A Night with Cameron Bailey and Girlfriends

Yesterday night, I wasn’t suppose to stay back in my university town. I had already booked my train ticket to go home but there was something that kept gnawing at me at the back of my mind. I needed to stay in town and had to do attend something.  I had been sent an email in my student account that Cameron Bailey was coming to town a month ago. I didn’t know who he was really but I knew he was doing something I was interested in. He was the Artistic Director of TIFF. I told myself I’ll go but didn’t necessarily promise myself that I would. I understood he was an Alumni of my university and was being brought in by the Public Humanity’s program – a discipline that I admire highly and wished at times that I be part of it academically during my undergraduate which is now ending.  I was sort of in-between whether I’d go or not. But two things that kept the idea of going alive:

1) Last year, I lived very close to the local museum where Cameron Bailey would be hosted. I passed by it all the time but usually it would be late evening when I’d end up going for walks that I never had a chance to see the museum from the inside. I always remained curious about the place. Its lit beautifully at night.

2) I found TIFF to be attractive because I am by nature a restless soul seeking stories that held the power to shift my perspective in life. I wanted to see if  going to his talk could move me, force a shift in my mind and allow me to be a little dispositioned. And so yesterday, despite not being able to cancel my tickets (VIA RAILWAY when did you start having a 24 hour rule of cancelling) I decided I could not leave my university town and had to attend. I had asked my roommate about a day before and one of colleague/friend if they would be up for it – they were excited to come. And it didn’t matter that I just wasted $60 on train tickets that I was not going to use because showing up at the local museum and hearing Bailey speak about international cinema was invaluable.

We ended up being the second group their and had first dibs in attacking the refreshments – carrots, chocolate squared cakes, watermelon (my favourite fruit EVER). We were set for the talk. I had to admit that the introduction was poorly done by the Dean of Public Humanities. He used the word “whatever” – thats just wrong. You cannot do that. Honestly, I think I could have done a better job making an impactful introduction on the importance of humanities- without it we are a dead civilization. I don’t think the Dean understood that or at least he was not very convincing of this. Moving on, the following are some points that stood out to me in Bailey’s talk.

1) His screensaver was his little son. I think in this line of work, being professional yet personal is super important. It was a good point to share. He also talked about his time at my university, where he earned an English degree and how he was at the university for five years. It was great to hear that my university still lives in his life. I could relate and I know my university will stay close to me throughout my life.

2) He is a global citizen and knows what he is talking about. I can tell he lives and breathes film. Among many other things, he discussed Bollywood, and South Korean cinema. He named many actors like Amitabh Bachan, Sharukh Khan, Parineeti Chopra, and Cold Eyes (Squirrel). Upon my question whether they are “fishing and hunting” movies from Pakistan his answer was informative. He mentioned he had visited Lahore (where I was born), and named a movie called Zinda Bhaag which they are trying to view. I had never heard of it but it was nice to know that it had been considered as an Oscar nominee. If they viewed it, I knew I’d go watch it in September. I had already been DESPERATE to watch few Pakistani movies that could not be viewed in Canada. Other than a youtube channel there is no access to viewing these movies, aka WAAR and Chambaili. He didn’t seem to recognize the tittles but still I hope that perhaps TIFF may consider them. It was nice to know that Pakistan is under TIFF’s tracks. Pakistan mattered.

3) TIFF matters and he sold it well. I have spiritually felt culture and arts are vital to living a fulfilling life. He traced the cultural arts of Toronto’s History by discussing  the orange order and Nathan Phillip. Reflecting back on yesterday night, honestly what an asset to know about history of Toronto. I am student of international relations programs  but most of the time I am studying  about Canadian national politics, European history and I usually keep myself informed about Middle Eastern/Pakistani and South East Asia as much as I can. But I never had paid attention to my own city’s history. I wondered but never enough to dig. And now I want to dig.

4) He mentioned number of Festivals around GTA. Holly smokes, I think I know what I will be doing this spring. Yes, catching the outdoor festivals. I really and I mean I really really need to get out and allow myself to soak in all of the artistic spirit around here. I haven’t even touched on my two awesome girlfriends who came out with and the dinner following the talk – and I could say attending the two hour talk moved me. I thought about it yesterday night, maybe even dreamt about it and then woke up contemplating on this.

I will say two things that I think could be improved. This included things such as:

1) the little clip Bailey showed in the beginning of what TIFF–stardom and screaming public. All of it is great and adds a tone of energy. I didn’t understand why the audience didn’t react. I wanted to jump and start applauding at minimum. That being said the clip was well hyped and didn’t really capture what I thought of it. TIFF to me is about creating thought where viewing movies and working in TIFF is an opportunity to dig deeper into the meaning behind life and humanity. Its a celebration and a conundrum at the same time. But I think he will also agree that the clip didn’t completely capture TIFF and only partially.

