Trump Triumphant, Wins Election

Last night, at 2:33am, Donald J. Trump became the 45th President-elect of the United States of America. That is a sentence I thought I'd never have to type. Or, if I'm being honest, that's a sentence I hoped I would never have to type. I'm horrified because I was secretly holding out hope that after all the tapes and awful things he said at rallies, that no one would be able to bring themselves to vote for that tangerine coloured monster.

Yet, here we are. America took one step forward in having Hillary Clinton as one of their two main presidential nominees, and sixty steps back in electing Trump. We went from Barack Obama, the first black President to Trump, a man endorsed by the KKK. 

And the scary part is that no one saw this coming. Looking at all of the polls leading up to last night, Trump barely had a 23% chance of winning, but now he and the Republicans control the Presidency, the Senate, and the House, and now have the ability to appoint not just one Supreme Court Justice, but potentially three more. Never has America ceded so much power to one party before, and it just goes to show that polls are scarily wrong. All the do is force people into lying, because like Trump said, he won because of his silent majority. He won because we all underestimated just how much people in America hate women and minorities.

Current mood.

Current mood.

As a Canadian, having viewed elections on both sides of the border, it's painfully obvious that America's two party system is fundamentally broken. What America desparetly needs is a legitimate third party, as that would alleviate some of the pressure that voters felt. It would mean that when faced with choice of Trump or Clinton, neither of whom were ideal, voters could have a third option to turn to. In Canada, we have the Liberals, the Conservatives, and the NDP (and several smaller parties like the Green Party). What this means is that even when there is a party with a majority, voters aren't forced into choosing one or the other - there is choice.

The thing is that America doesn't have this third party, but instead, has a host of independent candidates that lie outside the two main parties - the Republicans and the Democrats. Until America does have that third option, voting for an independent is a wasted vote. Remember what happened in 2000, with Ralph Nader in Florida? Had people not flocked to him, Gore most likely would have won, and we would have been spared years of Bush Jr. The same thing goes for Jill Stein and Gary Johnson, who managed to take enough electoral votes away from Clinton, which more than secured Trump's victory.

There is something fundamentally broken when your first response to a brand new President-elect is, "I'm scared."

This was not the election to vote with your conscience or to make a protest vote. This was the election to show the GOP and to show Trump that your vision of America is not what we want. This was the election to show up in numbers and to say, "Donald, you're fired." And the numbers don't lie. If you voted for Johnson, or Stein, or anyone else other than Clinton, you voted for Trump. You were told what would happen, and you shouldn't tell yourself any differently. Your vote more than likely cost America everything it has. Your vote allowed a sexist, misogynist, racist, homophobic, xenophobic, and fraudulent monster the chance to wield unfathomable power for four years. Say what you will, but a Trump victory does mean the end of decency. It means a validation of hatred and ignorance over intelligence and love.

2016 was already a rough year for many, and this election did not make it any easier. With Trump in office, America can say goodbye to meaningful gun control legislation, marriage equality, affordable health care, climate change and criminal justice reform, and a woman's right to choose. That's the saddest part of all this to me - that with all the progress we made over the last eight years, it's about to be undone entirely.

And with that, I hold the following people responsible for Trump's ascendance to power.

Rudy Giuliani
Chris Christie
Newt Gingrich
Paul Ryan
Ann Coulter
Kellyanne Conway
Sean Hannity
James Comey
David Duke
Peter Thiel

And most importantly, the news media. The news media is what made Trump who is he. They kept comparing Trump's zero years of public service to Clinton's 30+ years. They kept comparing the two as of they were equal, when in fact, she was the only qualified, viable candidate. They kept going after her emails, focusing on that non-story, instead of going after Trump for his endless list of gaffes and faults. They wanted it to be a rat race. They wanted to play on your fears and anxieties because that's what gets them views. They wanted it to be exciting, to they artificially raised the stakes. And now they are just as complicit as the rest of the white conservatives who refused to reject Trump time and time again.


It's twelve hours past the initial shock, and I still don't know how to process this. I don't know how Clinton, who won the popular vote, had to stand on a stage and concede to Trump. I don't know how the literal incarnation of 4chan and YouTube comments was elected the 45th President. I don't know how Trump, the most under-qualified person in the history of America, beat out Clinton, who was perhaps the most qualified person to run the country. I don't understand why more people didn't go out and vote. I don't know how to process the words First Lade Melania. I don't understand how our new President-elect now has to get ready to go to trial facing fraud charges in 20 days time. I just don't know how to process any of this.

