Saturday, October 13, 2012


I came to Canada on March 24, 1990. My intention was not to stay in this country. It grew on me and I grew here. I was not a child when I came here. I was already 29 years old. But I was child in heart, and I am to this day. What this country thaught me is generosity. It taught me tolerance.It thaught me that people who are different are the same. It taught me the rule of civility. It taught me with its wide big space that only sky it the limit. I love this country just the same as I loved the country I grew up in - my beloved Yugoslavia. It taught me that tough times are just phases in my life, and that "please and thank you" are not just the phrases. I travelled to Vancouver and Montreal, and Charlottetown, and Ottawa. I live in Toronto. The most multicultural city I have ever seen. When I go back to my love - my always the most Loved Belgrade, I bring to peace two contintets, two loves of mine, and I suffer. Why the worlds I live in are so different: we speak diifferent language. My son cannot speak my mother tongue as well as it would be required for him to say words of love. But love is in his heart as well as mine. Canada is space - big country with beautiful nature, big trees, lakes, mountains. It is space with big blue sky, people from every corner of the world. Where I came from - looking from the plane landing in Belgrade, it is warm, welcoming and true. I wish this love of mine for people does not have borders. I speak foreign language, but my undestanding of human malaise is without borders. It is raining tonight in Toronto. Give me a hug. Give a hug to those who you love. I came here more than 20 years ago, and it was yesterday. Sky here and there when it rains is not the same. Tears are the same everywhere.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Invisible Girl

She came with high hopes and dreams to new land of opportunities. Only four days before she disappeared, she was trying to get into more advanced classes in English and French at Forest Hill Collegiate in Toronto. Mariam came to Canada only two months before school started, but she was already involved in the community by attending Dragon Boat Races organized by YMCA newcomer program, she loved Toronto libraries, and walks in the parks with her family. Family that she only started knowing again upon arrival to Toronto in June of 2009. For more than five years, Mariam and her brother George were separated from parents who moved to L.A.,California and then to Toronto, Canada in search for better life for their children. Events in Republic of Georgia at the time of their departure were not promising. It was the dawn of breakup of Soviet Union, and Georgia was going through political turmoil. Mariam's father Vakhtang got visiting scholar position with university in California. Mother Lela went with him, leaving children - Mariam and George, 12 and 10 then, with relatives. The family was close knit and children were safe there. While Vakhtang and Lela struggled to stay in States, they realized that they will never be able to establish themselves there to the degree that it will be possible to bring their children. They decided to move to Canada, and under "skilled immigrant" program got their landed immigrant status. It seemed at the time that their dream was coming true.

On the faithful morning of September 14, 2009, Mariam left for school with her brother George, the last person who saw her. They parted at the northern entrance to Forest Hill Collegiate, mere five minutes walk from their home on 20 Shallmar Blvd. Mother waved them good bye in front of the elevator on the 7th floor where they lived at the time. She will never see her daughter again.

In the days after Mariam's disappearance the most baffling thing for police and everyone else was that no one saw her on that day, nor anyone in the school with almost thousand students saw her, not only on that day, but in previous week when the school started. Monday, September 14, 2009 was actually the fifth day of new school year. The school started previous week, and it was a short week, that started on Tuesday, September 8, 2009, day after Labor Day. Mariam became invisible girl, who disappeared into thin air, until her backpack was found about a month later, close to another high school, but more that 2 km away from where Mariam was last seen. And then for more than two years nothing.

Finally, her remains were accidentally discovered under 401 overpass, in the ravine that is part of the golf course. The same ravine is adjacent to Earl Bales park that she frequented with her family in the summer of 2009. The place where her remains were found is about an hour walk through the paths in that ravine. Did she walk through the park, and ended up in the strange place, and walked up the overpass to see where she was? No one saw her. Did she walk on the busy street up north, towards highway, no one saw her. There is no security camera footage anywhere in the area that shows her image anywhere. If she walked on the overpass, how come no one saw her? Would that not be unusual to see pedestrian walking on the overpass of busy highway? Was it late at night? Where was she hiding all that time?