2) You need to give out contact information. How can we contact you? Yes, I know I can look you up and google pages. But it be great for this information to be included for those who are amateur in this field. That being said, Bailey was a good presenter and most importantly humble in his presentation. Keep up this attitude and people like me have no choice but to appreciate film in the way you do.

Further, Bailey coming out to a talk at the local museum also was a social occasion for me. I hung out with my two beautiful and awesome girlfriend who had not met each other before. Coincidentally, they both happen to be from medical field. We caught dinner at a local South Korean restaurant called Ozen. We were seated on the second floor with great music and basketball game on. Our conversation was personal. We talked about dating, career, family and friends. The conversation was serious at times but light and fun at other times. To enjoy a dinner like we did, the recipe was apparent.

And I don’t mean the ingredients that made my food delicious, but socially the ingredients to a wonderful night included revealing yourself, being open, accepting and appreciative. All three of us came from such different ethnic backgrounds, and experience lives differently in university, yet we sat their with so much ease and interested in how we saw culture and life. Bailey had brought up the night food and market culture which we ended up talking about. One of my girlfriend found it interesting that Bailey had been to South Korea and she brought up the fact that her parents had been raised in the city he he had visited. All of this really made the occasion feel like an international travel date night. The night did not end their as my roommate and I decided that there are few other places we need to checkmark before the year is over. This made the night at the Museum with Bailey the first check off that list.

To the last fews weeks at my university, I hope to gather more beautiful memories and attend gatherings that will fuel me for the life and world beyond.  I guess I’ve got to say thanks to Cameron Bailey for the night 🙂 But most importantly, I’d like to say thanks to the universe for making this a more then perfect night. Thanks.


Black Hole

The View Near a Black Hole, Illustration Credit: April Hobart, CXC Explanation: In the center of a swirling whirlpool of hot gas is likely a beast that has never been seen directly: a black hole. Studies of the bright light emitted by the swirling gas frequently indicate not only that a black hole is present, but also likely attributes. The gas surrounding GRO J1655-40, for example, has been found to display an unusual flickering at a rate of 450 times a second. Given a previous mass estimate for the central object of seven times the mass of our Sun, the rate of the fast flickering can be explained by a black hole that is rotating very rapidly. What physical mechanisms actually cause the flickering — and a slower quasi-periodic oscillation (QPO) — in accretion disks surrounding black holes and neutron stars remains a topic of much research. – NASA

I want to be 17

University is ending and I’m suppose to act like 20 year old something. But you know what the freedom of being 17 is something but who said I can’t feel this at 20 something. Cheers to freedom.

Free Spirit: I Embrace University’s Individuality Socially and Academically


I wrote my last post on protesting against university’s herd mentality which exists but I think in the post I have neglected the ways in which a university degree have allowed me to fulfill my existence. I explain to you in what ways university has made me rather free and brewed my individuality.

I have always valued the role a professor and a teacher can play in my life. The way they personalize the content makes it easier in understanding dense material. I would never pick up books, know intellectual personalities or learn to question everything the way I do without having the seminar classes that I had the opportunity to take in my upper years. I have felt my professor is my knowledge frequently. The way they encourage us to participate in class even when thoughts are underdeveloped and pre-mature. Professors are light to a darkroom equipped with books but where one would lack any capacity to read and grasp multiple point of views otherwise. I think what I can appreciate the most about professors is allowing students like myself to understand the material at my own pace. Your not called out to be wrong. If anything we dig into the arguments and narratives in so many angles that at the end of it, I think through classes, and office hours we pretty much dissect through the material in detail as much as possible. All that time spent with them I can’t help but feel that it has been an honor to be taught by Ivy graduated professors at my university. They’ve touched my life personally in so many ways. I, honestly thank them for their devotion. Their attention has allowed me to keep going, especially when I hit a rough patch in life outside of class. Knowing that I have a personal obligation to show up and be prepared means I have got to put emotional stuff aside and keep going. Professors in my life for the past four years have been a primary motivating force to keep going.

