Contemplating making an entrance

This is fun. Look at the arches and pick the one that is immediately most appealing to you. The one that you choose reveals a lot about your personality. arches

If you chose number 1, your path is freeing. You are the type of person who needs a ton of space. You need the freedom to do things your own way, you prefer a path that you carve yourself, especially one with infinite possibilities and routes. You don’t want to feel constrained and are highly independent, rebellious even, but you don’t like confrontation. You’re more likely to passively resist someone or something. You hate being rushed, and prefer to take the time to savour life. You’re too busy enjoying life to draw attention to yourself.

If you chose number 2, your path is private. You are the kind of person who prefers to travel alone. You like to observe, think, and sort out whatever is in your head. You prefer a path that’s fit for one. You can see others once you arrive at your destination, but you need your downtime first. You are very original and insightful. You look at the world in a unique way, and others can benefit from your point of view. You are a bit of a loner, but you connect well with people when you take the time. You are very understanding.

If you chose number 3, your path is colourful. You are a very engaging and engaged person. You love to be part of the world… you like to experience it all. Your ideal path is filled with colour, excitement and beauty. For you, it’s more about the journey than the destination. You are curious and excited to learn more. You love to start conversations, and you ask lots of questions. You are intellectual and witty. You think of more zingers than you’d ever use, and you keep people laughing.

If you chose number 4, your path is exciting! You are always moving forward in life, often into the unknown. You just go for it and deal with the consequences later. Your ideal path is unpredictable and maybe a little scary. You are drawn to the unknown. You can be a rule breaker, and you’re even somewhat careless. You have been known to act without thinking, but it usually all works out for you. You are very spontaneous and a major thrill seeker. You are going to make the most of the time you’ve been given on this planet!

If you chose number 5, your path is welcoming. You are a peace-seeking low maintenance person. You are very content, and you don’t like to be bothered. Your ideal path is clear cut and enjoyable. You want to enjoy your trip and to know what you’re getting into. You will often take the easy choice whenever possible. Life is hard enough, and you never want to make it harder on yourself, you are stable and supportive of those around you. You are known for your consistency and down to earth perspective.

If you chose number 6, your path is quiet. You value solitude in all aspects of your life. You can spend large periods of time alone without feeling lonely. Your ideal path is one that is very still and quiet. You want to absorb everything around you without feeling overwhelmed. You seek meaning in every aspect of life. You live your life very deliberately- both in action and in thought. You don’t like crowds, but you do like people. You value authentic relationships, and you prefer the depth of one on one interaction.

My result was extremely accurate (the thrill of infinite possibilities mixed with excitement).  Okay it was a combination of two doorways – couldn’t  make up my mind.

What about yours?


health MATTERS: when it’s all about THEM! The Narcissist.

What’s it like to live with one?

Narcissists simply do not make good partners

Narcissism is the pursuit of gratification from vanity or egotistic admiration of one’s own attributes. The term originated from Greek mythology, where the young Narcissus fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water. (wikipedia)narcissist

Last month, the website posted a piece about the legacy of narcissistic parents from Dr. Robin Berman , a practicing psychiatrist, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA, and author of Permission to Parent. To say that the piece resonated would not quite do it justice: It hit a nerve. And prompted many follow-up emails and questions, which primarily revolved around concern from readers that they might currently be involved with a narcissist, to debilitating effect. Below, Dr. Berman addresses the ramifications of romantic involvement with a narcissist, relationships that often kick off with so much fanfare they feel like a Disney cliché, before the fantasy fades and a darker reality emerges.

This is a little longer of a blog post than usual but I think you’ll find it quite interesting.  We all seem to know someone with these traits.  How to handle it?

I’ve heard the story countless times. A client comes in confused, hurt, and disheartened, wondering what happened to her fairytale romance that started off with such a bang. Invariably some combination of these words come next: “Prince Charming,” “soulmate,” “man of my dreams,” “swept me off my feet,” “attentive,” “charismatic”…”so all in.”

