Lunato and I spent Saturday hiking at Algonquin Park. We stopped at the Dorset Tower on the way there. You can find Dorset on the Google Map linked below. It was our first visit to the park and we're definitely going back next summer. Wonderful place.
Shekhar posted this on Facebook:
!!! Happy First Anniversary !!!
I'm sure all share my sentiments when I say it was a fantabulous evening. I know this bubbly couple goes all out, but the plan yesterday (September 15, 2007) was way beyond my imagination. Although I'm quite sure that HeaSik will provide a detailed description of the day and their planning process on sikander.org, I'd like to recap it anyway.
Sikander tells us to arrive at 6:45 sharp. Being proactive, I arrived at 6:50 while everyone was waiting. I see papers in hands of everyone, and yes I did guess it was going to be a scavenger hunt. My better half for the evening, Mr. Shirwa, and I were paired up (at Sikander's behest and my inability to obtain a date). Nonetheless, Ali and I proved to the perfect match as we beat all other couples and pieced together the words scattered around the buildings encircling (or ensquaring) the Quad. We got the task accomplished in 15 mins, and waited at least 10 minutes for the next couple to arrive.
When we arrived back, a very classy suprise was coming up and took the evening to a whole new level. A limo arrived to pick us all up (except Tony and Zainab who couldn't keep up with the rest... then again this wasn't their university). Thoroughly impressed, we all went downtown in this Lincoln 8-seater Limousine to Milestones. The dinner was great, with lots of exciting conversation, plus giving me the chance to get to know Jimmy and Song Woo better.
Dinner wasn't just dinner though. The games didn't stop there. We were provided a list of items and whoever had the most items won prizes. Since a lot of items did involve girly stuff (lipstick, comb, hairpin etc), and my partner being another male (and going against Jimmy's collection of photos and mileage cards), it didn't help us win any prizes here. Regardless, a fun exercise and the only thing missing was TV cameras.
Evening wasn't over yet. The limo took us back to Mooney's Bay (Ali and I decide to drive this time giving Zainab and Tony the opportunity to bond with the rest in the comfort of a family room on wheels). What do HeaSik surprise us with there? It was dark, slightly cold, we were right next to the shore. What a perfect place to light up some fireworks, celebrate our freedom and of course Heajoo and Sikander's anniversary. Some fireworks were really cool, while some were just duds (especially Sikander's). That was a cool thought, lot of fun, we took some (like 50) photos after that. After all those attempts, I hope Zainab got one good group shot!
We all headed to Tim Hortons after this and after some caffine we split up, and five of us decided not to end the celebrations just yet. Sikander, Heajoo, Ali, Song Woo, and I went down to Eighteen Lounge for some drinks and relaxation. Good music and ambience. After a couple of hours we headed over to Casino, more to cool off...
We dropped Song Woo home, and rest of us spent the night at Ali's house, where Sikander asked me "if there's anything else he can do for me". Ali refrained from making any moves as it's Ramadan. Night passed, we woke up to a wonderful morning, had breakfast, made flattering (and honest) comments on Ali's hospitality, and split off... HeaSik are likely on their way to Toronto at this point. It was good to meet up with all of you after so long.
Towards a lifetime of happiness to Heajoo and Sikander... Kudos for pulling off the plan with such excellence.
Lunato's friend Jessie called yesterday to tell her that she is leaving Canada and going back home to China tomorrow night. They were close friends when both of them were studying at Algonquin College in 2003 and had kept in touch ever since. With lunato living in Korea and then in Toronto and jessie's love of travel, they hadn't had a chance to meet ever since our mutual departure from Ottawa. Saturday, today, would be the last chance for both lunato and I to meet Jessie before we visit Beijing or Shanghai later in our lifetime. So, an impromptu Ottawa trip was in order.
We left in the afternoon with an appointment with Jessie at 5 PM. She had finished all her packing and was just meeting her friends all over town and so we decided to meet her in China town at a Bubble Tea shop. The long drive had famished both of us and Jessie was at a lunch date with her friends when we arrived in Ottawa, so we decided to visit our favourite Vietnamese restaurant. We've been there numerous times but I'm still unable to memorize the name of the restaurant. It's excellent food, take my word for it.
After meeting Jessie and spending some quality time with her, lunato and I met shekhar and dooh and headed to Casino-du-Lac-Leamy in Hull for the Intenrational Fireworks competition. It was quite impressive and the fireworks were probably the biggest and most astonishing that I've seen.
Back in Ottawa and after a late shawarma-dinner we arrived at Carleton university at half past midnight and spent the next hour and a half talking about whatever and ever while sitting in the Quad in front of the library.
It was a dark and windy night and the atmosphere was just brilliant. Lunato and I spent the time mischieviously while shekhar and dooh debated about the meaning of life and so on and so forth. Good times.
Dooh had to wake up early for work. Even though both Harry and Dooh are in Ottawa, they would mostly likely not meet again before Harry leaves for Indonesia. So, this was sort of a good-bye moment for them. Dooh expressed his friendship for Harry a bit too physically.
