Monday, June 30, 2008


In Canada we have so much great stuff at our finger tips. I am reminded that 'Greed is Eternal'( ask Bruce it is some type of Star Trek quote). I went shopping for Bath soap, deodorant, coffee, chocolate, books, vitamins, wrapping paper, random food supplies, new clothes, and about a million other things I can't even remember. Too bad not all of this stuff fit in my suitcases.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Kids in the Kitchen the Next Generation

Several months ago I mentioned wanting to learn to cook Uyghur food. In fact at that time I even had my tutor spend a day of language lessons teaching me how to make the most famous Uyghur dish. While the food was good the lesson was a bit of a flop, since all I was allowed to do was stand there and watch.

But since being home I have stepped out on my own and attempted to rule the Uyghur food challenge. Three times now I have very sucessfully made 'big plate of chicken'. And last night I tried my hand at pollo. All in all the flavour was great, but the texture was a little off. That might have something to do with the fact that I did not follow the directions. I tried to prepare it in the crock pot instead of on the stove.

One important lesson I learned from all of this is: Don't tell your guests what is wrong with the food. The whole time I ate it with my family I sat there complaining about the rice being to gloppy and sticky. But when I took some over to my freinds house I refrained from making any comment on the texture. Since they had never eaten Uyghur food before, they assumed I had done it right and were filled with praises for my handiness in the kitchen.

Friday, June 20, 2008

It's Here

I now have both a visa and tickets back for July 2nd. Relief.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Disappointing Day

After pushing through all the Red Tape mentioned in my last post I was finally ready to make my way to the embassy in Toronto and try to apply for a student visa to return to Central Asia. My father and I drove as far as my Aunt's house on Tuesday night and then we took off early Wedensday morning to face the hoards of people communting into downtown TO.

We arrived at the Visa Office just moments before it opened and waited in line with the others. I made it to the desk within five minutes and two minutes later I was leaving the visa office with an empty passport.

It seems that my school in Central Asia had sent me the wrong paper in the mail. Well not really the wrong paper, just the worng coloured copy of a paper. All offical paper work over there comes in carbon copy triplicate. The white, yellow and pink copies are all meant to go to different departments. The school had mistakenly sent me the yellow copy when what I really needed was the white one

I know that in today's world, governments and powers need to have strict rules and regulations for immigration and visas. I know that not all bureaucratic red tape is pointless and that structures needs to be in place; but it was hard to remind myself of that after driving over 4 hours to Toronto. It was hard to remind myself as I fought back the tears. It was harder still to remind myself as I tried not to yell at the lady behind the visa desk and tell her how unfair it was that I was not allowed to apply because I had the right application form on the wrong colour of paper. It was hard to remind myself as I tried to write a gracious letter to my school asking them to send the correct coloured form.

The good news is I was not denied a visa; I was just not allowed to apply for one. I have already recontacted my school asking for the white copy of my application form. They assure me it is 'in the mail'

So now I am back to waiting....

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

A Love Hate Relationship with Red

When I first moved to central Asia I was overwhelmed with brightness of the decor. Everywhere I turned my senses seemed to be struck with intense colour. Red is the colour of celebration and happiness. It is everywhere. Signs and banners are made of red, clothing and carpets, bags and everything you can imagine feature some shade of brilliant ruby hue. After being inundated by its joyfulness for the last three and a half years I can feel myself succumbing to it power.
A quick look at some of my own recent purchases will demonstrate how this continental wide love affair of the colour red has sunk deep in my heart as well. I will now buy almost anything that has a smattering of this vibrate colour.
( I didn’t keep all seven pairs of red shoes, mom was purchasing them for me while I was in hospital. I tried them all on and returned the pairs that didn’t fit. But for a while I was the proud owner of seven pairs of red shoes).

Despite this growing love affair with the colour red, I have recently come across something that I loath.

Now that my health has improved I have started to work on my visa process to return to Central Asia, only to find many of the rules have changed. In the past I have entered the country on a tourist visa and switched to a student visa within the first month of my arrival. This always seemed the easiest way to navigate my way through foreign policy. However, my adopted country has recently changed it requirements. A person applying for a tourist visa must produce round trip tickets and full itinerary while in country including proof of booked and paid for hotel accommodations. All of which is a waste of money since I have my own dorm room and no intention of returning in the next few months. They have also introduced the rule that a person can no longer apply for a student visa while visiting the country on a tourist visa.

So I had to scrap my old means and resort to plan B. I am now working on trying to apply from here for a student visa. My school sent me a copy of my original application (unfortunately it has my old passport number on it) as well as a letter of invitation. I will be going later today for a full physical including chest x-rays and an ekg to make sure I am healthy enough to study in their country.

All of this is doable if not a bit of a pain, but then I learned more news. I can no longer mail my completed application to a visa service in BC (they can now only accept visa application from BC and the Yukon) as I have done repeatedly in the past. Instead I will have to drive the whole completed package of information up to Toronto to both deliver and pick-it-up in person. This just adds to the hoops I am trying to jump through to get my return visa.

In the process of all of these application and forms, appointments and searches on the internet I have learned that there is one red item that I loath… RED TAPE