Wednesday, January 31, 2007

chit chat

A couple of weeks ago I was running errands around town & I was genuinely touched by the number of people that stopped to make conversation while I was waiting in line, waiting for the bus or just plain waiting around. Ok that last one is not true - no one really has time to wait around, island life or not. And most of the people that stopped to chit chat were seniors but I would say they are the nicest people you will find in Bermuda. Instilled with traditional old school values of yester year they are surprisingly open minded to the new values that the younger generation exuberate today. In recent decades Bermuda has seen a magnanimous influence from America as teenagers have been & continue to be exposed & relate to America's hip hop culture. While not all hip hop is bad, it's rarely the good that is the popular choice. But that's another post.

Adding to the change in attitudes & culture, seniors have also had to deal with the increase in population & the expats that have come to call Bermuda their home away from home. I'd often wonder how they felt about us expats. The tourists are only here for a short time, while we expats are here to stay for a while. When I first got here I'd not know what to say when our paths would cross. After all it's their turf & we were fresh off the boat. But they are the nicest people I've met & continue to meet. They're apt to take interest in you if you're generous enough to greet them with a smile.

While the teenagers as teenagers go, are another story, it's the young kids of Bermuda that leave a lasting impression. They have been taught to greet everyone with a customary Good Morning or Afternoon, will proceed to ask YOU how you're doing & have no problem engaging themselves in conversation with a tourist or an expat. So don't be surprised if you find yourself deep in conversation with a child or a senior citizen of Bermuda while on the bus or anywhere around town. It's expected & it's the way things are done here. Get used to it.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


If you see one of these marine angelfish (not to be confused with the freshwater angelfish), prepare to be amazed. This is the Bermuda Angelfish more specifically a Townsend Angelfish. It's a hybrid between the Blue & Queen Angelfish. The Townsend angelfish is abundant & unique to Bermuda's waters. Their graceful & majestic presence in the water is associated with healthy reefs. Angelfish are very shy & are quick to get away when spotted. Like swans, they are monogamous & are often found swimming in pairs. They breed throughout the year & grow at an alarming rate. Their lifespan is about 20 years. Hubby & I once spotted a gigantic pair at Tobacco Bay while snorkelling & they were beautiful. If you spot one of these & want to capture it on film, then make haste, before they swim away. The Angelfish are also featured on Bermuda's five cent coin. Are they edible? I'd say no. While some of the larger marine angelfish species are sought as food, there have been reports of ciguatera poisoning as a result of their flesh harbouring toxins. Why would anyone want to eat them anyway, they're too pretty to be made minced meat out of.

Monday, January 29, 2007

riding in cars

Want to make more of an environmental difference to a greener tomorrow? Here's how:

Zoom zoom zoom:
Car manufacturers are going green. There are a fair number of hybrid models being introduced into the market. If you're thinking about getting a new car, this is certainly the way to go. Think of the money you'd be saving in the long run plus you'd get that warm fuzzy feeling inside every time you turn on the ignition.

The next time you're waiting on someone or something you may want to turn off that idling car. The job always takes longer & as the seconds transition into minutes, you sit there wishing you had turned the car off three minutes ago.

Yearly emissions tests on your car - this is now a requirement in many countries or your registration won't be renewed without a passed certificate. But lets not cheat & pay off the mechanic to fudge the report when you really don't pass the test. Aren't we really cheating ourselves?

Here are some of my observations of how some metropolitan cities have been adapting to greener ways.

Bermuda: We see quite a few smart cars on Bermuda's roads. On the smaller side, you can't get any greener that these but small in Bermuda small is good. With the narrow roads & even narrower driveways smaller cars are in demand. Small is good, but smarter is better.

Toronto: Has integrated Bio-diesel (part diesel, part soy bean oil) for some of public works trucks. This cleaner fuel emits lower emissions & gives the environment a much needed break.

Bombay: On our recent visit to India, I was impressed to learn that pollution levels were decreasing in Bombay, a city that houses a population of almost 13 million. So what's attributed to this change? The switch from petrol (gas) to Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), a mixture of hydrocarbon gases that is proving to reduce damage to the ozone layer. There are about 7 million cars in Bombay that are running on LPG & that number is only growing.

