Monthly Archives: June 2010

Pride Toronto’s 30th Anniversary Media Launch Party, sans the G20 madness

I had been warned. Not once, but several times. 

“Are you mad?!”

“What if something happens?”

“Can’t you go after the G20 is done?” (My ever worried mom.)

“You know, they arrested 1000 protestors in New York last year.” (A concerned friend who claims he was not trying to scare me. Right.)

“You are so irresponsible. When will you grow up? Anything can happen down there.” (My dad. Obviously.)

However, being a little lusty for a first time experience, and reminding myself that a professional journalist wouldn’t bat an eyelid, I took off yesterday to attend Pride Toronto’s 30th Anniversary Media Launch party in the heart of downtown.

Held at Woody’s and Sailor (465-467 Church Street), in the midst of the LGBTTIQQ2SA* community in downtown Toronto, the event marked the kick-off for the Pride Week this year.

Gia Heart Cox

Gia Heart Cox

Being a newbie attendee, I quickly attached myself to a nonchalant man with a huge camera hanging down his front sitting quietly at one of the corner tables. He turned out to be David Marsden of Marsden Global. The Mars Bar. I didn’t know who he was yesterday, and now I mourn my ignorance. Over my vodka tonic and his large red drink, we discussed homosexuality in the South Asian community. We were soon joined by Igor, his assistant (?) and a freelance photographer (who is a business analyst by day but didn’t like talking about it).

Choreography by Scott Fordham

Choreography by Scott Fordham

Marsden enlightened me with nuggets of information about the history of the LGBTTIQQ2SA community in Canada. For example, it was Pierre Trudeau who first abolished Canada’s sodomy law that allowed for the decriminalization of homosexuality. He is fondly remembered for his famous quote, “The government has no business in the bedrooms of the nation”. Marsden was surprised to hear that such a law was eradicated in India as recently as last year.

Christian Jeffries

Christian Jeffries

Miss Conception

Miss Conception

Dubbed as being worse than an Indian wedding by a fellow newbie attendee due to the lateness of the starting time, the show kicked off by a performance by Miss Conception, who had the crowd roaring at her depiction of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance”.  Other performances included Gia Heart Cox, Christian Jeffries and a choreographed dance by Scott Fordham.

Deb Pearce

Deb Pearce

Deb Pearce, the emcee, kept asking the audience to throw toonies into her “vagina”, aka the white bucket between her thighs, in return for free drink tickets. Her sarcastic wisecracks kept the livewire ecstatic atmosphere alive.

 
 
 
We were also joined by Glen Murray (the former mayor of Winnipeg (1998-2004) and the first gay mayor in North America) as well as, a mother who was proud to support her gay son. Murray was slightly miffed about the Pride Week Toronto being pushed back a whole week due to “20 assholes”. 
Glen Murray

Glen Murray

I left the party happy, glad to have attended despite all the many warnings. Until I heard the news on the radio this afternoon.

 Apparently, a bunch of “G20 protestors” dressed in black and with ski masks, vandalised parts of Queen street in downtown Toronto by breaking windows and setting police cars on fire. Known as Black Bloc (tacticians who disrupt peaceful protests instead of an actual organization), they forced many places to go under lockdown such as hospitals, Eaton Centre and the Union Station. The Yonge-Bloor subway line (the same one I used yesterday) was shut down as a result of their violent behaviour. Some peaceful G20 protestors were hurt in the rampage, while many shopkeepers watched on helplessly as their shops were vandalised.

I wonder if the violent reaction had anything to do with the raids and arrests of many peaceful protestors last night

In any case, only one more day of this G20 madness.

In the meantime, happy pride week?

Launch party pics: Copyright Sanchari Sur

* Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer, Questioning, 2-Spirited and Allies

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The “Delete” Revolution

Picture this:

I woke up with a heartache this morning. It was a leftover residue from last night when things ended with him. I got out of bed, switched on my laptop and went through all of his memories. And, just pressed “delete”. I attacked my phone next. Delete, delete, delete. I sighed, with a lighter heart, and went to brush my teeth.

And, how simple was that? Apparently, getting over a break-up is easy now. Just one simple ‘delete’ can change your life. But why only break-ups? Think of all those unpleasant jerks (and jerkettes?) you come across on a daily basis. That member of the opposite sex who gets off on sending cryptic text messages that are meant to create distance without any clear explanations:

It’s not you. It’s me. I need my space… blah blah blah.

Or, those annoying creepettes (Yes, I made up that word. How about it?) who send you a million messages a day in a desperate (and might I add, futile?) attempt to get your attention:

10 am: Hey sweetie, saw this really cute dress at HnM, and thought of you 🙂

10:30 am: So, was wondering if you are up for that show next week?

10:45 am: Hey, are you MIA on me now?

11:03 am: Wow, you must be really busy! (Umm… no shit?!)

Whoever invented this wonderful concept was a true genius. (According to google, it’s a guy called David Bradley, who invented it along with Ctrl and Alt). All that junk that makes you miserable will be gladly received by your virtual trash can. All you have got to do is press ‘delete’.

And now, with most relationships happening on Facebook, you can take this one step further.

Delete. And, block.

YAY for technology.

