September 30 – as I move out

68/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. So here I am on my last night on my own. It’s been 13 months since I have been figuring out my shit. Yeah, I said it, shit – we all have it but we don’t necessarily deal with it but I have attempted to. I was that guy who went straight from being a son to being a husband to being a father – I never got to figure out me. I blame no one. That was the time. That was also my ethnicity. This last year has been a time for growth, reflection and enlightenment. I have learned a great deal about me. I have learned a great deal about my strengths. I have also learned more about my weaknesses and where I am lacking in life. A little over a year ago, due to life circumstances, I needed to find a place away from the comfort of the family home of Steveston. I ended up, through that crazy dynamic of “what a small world”, meeting a person who was a former student of mine (I, still to this day, do not remember teaching him. 😦 ) James recognized me immediately and told me about the courses I taught him. I feigned recognition. James told me about how interesting the courses were. I nodded still trying to place him. The conversation went on and it became clear that James wanted to rent out his condo and to make a long story short, it worked out where I rented his place. I have to thank you James for walking in to my life when I needed you and meeting my needs. Your place, although not my home, was my pad and allowed me to work on my self and also to reacquaint with old friends and develop new friendships.  Thank you for renting out your place (dare I say at an amazing bargain) and  I sign this lease in your honour!!


September 29 – former model, current friend

67/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. Sometimes you just need a person who does your ego good. Four years ago, I started a new job at a new high school after working at UBC for three years. It was a tough move as I had to start all over. I didn’t really make an effort to meet new people and yes, I created a great self-fulfilling prophecy that I am not going to enjoy it at the school and that is exactly what ended up happening my first year. However, there were actually some great people there and Char was one of them but I didn’t know it at the time. Char is the counsellor at the school and I met her in passing a few times in that first year. We started to chat because of our affiliation with various committees and of course, having students in common. We got to know each other much more over more committee work and dare I say teacher wine nights. I do have to say that Char is a beautiful person inside and out – and let me comment, former model and still damn hot – yes, I’ve tried to Google her pics to no avail!! 😉 But seriously, she has been so very supportive of me, gives my ego a boost all the time – she has a knack in that she knows when I need that pick me up. We work well together and get things accomplished and she is just a wonderful woman who is working with teenagers for all the right reasons. Char has a great heart and is there for you when you need it the most. I am so very glad that we have gotten to know each other over the last few years and I look forward to our friendship and working relationship developing that much more so. Thank you for being my McNair buddy Char – I write a report card in your honour!

September 28 – looks are everything ;)

66/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. If you know me personally or even if you don’t but have seen me on social media, you know that I’m a chameleon when it comes to my appearance – especially my hair. This post isn’t all about my looks though but let me continue. I have had it in several different styles and colours since the age of 19 – that asymmetrical Flock of Seagulls look still makes me cringe as does the yellow straw blonde. I was told all my life that I would lose my hair or damage the follicles but here I am at 50 and going strong on my quest for a man-bun – yeah, maybe I’m at the tail end of the trend but I can’t be accused of being a quitter. My hairdresser Suzie has been instrumental in changing up my looks – from giving me trendy fashion forward cuts to dying and re-dying my hair to my satisfaction. She convinced me to slowly go my current natural salt n pepper and that has been one of the best looks-wise decisions I have made. Suzie has gotten to know me and vice versa – the typical bartender/bar patron scene taking place in a hair salon. I am amazed by her positivity as the struggle that she has been through in her personal life – comparable to mine on some levels – has also made her into a strong woman. A strong business woman as well. She keeps her head up and continues doing her best with her family and work life. Although she is technically a stranger to me as we don’t fraternize outside of the hair salon, I feel that I’ve learned a lot about struggle, persistence, resilience and positivity from her. Thank you Suzie for being not only my hair dresser but someone who allows me to put my life into perspective. I dab some pomade on your behalf!