What I do know, however, is that despite how normal Trump sounded during his acceptance speech last night, we cannot forget everything else he has said and done. We cannot forget how he mocked disabled people, all the vulgar things he said about women. We cannot forget how he threatened to jail Clinton for her emails. We cannot forget his friendship with Putin, or his refusal to acknowledge climate change as a reality. We cannot forget all the divisive, horrendous things Trump has said over the last 18 months, because if we do, then he will not have only won the Presidency, he will have shown his supporters that it's okay to talk and behave just like him, and that you can get away with it.

And the same goes for everyone who was joking and may now be seriously considering moving to Canada. That will not solve your problems. Working within your country will. This is the party that when Obama was elected twice said, "He's not MY President," yet will ask you to put aside your differences and respect the outcome of this election. Yes, the next four years are going to be incredibly tough, but leaving now will solve nothing. Now is not the time to give up. Now is the time to stick together, because there is much work to be done.

One thing is for certain, and that Kanye's chances in 2020 have never looked better.

Restaurant Review - Vij's

Last month, I went on a cross-Canada road trip with my best friend and girlfriend. While we were planning, we kept hearing about this restaurant that we just absolutely had to check out in Vancouver. It was called Vij's, the restaurant owned and operated by Vikram Vij and Meeru Dhalwala. The main draw to Vij's was two fold, the first being that Vikram Vij was one of the Dragons on CBC's Dragon's Den, the show where entrepreneurs can go and pitch business ideas with the hope of getting investment seed money from the Dragons. The second draw is their non-traditional approach to their menu.

They view their restaurant and menu as something that can change. They describe it as having a fancy dinner that you've been cooking for all day. And really, that's where the draw to the restaurant ends. Beyond this interesting approach, the appeal quickly disappears.

Trying to find the restaurant is hard. Even with the location loaded up in Google Maps, we drove past it twice, not noticing the nondescript building. Aside from the name painted in a faint blue colouring, and a small chalk board outside, you'd have no idea that it was a restaurant and not an abandoned warehouse.

This image makes the sign look larger than it actually is. In reality, it's   really quite small and easy to miss  , as we did -  twice .

This image makes the sign look larger than it actually is. In reality, it's really quite small and easy to miss, as we did - twice.

Inside is a different story. The staff was plentiful, and they were very friendly. While we waited for a table, they sat us in a lounge area and gave us water and small hors d'oeuvres (masala fries and chaat papri). You immediately get a sense that this is a high end place. The ceiling was decorated with tiny clay pots, that added to the Indian aesthetic. One thing I did find interesting was that the kitchen was completely open - no windows separating the cooks from everyone else. I thought that that alone was enough to separate them from everyone else.

The ceiling inside the waiting lounge. It's really quite pleasant to look at.

The ceiling inside the waiting lounge. It's really quite pleasant to look at.

What surprised me most however was the sheer volume. Not only was the music loud, but so were the conversations. You could hear everyone else around you, but not the person directly across from you. For a place that oozed class not even 10 feet away, it quickly devolved into a total cacophonous chaos. This is when we stopped knowing who was serving us, as we went from the podium hostess at the entrance, to two separate servers bringing us snacks, a third to take us to our table, one to tell us how their unnecessarily confusing menu worked, one to take our order, another to offer us drinks and two more to actually bring the dishes. All in all, from the moment we entered to the minute we left, we interacted with 10 different servers. Granted, the service was quick and efficient, but given that the servers did not have any uniforms or other identifying features, it was hard to tell who was serving and who was dining. Another odd thing we noticed was that all of the servers were Caucasian, and all of the cooks were of South Asian origin. That stood out to me, because you wouldn't find that at any other Indian restaurant. Perhaps it's all apart of their approach at trying to be different.

The food looks better than it tastes.

Going back to the menu for a second, it has an interesting approach, but is poorly executed. The restaurant is trying to go for a homey, handwritten approach, but it's barely legible and hard to read, especially in the dimly lit dining area. It's one page, and none of the three "sections" are separated. If it takes a server having to explain how the menu works - not even the food, but the menu itself - then it's poorly designed and the approach needs to be rethought. It's also not your typical menu in that you won't find any of your staples like butter chicken. This is part of the draw to Vij's - the menu is seasonal and the items listed change every so often, which is both beneficial and a drawback.