Speaking of the ozone layer, there's some good news. All our environmentally friendly efforts have been translated into the ozone layer growing back where there was a gaping hole. That's right. The hole is shrinking. But let's not stop now!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

a short break

And a quick shout out:

Hello right back to FT from cold Sweden. Stay warm. I sure am!

Friday, January 19, 2007

this little light of mine

Fluorescent lighting is the way to go in the 21st century. These energy saving bulbs are starting to make an appearance in every household. But when one says fluorescent what comes to mind is those ugly, unflattering white tube fluorescent lights. The popular lighting choice for work, school, hospital, factories. Unfortunately, while they're energy saving & cost efficient, they also highlight every unflattering wrinkle on your face. I'm not a fan of fluorescent lighting especially when used at home.

I lived with my grandparents in India from the ages of three to 13 & while there I had to live with the ugly fluorescents. They insisted on having them. The tubes are efficient & cost effective, so practically every household has them. It's been the only choice since perhaps electricity was introduced in India. Mood lighting is somehow not an everyday option regardless of class you belong to: upper, middle or lower. It's more about brighter is better. I grew up hating those lights. Everyone loved them but me. I guess my interior design skills were alive & kicking even when I was three & thereon to make me sit up & take notice how unflattering & a little depressing those lights were. When I'd visit my parents in Dubai, I'd breathe a sigh or relief because we had mood lighting there. But when I was back in India for the academic year, I'd cringe every time the sun went down & those lights came on. My friends in the next building over, now their folks had the mood lighting all setup. There was not a fluorescent in the living room. Their minimal plantation style furniture looked great. I thought I was in heaven every time I went over to their place. What a difference lighting makes!

Fast forward to Canada where we took out
any traces of fluorescent lighting at my parents' new place. Well, I did actually & my dad's comment was that I was on a mission to rid the house of any fluorescent lights. Seriously, do people not like mood lighting? It's called mood lighting for a reason. It affects your mood. Sigh! Anyway, incandescent was the way to go for a while until the introduction of new fluorescent lights of the future. You know those energy saving bulbs that use just 13 watts to produce the output of a 60 watt bulb. They are a lifesaver for your electric bill. But the best part, though they're fluorescent bulbs, they also provide you with ambient mood lighting just like the incandescent bulbs. I love technology, don't you?

Once we moved here to Bermuda, I was surprised to find the limited variety of bulbs available on the island. Incandescent 60 watts are very popular & mostly all that's available here. Losing no time to make the change, I dug into my stash & got out my fluorescent bulbs (almost seems like I have a Santa Claus bag of goodies, doesn't it? I wish!). Since the change, our electric bill has seen a significant decrease. Like everything, electricity is also imported into Bermuda from the US & at a hefty price too. Everyone complains about the electric bill here especially in the summer when the air cons are running at full capacity. Want to save some $$ & help out the environment? Well, switch to the new & improved fluorescent bulbs. Add it to your shopping list on your next trip back home. Companies like GE, Sunbeam & Noma have followed Ikea's original bulbs & have now revolutionized these fluorescent bulbs. They are now available in the same size as an incandescent bulb & are even available for pot/recessed & flood lights all at Canadian Tire. Damn! Times are a changing & it's time to get in on that change.

I often see this Bermudian man at the corner of Burnaby & Reid Street
selling the new fluorescent bulbs for about $8 a pop. He tried to get me to buy them once. He said it's very hard to get people here to switch & they have no idea how much they'd be saving in the long run. I told him I had a whole stash at home & I use nothing else. He said: Lemme guess, you got it from back home. Sure, I said, I got them from Canada. They come in packs of two or three. He groaned & said: I don't even want to know what you got them for. He's right. I spared him the pricing details for what he doesn't know won't hurt him. Besides he asked not to know.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

el niño & the other thing

A couple of weeks ago everyone everywhere was happy about the mild winter weather & welcomed it with open arms. No one really cared about the environmental implications or the repercussions. Let the glaciers melt! Let the polar bears starve! Let the animals that normally hibernate be awake to enjoy the warm weather! Well, we only have ourselves to thank. We've put out as much carbon dioxide in the air in the last century with all our industrial & technological revolution, that we've upset the delicate balance for good. Do not console yourself with the fact El Niño has been around or that global warming has been in motion for thousands of years because it was never at this frequent nor this fast a rate.

