Do better!

Honestly – “do better” is a refrain that has been running through my thoughts on repeat.

Yesterday, I was asked to justify whether the term genocide was appropriate for the treatment of aboriginal women.  Instead of focusing on the appropriateness of the term – DO BETTER BY THESE WOMEN!  They are targets of violence, in a systemic cycle where they do not have access to proper education, drinking water or a system that wants to see them succeed  – DO BETTER!

Yesterday, the Law Society on Ontario was under some attack for scheduling the Bar Admission Course during EID and their response was that the students could write the exam at other times in the year.  Most law firms require their incoming articling students to have written and completed their exams before starting articles.  The other times in the year do not accommodate this requirement.  The Law Society is supposed to be mindful of all of its members and students and not provide a trite response.  DO BETTER!

We are in an age where cut backs to education and healthcare are seen as the only options.  How do we expect to be a society that has a future of successful contributing citizens when we are not willing to invest in these key issues?  I can only see my family doctor about one issue at a time.  If I elect to go to a walk in clinic in an emergency, there is a possibility I could lose my family doctor.  My kids are destined to be in an overcrowded classroom where their needs and development will be ignored for the greater mass.  DO BETTER!

We live in an age where immigration and immigrants are a target of hate and taunts to go back to their homeland.  Have we forgotten that we do not have a population large enough to support our economy and need the immigrants, especially since we are cutting back on education and therefore, require the skilled work force from abroad?  The right wing uprising is a direct reaction to this fear mongering.  In Denmark, immigrants are forced to give up their jewelry to fund their health care and treatment – is that what we have become?  Where is our compassion?  Illegal immigrant children in the US are separated from their parents – I cannot imagine – and are living in camps where now their education is being cut – DO BETTER!

I honestly am scared right now for the future of my kids.  It is 2019 and in my profession, I am referred to as a “racialized licensee” a term that is more of a throwback to the 1960s than a reflection of our current times.  Male colleagues now in the upswing of the ME TOO movement, are extra careful in their dealings with female colleagues and instead, there is more division as opposed to inclusion.  I receive looks of hate just for my skin colour and appearance.  Whatever progress we made, is eroding and I worry about what the new world will look like.

But that’s just one Diva’s view……

French fries – my comfort food

I have to come to realize that french fries are my ultimate comfort food and have been for some time.  There is truly nothing like a great french fry!  It is satisfying on all levels.  They are the perfect accompaniment but are a meal all on their own also. The hot crispiness on the outside and the warm good goodness on the inside – the perfect combination!

I recently was in London for work and I stumbled across this Mexican restaurant called Dos Tacos.  Now, I love a great taco, so I put in my order for 2 carne asada tacos to start!  However, the hostess misunderstood me.  So when they were assembling my order, the cook asked whether I wanted cheese on  my fries and I was pleasantly surprised that it came with fries, so I answered yes.  He then started asking about other toppings and we realized that he was assembling carne asada fries – not tacos.  Deciding to go with the flow, he covered my fries with steak, salsa, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, sour cream, guacamole and presented it to me.  That order of fries was phenomenal!  I took it back to my hotel room and could not stop eating them!  Every bite was delicious.  And it was not just the toppings.  The fries were fresh and home made and that made a world of difference!

Have you had the garlic fries at Earl’s?  They come with a garlic aioli dipping sauce and there are pieces of garlic in the fries – they are glorious.  I have cravings for them all the time.

And the sweet potato fries at Baton Rouge – DELICIOUS!

Now – my other go to has become the butter chicken fries at New York Fries.  Who knew that butter chicken covering fries and cheese curds could taste so amazing!  They are great as a lunch meal and provide a comfort that I enjoy to every last bite!

Where did my love of fries come from?  The source of all cooking – my mom!  She used to make home made french fries  – plates of them, as a snack and all you would need was ketchup and let the games begin.  They were best hot out of the frying pan.

Being Trinidadian, another variation of these fries were to serve them as an accompaniment to a tin of salmon mixed with salt, pepper, onion and lemon juice, hot fresh rice and fresh hot french fries on the side.  Any person from the Caribbean will tell you that this is a great comfort food.  I miss those fries.  My mom had the touch when making those fries!  One of my biggest regrets is that I enjoyed my mom’s food, taking for granted she would always be here to teach me her recipes and she is no longer here.  I try to recreate her recipes for my kids, but find that something is always missing…..That will be my ongoing challenge for myself.

