Annual Princess’s New Year’s Address – 2013

Thought I’d forgotten, hadn’t you? Delayed perhaps, but not forgotten.

It’s been an interesting year to say the least. Best thing I can say is that we didn’t lose anyone close in our family this year for the first time in years. We actually went from one Christmas to the next with the same number of people. My health took a turn for the worse last winter, but having resolved that, I’m still here. For that, I am truly thankful.

I’ve started in a role that I am extremely happy in, but I would just like to do more of it. But the move to Hamilton has certainly been a good one for me. It’s given me perspective and has introduced me to so many more people than I ever thought possible. I haven’t been doing much training over the last year in part because of the relocation, but I am optimistic that it will change in the coming year.

I’m going to keep the message short this year and simply say that I have many people and things to be thankful for this year and that the list is ever growing. To you all, I wish you health, wealth and happiness, wherever or in whomever you find it. Many thanks to each and everyone of you for making my life a better one by simply being a part of it.

Om Shanti.


My Mom’s Famous!

Just wanted to share that one of my favourite cakes from my mom’s repertoire was published today on this blog today. Everyone who knows her knows how great a cook and baker she is and for once, it’s nice to see her featured and not me. I know that I’m the one who put it out there to Carol, but I wanted to pay tribute to the woman who has kept me fed for years.

I remember once when I went to visit her at the recreation centre she worked at. By the time I arrived, all the cookies she had brought in that day had been consumed. One of the guys said, “Oh, sorry Shanta, there are no more cookies. Jealous?”. I simply replied, “I’ve had her cooking for the last 20 years or more and not just cookies. Now who’s jealous?”. And most people would agree that she is the best around. Love ya mom.

IKEA Commercial Brings Back Memories

Most of you have probably seen the following commercial done by IKEA, in which the kid is continually building a fort out of the couch and mom is continually taking it down. Take a look:

I wanted to share this because it reminds me of when my brother and I were younger living in Burlington. We had a family room that was magically transformed into a Sultan’s Oasis (took me moment to come up with something to describe it appropriately). In the commercial, the kid only uses the couch. My brother would construct a tent-like structure with blankets, pillows, couches, chairs and anything else he could find. It would take up the entire room and use every last pillow in the house. It would be constructed on a Friday evening and he and I would sleep there for both nights of the weekend. Takedown was on Sunday. I wanted to share this, well, because my brother is special and I love him for it. This commercial just brought back memories. I guess watching the new show “Touch” has also got me thinking about it. Just wanted to share.

I only wish I had pictures scanned for you, but I will attempt to do so and update the post thereafter. What commercial brings back memories for you?

Annual Princess’s New Year’s Address – 2012

As the Princess, it is my place to give you not the Christmas Address (such as the Queen of England does) but a New Year’s Message.

It has certainly not been the easiest year on record for me. I will not bore you with the details of the past, but instead, will share with you plans for the future. Many years ago, I told my cousins that I would never move to Hamilton. Well, let me say publicly, you were right. I completed my move and once the house is set up, I hope to have some people over for a proper open house, which has been lacking in the most recent years. I’m turning tragedy into opportunity by moving into the house my grandparents bought brand new 50 years ago. So, I’m calling it my new/old home. I’ve known it all my life. New year, new home, new city… new life.

This is a chance for me to reboot my life. I’m not so far away from my old life that I’m not going to have it any more, I just need a change of pace and expand my horizon a little bit.

If nothing else that life has taught me so far, it is to not take anything for granted. Don’t just wait around for something to happen, make it happen. No more procrastinating. This is the year I begin to live again.

I toast you all that are still part of my life and continue to support me on my journey, as I hope I have done in yours. May the new year be fruitful, auspicious and kind.

– Shanta

P.S. If you’re looking for my Bridget Jones post for the coming year, that will also come soon.

My Bucket List – Motorcycle Ride Out West

Me and my Uncle Garry when I lived in Burlington

Me and my Uncle Garry when I lived in Burlington

I’ve had a bucket list of sorts in my brain before, but have never really written it down.

Two weeks ago, my uncle passed away at the age of 56. He had just bought his first house six months ago from the estate of my Grandmother after she passed away in November of last year. He took his time figuring it out, but not too quickly either. Just the right amount of time.

Last Christmas, I brought him his first computer that he bought as a present to himself. In July, he had the internet hooked up and finally started enjoying using it. I had to pack it up last week to be taken from the house, because now it sits empty. He’d just got the internet two months ago.

One of the things he and his friend were discussing on the night before he died was the possibility of getting a couple of Harleys and doing a ride out west. He lived in Calgary for many years as part of a survey team, and I know he did enjoy it out there. I’ve always thought about getting my motorcycle licence, but never got around to it. Now I feel it is my duty to take that on for him. I’m not setting a deadline yet, but I’m going to do this ride as soon as I can.

There will be more on the list I’m sure, but this is a good start. Goodbye Uncle Garry.

What is the story behind your given name?

What is the story behind your given name?.

My first name “Shanta” is a Hindu name meaning “peaceful”. The more common name “Shanti” means “peace” and is more commonly heard in eastern chants such as “Om Shanti”.

When I was born, they said that I was so peaceful that they decided to give me the name of my paternal grandmother. It is truly an honour to have the same name as she.

