2007 Ottawa

A Night to Remember

I had booked a room at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Ottawa for Saturday night. The check-in was at noon. Dooh had a previous engagement in the morning. Harry was MIA or KIA for all we knew. Shekhar was participating in the annual Dragon Boat race at Mooney’s Bay.

He had asked us to visit him if possible. He was going to be there from 7 AM though and with the long drive from Toronto to Ottawa, it was highly unlikely Lunato and I would be awake at that time.

The last, and first, time I had been to the Dragon Boat festival was in 2003 with Kelly. I had woken up early in the morning, despite having watched a movie late into the night with Lunato, and had biked over to Kelly’s house. It was quite early in the morning and I remember I had to wait inside her parent’s house while she readied herself. Exactly what time I woke up is still a secret that has not yet been, and definitely never will be, revealed to Lunato.

So, to set things right and to complement the yin with the yang, I took Lunato to Mooney’s Bay after dropping Dooh at Zahra’s house. I called Shekhar after we reached the festival area but he had already left. Feeling stupid about being in Ottawa with Harry not being in town anymore and then arriving at the Dragon Boat festival with Shekhar not there anymore, I did not tell him where I was. I’ve more than fulfilled my stupid quota for the day.

The Dragon Boat festival was definitely interesting. There were lots of teams competing against each other for the fastest lap around the river.. or something of that sort. I applaud their effort. We climbed the small hill behind Mooney’s Bay and admired the view from there. Nice view.

I had wanted to visit the small waterfall area below Hog’s Back Road ever since I had first moved to Ottawa. It’s odd that in 6+ years I never bothered to make time and actually visit the place. Lunato and I have biked down Colonel By Drive numerous times and the waterfall/Mooney’s Bay dam area is right beside it; close enough to walk to from Mooney’s Bay as well. So that’s what we did, walked over to it. It’s quite impressive. Take a look.

Having crossed off another item from the list of things-to-do-before-expiring, we went downtown to check in at the hotel. Lunato asked for the highest room available and they gave us one on the 18th floor. Nice.. excellent view of downtown Ottawa.

Shekhar had another race at Mooney’s Bay later in the afternoon. Once he was done, he called and asked if I could pick him up and then meet up with everyone else. Sure. He hadn’t seen the new car until now so I was anxious to show it off as well. After a hasty car wash at an ESSO gas station on Baseline road, quite close to our old residence at Thornbury crescent, we met Shekhar and his co-worker and co-rower Mittale on Merivale Road near the Denny’s.

After dropping her at her house, Shekhar dialed the cellphone number Harry was using in Ottawa. Lunato and I only heard his side of the conversation and it was something like this:


Harry, where are you?

It’s me, where are you?

What does it matter who I am, I’m asking you where you are!

Rideau Centre? What are you doing there?


Oh, hello, Renny. No, this is Shekhar.

Ah, Harry is not there.

Okay, sorry. I’ll try the other number. Thanks.

We never found out who answered that call. I’m assuming it was Harry’s brother-in-law, who I suspect is sick and tired of Dooh and I always visiting his house ever since he married into Harry’s family. He’s an awesome guy, an awesome dad, and has always been very welcoming and extremely generous. Renny probably took the phone from him after the poor guy caved in and told someone he had never talked to before that he was at Rideau Centre. She told Shekhar that Mr. Harry was at home and was asleep when she had left. At least he’s in town now.

We picked up Dooh and went over to Renny’s house to find Harry alone in the house. Hi Harry! Good to see you again. Everything is set. Let’s start.

The rest of the night is sort of a blur. Sumanta somehow made himself part of the group. I don’t recall where and when we met him. We parked the car in the underground Marriott parking lot that looked like the perfect place to shoot a post-apocalyptic zombies versus lone human survivor movie. We walked to downtown Ottawa. We had shawarma on Rideau Street. We had Sheesha on Sparks Street. Came back to the hotel to drop off important items like the camera, car keys, wallet. Went out again to listen to loud obnoxious music while drinking Ginger Ale on York Street. Shekhar tried to teach Harry how to talk to random women in Byward Market. A group of drunk girls called us “angels” and gave hugs to everyone near Dalhousie Street and I was woken up by a bouncer at an After-party dance club around 4 AM. Harry, Shekhar, and Sumanta decided to stay at the club while we walked the long way back to the hotel. They came back around 6 in the morning, I think.

Harry put it best when he said, “I want to somehow save this feeling and repeat it again and again.”


2007 Ottawa

The Big Apple on the way to Ottawa

With the in-laws going to Quebec City and Montreal for a weekend package trip with Royal Tours, Lunato and I were free to visit Ottawa and meet up with Harry before he left for Indonesia.

The World’s Biggest Apple is located north of the town of Colborne, Ontario. One can’t help but notice the big apple beside highway 401 when traveling between Toronto and Ottawa. We’ve seen it many many times but had not visited the place until now.

The Apple Pie store/restaurant is bigger than you would expect from the outside. There is a souvenir shop inside the main building as well with many items related to the Big Apple.

