Slowing Down

“If you’re lucky enough to have a parent alive on this planet, call them — don’t text them!”  Oscar Winner J.K. Simmons in acceptance speech

I saw the above quote appear on my twitter feed during the Oscars and absolutely fell in love with it. Its a simple yet powerful quote. It reminds us that even in this digital age we still have to have human contact with people. The above quote makes us realize that, Its nice to hear the voice of people whose voice we heard when we first entered the world, right?  We/I often go on with our lives taking things for granted. This can range from family, friends, work, food and life in general.I am guilty too.

Lets take a minute, slow down, call someone you love or miss, do something you love, or just take a minute to realize how lucky we all are. 

We just spent a few hours with Sameers Parents, about to go facetime my parents and my grandma. 

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North, South, East and West

I have learned more about the metric system in Canada than I had throughout elementary school in the U.S. Its not different than the rest of the world, but to be honest, I just didn’t pay attention in elementary when we learned about the metric system.

Four months after moving to Toronto, I spontaneously ran the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon. The distance in a half marathon is about 13.1 miles, I have done many half marathons but never paid attention to the distance in km. I learned the hard way that 13 miles is equivalent to 21 km. 1 mile is equivalent to 1.6 km. Ouch.

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Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2013

Before moving I had to figure out how to convert °C to °F. I researched and read a lot about how to translate the temperature in°C shown on the weather channel into something my brain can interpret as being cold or warm. I read on a few blogs and found the following formula, this is what I use now: (Celsius x 2) + 30 = Fahrenheit. For example, 15°C  is  equivalent to 60°F, 15×2+30= 60. Easy right!

I have now mastered the art of converting miles to kilometers and °C to °F, however, what I still can’t figure out is cardinal directions. My entire life I have been given directions in either right or left not North, South ,East, West. I am still trying to figure out how I determine what is South or North, East or West. Isn’t it all dependent on where I am standing and which way I am facing? I do know that South faces Lake Ontario and CN Tower. West is towards Mississauga and Niagara Falls. East is towards Scarborough and East York. Any other suggestions on how I can learn cardinal directions in Toronto?

Moral of the blog: I should have paid attention in Elementary.

Stylin’ in freezing temperatures

While in Houston I managed to get amazing end of the season deals on name branded boots. I  bought a few pairs thinking these would be cute to wear in the winter when I moved to Toronto. After moving here I quickly learned that being stylish and cute during the winter time is hard. I also learned that no one wears cute boots during the winter time, if they do, there is salt over them. What I usually do is wear my winter boots and change into “cute” shoes at the location of my event. Most of the time, I check in my boots at coat check.

Here are some tips for my friends in Texas just in case you decide to visit me in the winter.

– Rarely will all your accessories match, I attempted to match everything the first winter, second winter I gave up.  Mixtures of blacks and browns are totally fine with any color outfit!

– Gloves also do not have to match your outfit, its ok to wear brown, green, pink, blue gloves with a black coat.Wacky color combinations and patterns are in right? Bring them all!

– Wear your “fat pants”; leggings/long johns are thick and pants are generally hard to pull over! Your pants will not look as nice and fitted as do during the Summer and they will actually look weird over the leggings, you will get used to it.

– Wear layers so you can peel them off because it gets really hot indoors.

– The sweaters from Texas will not be warm enough, refer to point above about layering. You will have to layer up to stay warm in your sweater.

– Do not attempt to wear your cute boots that you would wear in 50F in Texas, your favorite boots will not look the same. My sister can attest to this.

– Hats make your hair flat and frizzy, don’t even bother spending more than 10 minutes on your hair. It will not look the same when you get to your destination.

How do you manage to keep your style in the winter?

One of my favorite pair of boots. Too bad I wore them in the snow and now they dont look like this anymore.

One of my favorite pair of boots.

Snow Day!

