no more dosas

well its a sad story for women all around the world. the brown paper on the windows at madras pantry just another sign that the economy is hitting us where it hurts most.

if that kind of a foolproof business plan can flop, then what hope is there for BOBAMERICA?

they picked a great location for foot traffic: across the street from TBP, along that strip of queen where hipsterdom thrives and commoners come to look at the wayfarer clad playing in the park.

their product was a la mode and relevant. affordable ethnic food -for the open minded and travelled inhabitants of the neighbourhood- tightly wrapped in a gluten free (for all those masala loving skinny jeans wearers) crepe seems like a goldmine.

the delivery practice: chatty handsome men in aprons hand you melt in your mouth flavour explosion dosas at an affordable price.


the only flaw i can see is that their bathroom was pretty sick. but i have never heard of a place closing down for that alone.
besides isn't this owned by Hanif from nyood and kultura....? he clearly knows good food and what people want...

so is the message that people don't want handsome men handing them really good food in exchange for a reasonable amount of coin?

perhaps the real problem here is that hipsterdrom is dying. so says NOW (NOW Magazine // Life & Style // Cover Story // The end of the hipster)
and if that's the case, are people going to stop opening businesses in my neighbourhood staffed by good looking gents? .. cause if that is indeed the case, i am gonna start a revolution.


best kept secret in the produce department

i have never been a big apple person. when i feel snacky the last thing that comes to mind is to reach for a crunchy pomme. probably because i find they don't subdue pangs of hunger but rather awaken and enhance them.

but all of this has recently been turned on it's head.

it was when sitting in the kitchen at a cottage this fall when my companion bit into a honeycrisp and stopped. she looked at the fruit in her hand and exclaimed "that has to be one of the best apples i have had". and then bit in again.

no "this week" or "this season" qualifier for the compliment. simply "i have had".

of course i had one crazy!
and i agreed instantly. the sweet crunch and juicy flesh dissolved all previous conceptions or passive disinterest.
and the honeycrisp became the mascot of my fall 2009.

visits to the market in kensington doubled as my fruit intake increased exponentially.
it was on one such recent visit that i found out i am not alone.

a b-line to the back of the produce section where the source of my addiction is stocked, only to find that their regular bin was filled with a mound of measly cortlands left me spinning in shock.
confused i did a lap of the fruit aisle assuming that some new stockhand who had mistakenly switched the two kinds. but i ended up back where i started right in front of their usual compartment.

my disappointed gaze met with a man at the end of the aisle who asked what i was looking for.
"honeycrisp?" i replied.
his head tilted (much like the way a terriers does when you blow air on its nose) before he responded.
"so is she" he said, pointing across the aisle at a forlorn woman hopelessly scanning the bin labels for the words to fulfill her fix.

"what's with those apples?" he said to no one in particular. and before waiting for a response "well we are out. but we do have galas"

i felt like laughing. "no thanks" we said in unison before walking out - both empty handed.

my disappointment was sugar coated in the knowledge that i wasn't alone.
since then i have heard the praises of this almost twenty year old strain in grocery stores and markets across the city.

it was on the phone with a friend the other day, long after my addiction has been under control, that i heard the sound of teeth breaking that familiar skin.
i salivated recalling the taste on my tongue and interrupted with "what kind of apple is that? a honeycrisp?"
"a gala" she replied.
clearly it had been too long and i was losing touch with my senses.

i shrugged to myself before the silence was broken with her saying "but i wish it was a honeycrisp. i tell ya, those have to be the best apples i've had".

clearly it's unanimous.
way to go ontario.
you sure know apples.


you speak my gospel sister.

reading NOW this morning i stumbled across this piece by Tayna Grout (I Shop, therefore I am) and thought i would spread her wise words

essentially it's just a little pat on the back for those of us practicing non-responsible spending habits during this tough economic time. referring to us as
'fiscal firestarters' (read: fashionable and awesome women aged 20 to 40) she provides justification for our guilty habits and suggests that if we all just put on our shopping hats we can get outta this robot revolution together and essentially unscathed (or at the very least, well dressed).

i feel a particularly intimate connection when reading this bit about focusing on consumption in the form of material goods but moderation on consumption in food form:
"Impossible! Just when I’m about to eat carrot sticks, I mistakenly scarf down a couple of Krispy Kremes."
i know that mistake sister!

