Author Archives: thirtyfourflavours

About thirtyfourflavours

Canadian. South Asian. Lifestyle Writer. Master of Arts. Total sweetheart.

@hotdocs 2020 “iHUMAN”

iHUMAN made its World Premiere at IDFA 2019, and is a thrilling look at the current state of Artificial Intelligence. Hearing firsthand from the leading pioneers on the front lines of this revolution, iHUMAN asks: How this technology is being developed and implemented, and investigates the dilemmas experts face as they drive this technology forward? As machines start to develop and think on their own, award winning director Tonje Hessen Schei asks the question – What is at stake when a few corporations and governments lead the defining experiments of Artificial Intelligence?

@hotdocs 2020 “Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles”


The latest documentary feature by director Laura Gabbert (City of Gold, No Impact Man, Sunset Story), Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles unveils the collaboration between the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and global food sensation Yotam Ottolenghi in their retelling of the rise and fall of Versailles through pastry. Through the discerning and careful eyes of Ottolenghi, a deeper understanding of our world is revealed through food.

@hotdocs 2020 “Love & Stuff”

Seven months after helping her terminally ill mother have a “good death” in home-hospice, filmmaker Judith Helfand becomes a “new old” single mother at 50. Overnight, she’s pushed to deal with her stuff: 63 boxes of her parent’s heirlooms overwhelming her office-turned-future-baby’s room, the weight her mother had begged her to lose, and the reality of being a half century older than her daughter. Told in the first person, in deep consultation with the past — as in 25 years of family footage — LOVE & STUFF explores the transformative power of parenting, our complex and very emotional attachment to stuff, and what it is we really need to leave our children.

#hotdocs 2020 “9/11 Kids”

It’s the most famous whisper in American history. During a press event in a second-grade classroom at Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida, White House Chief of Staff Andy Card walks up to President Bush and whispers: “A second plane has hit the second tower. America is under attack.” The imagery of the President on camera at the exact moment he learns of a major attack on the country, while in front of a classroom of six- and seven-year-olds, is surreal to watch, even today. These are the final moments of innocence, right before the storm. Now in their mid-20s, those kids, who bore witness to the very moment a new American reality was born, offer a fascinating window into post-9/11 America. Some have joined the military or started their own businesses, while others have fallen on hard times. They are the generation of Google, smart phones and Facebook, but also cyber-bullying, global terrorism, and climate change. 9/11 Kids is the untold story of those students and provides a window into some of the most vital themes of the American experience.

@hotdocs 2020 “Daddy”

The 2020 Hot Docs Film Festival features the International Premiere of Daddy, which follows American anthropologist, Brendan Cooney, in his new full-time job as a stay-at-home father. As part of the Hot Docs World Showcase programme, Daddy gives audiences an outsider perspective on fatherhood when Brendan turns the ethnographer’s lens on himself to examine his own childhood abandonment in an exploration of fatherhood and a journey to adapt after settling to a new life in a new country. Daddy will be accessible on the new online Hot Docs platform as of May 28, 2020 – June 15, 2020.

@hotdocs 2020 “Shut Up Sona”

“SHUT UP SONA”, like Sona, is laced with sarcasm, wit, and a bite of craziness. “SHUT UP SONA” resonates with every woman’s search for an equal space in a culture ridden with millennia of misogyny. This is a film about music, art, social change, and a clashing of the ancient and the modern. It’s about our right to exist, with a voice.

@Hotdocs Festival Online opens Thursday! Single tickets now on sale!


Single Tickets Are Now On Sale for Hot Docs Festival Online!

Visit the Crave Online Box Office and buy now to secure your films—only a limited number of streaming tickets are available for each film! More than 140 official 2020 selections start streaming this Thursday, May 28, direct from

See more and save! 10? 15? 20 films? Now you can buy as many 5-Film Screening Bundles as you can handle!

Master of Arts

Hello again! 😉

I know I have been away for a good two years from this website. The work I have contributed has been minimal mainly because my brain energy has been sucked dry in other areas of my life. I’m sorry for my absence.

I wanted to slowly circle back into my Thirty Four Flavours community. I have been away because I was completing my Master of Arts from Ryerson University in Toronto. I am almost done. I am set to defend my research in June. It’s been a ride, let me tell you. But it’s done.

Hmmm…where do I start?

Well I have worked full time, studied part time and completed some personal projects on the side. For a girl, who doesn’t like mornings – I learned to love them. I would spend my mornings, writing, researching and if I could, I would sneak a nap in here and there.

My full time job is hardly easy. In fact, it’s stressful. But I used my full time work as a respite to make sense of the theory and research I was conducting. It was a gift, albeit emotionally, mentally and physically draining.

In the midst of my studies, I took up hiking. I have shared my adventures through my social media accounts. I have always hiked in the past. It all began for me in California, and then onto Oregon and Seattle. Now, I hike in Ontario. There’s nothing like hiking in your own backyard.

Along with the hiking came deep thoughts and reflection into my own life and healing. Healing for mistakes made, healing towards moving forward and healing in accepting and giving of love. Nature and walking through it’s amazing glory taught me those tiny themes. As a result, they have embedded themselves into my work and research. I discovered, I have so much more learning to take in. It doesn’t end with a Master of Arts.

