Saturday, December 27, 2008


After a lot of planning and procrastination,we eventually got down to making a snowman. We have had 2 major snow storms and a few minor ones but as the rain depleted the snow banks we decided to wait no more and get down to it.

The hands are part of a dismantled scarecrow for our cherry trees and the hat is an inverted flower pot. Hopefully there will be a snowfall tonight to "whiten" the snowman and the grass patches that have appeared

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

What to expect in 2009

As we move to the end of the year most people reflect on the year gone by and mull over the ups and downs in their lives. I think it would be more relevant to do some crystal ball gazing into the future...
This is how I visualize the year 2009

Change : Barack Obama has promised the US that he would bring change; and through his change he would bring change to the world at large. I see the world being so entwined financially and hence politically that every country (almost) would be impacted by the moves of the other-- which is a good thing as most contries would want economic prosperity and that would drive better economic cooperation.

Auto Bail out: The US has decided to bail lout the ailing auto industry. Who are they bailing out? The North American auto companies, namely the BIG THREE ( GM, Chrysler and Ford). These companies are in trouble because for years now their assembly lines have been churning out cars that no one is buying. The companies arguably provided jobs and sustenance for approx a million plus citizens in US & Canada and its any ones guess how this spilled over to the ancillary industry which was surviving because of the auto industry. To my mind the bail out will stabilize the situation for a few months but as the consumers continue to buy better cars from Japan, Korea & Germany the Big Three will be in trouble again. More fuel efficient, more green, more hybrid is the need of the hour. It's not difficult to guess who is winning on this score currently. Infact I urge you to google a company by the name " Better Place". This company ( surprisingly American, based out of PaloAlto in CA) is selling mileage in place of cars. A bit like you sell talk time on your cell phones. You dont buy a car any more you buy a mileage plan ( like talk time), the car comes free. I think the US is bailing out the wrong auto industry!!!!
Canadian Auto Connection: Connceted with the US auto industry is the Canadian arm of the Big Three. These Canadian workers also face a bleak future incase the US firms go down. The Canadian Govt has done well to bail out the Canadian arm else the US companies would have been forced to close their Canadian operations. Remember what i said before, incase these North American auto companies do not make better products, sooner or later they will be faced with the same situation once again.
Canada: Canada is impacted by the US recession as 90% of our exports go to the US. A receding US economy implies the export volumes go down which implies that Canadian manufacturing and assembly lines need to slow down so that they do not build beyond inventory/ stocking limits-- which leads to closures/layoffs. Though this is largely beyond Canadian control what otheralternative does Canada have?
Mackenzie Gas Project: Ever heard of the Mackenzie Gas Project? Apparently there is tonnnnnns of oil under the frozen grounds of NWT ( North West Territories). A proposal to build a 1220 kms piple line connecting the oil feilds in NWT to the North American markets has been doing the rounds in Ottawa but has been embroilled in red tape. This project if sanctioned would open up the economy in Canada( like a game of scrabbles when some one provides an opening to a whole new side of the board) . It would not only provide new jobs but also build infrastructure for the vast open spaces of Canada's northern states. This project is so vital that it could kick start the Canadian economy and also provide an alternative to the "Better Place" technology ( I talked about earlier) - at least in the short term by giving a shot in the arm for the North American auto industry while they revamp their operations to take on the Japanese / German cars on quality. In effect the Mackenzie project would
  • Open the economy by providing new jobs
  • Build Infrastructure for the vast undeveloped open Northern provinces
  • Provide the North American auto industry a chance to survive and revamp operations inspite of superior auto products coming from outside the North American region

I hope, some one in Ottawa is listening!!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Dec 08, 1984

Exactly 24 years back I met Anita at Delhi. I must have been 25 (if I got my maths right). Indra Gandhi had just been assasinated in Oct and the country was on fire and we were impacted as well. Our wedding which could have been in 1984 was pushed out to the summer of 1985. Those were pre cell phone and email days. Communication was via the plain old postman and "trunk calls" ( any one knows what this was?) were made from the telegraph office and communication was done through letters ( paper and pen stuff). It was during those days that we looked as we did above.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Panera Breads

Panera : Being "almost" vegetarian in Canada is a bit of a problem and it was a pleasent surprise to see a Panera open up near Square One. Pankaj & Shalini had introduced us to Panera breakfasts during many of our visits to the US , so having spied a panera in the neighbourhood , Anita & me drove down in a fair bit of snow for a bite around dinner today. We were immediately impressed with the warm ambiance and subtle lighting. Though predominantly a breakfast joint we relished the soup and sandwich along with some Hazelnut coffee. We would have liked to linger on there but had to hurry back as the kids were locked out ( they had forgotten to take the house keys).