I am a psychiatrist, not a psychic, but I can predict what comes next: The relationship spirals downward and this so-perfect-he-can’t-possibly-be-real man morphs into something else entirely. Often, something much more disturbing. He needs endless attention, yet nothing she does makes him happy. Everything she says is wrong, as he’s easily injured or angered. She starts to feel very alone in the relationship, confused, and unmoored. What’s worse, she might feel like she’s somehow to blame—that she should work even harder to please.

Often, the dynamics play out more insidiously. You talk about an issue, and your partner relates it immediately to something that happened to him; your story fades as his takes over. Or you and your partner disagree and somehow you end up second-guessing yourself, as if dissent threatens his very well-being. Any needs you communicate that aren’t in line with his may be thrown back at you as a character flaw. For instance, you tell your boyfriend you won’t be able to get together on your usual date night because of work, and his comeback is: “You’re just not available for a serious commitment right now, and I want a real relationship.” Suddenly you have a global problem and he is a victim. What a head-trip.


If this all sounds familiar, perhaps you, too, are living with or dating a narcissist. The big, charming personality is typical of narcissists. Initially quite likable, they capture everyone’s attention. When they shine their light on you, it is easy to fall hard.

But that fall becomes painful when other narcissistic traits make themselves known. Narcissists are hypersensitive to any perceived critique. Feedback other than flattery feels like a slight and can trigger extreme anger. They feel deeply injured by criticism and have an excessive need for praise and admiration. Any time you express your honest feelings, you might stumble into your partner’s emotional quicksand. This is not what real love feels like.

Falling in love may put you off balance, but standing in love firmly grounds you. An absolute essential ingredient of a good relationship is emotional safetyyou need to feel safe to be the real you! But it is very difficult to be yourself when you have such an emotionally volatile partner. Narcissists are often arrogant, self-important, and devoid of empathy. They are so in their own world they can’t even see you. It’s hard to stand in someone else’s shoes when you can’t see past your own. Narcissists see you not as you, but more as an extension of themselves.

To be seen and adored for who you really are, though, is the highest form of romance. I once heard that the word intimacy can be broken down into the words “IN TO ME YOU SEE.” It is so difficult for the narcissists in your life to truly see you and get you because they are focused on themselves. Their needs steamroll over yours. Talking about how you feel becomes exhausting and frustrating because they can’t truly appreciate your perspective and because you have to sugarcoat everything to not set them off.

This would me me if I were living with one

Ha, this is exactly what I would do.


A patient once told me this story: “When I was newly married, we saw the movie Inception. When we walked out of the theater and I said I didn’t like it, my husband flew into a rage. ‘What?! We love thought provoking movies! How could you not get that story?!’ I remember thinking ‘Who is we?’ His reaction was so full of wrath, I was scared to speak up. From that point on, more and more pieces of my true self went silent.”

This exemplifies how quickly the benign can become malignant and destroy emotional safety. Even disagreeing about what you think of a movie can trigger your partner’s disapproval or anger. Living with or dating narcissists feels like you have to tiptoe around minefields and are constantly on guard to not set them off. Narcissists take everything so personally because underneath their grandiose bravado lurks profound self-loathing—they need to be shored up by constant external praise. Their fuel is admiration, and they need you to reflect their magnificence because they truly don’t feel it themselves. Being that perfect, flattering mirror is depleting, and after awhile, your needs become enmeshed with theirs. You lose sight of where they end and you start. You become so busy shoring up the narcissist that you have nothing left for yourself. You tend to disappear.

Meanwhile, as you are doing all that work to build up your partner, he or she may be busy tearing others down. The classic example comes from Snow White and the narcissistic Evil Queen. Maleficent needs constant reassurance from her Magic Mirror that she, indeed, is the fairest of them all. But once Snow White comes into the picture, Maleficent feels threatened by the competition and sets out to destroy her.


In real life, narcissists need to cut down others to build themselves up. Even when you are in the glow of a new relationship, and the charm offensive is blindingly bright, watch for clues that all may not be well. If he needs to criticize others to show how grand he is by comparison, he will likely do the same to you. Besides noticing how he treats the people around him, look at his history. Is it filled with long-term friendships or littered with relationships—romantic or business—in which he has inevitably been wronged? If he easily condemns those he previously cherished, chances are that dark light will shine on you at some point, too. The narcissist who keeps himself elevated by putting down others eventually might become competitive even with you.