Funny how some childhood likes, we grow out of, but french fries have been constant for me.  They have always provided comfort and they always remind me that my mom set the bar high for the fries, and that nothing less than fresh, hot and homemade, will be accepted.

But that’s just one Diva’s view.



Everyday happiness for “me”

We should not be waiting for one big moment of happiness. It’s the little happy things we experience every day that bring real joy!

What gives you daily joy?  Is it your daily cup of coffee?  Is it your early morning workout?  Is it walking through the door to be greeted by loved ones? Is it sitting at your desk and starting off your day?

We all have certain parts of our day, which provide a moment of joy for us, and which never gets old and continues to nurture.  For me, cuddling and spending time with my kids in the morning gives me peace.  Kissing my husband good bye before he leaves to go out and telling him I love him, gives me joy.  Listening to great music in my car and pretending that I am on stage, singing along, gives me happiness.  Reading a few pages or chapters everyday of a good book nourishes me.  All of these are a vital part of my day.  When these key things are missed, my day is thrown off.  I feel like I am not complete and even though I know that are other variables on a daily basis on an intellectual level, on an emotional level, it bothers me when my joys are not present.

I am a Taurus – and we like the everyday and no surprises.  I have no problem with routine and like following the same routine, as long as I have my moments of joy.

With the weather warming up, I am looking forward to my other joy – going for walks.  Don’t get me wrong – I’ll walk in the winter, but the joy I get from a walk in the spring, summer and early fall, cannot compare.  I always try to incorporate a nice long walk into my lunch time or my days off because it just makes me feel better.

I get that from my dad.  He used to go for walks almost everyday in his later years and when I was younger, always on the week-end.  He would often let me join him on the week-ends, but was clear in saying that he was not going to slow down his pace for me.  So, I would be nearly running to keep up, but I really enjoyed those walks.  It was my one on one time with my dad and we talked about everything and anything.  He never catered the conversation to my age.  He made it age appropriate but he always ensured that we had intelligent conversations, which gave me confidence to always articulate my point of view, a trait that has carried forward in my career in law.

As I grew older, that fast pace in walking stayed with me and friends would often tease me about it but that never slowed me down.  And in fact, it contributed to my solo walks.   I think quality time by yourself is important to mental health.

I remember the last walk I went on with my dad – we were downtown and we were looking at apartments for me.  We had an appointment and were running behind but given our quick pace, I knew we would make it.  However, since I had been away at university and law school, it had been a while since I had gone on a walk with my dad and I was surprised when he asked me to slow down, so that he could keep up.  In that instance, I realized that my father had gotten older without me realizing it.  It made me sad.  We made it to the appointment, but I slowed my pace, as I am sure my dad had done on our walks together – the circle of life.

It was the last time I would go on a walk with my dad.

But my love of walking and the peace it gives me was a gift given by my dad, that continues today.  Even when we are away on vacation, I always go for a long walk on the beach and just take in the moment.  The joy of walking remains vital to me, and is a part of my everyday happiness.  Thanks dad!  These are the joys that sustain me!



The lost of art of shovelling

In the last month, here in the outskirts of Toronto, we have really been getting hit with winter, in all of its forms.  Snow, freezing rain, ice storms, freezing cold temperatures – you name it, we have been enduring it.  We live on a residential street in the suburbs, surrounded by other families.  We are actually quite lucky to have great neighbours and we have been having a block party every summer, to celebrate our neighbourhood.

While out shovelling and clearing off the cars, expect to see other neighbours doing the same and everyone engaging in polite banter.  Very Norman Rockwell….except for this.

If you were to pull up a Norman Rockwell painting about shovelling, I am certain the painting would be full of teenagers clearing the snow and engaging in a snowball fight, or something along those lines.

Not on our street.  Our neighbourhood is full of teenage kids, and after a snow fall, you never see them outside clearing the snow – the parents are doing it.  It boggles the mind!  What happened?  Isn’t this a chore designed for teenagers?

I have always loved clearing the snow.  Growing up, our driveway was 5 car lengths long and we had a walkway in front of the house that needed to be cleared.  But after every snow fall, you would find my brother and me clearing the snow and helping out neighbours also.  It was just a part of the winter experience.

