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The good, the bad and the ugly – India’s air pollution exposed by Obama’s visit

Why does it take the visit of the US President Barack Obama to highlight that India has a serious air pollution problem?

Some may have missed a small footnote in the excitement over the US President’s visit. It was initially suggested Obama, chief guest at India’s Republic Day Parade, should remain indoors as the air quality levels is hazardous to his health?! Naturally you can’t be chief guest at an outdoor parade without being… well.. outdoors! But at last there followed a series of articles in the press about just how bad pollution levels are in India. (more…)

Music Musings – Ask Your Sister

Music is something I enjoy immensely! I’ve been incredibly fortunate to see some amazing performances, jam sessions, festivals and more. Some dear friends also happen to be remarkably talented musicians and it’s no surprise that music is an integral part of our every day existence.

Credit clearly goes to our mother who inculcated a love of music from an early age – even if my sister and I groaned a bit as we practiced cello / tuba and viola / piano respectively. And if I gleefully abandoned western classical music for punk rock and folk as a teenager, the sheer unadulterated joy that comes from loosing oneself in truly good music – no matter the genre – was firmly entrenched.

Introducing "Ask Your Sister"

Introducing “Ask Your Sister” (Photo: Bruce Dienes)

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“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.

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Being a tourist – home and away

Often visitors provide the best opportunity to play being a “tourist at home”… exploring familiar sights with new eyes. A few years ago, I was fortunate to benefit from the reverse phenomenon in China.

Great Wall of China, Badaling

Great Wall of China

During my first trip to China, I was battling a nasty cold. Undeterred, I still planned to see the Great Wall and enlisted the help of a dear friend from Canada – a bosa nova diva based in Beijing. She suggested we take a motorcycle tour – in theory a great idea. However, morning came and neither of us were in any shape to make the trek. The cold, dreary, overcast day didn’t help, however truth be told, we were just in no condition to do justice to one of the Seven Wonders of the World!

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