Narcissists hoard attention, interrupt conversations so that they can steer it back to themselves, and are more concerned with their feelings than anyone else’s. Their theme song is, “Enough about me, let’s get back to me.” If you are living with a full-fledged narcissist, you know first-hand how this can interfere with their ability to relate to you and to your kids.

“My marriage was great before we had kids. I knew that my husband needed a lot of attention, but I never realized how much, until I stopped giving it to him in the usual doses, because I was so busy caring for our baby. I could no longer be so focused on him. Our relationship got ugly fast.”

Before having children you had more energy to attend to the narcissist. Some narcissists feel threatened and jealous of the attention that you devote to your kids; other narcissists use their children to feed their ego; and others are so preoccupied with themselves that they completely neglect their kids. Of course, all of these are detrimental for a child.


Disagreeing with a narcissist or working through issues is extremely difficult. In addition to their inability to see your point of view, they cannot own their stuff. Their extreme defensiveness shuts down their ability to learn, and that impinges on your ability to grow as a couple.

You may hold on to the fantasy that if you shore them up enough, they will eventually get around to taking care of you, too. Unfortunately, more often than not, this won’t be the case. But if part of life’s journey is knowing yourself, the narcissist in your life can be a great teacher. The journey to discovering your authentic self requires you to get painfully honest to work though your distressing feelings. Here are some questions that can lead you to clarity and help you figure out whether you just need more tools to cope, or you really need to extricate yourself.


  1. Why did you pick him or her? Does she remind you of the way you were loved by one or both parents? Have you just unknowingly repeated the scene of the original crime—your own childhood? Or are you trying, with your partner, to have a happier ending than you did with your parents?
  2. Are you depressed? Swallowing anger and hiding your real self can lead to depression.
  3. Are you exhausted from tap dancing around someone’s fragility? Do your constant attempts to please him require a hyper-vigilance that is draining? Are you working to hide your partner’s volatility and fragile ego from your kids and your friends?
  4. Are you seeing things as they are, or are you making constant excuses? Try to get an honest picture of what’s going on. Don’t skew the data.
  5. Do you feel like your needs are constantly overshadowed in spite of all of your efforts to communicate them? Have things gotten so bad that you’ve stopped trying to communicate them because it feels pointless? Or is there safe space for your feelings?
  6. Are you being gaslighted? Narcissists have a tendency to deny things they said, or claim they said something else. They rewrite history. They are unaware of the impact they are having on you or others. This is crazy-making. Beware of this distortion and don’t buy into it.
  7. Does your partner have a history of healthy, intimate relationships? Or is there a long-standing pattern of unstable relationships, whether romantic, friendly, or professional? History doesn’t lie, so pay attention to it.
  8. How do you feel when you are with your partner: Separate and whole, or enmeshed and sucked in to their drama? Does being around your partner make you feel peaceful or on edge?
  9. Since living with or dating a narcissist, do you feel like you are a better version of yourself? Take a moment to compare how you feel about yourself before you met your partner, and now.



Is this relationship worth saving? Be honest, how extreme is your partner’s narcissism—is it just a few traits, or is it more encompassing? Full-blown narcissism (see chart below) is hard to live with. A few traits can be manageable. If you choose to work on the relationship, know that at any time, the healthiest choice may be to leave.

In assessing the extent of the problem, be cautious when you see hints of a more evolved partner. Recognize whether these moments are fleeting or a bigger piece of the picture. Don’t make too much of the glimpses of improvement. Manage your expectations. The narcissist in your partner likely will not disappear. Unless there is consistent growth, decide if a sporadic connection is enough to sustain you.


If you decide to stay in the relationship, both of you must recognize the problem and the role each of you plays in perpetuating it. Also, and this is crucial, he must commit to getting professional help in working to change his behavior. In a therapist’s office, as time makes him feel safe, he can get underneath the mask of grandiosity and access his true feelings. Then, ultimately, he can learn to replace the harsh self-critique with self-compassion, which is where real healing takes place.