Antrix: Antrix came down forthe weekend today. Having got over some major assignments he seemed a bit relaxed and was happy to be back and looking forward to some home food as well. To make sure he got his fill of home cooking, Anita spent a great deal of time cooking up some delicious things. I believe a cake is on its way tomorrow.

The world has become very IT/ Internet dependent and I could see the helplessness in Antrix who was grappling with a faulty graphics card on his Mac. It was as if he did not know what to do with himself without his laptop. Fortunately a trip to the Apple store at the down town Eaton Center assured him of a replacement within a week. Meanwhile ofcourse he has to make do with some random behaviour on his laptop.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Winterizing the Garden in -5 Deg Celcius

This Sunday, though the sun shone bright, the temperatures were well below zero. We pruned some rose bushes and the cherry trees. There had been a snowfall a few days back and you can still see some snow on the grass. The same tree which is now bare (pic below) can be seen with a bright yellow plumage in the top picture. We spent a good part of the morning racking leaves and tending to the yard

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Univ of Western Ontario

This weekend we went to London. No, we did not cross the Atlantic --- all we did was drive 2.5hrs to London, ON, where the Univ of Western Ontario is located. The weather was really crappy as it rained all day and though the roads were empty the drive was a bit slow due to the slippery roads. (Aayush's pic on top had to be taken in the rain and I had to persuade him to stand in the rain before i could take the snap-- hence the grumpy face.) At Western we visited the Richard Ivey School of Business where they run the much reputed HBA ( Hons Business Admin)program. A Harvard educated dean gave us an introductory lecture and succeeded in impressing us. We did get a feel of the richness and the highly interactive nature of the program. Another wonderful option we found was the ability of engg students to graduate after 5 years with a degree in Engg and an HBA. As parents who want the best for their kids we obviously wanted to grab the opportunity but I feel we need to exercise caution at these seemingly "fabulous" opportunities.We fail to take into account the load on the kids as they attempt to grapple with two majors.

We also had the good fortune to meet up with Gureet and Buneet while we were there. Gureet gave us some sagely advise on the way we should prioritize the universities for Engg & business. Given the way the Univs market their own it was nice to get a first hand info from Gureet who was uniquely positioned being an alumni of Queens and a current student at Westen.

The engg program at Western also offered a common first year for all disciplines where students could confirm what they actually wanted to persue as against the "gut" feel option that they are forced to adopt in most other places of learning.
After a quick tour of the Spencer Engg building, we were very thankful to Gureet, who dropped us off to the parking lot and saved us a walk in the torrential rain.

I am not sure which univ Aayush will eventually make it to, but as a parent who has been involved with the process I feel most Canadian Univs are "almost" the same. It does not really matter -- what matters is that the course & location he selects "fits" in well with his aptitude and aspirations. Time alone will tell what is in store for our son Aayush.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Queen's Univ Open House

This week was the open house at Queen's Univ in Kingston. We woke up early to make the 3.5hrs drive down to Kingston and having bundled a sleepy Aayush along with some food ( aloo parathas) and drink we hit 401 E. The drive has always been something that I look forward to and today was no exception. The 401 was traffic free, it being a weekend and we were there in approx 3 hrs. The first thing about Queen's is that it looks like you are in England because all buildings are built like English castles. Later in the day when we found it was a Scottish Univ with an Eastern campus located across the Atlantic in UK, it sort of all fell in place. We found the staff and the students extremely friendly and in fact the introductory lecture was hilarious( in a good way and may have given me some ideas for my Toastmasters lectures). We took the campus tour and visited the Commerce and Engg faculties. I was educated by a 4th year student of the difference between Commerce and economics which my education thus far had equated as synonyms. The commerce faculty is quite revered and I believe a sought after course for many a high school grad. Aayush is quite likely to apply for the commerce course at Queens

Aayush drove us back from Kingston in 3 hrs and though he kept telling us to relax and take a nap while he drove -- both Anita and me we were wide awake :) we still consider him a new driver!