The overall temperature has increased by a couple of degrees - seems minor, but it is major damage for the North pole. Once those glaciers melt, we won't have as much land mass nor fresh water. I can tell you that everyone would want to be Canada's best friend, as we'd be the only country with the world's largest fresh water supply. Maybe Bermuda won't be affected? Think again. With the rising sea level, Bermuda may just be underwater.

The sad unfortunate news is that while we may curb our wasteful ways significantly, the damage has already been done. Our changes will only prevent any further escalation. Any positive changes will only help the temperature to remain stable but it will not lower what we have caused to rise in the last century. The glaciers will continue to melt, that's a given. What is to be determined is at how fast a rate. But please, don't let that discourage you into making a change for today. Scientists have been looking 50 years into the future to predict what the world & our environment will be like. Why 50 you ask? They chose 50 because that's when most of us will be around. It's sad when the scientists have to cater to us, the current generation, to make it more of a reality for us. We obviously don't care enough to leave the world in good hands for our future generations, so why on earth would we care about the state of the world 100 years from now? So what are we going to do about it?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

i choose c

We were watching the weather channel for a few moments to get an update & all that anyone is talking about is America as the Frozen Nation. Looking at the single digits for central & southern US, we were a bit confused because we first had to figure out if they were in Celsius or Fahrenheit. We figured maybe it's in F as most of the US likes to have it broadcasts but then that wouldn't make sense because it would be colder than Canada. Most of the digits were in the singles, which is insane because Dallas at 3o C & Atlanta at 1o C was just unbelievable. Who knew it could get that cold over there? Now that the southern states have witnessed & experienced first hand how El Niño & global warming can wreak havoc, maybe Bush might take the environment seriously & cut down on some pollution.

Getting back to the weather format, the reason for the C/F confusion? For the most part, Bermuda has adopted British ways: the metric system for one - the distance & odometers here are spelt out in kms as opposed to miles, the roads & cars - left hand drive. However, there's one area where confusion ensues & that's the weather. In this case, Bermuda seems to follow the American preferred Fahrenheit when it comes to stating & predicting the temperature. While they do have the Celsius conversion displayed, it still makes it confusing. They figure with their large number of tourists being American, they may as well make them feel comfortable. It's just makes it confusing for the rest of us ex-pats, especially the ones from Canada & England. For this reason I've had to learn to convert F to C during the summer months (temp in F minus 32 divided by 2). But that's it. I am not about to convert Celsius to Fahrenheit for anyone. Besides stating the temperatures in Celsius makes more sense to the viewer & the rest of the world goes by it!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

remember when

Remember when you were a kid & all you wanted to do was be out in the sunshine & play with your friends in those never ending days of summer. Until an unexpected shower or two put a damper in your plans forcing you to wait it out, hoping it would stop so you could get back to the order of the day. Once it stopped raining, you barely waited a minute before heading out & joining your posse. Amid all the laughter & excitement, you barely noticed anything else, least of all the intoxicating scent the earth released after the first rain. I bet you notice it now, now that you're all grown up. Doesn't it take you back to that magical carefree time?

It rained here today after a dry spell of many many days. I love the smell of the earth right after the first rain. It's intoxicating, energizing & definitely a memory trigger. It takes me back to India. Most are surprised, but really there's no mystery there. Bermuda & most of India share the same sub tropical climate. So it's no surprise that the air would smell somewhat the same. The same goes for the foliage too. When we first got here I'd point out certain many plants & tell Hubby: Hey, that's just like in India. At first he'd poke fun saying I think everything is like India. That ended when he made his first ever trip to India in Dec 2005 & finally he understood what I was talking about. Besides I could hardly compare Bermuda's foliage to Canada now could I?

They say that scent is the most powerful memory trigger, perhaps, after food or maybe they're at a tie. I am not sure which one is the most powerful but they both trigger memories to my wonder years tying me to a certain place & time. The taste of apple juice, mashed potatoes & cucumbers, all separately of course, will forever remind me of my three year old self or so in Dubai. The scent of the earth after the rain will always remind me of my grade school days/vacations in India. It doesn't take much to leave you feeling so good reminiscing about yesteryear with not a care in the world. It's nice when life is like that, unexpectedly catapulting you into a makeshift time warp.

