A Decade of Devastation & Dreams

maya_momTen years ago on October 18, one of Canada’s most gruesome murders unfolded in Greater Vancouver. The random disappearance of 31 year old, pregnant, Surrey school teacher Manjit Panghali. She was last seen alive at a prenatal yoga class.  Within hours of her disappearance, her close friends were already looking for her. It took 26 hours for her husband, Mukhtiar Panghali to file a missing person’s report with local police. Later that day a media conference was held asking for the public’s help in which a teary eyed Mukhtiar begged for any answers as to his wife’s whereabouts. A few days later the worst possible scenario came to light. Manjit’s badly burned remains were found on the morning of October 23 along the edge of Deltaport way near Roberts Bank. While police searched for leads in the months following, Mukhtiar returned to work. Family and friends continued looking for answers but they weren’t getting any from him. “Deep down inside I think we were all very suspicious of him.” Manjit’s sister, Jasmine Bhambra recalls. It wasn’t until half a year later that those suspicions starting to transpire into the truth.  On March 12, 2007 – Mukhtiar Panghali is arrested.  Another three and a half years went by before he was put on trial for second degree murder and interfering with the bodily remains. On November 15, 2007 – the BC Supreme court hears the crown point out bizarre behavior on Mukhtiar’s part.  Surveillance images captured at a gas station showed him buying a lighter and newspaper the same night his wife apparently didn’t return from a yoga class. Mukhtiar was convicted of both counts in the spring of 2011 by Madam Justice Heather Holmes and remained behind bars. In the midst of it all was a three girl named Maya – the couple’s first and only child. She became the focus of another round of court hearings as both sides of the family fought for custody before the murder trial even started. It took a year for Manjit’s sister, Jasmine and her husband to bring the little girl home with them.  “The custody battle was horrific and very traumatic having to relive the trauma.  The murder trial took six years – that’s how long it took to get an answer.  Even when we were in the custody battle – it was horrific to see his face all the time.  It was the most difficult time of my life. Having to look at somebody that was a monster and a liar and everything that he did in court – every time I thought it couldn’t get worse, he made it worse because of who he is as a person.  You just can’t ever think a human being can be that awful.” A decade later, Jasmine remembers her sister  in an exclusive interview. Maya is now 13 years old and lives with her new family and is a sister to three younger siblings. It hasn’t been the easiest of times, but today the family says they are in a great familyplace.  It feels like a typical household of a busy family with soccer games, school schedules and pizza nights. “Things are much better than where I thought they would be from where I was 10 years ago,” explains Jasmine It’s been a decade of devastating grieve but one of also many dreams in which Manjit’s memory is alive and well.  “I still dream of her usually when something really important is going on in my life. If something is happening or I am thinking about something – she will just come to me and give me that sense of peace.” Jasmine shares a dream she had the night before the judgement came down in the custody battle.  “I remember it vividly. We were all sitting around in a circle holding hands with Maya in the middle and she just said to me – it’s okay, she’s yours, we won.” The custody fight was a battle of cultural rights too.  “In our culture, the man’s side of the family is seen as the dominate family.  A woman adopting a child and bringing it into her new married family is uncommon and often frowned upon so it was a stressful time in more than one way.” Jasmine recalls her daily conversations with her sister.  They usually started with, “did you watch Oprah today and led to long conversations about the dreams they had for their future and their kids. “I wouldn’t be the parent that I am today if it wasn’t for her.  She had Maya first. She taught me everything about being a parent.  We used to talk about our kids and what we wanted for them in their lives and that’s when this (her marriage problems) would come up and how she did not want a broken home for her daughter.” The last time Jasmine talked to her sister was the night before her disappearance. Jasmine and her husband were leaving for a trip to Edmonton with their one year old baby.  Manjit said she was too busy for a quick visit finishing the conversation with the words, “I love you and see you when you get back.” The next morning was filled with anxiety for Jasmine.  “That particular day I had a dream and that something was wrong and I couldn’t sleep.  I got up at 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning – and started pacing and I thought I was having anxiety over the trip. Travelling with a kid and so much to pack.” Jasmine now knows it was much more than anxiety.  “Oddly enough there is an old thing in our culture, when milk spills something bad is going to happen.  Well I spilled milk that morning everywhere trying to fill the baby’s bottle. I already knew from the feeling that I had that something was wrong but I pushed that feeling away and went ahead with our travel plans.” Twelve hours later  – Jasmine started getting phone calls while in Edmonton. Her sister’s two best friends called to say they didn’t know where Manjit was. “I knew right away.  I knew right away that he did something.   