If your partner is a full-blown narcissist and doesn’t want to get help or work on it, this should be a deal breaker. If you’re married to a narcissist, realize that you can’t fix him. No matter how much you try, his actual healing is going to have to come from within. No amount of external shoring up will ever be enough. Don’t make fixing a narcissist your life’s work. You have a different journey, one that is more inspired than repairing your partner.

* If you’re dating someone you suspect is a narcissist, tread carefully. What makes a great date may not make a great mate.

* If the narcissist in your life is getting help, remember it may be two steps forward and one step back. Give yourself a deadline so that years don’t elapse, leaving you in a perpetually dysfunctional relationship.

* Although it is likely your narcissistic partner loves you in his own way and does give you something—for instance, he makes life exciting, he’s vivacious and flattering—in the end, his own limitations may prevent him from consistently giving you the love you need. It may be 10% his affirming you in exchange for 90% you affirming him.


If progress is being made, you need to take care of you. Shore yourself up with a strong support network. Make sure that you have close friends that you feel safe enough with to share your truth—great girlfriends, a good therapist, a spiritual leader. Don’t screen the story; share it unfiltered. Speaking the truth is quite liberating.

* Learn to notice and take care of your needs, maybe for the first time.

* Set boundaries clearly, calmly, and firmly. Know where you begin and where he ends. Start small. It’s OK to not like the same movies. You don’t need to change your opinions to placate him. You may take flack for standing up for yourself. Don your invisible armor so that if he overreacts, you’re clear that it’s about him, not you.

* Work through your own anger to have empathy for the narcissist in your life. He never got what he needed, and his self-hatred is much greater than his self-love, even though it appears to be the opposite. Have massive amounts of empathy for yourself and compassion for your partner. And know that understanding him doesn’t have to mean staying in the relationship.

* Listen to your intuition, that deep place of knowing. You deserve to be happy, free, and at peace. You deserve safe and unconditional love!


When it comes to romance, listen to your head and your heart. In healthy partnerships, both vital organs are aligned. Good relationships free your true spirit. They allow you to exhale with ease into feeling safe and cherished. To quote one of my dearest friends, a good partnership is an “elevator.” It brings out your best self. It does not force you to bury parts of yourself. You want a partnership in which you can not only fall in love, but then stand and ultimately grow in love.

Now that is what I call happily ever after.

Robin Berman, MD, is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA and author of “Permission to Parent: How to Raise Your Child with Love and Limits.”


Narcissism exists on a spectrum from a person who has a few traits to someone who meets the full criteria for a personality disorder. Full-fledged narcissism is a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

  1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements).
  2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.
  3. Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions).
  4. Requires excessive admiration.
  5. Has a sense of entitlement (i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations).
  6. Is interpersonally exploitative (i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends).
  7. Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.
  8. Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.
  9. Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

From the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, 2013


beauty – fashion for the face

Pretty upscale packaging right?H&M

Who would believe that clothes giant H&M is launching a beauty and makeup line, which will hit some 900 stores worldwide this fall.  H&M is branding the new products — in sleek, gold-tinted packaging — as “fashion for the face.” The 700-item line will include makeup, hair care and skin care products, with prices ranging from $2.99 to $24.99.

“This is an opportunity to be inventive, creative and have fun with fashion and colors,” H&M Beauty’s concept designer Sara Wallander said in a statement.

A premium line and sustainable products certified by Ecocert will also be available, as will seasonal products.

There will be dedicated store areas for customers to try out different products, and the new line will also be available online.

When the Swedish brand came to America in 2000, opening its first store in Manhattan, it brought fast-fashion into the spotlight. H&M has mixed high- and low-fashion by featuring collaborations with Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney, and more recently, Alexander Wang, among other designers. Balmain Is H&M’s Latest Designer Collaborator.

It might require taking a break from Sephora to check it out.

Source: News Wire Services

Style: wearable art

For the LOVE of SCARVESamodeda2Being a scarf person, I love all kinds of scarves in all kinds of fabrics (especially silk) from long enough to wear as a halter to short enough to just tie around your neck. They complete an outfit, help to keep you fashionably warm in the winter or light enough to wear decoratively instead of a necklace for any season. amodeda3What you see here are one-of-a-kind creations from, the brainchild of Elizabeth Schnitzker.  Elizabeth is from Argentina and has lived in Mexico. amoseda4I met Elizabeth at a recent function where not only did she stand out because of her gorgeous blond hair, but the scarf she was wearing caught my eye. Of course it would because it was different. I decided to ask her a few questions for the blog:

How did you get the name for your company and what made you decide to get into this business?