For me, clearing snow provided a very tangible result which was very fulfilling.  And shovelling at night – there is something magical about it.  The snow falling on you, as you try to make a dent in the clearing of it.  The only thing I dislike is clearing the snow off the edge of the driveway after the snow plough has come through and worse still, dealing with heavy bricks of snow that have been created by the snow plough.

And there is a feeling of comradery; shovelling and seeing your neighbours engaged in the same chore.  Helping out neighbours who are elderly or are dealing with other issues in their life…. it makes you feel a part of the community.  In this day and age, where community is becoming a dying part of life, it feels nice to see it alive through this chore.  I have heard so many stories about how certain people take it upon themselves to clear the snow from many driveways in their neighbourhood, just because they can.  Those stories make me happy.

So I raised it with a family friend, who is at university and he advised that his high school program was extremely challenging and taxing and that his parents relieved him of the stress of certain chores, including snow shovelling.  And I have heard this from other parents – that the weight of the academic program is too much and therefore, parents who once had assigned chores, are taking them back, because their kids are at capacity.

But what happens when those kids are living away from home and have to manage the balance of school, groceries, household maintenance, which may include snow shovelling?  As I was advised, the high school program was so heavy and required such discipline, that in contrast, university is more manageable and therefore, finding the balance later is not an issue.

My kids are not teenagers, so I cannot comment on the rigors of high school academics, but I hope that we teach them to find balance, and that shovelling the snow is a part of being a Canadian in winter.

I hope that they have great memories in the snow, like we have had, to balance the complications that sometimes arise with snow.

I hope that they get to experience shovelling in the night, with snow falling around them, and experience the peacefulness associated with it.

I have a lot of hopes, but who knows what the future holds…..

But that’s just one Diva’s view.



Nothing has changed….

When I was an associate, I would regularly put in 13-14 hour days and working on the week-ends was the norm.  I remember that when I was an associate, I left the office one day at 6:30pm, having arrived just at 7:00pm and a partner commented, “Early day home, huh?”  I always felt that I was not giving enough, which was draining and took a toll on me.  For a variety of reasons, I changed firms, and made it my goal to become partner within a certain amount of time, which I achieved.  Again, I put in long hours because both my husband and I had decided to make work a priority so that we would not have any regrets when we decided to expand our family.

And then we were fortunate enough to expand our family and with that decision, moved out of the City and into the suburbs.  My commute was now done by train and I was on a strict schedule, given that my husband was away with work and I had to be home to resume childcare.  I was in the office everyday by 8am, but had to leave at 5pm to catch my train.  And everyday, I felt like I had to sneak out, so as not to draw attention to me.  Again, it was exhausting – that weight of guilt and that feeling that you were letting everyone down.

And so for a variety of reasons, I move to a firm closer to home.  And still, I am one of the first lawyers in the office,  but I try to be home every night for 6pm, so that I can spend a few hours with the kids, before they go to bed, or take them to their activities.  And still, one day, one of my partners made an off the cuff comment, that I was usually out of the office by 5:30pm, as if keeping track and noting that in contrast, others were usually here after I left.  Of course they are- because they usually arrive an hour to an hour and a half after I arrive.  Makes sense.  I know that logically, but the comment still stung.

That feeling that we, as women, are always being kept track of and being found less than, has remained a constant for me, not matter what stage in my career.  I was recently excluded from a meeting because it was just assumed that I could not make alternative arrangements to stay longer.  Really?  Because when I need to stay until 11pm, without dinner, to deal with settlement discussions, I am able to do that.   So not sure of the basis of that assumption.

And in this day and age of technology, I have never missed responding to a client or dealing with an issue, whether at the office, at home or at various meetings.  We live in an age where we always have to be available. So if all of those issues are covered, why does the scrutiny remain?

I will say that even though the law champions the rights of others, within its own sphere, it still remains very antiquated and backwards.  Instead of changing the work model to adapt to technology, the work model has remained static and therefore, you see a lot more movement from firm to firm, because in this day and age, people are looking for a work environment, that rewards smart work and is attune to the fact that there are other issues of importance in one’s life, such as family, caring for aging parents, health issues (both mental and physical).

There is a monologue in the movie, “I don’t know how she does it”, where a character describes that when a man leaves to deal with a family issue, he is applauded as being a a great parent and that when a woman leaves, there is a feeling of, “not again”!  That has not changed.

