Thief of the village

Sunshine - eggs, sausages, baked beans, pancake filled with fruit and English cream, potatoes, toast & coffee

Sunshine – eggs, sausages, baked beans, pancake filled with fruit and English cream, potatoes, toast & coffee

Eggs Benedict - poached eggs and ham served on English muffin, topped with hollandaise sauce

Eggs Benedict – poached eggs and ham served on English muffin, topped with hollandaise sauce

Allô Mon Coco @ 239A boul. Samson, Laval, QC

I’m back home from visiting family in Montreal. I enjoyed spending time with the big sis; we had a fun-filled weekend. On Saturday, we had brunch at Allô Mon Coco, did errands during the day, and then attended her co-worker’s get-together in the evening.

I try to challenge myself to do something different every day, and attending a stranger’s intimate family gathering was certainly different for me. I’m grateful for being welcomed into their home and culture with such great warmth. Everyone was inviting, animated, and comical. Not to mention they even fed us enough to last an alpacalypse.

I also met their cat, Garfield, who of course resembles Garfield. However, I think Grumpy Cat sounds more fitting because he really does look grumpy. Besides that, his face looks as if it had defied the laws of physics. I’d post a photo of this ball of cuteness, but I’m afraid his spirit will murder me in my sleep.


Meet Miami

Meet Miami

The following day, my sister took me on a tour around our childhood abode which I haven’t visited in years. She waited in the car while I walked about and explored, trying to trace footsteps to the past. It was unfortunate that I couldn’t recall much, which is why listening to her tell stories about our childhood was so enticing. Who would’ve known I had a thing for hiding in the corner of Harvey’s and pooping? (In my diaper, that is.)

While in the area, we also visited my cousin and I met her dog, Miami, for the first time. I find it really precious that once her dog arrives home from a walk, she’d run straight to the bathtub and wait for her paws to be washed. I think this deepens my desire to become what my friend calls a petophile, driving around in a white van and kidnapping animals. Either that, or becoming something along the lines of a tree whisperer, a cat whisperer, or in this case, even a dog whisperer.

Marché Jean-Talon @ 7070 Avenue Henri Julien, Montréal, QC

Together, my sister, cousin and I took a trip to Jean-Talon Market, a farmer’s market located in the Little Italy district of Montreal. It was my first time there, and I really enjoyed scanning the endless aisles of fresh produce and witnessing the heartfelt interactions between the friendly staff and keen customers. There’s just a communal and inviting vibe to farmer’s markets that makes me feel a deep sense of belonging. My moment of utmost failure, though, was when I bit into my sandwich and my sausage flew. I’m sure it was entertaining for the world to witness.




Spiced hearts

Spiced hearts

Wawel Pâtisserie Polonaise @ 3628 Bld. St-Laurent, Montréal, QC

Call it serendipity, call it synchronicity. But on our way to Kitsuné, of all places, we parked in front of a Polish bakery. I have a love affair with traditional Polish spiced or gingerbread cookies, and for quite some time have been trying to find a local Polish bakery that sells them. I even asked my good Polish friend for some pointers. So stumbling upon this humble little shop, and so unexpectedly, was quite a blessing. The spiced hearts and ponki were a delight! A note to all who wish to see the next sunrise: Please, hands off my cookies, because this is what I’d call a crime of passion.


Maple syrup waffle - waffle topped with blueberries and strawberries, served with vanilla ice cream and maple syrup

Maple syrup waffle – waffle topped with blueberries and strawberries, served with vanilla ice cream and maple syrup

Juliette et Chocolat @ 3600 Bld. St-Laurent (coin Prince-Arthur), Montréal, QC

Vermicelli bowl with spring roll and pork

Vermicelli bowl with spring roll and pork

Restaurant Hoai Huong @ 5485 Avenue Victoria, Montréal, QC

I try to explore the coffee shop scene whenever I’m in Montreal, and Kitsuné, a gem of a cafe with a minimalist and eclectic feel, is one venue that’s been sitting on my list of places to visit. But since it was packed, we decided on an alternative: Juliette et Chocolat. Funnily, I’ve been meaning to try this dessert haven anyway, and to our luck, it was nestled in the corner of the street.

A perfect palm-sized portion, their Maple syrup waffle was oh-so-heavenly. It’s certainly satisfied my tigerous cravings for waffles. Desserts and hot choco were then followed by a visit to Restaurant Hoai Huong, which is now my top contender for the best vermicelli bowl. Methinks my body’s in a coma now from all the yummy food I ate this weekend. I probably need a new hobby.

On our own


Autumn is my favourite season. Besides my affinity for sweater weather and all things pumpkin spice, I appreciate nature’s wisdom. She ebbs, she flows, she sails her own course, reminding me every day to embrace change and uncertainty, to practice non-attachment and non-resistance, and to enjoy this process we call life.

I’ve always wanted to spend a whole afternoon hibernating and immersing myself in nature, especially during the autumn season when the scenery is beginning to become a canvas of warm colours. Couple this with my thirst for outdoor activities and trying new things, and today, I did something different: I joined a hiking group, and together we set out on a journey in Gatineau Park.


Even though the organizer never showed up, fellow hikers and I ended up hitching a ride together anyway. After all, dressed for the occasion and ready to go, we weren’t about to give in to a little mishap, and so we improvised our plans, and boy, did we have fun. We bonded on many levels and shared sweet conversations touching on spirituality, meditation, love, life. For strangers who’d just met, it felt as if we’ve been friends since time immemorial. Sometimes I’d encourage M to listen to the sound of water trickling; other times she’d point out species of plants to me. There were times when we even surrendered our senses to the environment and walked in complete silence.