I forgot to mention the univ is beautiful and lends itself to photography. I had to implore Anita and Aayush to sit on a bench while I captured the pic above..

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Univ Of Waterloo

This weekend we drove to Univ of Waterloo. The aim was to show / get any additional info that was needed to help to Aayush make a decision on his Univ selection next year. We attended the Engineering and the Science open houses where we focuesd on the Mechatronics and the Business and Science options. Later we drove to Antrix's room at Cambridge to stock up his fridge. Here (above) you can see him in his room stowing away all the food. Antrix stays on his own and is managing an individual existence. The difference from the time almost 30 years back when I did my engineering is vast.

Driving to the Waterloo and back is scenic and one realizes that the winter is almost on us. Last week we had a few flurries and it seems that the "white stuff" will be coming down very soon.

Here is late afternoon pic from just outside our home and one taken on the Diwali weekend-- ( shows you the conditions under which we played Diwali)

Friday, October 31, 2008


Halloween fell on a friday and we had tons of kids knocking on our door asking for a "trick or treat". Really little trick or treaters ambled up being prodded by their doting parents barely knowing what was going on. Some of the costumes were outstanding and unfortunately I did not have the camera ready. It is strange how customs differ from one part of the world to the other. Halloween and Diwali fall around the same time every year. While Diwali requires you to clean up the house and decorate it with lights to attract the Godess of wealth , Halloween needs you to portray the home as if it was haunted with cobwebs/ vampires and witches. As per gaelic myth it is a day when the line between the living and the deceased becomes blurred and as a token of appeasement to the dead spirits treats are offered. It never ceases to amaze me that on one planet different cultures have different beliefs and customs that are so contradictory.
Luckily today we have Antariksh at home for an overnight stay. Aayush is possibly on his last Trick or Treat trip ( last year in high school).

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Diwali Weekend- U of T Open House

Diwali is this Tuesday. Oct 28. I was informed that I need to take some vacation days -- perhaps three. With the bulk of my annual vacation still intact, that was not a problem and Don (my boss) has been advised that I would be away ( not that it makes any diff). While in India the smells and the slight change in temperatures would be indicative of the arrival of the festive season, here in Canada the beautiful fall colors are natural Diwali usherers. The pic below is of just outside our home. While it shows the fall colors to some extent but its more an indication of how quickly the winter is creeping in on us. The trees have started to go bare ( see the fallen leaves on the lawn)

While Diwali is around the corner we also had a Univ Open house for U ofT. Anita and I along with Aayush went down to the St George's campus embedded in the down town core. We visited the Engg faculty and the Rotmans school of commerce for business studies. Interestingly like Waterloo which has a Co-op program ( work 6 months and study six months) U of T offers a PEY ( Professional experience year) for 12-16 months after the 4th year. The pros and cons were explained to us and like all good parents we took it all in unsure how we were to effectively utilize the info. The wealth of info gathered has been added to the spreadsheet that will be utilized to finally select the course for Aayush

On Sunday afternoon we gathered together for a Diwali party and had the usual fun and games, besides the delicious Indian food. Anita and Mala were co-organizers (with Mala doing most of the spade work and ofcourse Mini without whom we would not have had the room) and they quickly got the party off to a good start by Beny initiating the introductory game. Quite a few folks at the party were new to each other(mala's Doha connection) and the game helped in getting the crowd talking. There was an elderly couple who regaled us on how they got married and sang a few songs before they caught a flight to NJ.
One surprising aspect of party's in Canada is how a party moves into an empty room at a particular time, sets up the furniture, the food moves in, decorations are done , the guests move in , the music starts- mikes appear, games are organized, food is served and consumed. At the time the room needs to be vacated, everyone pitches in to wind up and the room is left bare and tidied up the way it was when we entered. Compare this to an event in India!!!
Later we all drove to a park next door and burst some crackers. The wind and the cold was not a deterent but after 30 mins it suddenly started hailing. That prompted us to call it a day and wishing each other a happy diwali we all rushed back to the warmth of our cars. Though our party got over I realized that the actual Diwali function is still to come up on Tuesday. We expect Antrix back for a few hrs on Diwali day for the puja. It will be good to be all together again albiet for a few hours.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


