Silence is golden (22K Indian gold in fact)

India has been said to take your breath away, but Dhula took my voice away.

Those who know me, and even some I’ve only just met were “shocked”. Much like India itself, I like any entourage to expect the unexpected from me. Hailing from The 6ix as was dubbed by our widely adored Drake, I firmly subscribe to YOLO (you only live once). While Hinduism teaches us about reincarnation, I want to outdo and outlive each of the lives I’ll be graciously handed throughout my many transcendences.

There is literally not a single thing I would change about the Essential India tour. You’ll appreciate the juxtaposition of chaotic city life in sharp contrast to the serene countryside on your adventure.

As a journalist, I make connections and conversation with others immensely easily but the bonds made on buses, trains, planes, tuk tuks, etc surpass friendships I’ve made while travelling elsewhere.

Rather than calling them my tour group, I’ve taken to calling them my team. We are all in this together – Delhi belly and all. (Sidenote: my cousin Cassy made sure to purchase traveler probiotics ahead of our departure and it has saved us from any, um.. diarrhea). Do yourself a favour and nab a bottle before heading out on your excursion.

A stepwell of knowledge, our CEO Anurag is one of the rarest gems the country has in its possession.  His charisma and passion are contagious. From one storyteller to another, it takes one to know one.

Enough about him – As you will come to see this trip isn’t about the CEO, it is aboutyou. CEOs facilitate your trip. If there is something you’d like to do (like get the symbol for OM tattooed on your hand while in Delhi), he’ll hook you up.

Back to the vow of silence. I thought when quieting my voice, my mind would increase in noise and volume. This was not the case. Everything felt clear. After struggling through depression in the past year, this trip truly has awakened my senses. It has sharpened and allowed me to realign with me. I am beyond grateful to myself – my own built in travel buddy. Do not hesitate when contemplating touring India solo or with some pals, you’ll have the time of your life.

Following in the footsteps of one brilliant Bryan Cranston, I am going to dedicate one day a week to silence.

Leave a comment if you think you would join in solidarity for #SpeechlessSunday. I would suggest selecting a weekend, otherwise your boss may notify HR of your reluctance to partake in your Monday morning meeting.

Namaste,
Kim

Kimberly Lamontagne is a freelance writer and social media marketer with an unwavering need for paneer. Stay tuned for the book she is currently penning about Usher Syndrome.

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Digital party planning for all occasions

SAVE TIME AND MONEY
BY GOING ONLINE

With the multitude of options out there, planning a party has never been easier. Whether you’re getting married, hosting a shower or celebrating a mitzvah, let the internet be your guide.
woman-planning-party-online

Electronic invites

First things first: You need to get the word out there. Invitations set the tone for your get-together, so choose wisely. Protect Mother Earth (and your pocketbook) by going paperless. Websites like Evite provide a wide range of invitations. Paperless Post is another great option. Paperless Post prides itself on their unique invitations that reflect your personal style in an innovative way. To borrow their own words: “Beautiful design meets seamless technology”. Perhaps best of all, it’s free! Plus, think of all the money you’ll save on stamps. And, if you’re really feeling low-key about your impending fête, there’s always Facebook to connect your invitees to your event.

Digital disc jockey

A laptop can make a digital DJ come to life. Songzaand its extensive genres can satisfy even the biggest of music snobs at no cost. Grooveshark is great for artists or albums, but Songza casts a much wider net and supplies a variety of sounds all within one playlist. Connect to the venue’s sound system, and you’re in broadcasting business.

Online printing services

Worried about your great aunt’s lack of wireless service? Then you might want to check out services like Vistaprint for your paper needs. Customize everything from itineraries to thank-you cards for your special day. Etsy is another easy alternative to personalizing your paper needs. Templates are available for purchase (reasonably priced at that), and then print your pretty little heart out. Bonus: the nice people atWedding Chicks have templates you can customize at no cost.

Check out stress-free party planning >>

Photography technology

Your crafty cousin will be clicking away with her Canon camera (as well as nearly every other attendee), so why pay for a professional photographer for your child’s birthday party? Create a personalized hashtag on Instagram so that guests can check out all the photos from the big event. If you’re not on Instagram, websites likePixlr allow you to edit pictures painlessly. Plus, once you’re done there’s a ton of online photobook options; Shutterfly anyone?