ES: Amoseda means Loving Silk. I fell in love with it 23 years ago when I was living in Germany. I love the feel, the interaction with the dye and paint, the totally involved process it is for me to finish one piece. It takes a lot of hours and love to have that special one-of-a-kind piece of wearable art completed. I love to see people finding the right one that suits their needs or the gift that will be given to that special loved one. Go figure, it can be mailed in an envelope! That was my key point for selling out last year at Christmas time.

That’s fantastic. Tell me more about your creations?

ES: This is an affordable luxury line, for customers who understand the craftsmanship of a one-of-a-kind design done on natural fibres shawls and scarves. Dyed, painted or both, the products used are European paints, local dyes and Indian Indigo of the highest quality to ensure the designs resist time, sun, washes, traveling and a lot of wear and tear from somebody who loves the piece and takes it from day to night, from casual to dress up and city to country to beach and the moon.
These scarves are conversation pieces, and something that transforms any given outfit.
Versatility, comfort, quality, are some of the words that describe Amoseda products.
My customers honour their uniqueness and that’s why chose to have a different accessory piece that makes them stand out in a stylish way.

Do you do custom orders?

ES: Custom-orders are available upon request for clients that desire a particular palette of colour mix, design, size or need it for a special occasion and would like that to be reflected on the scarf. Bridesmaids shawls are one of the examples.

Do you ever do repeats?

ES: I can repeat motives, but they will never look exactly the same, as the designs are not printed, they are individually painted and I don’t use anything other than my brushes and inspiration to develop them.

So the customer is really getting something unique. Do you plan on expanding the line?

ES: Currently I am developing a line for men in organic cotton, bamboo, silk and cashmere that will be dyed with natural Indigo, on top of the dyed and painted on silk.
Ties are being tested. Looking forward to see my line expand into formal wear as well.

Are they made entirely of silk and where do you import from?

ES: 100% Silk and silk blends as well as cashmere and cashmere blends are directly imported from Germany, India, Vietnam, Nepal and Thailand as well as China. Customers will find pashminas, thai silk, noil silk, habotai, silk velvet, linen and silk blends as well as silk cashmere and pure cashmere.

But you design them here in Vancouver?

ES: The designs are entirely done in Canada, and shipped internationally.

How about cleaning? I once had someone spill red wine on a beautiful beige pashmina which luckily was able to be drycleaned.

ES: I love Mother Nature as well and that’s why all the shawls are hand washable. No need to dry clean!




Product photographer: Andres Velez Posadas –  Logo and website: Pablo M. Margain

Something Sweet – Homemade Candy Bars

From savoury to sweetI’ve been making so much savoury the last while that it was time for a sweet treat – and I mean SWEET! This is the first time I’ve made chocolate bars from scratch.  Cakes, cookies, fudge, truffles, different types of chocolate bark and even brownies is what I’m used to, but never bars.  Just never attempted to try them before. Why now? Why not!barsThis recipe happens in 3 stages. The end result tastes like a deliciously rich fudge brownie with a caramel-like consistency in the middle.  Read through the whole ingredient list and instructions before diving in. If you want to attempt this (or any candy making) I really recommend that you buy a *candy thermometer or better still, a laser thermometer for this recipe.









  1. Line a 9×13” baking sheet with some parchment paper, leave a little bit spilling off the sides.

    speading it out

    spreading it out

  2. Melt chocolate and butter together and cool.
  3. Add eggs then remaining ingredients to the melted chocolate.
  4. Spread in your lined 9×13″ sheet and bake for 10 minutes at 350′. DO NOT OVERCOOK.





  1. Mix ingredients together and then cook to “softball stage” over medium/low heat (softball stage means a candy thermometer reaches 240F ).second
  2. Spread over your baked layer.




  1. Melt together and spread carefully on top of powdered sugar mix.
  2. Cool in refrigerator for several hours until top chocolate layer is hard.
  3. Cut into small bars and store in refrigerator.

