Yup… Cherry Blossoms

… in High Park, Toronto.

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In Washington DC…

… after more than 4 years in North America

Getting to know TTC

Just moved to Toronto and so I’m back to taking the subway and streetcars (trams back in Turin). I will feature photos of the stations here as I get to know them one by one…

Davisville, view while waiting for Southbound

Peggo!

Yesterday I got 3 Peggo cards – for me, Jonathan and Charles. 
For the past three years I’ve been buying the monthly passes, mainly for the convenience of not having to go back more than once to the shops. When our family would be out of the City for long periods of time, I would just bear the wastage (sometimes 15 days out of 30/31 of the month).
But voila! Here comes the Peggo cards. It all makes perfect sense: you can buy the cards online or at designated sites (like Shoppers); same goes for loading cash into it. You can go to outlet stores or after registration online, you can put money into it as much as you want or need. In short, you can decide instead of being locked into a weekly or monthly pass. Progress, it is!

Random kindness at the US Consulate

It’s Sunday, July 10, 2016, 10:41 am (11:41pm in Manila). I was just on Viber with Nix sharing updates – among them her “one fine morning” at the Greek Embassy. It reminded me of my own adventure at the US Consulate in Calgary 2 years ago…

I was getting ready for a work trip to the US and holding a Philippine passport, visa application has always been in my list for any international trip in the last 15 years. One would think I was prepared when I showed up at the US Consulate but to my horror I missed one very important notice… The security guard upon managing the line for applicants informed me that ‘purses of particular size are not allowed” at the visa centre and so I will have to leave my purse (tote bag) in the car. And of course, I have no car as I flew from Winnipeg to Calgary for a day trip, just for the visa application!!!

Upon realizing that no plea nor explanation will sway the security guard to allow my bag inside the visa centre, I started off my mad quest to find a host for the bag. One by one I went to the shops at the ground floor of the building and asked the cashier or a staff if I could leave my bag with them for an hour (I was being very optimistic here since the application process definitely exceeded 1 hour with the waiting time and interview). I wasn’t surprised but definitely disappointed that none of the shops agreed to a stranger’s request.

I slowly walked back to the line, feeling down and sorry, thinking that I would be wasting my trip, flight, and visa fee because of the size of my bag. I noticed a lady heading to the same direction and with her holding a folder with documents, I suspected that she was also a visa applicant. I asked her, and she confirmed my guess was right. Since I also noticed her tote bag, I decided to inform her about my ‘bag problem’ and that the security guard may ask her to do the same.

Just like me, the lady was just in Calgary for the visa application and had planned to go back to Edmonton after US consulate appointment. Other details are blurred but the one thing I didn’t miss was her mentioning that she will bring her bag to a locker room at the train station. I readily asked: could I also get a locker room there even if I’m not a passenger? Bless her heart as she offered to host my bag in her locker room as well.

After the consulate, we walked back to the locker room where I thanked her profusely before we went our separate ways – myself headed back to the airport for the flight back to Winnipeg. That night I also sent her a thank you email… but now after two years of reliving our encounter (thanks to Nix’s embassy adventure) I just felt compelled to celebrate this random kindness I’ve experienced from a nice lady back then.

And I suspect this won’t be the last time I’d be sharing this story… actually, for sure!

Life

Life is a journey of finding answers to many questions. We may not live long enough to get the answers, and this really is a mystery. However, the rewards are the little things we stumble upon when we keep going, despite the twists and turns, the bumpy roads sans streetlights. These are the diamonds (of wisdom, grace and special people) we can choose to pick along the way… Life’s journey is a joy, never a bore.

Seeds of Philosophy

I remember when I was vacationing at my grandparents’ house how my cousins thought our young neighbors from another Christian denomination were not like us and treated them in a different way.

I think that was also the first time I started asking questions about faith and belief systems. To my young mind I asked if the Jesus they believed in was not the same Jesus I believed in. These thoughts later recurred when I first heard about Buddhism. When they pray to Buddha, does Jesus hear those prayers too? Are we worshipping the same person? If Buddha was not great, why would people pray to him? At the end of the world, will Jesus save Buddhists too?