Author: Ritika Gupta

ABC Picnic 2016

By: Ritika Gupta

 

On Sunday July 26, the ABC family hosted its annual picnic at the Bronte Creek Park in Oakville. It had been years since I attended the picnic and I had more fun than I could have imagined. Going beyond 33 degrees celsius, it was a scorcher outside, however this didn’t hinder the fun, it just added to it. Upon arriving, I was greeted by all of my family-friends and had a cup of fresh mango juice, or aam panna, handed to me. With my electrolytes in the restoration process, I decided to settle down on a shaded picnic bench with a few friends. I took it upon myself to come prepared with a few activities that would keep me entertained. The fear of boredom is a strong one, and besides, the great outdoors and I never got along well. Anyways, I pulled out my adult colouring-book (trust me, they’re increasing in popularity) and began colouring a design in. I wasn’t even two minutes into colouring before I was sucked into conversation. I quickly abandoned the page and immersed myself into the energy around me. People were laughing, chatting, and most importantly, they were eating. The food was cooked fresh on-site, by Malkit Best Catering. For appetizers, the chef prepared crowd-pleasers like freshly-fried and perfectly-crisp pakoras, as well as personal favourites like chaat-papdi and pasta. Afterwards, I noticed that there were games for every age group. On one field, I saw my dad playing Cricket with other uncles, while on the other field, I was involved in a game of Ultimate Frisbee with the kids and teens. It was lovely to see that there was something to do for everyone at the picnic, regardless of age. That sense of warmth (not literally, though it was very hot outside) and inclusivity is one that is familiar to me when I attend ABC gatherings. Beaming from my team’s win at Ultimate Frisbee, I went back to the shaded area. After gulping down another refreshment, pink lemonade this time, I was pulled into a game of Tug-of-War. This was the highlight of the picnic for me. People from every single age group were able to join in the fun and merriment. I say this without lying or any personal agenda, but my team won every single time we played. After a few rounds of the game, I went back to the picnic-site and had a lovely lunch of traditional sabzis, freshly-made naan, raita and salad. The food was delicious and the company was better, if that’s even possible. Before I knew it, it was time for me to head home. I must to admit that I was sad to go. It was only during my ride home that I realized I had scarcely coloured in a quarter of the colouring-page. If that’s not a true testament to the fun that I had, then I don’t know what is.

Food Tour of Europe

By: Anuraag Gupta

 

London, Paris, Bordeaux, San Sebastian and Barcelona

Over the month of May, I went to Europe and the UK on a 26-day tour of 8 countries. Even though it was the trip of a lifetime and I saw all of the sights, the one thing that I will never forget ever is the food.

From Fish and Chips in London, to Paella in Barcelona, everything was an experience to eat.

When in London, what else to get but Cod and Chips?

 

France is considered the food capital of the world, and the critics don’t lie. The food here is phenomenal. There is excellent classic fare such as French Onion Soup, Snails and Frog Legs. Everything French is worth trying.

French Onion Soup 

Cheese Quiche and Salad

Escargot with Garlic and Pesto

Duck L’Orange and Scalloped Potatoes

Cheese Plate of Brie

Chocolate Torte and Custard

Bordeaux is a world famous wine region in France. Some of the best wine in the world is made in the grape fields here. It is also the place where I tried frog legs for the first time. Yes, it does taste like chicken but it’s a bit on the off-tasting side. If you ever go to France, before you leave you must try frog legs as it’s considered a delicacy in France. Moreover, the experience of saying to people that you ate frog is totally worth it.

Frog Leg Salad

Rack of Lamb

The city of San Sebastian in Spain is a gorgeous city known for its fantastic beaches, its architecture and most of all, for its pinchos bars. A pinchos bar is a variations of tapas bar (Spanish finger food). The restaurant makes all the food beforehand and they display it on the bar. People come in, find a table, and sort of like a buffet they come up to the bar and take what food they find appetizing and the patrons at the bar watch the food that people take. After the meal is finished, the guests are charged for what items they took from the bar.  

