Hey, now that I’m on the last leg of my trip to Halifax, let me say this: I love traveling, and also know that the experience of visiting a new place and meeting new people isn’t worth it unless it is a life-changing experience. Meaning, you won’t be the same again. You change because you learn a lot of new things, see people living in new ways, and many things open up in your mind. You are growing and developing at a much faster rate than normal.
The onslaught of new information is constantly making you think in different way. I just love it. So, even though I’ve visited Halifax for the second time, a lot of it has been new for me. Specially, the many lakes I saw and the ice skating seen at the Nova Scotia Bank Center.
It was good to see that Peggy’s Cove is as beautiful as ever, and the restaurant there, still serves the tastiest of fish and chips. (In these days, it is a big thing for any establishment to maintain its excellent services.)
Meeting family after some time:
Even meeting your close family members after some months or years can be a new experience, because you all have grown and developed into newer versions of yourself. It is important to bond afresh with each other, moving your relationship into a deeper and richer version of your previous relationship.
Last time Nadiya and I met was in Turkey (September 2022), you can know more about that trip here and here. A few months before that, we were together when she came to Islamabad to be with me for four months, (September 2021 to January 2022 ). Being sick with cancer was a horrifying time for me, and it was a rough time for all the family. I have now met Haaris after three-and-a-half years.
So, now it was great to be meeting up when we were well. You see, the last time I came to Halifax, Nadiya had her girl, so it was a tough time for her.) I pitched in and did all the cooking and caring of baby and Nadiya.
This time, Nadiya was determined to give me a real treat and make sure that I don’t have to work in the kitchen, and she really pampered me. Though I had a lovely time, previously also. As you can see with my blog posts about ‘Islamabad to Halifax’ here, and …’Life in Halifax and now to Calgary’ here. We had a great time anyway.
This time it’s been more laid back, since I had already seen most of the museums, art galleries and been on an old ship and my visits to smaller towns around the place.
Land of a thousand Lakes:
Here is a video of Kearny Lake which is one of the largest lakes there.
This time I discovered that while Halifax is a peninsula, Nova Scotia is the land of a thousand lakes. No wonder, you see lakes or ocean wherever you go. It is so green and so beautiful. I was taken to many lakes, Lawrenceville, Dingle, DerWolf, Seckville Lake, Chocolate late, Kearny Lake among many. And so many waterfronts, specially the Africville.
The best thing is that everywhere the water is crystal clear. (I believe the fine for littering is humungous.) I think Pakistan must do this. Fine heavily for littering anywhere. Otherwise, jail them! Here, I believe you will be fined for not picking up your dog’s poop! (It is hurriedly picked up into a plastic bag and discarded into bins for the purpose, or keep it, till you find one.) Can you imagine that in our country. That’s why I say, we have a long way to go.
Ice-skating event: Stars on Ice.
Kurt Browning is retiring from his ice-skating career, at the age of fifty-seven years. So this was his farewell performance in different cities of Canada. Along with him were a group of ice skaters, most of whom had performed at the Olympics and had many medals. The performances were just out of this world. The couple ones were great, and so were the solo ones. Some brought romance into their theme, and there was humor, suspense and sheer magic. Music of many popular songs also accompanied the performances, so it was a walk down memory lake. (We witnessed James Bond 007 at his best, too).
Honestly, all my life my parents and I’ve watched the tv coverage of winter Olympics ice skating events. Watching it live was a great treat. All the performers were so talented and their performances took ones’ breath away. I also realized, how hard it is to film them, as they move so fast and can go in any direction.
Here are a few videos I made from the show. I’m so grateful to Haaris, who had bought these tickets two months ago. (The moment my tickets for Halifax were booked!)
Meeting old friends:
The Gill family:
A lavish dinner with Ghazala & Gill Bhai was arranged by them for our whole family. Since they have kept in touch with both Haaris and Nadiya. It was lovely meeting them again in their six-bed beautiful house. After going through the many delicious dishes including haleem, koftas, keema, vegetable dish, rice and a wonderful salad, we were treated sweet dishes of gulab jamans and what not; We were taken outside to have green tea in their backyard, in the cold. We had put on our jackets, and sat in the pitch darkness, and the bonfire in freezing cold.
It was real fun. We caught up on our memories of life in Pakistan Air Force, remembering some common friends, specially Shigri bhai. He used to sing beautifully and held many musical evenings at our place too. Gill bhai told me that he had visited our home as a bachelor, (I can’t remember that, as my husband and I entertained a lot, and held large parties too.)