Party invite | Sheknows.ca

Pinterest party planner

Pinterest revolutionized the way we prepare for major life moments, from decorating a child’s room to unique ways to say “I do.” The collection of your design and decor inspiration all grouped together in one place facilitates event planning.

Need more inspiration?

Party planning blogs are a great source of ideas and inspiration. In addition, many of them even offer free printables that you can use to customize your own party. Consider them your very own virtual event stylists! Our favourites include:

More on party planning

Perfect party favours
Hosting a chocolate tasting
Hosting tips for perfect backyard parties

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The Contrarian

I could barely get to sleep most Tuesdays. Wednesdays meant two back-to-back radio news shifts, and endless possibilities. I’d leave Laval at 6 in the morning to make it to class on time.

He was known to most as Coach, and as I learned today, Contrarian by some. With tears welling up in my eyes, I also learnt more about Ross Perigoe from the people who knew him best; his friends, colleagues, sons, and siblings.

Many gathered at Eglinton St. George’s United Church in Toronto to honour the life that was lived by our beloved Coach. Day 1 of JOUR 330: Advanced Radio, the Ph.D. told us we were to call him Coach. I didn’t know how serious he was until I began to roll my ‘R’ in preparation for his name, as he shot a discerning look my way. Immediately “Coach” shot out of my mouth, and it would remain that way for the rest of the time I knew him.

He was Coach, and we were a team. The radio newsroom was the field, and with Coach’s guidance we never struck out. There were times when I may have been close, but Coach would be there with words of encouragement. He believed in us; in all of us, especially when we didn’t believe in ourselves.

When I got an interview for an internship at CBS Radio in New York City, Coach was the first person I called. When it was my turn to wear the Assignment Editor’s hat, I sat by Coach collecting my thoughts, and going over the show’s rundown. It was tax time. Almost in unison, Coach and I looked up and said The Beatles’ Taxman must open the show. And, so it did. It isn’t possible to listen to that song without thinking of him.

I spent last summer in the Rockies as a Podcast Producer for The Banff Centre. My love for radio, and all things audio, grew under the loving care of Coach. His passion and enthusiasm were infectious, and shared by many; myself included. We were similar in a lot of ways. I, too, tend to take the opposing view in discussions, for argument’s sake. We would speak about matters dear to the heart, and how he had a long distance relationship with his wife, as well.

I was very moved, by the way people spoke about Coach; how he affected their lives, and everyone else’s sitting in that church. I thought about how I would be remembered. What impression will I leave? Will my journalism career be as enduring? Will my long-time friend go on about the good old days hosting Sunny Side Up, and our j-school adventures at my wake?

In part, my tear stained cheeks were owed to the fact that tomorrow marks 5 months since the passing of one of my uncles. Like with Coach, I can’t believe he’s gone. He remains a steadfast fixture in my thoughts, and at times in my dreams. A recurrence in these episodes of rapid eye movement, is how he has made it known that he’s okay. I have a hard time believing those I love have passed on. I am going to resign myself to the belief that it is because those we lost don’t ever truly leave us. I will take comfort in that.

I will also take comfort in knowing I could give back to Coach, and that his legacy will live on through the Ross Perigoe Memorial Scholarship.

Back To The Corner

I can’t remember my first dress. That’s because it was one of the first things that was squeezed over my fragile, newborn head. I do, however, remember the pleasure each acquisition of a new one brought me. I was hooked. Turning, and twirling to no end. I’ve had many dresses in my life; big ones, smalls one, short ones, talls one. As a kid, my mom said my motto was “the pouffier, the better”. Each year at Christmas my grandmother would present me with one. I called them my party dresses, for they were for special occasions (or, any spare moment I could throw one on with my party shoes– à  la Suri Cruise).

Not much thought went into wearing them; just excitement– which still fills me today upon sporting one. I recently packed up my belongings in preparation to move into a new apartment, and was astonished as to how many I indeed have.

Incidentally, my Pinterest bio states my enjoyment of the garment, but that is not why I am writing. This afternoon I sat in a dark theatre with many other Hot Doc-ers, and watched Back To The Square. The documentary film by Petr Lom about post-revolution Egypt features Salwa al-Husseini. Salwa protested during the uprising in Egypt and was apprehended. In a moment during the film, Salwa states her decision to no longer wear her hijab. She is seen later at a club in a dress. She seems overjoyed when announcing it is the only dress she has ever worn. Her reaction made me think about the simple act of putting on a dress for most on this side of the globe, and how impactful the process of choosing clothes can be. What does it mean to us? To others? How is it perceived by us, and others? What sentiments, or thoughts do the joint skirt and bodice provoke?