    I cut them into brownie-style squares

    I cut them into brownie-style squares and put unsweetened coconut on top – stage three.

  • Stage One was easy enough. The key with this first step is NOT to overcook the layer. So if you have an oven that runs hot, bring the baking time down by 1-2 minutes.
  • Stage Two – The softball stage is bit of a pain. *I didn’t have a candy thermometer and at the time I decided to make this, all the ingredients were in place except for the handy thermometer. Being the practical person that I am, I ended up using a meat thermometer instead – was too impatient to go out & buy a proper one on the spot. So I used one I have for roasts and it only goes up to 200F so I let it go up all the way to the very end past 200 (I figured this to be about 220) and left if for an additional 2 minutes.  Luckily for me it worked out fine but I wouldn’t normally recommend doing this.
  • Stage Three was no fuss.  You can find some fancy wrappers at a kitchen store or use plain parchment to wrap them.  They freeze well.
  • Stage Foureat and enjoy.  They’re sweet but not sickly sweet.  You may want to eat more than one but try to use control. I’m trying.


This is the food website of  Elettra Wiedemann, the daughter of Isabella Rossellini.


There are still a few tickets available for the DOWNTOWN FOOD & AGAVE SAFARI on Thursday May 28th – 7pm.

Join us to experience delicious food and drink pairings as we visit some of Vancouver’s top restaurants and watering holes. We start at Joe Fortes Seafood & Chophouse, and then we’ll board a trolley to culinary nirvana – exploring gastronomic delights at every stop -­ all exquisitely paired with tequila and mezcal to sip alongside the chefs’ creations! Stops at: Joe Fortes Seafood & Chophouse, Coast, Lift Bar & Grill, and Left Bank, before heading to Uva Wine and Cocktail Bar to end the night with…more culinary goodness paired with agave spirits!  Tickets: $95  Order tickets at :

Art – the price of good ART

Overheard at Christie’s auction house in New York City last week – “Will you give me 160, 160 million?” Even if I had the money I would not be so sure, but how nice to even be able to be in the running. Worth it, not Worth it – What is the value of good art?picasso-women-of-algiers_garance-dore-770x513Last week a Picasso painting broke the world record as the most expensive artwork to sell at auction when it went for a mere $179.4 million. While the final sale price was actually $160 million, a 12 per cent buyer’s premium was added to the astonishing total.
Definitely not pocket change.

The painting “Woman of Algiers” (Version O) beat out the previous title holder which was Francis Bacon’s “Three Studies of Lucian Freud” in 2013. It made me wonder about what kind of price you can put on art and also who is buying these paintings? I believe that the identity of the buyer is not yet known.

While I admire the work of both of these major artists and love the paintings I somehow can’t get over the prices. Even so, I wouldn’t mind having a substantial painting gracing a wall in my home.

The Picasso oil painting is a vibrant, cubist depiction of nude courtesans, and is part of a 15-work series the Spanish artist created in 1954-55 designated with the letters A to O.
This is an absolutely blockbuster picture – it’s one of the most exciting pictures that we’ve seen on the market for 10 years,” said Philip Hoffman, founder and CEO of the Fine Art Fund Group.

“Yes there are one or two [Picassos] that could even smash that record but it has a huge wall presence, it’s a big show-off picture.”

“For anybody that wants to have a major Picasso, this is it – and $179m in 10 years’ time will probably look inexpensive,” said Hoffman.

I don’t know, it seems pretty exorbitant to me right now. Imagine? Never say never but that probably leaves me out of the running for ever owning a major player painting.

Photo: Wall Street Journal

contemplating…what makes a good ENTREPRENEUR

On Thursday evening I was at the Vancouver Club with a room full of budding young entrepreneurs yeah, I know what was I doing there? to hear Vikram Vij give an empowering and heartfelt talk about his success story and what it took to get him where he is today.

Vikram & Rosa

with Vikram & my friend Rosa

From growing up in India, to training in Austria to finally making a home in Vancouver with three successful restaurants, a food truck, a cookbook, curry products sold in many stores across Canada and drumroll….having been one of the judges on Dragon’s Den – it’s been a humble and intriguing journey.