And although I still feel anxious leaving at 5:30pm to get home, I have no regrets.  I work hard, but I chose to have a family and they deserve my best also.  And as I work higher up the management ladder, I look forward to making the work place an evolving environment and not one that adheres to the mentality, if I had to do it, so do you!

But that’s just one Diva’s view.

Lights, Camera, Action…….

Movies are in my blood – literally.

In the early 1950’s, after Partition in India, my grandfather’s business was burnt down.  There was no insurance to cover the loss, in those days.  And so, my dad’s family fell on tough times.  The legend is that my dad was playing and singing on the balcony of the family home, when he was discovered by a director.  The director approached my grandfather, about having my dad act in his next film and my dad’s family saw a way to rebuild the family business.  My dad enjoyed the experience of making a film, but it was literally just one film.  However, he was already a movie buff before the experience and afterwards, it cemented his love for movies.

So when I was born, it was definitely a commonality between my dad and I.  I was the kid who would sit, without speaking or moving and just get transformed by the movies.  And my dad found a kindred spirit.   My dad was my main caregiver when my mom was going to College during the day, and he always ensured that movies were a part of my childhood.  We would see all of the Disney movies and I remembered the treat it was to see Star Wars in 1978 with my dad.  I dressed up for that movie, because even without seeing it, I knew that it was going to be an epic experience and I was right.

Sunday mornings in our house were reserved for classic movies on CBC.  It was there that I discovered Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor.  Saturday evenings, when I got older, were reserved for TVO and Elwy Yost’s Saturday night at the Movies.  I got to see and experience magnificent acting, directing and dialogue.  I probably did not always understand what I was watching, but I absorbed it nevertheless.

For me, it was not the celebrity that drew me to the movie, but the reputation of the movie and the quality of the movie.  And my dad encouraged me to discuss the movie, after the movie was done but not during the movie!

One of my greatest movie moments was watching Gandhi in the movie theatre.  Gandhi was released in 1982 and I was 8 years old.  My dad knew that I had already developed a maturity and appreciation for movies and he knew that I would enjoy this movie.  And so we went to the movie theatre to watch it and I kept the movie magazine from that attendance because it was so special to me.  When we went to sit down, a woman approached my dad and asked if he thought that I was old enough to watch the movie, to which my dad quietly responded, “I know what is appropriate for my daughter” and the woman left.  My dad’s faith in me, made me feel like I had earned watching the movie, and to be honest, that added to the experience.

Gandhi had all of the elements that I had learned to appreciate from watching great movies from such a young age; a beautiful score, phenomenal acting and direction, breath taking cinematography and story about justice, which my dad knew would strike a chord in  my heart.  It was the first non Hindi movie I attended, with an intermission, and I remember just being in awe and not talking much during the intermission, but still absorbing the movie.  Notwithstanding the controversy about Gandhi the man, since the release of this movie, Gandhi remains one of my favourite movies.

And I love that the memory of watching a movie, reminds me of where I was at the time and provides such great memories.  Although I had watched it before, I have such great memories watching “Gone with the Wind” with my grandmother, when she came to visit after the birth of my brother.  I remember the first time I watched The Sound of Music in our sunporch and feeling joy from the music and the movie.  I remember being riveted by Heat, while watching it at our University theatre and not breathing during the scene between Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro, so as not to miss a word.  I remember hoping beyond belief that Audrey Hepburn’s character would return back to the press room at the end of Roman Holiday and that she and Gregory Peck would live happily ever after, but it was not meant to be and I looking at my dad with the expression, “Say it ain’t so!”.  I remember Barbara Streisand confidently facing Hubble at the end of The Way We Were, and stylishly moving his hair back into place.  Realizing that Norman Bates was Mother, watching Grace Kelly dazzle both Cary Grant and James Stewart in Hitchcock movie classics.  Those moments…..they still fill me with delight and awe.

One of my greatest regrets is not having secured a copy of my father’s movie.  I worked hard on this, throughout university in the early 1990’s and have resumed the search recently, but to no avail.  I would love to see for myself, my dad’s face on the screen.  Although my father and I had a challenging relationship, his appreciation and love for movies carried on to me and it brings back fond memories when I think of the movie memories we had.  And sometimes instead of dwelling on the “not so great”, it is nice to have those memories and to remember the bond we shared and the memories we created…

But that’s just one Diva’s view!