How or why I knew I can’t explain. Yes they were having problems but you never ever think that somebody has the capacity to do that.  That someone you know has the capacity to kill somebody. You never ever think that but at that moment, I knew.” It was something Jasmine didn’t ever suspected before of the man that married her sister. “It was great in the beginning. It was the very last year when he really tried to taking her away from everybody.  They stopped coming over.  If she did come over, it was just her.  He really tried to cut her off from everyone. Isolation.” Looking back now, Jasmine says it makes sense, “He planned to do this.  I know now that he planned to do this. That’s why he was cutting himself off from everyone as well.” Jasmine recalls one incident when her sister did leave him and he promised to change and they reconciled. There was also a plan where Mukhtiar wanted his brother and parents to move in with them.  And this was a major issue in the marriage according to Jasmine.  “Knowing that his (Mukhtiar’s) brother had issues with alcohol and drugs, she (Manjit) did not want that in her house. She had a child. That is not what she wanted her child to be exposed to.” Then there was news of a new baby joining the family.  “She was so happy to be pregnant with their second child. It was something she had wanted for a long time.  They had been trying.  He seemed really supportive but something seemed off.  He seemed faked.  His happiness seemed really put on.” Jasmine says the second baby was a like a second chance for their marriage – in her eyes anyways. Despite the devastation over the past decade, one thing Jasmine says she doesn’t have is regret.   “No. I do get asked that.  There is no regret because everything that you ever, ever want to say to somebody, that had already been said between us.  We knew how much we loved each other.” When asked about intervening in her sister’s troubled marriage, Jasmine said she did have a final conversation with her sister that enough was enough and to get out.  She recalls Manjit’s response to her.  “I am not like you. She thought that I was stronger than her which is strange because I always thought she was the strong one.  She was the one who stood up to my parents, she was the one who had no problems communicating.” Evidence of that was left behind in a very detailed diary written by Manjit – pages which exposed her unhappiness in the relationship and depression – something she shared with her sister. “When you’re in a relationship where you love somebody so much and you really want to make it work and you want the other person to change. But when they don’t love you, that can cause such heartbreak and such pain and a lot of depression because they are not meeting you where you’re at.” When Manjit did want to leave the relationship, tensions grew and her sister believes it led to the unthinkable and she ended up paying the ultimate price. When the murder made headlines, photos of Manjit embracing her toddler, Maya, with bright smiles and tight hugs broke hearts and led to public candle light vigils in her honor. Now a decade later, Maya is an active & happy teenager eagerly awaiting high school.  She is an honour roll student who enjoys playing soccer and loves to sketch clothes.  Partmaya_kuljeet of her passion for fashion design comes from the pictures she has of her mom. While she remembers her mom fondly, she now calls her Aunt/Masi – mom and her uncle, Dad.  One of the transitions that just seemed the natural fit. “She was used to calling me Masi – and I had asked her – and I didn’t want her to feel any different because my daughter was calling me mom. I didn’t want any difference between the kids. If I was going to raise her as my daughter, I wanted her to think of me as her mom and that is why I gave her the choice – if you feel ready and if you feel like you want to call me mom – just call me mom and she did it on her own timing.” Together with her new family, Maya is in a safe, happy family environment living a normal teenaged life.  Jasmine says sees and hears her sister in Maya all the time.  “Little things – the way she talks, her sense of humor – just the things she says sometimes make me go oh my God – that is totally something Manj would have said.” Although Jasmine didn’t think life was going to be this way a decade ago, she is happy with how the story became their own to write. “We are busy in our day to day lives but there’s always that something – it comes up at different times – mother’s day or birthdays – it’s always there.  How much we miss her and love her. The grieve comes up time to time but we are able to manage it so much more because of the communication as they (kids) get.” What will the next decade and future bring for the family? Jasmine plans on working on helping others heal from trauma through her work as a yoga therapist at Sacred Yoga Therapy and expand the scholarship for students in her sister’s honor. “I had a really, really difficult time.  it took me 6 years to get to a place where I can finally do something like this interview without balling my eyes out which was a major goal for me.  I don’t want anyone to go six years of grieving, of feeling weak and depressed – I really want to be able to give that to others (healing).  I want to share my story, share my sister’s story. I don’t ever want her story to be forgotten.” Jasmine concludes that “There is still a story that can be yours and is yours to rewrite – it begins every morning. Sometimes when we think it’s the end of a story – it’s not. Whether it’s the end of a relationship, or when somebody passes away and we think it’s the end – it’s not the end. It’s the beginning of a whole new beautiful story.” beach