So, what
scent/food triggers your memory? Feel free to post your comments.

Monday, January 15, 2007


One of my favourite places to visit is the Bermuda Aquarium Museum & Zoo (BAMZ). Established in 1962, this attraction is an island must see. An entire day could be spent taking in the Aquarium which houses so many species of tropical fish that will leave you mesmerized. The Museum is a cornucopia of information from Bermuda's volcanic island creation to present day & its Zoo houses many species some expected & others rather surprising to see on this secluded island. BAMZ is located in Flatts Village & during the summer months a smaller street festival takes place every Thursday. If you stand over the Flatt's bridge, just outside the Aquarium, you may just get lucky & see some gigantic eagle rays passing through right under you. It's the best $10.00 you'll spend in Bermuda & I am looking forward to visiting it for the third time, when we have our next set of visitors.

Surely, I exaggerate or maybe I'm biased. Well it's neither. We visited Georgia Aquarium,
the worlds largest, this past June in where else but Atlanta, GA. I was expecting more from the sheer fact that it's the world's largest & from what I saw on the website but when all was said & done, I was not impressed. Sure, the pike & piranhas were interesting as were the Beluga whale, which seemed to be attracted to ThePoser & Smoochie, but there's only so many monochromatic fresh water fish that one can see. Somehow, I found myself thinking about BAMZ & how its array of tropical fish dazzled me to no end. I am sure it will do the same for ThePoser & Smoochie, whom I can't wait to take to BAMZ when they come visit us this year (you got that kiddos?). Now I know we're going to be there all day!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

the kingdom of saudi arabia

My cousin, LawrieLookAlike & his father, UncleTigerBeer both work in Saudi Arabia as ex-pats. While UncleTigerBeer & family first lived in Dubai as ex-pats, he eventually made the transition to Saudi. However, Saudi Arabia is nowhere near liberal when compared to Dubai, UAE. The UAE is the most liberal middle eastern country you can live in & contrary to what people think, this is not a recent phenomenon but one that has been in place since the 70's.

So, how different is life in Saudi? Last year, I told UncleTigerBeer that I'd visit him in Saudi sometime. He responded: Sure, I'll pick you up at the airport & be sure to bring you an abaya. Say what? I have never worn one in my life & I am not about to start now & I'm not even Muslim. Doesn't matter, he says. Anyway, I will probably rethink that idea.

LawrieLookAlike has been regaling me with some interesting tidbits about this kingdom this past weekend. How great is MSN & Google Talk & thankfully not blocked by the ISPs in Saudi. I'd heard second hand versions of Saudi's nuances before, but having someone tell you as it happens is getting a glimpse of a life that's normally censored to the rest of the world. Thanks Cuz.

I also looked up some Saudi blogs & the one I found most interesting is:
Sand Gets In My Eyes by an American author. It's also added onto the Blogs I Read list. So check it out if you're interested about life in Saudi Arabia through the eyes of a woman & through the eyes of these Saudi women.

Friday, January 12, 2007

minus what ?

The negative notation that precedes numbers when it comes to weather talk is a somewhat a distant memory, now that we've been in Bermuda for a while. But not forgotten. Once you've experienced how -xo C feel like on your face, you're hardly going to forget it. Hubby told me it's about -35o C in Winnipeg, Canada & even though I'm not from Winnipeg, I feel for its population. The temperature in Toronto has been dipping below 0 for the past few days & while it looked like the normal winter weather was on hiatus, it's back in full swing now. Winter is back in Canada & for the rest of the world.

So, here's where the good about Bermuda reigns in. As in the good moderate sub tropical climate. The weather norm for Bermuda in January is a cool 17
o C at night with the daytime high of about 22o C. While Bermuda ordinarily receives a good share of rain & is sometimes pelted with hail in the winter months, this has yet to pass. No complaints, however.