Christmas without Mom

This will be my first Christmas without my mom.

No matter where she has been – at home, in the hospital, or for the past few years, in her long term care home, we celebrated Christmas with my mom.

In the last few years, I would get presents on her behalf, to give to the kids, and we would decorate her room with Christmas decorations.

She really loved celebrating Christmas.  We would have duck for our Christmas dinner, because we as a family found Turkey too dry.  She would make dhal puri (West Indian stuffed roti), squash, an assortment of vegetables and we would enjoy our feast.   She loved fruit cake and was known to go through many loaves throughout the holidays.

We always had walnuts and chocolates around during the holidays.

We always sang Christmas carols and she loved singing them especially on Christmas morning.  She liked receiving certain presents at Christmas – her horoscope book for the upcoming year, the farmer’s almanac for her gardening needs, slippers, bubble baths, pretty jewelry and clothes.

When we were little, we have photographs of the Christmas tree, put together upside down.  Given the way that trees looked in Trinidad, my mom found it more aesthetically pleasing to have the tree in an upside down triangle, with the wide part at the top, which allowed for more decorations.  I saw this  way of putting up a Christmas tree recently in a design book; who knew mom was cutting edge!

She made these amazing wreaths every year with fresh evergreen branches and pine combs.  They looked so pretty and she would make ones for our homes when we moved out.

She would put a lot of care in decorating the house at Christmas and I loved sitting with her in our living room just watching how the lights twinkled on the tree.  We had our favourite Christmas album that we would play when decorating and enjoying the holidays.  It was a 1970’s album of Jazzy singers putting their own spin on Christmas classics.  I miss not having that album anymore.

Mom also had a tradition of keeping all of the Christmas cards we received and used them as decorations.  She also kept all of our Christmas decorations made throughout school and used them every year.

I hope that I honour her when we decorate our house and keep her traditions going.

I hope that her spirit enjoys the holidays this year and that she is at peace.

I will miss her physically not being here, but know that her spirit will be with us.   Merry Christmas mom.

Her legacy continues through us.

But that’s just one Diva’s view.


The Shadow of a loved one

I thought I saw her today.

I was in the bank and I thought I saw my mom today.  I knew that it could not be my mom,  but this woman was the spitting double of my mom.  She had her hair, her stature, was wearing a coat my mom would wear…..the only thing that was off was that her purse was not as stylish as my mom liked and she was wearing no jewelry and my mom always wore jewelry when she went out.  Also, on closer inspection, her features were not as sharp as my mom’s, but very close.

It was uncanny and I spent an inordinate amount of time staring at this woman.  It made me wistful, hopeful and sad, all rolled into one.

Because the reality is that my mom will never be able to go to a mall again on her own, because the reality is that my mom is dying and her health is progressively worsening.  It has been a hard journey for her and for me, because not to be overly dramatic, but it is like being in a constant state of mourning, without being able to heal.

Before my mom was ill, she was a power onto herself.  Independent, proud, fiercely loving and protective of her kids and very opinionated.  And her greatest joy was taking care of others and gardening.  Her gardens were both beautiful and sustainable.  We ate a lot of the vegetables she grew and she always shared with others.  She loved cooking for my brother and I.  When I got married, she learned what my husband liked to eat and would tailor meals for him.  When my brother and I moved out, she would cook for us and ensure that we had food to take home so that we did not have to cook for a couple of nights.

She and I would speak on the phone a lot and I would see her at least once a week, after I moved out, if not more.  Before I got married, she and I would have Friday night movie, and we would binge watch the Gilmore Girls together, or a romantic comedy.  She was really looking forward to having grandkids to spoil and she wanted to cook, shop and sew for them and had dreams about her time with them.  She is a playful woman, and she would have enjoyed chasing her grandkids and laughing with them – I see that image clearly in my mind.

But then my mom got sick and although it took some time to manifest, she eventually moved away from her home of 40 years and into a retirement home and then into a long term care facility.  Her health has gotten progressively worse and I have to say that after every visit with her now, I am a mix of joy, sadness and anger.

Anger, because my mom’s dreams of how she would age have been stolen from her.

I am sad to watch my mother literally withering away before me.