Pinchos Bar Fare

Beef Cheek (San Sebastian speciality)

Pinchos Dumpling

Patatas Bravas (A Must try)

Kalimotxos (pronounced Kalimochos)

(One part red wine, one part Coke)

Barcelona, one of the largest cities in Spain is an altogether an eclectic mix of the modern and the ancient. With Sagrada Familia to the Gothic Quarter to Parc Guell, you can’t go wrong. The food culture here is no joke either. The best thing to have in Barcelona is paella. Paella is a rice based stew that you can either have with meat, seafood or veggies. Or if you’re really hungry you can have all three mixed in to your paella. Paella is a Spanish delicacy and must be had when you go to Spain.

aella. Paella is a Spanish delicacy and must be had when you go to Spain.

Chicken Paella

In conclusion, when you travel to really get the vibe of the place you’re visiting, you have to eat the food. The experience of eating a new dish in a new place is one that you will cherish for years to come.

 

The Importance of Arts Education

By: Nupur Agrawal

 

In today’s society, it is undisputable that emphasis in education has leaned toward the more factual; science, mathematics and language are seen as vital components in a child’s schooling, especially in the South Asian community. My contention however is that the arts “drama, dance, music and visual arts” are just as important and we should treat it with the same status.

Canada’s education system was founded on the idea of academic ability. Upon closer analysis, this is due to the fact that there were no public systems of education before the 19th century. When modern schooling was introduced, it was created to meet the needs of industrialism. Therefore, this ‘hierarchy’ is rooted on the idea that the most practical subjects for work are at the most important.

For instance, you were most likely steered away from things you liked at school when you were a kid on the basis that you would never get a job doing so. Your parents may have said something like “don’t do music, you’re not going to be a musician or don’t do art, you won’t be an artist”. With the profound changes taking place within the younger generation however, this opinion is long outdated.  

To begin with, science can give us practical facts and try to formulate theories with those facts, but it’s the artists who turn them into narratives with moral, emotional and spiritual meaning. Artists tell stories; they essentially help us make sense of our world by broadening our experiences and understanding. The arts enable us to imagine the unimaginable and help us understand the past, the present, and the future.

The interesting thing is when you travel around the world you realize that most education systems have the same hierarchy of subjects. For instance if a hypothetical pyramid were imagined, mathematics and languages would be at the top, followed by humanities and then at the bottom are the fine arts. The sad thing is, during difficult economic times, arts programs are the first to be cut. In all honesty, there isn’t an education system in the world that teaches music every day to children the same way we teach them mathematics. Why is that? I believe that both math and music are of equal importance. In fact, it is scientifically proven that listening and playing music can stimulate both sides of our brain and all of our senses at once.

While I understand the practical aspects of math and science in everyday life, why is it necessary for every child to know how to solve for ‘x’ or how to find limits when the Fine Arts teaches you to think outside the box? Not only do the Fine Arts teach one discipline and creativity, but also carve responsibility and historical knowledge within its students.

To conclude, I agree that Mathematics and Science are a vital part of our curriculum but I also think that the Fine Arts are of equal importance, as it instills life skills that will carry with you through the rest of your life.

“Life beats you down and crushes your soul and art reminds you that you have one” Stella Adler.

 

“I can see clearly now, the rain is gone”

By: Sonika Gupta

 

Growing up, I was not an exceptional student. I rarely did homework, I barely participated in class discussions, and parent-teacher interviews were always such a nightmare. I went to school for the socializing and that was about it. It’s not that I wasn’t smart, I knew that I was smart, I just didn’t care for school. It was towards the end of my final year in middle school when it finally dawned on me that I needed to get it together. I had to make this realization on my own though, my parents would sit me down for lectures but that only left me feeling even more unmotivated. High school was an interesting time, I raised my marks, did (most of) my homework, and I was definitely seeing the results. I did end up skipping class a large number of times but my marks mattered to me and I got things done on time.