The unnecessarily confusing menu in question.

The unnecessarily confusing menu in question.

Vij's doesn't like present itself as a traditional Indian restaurant, but rather as a Fusion of tastes (Hakka, Indian, etc) but it doesn't come across that way, as the menu is heavily Indian oriented, with little culinary fusion.

The food, while presented well, was nothing special to write home about. I can safely say that I've had tastier Indian food elsewhere, but they weren't presented as nicely is all. We ordered the pork tenderloin, vegetable korma in tomato curry, and the lemon ghee grilled chicken, and out of the three, the vegetable korma was the tastiest. You can tell that the cooks take pride in how they prepare their food, as it tasted very clean with the most minimal use of oil. We definitely did not have the normal sense of feeling bloated and gross when we left, but overall the food was fairly bland. The servers told us that they use a blend of spices from all over India, but I honestly couldn't taste any difference. In fact, I could barely taste any of the spices - it wasn't subtle, but rather felt like it was outright missing from the meal. It's definitely a uniqueness that you won't confuse with any other Indian restaurant.

The fact that the menu is seasonal is interesting. It's great, because it's the only reason I'd want to go back, but not so great in that if you find a dish you really enjoy, there's a slim chance that it'll still be on their menu when you do go back. And that's the only reason to remember it - their different approach to their menu. If they didn't have that going for them, Vij's would be a restaurant you could go to once and then immediately forget about.

"I've had infinitely better cooked food in roadside inns for 50 cents." - Yelp Review

Vij's is interesting as an idea, but a place to visit only once, which is odd and rather sad to me given that his cookbooks tend to produce genuinely tasty meals. Realistically, I'd give it a 2 out of 5 stars, but if I were hard pressed, I'd give it a 3 out of 5, and for me, that's being very generous given the overall bland experience the restaurant provides as a whole - especially with the higher than normal prices. Vij's tries too hard to stand out, but in the end, results in being largely forgettable. 

Update: I spoke with Vikram Vij on the phone for around half an hour, and we chatted about this review. I explained my experience to him in further detail, and he explained to me what I had missed. 

The current location of Vij's was built in 1926, that he purchased for over $4 million dollars. He wanted to preserve the facade of the building, to keep it's integrity. Whatever his reasoning, from any angle other than head on facing the logo on the wall, the building looks nondescript - like a plain old building. However, while we both agreed on the fact that the interior was very nice, we disagreed on the noise level, which is meant to be very loud on purpose, "because this is an Indian restaurant, and if you've ever been to India, you'll know it's extremely loud."

What we disagreed on is the menu, in that what I perceived to be an unnecessary failure in basic design, he sees as something meant to be interactive. He doesn't want to make his menu self explanatory, because something that makes sense takes away from having conversations with his servers.

He also believes in total democracy, where everyone is equal. That's his rationale for not giving out reservations, or for giving any of his staff any identifying features. "Why should I make my mostly white staff wear Indian outfits when they're not Indian? When I was a Dragon, I refused to conform and lose my Indian-ness." That's all well and fine, but would a simple name-badge kill you? Would that take away from your principled stance on no uniforms?

The last thing he said was that the only reason he could think of as to why we thought the food was bland was because he had been experimenting with using less salt. He also listed off ingredients used in the dishes we ordered, but listing them off, from fresh yogurt to coconute water. The thing is that listing off the ingredients, no matter how amazing they may be, doesn't change your bland dish into tasty one.

In the end, we had differing opinions, and that's totally fine. Looking at reviews online, the reactions are a mixed bag from loving it to being thoroughly displeased. I would still say that you should check out Vij's at least once for yourself, if only to make up your own mind, but my review still stands at 2 stars out of 5.

Result: Vij's = ★★☆☆☆

Brussels 22/03/16

On March 22nd, 2016, after a nine and a half hour long flight from Mumbai, I landed at the Brussels Airport an hour before terrorists detonated two of their three bombs. By now, you've likely read all about the facts of what happened. Four terrorists detonated three bombs, two at the Brussels Airport and one inside the Maelbeek Metro. 31 people were killed (three of those deaths belonging to the suicide bombers) and approximately 330 people were severely injured. You've also probably already read about the history of terrorism in Brussels, but what you haven't read is a first-hand account of what the passengers who were suddenly stranded in Brussels with little information and nowhere to go had to go through.