fortunately we have the fashionable bandaids for those kinds of slipups. bulky cable knit sweaters, mens plaid flannel work shirts and boyfriend jeans...

happy holidays $$$


how I came to be a décor refurbisher (garbage picker)

a few short months ago I moved into a new apartment. new neighbourhood, new roommate, new beginnings, etc. and in the spirit of all things new, i brought nothing from my previous existence and thus, didn’t have anything to furnish the place with. Literally nothing.

this new, materially barren existence was the enabler to what would be a life changing discovery of the treasures that line our streets one magical night a week, and the myriad of design opportunities that they hold.

as I lay on my air mattress, alongside the impossibly small suitcase that contained all of my worldly possessions (green snakeskin, a steal from the Lachute flea market - merci bien) night after night I imagined what furnishings would inevitably fill this new space and in turn transform my barren abode into my home.

after the predictable, fruitless trips to IKEA, EQ3, west elm, etc. two things became abundantly clear.

these trips were unnecessary as i discovered that i already had an IKEA catalogue at my disposal in my head.
and upon discussion with friends, i discovered that we, nay, everyone in the western world has an IKEA catalogue occupying some otherwise valuable space in their brain.

which can come in handy. like when you know that you need fish shaped ice cubes, or when playing pictionary and your partner starts drawing that familiar and simple easy chair (POANG obviously).
but outside of setting up your dorm or first apartment, when ease of construction and value are the purchase drivers, do you really want people to come into your home and be able to not only identify your furniture by name but also point out that your kitchen trolley was only $59? What a steal.

And 2.
most of the furniture in these stores (rant now includes the aforementioned) would fulfill my immediate furnishing needs but would make this new space my own. A reflection of me and my taste.

the furnishings all looked the same. Seemingly mocking the sterile and bland nature of the space I currently occupied - replicated in furniture form. Function but not my fashion.

although the design savy swedes clearly know what they are doing (proven by the ability to fit a complete kitchen into a few boxes and then turn any incapable partner into an accomplished carpenter in a short afternoon)i beg us all to consider the piles and piles of BILLY bookcases in landfills somewhere, before making the simple and mindless decision to fulfill your immediate needs with these mass produced, dime a dozen, templated pieces...
And instead consider keeping a closer eye on your neighbours on GBE (garbage day eve).

it was a fateful night on Palmerston Avenue when i put my two conclusions together. and the decision to create a sustainable furniture filled apartment was reached.

a huge old front door just laying there on the lawn.
my soon to be dining table begun busily constructing itself in my head. easy. saddle horse legs and this old front door providing the surface upon which friends and family could gather to break bread.

only problem, and something think about when contemplating the sidewalk shop, transport.
a PROUD zip car card holder, i rarely activate this luxury outside of desperation and instead rely on my treads for transit whenever possible.
but this was a particular conundrum. the large door was too awkward to fit in most cars, but solid wood and too heavy for any woman who doesn't professionally weightlift to carry. coincidentally, it was upon realization of my predicament, that my best guy friend's phone starting ringing...

it seems once this door was opened, the ideas flooded in. i started thinking of ways to use objects that i hadn't found and then going out looking for them.
today my walls are adorned with framed photos once left for dead on a curb found, collages of hotel coasters, and my newest addition, old REDHOT jars stuffed with branches. all thanks to a watchful eye on my neighbours.

now almost complete, this once echoing chamber has become my home. a place where my character is reflected in every room and where comrades and loved ones can come and relax and comment on the interesting furniture.


Hey the internet is making us dumb

I have sat down to write this out like ten times. But every time the blank page opens I have forgotten what it is I wanted to write about.

I know that the general idea is that the internet is making us dumb.

the oyster theory

so, i have a theory.
actually, it's not just mine.
my buddy phil also subscribes to, and is cofounder of, this theory. thus making it a School of Thought I suppose.

so, there is a school of thought, to which i subscribe whereby the whole idea of "the world being our oyster" is revised to be more relevant to myself and phil and peers of our "demographic" -young, educated and relatively healthy (and let me quantify that first adjective by saying that as "middle age" has now been claimed by the 60plus baby boomers, all generations below are rebranded accordingly, so i AM considered young.)

for those lucky enough to find themselves in this fortuitous position, the freedom to choose (everything from your life path to what you want for lunch) is entirely yours.
and if the choices we make are all steps in our search to find our part of the oyster, then simple logical deduction inevitably leads to the mantra of the School:

subscribe or don't, but either way: until you find your personal piece of the pearl package, enjoys some oysters and get frisky

enhancing conversational capabilities

If you haven't been making any new friends lately, you might be getting tired of what your current entourage has to say.

