family and friends – I miss you folks!

Thanks to the generosity of my sister and her partner, we’ll have a gathering on Sunday and if the weather gods are kind – that may even mean a barbecue! 🙂

So Happy Birthday Canada and look forward to celebrating with you soon!

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