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Winnipeg Folk Fest Part 3 – Thanks for the memories

Some folks in Winnipeg were surprised we did not remain for the Folk Festival.

After all, I’ve been an avid festival goer and volunteer for many years! Even dragged my partner from Bombay back for the 40th Winnipeg Folk Festival  in 2013.

However… our focus this trip to Canada was my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary celebrations in Winnipeg, with a side serving of re-uniting with friends in Vancouver, Canada Day with my partner’s sister and family in Toronto and a bit of amusement in London before scampering back to India.

But I gotta admit… this weekend as Facebook is flooded with photos of the Fest, viewing vicariously what I’m sure was amazing music, friends catching up with other friends, the effort and joy of volunteering, the next generation delighting in the unique community environment and activities… yeah I’m missing it.

So decided to relive it going through a few photos from 2013… and to share three: (more…)


Mitch Podolak – Creating a community

I received an email today from Mitch Podolak sharing the news he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Brandon University.

For anyone growing up in Winnipeg or tuned into the folk music scene in Canada, Mitch is a familiar figure. A visionary character that dared to have crazy dreams and convince others to come along for the party! (more…)

Music Musings – KAN

Growing up in Canada, one is no stranger to celtic music. My sister’s partner is a drummer and for years was in a celtic band best known for rousing and raucous renditions of pub favourites.

KAN (Photo: Louis deCarlo)

KAN (Photo: Louis deCarlo)

Years ago, I saw the celtic folk group Flook perform at the Winnipeg Folk Festival, so when I learned that flautist Brian Finnegan‘s latest group KAN would be performing in Bombay at Bandra Bandstand’s amphitheatre, wasn’t going to miss it!

It was KAN’s 1st performance in India to kick off their tour organized through Celtic Connections and British Council. A warm, humid Bombay greeted these lads from Scotland, Ireland and Northern England, dripping with sweat, they were undaunted by the heat and technical issues, entertaining with jigs, reels and tall tales. (more…)

“How come you don’t have an accent in Hindi?”

Just as my English has a “chameleon” quality (see “Can you drop the Indian accent?”), I’m often asked “How come you don’t have an accent in Hindi?”

I've got Hindi, what about you? (Photo: www.tattoodonkey.com)

I’ve got Hindi, what about you? (Photo: http://www.tattoodonkey.com)

Usually I explain that I have lived in India for more than a decade, studied Hindi in Delhi for a year augmented mid-way by a very helpful 6-week stint at the Landour Language School (near Mussourie).

What follows is generally “Aaah! That explains it!” type response. Because the ‘real’ Hindi is naturally from North India!

Yet I’m aware that my vocabulary has shifted between what is typically heard in Delhi to ‘Mumbaya’ words. And has deteriorated abysmally as my universe in Bombay is almost exclusively English.

When I lived in Delhi (1995-96, 2003-05) there were multiple daily opportunities to speak Hindi or at least ‘Hinglish‘ – in which one switches effortlessly between English, Hindi, blending words from each language. Today, I’m honest enough to know that when folks complement my Hindi, they are being terribly kind – even I can hear how badly I mess up!

However I have a few perspectives on this… and wonder if anyone else agrees? (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)


Winnipeg Folk Fest Part 2 – With a LOT of help from our friends

I woke up this morning to an email from the Winnipeg Folk Festival asking for my mailing address in India to send a commemorative poster of the 1974 inaugural fest as a thank you for joining the “40 Years of People” workshop. It prompted me to start publishing posts on our recent trip, starting with one I drafted on the flight back from Canada… And missed publishing in the flurry of preparations for the unexpected job in Jakarta. Enjoy!

Goodnight 'n goodbye all!

Goodnight ‘n goodbye all!

It’s officially over and we made it home safe n sound despite our 1st flight being cancelled.

While there are lots to share, want to begin at the end… with a massive heartfelt THANK YOU to many folks who made it possible for us to fly all the way from Mumbai to Winnipeg with zero camping gear. This was luxury camping compared to my old camping stuff (long since wandered way away to better homes).

Here are a few things for which I’m infinitely grateful: (more…)

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.


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:


Winnipeg Folk Fest Part 1 – Making Plans

Winnipeg Folk Fest Mainstage

Winnipeg Folk Fest main stage

Coming from Manitoba, one summer highlight is the Winnipeg Folk Festival. Held in Birds Hill Provincial Park, it is a remarkable community affair. Just imagine Woodstock superbly run for decades! I have terrific childhood memories of dancing to merry tunes, magical musical moments and mischief with friends as a teenager/young adult, and best of all – the joy of contributing as a volunteer – not only during the festival but as a year-round labour of love coordinating the site security (now safety) crew aka “Fun Managers”.

July 2013 is the 40th Anniversary. It is now a five night, four-day affair, exceptionally organized, harnessing the energies of thousands of dedicated volunteers. While the programming has evolved over the years under various artistic directors – the core of folk, local and global music remains. There is always something to discover…


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