Last night an enormous amount of snow (10cm+) fell. Before I moved, I was never exposed to snow tires, snow boots or even road salt for that matter. When it snowed in Texas the city would shut down. There is a ban from driving if freezing temperatures with rain are in forecast. I used to love potential snow days for a few snowflakes on the ground. I quickly learned that does not exist in Toronto. 

Lovely white snow

Lovely white snow

My first snow fall after I moved was in the fall of 2013 when it snowed approximately 3cm. I remember I turned to Sameer asked him if there would be work tomorrow. He simply laughed at me and said are you crazy? A few months later, I experienced the winter of 2013 which as you all may remember was a really bad one. This was also the year for the historic ice storm. I only was in Toronto during the storm and for a few days after the storm and then escaped to Texas! 

Sinking into the beautiful white snow

Sinking into the beautiful white snow

Today’s snow storm reminded me of a few things, don’t run in snow, its dangerous! Give enough time for your commute if you are driving, taking the bus or train! Yes, there are delays even on the train in the snow. Picture below shows the train station that was rammed after the train was having signal problems this morning. Oh also, bring an extra pair of socks, your socks and shoes will get wet if the snow is wet and slushy. Also, be prepared not to have a good hair day unless if you have a hat. 

"Happy" TTC passengers from this mornings commute

“Happy” TTC passengers from this mornings commute

Hoping for a warmer tomorrow! 

By the way, I think we have 6 more weeks of winter. Yay! 

Love. Miss. Dislike.

Beautiful Winter day

Beautiful Winter day

Family and friends from Texas often ask me how I am adjusting to the weather in Toronto my response is quite simple, I just layer up! I recently invested in a Parka and i strongly believe it was the best investment I have made since moving here. 

My husband can attest that I can actually bear the cold weather now. Where my temperature threshold (the coldest I could tolerate) used to be 10C (40F) in 2012, 0C (30F) in 2013-2014, and is now a bone chilling  -10C (14F) in 2015. 

A few days ago it was -20C (-4F), way colder than what I am used to, while waiting for the bus to arrive I was thinking about anything other than the cold weather and how much I hated it. Below is what my mind conjured up while attempting to ignore my surroundings.

Love and Obsessed with

My husband
My family
My grandparents
My baby sister (shes 8 yrs younger than me)
My siblings
Running
Exploring MY new home town
Summer
The accessibility of public Transit (though some may argue, its not the best)
Long walks in the city
Traveling
Shopping
Laughing
Road Trips
Volunteering
Being creative
Summer
Toronto

I miss (really miss)

Mom and Dad
My family (grandparents, siblings, uncles, aunts, cousins)
My friends
Saying Ya’ll without getting weird looks
Texas
Wedding Planning

Dislikes

Winter
Canadian, especially, Toronto real estate market
Massive freeways that includes express and collectors and scary ramps. Seriously, do we really need 12-20 lanes, nevermind, I’ll ask myself next time I am stuck in traffic.
Coins (Loonies and Toonies).My wallet has never been this heavy in my life. Plus I go through twenty, ten and five dollar bills like its free money, both Sameer and I do not use change unless we have to pay for parking!
Metric system in Canada
US Centric mentality
Winter

To sum it up, regardless of the weather or the massive freeways, my new hometown is the best and I LOVE it here.  To be continued.

My Journey begins here.

On the morning of July 7, 2013, I woke up super early feeling nervous, excited, anxious and a bit tired from all the running around the past 14 days. I had to finish packing up my life in 4 bags. No, I did not get everything packed in 4 bags, I had subsequent trips to my parents house after July 2013.

Today was the day I was going to make a move (permanent move) to Toronto.I had been to Toronto plenty of times while my husband and I were dating, however, never spent more than a week in Toronto. My visits were always AMAZING, I truly love this city. I was moving to a different country outside of my comfort zone, no family or friends that were not Sameer’s. This was going to be hard.

Later that afternoon, my family was throwing Sameer and I a farewell lunch at a Tex-Mex Restaurant.  One last time, amazing authentic Tex-Mex Food. God I miss that. Right after our late lunch, we headed to the airport.