 CLICK HERE TO VIEW FULL INTERVIEW

Understanding Domestic Violence with Dr. Joti Samra, R.Psych.

1. Are mental health issues sign of an abuser? “We need to appreciate that the vast majority of violent acts are not the result of a mental illness and that vast majority of individuals with one of the more common mental health issues (depression/anxiety) are not violent. The personality composition of abusers is often a stronger predictor of abuse. Often there is a charming personality, which allows deception and manipulation to occur. This is also why most victims feel they won’t be believed -as abuser is so adept at lies, twisting things around, and are often quite different in their non-relationship lives. High rates of substance use (alcohol and other drugs) can be present.”

2. How do you help someone in an abusive relationship? “Keep dialogue and communication lines open and ongoing. Be supportive and listen; do not blame, let them know they are not alone, there is help, acknowledge situation is difficult and scary Be nonjudgmental, respect the decision the friend or family member is making and do not assume you know or understand. Try to respect that they may want to focus on the relationship working. Encourage social connection – social support and a strong network is key. Try to take steps to help encourage person to socialize

3. What are some of the signs that someone may be a victim? “Their partner puts them down in front of others recurrently, gets jealous and displays possessiveness. Meantime the victim is worried about upsetting or making partner angry and makes excessive excuses for partner’s behavior.  Isolation – victim stops spending time with friends/family; looks depressed and anxious, don’t want to talk about their relationship and have unexplained marks or injuries.”

4. “Why is it so hard for the abuser to admit they need help or are wrong?” “Often there is a real lack of empathy – the ability to truly see things from others perspective and to understand and feel what others are experiencing – this simple attribute is a tremendously predictive one. When we look at hurtful/harmful/abusive behaviors often at some level they know that what they are doing is wrong, will be reprimanded and to keep it hidden from others. So the awareness is there but the desire or wish to change is not” Did you know…that all local police departments have Domestic Violence units that can help victims with the following: safety and risk assessment; transition homes which can help house victims and help them transition back into society on their own; protection for victims and children.

Victims are advised to formulate a plan to leave and think of keeping some money aside, having a place to go and be able to stay for a period of time, transportation options etc.   Transition homes are located across the lower mainland. Contact your local police department or WAVAW ( Women Against Violence Against Women) toll free crisis line 604-255-6344 or 1-877-392-7583

Travel Tips: Booking All Inclusives for All Kinds of Travellers

Click here to read my recent travel article in the Province Newspaper, Vancouver as per below.

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Waiting for your face cream to start working?

 

How many types of creams do you have for your face right now? Something for the eyes, the dry patches, the fine lines, the lips and even the occasional pimple.