After years of sticking with the same crew, your interests and knowledge become a communal well. A meld of all your histories, memories and a peppering of the more resonant lessons ingested through some form of higher education or training.

There is something romantic about this melding experience. You will likely not be caught off guard by friends wine induced rants - political or otherwise - but you could just as easily have these conversations and debates in your head because, you are that familiar with the opinions and contents of your compatriots minds.

In this age of customization - where you can create your own cell phone plan and design your own jeans - can we customize our friends?

Being that the winter is coming and therefore that we wont be going outside as much to get a new batch of friends I think its time we explore options for making existing relationships more interesting.

So firstly, the big question is, what makes people interesting? And why do we run out of new things to talk about?

I often look back at the years of one off projects and independent studies and wonder where that information went.
For an entire weekend, a month or a semester, your whole life revolved around -insert completely random noun here - eg Jupiter.
Suddenly an astronaut. Fluent in the language of the solar system. Jupiter is the largest planet , 5th from the sun, and belongs to a subset of planets referred to as "Jovian" (the gas giant planets).
Then you handed in your report, gave your presentation, and immediately replaced that expertise with an equal or greater amount of information about the African snow leopard, muscular dystrophy, Fiji, or Che Guevera.

Later in life we seem to lose our enthusiasm for knowledge for the sake of it.
But its these very kinds of projects, and the substance and insight they provide that make some people more interesting than the rest.

So how can you broaden the scope of knowledge, and thus conversational capabilities, your current playmates represent to better resemble that of the crew you rolled with in elementary school? Well short of heading to your local PS and risking arrest when striking up conversation with tots at recess, you are going to have to force feed em content.

The way I look at it, this can be achieved passively or actively.

A more covert approach would be littering ones coffee table with books on an array of topics that you find interesting and want to know more about. Rather than read them yourself (as you are clearly too busy on the interwebs than to spend any time self-improving) the strategy is to leave them on the table - topics of highest interest at the top of the pile - and ensure that whenever a friend pops in, they are left waiting. I am confident curiosity will prevail. From down the hall the delicate sounds of pages flipping will signify the likelihood of new and shared conversational content for your rendezvous.

Although a seemingly passive approach, provided distractions like TV, blackberries or iphones( who on earth could read a book with an iphone within reach) are removed from the environment, this experiment will likely bear fruit in the form of periodic fact injections into your otherwise predictable repartee.

This will likely yield noticeable results faster than enduring the lengthy process of encouraging companions to go back to school or take up a hobby and then hoping that those experiences will translate into captivating conversation.

Alternatively, a more active strategy can be applied.

Start setting parameters and expectations and be vocal about it. A la “ I am going to need you to learn a little more about how airplanes work” or “what is it about yoko onos work that classifies it as art”. Explain specific objectives and expectations and ensure there is no doubling up - or you will just end up where you started.
These kinds of parameters are difficult to justify and some might say beyond reasonable expectation. So, if this doesn't alienate, you know two things right away. 1. you are a dick . and 2. your friends are already awesome so stop trying to change them.

No matter what strategy you apply, I think its fair to say that everybody wins. Your friends will be smarter and hopefully so will you. But if not, at least nobody loses. Except maybe you as you sit friendless and dumb.

Perhaps you should take stock of the quality of your personal contribution before implementing...


explaining garbage

I am beginning to worry about the things our kids are going to ask about some of the commonplace practices of our generation and blind acceptance of their impact on the future?

Looking at the clear lack of foresight and long term impact analysis in the way we behave, I bet there are going to be some pretty serious questions for which we may not have the answers.

As elementary curricula begin more actively engaging students in their carbon footprints and understanding the effects of their consumption on global warming and the environment.

- I think we should all get on the same page here.

Likely the most confusing practice these future generations will question about is our approach to waste.
Questions about garbage specifically will be one area that we are going to have a tough time explaining our way out of. Although the practice stems from before our time, we will inevitably have to answer how we actually bought into this concept. Because once you break it down, it is illogical.