Perhaps Dooh was warming up to my excellent idea to keep Harry in Canada. Harry can claim refugee status in Canada because he would be persecuted in Indonesia if he declared his love for his fellow man, Dooh. Homogay marriage is legal in Canada and Dooh and Harry have known each other for a decade.. longer than I've known either of them. They should get married so that Harry can stay in Canada. Such a perfect plan.
We went to Denny's for breakfast and Harry treated Lunato and I to a big breakfast. Afterwards, at Renny's house, we had another big lunch. Excellent food at both venues although the hospitality at the later was a thousandfold better. Renny is awesome.
Over the past few years, it has become my policy to simply say, "See you soon" when saying goodbye to someone indefinitely. "See you soon" as a parting phrase matches Harry's personality perfectly as well.
So, see you soon Harry. I don't know when or where, but see you soon. Also, you suck.
I had booked a room at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Ottawa for Saturday night. The check-in was at noon. Dooh had a previous engagement in the morning. Harry was MIA or KIA for all we knew. Shekhar was participating in the annual Dragon Boat race at Mooney's Bay.
He had asked us to visit him if possible. He was going to be there from 7 AM though and with the long drive from Toronto to Ottawa, it was highly unlikely Lunato and I would be awake at that time.
The last, and first, time I had been to the Dragon Boat festival was in 2003 with Kelly. I had woken up early in the morning, despite having watched a movie late into the night with Lunato, and had biked over to Kelly's house. It was quite early in the morning and I remember I had to wait inside her parent's house while she readied herself. Exactly what time I woke up is still a secret that has not yet been, and definitely never will be, revealed to Lunato.
So, to set things right and to complement the yin with the yang, I took Lunato to Mooney's Bay after dropping Dooh at Zahra's house. I called Shekhar after we reached the festival area but he had already left. Feeling stupid about being in Ottawa with Harry not being in town anymore and then arriving at the Dragon Boat festival with Shekhar not there anymore, I did not tell him where I was. I've more than fulfilled my stupid quota for the day.
The Dragon Boat festival was definitely interesting. There were lots of teams competing against each other for the fastest lap around the river.. or something of that sort. I applaud their effort. We climbed the small hill behind Mooney's Bay and admired the view from there. Nice view.
I had wanted to visit the small waterfall area below Hog's Back Road ever since I had first moved to Ottawa. It's odd that in 6+ years I never bothered to make time and actually visit the place. Lunato and I have biked down Colonel By Drive numerous times and the waterfall/Mooney's Bay dam area is right beside it; close enough to walk to from Mooney's Bay as well. So that's what we did, walked over to it. It's quite impressive. Take a look.
Having crossed off another item from the list of things-to-do-before-expiring, we went downtown to check in at the hotel. Lunato asked for the highest room available and they gave us one on the 18th floor. Nice.. excellent view of downtown Ottawa.
Shekhar had another race at Mooney's Bay later in the afternoon. Once he was done, he called and asked if I could pick him up and then meet up with everyone else. Sure. He hadn't seen the new car until now so I was anxious to show it off as well. After a hasty car wash at an ESSO gas station on Baseline road, quite close to our old residence at Thornbury crescent, we met Shekhar and his co-worker and co-rower Mittale on Merivale Road near the Denny's.
After dropping her at her house, Shekhar dialed the cellphone number Harry was using in Ottawa. Lunato and I only heard his side of the conversation and it was something like this:
Harry, where are you?
It's me, where are you?
What does it matter who I am, I'm asking you where you are!
Rideau Centre? What are you doing there?
Oh, hello, Renny. No, this is Shekhar.
Ah, Harry is not there.
Okay, sorry. I'll try the other number. Thanks.
We never found out who answered that call. I'm assuming it was Harry's brother-in-law, who I suspect is sick and tired of Dooh and I always visiting his house ever since he married into Harry's family. He's an awesome guy, an awesome dad, and has always been very welcoming and extremely generous. Renny probably took the phone from him after the poor guy caved in and told someone he had never talked to before that he was at Rideau Centre. She told Shekhar that Mr. Harry was at home and was asleep when she had left. At least he's in town now.
We picked up Dooh and went over to Renny's house to find Harry alone in the house. Hi Harry! Good to see you again. Everything is set. Let's start.
The rest of the night is sort of a blur. Sumanta somehow made himself part of the group. I don't recall where and when we met him. We parked the car in the underground Marriott parking lot that looked like the perfect place to shoot a post-apocalyptic zombies versus lone human survivor movie. We walked to downtown Ottawa. We had shawarma on Rideau Street. We had Sheesha on Sparks Street. Came back to the hotel to drop off important items like the camera, car keys, wallet. Went out again to listen to loud obnoxious music while drinking Ginger Ale on York Street. Shekhar tried to teach Harry how to talk to random women in Byward Market. A group of drunk girls called us "angels" and gave hugs to everyone near Dalhousie Street and I was woken up by a bouncer at an After-party dance club around 4 AM. Harry, Shekhar, and Sumanta decided to stay at the club while we walked the long way back to the hotel. They came back around 6 in the morning, I think.
Harry put it best when he said, "I want to somehow save this feeling and repeat it again and again."