This is that story. This is what my family and I, along with the thousands of others that were stuck in Brussels, dealt with during the three days we were in Brussels, from the failures to small successes. 

An hour after my family and I landed in Brussels, while we were waiting at our departure gate to catch our flight home to Toronto, we suddenly saw a rush of people coming our direction. We asked someone what was going on, and this is what we were told. "We don't know. There was an explosion of some kind. We were told to come to this part of the terminal." A few minutes later, we saw an even larger crowd, but this time they were running looking visibly scared. It was 8:05am, and the second bomb had gone off, but at this point we still didn't know everything.

A map of the airport, showing where the two bombs went off at 7:58am & 8:05am

A map of the airport, showing where the two bombs went off at 7:58am & 8:05am

It wasn't until we heard, "Emergency. Evacuate the terminal. Emergency. Evacuate the terminal," coming over the P.A. system did we start to worry. This is when several airport officials began yelling at the large crowd to drop everything and run towards the tarmac.

Crowds evacuating towards the tarmac.

Crowds evacuating towards the tarmac.

Now, having just come from India, where the temperatures hover around 35°C, we had packed our warmer clothing in our luggage, not thinking we'd need it until we reached Toronto. We weren't alone in thinking that, because as we went outside into the 2°C weather, hundreds of us were freezing. We stood out there for an hour, and the crowd only grew. I never realized how many people are in an airport at any given point in time until I saw a constant flow coming out onto the tarmac. While we were standing there, we saw several people walking towards airport ambulances, covered in blood. "We heard some shots fired, I think. And someone yelling something in Arabic, right before the blasts went off." Again, thinking that this was just the talk of someone who was scared, I listened, taking in what they were saying with a pinch of salt.

The first group of people on the tarmac, most not properly dressed for the cold weather.

The first group of people on the tarmac, most not properly dressed for the cold weather.

Finally, the airport brought shuttle busses for us to get inside. They were taking us to an aircraft hanger at the other end of the airport, and we didn't know it at the time, but we were going to be inside that hanger for the next eight hours. The hanger, while providing us some cover from the biting wind, did little to dispel the pervasive cold that seeped right into your bones. Airport staff started bringing out water and blankets little by little, until they could set up an emergency HQ. We were put inside a warm room for the first four hours, until the hanger began to fill up, and they needed that room for children and the elderly.

Right before the room began to fill up, airport staff handed out food and water, even small games to keep the little children occupied.

Right before the room began to fill up, airport staff handed out food and water, even small games to keep the little children occupied.

The makeshift First-Aid room. Supplies and space was limited, so not everyone could be looked after.

The makeshift First-Aid room. Supplies and space was limited, so not everyone could be looked after.

Once we were told to leave, we headed back into the cold hanger for the next four hours. Food and water was scarce, but airport workers kept the flow of blankets coming to provide some semblance of warmth. While we waited, the crowd of people only began to grow, and we still weren't getting any more information. We knew at this point that there had been terrorist activity, and that two bombs had been set off. But we didn't know how many bombs there were, and if there were any more terrorists left in the building, or if they were armed. Everyone was on edge, and a few fights broke out over blankets and water. It wasn't until they brought out the space heaters for everyone to huddle around did it hit us that we were likely going to be stuck in Brussels for sometime. 

People sitting and sleeping on blankets, yellow tarps, to prevent the cold concrete floor taking away the little heat they had.

People sitting and sleeping on blankets, yellow tarps, to prevent the cold concrete floor taking away the little heat they had.

A group of passengers bundled in several blankets huddled around one of the heaters for warmth. This was taken around six hours into our stay inside the hanger.

A group of passengers bundled in several blankets huddled around one of the heaters for warmth. This was taken around six hours into our stay inside the hanger.

At around 6pm, we were finally told that we were going to be evacuating the airport hanger, and heading to another facility. An "event hall that's warm and has beds and food." We began our slow walk to the other side of the hanger, only be met with everyone else that were also trying their very best to get the hell out of Dodge. The airport had arranged for shuttle busses. The first large group of 1,000-plus people were taken to a military base. Our group of around 1,500 people were taken into a town called Leuven, approximately 30km away from Brussels. We crowded onto the shuttle buses, and took the half hour journey into Leuven. 

