Priceless Products and Packaging: Canada takes the “old” out of the Common Cold

A Moai tissue holder at the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto, Canada.

A Moai tissue holder at the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto, Canada. You also can order one for $28 online from Upstart Crow, a San Diego company. (

Who wants to retrieve tissue from its original manufacturer’s box? Boring. We haven’t seen many advances lately in the tissue and tissue accessory industries — aside from adding lotion and aloe, which was exciting for probably the first two years after the new product was introduced. While roaming around in the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto, Canada, I came across these far-from-boring tissue keepers.

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Searching for a Dashboard Deity

My Vegas Ganesha bringing me good luck on the road.

My Vegas Ganesha bringing me good luck on the road.

Toronto, Canada. 2013. Standing next to a large bronze, meditating statue of Shiva, the Destroyer, Maharani Emporium owner Rupert Lalla, tugs at a gold chain around his neck. He pulls the attached gold figure up from beneath his green plaid shirt. Bringing it forward so I can see it more closely, he reveals a tiny figure with an elephant head, human body and four arms in various positions — Ganesha.

I take this as a good sign since I’ve been grilling Rupert in his Toronto shop about this Hindu god and why Indians choose him for their cars as the preferred dashboard deity.

A bit about Ganesha

Totally fitting as a dashboard deity, Ganesha is the Hindu god of protection, wisdom and remover of obstacles. He also is the son of the god of destruction and recreation, Shiva, and the Hindu goddess of power, Parvati. Often called the easiest god to worship, Ganesha, according to Hindu belief, accepts any devotee’s prayers — whether formal or informal. Embracing Ganesha as their god of choice, residents of Mumbai hold Ganesh Chaturthi, an eleven-day festival solely devoted to the elephant-headed god.

A Ganesha statue outside a jungle elephant preserve. The electric green moss transfixed me.

A Ganesha statue outside a jungle elephant preserve. The electric green moss transfixed me.

In 2010, during a trip to Bali, I noticed that Ganesha was everywhere on the “Island of the Gods,” since the Balinese place him near entrances of buildings and temples. Stationed in the parking lot of an elephant preserve in the jungle, appropriately, was a large moss speckled volcanic Ganesha sculpture complete with a jewel-encrusted headdress. The contrast of the dark rock and the electric green moss on the statue all against the backdrop of the dense, vibrant jungle captivated me.

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Travel Oops: Drinks are on me! (But can you give me your cash?)


Steph’s note: Because I’ve been in Toronto, Canada, at a conference (Travel Blog Exchange — TBEX) and gathering some material for Travel Oops and some other assignments, I’ve been a bit MIA on WordPress. However, I do have a short Oops to share.

slot machines

Toronto, Canada. May 2013.

Pueblo Bank and Trust was ON IT. I found this out Friday, May 31, as I tried to withdraw funds from an ATM in Toronto, Canada. I got the same message over and over. Your financial institution will not allocate funds at this time (or something to this effect.)

I had forgotten to call PB&T to let them know I was traveling internationally. It’s funny how, in February, the bank couldn’t care less when I took out cash via an ATM in Las Vegas, the city of vices including compulsive gambling with ATM funds. Thankfully, Capital One knew since I remembered to alert them about my trip to Canada.

It was time to see if one could live off $45 of exchanged cash for three days in Toronto since PB&T is closed on Saturdays and Sundays and has no 24-hour hotline to call. Essentially, it turns out the situation was not too dire since you can pay for pretty much everything with a credit card. However, still unsure about Toronto transactions, I discovered another easy solution: buy items (for example, alcoholic beverages at The Fifth Social Club) with your credit card for other conference goers who have cash with which to pay you back.

toronto skyline