For those of you wanting & planning to visit Bermuda, I recommend that the summer months are the best. Anytime from May to October is what will mostly guarantee you a good time because the hot weather creates an ideal vista for you to hit the beach & indulge in various other weather dependent activities. Basically, if you're going to shell out $x,xx.xx you may as well maximize every aspect of what Bermuda has to offer.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

the bermuda tea party

People are often surprised that I am not a coffee person but a recent tea addict. They think that growing up in India & Dubai would have cultivated me into an at least moderate tea drinker years ago. 'But you're from India, you're supposed to like tea.' Says who? Just because most Indians are huge tea drinkers & the Arabs have quite the penchant for Arabic style black tea, I was expected to be addicted to tea as well? I was in my late teens when I moved to Canada & teenagers are not addicted to tea no matter where they live. Well, after my move to the Great White North, I eventually caught up to the stereotype. The weather made me.

When we moved to Bermuda in 2005, I didn't re-locate with any tea.
I'm talking about the good stuff like Tetley's Orange Pekoe. 'Bermuda will have good tea. It's a British territory & the Brits love their tea' was my thought. I thought wrong! Like chocolate, the American imported version of Tetley, whilst cost effective to import, somehow didn't quite cut it. It wasn't strong enough for a man, nor made for a woman.

Why would I need to drink tea in Bermuda, anyway? Well, we do have cooler months (we call it winter) & March was cool enough for a hot cuppa. I was so glad when a month later our stash of long awaited necessities arrived. The first thing I did was grab the box of
216 Tetley teabags & checked to see what the heck made it so different & much more potent than the American import. Voila, the Canadian Tetley is made exclusively in the UK & exported to Canada. That'll do it.

So, if you're relocating to Bermuda in the near future & are addicted to tea, then I suggest you bring some of the good stuff with you. The same goes for you Java lovers. Since I am not a coffee drinker, I can only draw on the experience of others. Many tell me that they miss the coffee they're used to & vow to bring some with them on their next trip.

FYI, there's no Starbucks here, so don't go looking around for one.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

in case of emergency

So, you're stuck in a elevator. With seven other passengers. At a major department store. In Bermuda. What do you do? Wait, isn't the limit six - maybe that's the reason for the elevator jamming up.

Anyway, this is the age of modern technology where you're perpetually connected to the world whether you like it or not. So, you reach for that handy red emergency phone placed in the panel below the floor numbers. Mere moments later you're connected to the operator & explain your situation. They respond they've never heard of the department store you're calling from. Is this a joke? Bermuda's not that big & this is a popular department store, more like the only department store left. The air is beginning to get a bit stifling what with all eight of you crammed like sardines. You repeat the name of the store again. You eventually say it's in Bermuda. Well, therein lies the problem. The operator you're speaking to is in North Carolina, approximately 640 miles from Bermuda, over the Atlantic Ocean. Unbelievable! Does anyone have a cell phone?

This is what a
couple, long time frequent visitors to Bermuda, experienced over the Christmas season. Oh not to worry, they along with the six others were eventually freed from their claustrophobic hangout. The emergency line set up in that elevator was linked to the elevator manufacturing headquarters in the US. Come on! How about linking it to front desk or the security office in the store? Somebody didn't update the information after installation. Tsk Tsk. Somebody gonna get a hurt real bad!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

by the rocks

Although we've had fabulous weather for the past couple of weeks, it's not nearly warm enough to take a dip. While 22 deg C is warm enough to lie on the sand in the sun, its not hot enough to make me want to lounge around in the water. So, snorkelling is out of the question as the fish prefer to stay in deeper waters during the winter. We all know how I can't swim, so I am not about to take my chances. I can wait until the hot summer when they decide to venture into my turf. Man, I have got to learn how to swim!

Fishing, a popular activity on the island, is also curtailed in the winter months. Since it's darker earlier & the fish not necessarily wanting to hang about closer to the rocks, it can be a bit challenging if you're expecting to take home a large bite. But some still persevere & wait by the rocks in the hope of doing so. We're not one of them. If we had a boat, then we'd sure venture into deeper water (me with a life vest) & catch us something fresh. Once again we wait for longer days & summer weather.

This past summer we frequented the rocks by Shelly Bay Beach. It's a beautiful spot & the sunsets are spectacular. It's also home to a decent size children's playground & a very nice beach. While the sand is coarser than most beaches, it's waters gently ebb the shore & are ideal for snorkelling, swimming & fishing. If you're not into fishing, the calm waves & ocean hues will lull you. Unless you're there on a stormy day.