The people in the room were from the Pacific Club which is a group that connects and inspires Vancouver’s young professionals. There were some very interesting people. One of them was my friend Paul Davidescu who has a startup venture called Tangoo (the pocket concierge app for organizing the perfect outing to help bring people together in social and network gatherings). Tangoo was recently featured on Dragon’s Den, was given an offer which they turned down and after that Paul approached Vikram who then decided to help finance the company which is turning out to be a success story in it’s own right. Vikram said he invested in the person, not just the idea.  He was sold on Paul’s enthusiasm and belief in the enterprise.  It’s not just a money making venture for him.

The Tangoo Team

The Tangoo Team

Paul Davidescu - photo: Globe & Mail

Paul Davidescu – photo: Globe & Mail

It was refreshing to hear him speak because Vikram believes that it’s about building relationships. It should not occur to you to make business a means to only make money. Put your love, passion and desire into your business – if you don’t create the most flavourful dish and put effort into everything that goes into it, it’s like dating a beautiful woman but there’s no chemistry.  All the ingredients have to be balanced.

Rosa & me

Rosa (Paul’s mom) is my confidante, running buddy & of late, Spanish Instructor extraordinaire.

He believes in working together. You always need somebody next to you in order to become successful – a partner, friend, someone who understands where you’re coming from and believes in you. Very important!

When someone tells him his food is terrible (like that ever happens) – he likens it to hurting as much as someone telling you that you have an ugly child.  It is taken to heart.

His food philosophy is similar to that of living in an Indian village – buy local. He prefers to buy produce, fruit and wine where they are grown. We are so lucky here in British Columbia. We have an ocean that produces sustainable seafood, produce and wines from the Okanagan and the Fraser Valley. We need to know that what we have here is incredible. He used the spices that come from India together with local fare to create an interesting mix which turns out to be a pleasing combination.

His advice:
Learn from the best mentors.  Don’t think you know it all. Always be a student and a sponge – learn from people. No one is above another. You can learn something from everyone.  Pierre Elliott Trudeau once came into his restaurant and waited in line like everyone else. An example is if he could wait so could everyone else. If you have nothing to talk about for 30 to 45 minutes chilling & hanging out at the back of the restaurant what are you doing out eating with this person anyway?

Travel the world, go to different parts to experience the local cuisine and music. When you sit together, eat together and you enjoy each others company you can talk about anything. Guns and Politics will never help to solve the problems of the world. Music & Cuisine bring people together.  On another musical note, RIP “King of the Blues” BB  – I’m so lucky to have heard you and your beautiful Lucille live on stage at the CNE in Toronto many years ago.

Vij's Original


New for Vikram: Rangoli (next to Vij’s) – is a brand new concept restaurant. Instead of expanding Vij’s which would have been simpler he created something different.  He always chooses to create fresh ideas & new concepts. My Shanti in South Surrey is also totally different from the other two. Vij’s Railway Express is a take on Indian street food – excellent examples of Indian Fare that’s a bit of a stretch from the “all too familiar” dishes like Butter Chicken and Chicken Tikka.

vij1He prefers to push the limits with a desire to change things.

Sound advice from a pro – I think I’ll take that to heart.

check out the Tangoo App here:

Where to buy Vij’s 15 varieties of frozen curry products:

what MATTERS: the bond between HUMAN & DOG

Brad & Kira11011566_10152718400661852_8284452701846702819_n

Brad is my brother and Kira is my niece.  Even though she’s a dog, Kira is still my niece.  Dogs are family and family is everything.  I sadly just found out that Kira was diagnosed with untreatable cancer.  I thought I would share something that Brad posted about the relationship between the two.  Something  that only those who have dogs can relate to.  Sometimes our bonds with animals are stronger than our bonds with people.  I think it’s because our animals (dogs in particular) don’t ask anything of us other than love.  It’s totally unconditional and so amazing that I feel sorry for those who have not experienced it (especially if they don’t have children). Brad & Kira Here is what Brad wrote:

This is the year my baby girl is supposed to turn 13. Given the way I raised her, I fully expect her to live into her late teens. Regardless of how long I am lucky enough to have her in my world, it won’t be nearly long enough. Anyone who owns a pet can attest to that.

