Posts tagged with "interesting people"

UK Detour: Day 10, Chartres to London

On my last day in Rochefort-en-Terre, I receive an e‑mail ask­ing for sup­port for my Wu Wei theme. This isn’t uncom­mon; ear­li­er this year, Wu Wei was cho­sen to be part of the offi­cial repos­i­to­ry, and I’ve been flood­ed with such e‑mails since. What stood out about this one, from a Michael Harvey, was the fact that he was in London, read from my blog that I was in France, and offered to show me around if I hap­pened to be stop­ping by.

I told him it’d be love­ly if I could go, but I’ve no place to stay, as I’d only planned on going to France. On a whim of his own, he offers to let me stay with him, and tells me I’d feel at home as they have two cats.

For a while I turn this idea over in my head, as there’s most cer­tain­ly a risk involved in liv­ing with some­one you’ve nev­er met, least of all whether or not you’d even get along. Eventually, I decide that I could­n’t give up on the chance to see more of Europe. Fate opened a door, and I only had to step through. I could­n’t say no.

And so, armed with a tick­et for the EuroStar and a box of assort­ed mac­a­roons (one of the spe­cial­ties in Chartres) for my new host, I set off for London.

Chartres train station

In Chartres, wait­ing for the train to Paris — Gare Montparnasse.

Continue read­ing “UK Detour: Day 10, Chartres to London”…

Meeting Sikander and Lunato

I’ve known Sikander for a few years now, but the extent of our inter­ac­tion only hap­pened online. We knew each oth­er through the Ottawa blog­ging com­mu­ni­ty, but at this point, nei­ther of us can remem­ber who found who first.

Now he lives in Toronto with Lunato, which I did­n’t know was­n’t her real name, and whom is now his wife (I think they were just room­mates when Sikander and I first start­ed talk­ing). I’d see lit­tle glimpses of their lives through their pic­tures, along with their per­pet­u­al smiles, kawaii details, and mot­ley assort­ment of friends. It was inter­est­ing to see how two peo­ple from dif­fer­ent cul­tures could get along so well; as Sikander said to me, he used to be a good Muslim boy before he met her.

Sikander and Lunato

Coolest cou­ple ever.

They hap­pened to be in town for a wed­ding, and it was the per­fect chance to final­ly meet in per­son. We set­tled on some gela­to over which to talk; I always mar­vel at how small the cup sizes look, and then how full I am after a medi­um.

Love by Oka


We’d send music back and forth over the years, though usu­al­ly it usu­al­ly stays in the ambi­ent, elec­tron­ic genre between us. Funny sto­ry: Lunato told me she liked my video of Hong Kong mar­kets, and it was actu­al­ly Sikander who gave me that music from the Code 49 sound­track (which I slowed down about 50%). He said it sound­ed famil­iar but nev­er real­ized where it came from.

Before part­ing ways, Sikander gave me an album by Oka, an Australian elec­tron­ic reggae/dub out­fit. He once saw them per­form at a busker fes­ti­val in Toronto (though they’re not buskers), and it was the first hard-copy piece of music we shared. A music rec­om­men­da­tion is always gift, and an actu­al phys­i­cal album feels all the more spe­cial.


Eating Coke can­dy for break­fast this morn­ing may not have been the great­est idea, but I think the virtue of hav­ing some­thing to chew (and decid­ed­ly yum­my, at that) was the only thing keep­ing me awake after film­ing two wed­dings in two days, and hence alive after my dri­ve back to Ottawa on only a few hours of sleep.

Sheer force of will kept me going through the week­end, though I’m sure that remem­ber­ing to stay hydrat­ed helped too. I want­ed so bad­ly to pull it all off, just to know I could do it. At one point, dur­ing a gap of time when the wed­ding par­ty was tak­ing a break, I went to my car, put the seat back, cov­ered my eyes, and passed out for about 25 min­utes. Normally, I can’t sleep except in the most com­fort­able of con­di­tions, but such was the extent of my exhaus­tion.

Beginning the sec­ond wed­ding was the most men­tal­ly chal­leng­ing part, know­ing I had anoth­er 14 hour day ahead of me when I bare­ly got any sleep and my body was start­ing to feel the sore from run­ning around with so much cam­era gear strapped to me the pre­vi­ous day.

Me and Mike


I was lucky enough to meet Mike, an assis­tant pho­tog­ra­ph­er and cute Italian guy who car­ries this casu­al atti­tude about him that lets peo­ple bring their guard down around him. I’ve need­ed to meet some­one like him for so long, just to remem­ber the world isn’t all tragedy and cyn­i­cism. I also got to see Preston, and even though I nev­er had a chance to catch up with him, it was good to know he was doing alright.

The final tally for the last two days and nights:

Hours slept: 11
Hours spent film­ing: 30.5
Number of movie clips tak­en: 939
Gigs of footage tak­en: 116.93
Number of pounds of cam­era gear car­ried on each day: 19.5
Kilometres dri­ven: 1376.13
Courses eat­en at recep­tion din­ners: 15
Red pock­ets received: 1
Cousins seen: 6
Names for­got­ten: 3
Kitties pet­ted: 1
Hugs given/received: 7
Canon 70–200mm lens­es seen: 5
Cantonese words spo­ken: 29
Years since I last saw Preston: 8
Chocolate cov­ered espres­so beans eat­en: 10
Chocolate cov­ered straw­ber­ries eat­en: not near­ly enough
Ukuleles strummed: 1
Words exchanged with dad: 34
Kisses from aunts: 1
Number of bite marks on fore­arm from try­ing to stay awake dur­ing dri­ve home: 4
Painkillers tak­en: 3

My cousin Chris

I’ve only shared about two con­ver­sa­tions in my life with Chris — the last of which was about sev­en years ago — owing to the fact that we live on oppo­site coasts of the coun­try. But Darren and I rec­og­nized him as one of us: some­one who thinks for him­self and does­n’t buy into the whole Chinese cul­ture unques­tion­ing­ly. This is in con­trast to many of our oth­er cousins, who seem to love their par­ents sim­ply because they were birthed by them, not nec­es­sar­i­ly because their par­ents are good peo­ple.