While we were lucky enough to be closer to the front of the crowd, it still took us another 45 minutes to actually board the shuttle bus. 

While we were lucky enough to be closer to the front of the crowd, it still took us another 45 minutes to actually board the shuttle bus. 

Airport officials were telling people to leave their luggage behind, but no one listened, opting to haul large suitcases and carry-on baggage through the crowd. The passengers who did listen, or the passengers who airport officials were able to enforce that rule upon, had to leave their luggage behind, unsure what would happen to it. Luckily, I was able to keep my laptop bag with me. I suppose why it took so long for the airport to get us out is because they needed to find several places outside of Brussels that could hold thousands of passengers. We heard of groups going into Antwerp, our group going into Leuven, and others into military bases - hey needed to make sure those places were secure, as well as ensure that the roads were empty for the convoy of buses and police cruisers. I remember how eerie it felt, being inside a convoy on completely empty roads; not a single car in sight. In a few hours, Brussels had become totally shut down.

When we finally arrived in Leuven, we entered the event hall, where we had to stand for another hour or so in line, waiting to register. We had to write down our names, nationality, airline, and destination, and with 1,500 people, that can take some time, especially when a large percentage is elderly. While we were in line, we began to hear rumblings of unhappiness; people were becoming frustrated with how slow and seemingly disorganized everything was. After sometime, we finally managed to register and find ourselves a cot before grabbing some food. While my parents sat down and ate, I helped unload a truck full of cots and blankets. In about an hour, we unloaded 1,200 cots and around the same number of blankets. 

What half of the event hall looked like before people began claiming their cots. In this room alone, there were around 800 people.

What half of the event hall looked like before people began claiming their cots. In this room alone, there were around 800 people.

What it looked like when it filled up.

What it looked like when it filled up.

The other half of the event hall. There was close to 700 people in this room.

The other half of the event hall. There was close to 700 people in this room.

Toys and colouring books for the little kids to keep themselves occupied with.

Toys and colouring books for the little kids to keep themselves occupied with.

It wasn't until around midnight were we able to begin thinking of sleep. We had just started hearing stories of what people saw and heard during the attack. As this one family was checking in their luggage, the first explosion went off. They were far enough away from the blast that they were okay, but the saw a man with a massive gash across his chest, bleeding profusely. Another man saw a group of school children covered in tiny red dots, from where the glass and nail shrapnel had embedded into their skin, with their teacher either dead or knocked out right next to them. Another guy said he saw one family. The mother and newborn were at the counter, and the father chasing the older kid down because he got away. The father and older kid survived, but the mother and infant didn't. 

We woke up the next morning at around 6am. No one could really sleep, but there wasn't much else we could do besides wait. At around 10am, representatives from the Indian, American and British embassies showed up, followed not long after by representatives from United, American, and Brussels Airlines. My family and I were flying via Jet Airways, and by noon, they still hadn't shown up. While my family and I waited, we realized that our airline had by far the most passengers - 800 in total, where as United, Brussels and American had less than 200 each. It was easier for them to coordinate with other airlines, such as Air Canada, to shuttle their passengers into other towns like Amsterdam and Frankfurt, and send them to their next destination. 

At around 1pm, our airline did show up, but they had no information for us. Being a smaller airline, they had fewer planes in the air, and given that many of their passengers were traveling from India into the US, they needed visas, many of which had been left behind in Brussels during the attack. Jet decided to tend to those passengers without any documents first, and after two hours, they still had no information for us. There were talks of trying to get their planes out from Brussels and into Amsterdam, but that wasn't a certainty.

While we continued to wait, my family, along with other Canadians, wondered why we hadn't heard from the Canadian Embassy at this point. Several of us called the Embassy in Belgium, but we were told repeatedly that there was little the Embassy could do. A few Canadians were even told to contact the American Embassy. My dad, again with several other Canadians, while I was on the phone with someone from the Embassy, tried contacting Stephane Dion's office in Ottawa, and left several voicemails, only to have none of them returned. We even went so far as to call the Global Affairs office, but again, we were told to simply wait. 

It wasn't until we contacted the CBC and the Toronto Star did we finally hear back from the Embassy. The same lady that I had spoken to on the phone actually asked me if I would like someone to come to the event hall that we were staying at. At this point we were all dumbfounded. This is around the time that we finally heard back from our airline, Jet Airways. Without any help from the Embassy, they had arranged a hotel in Noordwijkerhout, a town 34km outside of Amsterdam, for all their passengers to stay in that night. They had also been able to get their three planes out from Brussels so that they could fly their passengers out.

