It’s been a while since I blogged, freely admit it.
And when friends message to query why the blog has fallen silent, it’s clearly time to get my a into g, and bring you all up to date with what’s happening in my little world.
Let’s go, shall we?
I write to you from Vancouver, a city (sadly) living up to its “Raincouver” nickname this morning. But we did have a lovely, rainless couple of days, so mustn’t complain. Our airbnb is toasty warm, we have a panoramic view of the (rainy) city, and absolutely no intention of venturing out until the rain lets up!
We have been in Canada just 10 days, so there are no in-depth, philosophical observations as such for you, just enthusiastic first time impressions = WHAT a lovely country this is.
Weather a bit (ahem) on the cold side, but so far that’s the only negative. If indeed it’s a negative at all.
We are in Canada in the winter because my Vancouver-based nephew, Andrew, got married at Emerald Lake last week.
In the snow.
In minus some silly temperature.
But the setting was sublime, the hand and toe warmers worked a treat, and the bride (my new niece) wore sequinned mittens, so what’s not to love?
When we landed in Calgary, the icy blasts were, quite honestly, intimidating, but after a day ot so it got easier to deal with the cold – because the sky was the deepest of deep blues, and because every hotel/restaurant/shop/coffee shop was super warm, and, as we ventured further east to Banff and onto Emerald Lake, the views of the snow-covered Canadian Rockies were beyond stunning.
The famed Canadian friendliness and niceness has been on ample display.
Everyone really is SO nice.
People are kind and helpful and polite, and thus far I haven’t encountered one single unpleasant person. When the Immigration officer asked the standard “What is the purpose of your visit?” question and I answered “My nephew’s wedding. Outdoors in the snow” she smiled, rolled her eyes and said “Stay warm” as she returned our passports.
The biggest thing that blows my mind is how clean the country is.
THERE IS NO LITTER.
Now I hate to knock the city I live in, but the sad fact of the matter is that Delhi is one of the most litter-strewn places I know. There isn’t an inch of the city without rubbish, and even stunning heritage and historic sites have a patina of trash everywhere.
And as for the highways and roads…we can drive for 10 hours from Delhi up to our beloved Himachal (a state in the Himalayas) and see trash the whole way. Here, we have driven from Calgary to Banff to Emerald Lake and back again and – I kid you not – not one piece of trash. We went on forest trails, I went for a forest walk yesterday and not one piece of trash.
There are serious lessons to be learned here, in how to manage garbage and how to inculcate a sense of cleanliness and pride in one’s city and country…
Every two minutes here I’m exclaiming about how spotless the country is, how clean it is – it is such a joy, I tell you.
So, thank you, O Canada, for that.
Also, I don’t think I have ever seen such a dog-friendly city as Vancouver. Wherever we have been in these 10 days in Canada, there have been dogs everywhere and proud owners happy to let you pet them. But Vancouver takes the cake, with amazing dog-friendly parks, and stretches of beach for them to run. Too good.
The other fascinating thing is the unbelievable multi-culturalism.
It is a joy to see faces and to hear voices from all over the world. Yesterday, for example, I Uber-ed to meet my Delhi friend Namrata for a forest walk. The driver was from Ludhiana. As soon as I got into the car, he told me that he had to speak to his brother for a moment on the phone and I replied “Thik hai” without even realising it. The usual “How come you speak Hindi?” question followed, and then, hilariously, he said (in Hindi) “I am cancelling my call to my brother. He can wait. I want to talk to you instead”. 🙂
And so we chatted in Hindi about governments and the cost of living – as one does.
The return Uber driver was a Serbian, and we discussed the perils of teaching children about transgenders when they are perhaps too young and impressionable. As one does.
And the food! It is as mind-blowingly multi-cultural as the people. We are totally spoiled for choice with food to please everyone’s palate – 1 pescatarian, I allergic to fish, and 2 omnivores.
Oh yes, did I mention, we have FINALLY met up with Hari and Melissa after 3 years? This is Hari’s first trip out of China since early 2020 when Covid upended all our lives, and even though they’ll both have to quarantine on their return to Shanghai, it is beyond fantabulous that we are all together again.
So yes, so far so very, very good.
Happiness isn’t colouring my view of Canada, but it’s certainly helping with the overall vibe.