September 27 – just when you needed a friend

65/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. Just over a year ago, I made a monumental life decision that changed every detail of what had defined me for the previous couple of decades. My wife and I decided to take a mutual break from each other and as the father, I knew that it was much more important for my children to have their mother in the same home. I went on my hunt for a place – never telling anyone what I was going through by keeping up my happy facade. During birthday week last year – yes, I celebrate for an entire week – one of my friends Pam invited me over to her place for birthday martinis. Pam and I had worked together years ago when she was a beginning teacher at my school but then she moved to teach in Surrey. We lost touch but met again at a pool party (just a year prior to last year’s events) and we made a concerted effort to hang out more often. During that birthday martini celebration, she also had a friend over who, in conversation, mentioned that he and his girlfriend were moving in together and he was probably going to rent out his furnished, new place. I took this as a sign and opened up to Pam on a train ride downtown. She set the wheels in motion and well, I had my place. Pam was the first person over to my place and was a great support system in those early months when my life was in disarray. She has been an amazing friend over the last year – from long walks talking about what life throws you to hitting up as many happy hours on a Friday night in Gastown to chilled out drives around the city to sipping drinks in funky venues in Vancity to introducing me to some new friends. Thank you Pam for re-entering my life just when I needed it and bringing all the good things with you that made my transition so much less stressful. I look forward to keeping our friendship going and continuing our socializing adventures! I raise a funky rhubarb infused bourbon sour amid the trendy people to salute you my friend!

September 26 – boys will be boys

64/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. As I take this weekend to pack and move on from the place that I have called not my home but just a place I land in at after work or going out, I take time to reflect on the people who also were in the building for the past year. None of my neighbours talked to me – yes, I stayed in central Richmond in a brand new building and can chalk it up to ethnic differences – but it’s kind of sad when eye contact is avoided and nary a hello is offered in the elevator but I got through it. This was the case for most of my 13 month stay until about 4 months ago. I pulled into the underground parking garage and as is the norm with my driving, you can hear my music before you can see my car. As I finished pulling into the parking stall, the guy with the vehicle behind me and to the right who had been washing it commented “Where’s the party?” I was surprised to first be talked to and second to see a different ethnicity in the building from the majority. Kevin struck up a conversation and invited me over to meet his wife and friends. I also met Matt that night and the three of us became instant beer drinking pals which is kind of surprising as I am almost two decades their senior!! Yes, I get called Uncle Sangha by one and Sangha by the other but I guess it’s true that age ain’t nothing but a number or beer unites all 😉 The three of us have gotten together at least thrice a month or more for beers and have gone out a few times – I can say that getting kicked out of a venue has been a highlight for me as that has never, ever been something I have been involved in. 🙂 Both Kevin and Matt have made my last few months at Mayfair more than bearable and I thank you both for that as I have enjoyed the good times we have had and they have all been good! I also appreciate the advice from both of you in regards to my son, his sports and just general teenage years. I’m looking forward to the continuation of our friendships even though we won’t be linked by proximity, we will always have beer 😉 Once again, thanks Kevin & Matt – you guys are awesome! I pop the top off of a craft beer (or three) in your honour.

September 25 – how to lead 101

63/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. I never realized the benefit of a good leader as I’ve always been fortunate that the people that I’ve worked with, aside from one exception, have led effectively. I have never required anything from the leaders that I’ve worked with except acting as the occasional sounding board for advice whenever I might be second-guessing my own actions/decisions.   I just naturally accepted that leaders did their job and didn’t really affect mine – this is because most of the leaders that I have had the opportunity to work with have been able to sail the rough seas and keep the ship on course by the use of their well-honed skills and personality traits and not let the seas dictate their captaining style. I have to say my current administrator Jason falls into this category of a good leader. I forgot the importance of effective leadership until he took the helm. He has a quiet calm and leads by example. He takes time to reflect and consider the impact of his actions. He doesn’t let emotion get the best of him. He has people skills and allows dialogue and discussion on “hot topic” issues. He also knows when and how to own up to and apologize for any mistakes/oversights. He respects all people. One needs a leader in the workplace but one that knows how to lead well and to lead fairly. I am once again in a place where I am doing my own thing, have the autonomy to make my own decisions and am trusted to do my job to the best of my abilities based on my knowledge, expertise and experience because of Jason’s hands off style – trust is there on both sides. Rest assured, I have an administrator to go to when and if I need to. Thank you Jason for allowing me to once again flourish because of your leadership style.