Our fishing spot at Shelly Bay was by the old chimney on the rocks right before you hit the beach. This is my favourite fishing pic of Hubby as he's getting ready to cast his line. If you don't have your own rod then I suggest taking a good book because what's worse than waiting for your bait to catch is watching someone else waiting for their bait to catch. Heck, you don't even need a rod. Just a reel with a hook will do. Just that most times your hook will snag against the rocks & you end up loosing it after a good yank. This happens to me every time & eventually I get bored & start throwing in some stale bread. Then come the fish in multitudes, smaller ones at first but then the larger few venture closer to see what's cooking. This fish feeding is very therapeutic, even more so than fishing.

Monday, January 08, 2007

come & get it

Travelling back & forth to Bermuda makes me wonder how Bermudians are treated when they enter their homeland. Surely their documents are not scrutinized as ours are & most are allowed through customs without being searched. Not so.

Bermudians don't actually have a Bermudian passport. Since Bermuda is a self- governing British overseas territory & not an independent country, the passport issued to it's citizens is a UK passport. Nowhere does it say that they are Bermudian unless they make a trip to Immigration to have their Bermudian status 'stamped' on one of the inside pages. In order to complete this validation, every Bermudian should technically be on the government Registry. If not, then entails a lengthy process of having to prove that both or either one parent of the applicant is Bermudian. A Bermudian co-worker told me that while his passport is Bermudian certified, it does not look authentic enough to him. So much so that his passport is scrutinized by Immigration practically every time he enters Bermuda. Apparently the stamp must not look authentic enough to Immigration themselves.

Previously, Canadians & Bermudians were able to travel to America sans passport. All they required was a citizenship card or a drivers license. But we're in the post 9/11 era & America has just changed their rules to toughen up. Fair enough given 9/11. Canadians & Bermudians now need to have their passports in tow when travelling to the U.S. More specifically Bermudians need to have their UK passports stamped with the customary Bermudian status. Well, apparently this has created chaos at Immigration in the past month. Thousands & I mean thousands, more or less 30,0000 Bermudians are scrambling to get their passports appropriately stamped. But some are having to go through the extended ordeal of discovering that their names are not & never have been on the Registry & so are having to prove that they are Bermudian. Imagine the stress & the frustrations of having to wait in line at Immigration to get through additional red tape. And while the staff at Immigration are doing their damnedest, they are understaffed relative to Bermuda's population size.

Wouldn't it be so much easier if Bermuda were to issue it's own passport? No stamp required. No hassles of any sort to be endured when new rules of other countries are implemented. No frustrations. No more drama than necessary. Sure, it may end up costing an extra buck or two but seriously wouldn't it save on a whole lot of everything else ?

Sunday, January 07, 2007

intelligent design

A little three year old at church today had a box of animal crackers. He brought it over & so I pointed out to the bunch of animals on the box & asked him if he knew what they were. He pointed to one of them and said 'That's a man'. I looked at it & trying not to laugh, I said, 'No, that's not a man. That's a gorilla'. A future evolutionist? Perhaps.

We all get caught up in the various theories of evolution no matter how religious we are. It makes us stop, think & question what we know & believe. However, I've always thought that the theory of simple cells evolving into life on earth or how we as humans share 99% of our DNA with primates making them our common ancestor is pure hogwash. For one thing, the 1% difference betwe
en the primates and us is a huge 1% - it's that percent that sets us apart from them & our various abilities far surpass theirs. For another, our cell structure is simply too complex for us to have evolved from another species. Not that we're special. The same goes for any other species, they all have complex structures.

On the topic of evolution: I happened to watch a PBS documentary on one a few months ago. What caught my eye was it's brilliant showcase of Bermuda's aquatic life. It had all the different kind of fish that I was able to name from my snorkelling adventures. But when I listened harder it was a documentary disproving Charles Darwin's 'Theory of Evolution'. To give you a brief synopsis, it looked at the various species & explained with the help of modern DNA why evolution is impossible. It also highlighted that Darwin was not privy to the concept of DNA at the time his work was published which was approximately 150 years ago. Had he been aware, he would have hesitated on publishing his work.

