Greetings from Vancouver

· I certainly understand the appeal of Vancouver.
· Vancouver is a true port town. It’s not like the rest of the “West”.
· The Japanese food — sushi, ramen — is 5 stars.
· To people that keep telling me Vancouver housing is over-priced, my AirBnb has a fig tree and two palm trees in her backyard. So.

Greetings from Crowsnest Pass, Kimberley, Osoyoos and the Okanagan Valley

· There is something so satisfying about passing through a mountain range. It’s like you’ve found a loophole in the system.
· The railroads really did shape Canada western Canada.
· It’s fun to see remnants of the Old West.
· Once you realize that you’re still in Canada, Osoyoos is unreal.
· And of course, I could easily live in the Okanagan.

 

Greetings from Calgary and Banff

· Calgary is not that interesting. 2/10. Would not buy again.
· Banff is…nice? I mean, it’s nice. It’s nice.
· The Banff Springs Hotel was certainly something.
· Most ghost stories just reek of inauthenticity.
· The best way to experience a place is by walking/hiking or biking, and you just can’t do that in Calgary.
· I have nothing else.

The end.

It seems that I don’t come around here anymore. That’s most likely because I tweet a lot more now, and I don’t expect that to change anytime soon. I’m also just busier (which is probably why I prefer to tweet than blog).

If for some reason you need a Sina fix, my non-secret Twitter accounts are: @zetteltations, @tntuva.

Until/unless something changes, you won’t see me here anymore. Goodbye.

2016

2016 was a great year personally, but a dark year un-personally. Let us count the ways.

· I got married on an island!
· Here are some wedding photos for your amusement. If you look closely, you can see Hamilton.

· Enjoyed the Imperial City before the dark emperor arrived.
· Rode my bike a lot. A lot.
· And filled my phone with photos of all kinds of Toronto street art.
· Became a Twitter poet.
· Rebelled against bureaucracy.
· Started an exit plan.

My mantra for 2016 was “Be less polite.”
My mantra for 2017 is “Context is queen.”

Winter is here. Dress accordingly.

Brown vs Brown

In 2013, my journalist/writer cousin, Shadi, wrote a story titled Brown is not an Ethnicity. For the story, she posed to me the questions: Do you consider yourself brown? Do people call you brown? How do you feel when they do? If you’re not brown then what are you?

Below was my response.

I will just tell you some of my own personal experience.

I generally don’t like being called brown. I don’t like being called anything, except maybe Torontonian or Canadian. I prefer Torontonian over anything else, because I don’t generally relate much to other places in Canada outside Toronto — except possibly Vancouver.

When I was travelling over the summer, people would of course often ask me where I’m from. My answer was always “Toronto” or “Canada”. In Europe, that was usually sufficient. In Turkey, Egypt and Morocco, they wouldn’t even ask — everyone assumed I was Indian or Pakistani. (Merchants would yell “hindi!” to get my attention, as if that were my name.) When I told them I was Canadian, the response was always, almost word for word, “no no no, originally.” People were unable to fathom the possibility that I was from Canada, even after I told them. If I obliged and told them my parents are Iranian, that came with its own preconceptions: I’m muslim, I hate America and Israel, I know that 9/11 was a conspiracy to invade Iraq. I am none of these things. People can say otherwise, but you really are treated differently because of “where you’re from”, even if you’re not from there!

A few years ago, I was dating an “Indian” girl. I use quotes because I would describe her as a cultural mix between Torontonian, Indian and international (she grew up mostly in Libya before coming to Canada, but in one of those isolated oil compounds for foreign workers and their families). Anyway, our relationship was rocky from the start because I wasn’t Indian and she could never marry a non-Indian. Nonetheless, we fell deeply in love. For a time it seemed like there could be an exception for us, but that didn’t happen and we eventually broke up. She was engaged 3 months later. That sucked, and ever since, I especially don’t like it when people call me brown. It’s terrible, I know, but I can’t help it. I’m actually surprised by my own reaction because while we were together, we used to talk about how similar Iranian and Indian cultures are (there are so many similarities), and we’d find words that are the same/similar in Farsi and Hindi. It was actually a lot of fun and brought us closer together.

Just YESTERDAY, I was chatting with an Indian friend. I was telling her that the last 3 girls I’ve dated weren’t allowed to marry me for “cultural reasons” (in order: north Indian, Tamil, Sikh) and that that is why we broke up in each case. She said Indian culture is crazy like that and “you should know that, you’re brown.” Sigh. I honestly don’t understand how I would know that. I don’t understand what it means to be brown. I don’t understand anything.

A simple project [Later post from 2012]

Hello future employers, coworkers, friends, girlfriends and wife.

Welcome to the ever-evolving experiment I started in 2005.

I am past-Sina, the ancestor of future-Sina, whom you most likely call Sina. We are merely strangers, separated by space and time, but if you are reading this then I must assume that you are interested in future-Sina for one reason or another. I must then tell you that you should take everything you read here with a light heart, for it was all created in a simpler time when the internet was free, winters were cold, and the world was not ruled by robot overlords.

As humans we like to think that we rarely change, that we are the same person we were when we were younger. This is not true, for you nor for me. It can be embarrassing to read our old letters and school work, recall our old habits and beliefs, or even just look at our old pictures and videos. Like nails on a chalkboard. We were naive when we were young, we tell ourselves. And we were!

The purpose of any blog is to share, including sharing with one’s future self, and a consequence of sharing is that a record book is automatically created. This is intentional — it’s why Facebook now has a ‘timeline’, and it’s why I’ve continued to maintain this blog over the years. No matter how vague, it takes courage to maintain such a strict, easily-searchable public record book. But I believe that the existence of such a record book is, in the end, very valuable. Of course I can remove content at any time in the future — and sometimes I do! — but this has been posted publicly on the internet for a reason.

If you want to, read and enjoy! Just don’t take anything you see here too seriously — it is rarely serious.

If you cannot handle it, it is best you close your browser now.