Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Sanctuary

The Chef's place has always been the sanctuary, as far back as I remember. I became friends with him through Hojam and knew Hojam through The Microbe. We always, or better to say 99% of the time, hung out at The Chef's. He would call us or we would automatically show up at his door most of the time on Fri, evenings. Many would simply come because he provided free food and many would come just to drink with him. That was free too. Regardless of that, which was an important factor, I must admit, hanging out there was always fun.There was no strippers, no girls, no smoking and no gambling. I might sound very unusual to Westerners here but that's how we spent the night. At times fights would broke out but at least I was not part of anything serious! 
None of us ever were broke at the time and everyone either made as much money as he did or even more but no one dislikes free food and free booze. For the later of course you have to be a drinker. It was impossible to get into The Chef's and he wouldn't hand you a can of beer.
He drank a lot and drank hard liquor besides beer. He drank too much that now he has ulcer. I noticed that when he visited me in Squamish. I had to take him to a local clinic at the time.
But apart from that, everyone was mooching off him! The biggest loser was Hojam who even slept at his place for many many nights simply because he was a fucking lazy bastard and cheap motherfucker! I have brought part of his history here in this blog in a separate post. Then it was The Loyal. He was the bastard of the bastards. Being from a part of the old country which people are infamous for being cheap, this motherfucker fanatic was The Chef's roommate for a while and interesting things happens to him which should be the subject of at least one post. He was from a very poor family in Isfahan. When they split, he would still go for free food to The Chef's. And then there was Hassan the North. This piece of shit that I met him once in my own place back to 2006, was a sailor who had left his ship when it docked in one of the ports of British Columbia. Being from a village in the north of Iran, he was a mid-aged guy, physically very strong, as a sailor of a commercial ship has to be, he even had grandchildren but the piece of shit had abandoned everything and sought asylum in Canada! Here he was chasing Aboriginal women or on general everything that he could put his penis in! He was mooching off The Chef a lot but wouldn't hang out with me or maybe it should be said he never hung out with us when I was there. His case for remaining in Canada as a refugee, as he told me once, was that a specific person in his village had planned to kill him and he feared his life! I don't know what piece of shit lawyer would accept a nonsense case like this but apparently he had one! The Chef told me that he had not seen him for a very long time after he returned the last installment of some $800 he had borrowed, although not complete, he paid part of that money after some 2 years! The Chef said that once he was back home from work, when he used to live in 15th Ave., he found a note in front of the main entrance of his building indicating that Hassan the North had come and was in need of his help! That at least should have been 5 years ago! Then it was a religious guy the Refrigerator Mechanic, I would like to call him. He was a family man and I met him once only. He was some kind of a jerk. Once I, Hojam and this guy were at The Chef's and he even didn't wait for the others at the table and started eating! He had a very bad impression on me but The Chef says that he still calls him and he is successful in his family and professional life. Good for him!
Who else? There was this guy who hung out with Hojam a lot and they actually worked together. This piece of shit was a fat fuck, addicted, drunkard whom I met once only. He worked in a restaurant which later was closed and the new owner after reopening, replaced him! That's what I was told but the whole story could be anything else. This motherfucker would go to The Chef's and get money from him for weed! The last time he got some $60 from him and got disappeared but the reason was that him and Hojam were trying to scam The Chef some big chunk of money. The Addicted Fat, I would call him here, told The Chef that his mother was sick and he needed some $20,000 or so to have her admitted to a hospital for an important surgery! I don't know if The Chef had that kind of money at the time but I know he worked 7 days a week and sent money to his family and I also know they were very close to convince him but somehow he didn't pay them and that was the reason The Addicted Fat never showed up! There was also a Kurdish guy whom used to hang out with them and basically as I said earlier everybody would go there just to benefit from this simple guy, The Chef
When I called him last night he asked me to go there and I reached his place around 03:15 PM. He was dressed, sitting at the dinner table drinking beer and eating. He was a little bit drunk but suggested to go to my place because he said he was looking for a change and I can understand that. For years and years people always gathered at his place, ate his food, drank his beer and took his money but he never complained mainly because that was the only way he could overcome his loneliness. So I said OK. We went to Superstore and we got a little grocery including a good piece of Stake and then an 8-pack of Kokenee and went to my place. I cooked, yes cooked(!) the Stake by adding herbs, salt, paper, onion, mushroom and garlic powder and it came out really good. I then drove him back. That's what it is and always has been. Hanging out with The Chef is always fun. You eat and you listen to his stories and most of them are interesting and hilarious! The Chef himself is the sanctuary! 

Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Winter Hike of Burstall Pass

It had been a while since I was out in the nature. There were so many different reasons for that. First of all being out of work completely destroys your mood for anything fun mainly because you know you're spending money without having any income and then you might ask yourself: Am I doing something wrong? Shouldn't I be home searching for job?! Then there was no partner and although I have done the majority of my hike alone, that is a kind of motivation. The car had a problem and I just got it fixed a few days ago. That should be added and then winter is not a good time for hiking unless you're well-equipped and well trained and experienced.
Commonwealth Peak in the morning when the sun is not completely up. The picture is not good but shows how deep the snow is in the flat area. Look at the hiking sign.
Nevertheless for the first hike of 2016 I decided to do a hike and first I had Skogan Pass in mind and then checked my available material and found something that I had printed long time ago. It apparently is part of a book and this chapter or section 19 of it introduces Burstall Pass. It's a good guide but of course not for winter hike but I used it anyways. So I set the alarm at 05:30 AM and headed to Kananaskis. Following the GPS, it suggested to take Highway 40 and then turn to Smith-Dorrien Trail while I had thought to go from Canmore but maybe that was closer. Highway 40 was dry and completely safe but when I turned to Smith-Dorrien, particularly when I saw a warning sign about the condition I panicked  little bit mainly because if something happens at 06:30 AM and you can't get help, you're most likely die quickly and with pain! I drove on the trail which had been plowed and sanded. It was not very bad but scary. I finally pulled into the parking lot. Before stepping out I realized that the thermometer was showing -14º C while in the city when I left it was some 4 ºC. I had not taken lots of warm cloths and there was so much snow that I panicked again especially because there was no one else in the parking lot. For a moment and after seeing the pile of snow which was up to the windows of the car but plowed away, I decided to go home! I thought: It's cold, there's so much snow and I will be in trouble where there's nobody around and there's no cell phone coverage! But I got myself together after a few minutes, put my hiking shoes and jacket on and took the map and information out. By the time I was ready to hit the trail, it was almost 08:18 while my original plan was to start between 07:30 and 07:45!
Burstall Pass and area map. I guess I got myself to the point that is marked with a green X.
Luckily this time I found the right trail and carried on. There was lots of snow and at spots I was sinking. It reminded me of the hike I had in Baldy Pass a few years ago but I kept going. I finally reached the first point that I was 100% sure I had taken the right trail: The flats. Surprisingly signs were seen in distance but this part was so deep under snow that the signs barely had their head out! I crossed the flats and looked at my left (south) and confirmed another sign from the printed information: Robertson Glacier. After the flats the trail goes into the forest again and that's easier in the way that there is no wind but here is where you really need a snow shoe and pole and I had neither! I kept going regardless of the fact that I had not brought any of the mentioned tools and it was not very bad. It actually was a good exercise. After going up a little again you reach a flat area which in the book it is named meadows. Here you have to deal with both and soft snow and then again the trail goes up. I followed a pair of snow shoe tracks all the way and at spots it became dangerous but eventually reached somewhere that there was no track and the snow was so deep that I sank up to my waste. There I guess I made a mistake. I checked the time and it showed that I had been walking for a little over 3 hours. I didn't spend any time to find the trail and headed back from there. I guess I had gone as far as perhaps 90% of the way but got scared again!
On the way back I saw two guys coming up with ski and poles. I guess they reached the final point. I took a few pictures as the sun was up and no clouds was seen and I guess it was around 12:44 or something when I get into the vehicle.
Burstall Pass hike in the winter should not be a problem for the ones with good gear and it's highly recommended. Just pick a day which is not very cold. The chilly temperature of morning was changed to some nice and sunny on my way back. So I was not disturbed by low temperature. I perhaps takes this hike in summer to see the final spot and the beauty of the surrounding mountains and vegetation in that season. An alternative would be continuing to Leman Lake but I realize there are mountains around which could be scrambled or hiked too. There are so many hikes and scrambles available that I personally do not want to do one more than once but someone you think you have to do what you were not able to finish and that is mostly with scrambles. On the way back and from distance I guess it was Wolf going in to the trees. It certainly looked bigger than a Fox from distance but could be either. I approached and slowed down but it disappeared in the woods. That was the only animal I saw. 
(Photo, top: Mountains at the other side of Smith-Dorrien Trail across the parking lot)