When I look at my girl lying in the grass, sprinting up a hill, or swimming in her favorite watering hole, immeasurable warmth overtakes me. Over the past year or so I’ve been filled with urgency to express my gratitude for what she’s brought to my life, in many little ways. Even though she may not know what I’m saying, I still tell her; I love her, as if she does. My ritual has been to visit her on her daybed every night, kiss her on the head and tell her she means the world to me. I then wish her; love, health, happiness and longevity.

When I’m in town, she accompanies me to my office every day and sits in the big bay window in front of my desk. I can’t tell you the number of times she’s startled me and made me nearly jump out of my chair. Whenever someone walks by, or when she sees the cat that loves to torment her, or for any other reason that makes sense to her, she’ll start to bark.

I’d be lying if I said a shrill bark, reverberating off the glass didn’t bother me. More times than I care to admit I was on a radio interview, or on a conference call, only to realize there was nothing I could do until the person walked out of range, or the cat finally got bored and left. As much as I love that 17 pound ball of fur, those were the times I didn’t like her very much.

Well, yesterday it happened again! I was working away in my office, and sure enough she started to bark because something got her attention. My reaction however, was quite different this time; as I just stopped what I was doing and watched her until she calmed down.

It was as if I didn’t want her to stop barking, as it made me realize how alive she was. Instead of getting angry with her, I just smiled and told her in a gentle voice that it was ok, and then I said; I love you. And then I cried, uncontrollably and harder than I could ever remember, for what seemed a long, long time. The last time I cried like that was over 20 years ago when my mother passed away. I honestly thought I’d forgotten how to cry, but I didn’t.

You see, just the other day I found out my little girl has cancer and it seems to have spread almost overnight. I was hiking with her a couple of weeks ago, went on a 7-day speaking tour, and when I returned home she was different.

Gone was the 10 minute routine when I walked through the door, the one that always made me feel like I was her entire world. Instead I was met with a bit of a whimper and a slight wag of her tail, which seemed to take all the effort in the world to raise. There was sadness behind those beautiful brown eyes, and she just stared at me as if to say; Daddy, there’s something wrong, why do I feel this way.

So you see, even in the things that trigger you or make you angry, you can find love if you look deep enough. So now I can’t wait to hear her bark, and every time it happens I will smile and fill my heart with gratitude for having her in my world for as long as she’s willing to stick around.

Please send love and light her way, as she truly is an incredible little soul, and I wish so deeply for her to feel well again.11020261_10153363222311424_8027077531756354233_nYou bet Brad!

Feel-good Friday: FLAMENCO frenzy!

Have you ever seen, or remember the last time you saw a live Flamenco performance?

Kino Cafe

Kino Cafe

Last week I thought it about time to take in a show or two with a visiting friend who is a Flamenco singer.  Soulful, joyful, powerful, angry, sad and beautiful all rolled into one dance…that is so alive.

East is East

East is East

Thought I had a little bit of a gypsy in me when about 15 years ago I decided that I wanted to learn to dance Flamenco.  It was mostly to do with the tiered flouncy dresses and shoes.  I mean how feminine and nice are they? But I also love Spanish guitar.  After about 3 months of clapping and stomping my feet I decided to give it up.  My feet were getting sore and besides, no male partner!  It really is a difficult dance that takes years to properly learn.  After that it was salsa, west coast swing and tango, which I still do.

You know how to express the song when you’re carrying the pain of centuries with you. The Gypsy who knows how to do this gets it from his ancestors ahh, that explains things…These are real experiences which have accumulated within him…He suffers them; he lives them; he remembers all his own.

Pedro Peña/Gypsy Flamenco Singer & Guitaristflamenco1

To truly understand what flamenco is, you must know the cante (the song) very well. Flamenco is born in the cante, and if you take the experience of cante away from young people, they’re left with no roots. They’re left with empty musical forms, and when they build on them, they build without understanding the emotional substance that characterizes and differentiates the various forms.”

Manolo Sanlucar/Guitarrista

Stay close to anything that makes you glad you are alive” – Hafiz.