Chris hap­pened to be pass­ing by for a wed­ding, so I host­ed him for two days. It was inter­est­ing to meet him at this point in our lives. I won­der if I’m actu­al­ly more sim­i­lar to Chris than I am to Darren, main­ly because of how our cre­ativ­i­ty defines us. It was so easy for me to relate and talk to him. And as with Darren, I actu­al­ly felt like Chris was fam­i­ly, clos­er to a broth­er than a cousin, which is all too rare among my blood.

As an indus­tri­al design­er he does amaz­ing draw­ings, full of vibrant colours that pop-off the page. I asked him to draw some­thing on my dry erase board because draw­ing is a cre­ative abil­i­ty not in my pos­ses­sion, and I find the process fas­ci­nat­ing. It was a logis­ti­cal chal­lenge because he would smear his exist­ing work every time he rest­ed his hand on the board for sta­bil­i­ty.

He’s my exact oppo­site when it comes to health. He’s a veg­an, while I’d find it impos­si­ble to give up meat, let alone but­ter and ice cream. He just lit­er­al­ly biked 100km a day across Canada, while my lifestyle could be con­sid­ered seden­tary at best, with only Tai Chi and some mild cal­is­then­ics in my exer­cise rou­tine. And yet we’re the same weight and shape. It’s sort of eerie to see him draw­ing in this video; aside from a short­er hair­cut, it’s almost like I’m watch­ing myself.

The time he spent here passed quick­ly, as I intro­duced him to the ukulele. Aside from catch­ing up and learn­ing about each oth­er, most of the two days were spent exper­i­ment­ing and play­ing togeth­er. Eventually, we went to a music store and bought him his own Mahalo ukulele, which filled my heart with glee. Darren and Jeff are com­ing up for a vis­it next week, and hope­ful­ly Chris will be able to hitch a ride with them for our ukulele band before we all head back to Toronto for Crystal’s wed­ding.

second show

I was sup­posed to hang out with Jesse last week­end. We were going to jam and talk and throw around ideas, and I was real­ly look­ing for­ward to it because we always seem to be doing some­thing when we’re togeth­er instead of just chill­in.

See, it’s right here on his sched­ule, between Floors and Dinner.

Jesse's schedule

Unfortunately, I devel­oped my annu­al case of strep throat that day and had to stay away from every­one.

Then, on Friday as I was going back through our e‑mail cor­re­spon­dence, I real­ized that Jesse invit­ing me to play ukulele meant play­ing a house par­ty on Saturday. We met up about two hours before we were on and had a very quick rehearsal to work out some parts with­out Nic being able to back us up, as well as extra bits and pieces of songs I fig­ured out over the week. Being so rushed was prob­a­bly a good thing; it kept my mind off the ner­vous­ness.

Turns out it was an out­door gig play­ing to a group of hip­sters at a bar­be­cue, and we were open­ing. It did­n’t go ter­ri­bly well. At one point in the mid­dle of Write Protected I screwed up the strum­ming so bad­ly that we had to stop the song and restart, but we quick­ly picked up on a count of four and went on with­out anoth­er hitch. Jesse remarked that it was good prac­tice for next time, because prob­lems come up that you nev­er think of when you’re in a new envi­ron­ment.

This time it was a tun­ing peg that some­how got knocked in the mid­dle of the set. I only dis­cov­ered this once the song had start­ed — and I was the only one play­ing so I could­n’t stop. It must have been off by an entire semi-tone cause it total­ly messed up my sens­es and I had a hard time telling if I was even play­ing the right chords. It was also night by the time our set end­ed, and I had a hard time see­ing the frets, which only added to the con­fu­sion.

Note to self: strum once to before each song to make sure the instru­ment is in tune.

I did, how­ev­er, learn from the last show to bring a side-table to use as a step­ping stool. Usually, I sit when prac­tic­ing, but at the 160 Workshops show I had to stand; not being used to the pos­ture meant I was con­stant­ly adjust­ing the uke in the arm between vers­es and com­ing in late in the bar as a result. I brought a lit­tle Ikea side-table this time, and it worked real­ly well.

Even with all the glitch­es, as rushed and under-rehearsed as we were, it was a fan­tas­tic time and a great expe­ri­ence.

The next set was in the base­ment, with a girl and guy look­ing like they were kids dressed up and pre­tend­ing to be Ziggy Stardust, singing to gener­ic elec­tron­i­ca. And peo­ple were lov­ing it in their slow-nod­ding, hip­ster kind of way, although the weed and booze may have helped (Audra would lat­er remark to me that it was hard to tell how into it peo­ple were cause of how cool every­one was try­ing to act).

I also missed see­ing a very drunk Tina cor­ner Jesse. I could total­ly see this being her scene.

Pizza with girls

Check out Audra sport­ing her styl­ish Hurley cap.

Jesse was being inter­viewed lat­er that night and also want­ed to stay to see Matt play, so the girls and I head­ed to grab a bite to eat. Audra bought us all piz­za and drinks at a near­by pizze­ria, which had the BEST CRUST I’ve ever tast­ed.

Before the end of the night, in a good mood and feel­ing safe, I admit­ted to Em my crush on her boyfriend. She took it well.