Mariam was invisible girl who disappeared one day in Toronto. In this big jungle of concrete and big parks. In this big place with so many people, and no one remember seeing her. What has become of all of us?

Please say hi to your neighbour today. Please be kind to others and yourself. Please be vigilant, be observant, be kind. Kids, be kind to new kids in your school. Be kind to those who are different for any reason. Include them. Do not allow that another beautiful young person becomes invisible victim of our own
self indulgence and arrogance.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

214 Adelaide Street West Toronto

Oh well, I was in the Toronto's "Entertainment District" last night. For all these years that I have been living here ( since 1992 ), I was there maybe a couple of times. Only once it was for an evening out. Other times just passing by. Last night was different. I was chaperoning ( not really, I sat in the car basically for almost three hours ) my 16 year old son who attended the party at "Vola" club at 214 Adelaide Street West. You may ask why did I even bother to give him ride, since there is good TTC access to the area? Or maybe why did I decide to wait in the car for almost three hours so that I can take him home? Stop wondering now. Entertainment District is notorious for violence, even murders. Bystanders died there from gun shots not intended to kill them. So I chose my sanity over possible embarrassment that my action could be for my son.

I dropped him of there around 9 pm, and was lucky to find parking spot on the next street ( I believe it was John Street ). I put 1 dollar in parking meter, since my son was not sure if he wanted to stay, so I promised to him that I would wait for about an hour to see if he wants to go home, and if not, I would leave and he would come home on TTC ( pressured by him and "embarrassment" thing that is I guess huge at his age ). So, I happily parked the car, put the money for about 20 minutes, enough to go around the corner and check out the place. I should mention I guess that it was raining and it was cold ( not very cold, but cold enough to be better dressed than I was). I walked across Adelaide Street and noticed the lineup of young girls in super mini skirts, with no jackets, no umbrellas, no socks, high heal shoes, something you see in strip clubs. I was, I have to say this, shocked. This was high school party, organized by one, I guess, entrepreneurial  student ( tickets at the door 25.00!!!).  Did the parents of these girls see them before they left? Did they know where they were going? When I saw this I was determined that I will not leave that place until I see my son coming out that door. It is not that I was worried that these girls will get cold, since it is their parent's job. I was more worried about male behaviour around these scarcely clad young females, whose only defence from showing their underwear was barely covering it skirt. Say I am old, but I really do not care. This place was reeking of "not safe" scents.

Not being able to stand anymore in the rain, and possibly raise suspicion about what I was doing there, I went back to the car. I sat in the car for about an hour, witnessed parking control towing a nice white car, and two huge big ( should I say overweight ) parking enforcement officers walking with the flesh lights, checking the cars, and giving tickets. I was safe. I paid parking and I was sitting in my car. They could not harm me. But, it is winter, and it became cold in the car, so I turned the engine on, only to discover that I was low on gasoline, and plus I was not supposed to idle. What to do to pass the time and not freeze? I decided to put some more money in the parking meter ( I hate when I pay for more time than I use ), and I walked back to Adelaide Street ( meanwhile my son called me to let me know that he liked it and he wanted to stay longer ). Right next door to Vola, there is cute little Mexican restaurant - Tequila Sunrise (Cantina and Grill). Of course it was nice and cozy inside. I ordered the cheapest item on the menu - Tortilla Chips and Homemade Salsa ( $ 4.50 ) and read Eye Weekly - free newspaper, in which I read about candid look at health care system in Canada and native women rights. I was probably an odd one there, with my glasses, reading newspaper at 11 pm, but what other choice I had? There was some nice Spanish (or was it Mexican?) music ( not sure ) playing for some time, until few young people came in, and that changed it to some hip hop. I left the restaurant and headed to my car, to check if everything was alright. It was still there. Enforcement parking officers were just leaving the scene ( I counted three towed away cars ). I sat in the car a little bit longer, called my son on the cell phone - no answer, called again, and again, and again. Finally he called me and said that he would be leaving "close to midnight". 