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The Man behind the Mask: Canada-India Business Council’s Rana Sarkar in a Candid Face-to-Face

An edited version of this interview (jointly conducted with the editor, but written by me) was published in South Asian Generation Next on 8th June 2010.

A man of many carefully chosen words, Rana Sarkar comes off as a composed, unruffled individual whose knowledge on politics is unrivalled. At first. But when caught off-guard with unexpected questions, he responds with “Oh gosh!” before revealing the man behind the cautiously constructed public mask.

Currently the President and Executive Director of Canada-India Business Council (C-IBC), Sarkar’s image is that of a confident, accomplished man who has achieved much in his short but illustrious career in the field of business and politics. Born in India, Sarkar chose to study Political Science as an undergraduate that brought forth horrified exclaims from concerned relatives. Sarkar laughs out aloud when he remembers them saying, “My god! This boy is going to be unemployable!” And has he been “unemployable”? He smiles and answers, “My career has been a great run. You try a number of things. And, some things work and some things don’t.”

Onto his favourite topic, Sarkar does not think it is “uncool” to be involved in politics. According to him, it is difficult to disengage politics from real life. And, this has been true for him from his teenage years where he was involved in politics right from the beginning. He explains, “[In] the 80s, coming out of the 1970’s when modern Canada was being formed… there was a lot up for grabs. There was a secular shift in a lot of ideas… I was taken with the idea that [Canada] is a country where we are creating our own narrative and I saw a lot of… political excitement in that [change]”. He also believes that “another great opportunity that he had was in the early 90s after finishing university” when he was faced with the question, “well, what am I gonna do?” At that time, there were “very few job opportunities”, and Sarkar professes that he believed that he was going to be a part of the “first generation of kids who lived in their parents’ basements indefinitely”.

Without being able to find opportunities in Canada that were “globally engaging”, Sarkar decided to turn towards London. London was the “fulcrum of globalization” during that period. Sarkar believes that “cities have its moments and it was London’s moment at that time”. Thus, Sarkar was able to be at the right place at the right time. He was able to take advantage of his position by taking part in several initiatives at once because that moment in time made it “possible” for him to “work in Asia, Europe”, and to be “involved in businesses on the side” and in “cultural industries” on the other. But Canada eventually drew him back with its many possibilities.

A younger Rana Sarkar

One of those possibilities was the Canada-India Business Council. Sarkar sees Canada’s relationship with India as a relationship of immense possibilities. In reference to his article in Globe and Mail (dated 13th November 2009), Sarkar firmly advocates his earlier views on free trade agreements between Canada and India. According to him, “India is no longer just a source of straight call-center… or BPO outsourcing… That level of fear of India is a five year old story… When Canada look[s] at India, they see one of the greatest growth markets… There will always be nay-sayers. [There will be] people who say ‘we can’t change’… The world is changing… Our secular opportunity is how we can get involved in that change”.

He is obvious in separating the C-IBC from other organizations by calling it an apolitical organization that aims to bring together the “elite” of Canadian businesses with the elite of Indian businesses at the leadership level. His stance is that “For businesses to be developed between the two countries, much more significant engagement at the leadership level is required so that it creates a back-draft on which a lot of other things can be done”.

As one of the co-chairs for the Masters of Global Affairs at the Munk Center of Global Affairs at University of Toronto, he also wants to create “a global connectivity at the educational level for young Canadians… and for global students to come to Canada… and create a global conversation”. He envisions “a generation of Canadians who are much more engaged with the world”.

Rana Sarkar with wife, Reva

Rana Sarkar with wife, Reva

As a father who spends all his free time with his two young sons, he feels that “fathers in previous eras missed out by not engaging in small intimacies”, like cooking for their kids or just taking care of them in their wives’ absence. He feels lucky to be a part of the new generation of fathers who can be a huge part of his children’s lives.

And, as a self-professed “secular humanist with a good smattering of Vedanta superimposed with more contemporary Buddhism”, Sarkar admits to foreseeing a future of change that his children can be a part of. A change that will let them choose to become “who they want to be”, without outward admonitions that go “My god! This boy is going to be unemployable!”

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Stolen Flowers: A Tale of Woe

I have a case of stolen flowers on my hands. Or, a stolen flower pot, as my almost-always-politically-correct father reminded me. They were gifted last Saturday. Not completely flowered yet. Teeny tiny buds of promise.

With love and care, my mother watered them last evening and hung them up out on our front porch.

That was yesterday.

This morning, they were gone. Just as suddenly as she had fallen in love with their innocent splendor; just that suddenly, she had been left broken-hearted.

With a mopey face, she wandered around all day today, mourning her lost children.

And, here I wonder, which evil child of Satan was cruel enough to steal a bunch of flowers?! I agree that we are in the middle of a recession. That we have to face high gas prices. That jobs are not aplenty. But stealing a flower pot in the middle of the night is perhaps a characteristic that can be attributed to one without a conscience. 

I hope, Monsieur/Mademoiselle Thief (Yes, that is exactly what you are. A goddamn thief), that you may never be content for denying my mother a simple joy that had her smiling yesterday. I hope that you can’t sleep at night because you are haunted by the screams of the tiny lives that you have separated from their rightful owner. I hope that you never die a happy person.

 

And, if a person is capable of stealing flowers, what else are they capable of?

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