Furthermore, I think the people in my class definitely make the class or well break it at times. This has been a mixed experience. Its definitely not been rainbows and sunshine. I found my opinion to be a minority and often against the consensus. I found this to be disturbing at times and I have felt excluded. But I will say even in the worst of it, its been a growing experience. I have built a strong foundation upon which my opinions are based. I have learnt to listen to the other side with greater attention. Where exactly are they coming from and how do they contradict, or oppose my opinion? What are the arguments being presented? To move forward, I need to listen to the other side. It has only enriched my understanding of the different topics that I have studied in class. I’m honestly not trying to gloss this over and be a bigger person. At the end of it, I have become tolerant, patient and more self-determined to keep going. Socially, this is not always great. Some people come to respect you and will talk to you just fine. While others will giggle, and make eye contact with each other as if no one can see them but you –  I mean I just keep going basing my opinion on rational, and logical grounds. Partly what makes up my arguments is my own personal belief on how society must be viewed. My mentality is that, no man or women must be left behind. I am not allow others to fall through the cracks at the expense of my success. We should do our best to move forward and progress as a society. We are for each other first, then everything after. Despite feeling a little like an outcast in class, I feel rather a people oriented person frankly. My experience with classmates only prove this further. And besides I am not good at hating people anyways.

Moreover, the opportunities outside of class are abundant. Conferences, speakers and overall community-oriented spirit that my university has is impressive. My university is such a spirited place. Everybody has purchased university clothing and wears it. I have it too! I have been pretty involved for last two years. It has been an excellent opportunity and really a privilege. I went from being transferee student, not living ever on residence and moving to a 1 bedroom loft to being involved in various clubs and more occupied then 24 hours clock would allow. I almost never had free time on hand but even then I still managed to keep up with classes. And that’s coming from someone who thinks of herself to be a little slow. I have to put 190% effort to get a mark close to what I want.  Moving to the type of intellectuals that come by: Ignatieff, Chris Hedges, Naomi Klein, Jennifer Welsh, and Jeffery Simpson are some names who have dropped at my university. I have been here. After each talk I have felt damn I’m so glad I was here!

On the other hand socially I’ll be honest that days like St.Patty’s and homecoming are days I usually runaway from campus. Every year I have found a way to avoid. The idea of wearing green and intoxicating yourself just doesn’t seem like a fun time to me. I love meeting people but prefer conversation over particular topics, as oppose to sex and love – which you can imagine is a popular topic around campus. Don’t we have the rest of our lives to experiment with cute boys and if honestly anything dating in university is sort of like mixing drugs with drinking – its just acid and not good for you. And you know what considering I have not ever felt compelled to drink alcohol and have sex, my individuality has only strengthened. My curiosity in my Pakistani culture has only risen. The link to my national  roots and Islamic faith have been revitalized and affirmed. And I don’t think this would have happened if I was not exposed to this culture of partying and drinking. Its not that I don’t party – as  a matter fact I think dancing and dressing up can be so much fun at times. But point is I go dancing with my girlfriends when I want to and not because I am compelled to fit in. Going to university and living on my own I have learnt to define my own boundaries and values that I want to pursue in my life. I don’t think I could have done it without being around this culture.

So at the end of the day, I would not have skipped out on university at any cost. I’ll be the first to admit that I have felt lost but then I have found myself.  I have gone through this process not once but what feels like a million times. University then have allowed me to figure out my interests, and passion in life. University has given me direction. University has led me to recreate and give a new meaning to my life. Ultimately, as I move forward into my adulthood into my 20’s it is true that university has given me a new life. I am a free spirit because I had a chance to attend university.

“if all insects on Earth disappeared, within 50 years all life on
Earth would end. If all human beings disappeared from the Earth,
within 50 years all forms of life would flourish.”

― Biologist Jonas Salk

Human imagination must be used wisely. 

I Am an Introvert

Growing up, I’d rather tag along with my mom when we would visit family friend’s house then hang out with my cousins. Going to high school, I had more friends then I needed but I think I found peace when I was alone. I liked running, painting, writing poems and reading fictional works. In many ways I still find myself to be an introvert today as I finish university. But overtime, I have developed an extrovert version of myself. I love observing and listening to other people’s stories. I am fascinated by everybody- their world and their perspectives. I don’t mind being the first to ask somebody to coffee or dinner. I do enjoy presentations and public speaking.

This video is still very helpful in understanding why I find university challenging and often alien like. Working on a class project for half a semester in my IR class, I feel frustrated and often ready to just explode. Even then somehow I’m able to keep it calm inside me, and move along every week. I have just learned that there are people who will always love to YAP and I’m just not one of them.

I just bought the book Quiet by Susan Cain. Check it out to understand the power of introverts. She has also done a TEDX video which you can find here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0KYU2j0TM4 and even check out Ammy Cuddy’s Tedx talk at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ks-_Mh1QhMc. I have watched them more then once!

