A Sunday Afternoon in the ByWard Market (Ottawa)

A Sunday Afternoon in the ByWard Market (Ottawa)

Category Archives: Preparation

I’m still a mess. Every time I think of the incident itself or of the dozens of precious little things my daughter and I lost, my heart breaks afresh. After spending the day at the High Commission of Canada on April 15th, we had April 16th all to ourselves, but I just couldn’t get myself to leave our apartments (we are in an old suite hotel). The staff at Ambassador Row which has been quite supportive given the circumstances brought me a wonderful catered cake in the afternoon (see Flickr pic) with a card signed by 16 staff members. It was a nice gesture, and the cake was quite perfect for me as it was mixture of white vanilla and white chocolate with a few strawberries.

The following day, our administrative nightmare started anew. We received our temporary passports at around 2 p.m., too late for an indonesian visa application. Prompted by the High Commission of Canada, we made our way to the Indonesian Embassy only to be abruptly told that our attire was not appropriate (Justin was wearing shorts and I was wearing a sleeveless top). Fortunately, I had a long sleeve sweater in my bag and the guard let me in. With sweat dripping everywhere (I had just walked over 20 minutes in the very hot sun and I was now wearing a long sleeve sweater), I began the search of finding the proper office. I won’t go into too many details, but let’s just say that Indonesian officers follow procedures to the letter and compassion is not prescribed. To be honest I was not very pleasant with the lady officer, but was still appalled when she simply got up and left. With tears rolling down my face, I made my way to the entrance all the while hearing laughter and snickering in the back. It was quite humiliating and upsetting.

Then Friday morning, we got up early and made our way to the immigration offices of Malaysia. Well, one must definitely be armed with time, patience and cash on hand. Contrary to what we had been told at the High Commission, there was a fee of 100 RM per stamp and the whole process does not take a couple of hours but more like 6.5 hours in our case. As the numbers are only called in what I guess is malay language, we had to constantly be on alert and look on the screen. And the attitude… I have never been met with such resentment from a country’s official agent. The women officers kept referring to the fact that we lost our passports and that the temporary passports were simply travel documents. At the end of the day however, we did receive our stamps, which now allows us to leave this country (a bit ironic no?).

This morning, the kids went to the pool with Justin while I was trying to catch up on a bit of writing. I haven’t been able to do much as I keep reliving the events of the past few days in my mind. This afternoon, we have planned to visit the Batu Caves, a much needed reprieve from the administrative hell we have been living through this week. Because come Monday morning, we need to show up at 8 a.m. at the Indonesian embassy to request our visas. I may have to apologize to the follow-procedure lady (!!).

I wish I had nice adventures to share with you about the country I had preferred out of all our stops in Southeast Asia, but all I have is a warning to come prepared if you intend on visiting these countries. The immigration office was full of foreigners who had ‘lost’ their passports!

We had such a good time this morning, walking around George Town, trying to find the next mural. There are 18 murals and 52 wrought-iron caricatures around the island. Our focus (and fascination) was for the murals, and we would have ventured much further had it not been for our feet melting right into the asphalt.

A couple of years ago I went to Philadelphia for a conference, and with my colleague we booked a Mural Arts Tour. We would hop on the above ground metro and stop at various stations which offered great views of this trail of murals. Even in the most shady parts of town, the murals seem to be well preserved, a sure sign of pride.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the Ottawa’s Byward Market could boast such art? Ottawa is already quite fortunate to have the National Gallery of Canada (as well as many great art dealers & galleries), and summer time in the Market certainly attracts its fair share of artists who demonstrate their talents in so many various ways on the sidewalks.

But don’t you think that having mural (and interactive) art from the Cathedral all the way to Mann Street at the south end of the main uOttawa campus would beautify our city? Ottawa may not necessarily be looking for more tourists, but who would say no to free public art and publicity for artists. Just my two cents.

Here’s a few more murals from around town:

Have a look through Flickr for all my mural pics.