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Land of Poor and Rich Only

In Canada two groups of people live well. Actually very well: The poor and the rich! If you're poor, you get all sorts of helps from the government, non-profit companies and else. You never had to study so you don't have to keep up-to-date! Continuing education and its high tuition mean nothing to you! You buy your cloths from Value Village or receive it as donation. If you want to spend plenty, you buy from Wal-Nasty-Mart! Your meal is probably consist of some sticky rice, canned food or other lumberjack type(!) which is very cheap. Here I would like to insist that I have nothing against lumberjacks and their food! Lumberjack food is usually called to a food which has lots of Carbohydrate and some Protein but not much or no vegetables or fiber item. This is considered very favorable food in many cultures including India, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other advanced (!) Countries like that.Your hobby is sitting at home and talking or at the most watching TV. In summer the best way to spend time is walking in the park because it's free. generally you're OK. Nothing much affects you. Tomato $2.99/lb doesn't bother you because you're happy with your nice, noodle or $2.5 Hamburger. I just bought 4 tomatoes for $3.88 from Safeway yesterday.
This is what is being talked about in North America and probably soon Europe and other Industrialized countries: The middle class is being eliminated. Most of the jobs are becoming the ones not required any skill and many are being removed. Skilled jobs are subject to high competition and many companies tend to hire people with less expectations such as East Indians and Chinese.
On the other hand the rich is not worried about anything. They enjoy their million dollars homes, expensive restaurants, luxury cars and vacations. In fact the gap between poor and rich is so deep that sometimes it sounds scary. There are people who collect cans and bottles and sleep on the street or shelter or they have a job, they work like a horse for some $1800 a month while there are people who make that $1800 in a day! For me that have been always in the middle, it is very tough now and all when things get tough, the tough gets going is what I believe in but seems that this time it's no joke! I've been out of work for almost 5 freaking months now and I had to adjust to a new life style. Haven't been to a movie, haven't been to HMV for 6 months now(!), my eating habits have changed and I have problem eating good healthy foods I used to eat every day because good and fresh vegetables and fruits are expensive. I have switched to cheaper, less nutritious foods and all those trips that I had planned now look like they are dreams! People say that's for everybody! But that's not. Many people cannot give up their life style even after losing their job. Thanks to credit card companies. Their expenses remain high and they go deeper and deeper in to debt but I don't think there's much that they worry about. You can't pay your rent, you'll move with family or back to your hometown. You can't pay the mortgage. Too bad! You're losing the home but these are not all about the trips that you can take only when you're young and that's what I'm worried about!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Montana's Cookhouse

We had a $15 gift card that The Lady had been given long time ago. This was good in a few restaurants and we decided to try Montana's Cookhouse last weekended. The restaurant was crowded and we were asked to wait for 10 minutes. Fine. The wait didn't take more than 10 min. and that had a good impression on us. While waiting we had a look at the menu since that was our first time. Wanted to make sure we got what we wanted. The interior is very nicely decorated. It reminds you of a cottage. It has a few Kayaks and other outdoor activity tools but since we visited at night and there was not much lighting, we didn't see everything clearly but it was nice.
The table is covered with a type of paper sheet which to me seemed a smart idea but The Lady found it cheap. I guess they can quickly take the sheet away and replace that with a new one. There's nothing wrong with that. Our server quickly showed up at the table and I really didn't want to spend a lot. So I ordered a Burger with a small Salad at side. The Lady ordered a sort of plate which was a combination of Rib, Fries, Sausage, Fried Onion and a few other things including Cornbread, I guess. 
The food arrived quickly, surprisingly which was good. 
I didn't like the Burger very much. It was not bad but I was not impressed. Perhaps because I ordered an undressed version of it. It was small and dry. So I would say the Burger gets 2 out of 5. The Lady's plate was nice. Not as big as what we had expected but it was good. I tried the Rib, the Sausage and Cornbread and they were all good but loaded with sauce and stuff which is not good for you but how often we visit restaurants like this? Once is a six month?! 
The side salad was not bad but as usually a small portion. I would give 4 out of 5 or maybe even 4.5 out of 5 to The Lady's dish. Would be going there again? Yes. Definitely. if we'er in the mood of outside food, particularly Rib, I would say we visit. They have cooked the Ribs perfectly and the sauce was not too much. We could even ask for a different sauce or no sauce at all. 
(Photo: The entrance of the restaurant in the evening)