I didn't watch the entire documentary because I started to research on how I could get myself a copy. I did manage to get one, for Hubby for his birthday. He wanted to watch it today, the day that started with the gorilla. Coincidence? I think not. In life, there are no coincidences. Or so I've heard.

The documentary is titled LIFE'S STORY & is available at Exploration Films & also on Amazon. If you do decide to get it, well then enjoy!

Friday, January 05, 2007

we three kings

It's the 12th & last day of Christmas according to the Western Christian calendar. The day the three kings, also known as the Magi from the Orient made their way to visit the babe in Bethlehem. 'We Three Kings' is one of my favourite hymns. The even known as the Epiphany comes with the task of taking down the tree, the nativity & any Christmas decor & stowing it away safely until next year.

Well, we don't have any Christmas decor to take down because we didn't put one up. We've never really been in Bermuda to celebrate Christmas (a total of two so far). While I would love to have a tree here, it takes an awful long time to collect the kind of ornaments I would like on the tree & I am not about to blow a huge budget on ornaments. And while I did say that I didn't have to take down any Christmas decor, my parents in Toronto will have to. That's because I did put up the tree & the nativity set over there. (Well, they wanted me to & I could hardly say no!).

But I loved doing it. Most of the ornaments are handmade by yours truly. During our first year in Canada were a bit wary of buying a plethora of ornaments, so I collected a bunch of pine cones & spray painted them gold. Those ornaments adorn our tree to this day. Add to that the ornaments we've collected over the years. It's a simple theme that has carried us well through the past 10 years.

This season, my dad has promised to take down the tree & the nativity set with the greatest of care, since I'm not there to do it. I just hope he packs them away the right way in the right wrappers in the right boxes. The worst thing about the tree is all those lights. I prefer to string every branch with lights & it's definitely tedious (easier to take down than put up, however). So my advice to anyone considering a tree is get one that's pre-lit. 80% of your work is done for you right there & all you're left with is prettying in up.

For some of Bermuda's Christmas pictures, please check out the Bda Sun Album.


One of my favourite fish to see while snorkelling is the Parrotfish. I once hovered over eight of them, all different colours & shapes as they glided from one end of the Tobacco Bay shore to the other & they didn't seem to mind one bit. Boy was that an experience to remember. Parrotfish are abundant in Bermuda's waters, existing in a multitude of colours that are very vibrant much like the parrots of the world. They are also one of Bermuda's protected species - if you catch one you have to toss it back in. A fully grown parrotfish is about the full length of your arm & about a foot and a half wide. It's mouth, shaped like the beak of a parrot (hence the name), is an effective & necessary tool for scraping away the coral to get at the algae - their main diet (you can even hear then crunching away at the coral when you're snorkelling). They are also known as the recyclers of coral as they produce & distribute coral sands via their feeding activities. It is for this reason that the parrotfish is vital to Bermuda coral reefs.

Parrotfish can be found in the shallowest of waters, sometimes also spotted by rocks at the edge of the shoreline. They hibernate at night under rocks in a self made mucus cocoon that may take a half hour to break out of in the morning. Given their brilliant facade of colour, they are also colour blind. But perhaps the most interesting fact about parrotfish is it's ability to change sex when there is a shortage of males. Oh, you heard right & it's not possible the other way around. It's only the females that can make the sex transition. Mother Nature sure does have a very feminist sense of humour, in this instance. Imagine a scorned female parrotfish's train of thought: 'I don't need him, I can be him!'

Thursday, January 04, 2007

i want candy

There is a huge difference between North American & English chocolate. Chocolate made in England is oh so decadent and full of rich cocoa giving it a wonderful true rich taste. North American chocolate, not so much. Read the label on a bar made in North America & you instantly notice the artificial ingredients. Bite into one & you will taste the difference compared to English chocolate, that is if your taste buds have ever been exposed to one.

Growing up in Dubai, we always had English imported chocolate to satisfy our cravings. Nothing fancy just your average KitKat, Snickers, MilkyWay, Kinder Surprise et al. After moving to Canada, it didn't take long for me to forget about the wonderful taste of English chocolate until (10 years later) someone brought some over from England. All it was was a KitKat bar but one bite brought back a slew of long forgotten memories to the forefront causing an awakening of my taste buds to what good chocolate used to taste like in the wonder years.

