Walking On Sunshine

3 Apr

During my travels, one thing I’ve most enjoyed is taking in the sunrise and sunset. There’s something calming yet powerful about watching the sun rise and set, watching this beacon of light appear and disappear as the days move in and out. Even waking up in bed and stretching as the first rays of sunshine shine through, illuminating everything or watching the sun go down after a long day, the sun is something special.

Below is a photo slideshow of some of my favourite sunrises and sunsets from my travels 🙂  Most of the photos featured are ones I have taken with my fancy schmancy Olympus E-PL1 Pen DSLR camera.

Enjoy!

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xoxo Avi

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A New Way of Seeing Things

1 Apr

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Eat, Pray, Love

1 Apr

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“In the end, I’ve come to believe in something I call “The Physics of the Quest.” A force in nature governed by laws as real as the laws of gravity. The rule of Quest Physics goes something like this: If you’re brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting, which can be anything from your house to bitter, old resentments, and set out on a truth-seeking journey, either externally or internally, and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher and if you are prepared, most of all, to face and forgive some very difficult realities about yourself, then the truth will not be withheld from you.”

Eat, Pray, Love

I remember seeing Eat, Pray, Love with my friend Carly a few months after it was released. I was taken with the movie when I first saw the trailer. Julia Roberts did a great job portraying Elizabeth Gilbert’s journey travelling around the world for a year in a quest to eat, pray and love. She finds herself eating in Italy, praying in India and finally, finding love in Bali, Indonesia. Soon after watching the movie, I read Elizabeth’s memoir, upon which the movie was based. Like any goodnatured reader/bookworm, I was curious to read the memoir after having seen the film. Like most film adaptions of books, I’ve found there is so much more detail that simply cannot be captured in the film adaptation and I enjoyed the book far more.

I was also curious to read what others thought of the memoir. While there was an overwhelming positive reaction to her story, some questioned her intentions, deeming her journey as artificial and her storytelling strong, but at times, cheesy. Others felt that she was too self-centered and caught up herself throughout the story. I admire Elizabeth for her ability to leave her husband, her job, and her life behind to go on a journey of self-discovery, something what she felt was right in that moment in her life.

As I find myself daydreaming of places I’d love to travel to, I thought I’d share my journey to Eat, Pray, Love. I wouldn’t say it’s complete by any means, if anything, it’s a journey that continues on.

Eat
I wouldn’t say I’m a self-professed foodie, though friends of mine would be quick to label me as such. Let’s just say that I have an appreciation for good food. I take care in putting together meals for myself, even something as simple as a plate of fruit, cheese and crackers. My friends used to joke with me in high school about me eating slow. I’d like to think I’ve improved over the years. I think getting caught up in conversation is one of the reasons I find myself sitting at a table, the last to finish.

If I had to pick a few places where I’ve experienced the “eat” part of Eat, Pray, Love, I’d have to go with Italy and Mexico. Italy taught me that wine for Italians is water (seriously, it’s cheaper than water and pop!), the term al dente (the ideal firmness of pasta), the magic of risotto rice (which simply melts in your mouth) and being around those who really appreciate food. Seven years ago, my mum, brother, aunt and my cousin Nikita and I ventured off on a two week tour of Italy where we had the chance to savour all sorts of dishes. Such a wide variety for vegetarians which was lovely! I can safely say that I had my fair share of food on that trip and truly savoured each and every bite of food and every sip of wine.

Mexico is another place ideal for vegetarians, the variety of dishes, the freshness of the food and again, the flavour and the spices make it one of those places ideal to experience eat. From burritos to fresh corn tortillas and nachos, salsa, fresh guacamole amongst many other dishes, Mexico has got to be on everyone’s list!

Dream destination: Thailand (Thai food is delicious!)