Friday, February 12, 2016

Ongoing Applications

I have had a few applications for different things in my life that at a time I felt it would be an ongoing application, forever without a favorable result! They are all related to my life in Canada as my life was pretty normal and easy before that! One might asked then why I moved to Canada? When I moved the country of my origin was about to take a big nose dive. In fact it had started a few years before I left but the steepness was not much. In the past 15 years this course of decline has been so much that the country now has an economy, education, environment, culture, mentality and morality of the least immoral people in the entire world and there seems no bright future. 
Nevertheless the first one was obviously this application for immigration to Canada which I think took some 8 years, perhaps! It's so far away that I can't remember how many years I waited for that and did different things, not knowing that the life would be tougher in many aspects here. And not knowing that many people simply make up a story and come to Canada and use many benefits that the governments, both federal and providential and maybe even municipal, provides for them. Or they get somehow lucky, like these bunch of Syrians who got on the plane and now are being treated like Royal Family here! I filled out forms, collected documents, performed finger prints and criminal background check, studied English and even traveled to Damascus once. There was days that I was walking by the embassy of Canada, on my way home, looking at the flag and thinking would I ever get the chance to go there! Now I'm here and have no clue what to do to get myself out of this mess! 
Then when I was in Canada and had a very tough, physically demanding job. The life was going on but there was barely any week going on without me thinking: Would I ever get an easy and well-paid job which suits my education, needs, talents, etc.? 
Took me almost 10 years until I got what I thought I had been waiting for: A job in the field that I had been educated in and had experience. Soon I realized I was wrong! Assholes at work ignored most of the things I ever said and the job became a nightmare. There was barely any month going on without job applications,particularly after I was recognized as a Professional Engineer. All those companies that I had interview with are in trouble now and they are releasing their work-force. My earning was not bad. I lived a pretty good life and spent the way I wanted, almost until I got kicked out and now back to the starting point again! 
I was approached for the third time by this company in British Columbia for the position I had applied back in the Nov. It was just this last Wed. when the person said that they would need more for a 6-month contract. Another ongoing application. He said he would contact me by the end of the week but nothing happened. He had said the same thing last time he called and took him more than 10 days to contact but I guess this time the position is gone to someone else. But what can I do? I just keep applying! That's all I'm capable of. 

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

A New Hope

I finally received the first phone call in 2016 yesterday. An HR lady from a company in the city called and talked for about 18 min. She said that she would notify the related manager and if he decides, he would call me for an interview. My resume is not bad and I can twist it in almost every direction to fit almost any position but it's tough out there. Lots of people out of work and I don't have anyone to recommend me. 
This would be a permanent position she said and asked me whether I would be OK with $X an hour wage. I was going to say I would even be OK with $X/10 an hour but didn't show me desperate! My situation already shows that I'm desperate, being out of work now for 4 freaking months now!

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Ignorance Is Bliss

We went to a local Safeway for a little grocery shopping a few days ago and in its bakery department we saw this above sign! Apparently an idiot wanted to used Italian flag to advertise for a new bread in the bakery and somehow ended up using the Islamic Murderers Republic of Iran flag! 
I know that people are mostly fucking ignorant particularly someone who works in a bakery of Safeway but hoped at least the store manager would know the difference between the flags! Although that might be a wrong assumption as well. Most of people in Canada has never left the country or if they did have not been further than Toilet Mexico or at the most the US. They don't know geography, history and nothing for that matter. Some have traveled to Toilet Mexico a few times but never to Newfoundland and Labrador! Ignorance is truly a bliss for many here and they're just happy that they have a pay-check coming to them every two weeks and a pussy to fuck or a dick to suck! Politicians do whatever they want and sell it to people under the name of democracy! 
And now this piece of crap, Trudeau with his ridiculous cabinet of the people can barely speak the official language of the country, intends to restart relationship with the fucking Islamic Murderers Republic of Iran
(Photo: Picture taken from a Safeway bakery department shows Islamic Murderers Republic of Iran flag mistaken for Italian! What of stupid, piece of shit these people are!)