The festival of KarwaChauth fell very appropriately on Fri, Oct 17th. I was able to get away early from work and ferry the four lovely ladies (top pic) to the temple. They were on the last leg of their fast and dressed in their finery and beautifully decorated "thalis" we arrived at the temple. The rush at the temple was unbelievable. It was as if we were in India. It is hard to believe that there are so many Indian families here in Mississauga/ Brampton. Due to the rush we ( Mukesh & me )never got to the inner sanctum of the temple where the main ceremony was held and only the ladies made it there. ( Kulu should have been with Mukesh & me but he got away on some dubious mission of his own)

Later that night after the moon rose at 8.03pm ( those 3 minutes need to be mentioned as at that stage of the fast every second counts ) , we drove to a park where Renu & Anita did their "puja". Due to the cold and the strong wind the puja was done from the shelter of the car. We then returned home & shared a sumptuous meal with Kulu & Renu to wind up the evening and a significant festive occasion.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Re-Match Sunday

The re-match on Sunday resulted in a 7-5 win for Aayush. That is because I slept late and the sun was in my eye and my rauquet grip was loose and... :)
Good Job Aayush!!
This time I took the camera

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Tennis on the Thanksgiving Weekend

The weather was just right for Aayush and me to head out for possibly one of the last tennis sessions of the year. (We had asked Antariksh the evening before and he informed us that he would be upto his neck swamped with work & hence could not make it back with us for the long weekend).Normally when Aayush and I play tennis, we just rally around and get away with double bounces and feel that we are playing very well, but today we played a set. Aayush floored me with a 6-2 win. Great going Aayush!! I was very impressed with Aayush's tennis skills. We have another session planned for tomorrow - I am hoping to set the record straight :) - not very likely given his current form and his killer forehand.
PS: I forgot the camera again -- these images are from my BB camera and hence hazy

Friday, October 3, 2008


There comes a time in your life that you suddenly realize that your son is now grown up and he needs to be treated differently. The norms of checking him on every trivial issue and monitoring his every move now becomes stifling to a fledgling teenager. While he is trying desperately to break out of his "childish" image , we the parents try and hold on to the protective role that we have had all along. This role I realize now has to change to that of an advisor or a friend. The difference is subtle and its all in the way you approach the subject. Its kinda difficult for Anita and me to change but as Aayush very wisely put it -- We ( both Aayush & us ) needed to be strong to face this challenge. Who ever said parenting was difficult when the kids were toddlers-- the real test is when they get into their teens. seeing it from this angle I am both excited and a bit apprehensive as we slip into this new mode of parenting.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Hells Angels have a new Member

The Harley Davidson on Clifton Hill @ Niagara did not roar into life but it sure made some cameras to start clicking.

For those not in the know-- that is Sonia , my neice

Finally a Family Pic

You may not realize but getting a family pic is quite a job. I have been trying to do this for many months (maybe years) and somehow getting four people in front of a camera is a challenge, specially if you do not have a tripod and you need to find an appropriate platform to place the camera or a willing passerby who can oblige.

This was taken almost a month back at Niagara.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Obama & McCain Debate

Yesterday we saw the televised debate of these two US Senators. One of them, in a few months would inherit the most powerful office in the world . This man would be expected to lead with a vision that would successfully confront many of the current challenges that the US faces. Watching the two of them go back and forth on the many leading questions fielded by the moderator I felt amazed at the presence of mind and the mental dexterity that both of them displayed. Their depth of knowledge and oratory skills made me think of our Indian Politicians.. .well lets leave that for now.

What struck me while i listened to the debate was a continuous refrain from McCain saying " Senator Obama does not understand .... Senator Obama does not realize....." While as what is that we heard from Obama-- " John is right... I agree with John...." Who do you think is the better statesman?