I decided to re park the car closer to "the place". I was able to find a spot on Adelaide close to the entrance to the club, when one young man started shouting something. In minutes the police officer showed up, and dealt with the situation. I was hoping that he would stay for a bit longer. Honestly, I wanted to approach him and ask him to go and get my son outside, because all what I could hear was loud music and yelling. But I refrained from that. It would really be too much, but I am telling you what goes through mother's head.

The night ended this way: they could not find my son's jacket at the coat check. He called me from inside to tell me that he would have to wait until everyone leaves ( which is like 3 am ). I begged the security guard who was looking after line up ( yep there was still line up at close to midnight ), and he said that he could not let me in. I told him something like: "I am 50 years old, why would I want to go in ?", and he gave in a bit and let me on the stairs. My son came out without jacket, it was snowing, and they were adamant that he cannot have his jacket because he can "pick any jacket he wants". I offered my credit card, I asked to speak to the manager, but to no avail. I wanted to ask them is it that they believe that I came there to help my son steal someones jacket??? But I did not and we left without jacket, it was heavily snowing, and I can tell you that I was really happy that I made it home without an accident.

I hope that next party in Entertainment District will be never again.

Oh, by the way, my son said that he had good time, he danced, talked to some people and all in all he thought the evening was a success ( minus the jacket ).

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Fall of B92

Like anything else in Serbia these days, B92, the symbol of free media during 90s is just a shadow of what it had been before. The barometer of how Serbian folks are doing is, so called, "Forum B92" where few moderators are pretending to be avantgarde by banning anyone who sounds nationalistic or chauvinistic. But it is just a farce. They really do not care. They are doing it because they think that by doing it they are somehow better than those they are banning from the discussion. To me, they are just the same, no different than anyone who says that Srebrenica did not happen. I say this because, in reality they are doing nothing to bring those who are responsible for atrocities to justice. I despise them, just the same as I despise those who want to prove that war crimes can be justified.

Here is few words about so called "free media":

"Death of independent media in Serbia was obvious years ago. Still, some foreign correspondents and media are referring to the news coming from B92 as it is independent source of information from Serbia. If we dig deeper into reporting from B92 media house and compare it with reality in Serbia nowadays, one will find disturbing facts."

"For B92 to survive this harsh political climate in this obviously rogue state which is still harboring war criminals and had never said sorry for all the atrocities it has done to their neighbors or its own citizens, it was the only way to continue. On the other hand, by “selling their soul” B92 became a “soft” supporter of the regime which is nurturing nationalism and chauvinism and makes them no different from the mainstream nationalistic and government controlled media any more."

"Even their website forum and blog became so heavily censored that no other, but nationalistic and regime friendly ideas can see the light of the day. So please, in future reports, do not call B92 independent media for the fact, it is not any more."

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Fraudulent science

Finally the charade is over. It is not MMR vaccine that causes autism.

Where is Jenny McCarthy now?

Do people with autism want to be "fixed"? Why is everyone searching for the cause or cure instead of embracing these human beings for who they are: beautiful people who are different than majority and from whom we have so much to learn.

Stop Jenny McCarthy and those similar to her who spread the propaganda that autism is terrible disease that has to be cured.

Support those who ask for giving persons with autism a chance to become members of society in any way, shape and form they can become.

Human rights for persons with autism now!!!!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Happiness Project

This is title of the book I am reading. The author is Gretchen Rubin. I came across this book in my local library on the shelf for "Best bets". It means I cannot renew the book and I will have to return it today. I am only on the page 84 of almost 300 pages. I procrastinated in reading it last week, and procrastination is actually one of my favorite topics lately. I even made Power Point presentation for my family about procrastination.

Now back to my topic about happiness. After I gave this presentation to my boys here, they seemed totally unfazed. I do not know if me telling them that what they do is called procrastination will make any difference right now. But, I believe that all experiences that we have in our life, including me giving this presentation to them, shape somehow who we are or who we become. Act now! Do something meaningful. Enjoy now, as Gretchen Rubin says on page 84 of her book.

p.s. You may think I am procrastinating now, but you are wrong: there is laundry in the drier. So the perfect time to guilt free blogging is while doing laundry :)