Perhaps you have a skin condition and have prescription medication.

I have all of this and a new dairy allergy that likes to show just how allergic I am to cow products on my face. Drying, peeling and bleeding patches all over. So you go to the doctor, spend $70 on a new medicated cream and go into hiding for a few days until the new cream works.

During this waiting time you start thinking of what you eat and do up a new diet plan and decide to buy Costco sized containers of various vitamin and minerals. You need to start popping those pills like a mad woman for like a day or two and then you just don’t have time. You buy it, you use it a few times, you forget about it, it gets old, it gets tossed. On average, we spend about an average of $800 or more a year on just our faceo2facial

One thing that doesn’t take days to show results or has a limited shelf life or requires multiple applications in a day is getting oxygen mixed with vitamins and minerals infused right into your skin. In West Vancouver, there is a clinic dedicated to just this and many types of treatments too.  Everything from clarity treatment to collagen infusion.  Instead of waiting for some cream to trigger your skin to do this for you – you can get it infused right now.  No injections, no needles.

I had a few of these facials over the years in various places but was excited to find a clinic dedicated to so many kinds of this type of procedure

It’s not just a regular facial. This is the one stop, skin emergency clinic.

Here are some tips if you go for an Oxygen infused facial:

1. Go for facials at your skin’s worst – tell the clinic exactly your issues and let them help you find the best treatment.

2. Most facials strip your skin. This is the opposite. It repairs, adds missing minerals and vitamins and has the many benefits of oxygen. You’re not going to get that much oxygen by drinking boxes of the O2 infused water!

3. Your eyes need special attention too. Many facials don’t do anything for the eyes. I found getting a gentle massage of the eyes and seperate formula infused in and around the eye skin is a great way to get rid of puffiness and fine lines and look more awake the natural way.

4. Drink extra water beforehand too and not just after.
A great time to get a facial is after or during a cleanse too – deep clean your pores and replace lost natural vitamins, minerals and boost oxygen into your skin so you don’t look like you’ve just come off a cleanse or just got over the flu etc.

5. Do not plan to work out after or sweat. A good rule of thumb is to let the o2 and serums stay on your face as long as possible – full day and night if you can for best results. No washing or make up either.
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Can local supermarkets go waste free?

A new law passed in Paris means supermarkets can not throw out any food that is consumable.  Can this work here in Vancouver, BC?

Spruce Up Summer Salad Season

Finally it is summer time and appetites change from hot comfort foods from the cold months to refreshing fruits and vegetables.  So instead of reaching for your usual boring salad, add a few other ingredients and spruce things up.  Here’s a couple of ideas:

saladblog1.  Caesar salad - start with the classic and typical items. Then add shredded or small pieces of cauliflower, sliced almonds and some olives and feta to the typical romaine leaves, croutons and dressing.

The extra ingredients actually make the salad creamier and crisp if eating later on in the day.

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2.  Fruity meets spinach.  Many people don’t even like the taste of spinach especially kids.

So what do you do?  Pass on spinach?  No you dress it up!

This is when you can add fruits like oranges, strawberries or any kind of summer berry plus cubed avocadoes and even thinly sliced purple onion.  The more flavours, the merrier.  A handful of nuts and cranberries or your choice of meet is the perfect way to turn just a salad into a full meal deal.

TIP – cut up all the ingredients and set up a make your own salad bar at home. Or get everyone to pitch in a few bucks, pick up all the ingredients and everyone has a healthy lunch for less.

 

This blog brought to you by your 24/7 grocery store on 1st Ave. & Commercial Dr.

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Spent Consumer Reports: $10 for 2 meals

This week at Super Valu on Commercial Drive & 1st Ave – they have Italian Flavours on sale… (see flyer here for details)

They challenged me to make a meal for 2 for $10.  The result ended up in a great secret to make any boring pasta sauce awesome.