In high school, I was taking all university prep courses and for the longest time I had this idea that university was it, college was out of the picture. There were several occasions where teachers would talk to their classes about the difference between the two. They often spoke about university being very theory based whereas college is more hands on learning. They would mention the different class sizes and teaching styles. A lot of the time, I would be sitting in my chair thinking to myself, “I like smaller classes, I don’t like reading from textbooks, and actually doing it makes it stick.” Even though I had all these thoughts in my head, I knew that university was the more socially acceptable option and it was all my parents and I had ever talked about.

The years passed quickly, and before I knew it, I was in my senior year and I had no idea what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I was conflicted with choosing between computer science and business. My grades started to fall, I was stressed out, and I felt like everything about my future was a huge question mark—it felt an awful lot like hitting rock bottom. My marks were decent but they really shouldn’t have been just “decent”. My mom kept asking me how I planned on getting admissions into any university and I was always at a loss for words. I remember making many appointments with my guidance counselor, Mr. Lain. The man was a gem, he never made me feel bad about myself. He would open up my marks on his computer and we would talk about a variety of different options for the next year. I ended up deciding to take a “victory lap” year. I wanted to take more courses rather than rushing into anything. Three years later and I still regret nothing. That year changed my life. It was the best decision that I have ever made to date. It became clear to me that I belonged in a college environment. I discussed it with Mr. Lain and my mom and we were all on the same page. It was perfect because the programs that I was interested in had a bridging option. Bridging meaning that depending on your marks, you could get your college diploma and afterwards, enter into a degree program at the college or at one of the well-known universities that are partnered with the college. I remember feeling like I was no longer drowning, I could breathe again. I used to blast Jimmy Cliff’s, “I Can See Clearly Now” on my iPod because it was particularly relatable at the time.

I started the Business Administration advanced diploma program at Sheridan College last year. I knew immediately that it was right for me. The class sizes were perfect, the teachers were very passionate for the most part, and the work kept me interested. You know how sometimes you learn something and you ask yourself, “When am I ever going to need to know that? I’m literally never going to do this again.” Well, I am very pleased to say that I have not asked myself that in the last year.

I was talking about it with a friend of mine, Mohini, who is in the same program as me. She is a genius, in high school, her marks were golden, she could’ve gone to the University of Waterloo. Unfortunately, she has severe motion sickness and she’s paying for her education herself so Sheridan was the best suited option for her. She was telling me, “I used to talk straight up garbage about Sheridan, I never thought in a million years that I would end up here, but I’m so glad that I did.” This really got me thinking because even now, when I know that it was the right decision for me, I am still embarrassed to tell people that I go to Sheridan. Mohini agreed with me when I voiced my thoughts, she too hates telling family and friends that she goes to a college. It’s a little humiliating when everyone in your family or friends group is at one of the top universities and you’re in a college. It really frustrates me that I, along with others, are ashamed to tell our closest family and friends about it, especially when we are overjoyed by what we are doing.

In our society and in many South Asian communities, college is sadly looked down upon as there’s a stigma associated with it. It’s seen as “the easy way out” by many. Despite the fact that it’s unfavourable, over the past few years, it’s become more and more popular as people realize that they need the hands-on learning and that employers are seeking college graduates. University is wonderful, university students are extremely hard working and intelligent, but to think that college students aren’t is wrong. The learning and teaching styles are different but that’s on purpose as everyone learns differently. No one should be pressured into doing one or the other, it should be completely dependent on the type of experience that you want to have for yourself.

In case it wasn’t already obvious, I am very content with my education at Sheridan so far and I shouldn’t have to feel embarrassed when I tell anyone about my schooling. I hope that one day there won’t be so much judgment but until then, I’m choosing to embrace the “haterz gonna hate” philosophy. I encourage others in similar situations to do the same.