She became bedridden shortly after my grandfather passed away. There she stayed for more than 12 years. Her hearing started going along with her eyesight. But she never complained. She would sit there day in and day out praying for the welfare of her children and grandchildren, like me.

I was fortunate enough to spend two months in India in her home and the last day I gave her, along with the other women of the household, including the servant, a dozen roses. I like to think that whenever she smelled roses, she would think of me. She passed away a few months later.

I can only hope that I will do her name justice and continue to bring peace.


Neeta and Sarika

Neeta and Sarika

From my cousin Meera:

“Dear Friends and Family,
Neeta, my unstoppable little sister who tenaciously conquered every obstacle in her path, finally chose to rest at 3:30 this morning. She wanted to fight against this infection, and she did as hard as she could, but it was so very difficult for her. Her heart failed just minutes after we brought Sarika to her who sweetly waved goodbye. Neeta is now at peace. Of course, this news deeply saddens us, but we are relieved that she is liberated from her suffering.

Neeta had many challenges in her life, with the onset of kidney failure when she was a toddler, her kidney transplant as a teenager, numerous illnesses from rejections, and lastly, cancer, chemotherapy, and infection. Despite all that she had undergone, she never let her ailments erode her compassionate, courageous and spunky spirit, right up to Saturday when she was sedated. Nor did she allow her illnesses to limit her experiences of life and her ability to touch other people’s lives. She walked to the beat of her own drum.

Her life was full. She was student council president in junior high and high school, and valedictorian. She was a style fashionista like any other urbanite, but also loved the outdoors and the environment. In her twenties, she hiked, camped, and cross-country skied in the Rockies, and lived in a teepee in the small village of Argenta in the interior of British Columbia when she was a tree planter. Neeta had a forestry degree from Lakehead University and worked as a conservation officer in northern Ontario. Most recently she worked for an NGO that certified sustainable forestry practices, and was starting her own business as a currency trader, to give her the flexibility to work from home. Her most favourite pastime was being a masi (aunt) to her niece Sarika, whom she loved the very most in this world.

Though Tim and I were not able to respond to all your emails of love and prayers, we shared them all with her and it pleased her. She relied on all your energies and appreciated all your support. When she was just a toddler, I remember sitting with my mom in the reception of Sick Kids Hospital, asking if Neeta was going to die. Doctors had told us then that she had only 6 months to live. Somehow our family was blessed with 30 more years and we are so thankful for that.

Thank you for all your love and support. Please, don’t just be saddened by this news, but celebrate with us the rich life that she lived.


UPDATE: I decided to update this the day after her birthday, 2012. She’s been gone for almost 3 years and she’s still with us. Here’s the tribute video done by Meera. Happy birthday Neeta. We still miss you.

Remembering a dear friend…again

Every year around this date, plus or minus a week, my dear friend Pierre always likes to throw a curve ball at me. Even though it seems that there is really nothing going on he always find something. He would have been 35 today. He died when he was 24, way before he should have and he has always been a constant reminder of why I’m alive and why we all should enjoy every single day that we have on this earth.

Yesterday was Saturday, August 22 and typically on Saturdays I’m at the dojo. I have now achieved my second degree black belt in Kobudo as well as the other disciplines, something I never thought I would ever achieve. Today I was assisting and an orange belt student on a particular kata and I was reminded of six years ago almost exactly to the day because it was six years ago today now being August 23 that I graded from my green belt in Kobudo, just as this gentleman is going to do next week and I found myself standing in the same place where Sensei stood that day and to watch me perform the same kata. That day, I froze and I recounted briefly the story to Sensei that I recall him going to his office in disappointment. I beat myself up on it for the next 45 minutes, then 15 minutes before the end of the class, he tapped on his window and gestured for me to do it again which I this time did without fail, so I think. When I was finished, I turned around and he simply turned to his desk. As I walked out of class, 15 minutes before the grading, I was presented with an invitation for 2:30. That was on August 23, 2003 that I achieved my green belts in Kobudo. I had recently taken up karate as well as tai chi. We had a blackout before which it’s very probably one of the most interesting relationships that I now have to date great nonetheless that certainly has kept my interest. That same year, I’d travelled to India and England twice and Hawaii.

Two years ago today I was on a plane heading for Hong Kong and spent the next five months there finding myself while having a heck of a time studying but I made it through. I was also reminded of that trip recently. A friend of mine has also begun her journey away from home for an extended period of time and though it seems daunting when you first get their you know you can make it through.

I’ve only had two regrets in my life. One of them was resolved recently so now I only have the one, which I will never repeat. I actually went out and found two have the people that I’ve lost touch with. One of them was the infamous one that got away. What happened to the one that got away? Well he seems very happy, probably with a life that I would not have given him or could not have given him. I guess it wasn’t meant to be. He was one of the regrets, but now I’m presented with an interesting opportunity: I haven’t talked to this person in more than 20 years and I’ve recently reconnected with them. It presents something interesting and hopefully it will continue to be so.

Pierre all due respect with a candle in your honour as I do every year and a drink to your health and help to celebrate your life. Funny enough this October 31 just as your sister did many years ago, my friends will be married and I will be one of the brides’ maids, 11 years to the day you’ve died I will celebrate their wedding. Another interesting year nonetheless. In your memory Pierre, I toast to you and play for you our song. Rest in peace, dear friend.