Pray
My family is Hindu and I learned quite a bit about our religion and culture growing up, from attending prayer services by family, to going to the temple, as well as going to my cousins’ weddings (ALWAYS a fun time!). I believe in a God, a higher being and I do pray, never out of an expectation for something to happen, but as a practice that has become part of my life. I’ve experience what it is to pray in all of my travels and have had the opportunity to take part in others’ religious ways of life, from attending church with my homestay family in Tanzania, to attending my first ever Passover Seder this year with my boyfriend Sean. Praying for me involves closing my eyes and thinking of the things I am grateful for, even sitting on the beach or doing yoga by the sunrise is powerful.

Dream destination: Like Elizabeth in Eat, Pray, Love, I would love to go to India to experience what it is to pray. Most people are surprised when they’ve found out that I have never been to India, the assumption is made that I’ve been to India because I’m Indian. I hope to visit there soon, there is so much I want to see and learn and experience. Another place I’d love to pray is in Tibet.

Love
As many of my closest friends know, I’m a bit of a hopeless romantic. Doesn’t mean I’m the kind of girl who is all over rom-coms, though I have my guilty pleasures 😉 I’ve had my fair share of crushes, most of them being “unrequited love” which I soon grew tired and frustrated of, wondering when I would meet someone, wishing and hoping like most girls. It took some time for me to accept that love wasn’t going to just appear in my life and that I needed to be adventurous and really get out there. After having chased a few boys (not away, mind you haha), I decided that I wasn’t going to worry and that love would happen for me when the time was right. There have been a lot of changes in my life, I’ve had to grow up quickly and take on responsibilities, my academic and career path has changed drastically and throughout it all, I’ve felt lost at times. I’d also wondered what it’d be like to find that special someone that I could share my hopes, dreams, thoughts, life, myself with.

This year, there was “coffee boy” whom some of my friends know about. The guy I met at a party the weekend before I started classes at Sheridan, the one with whom I exchanged numbers and the one who never texted me back after making plans for a coffee date. Silly boy.

Then, the most unexpected thing happened this year. I met someone who took an interest in me first, something new to me. We started out as roommmates (after I moved into a house here in Oakville) and friends, then friendship grew into more and now, five months later, I’m so happy to have found someone like my roommate and boyfriend Sean. We clicked instantly and while I was hesitant at first (having been hurt in the past) and experienced the usual feeling of denial, I decided to take a crazy chance and just go with it. Five months later, I am so glad I did. What’s funny is that I didn’t even travel that far to experience love, only to another city!

There’s something special, from how it happened, to who we are as people and it happened at the right point in my life. At a point where I now have a better sense of what it is I want to do in life, where I feel like for once, my life is on course. So I can say with full confidence that I’ve been able to experience love this year and it is something magical and all sorts of wonderful.

Dream destination: If I had to pick somewhere to spend with someone I love, my answer would be anywhere. Reason being that I think you can be be anywhere with someone and never lose that feeling. But really, if I were to pick somewhere to really appreciate the love I have, to be able to enjoy my travels, I’d pick Italy, Paris (a bit cliche, I know), somewhere in South America, perhaps crossing something off my bucket list like ziplining in the rainforests and somewhere with a beach, where I can enjoy the sun and sand, the sweetness of the sunrise and the silence, the solace (I’m having too much fun with alliteration here) in being with that special someone.

Now let me ask all of you: where would you love to “eat, pray and love”?? Let me know by commenting below!

xoxo Avi

More Packing Tips and Tricks

28 Mar

Following my video podcast which highlighted some essential tips and tricks on packing for a trip abroad, I wanted to share some more advice along with some things to consider. It’s funny, when I was putting my podcast together, I’d come up with at least seven tips. After I began filming my podcast though, I soon realized I’d have to cut down that number to fit my timeframe! These are the ones that didn’t make the cut, but which I felt were worth sharing to accompany the podcast 🙂

