Sundeep Bhutoria

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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Ottawa – the city of surprises

Sept 13, 2015, Ottawa: I am at the business centre of Hotel Residence Inn Marriot in Ottawa. 
In front of Hotel Residence Inn in Ottawa
I landed in the Canadian capital yesterday evening. Canada has always been my favourite country and I have spent many a memorable weeks in Montreal.
I am drawn to the vastness and the natural beauty of this country and also the cold weather. The people are very friendly and gentle. This is my second trip to Ottawa. My first visit was some six years ago when I was elected the Treasurer of WFUNA first time for the interim period of six months.
I landed at the Ottawa airport for the first time. During my earlier visit, I had come via road from Montreal. It is rather surprising that the capital of such a large country like Canada has a such a small airport. In fact, I flew in from New York in CRZ craft which has a flight time of 56 minutes only.
Another surprising fact is that Ottawa, though a capital, has a population of about close to one million people only with immigrants accounting for seven per cent of the population.
More surprise was in store for me. When I gave my passport at the hotel's check-in counter they did not even look at it and said it wasn't required. Neither did I have to fill up or sign any form. Just a credit card was enough. In today's world, with so much of security issues at stake, checking in without an identity card is quite incredible.
Many people wrongly think Toronto to be the capital of Canada.
I did not get to choose a hotel of my preference since my office could not get a room in any of the top ten hotels in the city's main area as suggested by the Canadian United Nations Association (UNA). This was due to the car racing week in the city and I decided to put up here.
This property, about 10-minute drive from the airport, is one of the seven hotels run by Marriot in this city. It is a studio suite hotel where you have a full kitchen with cooking amenities. There is no 24-hours room service or 24 hours house keeping. But I have never come across such friendly hotel staff in recent years. The warmth and helpful nature of every single staff in this hotel is remarkable.
The hotel studios are sparklingly neat and clean and the Hotel itself is so well planned and designed. The surroundings are quite and green.
Yesterday, after checking in, I had nothing to do so I took the Bus No 97 from the Walkey Station close to the hotel to the Rodeo Centre which is the city's main shopping hub. Whenever I travel to new cities abroad I always take public transport if time permits. The Hotel staff told me that a taxi may take 25 to 30 minutes to get to the downtown but a bus would hardly take 8 to 10 minutes since there is a separate bus lane.
After taking a round if Rodeo Centre I went to the Byward Market which is a tourist hub of Ottawa. The whole area has many eateries and places for outing.
I had a dinner at an Indian restaurant called Shefali located in the area. I can't comment about their non-vegetarian food but I won't recommend Shefali to Indian vegetarians since there are much better options in the city. The food was very basic quite like most of the overseas restaurant which caters to the westerner's palate.
There was a lone Bengali speaking girl who was serving. I also saw a man and woman in the kitchen who were talking in Bengali. I guessed it was a family-run outlet. In fact, in the bus also I saw couple of Bengali students who told me that had recently shifted to Ottawa from Montreal.
With Katherine, WFUNA ExCo Chairman from UNA Canada
Today morning I went to the UNA Canada office situated at the Copper Street and had a meeting in connection with the upcoming plenary in Vancouver in November. This was my main agenda for the Ottawa trip.
UNA Canada is one of the most active associations of WFUNA and the chairman of WFUNA Executive Committee (ExCo) Katherine is also from UNA Canada.
I had a meeting with her and few other officials and after that we went for lunch at an Indian restaurant called East India Company. This restaurant is located at the Somerset Street. The food was excellent and the buffet had a lavish spread.
I am in the lobby of of the Residence Inn Marriott Hotel enjoying coffee from the 24 hour complimentary coffee bar. I will leave for airport in a while to fly back to New York.
ess bee

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