On the question of policy , Obama had it all lined up. He went 1, 2, 3, 4 right through to what he wanted to do while as McCain kept harping on his strong point of national Security/ the war in Iraq/ Afghanistan and the veterans ( where did they come in to the discussion) . McCain did not even want to talk to any leader without a pre condition where as Obama exuded an openness and willingness to meet any one if it meant a way forward. The most difficult McCain policy I found to accept was his complete lack of vision on going after alternate fuel. After 9/11 if there was one area that George Bush has failed in , it is the vision of energy self reliant. If the US had gone after energy self reliance and not gone out to the middle east to buy oil, all these petro dollars could have been saved. These same dollars were used by some countries to fund terrorist organizations who then used it to attack the west ( UK too after what we saw this year)

Anyway back to the Obama/ McCain debate. I find Obama has this strong vitality in his voice. His words come out crisp with a sense of authoritativeness and preciseness. McCain speaks well too but he lacks the conviction that comes from Obama. Given the state that the George Bush government will leave the nation in, I would feel Obama would be a better bet than McCain to lead the country out of this morass.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

New Driver on the GTA roads

Aayush is the proud holder of a G2 licence. He was able to get this a couple of weeks back but due to my inability of getting a pic of him holding his licence , I had to delay this post.

This also means that I will find the car missing on some evenings and will possibly have some blood pressure issues when he does not return at a "decent"hour. We still need to define "decent". Obviously his decent hour starts around mid night and mine ends around 10 pm. There in itself lies a potential argument ( read discussion). BTW , Anita and me have already had several such "discussions" with Aayush.
Aayush: Drive safe always and we wish you many happy hours of driving

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Kayak Racking Solution

Anyone interested in a simple & cheap kayak racking solution for his/her garage?? The only expense is to buy two U angle irons and bolt them to the wall at approx two third the length of the kayaks. The U irons cost approx CDN$ 20-25(bothinclusive) and the nylon rope loops are from a dollar store. The bolting may require a power drill as you will most likely be drilling concrete. Please dont ruin your normal drills & bits by using them on the garage concrete walls. Click on the image to get a closer look. In the corner you may notice the J Racks which have been removed from the car.In case you have questions just post a comment and I should be able to get back to you relatively quickly.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Antrix's Birthday 2008

To Antrix,
Its your 21st and hence this is a special day
I still remember the day I held you for the first time – it was your first day & you were our first child. I was afraid I would be clumsy and might drop you – & I can even remember your smell – it was mix of medicine and baby smells—when you came home you still had the smell and – I loved that smell.

Time flew by and I recollect how I used to carry you around in Calcutta (on a trip down from Tezpur) on my shoulders – I used to be afraid that when you grow up you would be bowlegged due to sitting on my shoulders with your legs around my neck—( thankfully that did not come to pass :)

Then when you went to the Dinshaw school in Mhow—I believe Mum'ma had taught you so well that you seem to be a star there—later at Bishops Pune – you looked so smart in that white uniform & the snap we took outside the gate when we were leaving Pune – I don’t need a pic – its imprinted in my mind. I recollect running behind you trying to teach you how to cycle in IAT—that black cycle of yours—do you remember??

The next recollection is of the year you spent at Sanawar. I think you really did not relish that time there while we thought we were doing the best for you—hopefully you do carry some great memories of that place and also some learnings – sply the motto – Never, never give up!! I kinda thought that it was very appropriate for boys of that age.

While we were at Calcutta – I remember the way Aayush & you quickly learnt swimming and then the way I used to drop the two of you to La Martinere on scooter and Ma picked you up in those one way lanes in Cal.. Remember the boxing fight and how all of us were stressed out.. maybe not!!

The last few yrs in Noida before we left for Canada – you grew really fast—those were your adolescent years and were accompanied by the related events –

As you now go into your 21st year -- I am sure you cherish those memories of the last 20 years and hopefully there are more fond ones than otherwise

We wish you well Antariksh in whatever you do – Life will take you to different lands and present you varied situations—never falter for a moment to take a decision—as all you need to do is remember this quote—To discover distant lands , you need to leave sight of the shore..