Here it is:

Vegetarian, vegan or meat options as you please.

pasta10You will need:

– pasta (any kind) – I used half the box

– 1 jar of Classico sauce (any kind)

– onion, garlic (I put in a large onion chopped up and lots of garlic to kick the first signs of a cold)

– salt, pepper, Italian seasoning and curry powder to taste (we used less than half a tblspn for each)

– MY SECRET INGREDIENT: Kraft Caesar salad dressing (as much as you want to make the sauce rose)

Cook the pasta separate for 11 minutes and mix onion, garlic, seasonings for 10 minutes.  Add sauce and dressing.

That’s it!  Simple, super delicious and cost effective.

Add veggies or meat as you wish – cost will be a few dollars more and you might end up with 3 portions.  Add salad too.

Time: 20 minutes

Worst Wake Up Call – Demolition of Old Port Mann

Imagine being sound asleep at 4am and you hear explosions.  Loud explosions outside your home.  Residents in North Surrey and parts of Coquitlam got this rude awakening without any warning.

Is it an earthquake?  Something exploded?  Is it safe to be inside?  Does this mean activate the emergency response plan and get the kids out of the bed?  Kids are crying and families were sent into complete panic mode.  This wasn’t a small explosion or just one. (see video below)

The panic  went on for hours because no one knew what had happened.  Nothing in the news or warnings on the radio.

Worried residents asked each other, phoned media – what had happened?

It was an unscheduled and poorly advertised demolition of the old Port Mann Bridge and in the very early morning hours for good measure.

After many queries from family and friends who live in the area about future occurrences and who to contact with complaints and serious concerns, I decided to contact the people I knew at the Port Mann project for traffic reporting.

I passed on everyone’s concerns and asked why people weren’t alerted.  Apparently they have to subscribe online for news and were also apparently sent notices in the mail.  I contacted 10 households  closest to the demolition of the old Port Mann and all said they received nothing.

Below is the full email response from the Port Mann Bridge project but first the video – go ahead crank it up.  It wasn’t subtle especially if you have a heart condition like many of the residents in the area do or children sound asleep.

Here is the response from the Port Mann Bridge Project.  Please pass the info on to anyone you think might need it.

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Power Packed Lunch for $5

Getting the words: nutritious, easy to make and cheap in a meal is possible.

Introducing the Kale packed, pesto, brown pasta dish.

Here is what you need:

Processed with Moldiv 1.  1 bundle of Kale (or to taste)

2.  1 to 2 big tablespoons of tomato pesto (or to taste)

3.  2 to 3 cups of brown pasta (or any substitute)

4.  feta cheese (optional)

5.  2 big tablespoons plain yogurt  (or to taste)

The yogurt combined with pesto gives the pasta a tangy sauce.  I also put in a dash of Masala spice, hot sauce and pepper to flavour.

I used a ton of Kale and pureed it so it would cook the best.   If you plan to cook Kale – make sure you precook before you mix in with pasta as it takes a while to cook hence why pureeing was the best option for me plus kids will love it too.  You can add other veggies to the puree too. Prep time: 20 minutes  Feeds:  Cost: $15

This blog brought to you by Super Valu Foods

Your 24/7 Grocery Store on 1st Ave & Commercial Drive.

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How to Survive Asthma as an Adult

Environmental changes in recent years have triggered asthma in adults.  Imagine going your entire life with no breathing problems onairand then one day your doctor tells you that you have asthma.  It’s no longer something you get as a kid.  A few things I learned and wanted to share from a recent asthma attack while at work – on air at a radio station.

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Critics Missed the Point: Dumb and Dumber To

dd2If a film is still being remembered, watched and a sequel to it is in demand two decades later, it wasn’t made for critics but rather the mass fan following.  Nothing has been funnier and dumber than reading critic’s reviews for Dumb and Dumber To.  If you’re not into fart jokes and obscene stupidity – you weren’t invited to begin with.  Stop comparing it to other legendary comedies or even the first one.

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