What’s neat about joining such group outings is, not only do I get to meet people with similar hobbies and interests, but on a deeper level, I’m also matched with those who share similar values and perspectives on life. In fact, the speed at which we all became acquainted with each other today, sharing life experiences and hearty laughs, was quite remarkable.


Meanwhile, I’m thankful for several things: spending a relaxing day outdoors and experiencing nature’s healing effect on my soul; meeting new people, receiving their kindness, and loving them as they are; purchasing children’s delicious baked goods and sharing them with loved ones; and being in the comforts of my own home, all bundled up after a chilly day outside.

Stings and solemn regrets

There was a time when I had discovered a flower amidst a bed of flowers. Out of the hundreds of fragile bodies, my eyes zoomed in on this particular flower. It looked like home. It felt like home. But for some reason, I was never able to find the right words to describe the flower or how it made me feel. It wasn’t enough to say that it was beautiful, for there was something deeper than that. Something much, much deeper. And in the depths of my soul, I felt it — and deeply so.

I wanted to feed it, water it, care for it, love it. I’d walk a mile or ten, in the heat or rain, to see my most beloved companion. Yet I was careful not to touch it or leave my mark almost out of fear that if I touched it, I’d taint it and destroy it. Moreover, there’s never been a time when I wanted to pluck it out of the ground and make it mine, nor has there been a time when I asked myself, “What can this flower do for me?” There’s never been a why or a because. I loved it. That was enough.

But one day, from a burst of anger, I ran back to the field, ripped it from its humble home, and tore at it until there was nothing left but a single petal in the palm of my hand. And until this day, there’s nothing in the world that could quench the flames engulfing my heart. In destroying something I love, I destroyed myself too — and twice as much.


While I was browsing the Murakami section, Ian dropped by and asked me if I needed help, and that’s when I discovered that he too is a Murakami fan. I laughed at how disappointed he was when he discovered that a film of Norwegian Wood had been made.

“Was it as romantic as the book?” He inquired.

“Sure,” I said. “But it was quite depressing.”

“I can’t believe it! I can’t believe they made a movie out of it!” He sighed and walked away, shaking his head in complete disappointment.

“What a funny guy,” I thought as I continued on my way to the science bookshelf. Later, as I was reading Viktor E. Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning, there he was again, reading up on what I was reading.

“That’s a good book.”

“Oh yeah? You’ve read it?”

“Yes, I loved it.”

“How so?”

For a split second, he was lost in thought, almost disappointed at the fact that he couldn’t quite explain to me why he loved the book. Even if he couldn’t utter a word, I still would’ve understood his silence. But then one of the best conversations of my life had begun.

Shifting to the philosophy section, we shared our thoughts on Jean-Paul Sartre, Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Friedrich Nietzsche, Slavoj Zizek, Carl Jung, and Joseph Campbell. He talked about his favourite men; I talked about mine.

When I told him I quite enjoy reading Derrida and Foucault, he smiled shyly and said, “I touched upon them briefly just so that I could say I read them, but they’re too dark for me.” I couldn’t help but laugh, and judging from his words, I drew him out to be a soft soul.

“Not many people subscribe to men like Derrida or Foucault, because these are men that shake belief systems and tear apart,” I said. “But that’s why I like them: because they encourage us to re-evaluate everything we’ve ever believed in.”

He asked me how old I was and insisted that I wait two years, and then come back and see him. “You’re telling me to wait two years so that I could finish having my existential crises, am I right?” We shared a hearty laugh.

I don’t make promises, not even to myself. But two years today, I’ll be back at that corner of the bookstore waiting to resume our intriguing conversation. I just hope that he’ll remember.


I wanted to live the moment twice — once in action, and the second time in retrospect. It’s always in the latter instance that I end up dying a little. My encounter with the old sage struck, even awakened, something in me. And it was unsettling. “I like to build systems.” These words repeated in my mind like infuriating static. He builds. I destroy.

Whereas Ian represents the force of life, I represent the force of destruction. We represent two seemingly opposing forces: life and death. In contrast to his lightness and optimism, I was the twisted villain. And so, perhaps like Tsukuru Tazaki, beneath the calm and zen-like exterior that others admire about me, I do have a dark aspect of myself that’s deeply hidden and that I dare not acknowledge. After all, resistance has been the source of my ails.

Not long ago, I’d experienced a violent pull towards a place that I promised myself I’d never return to. Yet I couldn’t swallow my pride and take the leap. It was only until weeks later that I caved in and ventured there. I flew up the flight of stairs and scanned hopelessly left and right for a glimpse of a shadow. But I was too late. Today, I’m not sure what pains me more: that I gave up on someone I believed in, or that, in the end, they gave up on me.


Catching up with my good friend over brunch at a new cafe was nice. I missed her dearly. But sometimes, the familiarity of her face, her voice, and all that she is would stir a crippling case of nostalgia in me. She carried with her a residue of all that I wished to escape. And of course, the conversation I dreaded, and anticipated, emerged.

“Sometimes, people’s actions don’t make sense and they leave others around them feeling baffled. If they couldn’t justify it to anyone, chances are, they couldn’t justify it to themselves. But perhaps their actions were necessary at the time. There’s always a reason for why people do the things they do, and maybe all we need is a little understanding and compassion.” As usual, she knitted her eyebrows, nodded slowly, and mustered a sympathetic smile at me, all the while poking at her food with her fork.

Meanwhile, it was raining bullets outside, and although it would normally wash away my thoughts, that day was different. I experienced a certain heaviness — a heaviness of the soul. I decided not to go home immediately, and walked the streets to clear my mind instead. The city felt sweet at that time of night. The city always feels sweeter after dusk.