I didn't really expect much with regards to chocolate in Bermuda. I figured the market would be flooded with American products like a lot of items on the island. Until I spotted the English KitKat & boy was I excited. You can always tell the English chocolate apart from the North American chocolate by just looking at the wrapper. Since English chocolate is exported to many foreign countries, it accounts for its ingredients in different languages. Arabic is one of them & it's the easiest to spot among the various similar scripted languages.

So if you're in Bermuda & are debating on what kind of chocolate to take back to your friends,
'Get the one with the Arabic writing'! It's what I tell my friends here when we're out on our three pm chocolate break/sugar binge & let me tell you, one bite & they're very thankful. Makes you wonder though, would America ever import English chocolate, Arabic writing & all? I wonder if it would bode well with the public in this age of post 9/11

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

snail mail

If you're thinking about mailing me something, I'd say STOP. Email me instead. There's a very good reason. Because of its location, Bermuda isn't the most efficient when it comes to its mail. Outgoing mail from Bermuda reaches its destination far quicker than incoming mail. All incoming mail to Bermuda first makes a pit stop in the US before making its way here & that really does prolong the time mail gets to you. Especially packages. A friend told me that it took months for a Christmas package to arrive from her mom. In the meantime she had already made a trip back home. Her mom would have been better off just holding on to it.

Courier services are another story too. That overnight shipping guarantee doesn't hold water when the packages are destined to Bermuda. It takes about a couple of days for a FedEx or UPS package to make its way to you. But at least it's reliable. If you're mailing something you'd best make sure that you've got the address right down to the house name - increases your chances of mail being delivered right the first time. What house name you ask? Every house in Bermuda has a name. And this along with a postal code was how mail was delivered. Street numbers & addresses were only introduced about five years ago. Even so if you've got a house name on there preceding your street # & address, you can bet your mail will get to you.

I never used to include the house name for where we live. I am definitely used to the concept. When mailing Christmas cards to relatives in Southern India or any Indian non-cosmopolitan
city, street addresses are not used. Even to this day! So mailing address are like this:
Mr & Mrs ---
'Name of the house'
Opposite --- Church or Opposite --- Post Office
City, Postal Code

I'd often ask my mom - how on earth would mail even get delivered to these places. Her response: Oh! the postman knows which house is which. Damn, that's what I call putting your training to practical use. Imagine your first day on the job as a postman. You'd have best read your training manual or paid attention to the mail route.

So, it's the same in Bermuda, or at least it was until five years ago. Of late, howeve
r, I have started to include the house name when giving out my mailing address. Turns out there's a bunch of apartments named after the same street that we're on & often their mail turns up in our box. And the postman will not bother to take the mail back & deliver it to the right address. MsStopYourNoise has had to drop it off at the post office one to many times. Not like it's going to take the postal worker extra time to do it right. Mail is delivered on a scooter for Pete's sakes. Anyway, I've included an example (courtesy of the Bermuda Post) of how mail should be addressed. FYI: Parish in Bermuda is the equivalent of Province (Canada) or State (US). Just in case you didn't know!

Monday, January 01, 2007

be happy, be safe

The dawn of the New Year always embodies a renewed sense of hope, a chance to better yourself, a fresh clean slate. Among various resolutions most also hope for peace whether in their homes, their neighbourhoods or in their cities. For Toronto, that may transcend to a new year with lesser crime, while Bermuda's wish for it's streets is one with fewer road fatalities.

This is an ongoing concern for Bermuda as most road fatalities involve scooter riders & speeding. Some blame the roads & the infrastructure, but if people were to slow down I doubt we'd see as many fatalities. The speed limit of 35kms is often a forgotten rule for bike riders as they indulge in their joy rides. Often it's Bermuda's youth that get caught up in the power game & some result in dire consequences leaving behind distraught family & friends. Some ex-pats tend not to adhere to the speeding limit, especially since many if not all are new to the scooter world. Maybe this year we can all slow down. Here's w
ishing everyone a Happy & Safe New Year.