And joy, that notwithstanding everything, I can still see my mom, spend time with my mom, hold her hand, kiss her, talk to her and just feel her love.

It is difficult though because my kids will only ever have memories of grandma in a facility and will have no memories of eating her cooking or wearing something that she sewed.  And that really causes me pain.  But on the flip side, she has taught my kids compassion and they have learned that not everyone is able bodied and well, but that does not affect the bond between them.

Selfishly, I miss the mom I need now.  My dad passed away years ago and the only other person I have from my immediate family is my brother.  He is the only person who knows our family stories and history.  That is sad also.  We are the only ambassadors and keepers of that side of our family.  I have become very protective of our legacy and want to ensure that my children understand their family tree.  In part, that is why I write this blog – so that my kids will have a better understanding of this side of their heritage and will know the stories of their ancestors.

And that is why I am also very happy to be the keeper of the family photo albums that my dad put together and amassed throughout the years.  The albums give a snap shot of days of yore – days when I can show my kids how stylish grandma was, how great her garden was and how her smile is always genuinely bright in every photo.  It allows me to tap into moments and by seeing a photograph of a picnic, instantly remember the food that she packed, the checkered table cloth and blanket that she brought and stylish water jug that was so heavy, but looked so great, because even though the food was great, the whole presentation had to be just right also.

And so, although the lady at the bank was not my mom, for just a moment, she gave me a photograph in my mind, of what it would be like to have my mom, as she wanted to be, now.  Able, independent and with a twinkle in her eye……Bittersweet.

Moms really do have a lasting impact on your life!

But that’s just one Diva’s view…..


Little India

When I was a young girl, in the late 1970’s, the South Asian community in Toronto and the surrounding areas was quite different.  Now, South Asian stores and restaurants are prevalent throughout the GTA with pockets appearing throughout.  But in the late 1970s, that wasn’t the case.  When we wanted exposure to all things South Asian, we had one place to go; Gerrard Street, Toronto; Little India.

I grew up in Mississauga in a predominantly white neighbourhood.  We did not have any South Asian neighbours until the late 80’s.  So, when I was growing up, and we needed Indian food, or Indian clothes, music or movies, we had to go to Gerrard Street.

Going to Gerrard Street was a big deal.  It was a trek from the suburbs.  You were usually going for the afternoon and evening on a week-end.  You would get dressed up, because after all, it was Little India and it was an occasion!

The day would be full of food.  I am half Bengali, so I have a sweet tooth.  The sweets that were offered were amazing.  Nothing like them and because it was special going to Little India, everyone was allowed to indulge. We always brought some treats home, but they tasted best there, consumed in Little India.  The gold and silver leaf on the barfis made you feel like you were eating like royalty!  Nothing like it!

My dad spent most of his time looking at music and getting a few cassette tapes.  He would also look at the instruments; harmoniums, flutes, tablas, sitars and test them out.   Even though he was never formally trained in music, he had a great ear and became self taught on many instruments.  This passed down to my brother, who became self taught on the guitar and other instruments.

My mom loved browsing through all of the sari stores with their saris, bindis, bangles and jewelry.  Our favourite was Milans, which was a higher end Sari store.  It was huge and I loved the smell of the fabrics from India and the colours and patterns.  It smelled like India to me, the same smell that would appear when we opened the blue post marked letters from India.

I would watch mom carefully choose a sari that she had in mind, for a function and watch the saleswoman drape the sari across the counter for inspection.  Mom had great taste in fabrics and patterns and her collection of saris is gorgeous.  Years later, when I got married, I knew I had high standards to meet when choosing a sari for my mom when I was wedding shopping in India.  My years of observing paid off because I selected my mom a gorgeous sari for the reception and it remains one of my favourites.

I digress.

After we had all wandered around Gerard Street, stopping for food mixed in with shopping and browsing, it was time for the finale of the evening; the movie.

Watching Hindi movies on the big screen was pretty awesome.  I usually fell asleep and missed the end, but I loved those songs and the heroines were gorgeous.  No one could dance like Hema Malini.  No one could fight like Amitabh Bachan.  My parents allowed me to watch whatever was playing – there was no viewer discretion being applied.  My most memorable movies:  Satyam Shivam Sundaram and Hare Krishna Hare Ram.  Satyam Shivam Sundaram was about a girl who burned one side of her face with hot oil, but the other side of her face was intact.  Her husband marries her only seeing the one side of her face, but when he sees the other side, recoils from her.  Whenever I went close to a hot stove with oil, reference to this movie was made.  It definitely left an impression.   Both movies dealt with some pretty adult issues, but those went over my head and I just remembered being enthralled with the music.  If you have a chance, listen to both.  The music is timeless.  The songs are timeless and bring me back to my days in Little India.