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Family fun before the flight

This was going to be my second move to a different country. I have moved to many cities away from Houston but never a country! The first one was 25+ years ago when my parents migrated to United States from Karachi, Pakistan. I was only 6.  As a child, moves are easy. I remember my  mind was occupied by the junk food and the toys that I had on hand with the occasional nap on my moms lap.

My second move, the only thing that occupied my mind was the pictures on my ipad, texts that I was receiving from my family as we were taking off, and the thoughts about how far I was going to be from my Family. This was also accompanied by my husband comforting me by holding me really tight and tears running down my face as if I was a child leaving my parents and family for the first time ever.  Let me point out this was not the first time I was leaving home. However, moving for good is different from moving temporarily, which is what I did in my past.

Finally, we get out of the airport with my 4 bags and 3 carry ons. While I was packing, I totally forgot that we didn’t have a big car in Toronto. Sameers parents picked us up from the airport in Sameers car. 4 bags, 3 carry ons, 4 people in a Mazda 3, ill leave it up to your imagination how everything fit in the car. Nothing was left behind by the way.

Next morning, Sameer and I woke up to head over to Missisauga, very comparable to Sugar Land, a suburb outside of Houston. Sugar Land is my real home. I dropped off Sameer to work and drove myself to an interview. By the way, I did get the job!  Later that day Toronto experienced a flood. Floods are common in Houston but not here. Now I felt right at home.

Celebrations to kick off the journey.

South Asians love to celebrate any and every occasion in an individual’s life. Whether its an engagement, wedding, birthday, birth of a baby or just passing an exam. When Sameer and I started dating our families already started visioning what our “big fat Pakistani engagement party and wedding” would look like. Sameer and I got engaged February 2012.  Here is a shot from our engagement photo shoot before the engagement party!

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Photo credit: Elahe Alam

We started wedding planning shortly after our engagement. Our wedding date was pending on our busy schedules. I was still working (and I loved my job at NRG) and didn’t want to move until I found a better job in Toronto and Sameer had just enrolled in the CMA program so he was very busy as well.

We also had to start gathering information together to submit for the permanent residency application. This process was hard, brutal, tedious, and really tested our memory. What we learned through this process, I remember dates better than Sameer but he remembers smaller and the most unique details about our dating life than I do. Imagine going through all your emails, skype records, movie tickets, greeting cards, EVERYTHING, to find evidence that you are a legit couple and that we deeply love each other. Looking back at  the experience, I dont regret it at all.

The wedding date was finally set for June 29, 2013. Tickets booked for July 7, 2013 to Toronto. This time a one way flight for me. Sameer was excited when we booked my one way flight but I was very nervous for this new journey, however, I knew that having him next to me every step of the way was going to be a breeze.

Fast forward to May 2013, wedding celebrations started! Ten of my closest friends and I took a trip to Miami, to my favorite destination in the U.S.  After returning, my sister, my a few close friends and I ran the Nike Half Marathon in Washington D.C., just because it felt right to do a race right before my wedding. What you will learn about me, I love running. After all this travel, family, friends, and coworkers started to throw me bridal showers and parties to send me off in style to Toronto. This journey really kicked off with style. Here are some of my favorite pictures from the events.

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Bridal shower fun with my Mama!

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Miami fun with the girls!

It was finally June 2013. My soon to be husband came to Houston on June 26, 2013 and Our wedding celebrations started on June 27, 2013 and ended on June 30, 2013. Yes, thats four days of celebrations, I told you we celebrate everything and for a long period of time too. Our ceremony took place on June 29, 2013 followed by a reception.   Between wedding and move planning, we managed to plan a mini-moon to Puerto Rico. We were in Puerto Rico for 4 days and came back on July 4 to attend my Cousin’s wedding (yes, this was a 4 day celebration too) and catch our flight fly back to Toronto on July 7, 2013.

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Photoshoot after the wedding ceremony Photocredit: Aventography

My journey begins here.