We bought a bag of Red Delicious Apple Chips paying $4 for it. The other items are priced similarly, pretty expensive for something made out apples. However, since this was sort of a special occasion, we bought a Big Apple magnet and a pen as well.

Apparently the big apple is open to visitors and you can climb to an observation spot at the top of the apple. I didn’t know this otherwise we would’ve gone up there. Nazish, the former Carleton PSA president, visited The Big Apple a few days after our visit and took pictures of herself going inside and up to the top. Nice, I wish I had known about this.

There were only two other customers besides Lunato and I in the restaurant. The customer service was lacking and I didn’t feel welcome at all. The cashier was just standing at her post waiting for us with an impatient look on her face. It was odd and I definitely would not visit again. The souvenir shop workers were friendly though. No complaints there.

And it looks like we’re not the only one who had an unpleasant experience at the Big Apple.

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We reached Ottawa around 9 PM. The plan, as had been agreed upon, was that we would pick up Harry, pick up Shekhar, pick up Dooh from his work and then go to downtown Ottawa. But Harry is Harry and when we were 30 minutes away from his sister’s house, he called and informed us that he was currently in Montreal and will just meet us sometime tomorrow.

Feh… drove all the way from Toronto to Ottawa and he is now informing us that he is in Montreal and will probably be back tomorrow. I felt so stupid.. Dooh had traveled from Ottawa to Toronto just 9 days ago and Harry had done the same then, informed him at the last moment of his unavailability because of some “unavoidable circumstances” which turned out to be him preferring to avoid confrontation and do as told instead of honouring the commitments he had already made with non-relatives.

I understand that unexpected events can occur. Priorities, expectations, and responsibilities can shift which can potentially cause a change in plans. But to be pushed in the background and considered less important twice in a row definitely means something else. Harry would never say to your face that he doesn’t want to associate with you anymore. He would rather create circumstances where it would become self-evident that he doesn’t want to associate with you anymore.

Lunato tried to defend him again but Dooh and I are not new friends of Harry. We’ve known him for almost a decade now and maybe, just maybe, he is sick and tired of us and is trying to tell us indirectly. That would be his way.

I called Shekhar, informed him of the new situation, picked up Dooh from his work and then went to Dooh’s house to bitch about Harry until all of us fell asleep. Let’s see what tomorrow holds. Maybe Lunato and I will just drive back to Toronto in the afternoon.

2007 Events Ottawa

PSA Formal 2007

I’ve been taking care of the PSA website for about 3 years now. I barely know any members of the association now. When I was at Carleton I knew a few but almost all of those students have graduated and left. Occassionally the PSA president would contact me and ask me to post new event information on the website or some new pictures in the Gallery section. The website needs an overhaul badly. Carleton’s webserver doesn’t allow any dynamic pages so its all static HTML and it can be a pain to update every single page for any change in the layout.

In any case, I got to know many people by name only over the past few years. I would get their emails, I would see their pictures, I would talk to them on MSN. I names but didn’t know faces. I knew faces but didn’t know names.

The PSA organizes a PSA Formal Dinner anually and the president would invite me each year. I would apologize and say that I’m in Toronto and I doubt I’ll be visiting Ottawa anytime soon so thanks but I won’t be able to make it.

This year lunato and I just happened to be in Ottawa when the PSA Formal 2007 was held. I called Sana Q, the current president (actually I think she’s a co-president this year), and asked if she has extra tickets. She did. So, after skiing at Mont Cascades, we went back to dooh‘s place, washed up, and then went to 1135 March Road to attend the PSA Formal 2007. Taimoor and his wife didn’t want to attend so after dropping them we picked up Sumaira, shekhar’s co-worker, who lives close to the venue.

Lunato and I had never met Sumaira before. Amazingly enough, she had emailed me a few days ago asking where she can buy tickets for the PSA Formal. My email address is on the PSA website so she thought I would know details about ticket sales. I had replied to her saying that I’m in Toronto and I don’t know about ticket sales and that she should contact Sana. And now, a few days later, I was parked in her driveway waiting to pick her up so we could go to the PSA Formal together. Small world!!

I met Sana Q for the first time in person. She’s an excellent person. We’d been talking online for about 2 years now but hadn’t had a chance to meet. I had graduated from Carleton by the time she became invovled in PSA. I also saw a lot of other faces that I recognized but didn’t know the names of. It was a very well-organized event and all of us really enjoyed. I dubbed our table the “Informal Table” as everyone else was dressed up in fancy clothes with makeup and jewellery while we were in our jeans and coats :)

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We had fun. Lunato and I were pretty tired by 11PM since we had woken up at 3 AM, driven 550 km to Ottawa, then went skiing at Mont Cascades for 5 hours, and now this. We sneaked out and went to the closest gas station and bought Red Bull. That drink is really powerful. It woke us up instantly.. the 2nd or 3rd sip sends a jolt to your brain and *boom* you’re awake. I’ve had it a few times when working late but it was the first time lunato drank it and she was surprised at how well it works.

Overall, it was a very nice event. Good food, good music, good people. If we get a chance, we’ll try to visit next year as well. Hopefully by that time the PSA website will be more functional than it is now :)