Around 5pm, an hour before we were to leave Leuven, three representatives from the Canadian Embassy finally arrived. This is when my dad and I did a Skype interview with Ali Chiasson from the CBC, regarding everything that was going on. We were told by her that until we contacted the CBC, they too were not getting any information from the government, or from Brussels itself. We were her first source of on-the-ground news. I walked her through the event hall, where we were staying, the food and washroom conditions, and how we had felt abandoned by our government and Embassy.

Immediately after we finished our Skype interview with Ali, we boarded a coach bus and drove three hours into Noordwijkerhout, where we spent the night in a hotel and had our first shower in two days. After that, it was more or less smooth sailing. There were a few hiccups with Jet Airways - the flight staff was absolutely amazing, but the overall management did drop the ball quite a few times. When we did eventually land in Pearson, the airline had set up an area where passengers could fill out forms with their checked in baggage tags, so that when Brussels does open up again, Jet Airways could ship us our luggage. We were in that line for two hours, because even though they had 24 hours to prepare, they were understaffed and overwhelmed.

Now, this is the part where I begin talking about some of the failures of what happened. These failures do not include the Belgian Red Cross, or the literal army of volunteers that came from all over to help the stranded passengers. No, for everything the Belgians did, I am eternally grateful. Inspite of all the chaos and stress of the situation, every single person was absolutely delightful and calm under all the pressure. Given what was going on, we were not cold. We were not hungry. We were relatively comfortable. I think that it says a lot about the Belgians that they even set up a clothing donation box, which was useful when babies needed diapers and the elderly jackets. The level of care and attention to detail that we were given was absolutely outstanding. However, the downside to having the Belgians taking care of us so well is that our Embassy and the Canadian government did absolutely nothing.

Remember when I said we had called Stephane Dion's office, but heard nothing back? Well, his office issued a statement saying that they have "no reports of any Canadian citizens being affected by the incidents." Simultaneously, the Canadian Embassy was issuing statements, saying, "We were being told our citizens were being looked after." In a sense, yes, we were, but when the Embassy for Sierra Leone shows up, and Canada is nowhere to be found, for lack of a stronger word, it's frustrating.

The fact that the Embassy did not show up until the very last second is beyond me. The fact that two different organizations were saying two completely different things regarding several hundred Canadian citizens stuck in a foreign country during a high-alert terrorist attack is beyond me. How does that reflect "no Canadian citizens being affected by the incidents"? How can both the Embassy and the federal government think that a flight coming into Toronto contains zero Canadians? The fact that every other Embassy, from India to America to Sierra Leone, showed up, and did their best to help their citizens stranded without travel documents, and that Canadians were left high-and-dry, that is beyond me.

I'm immensly proud to consider myself Canadian, and proud of my country for all the good it normally does both at home and abroad. However, for the first time in my life, I felt utterly let down by my own government. Yes, mistakes happen, but when they happen on this scale, it's disappointing. I'm all for humanitarian aid, and for helping refugees escape crisis situations, but when the Canadian government is putting up thousands of refugees in hotel rooms and could not be bothered with its own citizens stranded abroad - that is beyond frustrating. If the government is unable to balance the two, then something has to give.

To add insult to injury, if Canada had stepped in, the government would have sent us an invoice to cover the costs. To break that down, currently the government is assisting thousands of refugees, putting them up in hotels, meanwhile, Canadian citizens have to take care of their own humanitarian crisis bills within 30 days of receiving said invoice. 

If it were not for the Belgians and our airline, Jet Airways, my family and I would still likely be stuck in Brussels, and we were lucky in many regards. We didn't lose our passports, and unlike many Indians trying to travel to America, we didn't need a VISA. We were able to get out of Brussels, and get home safely, but so many of the other passengers were, and possibly still are, stuck in limbo without their travel documents. They can't go home, nor can they go to the country they wanted to visit.

It's not a matter of me and my family being uncomfortable for a few days. It's that a large percentage of travelers were elderly, and in dire need of assistance. That there's only so much an army of untrained volunteers and a stretched-thin Red Cross can do. That the government and Embassy should have stepped up, offering to take the passengers out of the city into other airport and out of the country. If England and America can get their citizens into Frankfurt and then home, why couldn't Canada?