September 24 – when i went from the bottom to the top

62/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. I’ve had high school teachers who have made a difference for me. I’ve had a university professor who was my advisor during my Masters program make a difference for me but I’ve only ever had one university professor who made a difference for me during their teaching of me. In my third year of university, I wanted to take yet another elective outside of my Commerce degree program. My first choice was Punjabi 300. It is the native language of my parents and because I could only speak it brokenly (my sister and I called our language Pun-glish as we would speak to our parents in a mixture of both Punjabi and English as they could speak both), I thought that it would be to my advantage to learn it. However, since it was an 8.30 am class, that idea was nixed pretty fast given how long a bus commute would take. I decided on Hindi 300 Beginners which I thought was a similar dialect to Punjabi and it was at a decent time of 12.30 – yes, my education is all at my convenience   I got to the class and the instructor was white and all the students were white. He took one look at me and said Hindi 301 Advanced and sent me to another lecture room. I was stunned. I can barely speak my own language and I am being sent to an advanced class in another language? I got there and everyone was brown-skinned like myself – even the professor. I was nervous as I heard the chit-chat all in Hindi but didn’t understand a word of it. I sat there as the professor started the lecture in – surprise, surprise – Hindi! My heart beating, I looked around and everyone was understanding except for one girl – Sheena. By the end of the class, I was mentally exhausted as I had no clue what happened, what was assigned, what we had to do. I would have normally just transferred out but something made me talk to the professor. I told her that I had no clue what was going on and that I was sent out of Hindi Beginners. She asked me if I was willing to try and learn and I said yes. I went almost every other day to see her after class and she gave me easy simple Hindi books to read and helped me recognize the characters and start with simple pronunciation etc. The other girl Sheena and I naturally gravitated towards each other based on our lack of understanding. When it came to oral skills in class – the days I dreaded – I would get a few things correct trying my best but to the snickering of the others. I tried and tried and was nowhere near the others in class but never gave up. In the end, I was expecting perhaps a Pass or if lucky a C. When the final grades were posted, I started at the bottom of the list expecting to find my name there and ended up being at the top with the highest grade. I was stunned and knew a mistake had been made. All the others were trying to figure out who had the top grade and then they both looked at Sheena and myself. I said nothing but the professor, seeing everything, said it was me and the students asked why as I didn’t know any Hindi – uhm, awkward!! To the students’ chagrin, she told everyone that from where I began to where I ended up, I made the most advancements and most of their improvements were incremental. I was in shock and awe – this amazing woman assessed my individual learning and didn’t rank me against my classmates in a university class of all places and I ended up with the highest grade based on effort. I often look back at her assessment style and try to model myself after her. I, for the life of me, can’t remember her name but have to thank this woman from the bottom of my student and teacher heart for instilling in me such a valuable lesson and yes, giving me an amazing grade! I write an exam for you my Hindi 301 professor!

September 23 – brother from another mother

61/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. You know how people say ‘brother from another mother’ or ‘sister from another mister’ – I didn’t really get it but I would just go with it and say yeah, they have a connection with someone of the same sex, they are good friends. Being the only male sibling of three and having more female cousins growing up, I really longed to have a brother (older or younger) that I could have bonded with over common interests but alas, it was never to be. However, I have actually felt that brotherly bond with a guy I only ended up meeting about six months ago although our connection and friendship seems like it has been developed over years and years. I met Martin at the gym I go to. On first glance, I was intimidated by hipster dude – rocking beard that I have envied from day one, amazing hair and those tattoos!!! Totally thought this guy was the coolest guy in the gym. We worked out a couple of times in various classes not saying much to each other – frog jumps before friends I guess. Then a few weeks later, during casual conversation before class start-up, Martin mentions that he too is a teacher and there it was – instant camaraderie and the beginning of a friendship. Unsurprisingly, what has since cemented our bro-fest – love of craft beer! Fast forward about six months and here we are the best of Richmond beer drinking buddies trying brew after brew and enjoying our newly founded friendship. We may not have the same taste in all our musical choices – that has become obvious – but we engage in intellectual conversation (okay, also non-intellectual conversations), have several commonalities and well, damn, we love craft beer. I think of Martin as my cool, younger brother (skin colour be damned) and I’m so happy that he is becoming a first-time parent early next year and joining the club. Who would have thought a great friendship could develop over such a little time span. To my little brother, I raise a pint to you buddy – you are awesome and I am so glad I met you!!