I envision this conversation starting somewhere like:
K: Whats garbage?

And ending somewhere around:
K: So it all ends up in a big pile? But then it’s just there. Its not going anywhere… There is no away……

Eyes wide, mouth agape, this is where we need to insert our incredibly wise and excusable explanation for how we justify our unwavering faith in such a seemingly illogical practice.

Having had this discussion in my mind a few times now, there really is only one option when answering to this inquisition. this is of course ignoring the tempting and cowardly "we didn't know any better" because yes we knew that it would sit there forever and rot and pollute and shorten the lifespan of our planet. and we did it anyways.

I suppose the choice answer will come to me on the day of reckoning.

But until that, as I sit in mental purgatory I am repeating one thing to myself as I make purchase decisions.

There is no away.

What on earth we were we thinking?


my beef with pavement pedaling

the recent series of bike accidents both here in Toronto and across major canadian urban centres has re-sparked the perennial urban cyclist versus driver argument. and rightfully so.

the combination of ever-increasing transit fares and growing environmental consciousness has put more commuters and urban dwellers onto their two-wheeled wonders than ever before.
on top of that, the hipster culture has adopted the fixie* as an icon of their identity. unfortunately for others on the road, popular adoption of this mode of transport has drastically increased the number of amateurs out on the road wearing ray bans and insanely tight jeans.

that said, no matter if the number stays the same, doubles, or triples, the onus is on all of us. cyclists and alternate transiters alike, to ensure the streets are safe to travel.

undoubtedly, the majority of the tension in this debate resides between drivers of motor vehicles and those sur bicyclette.
whether it's rooted in flawed urban-planning and the structure of the streets themselves (street car tracks and undivided roadways) or simply the increased number of cyclists on the road, there is no denying that the majority of the action in this debate is between bikes and cars.

although i sympathize with both sides, i will leave the concerns of motorists, scooteratti and the TTC vs. urban cyclists to them to sort out.
but what about the other affected party? the ultimate victims of the growing concerns and perceived dangers of sharing the road.
the 4th (after auto, TTC, bike) fastest way to get around town.
(FYI the 5th being on your hands and knees)

what about the pedestrians?!

has anyone noticed how the sidewalks have been suffering since the media began fueling this anti-cycle fire like cookoo-bananas?
progressively, as the shoulder of the road becomes more densely populated with urban cyclists and headlines spread the horrors of sharing the road, more bikers are jumping the curb and taking to the pavement to get their piece. the pedestrian pavement.
not cool.
the deal with the sidewalk is pretty self explanatory. it's in the name.

sometimes a bikers search for a lock up spot demands a bisection of a sidewalk - fair. these situations are clear exemptions from whats really yanking my chain here.
let me be specific.
to the amateur cyclist who does not dismount and who is using the sidewalk as a roadway, i have beef with you.

this is not your territory. your presence on the pavement is dominating and unjustifiable.
you are restricted by the pace of pedestrian traffic and obstacles that already exist on the sidewalk (a la monstrous city garbage bins and streetcar shelters).
these restrictions completely impede your ability to travel at any form of pace that would acceptably warrant the use of a bike over simply walking.

and if there is any confusion about who should be where, the curb can clarify.
it clearly defines the territory designated for motor vehicle and wheeled traffic (wheelchairs exempted) and that of the pedestrian.

to be clear: the bike has been allotted that space nestled nicely between that right lane of traffic and this raised cement border.
pedestrians stay on the grey stuff.
that's it.

were it not for our lovely curbs, and our adherence to their direction, we would be stuck with thoroughfares of mayhem like in delhi where cars, buses, cabs, wagons, cyclists, pedestrians and cattle weave in and out of each others way at a frustrating pace and in an inevitably more dangerous fashion.

imagine pedestrians decided to take to the streets in the same fashion that the pavement pedaler has.
people walking at their own pace straight down the centre of university avenue from queens park to front. imagine. no really, imagine. it's pretty funny.

as a recreational cyclist myself, i must say that yes, i sympathize that the streets are overcrowded and difficult to traverse- especially during the gridlock our city suffers twice daily.
but we all have a choice.
and its short and sweet:
if you cant handle the heat my friends (or perhaps in this case, the exhaust) then lose the bike and walk.

*for those requiring clarification, the fixie is a fixed gear bike traditionally used by bike couriers to expedite their maneuvering through gridlock