Tag Archives: British Columbia

Day 5: Suspens(ion) above Capilano River

 

Capilano Suspension Bridge from a distance

Gingerly, she took a step forward. One foot at a time, she decided. The bridge wobbled and creaked under her feet.

“I can’t do it,” she said.

“But look at the others. They are all doing it!” her family urged.

She looked up, across the 450 feet gorge. The bridge didn’t look strong enough to hold that many people, but it did. She wondered how. She peeked over the railings and looked at the shiny sliver of the Capilano river, glittering in the sun. Mocking her from 230 feet below the feeble bridge.

Fine; I can do it, she decided quietly.

Holding onto the railing with both hands, she took one step at a time.

Halfway through, she stopped. For photographs. How was she supposed to smile while the bridge wobbled from side to side? What if it toppled over?

“Nothing will happen! Just smile!” they reassured her.

She forced a smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes. She wished this ordeal over.

Again, it was time to move forward. One step at a time.

“Yes, I did it! Thank god I don’t have to do that again!” she exclaimed jubilantly, as she reached the end and stepped onto solid ground.

“Oh, wait till you have to cross it to get back,” a passing stranger smiled as he stepped onto the bridge.

Photographs: Copyright Sanchari Sur

Capilano Suspension Bridge, North Vancouver

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Day 3: Water, Water, Everywhere…

 

Water, Water, Everywhere... ; Photo credit: Shinjini Sur

When you think of a ferry, you imagine a small boat that can carry about 20-30 people from one place to another. But what about a ferry that resembles a cruise ship and has atleast 7 levels? That is large enough to hold a food court, a spa and swallows not one, but several buses and cars at once?

When I board a Pacific Coast Line bus from downtown Victoria, my imagination allows me to envision being dropped off at the docks to board a small boat- those miniature dinghy types that can be hired in Toronto for private parties- that would take me from one port to another.

What I didn’t- or, couldn’t- imagine was still sitting on the bus while it went into the underbelly of a humongous cruise ship.

Astonishment would be an understatement.

The ride to Vancouver is a revelation. With wind in my hair, while standing at the front of the ship on deck 6, I can almost pretend to be Kate Winslet in Titanic. Only my Jack is missing.

And then there is only water. Everywhere I look my eyes are met with deep blue- of the water and the sky. I imagine this is what Coleridge must have been thinking of when he composed The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. I shudder at the desolation that that old mariner would have felt while being lost in the open ocean.

Eventually, however, I can make out the blue outlines of faraway mountains, coming closer with each second.

Vancouver is not far.

Photo credits and copyright: Sanchari Sur, unless otherwise stated.

First proper glimpse of Vancouver

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Day 2: The Last Supper… At Sooke

I prefer a Starfish to a Crab; Undersea Gardens, Victoria; Photo credit: Shinjini Sur

I am not a big fan of crabs. There is something lethal and unattractive about their pincers. And maybe it’s my imagination, but I see malevolence in their beady dark eyes. Moreover, my father tends to get crabby too, with his Cancerian personality.

Naturally, I had no idea what was in store for me today when I boarded the 61 Express bus to Sooke after lunch. It was time to visit an old family friend.

Her name is Ruma Roy, and she lives in a quaint little log house in Sooke, a small town about one and a half hour away from Victoria downtown. She and my mother have been friends since their air-hostess days at Indian Airlines.

When you usually see old friends after a long, long time (in this case, nearly 3 years had passed since her visit to Toronto), they absolutely insist on feeding you.

“I am cooking some crabs for you,” she announced.

I had been vaguely aware of her conversation with mom regarding the “menu” of this feast. Being ignorant of the ways of cooking crabs- since I clearly steer clear of them- I had assumed she would be cooking some dead, frozen crabs for dinner. But when her neighbour, Cindy, dropped off a case of large writhing crabs at her place, I went into mild shock.

“You are going to cook those?” I asked with incredulity interlaced with my question.

“Of course. Watch!”

With a sharashi (or, Indian tongs), she picked one up and dangled it in the air.

“You must cook them directly in hot water. If someone gave me a dead crab, I would throw it away. You can get E. Coli.”

And with that, she dumped it upside down in the already boiling water in the pot.

I cringed. For a second, I imagined being boiled alive.

“Don’t worry. They die within 30 seconds.”

Apparently, crab cooking has some easy steps to keep in mind.

  1. They must be alive and kicking.
  2. They must be dumped upside down in a pot of boiling water so that they die quickly, with as little fuss as possible.
  3. They must be boiled for atleast 6-7 minutes.
  4. They must be washed in cold water in order to maintain their tart brick-red colour.

Not that being a crab cooking pro makes it any easier for me to think of cooking them.

Apart from the delicious crabs (and trust me, they were; I ate guilt free), she had also made shrimps with quinoa seeds (substitute for wheat/rice), and baked salmon and halibut with vegetables.

 Heaven must be this way, I thought as I broke into a crab leg. With lots of good food.

Definitely, a supper to remember.

Photo credits and copyright: Sanchari Sur, unless otherwise stated.

Fresh live crabs; Photo credit: Shinjini Sur

This is HOW it's done!

Let me OUT!

Boiled Alive!

Washed in cold water

The Last Supper?

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Day 1: Taking it Easy in Victoria

 

With an old-fashioned name that reeks slightly of colonialism, Victoria throws you off with its small town European charm that beckons at you like the embrace of a former flame. The many horse-drawn carriages flanking the Inner Harbour bring back fond memories of Calcutta’s Esplanade. Yet, the old charm mingles effortlessly with the carnivalesque atmosphere around the harbour with street musicians and entertainers lining the walkway, creating a fusion of the old and the new.

After a slow lazy day at the harbour and a forgettable lunch at a nondescript cafe (with a rude waitress) on Government Street, I end up heading off to the hotel for an afternoon siesta.

How typically Indian of me, I think guiltily.

The evening brings about a visit to Chinatown. Touted as the oldest Chinatown in Canada, and a former opium den, it is a block of Chinese restaurants, speciality emporiums and derelict houses. I choose a restaurant that is bustling with customers and has a sign outside boasting of dim sum. I give in to my inner dim sum worshipper.  

This time the food doesn’t disappoint and I happily gorge on wonton soup and varieties of dim sum.

As I head back to the hotel, I yawn. It’s been a long day. My body clock running three hours behind my regular time is screaming for some more sleep.

Tomorrow, I think to myself. Tomorrow will bring forth some adventures.   

Photographs: Copyright Sanchari Sur

An alley in Chinatown

 

Wonton soup

Inner Harbour in the Dying Sun

 

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