Mikail Nabil isn’t the first blogger I know of who has been arrested, but throughout the film as I played witness to the ongoing struggle of January 25’s Youth, I was reminded of my own blog. Mikail was imprisoned for 10 months, he refused to eat, he fought for his right to freedom of speech, something I, as a Canadian, exercise without the slightest apprehension:

It’s also something I do far less frequently, as of yet. I’ve felt I  haven’t had anything of significance worth sharing, (not that this posting is of enormous benefit/interest to you). Then at the very least, it’s nothing more then for my own musings, and to honour the fact that I could, and should.

Prior to the screening of Back To The Square, I sat and enjoyed my street meat on the corner of Bloor and Queens Park outside the ROM. Dozens of people were picketing to save documentary funding, and chanting “a cut to culture hurts us all”. While this present day protest nears not the severity of Egypt, I think it’s a battle worth fighting so we all may continue to be moved by the documentations made of the lives of others around the world.

Oh No She Didn’t! The Top Ten Moments From Gossip Girl!

While we await the whimsy of the upcoming wedding and whatever else 2012 has in store for our favorite Upper Eastsiders, we’ve recapped the top ten highlights of 2011.

-Kimberly Lamontagne

Gossip Girl Returns To MuchMusic With All-New Episodes Monday, January 16th @ 9PM ET!

Nate the newspaper man

No longer relying on his grandaddy, N got a job all on his own. Grant it, he may have been sleeping with the Editor in Chief (we’ll get to her in a moment), but kudos to Nate for securing that ‘position’. As it turns out, Gossip Girl’s resident Grandpa had bought the newspaper. Nate did prove himself to be a formidable employee, AND he looked gooood doing so, however.

Working girl

Serena joined the workforce and was a contributing member of society. Unfortunately, her job as a producer’s assistant went awry, and Serena is left serving society the best way she knows how; as a socialite. All is right in the world once more!

Princess Proposal

A proposal of princess proportions for Blair in season four! Louis Grimaldi, Prince of Monaco and Blair Cornelia Waldorf are set to wed.. when? Who knows if, where, what, why or how these two will join bonds in holy matrimony.

Deceitful Diana

Nate and Diana’s L.A. fling turned into something. The British import gave Nate a job, among other things. The devious journalist started up the Spectator, meant to rival Gossip Girl, but seemed to have more up her sleeve. A photo of her in [deceased] Bart’s files, made us question if she was Chuck’s mom? Maybe, his sister? She’s been in contact with Jack, so you know she cant be up to anything good!

B’s baby

Blair’s pregnancy came as a surprise to us, and her! One paternity test later, the father is presumably Prince Louis’. We have our suspicions that Chuck might have fathered her baby, since they slept together while her and Louis were ensemble.

Lily on the loose

Free from her ankle monitor and ready to mingle, mama van der Woodsen made her re-entry onto the New York scene this year. Why was she under house arrest to begin with, you ask? She forged Serena’s signature many moons ago landing Ben in jail.

Inside’s Insider

Dear ol’ Dan has published his diary.. we mean, his debut novel. He claimed his writing was a work of fiction, but he managed to make many of his friends mad; the storyline hit all too close to home for the main characters in his book, and his life!

Cousin Charlie

This outsider made a re-entry on Manhattan’s social scene. Serena’s ousted cousin (an actor named Ivy Dickens pretending to be Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Rhodes) was introduced in season four, but left after she went cray-cray and stole Serena’s dress, Dan, and went off her meds. S dragged her back after a chance encounter in L.A. over summer, and Charlie has since been enchanted by the Eastsider lifestyle.

Sugar and spice, Chuck is nice!

Has Chuck really become the man Blair hoped he could be? Indeed he has. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and losing Blair was the recipe to turn him into the respectable man he is today (the man she most craves).

Adios Vanessa

Dan said good-bye to Vanessa, and hello to a book deal. Dan has become much more enjoyable now that he’s lost his sidekick. Ms. Abrams sold Dan’s story and had it published before fleeing to study abroad in Spain.

XOXO

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