Afterwards, my dad would carry me to the car and we would journey back to the suburbs, replenished with all things South Asian, until our next journey….whenever that might be.

The sounds, the smells, the tastes made me feel like I was as close to India, without traveling there, and that was so super special to me.  Those days were blissful and add colour to my childhood.

But that’s just one Diva’s view.

Music and its influence on my life

Music was a staple in our house.  My dad constantly exposed me to different music growing up, which is why I love so many genres of music.

We listened to, in no particular order, country, classical, disco, R&B, Motown, ABBA (it really is a genre on its own), Pop, Indian music (both Hindi and Bengali)- you named it, it was playing in some form.

One of my fondest memories was dancing in our sun porch with my dad when I was 4 to a disco track.  We both had so much fun!

We enjoyed music either on the 8 track player, which used to make the most hideous sound when the album was done, and jolted my baby brother every time, the cassette radio or on our stereo record player, which looked like it was out of 2001 Space Odyssey.

The revered choice for experiencing music was on the record player.  The record player itself was housed in a dome with a clear casing.  The speakers were 2 smaller domes, adjacent on these wings to the unit.  It was all housed in this funky 1970’s media unit, which had space for the records on the bottom.  I loved those records.  I really did.  Those records were amazing.  They were my gateway into my influences.  Some of my happiest moments were in our living room with the record player playing.  The music transported me, uplifted me and fulfilled me.  It was magical.

I understand why vinyl is making a comeback.  There was something amazing about experiencing music on a record.  I devoured my father’s collection of records, which was eclectic and melodic.  When I was younger, it was all about the melody for me.  As I have grown older, the words and the meaning have grown more important, but for me, the music – the tune is what draws me  in.

My favourite records, in order of love:

Harry Belafonte Live At Carnegie Hall – If you want a tutorial on how to be a performer and a story teller, this is the album for you.  It was full of international music from Hava Nageela to Come Back Liza – each song was selected and sung to its fullest.  If ever there was a concert that I could have attended, this would have been it.  His joy of performing and the crowds’ reactions are infectious.

The Beatles 1962-1966 – I really think that my love of green apples stems in part from the amount of times that I watch this double album spin with the green apple at the core.  I was captivated by all of musical influences on this album.  The song writing and music were enchanting.  The harmonies were hypnotic.   I had all of the songs memorized and used to imagine that I was a dancer interpreting these gorgeous songs.  Singer I may be, dancer I am not!

World Star Festival 1969 Compilation LP – I really think that my love of compilation anthologies stemmed from this album.  It was a mix of Jazz, Blues and Pop.  It had Frank Sinatra, Dionne Warwick, Ray Charles, Glen Campbell, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, Mel Carter, Julie Andrews, Vikki Car, Andy Williams, Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones, Barbara Streissand, Dusty Springfield, Simon and Garfunkel, Dina Ross and the Supremes……it had everything.  I listened to that Album non stop and knew all of the performances, the nuances of their voices.  Dusty Springfield singing, “I think it’s going to rain today” haunted me and I wished that I could sing as magnificently as she did.

Walt Disney’s Happiest Songs (1967) – The title says it all.  It had songs from all of the Disney Movies I loved, but my absolute favourite was The Bare Necessities from The Jungle Book.  What an amazingly upbeat and incredible song. It is still one of my favourites.

This is what developed my musical loves and tendencies from a young age.  I added to the musical collection as I grew older. but the above albums – they were my core.  And they shaped my musical taste and my eclectic love of good music.

As I grew older, my brother introduced me to British Rock and Alternative.  When I went away to university, he made me this brilliant tape with Oasis, Massive Attack, The Stone Roses – and again, my musical tastes were augmented.  I remember listening to it on the train ride to school and although I was sad about leaving home, the mixed tape captured my attention and gave me a new focus.  Music does that – it transports and imprints itself on you for an eternity.  For me –  music is as important as food and breathing.

But that’s just one Diva’s view.