Ghazala Gill, is head of the Muslim school in Halifax and now she is busy in process of opening more branches in Nova Scotia. Obviously there is a big demand for it. She is constantly busy with school activities and had 9-6 day during the week. Her home too is immaculate and I wonder how she does it all single-handedly. Though I can see bhai must help too, but mostly he is out of the city as he is a pilot and has served in Shaheen Airlines, Canadian Airlines, Turkish Airlines and now in Qatar. So, he spends two day a week at his home, rest of the time he is flying around. In fact he gets a three-day weekend from Qatar Airways.
Met my college friend and hostel room-mate:
My friend Nasirah, and I met after 47 years last week. She had been my room-mate in hostel of Home Economics College, Lahore. (Now it is a university.) So, as young teenagers in hostel, almost every evening we would borrow the full-size bicycle from the hostel staff members, and ride it all around hostel grounds. It was so much fun. I’d be many times standing on the carrier at the back or sitting on the handle bar in front. (Yes, I loved taking risks.)
We discovered that twice in our lives we were in same cities, and didn’t meet because we didn’t know about the other. One was in Al Khobar, near Riyad, Saudi Arabia (1986,1987); and second time in Halifax when I came here and she was also living here for almost thirty years. She has also suffered from cancer before me, and it naturally has had an affect on her.
She invited me for a sumptuous lunch cooked by herself, and another day for a tea. What I liked most was that she served it in a very casual way directly from the charming kitchen. We just sat and chatted for hours. Afterwards she packed the food for Haaris, who couldn’t come.
Patchwork by Nasirah:
Basically, Nasirah has had this hobby since ten years here, by joining a group of Canadian ladies who are experts in it. They meet every Friday at a church, and also visit each other’s homes, occasionally. They’ve become good friends now, and have held several exhibitions of their work called Mayfair. I couldn’t resist buying a small quilt from her for my grandchild. All her work is intricate, very neatly done and beautiful. Her work room has five sewing machines and even a special machine for doing under-locking of garments. Besides these, she makes her own clothes also. She showed me beautiful shirts with very neat collars also.
It was lovely visiting her charming home twice.
Toronto stop over:
One of them contacted me on Facebook, but I couldn’t get back to him. I was really furious at not getting the internet in hotel room where I had planned to call him. Anyhow, I wanted to meet them, Rabia Khan, Roshini, Naghza and Azmat bhai and family, also Saima. But I’ve realized it isn’t possible with a few hours stop at the airport, as it is too complicated. I’ve heard the Toronto rush is also a nightmare.
The long flights to Halifax:
No idea why there is an anxiety to flying. It is just there. But, I have to confess, I love my flight from Islamabad to Toronto (twelve or thirteen hours’ flight.) If you count from home time, then it becomes much more travel time. Then, when you reach Toronto, you need to catch a West Jet flight to Halifax which is another two and a half hours. After a four-hour break. So, house to house, you can say it takes me, twenty-two and a half hours at least to reach Nadiya’s home.
My problem is that I cannot sleep during this travel time. I might shut my eyes and lie down for a while, then I spend my time in doing what I’m doing now; and reading books, (I completed two books,) blogging, and enjoying the tasty food served at intervals. I do a lot of walks around the isles, which is why I prefer to take an isle seat. Today, I got a window seat and the gorgeous Pakistani girl sitting next to me, has moved to another seat near her friend. I’m told she is the wife of the Captain, who is pilot of this aircraft. She told me she has travelled many times like this. She and her husband live in Islamabad too.
Yesterday, in the West Jet journey till Toronto, I had a very athletic looking Laura sitting next to me. I could see that from her body language, she wasn’t interested in any chit chat as she was reading a book and then saw a movie. I got talking with two interesting ladies sitting across the isle, Judy and Marilyn. It turned out they were also staying the night at the same Sheraton hotel, at the airport, as they were going the next day also. However, since I got into my room pretty late, and had lost my jacket by then, so I was also upset about not getting any internet at the room. (Can you imagine it?) So, I wrote a bit of the blog post, and will upload it as soon as possible.
Finally, I did get to chat with Laura at the end, turned out she is very athletic and participates in swimming and races. She is also a photographer of birds. She showed me a few beautiful photos she took of humming birds. At the end I saw her carrying a huge lense, which she says she bought to take better pics of birds.
Sheraton Gateway Hotel at Toronto airport:
It was Haaris and Nadiya who paid up for my expensive night stay at Sheraton, to save me from staying the night at the airport waiting for the next flight, next day. This, on top of the wonderful time they gave me. May Allah bless these two for insisting on footing the bills too.