I have also learned that I am no longer tolerating oppression or discrimination in any way. In the past, I let things slide and thought, ‘…is it even worth fighting about this?’. I guess with time, my own work on myself, making peace with myself and loving myself –  I am officially pushing back. I’m letting go of those dangling threads and toxic relationships.

What else?

This pandemic has come at the most opportune time. I pray for all of us as a community. I have been forced to slow down, enjoy the quiet that I have always relished and have become reacquainted with making art, handiwork and dreaming of my next adventures. This Master of Arts has been the best investment I have made for myself and I’m going to put it to good use. Not only from a lens of social justice for youth in my care, but to stitch in love, kindness and spirituality into my practice and into my own life.

Take sometime to watch the video I have inserted above. It resonated for me and my academic journey. Plus, it gives you a glimpse into my hiking love affair. My dream is to do this hike one day. I feel it in my heart, if I can do an MA in my late 40’s, I can do that hike. I’m visualizing it happening.

I’m leaving you with this quote for now. More to come in the weeks, months and years ahead. Thank you for following me, my thoughts and adventures. Wishing you love, happiness and good health in the days ahead.

Melanie xo

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” Henry David Thoreau


The Canadian Opera Company presents “Hansel & Gretel” February 6, 8, 11, 15, 16, 19, 21, 2020 at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts


Everyday magic comes alive in a new production that transplants Hansel and Gretel’s adventures from a wooded forest setting to modern-day Toronto. As the siblings make their way through a contemporary high-rise neighbourhood in search of food, they must rely on their wits – and each other – to outsmart danger along the way. All throughout, cutting-edge stage technology paints a picture of the characters’ vivid imaginations, creating a theatrical experience unlike any other. Hansel & Gretel runs for seven performances at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts on February 6, 8, 11, 15, 16, 19, 21, 2020.

Joel Ivany, award-winning Canadian stage director and artistic director of Against the Grain Theatre, brings his inventive theatrical vision to this beloved classic. Ivany’s boundary-pushing work has been credited with “chang[ing] the opera game” (National Post) and, together with Katherine Syer as dramaturg, the pair have created something entirely unique for the COC stage. In this Hansel & Gretel, relatable fears, such as income inequality and environmental sustainability, weigh heavy on the children’s minds, along with the fantastical threat of witches in wait. COC Director/Dramaturg-in-Residence Julie McIsaac joins the team as Assistant Director and S. Katy Tucker has dreamed up sets and specialized projections that weave storybook elements into modern day landscapes. Toronto-based Ming Wong is behind the production’s costumes and lighting has been designed by JAX Messenger, who last joined the COC for the world premiere presentation of Pyramus and Thisbe in 2015.

American mezzo-soprano Emily Fons has been called one of opera’s rising stars by Opera News and sings the role of Hansel. She is joined by a strong Canadian cast that includes three established COC Ensemble Studio graduates: soprano Simone Osborne is Gretel, mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabó is the children’s mother, Gertrude, and tenor Michael Colvin is the diabolical witch, in a role debut. Seasoned Canadian baritone Russell Braun lends his “tremendous voice” (Toronto Star) to the role of the children’s father, Peter, and current Ensemble Studio soprano Anna-Sophie Neher sings the role of the Dew Fairy/Sandman.

COC Music Director Johannes Debus conducts the COC Orchestra through Humperdinck’s beautiful interpretation of the Grimm story, alongside the Canadian Children’s Opera Company singing the children’s chorus.

Hansel & Gretel is sung in German and presented by the COC with English SURTITLES™.

Hansel & Gretel is presented in partnership with the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.


If you are looking for an easy opera to immerse yourself into whilst fighting off winter’s chill, consider catching the Canadian Opera Company’s “Hansel & Gretel”. It is a quiet and serene production that echoes moments of reflection. If you have little children in your life or would prefer a night out on your own, “Hansel & Gretel” will provide you pure contentment and a space to take in a well earned fairy tale.

American mezzo-soprano Emily Fons plays Hansel. She exposes the audience with a colourful and robust performance that will shine light from any darkened stage. Soprano Simone Osborne plays Gretel exudes warmth that further accentuates her talent. Krisztina Szabó is the children’s mother, and tenor Michael Colvin is the diabolical witch who challenge the production to the next level with their diversity in vocal performance and depth. The talent on stage is decadent during this relaxed performance. It pushes the booted up audience to giggle, to smile and just have a good time for the two hours or so they are together.

The “Hansel & Gretel” set was beyond magical and will be sure to mesmerize any child or adult. Think strewn fairy lights and a starry sky worthy of getting lost in. An apartment complex and a diverse cast that grounds the production in Toronto. “Hansel & Gretel” goes well beyond just an opera but more a rousing ode to a city that calls the Canadian Opera Company home. The production is a true treat for the home town crowd and for those visiting Toronto. It will leave you with a sense of Toronto’s grit but also its cheekiness.

Valentine’s Day and Family Day are just around the corner, grab some time and immerse yourself in the pure love and joy of opera. “Hansel & Gretel” will not disappoint, in fact it will fill your heart with enough warmth to carry you through until the spring.