 

A Case for Tuesdays…

By: Ritika Gupta

Tuesdays are the worst. Sure, people may claim that nothing can be as bad as Mondays, but I respectfully disagree. On Tuesday, you still haven’t shaken off the emotional shock of the weekend being over and the physical shock of having to be awake at some ungodly hour (basically anything before 9 a.m. for me). At least on Monday, everyone is willing to be a little lenient, recognizing that it’s always hard to get back into the swing of things following the weekend. There is no such empathy on Tuesdays. People are no longer sympathetic to your post-weekend plight and they… start expecting things from you. Yes, I know, it cannot be more horrific than that. Let me reiterate, there is nothing worse than a Tuesday.

Well… at least that’s what I thought until three years ago. Yes, I still think Tuesdays are the universe’s way of punishing me for eating the last bhatura when I knew that Didi wanted it, and yes, I still think that it’s unfair for people to expect anything from me before Thursday at 4pm. However, something positive came into my life three years ago, making my Tuesdays a little more bearable and a whole lot more meaningful. It was three years ago that I began volunteering after school every Tuesday, helping a younger student with their homework and then later playing a board game or two. Now, I’m no Mother Teresa (even though I try to be). Sometimes it was difficult for me to muster up enough motivation to get myself to the school and volunteer for the two hours. On particularly bad days, I would question why I’m volunteering in the first place. I could be putting in the same effort at a real job and making some money for the time and energy that I’ve put into it. If there’s one thing that I can tell you from my seventeen-and-a-half years as a person, then it’s this: that kind of thinking is dangerous.

I see it in myself and the people around me; a bitterly competitive nature in which every act is committed with the expectation for something in return. I personally think that it’s natural to expect some form of gratification after I put myself through the trauma of closing my Netflix after a weekend-long binge-watching session of Grey’s Anatomy. But here’s the great thing about volunteering– you do receive something in return for your time and effort. The satisfaction that I feel after a few hours of helping my community and its people is unparalleled to some of the best feelings in the world (for me those include waking up to the smell of fresh dosa or getting anything higher than a 70% in math). Volunteering is unique in the sense that no formal transaction takes place. You do not receive anything tangible in exchange for your time and energy, but you do gain something more profound. It’s difficult to describe, but after a few hours of helping a student with their homework, or helping to clean up the Mandir after a celebration, a sense of pure, untarnished contentment washes over me. The biggest moment for me occurs when I think, “wow, volunteering actually felt better than reading another Stardust magazine to find out if Ranbir and Katrina broke up.”

Volunteerism is supported by all religions and sects as there is no act more simple and natural than giving back to a community. No matter which religious text you read or don’t read, one thing remains the same: the act of giving is so much more important and fulfilling than the act of taking. In our busy, on-the-go lives, it is natural to feel over-stretched and underappreciated (basically any time my Mom asks me to unload the dishwasher), but putting aside a few hours to volunteer with the expectation of nothing in return is pertinent to the success and growth of our community and our people. Volunteering does not have to be something that is done to rack up those volunteer hours or to have something good to write on your resume. I will not lie, I too started volunteering to complete my mandatory 40 hours of community service. Soon after, however, volunteering metamorphosed into something far more important. Volunteering became my way of saying thank you and meaning it.

So there you have it. A few hours of volunteering each week made Tuesday go from being my least favourite day to my second-most favourite day of the week (let’s face it, nothing beats Friday).

About Agarwals

Maharaja Agrasen is known as icon of non-violence , messenger of Peace, Maharaja Agrasen was an embodiment of Sacrifice, Compassion, Non-Violence, Peace, Prosperity and a True Socialist. According to current calendar the birth of Maharaj Agrasen took place about 5185 years ago. King Ballabh was a Suryavamshi ( lineage from the Sun). Even when he was very young, Prince Agrasen was very well known for his compassion. He never discriminated against anyone and the subjects were very pleased with the way he conducted himself..

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