BRING ALONG AN EXTRA PAIR OF CLOTHES IN YOUR OVERNIGHT BAG
I’ve been in situations where my suitcases have gotten lost and I’ve had to wait a few days for them to arrive or my flight has been delayed. It’s always handy to have a change of clothes and be able to freshen yourself up. It’s great to have a change of clothes if you’re going somewhere tropical, that way you can change on the plane and when you land, be ready to soak up the sun and enter tropical paradise 🙂

ALWAYS HAVE COPIES OF IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS
Always have copies of important documents in each of your suitcases as well as your carry-on bag, in case your suitcases or carry on get lost. I suggest putting these in large yellow manila envelopes and storing them in a side compartment inside your suitcase. Also, keep important information on an index card, such as your flight number, passport number and destination information for easy access

I also recommend keeping a pen handy for filling out important documentation upon landing. It’ll save you the trouble of searching for a pen buried in your overnight bag!

BRING A WATER BOTTLE ALONG!
Food and drinks at the airport are already expensive enough, so why fork out $4 over a bottle of water when you can save that for souvenier shopping?? What I tend to do is bring an empty waterbottle along and once I’m through security, I fill it up at one of the water fountains at the boarding gate. A great way to save money and support the environment. Make sure you’ve emptied out all the water of your water bottle. I remember going through security for my flight back home from the UK (after a semester abroad) and they pulled me aside and searched my backpack…turns out my water bottle still had a few drops left, which somehow alerted them to something amiss haha.

PACK PLASTIC BAGS
I’m so glad that for the most part, our society has a whole has embraced the “bag free” way of shopping. I’m sure many of us have a few plastic bags lying around though. Plastic bags are great to have when travelling for garbage, dirty clothes and shoes and even bottles that end up leaking, despite your best efforts.

MAKE SURE YOU HAVE EXTRA SUITCASE LOCKS
No matter how much you try and protect what you’ve packed in your suitcase, you might find yourself pulling your suitcase from the luggage carousel and, after doublechecking that it’s definitely yours (haha), wondering how on earth your suitcase lock disappeared. Something that’s bound to happen which is why I highly suggest having another combo lock in the front pocket of your suitcase, just in case yours mysteriously disappears…

I hope these tips and tricks, along with those featured in my video podcast help you when you’re getting ready for a trip abroad!

xoxo Avi

My First Ever Video Podcast

18 Mar

Hey everyone! It’s been a while since I’ve written here. It was a busy weekend, working away and showing off my barista skills at work, but my boyfriend Sean can attest to the fact that travel was on my mind. What I wouldn’t give to be on a beach in some tropical paradise or on a wild adventure crossing something off of my bucket list. But I digress!

In my Social Media and Tech class, we learned how to create a video podcast using iMovie. I chose to do mine on Windows Live Movie Maker, more out of familiarity of the program and knowing how similar it is to iMovie. I have quite a bit of experience with filming and editing videos together, especially for the I Heart Hamilton Tour when my friends and I would check out local musicians at hot spots such as The Casbah and This Ain’t Hollywood. That said, I couldn’t wait to put this video together.

I wanted mine to tie in with what this blog is all about: travel! After much thought, I chose to go with essential tips and tricks on packing for a trip abroad. I give a lot of credit to my mom who has taught me some neat ways to pack and be organized. I take after her in making lists and checking and doublechecking, amongst other things. I’m sure she remembers my first trip “on my own” (i.e. without parents) in Grade 8, when I went to Quebec for a week with some of my classmates. I had this small blue suitcase and I remember sitting with her the night before, packing everything and checking and double checking.

I’ve learned so much during my travels, not just overseas but here at home. I hope these tips and tricks will help you on your next sojourn abroad! A huge thanks to Sean for helping me film and helping me shake off my nerves on camera. We had fun filming it and I’m in the process of putting together a blooper reel filled with lots of laughs 🙂

Enjoy!

