Sunday, June 28, 2009

East Meets Western

Remember that documentary I participated in at the Calgary Stampede last year? Well, it's airing TONIGHT!

Entitled "East Meets Western", this documentary, produced by White Iron Pictures takes a look at the two seemingly disparate cultures of the Calgary Ismaili community and the events of the Stampede. It focuses on how volunteerism, commitment and mutual support links them and reveals the remarkable similarities between the two.

The complete press release has been making the Internet rounds. You can watch the trailer & sneak preview here.

The documentary will be airing on OMNI in Ontario, Alberta and B.C., in English and - get this! - in Hindi! You can watch me make my national TV debut when the doc premieres on Sunday, June 28th at 10pm on OMNI.2 in Ontario, 10pm local time on OMNI.1 in Calgary and Edmonton, and 8pm local time in Victoria and Vancouver, on OMNI.1.

That's all in English. The Hindi version premieres on OMNI.2 in Ontario on Sunday July 5th at 7pm.

I, unfortunately, don't get OMNI, so I will be counting on you to let me know how foolish I look and sound when I'm excited. I mean, come on! Country music, rides, TV production AND meeting new people? There's no way I'll come off as the smart, cultured person I truly am!

Hopefully I'll get my copy of the doc - and the gazillions of pictures that were taken during its production - at some point soon so you can laugh WITH me, not AT me.

So cancel all your plans, set your PVRs (or VCR if you still have one!) and watch "East Meets Western" on OMNI tonight!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Has it really been that long?

Once again, though I promised myself I would update my blog more regularly, I somehow managed to go without creating a new post for a whole month! This is despite adding it to my "TO DO" list on a regular basis.

Proof that sometimes, life happens.

The World Partnership Walk was a complete success by all standards: The on-stage entertainment was spectacular, from the MCs to the dancers and musical performances. We finally got our cake - to celebrate the 25th anniversary - and ate it too!

In terms of media, the Walk garnered lots of media attention. I did an in-studio LCN interview on the morning of the Walk, which attracted a reporter from Radio-Canada Première Chaîne, a reporter from Quartier Libre, an alternative publication from Université de Montréal, and a photographer from Le Devoir. We also had pre-Walk coverage from CPAM and CJAD. All in all, that's pretty good coverage, especially when compared to the previous years.

The turnout was exceptional too... Over 2,500 people attended the Walk in 2009, which is more than ever. By comparison, the 2008 Walk only drew 1,500 attendees. Montreal not only met its fundraising goal, it surpassed it by at least 60K! We raised over $200,000 on Walk Day.

After the Walk, I went on vacation to Kingston for about 10 days. Didn't spend much time in Kingston though. Instead, we went to Toronto for a few days, to Canada's Wonderland and the Toronto Metro Zoo. What fun times!! The rides were awesome, and the animals were adorable. Plus, I got to meet a few new cool people.

We also went canoeing on Gould Lake and had an island picnic, did a little roadtrip to the Sandbanks' Dunes Beach for a hot steamy day of sand, tan and splash... Here, we spent some time in the water tossing around the Frisbee and tiny little fish would approach us and bite our toes! It actually felt really nice... like a well deserved foot rub! But even better, when we were still for a while, a larger fish (possibly a steelhead trout?) came swimming around our legs. First one, then another, and another and all of a sudden, there were dozens! The best part, for me anyway, was this fish swimming up to me cautiously, then swimming through my legs, brushing my left leg a bit, then getting freaked out and hurrying through... then coming back alongside the other leg and brushing that one too!! It was absolutely awesome!

One of our other roadtrips took us to Carleton Place on the outskirts of Ottawa, where we had a delicious dinner with yet another fantastic couple. In fact, this trip was full of little excursions, new discoveries - both on the road and at our various destinations, and, most importantly, I got to meet lots of great new people. Yes, I would say I've made new friends :)

Back from Kingston and back to real life... I went straight to the World Partnership Walk Montreal post-mortem meeting, and then returned to my daily routine of translating, applying for various broadcast, new media, marketing or communications jobs.

Then this weekend, I attended the 2009 NHL Entry Draft in my hometown, Montreal. What a blast! I met some more great people - though not at length because of my back to back scheduling - and enjoyed the whole experience, overall. Of course, the night was a bit long at times, especially since the first few picks went exactly as expected and Montreal was only picking 18th. Lucky for me, I was able to meet up with some of the folks I traditionally work with at Bell Centre events and catch up on the past few months. That was definitely a thrill, as was meeting the Habs' first rounder pick, Louis Leblanc in front of the Sheraton Hotel later that night.

Did I mention the TweetUp? The organizers of the NHL Draft Tweet Up are exceptionally talented... Even though I didn't attend the second day of the event - gotta have a lazy day every now and then! - I've got nothing but praize and thanks to offer. Thanks to their great organizational skills, the NHL sponsored the event by offering 50 complimentary Draft tickets (valid for Friday and Saturday), which is how I ended up there in the first place!

In summary, it's been a pretty hectic month... especially when I got the news that I was GOING TO AFRICA!

That's right, folks! A the end of July, I will be taking a 17h flight to Nairobi, Kenya to participate in the Aga Khan Foundation Canada
Awareness trip. Basically, the Foundation selects certain people that they think could benefit from the experience of seeing AKFC-sponsored projects first-hand, obviously to help further the cause by acting as its ambassadors. I was chosen because of my involvement with the World Partnership Walk. And as you should know by now, 100% of the profits from the Walk go straight to these AKFC projects, which means that I'm paying my own way all the way. It'll set me back a cool $5,000 but given the cost of doing this kind of voyage on my own, there is absolutely no reason why I shouldn't participate in this programme.

We will be spending a few days in Nairobi and some in Mombassa, and the fact that we're travelling in groups and with local guides will help ensure our safety throughout the trip. I can't wait to see all these places for myself, experience the sometimes troubled culture of East Africa, and hang out close to where my mom's side of the family used to live. Plus, I'll probably get to see some pretty cool creatures in their natural environments. Overall, it'll be an excellent learning experience, no matter what I choose to do with the rest of my life. If anything, it'll help me better understand a different demographic of the world... and who can argue with the benefits of that?

Of course, I will take lots of great pictures and keep a journal so I won't forget to update you.

Stay tuned...