In the end, my family and I are home, safe now. Our luggage is still somewhere in Brussels, but given the fact that we're alive and healthy, that's a relatively small, inconsequential price to pay. But I am still so incredibly angry with our government. I am still so incredibly angry with the lack of concerted effort to bring us home as quickly and safely as possible. I am still so incredibly angry at the loss of life.

I'm grateful and happy to be home, but I am still just so incredibly angry.

Click here if you want to follow a lively discussion on this article on Reddit. You can also view all of the photos I took during my stay in Brussels here

India 2016

Over the last two weeks, I traveled throughout India with my parents. It was a whirlwind 15 days, that ended up with us being stuck in Brussels for an extra three days, but nonetheless, an amazing time. We landed in Mumbai, went to Lucknow, took a day trip into Kanpur, flew out to Jaipur, and drove three hours from Chennai into Pondicherry, and then back to Mumbai before finally coming home.

Throughout the entire trip, I had my Nexus 6P, and my Nikon D3200 at my side. While I'm not a professional photographer, I used this trip as an excuse to really hone my amateur-ish skills. Out of the 750 photos I took, I chose around 50 photos that I was really proud of, which you can see below.

Tired of Technology

Just a quick warning: this is going to be more of a rant than one of my more traditional posts. It's been something that I've been thinking over for some time now, and I really just wanted to get it off my chest.

I've always been a fan of technology. If it has a power button, then it was fair game for me to tinker around with. However, lately, I've been feeling particularly fatigued with the world of tech. It's simultaneously overwhelming and underwhelming. That may sound paradoxical, but let me explain.

In 2007. when Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPhone, it was nothing short of a world changing device on the same level as the computer mouse. It completely revolutionized the way that we, as consumers, look at our phones and pocketable devices. Fast forward eight years to 2015, and Tim Cook unveils the Apple Watch, and calls the digital crown the next mouse, or iPod click-wheel. It's was a bold statement that could never have possibly lived up to the hype. Eight months later, and anyone I've talked to has said that 1. they forget that the digital crown even exists and 2. that they don't know what to use the Apple Watch for. I don't know if Apple even know the actual use-case for the Apple Watch, and the same can be said of almost every single other tech giant making smart watches. There's no clear direction, and the direct consequence is that I'm not seeing many Apple Watches in the wild. 

In the previous decade, the aughts, most consumer technology conventions, from CES to MWC, felt extremely exciting. Every year, big companies would come out and showcase their latest and greatest. This year we had Samsung showcase a fridge with a 21.5" touchscreen slapped on to the front of it. A smart fridge. That is the best that Samsung thought they could do? Sony, on the other hand has a press event where they went up on stage to talk about how they had nothing new to offer, except for handicams, which haven't been used since the early aughts. 

And this is where we currently are - a valley, inbetween the end of one explosive decade, and on the verge of entering a brand new one. But, for right now, companies are trying to do much, and accomplishing very little. Every tech giant is investing in VR, and The Internet of Things (hence Samsung's smart fridge), but nothing is compelling. They're throwing out product after product, not guaranteeing any form of update system, just to iterate as fast as possible to be the first one to really make a splash.

Looking at Samsung again, since 2013, they've released seven smart watches, the previous versions of which have been all but abandoned. And the problem is that companies like Samsung are pushing for The Internet of Things as hard as they can, because living in an ever more connected world seems super appealing. Who wouldn't want their toaster to start toasting bread in the morning from the comfort of their bed? More automation means less work, right? No. Not unless you buy into one company, and one company only, because every company wants to be The Internet of Things, but only if they get to use their own proprietary systems that can't communicate with anything else outside of their stack.

The worst part is that every single one of these companies demand that every 12 months we ditch our current devices for their updates models. We all know about this planned obsolescence, yet we still buy into it year after year, which is why companies like Apple are allowed to charge $1000 for a phone. And it's the same tactic that universities are using - forcing students to spend even more money that they simply do not have because they updated the textbooks with one or two minor changes. It's the same material with a new cover, and all it does is generate nothing but waste and resentment. 

There's just too much going on, with very little impact. I'm being overwhelmed by just how underwhelming and stagnant technology has become over the last year or so. Don't get me wrong, I am extremely excited for what the future holds. Driverless cars, and more automation; city-mapping and fewer smart fridges. But for now, I'm just so damn tired.