I Protest University’s Herd Mentality


I will make it through university and graduate this year but I can’t help wonder if I could have lived a much more fulfilling life pursuing learning outside of this institutionalized education. What does learning have to do with grades? A quantified value that merely instills a herd mentality. I could be a hardworking student but it doesn’t mean I will ace anything. I could do everything by the book but it does not guarantee my name on the dean’s list. When I started university I looked up to my professors but now I have no desire to please them in anyway. I want to pursue my own interest that is not in their syllabus and it can’t be because its a product of my own curiosity and imagination- a professor can’t meet it merely because he or she is not me.  If I write on a topic I like, I want to read as much as I can on it, instead of being constrained by time because I have to write four other papers. And honestly fourth years student in International Relations should not have exams. We are free-thinking beings. Short-answer questions, and memorizing for multiple-questions is then a joke.

Another thing about how university encourages diversity and being different is that it is… well, bullshit. I remember my deans speech when  I first entered university. He emphasized on the point of meeting people of all walks of life and embracing others differences. I’m sorry to say this but in many ways university is another high school where people in their personal circles often share similarities with each other. People who are different, well they are too different. People are often reduced to shallow stereotypes and reduced labels. What is wrong with the world? I have been in debt by the privilege I have had to attend university. But I do have to call out and say the way university system works, academically and socially is WRONG and FLAWED. There needs to be a closer relationship between students and professors. The idea of knit-tied community is only that and is missing the good stuff-the curiosity, optimism and gratitude. What happened to focusing on building character instead of emphasizing IQ. We have seminar classes but even that falls short because students and professors can hardly bear difference in opinion. They make the atmosphere so hostile. I am left to wonder, whether we have all together stopped accepting others differences.

More importantly, university doesn’t teach students how to put wisdom into their conventional life, rather university is a breeding ground for mental health issues, and psychological disorientation. We have various cultural and religious groups but how often do these groups interact with each other? How often do we try to understand each other’s backgrounds, and beliefs? Its great to attach a Jewish or a Muslim card to your backpacks but if there is no discussion between them, what is the point of this display? I still don’t understand where anti-antisemitism comes from? Why have Jews always been persecuted as outsiders? I don’t get it. I also don’t get why Islam had been reduced to women/girls not being able to handshake the other gender or being asked to lower their gaze.  The comparison between Hijabis and non-Hijabis, and the good Muslim vs the bad Muslims – is that really going to help us get anywhere. It only adds dichotomies to a life and nature that is already overwhelming.

Most importantly education is suppose to be empowering us but university is manifesting cynics who have no shame in admitting so. What happened to making the world a better place? Why are we so ready to label others as idealist ? Why do you want to echo the pessimism of human history? Why can’t we be different? Is it too far-fetched to support visionaries? Is peace too much to ask? In my field, we are taught technology, economy, politics are all means to control us. It is true but what about learning how we can use these same methods to liberate ourselves? Addiction is no longer drugs, but Facebook,  and twitter, buying and more buying. There is not enough focus on visionary personalities of the past who have been helpful in breaking free of chains that we have complacently put on. History and politics is mostly covered from a western discourse. IR has bitten of  the Middle East, Africa, Latin-America and South-Asia. Education has fogged up our lens to see the magic with which this world and nature is decorated with. Why institution? Why do you not empower u?. You make us see the chains we are in, yet you have not given any profound means to unlock them.

War and peace happened yesterday, today and is going to happen tomorrow. Sometimes I can’t help but also forced to wonder if university is not systematically targeting student’s sanity. More could be done to take consideration of a student’s struggle. University does not respect the learners and gives into the pride of the robots it manufactures upon graduation. I resisted you from my first year and you know what I will fight you in these last couple weeks. You cannot rob my belief in the profundity of nature, my love for learning, my curiosity for a world beyond Western discourse, and my self-control from submitting to ill-competition with my peers. Life is not about that and as a learner on life long journey neither am I about that. I believe in love, and peace. I have my own voice and my own vision. Bug off, and let me live life. Let me dive into the the unknown of this world. Thank you.

I am the Universe

Following from the link

Back in 2008, TIME Magazine sat down with Neil deGrasse Tyson to ask him ten reader-submitted questions about science and the cosmos. Eventually, interviewer Gilbert Cruz came to the following question:

What is the most astounding fact you can share with us about the universe?

Tyson’s response was incredibly moving, if not entirely original; the astrophysicist is definitely channeling his inner Sagan here, but he gives his explanation that special Tyson twist that inspires us to know more about the world and the universe.