Love & all the best

Mum'ma & Papa

Sept 20, 2008

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

You dwell in our thoughts

It was Rajni's Bday and we had the customary cake cutting at mid night. Later in the day we went for a walk and it was quite surprising how even the puddles had the B'day girl on their mind. The weather was great and the position just right for me to miss the opportunity to capture this pic.
Happy B Day Rajni

Among the Dandelions

As the summer slipped away Rajni & Anita decided to take a stroll in the neighbouring park. The soccer field looked inviting and both of them plonked right on the side of the field. There was not much to do but to start clicking while the smiles lasted. Did they know that this park is used by pet owners. The dogs leave their mark (you know how) but these ladies had no problem
posing on the well fertilized field.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Wining & Dining in the Wilds of Euginia Falls

well not so much wining but dining -- yes! We lunched on puris and veggies along with salad along with some areated drinks . The weather was great -- and the spot was well chosen , under a startegic tree and close to some mobile washrooms. Anita was so happy that her newly acquired wicker picnic basket was coming to good use. Though it looks as if I presided over the table, there were enough women around to make sure I maintained the status of an NDA first termer ( to be seen but not heard)

Chris Bosh...

I guess Aayush's day was made when he managed to get a little model of one of the Raptors ( Chris Bosh) . He was so thrilled when he manged to find it at a garage sale on our way back from Owen Sound that it not only made his eyes gleam but it made me happy to see him happy. Needless to say it now occupies a prized spot on his study table

What happened to the Niagara Falls???

As Anita tried to put up her best smile for the pic, something happened to the Niagara Falls-- they shrunk!!!
Well before you go off believing me -- we are at the Hoggs falls -- yes the same place where Anita had a smoke -- yikes her mouth smells!!!
Hoggs Falls actually turned out to be a great place inspite of the "mini" waterfall. It had a great spot to take some pics -- the tree behind me was strategic as without it one would have had wobbly knees (with a fear of falling over into the fall)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Good & the Bad

It is said that circumstances bring out the hidden personality in you. This is just what happened to Anita who stumbled on an abandoned pack of cigaretes at Hoggs falls in Owen Sounds. An innocent girl turned into a smoker and a looking at her ( at the way she blew those smoke rings) one would think that she was a pro. Below you see an innocent girl and above "setting the right example".

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Antrix off for another term at U of Waterloo

Aug 31, Antrix moved back to his Univ for a second year at the Faculty of Architecture in Cambridge. You can see how we loaded our van (left)and Antrix outside his new accomodation in Cambridge( Right)
We started the day by dismantling the furniture ( bed , study table & book rack) at home , loading the van and then assembling the same at Cambridge. Antrix managed the accommodation all on his own and I was impressed at his selection. Though his classes start a week later he was keen to get a good start on the new term & so he will now spend his night in his new room.


While Antrix, Piu and Aayush did the rounds on the kayaks Sonia and Rajni took the opportunity to bike around the park. Rajni was initially reluctant to get on the bike but once she had got astride she was equally reluctant to get off. You can see her in the right pic looking like a pro.
Overall it was a great idea to carry the bikes to the park for the kayaking trip. It helped us to move around quickly and ferry the heavy loads eg picnic basket etc
It was a great day with some great weather-- everyone returned with a smile on their faces.


On Sat Aug 30 , Piu ( Right pic)was finally able to do some kayaking. She had been looking forward to this ever since Aayush (left pic)mentioned this to her on his trip to India. She really impressed me and ventured out twice and then surprised me the next day when she declared there were no aches and pains from the kayaking experience of the previous day. I was also eventually able to click some decent pics which I had been trying to do since May. The two boats were switched between Antrix , Aayush and Piu. Antrix & Aayush wanted to venture on to the lake but apparently the calm waters of the lake were not challenging enough -- they needed some rough conditions to make it worth their while. I on the contrary feel the flat waters of the Credit river are ideal conditions for paddling-- but to each his own.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Anita's BirthDay

At the stroke of 12 midnight Sonia broke out on the well known B'day jingle and everyone followed the cue. B'Day presents appeared out of no where and very quickly the floor was strewn with gift wrappings and boxes. Calls from around the world ( Kenya/ Kazakstan/India) streamed in. After the hectic trip to Montreal and Quebec everyone spent a quiet day at home. There was a trip to the YMCA where I believe the treadmill was the popular appartaus.
We cut a strawberry cake in the evening and sipped some Shandy before we headed off to the neighbouring Swiss Chalet resturant for the customary B day dinner. The food was exceptionally good so much so that everyone poached from each other which we found equally good. The day was closed off by listening to the Robin Cook audio CD which was incomplete from the Montreal/ Quebec trip.