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The Beauty of Places

14 Mar

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Wise Words

8 Mar

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Twiga in Tanzania

5 Mar

It’s Tuesday morning as I write this; I find myself daydreaming as I often do and I find myself taken back to Tanzania.  I’d been contemplating what to feature on this blog next, seeing as it’s been a few weeks since I’ve written! Knowing how most people usually need a little something to pick themselves on a day like today, being the middle of the week and all, and get geared up for the rest of the week, I thought I’d share a short video I took last year when I was in Tanzania.

One Sunday afternoon, my friend, roomie and fellow YCI Volunteer Nicole and I and our friends Danielle and Alison went on a safari at Arusha National Park. The four of us had a blast, from spotting tourists (who stood out in their safari hats- a big no no if you’re trying to be inconspicuous) to encountering some fun animals along the way, including our faves of the day, twigas! That’s Swahili for giraffes.

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One of the highlights of the safari was sitting in the safari jeep, watching the twiga roam around. What was even funnier was when we witnessed the twiga sitting down. Boy oh boy was it a sight to see! As you can imagine, it’s quite awkward for a giraffe to sit down and to watch the process was funny, yet brought so much appreciation to the care taken in doing something as simple as sitting down on the ground.

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Probably my favourite animal during the safari, these yellow, brown spotted twiga were graceful and possessed this sense of power in their silence. There were moments where we’d spot two giraffes swooping their necks around one another which we learned was their way of fighting. I loved watching the giraffes move together in groups, the young giraffes following along and seeing them move together as a unit, as a family. Easy to spot on safari, the twiga were a highlight of the safari and of my time at Arusha National Park.

Enjoy!
xoxo Avi

Welcome!

8 Feb

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Hey everyone! Welcome to my new blog, Around The World with Avi, which I’ve created for my Social Media class at Sheridan College. I’m currently in my second semester in the Corporate Communications postgraduate certificate program and am learning all the tricks of the trade to get out there and truly embrace what it’s like to be a PR Maven.

I’ll admit, I’ve lost my desire to blog over the past few months. I created this blog over two weeks ago and have yet to write until now. That and I’ve been incredibly busy, juggling school, work, internship hunting and, of course, my social life! I hope that this blog will help me rediscover my love for sharing stories, from life experiences and lessons and insights into my travels abroad and tips for those considering travelling overseas for leisure or volunteering. The volunteering abroad territory is a very interesting one, one that I think lends itself to certain perceptions and misconceptions, hence the term “voluntourism.”

I was hesitant to even have a blog devoted to my travels abroad, as to not come off as someone who wants to brag and show off all the places they’ve travelled. If anything, I am so grateful and fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel to all the places I have, whether it be family holidays or volunteer projects. My most recent travels are ones I have worked very hard for and they’ve made a huge impact on my life.

Enough of the serious talk! Around the World with Avi is all about my travels, not just overseas but here in Canada. As you can see at the top, there are different tabs, some of which my posts will be categorized under (you’ll also be able to find these on the right hand side):

Where I’ve Been- Places I’ve travelled to.

Where I’d Like To Go-
Places I’d like to go.

A Million Sounds– This is where you’ll find all music related posts.  I’m lucky to have been exposed to such a diverse mix of music and I look forward to sharing it with whoever reads this.

A Thousand Smiles– Photographs take centre stage here, the majority of which will be my own. Photography has always been a hobby of mine and I’m looking to delve into it further. You’ll find photos from everyday life and especially from my travels around the world.

Something worth noting: A Million Sounds, A Thousand Smiles is actually the name of a song by DJ Eco and the inspiration behind the aforementioned sections of this blog. I think it’s only fitting because day in and day out, we end up hearing a million sounds and seeing a thousand smiles.

Avi’s Bucket List- This is my bucket list of things I’ve crossed off over the years and things I’d love to try in the years to come.

I’m looking forward to writing this blog and sharing my experiences with you! Be sure to check out my fellow Corporate Communications classmates’ blogs under the Blogroll 🙂

xoxo Avishka