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Normal Until Sober

The Chef had a serious problem with drinking and now it's much better. It was so bad that I had to take him to a clinic when he visited me in Squamish a few years ago. There was not a single day that I went to his place and he didn't offer me cans of beer. Now he has switched to red wine! He thinks its healthy and good for him as well as being cheaper. I haven't seen either when he drinks it! 
First of all it doesn't seem to be cheaper for him because he buys a bottle of cheap wine for $10 to $12 and finishes it with his meal. Boom! Gone! And then another bottle for the next meal! Second of all the amount he drinks I don't think it's healthy and its disadvantages are more than the advantages. 
We went to Radjoot Restaurant this week and being a buffet we both got a plate of food and just after a few minutes he ordered red wine. The guy who actually is very nice and polite brings him a glass of wine and he gulp it down after a few bites! 
Then The Chef turn to me and says that he was saturated, I quote, and if he had know we would come here for lunch, he would not have had that much breakfast! He told him to go for a lunch and when I suggested Radjoot, he agreed! Then he kept eating, obviously not as much as what I was eating, because I didn't have any breakfast(!) and ordered the second, the third and I guess up to 5 glasses of red wine. Every time the guy would come with his measuring cup(!) and would fill The Chef's glass. I finally felt full after two plates of food and two cups of desert and he was eating slowly and unwillingly. He seemed drunk after the third glass and when he is drunk, he act weirdly! He laughs and he looks around and whispers to himself and eats small bites. I couldn't ask him to go but he finally realized he could not eat any more although he had some food in his plate! 
He was paying so he went to the counter and paid while had a little chat with the guy. I guess he ended up paying some $80 for both of us(!) and was complaining why the bill was that big! I told him that cost was mainly the wine because the buffet only cost $15 each which with tax and tip would not go higher than $40 but he ended up paying double the normal cost as he was drunk and he didn't enjoy the food very much as he was almost full! That's what happens when you're not sober in a restaurant!
(Photo: Radjoot restaurant in 4th St. SW is a popular lunch place among the neighbouring businesses and residents. This is their main lunch buffet section taken with my stupid mobile phone)

Monday, February 01, 2016

Flashback (31): Night is Falling

I finally convinced The Lady to go to Shaganapi Park for a skating practice yesterday afternoon. It was her original suggestion but got dis-motivated during the day, a Sun., until finally accepted to go! So we went there and we realized it was crowded! A few assholes with luge and other similar vehicles were pulling kids on the ice! I thought ice is for Skating and Hockey but what can I do?! We decided to do a little shopping and come back and luckily most of the had been scattered. So we geared up and started. It was not bad and after almost 20 min. I told her that we should have left. She said: You're being your Grandma now! She's right this was the story that I had told her about my Grandma and she reminded me of that!
Although our family was the one who mostly visited Mara but we have barely any photo. Of course digital camera was not available in those days and we did have a Polaroid but not photo. This shows Mulberry of white kind which is very popular and of course delicious. It is used both fresh and dried. 
I guess this is what is happening to us immigrants at this age: Memories keep coming to mind, especially when we're alone. Loneliness can be considered being without friends or much social life. Anyways this is what the story is. We used to go to this little valley village called Mara near the town of Damavand where my Grandfather had a house, a few orchards and a few lots. It was close to Tehran and a wonderful getaway in summer. In fact my Grandma would go and stay for up to 3 months sometimes. There was no telephone and barely electricity in the first years that I remember I went there. The weather was so nice in hot summer days that you would not be able to sleep without a blanket. The orchards were all one of a kind. Incredibly delicious and natural fruit, not these most of carp that you get from supermarkets. We had Sour Cherry, Apple, Apricot, Walnut, White Mulberry, Pears and of course some vegetables. I remember we used to go to the river and enjoy the fresh air and fruits. My Grandma had this habit which saying: Night is falling. Let's go back home. While it was not even dusk! I never knew why she would say that but it became a kind of expression within a family and everyone was saying it jokingly! Those incredible beautiful days are long gone with most of the people that we used to hang out with. Grandma was gone long time ago. Probably more than 25 years ago. Dad is gone. Two of the uncles are gone and the family is dispersed and scattered. The only thing remains is the memories which are said off and on. 
(Photo, top: Shaganapi community skating rink is awesome even at night. The good thing about it is that you do not have to spin around yourself! You go straight and maneuver and it's very pleasurable and at night the lights help you to keep a balance!)