Yesterday, on my last day at Halifax, I also did a painting for them. I’ll share with you.
Oh, by the way, I’ve got a lot of inspirations for paintings, during these flights and this trip. Like right now. I plan to do more paintings in my future.
When you live abroad, simple things like hearing the Azan becomes something you yearn to hear. So, it was great to hear it during the Eid Fest in the Commons Garden. Then, as you go nearer to your gate at the airport, you invariably catch some Urdu being spoken here or there. Then, you start seeing more people in Shalwar and kameez, and that looks wonderful. I did wear one too this morning, and when the waitress came, she said, ‘you are looking gorgeous.’ But somehow, I wore the same dress as yesterday, as I loved wearing it, and its very comfortable and doesn’t get crushed. The pant goes well with my boots. (Which I can’t fit into my suitcase.)
Lost my jacket:
Last evening I’ve lost my lovely jacket which I bought with so much thrill in Halifax. Just lost it. Learnt that one shouldn’t be carrying too many things, specially when using a wheelchair at the airport. You are constantly going from one place to another, sometimes someone is taking you, by pushing the wheelchair, and at other times, you are being asked to go on a cart. Of course, I enjoyed myself a lot but losing my jacket wasn’t good.
I consoled myself with this thought; ‘at least I didn’t lose my passport, phone or wallet. That would have been a real catastrophe.’ Now, I’m just hoping that someone really deserving finally gets it, as it is really very freezing cold in Canada.
My wrist watch is working on Halifax timings, the phone is on Toronto timings. God knows where I am right now. They say, one should just put one’s watch on the destination time from the beginning, so that you start tuning in to its time clock. Let’s see, I guess I can only do that at Islamabad airport. Jet lag is jet lag, and I always get it worse when I return home.
On the way home:
I’m so looking forward to meeting my Mummy, Waliya and Faizan. I’ve asked my batman to give Duchess (my cocker spaniel dog) a good bath as she will be clinging to me. I don’t know about Misty, (my persian cat) because she has been having a party at Waliya’s home. Hope she likes coming back to me now. (Ooops I didn’t get any gift for her!) But I was too busy getting gifts for all my janus, friends and relatives. Honestly, gift shopping is the toughest. In our highly populated country, we have a lot of friends, and family and have to get a lot. Lets hope everyone likes what I get. It is difficult to stuff in so much into such a small space. (I’m missing my Jacket….again. )
It was hard leaving my family:
Thank you for being with me till this point. I’m happily going back to my Pakistan and my wonderful life there. But naturally, it was hard leaving my Nadiya, Haaris and Nyra. I believe Nyra cried a lot when I left. She is too small to realize that I’ve banned crying at airports for my family, as I think we must just thank Allah for making it such a great and happy trip. Haaris and I have bonded so much during this trip. Our chats went a long way, and we could discuss many new topics. That’s when I had the idea of interviewing him for my podcast. (Actually, had wanted it all along.)
Podcast of Nadiya and Haaris:
Since Nadiya’s interview was ready first, so while packing I was uploading it, and completed the process at Halifax airport. It has been aired now.
Podcast of Haaris will give you an idea of how it is between us, now, our gup shup just goes on and on. There was a wonderful blooper at the end too, but somehow it couldn’t be caught on camera. What happened was, that I rounded up the interview, and closed it up. Then he said, ‘hey you haven’t yet asked me so many of the questions!’ So, Aizaz and I burst into laughter, as we both knew Haaris had wanted to avoid the podcast altogether! So, we laughed, and I said, ‘now I know you were really enjoying it.’ Haaris kept shaking his head and laughing. So, well, we did get to ask all those questions too, and ended the program again. Do watch the videos and leave a comment there. Please do not forget to like and subscribe to my channel too. I’ll try to leave a link here for you. Its name is Shireen Gheba Najib. (I thought I’d simplify matters for my followers!)
It is time, we Pakistanis had deep conversations which are not political and related to our lives and can be of use to each other. There are bound to be many takeaways for you.
Nadiya was right, when she got after me to have this holiday. I really did need it. Most of the time, at my place I’m working back to back, with hardly any break for myself. So, I hope I can improve now.
Books at airport:
By the way, I couldn’t resist buying these two books for Waliya. (I’m reading it now in the plane, and highly recommend the book to you too.) It’s called Taking Care of Yourself, it is mainly for working parents. It is really good. So, I’m hurriedly reading it now. The other is a Vogue’s latest magazine.
Do take a one-month break every year. You deserve it.
Stay blessed my dear Reader. ????