September 22 – you did my son a solid

60/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. As a parent, you want to give your kids sound advice, every advantage, options that fit them and the opportunities to discover their own talents. Both my kids have great qualities such as humour, compassion and intelligence. My daughter, 7 years my son’s senior, is slowly figuring out her career path but knew definitely that academia would be her pursuit getting there. My son, still in the middle of high school, has been trying to figure this out for himself. I mentioned it in passing, amongst other things, to a few friends over drinks one evening and my friend Trevor, who I had only recently met, said that he was willing to take my son for a day on the set of a locally filmed television show and give him an insight as to what it was like to work for film and television as production crew. I told my son and he was very excited for the experience. On the day of the filming, I had to drop him off for 7am. I was told by Trevor that the days could be long. I thought I was a cool, laid back dad but I could not help myself from texting my son constantly asking him if he was okay, did he need anything, should I come by – after all, it was my son’s first “working” day ever. My son, as a typical teenager, gave me lackadaisical responses of “it’s okay”, “I’m bored”, “it’s alright”, “I got food”!! I tried not to pester Trevor but the dad in me couldn’t stop. I was reassured that he was fine. After picking him up a full 12 and half hours later, my son told me that he liked this working with his hands kind of stuff and that he wanted to do something like this for a career. Since that day this past summer, he has decided that BCIT (technical school) is his area and he will be pursuing that. I really thank you Trevor for giving my son a guiding light in relation to a career path. You did not have to do that as you had only met me but I am so glad that you did do that as it has given my son a goal for his education. I raise a Kokanee in your honour!!

September 21 – from the west coast to the east coast

59/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. One of the most stressful things to organize as a teacher is a field trip. Not just a one day trip. No, a multi-day overnight trip. Not just for a weekend. No, 7-10 days. And not just a local trip. No, we’re talking flights. And finally, not just a Canadian trip. No, let’s take it all the way to Europe, China, Japan – you name it, we teachers do it. I have taken several groups of students on a few national and international trips and although a lot of work, they turn out to be amazing experiences for the students and for the teachers although we are on high alert as we are pseudo-parents 24/7. To get comfortable with doing this, the company I chose organized a tour to Rome for a weekend for the sponsor teachers – yes, a weekend…flying out from Vancouver to Rome!! I went for it. I was the teacher who flew the furthest for a weekend. I had no clue what to expect. I immediately made friends with my Canadian counterparts from various provinces and hit it off with friends from south of the border. Once again, odd connections were made – if one were to look at it from the outside, no one would have predicted urbanite trendy brown Vancouverite becoming fast friends with goateed, brawny, white, New jersey native Chuck. But friends we did become during that weekend bonding over drinks, lost passports, drinks, shopping for our wives, drinks, amazing sites, drinks, some wonderful Italian food and did I mention drinks? On the Sunday, we all went our separate ways not really thinking that we would stay in touch but Chuck had mentioned that he would definitely be having a reunion and about three years later, he put it out there. I was one of two from the original crew of 8 or so who made it out to New Jersey. Chuck and his family were amazing. They showed me the time of my life – from eating fresh crab to partaking in shandys, from shooting rifles to boating, from smoking stogies to meeting new friends. Who would have thought that a person you meet randomly on a weekend would end up becoming a friend on Facebook and then a friend in real life. I thank you Chuck for an awesome trip and even an “awesomer” friendship and I look forward to renewing it in real life yet again! Raising the US flag for you!