Of a contest and a country

Have you ever had a day when everything was just normal and then, out of the blue, you had such a heart warming experience that you had to tell someone about it? Well, it happened to me today. Good Food Revolution printed an interview of me and four other food bloggers, who are still standing in the Project Food Blog competition. While it was so great to have someone want to actually write about you and be standing in the good company of  accomplished bloggers like Eat Live Travel Write, Good Food, Good Wine and a Bad Girl, Hot Polka Dot and Oh She Glows, my joy and sense of achievement had a shadow of discomfort. Why, you ask? Well, the article was titled ‘Canadians in the Project Food Blog Competition’ and while I have fallen in love with this country, I am actually from Bombay, India and living here on account of a work project.

Project Food Blog is a competition, a very serious competition, where talented and creative people are going above and beyond to produce some of their best work. And like any competition, it has attracted its share of critics and naysayers. So even though I’ve been living in Canada on and off for two years and had explained my situation  to the writer/editor, I didn’t want anyone to think I was deliberately misrepresenting myself to gain an advantage. I shouldn’t have worried because even though I have seen firsthand how amazingly warm and generous the people here can be, they still manage to take me by surprise.

As the congratulations poured in on Twitter, I explained my position to people. I even wrote to the writer and editor of the article requesting that maybe, they needed to add a clarification. For all those people who think all competitions consist of backstabbing, foul-mouthed, hyper-competitive, will-do-anything-to-win egomaniacs, I ask you to please go and check the #pfb2010 Twitter stream. Here, you’ll find many of my new Project Food Blog friends, who are supportive and appreciative of each others’ work. We debate, bicker,  and argue but also praise and sometimes even send declarations of undying love  to each other (WinnieAb, I’m talking about you).

Sure, there are controversies and a few call outs; it’s not all roses and champagne, but for the most part, I have seen genuine people, who are here for the same reason – we love food, we love writing, we love creating and we love sharing all of this with you, our dear readers. And all of us have worked our butts off, with sleepless nights, minor and major meltdowns and loss of more than a little sanity. So, critics, let me first see your entries for lavish 3-course dinners, exotic food, made-from-scratch pizzas, step-by-step photo-recipes and videos, let me see your empty cups of coffee, scratched notepads, 430 clicked but unused pictures, 94 clips of film, and then, we can talk.

What came of my explanations and requests for clarification in the article? @HotPolkaDot_Mom, who is the mother of Hot Polka Dot (a contestant) and one of the biggest cheerleaders of Project Food Blog, sent me a breezy reply “@TiffinTales Well I guess we’ll just have to adopt you!”. Her daughter cheered Eat Live Travel Write, who is also British and the last Australian standing. Beverley, the writer of the article, has always been supportive but it was Malcolm, her editor, who had the last word. Below is his email reply to me:

“Hi Heena,
I/we are happy to call you whatever you like. But, there is a long standing tradition in this country of claiming anyone on the soil as our own, so you can be “Canadian” for the purposes of the contest if you like, and no one will mind. It’s a bit like you’ve joined a sports team while your here, if that’s helpful….”

How can you not love a country, and a contest, that introduces you to people like these?

P.S. There are many other outstanding bloggers out there. Since I couldn’t link them all, you can check them out at Project Food Blog.
P.P.S. Since this is a competition after all, you can check and vote for my latest  ‘Classic, Contemporary and Crazy’ video entry here if you like it. Thank you everyone for all your overwhelming support. It is more than I could have ever expected.

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14 Responses to Of a contest and a country

  1. Cool! I love all of it. Off to read the article now…

  2. Love this post!! This is definitely the spirit of the whole thing :)

  3. You are such a sweetheart! I think you know what this competition is all about. In fact, I know you do. Such kind words. You must be Canadian at heart. ;)

  4. I love this. I truly do. It is exactly right, and could not come at a better time! This competition does feel sort of like playing a game, of sorts, with friends and family. Sure, you want to win, but if you don’t you still feel happy for the ones that do. You laugh, fight, grow, and evolve. I am so lucky to have been a part of this, and to have gone as far as I have. I am also lucky to have gotten the chance to connect with so many wonderful bloggers … like you. Thank you for thinking of me. So honored.

  5. Isabelle says:

    Heena, I think this genuine and heartfelt response proves that you deserve to be an honourary Canadian, even if your passport says otherwise. :)
    As a country built by generations of newcomers, I’ve always felt that the right to be called “Canadian” has nothing to do with citizenship and everything to do with the belief that this is the place we call home… even when it’s just a temporary arrangement.
    I’m glad to have discovered your blog through PFB. What a wonderful, exhausting, enjoyable ride it’s been!

  6. Heena: you should feel proud of the feature and “adoption”!!! I agree with your words (and thanks for linking to me). We are here because we LOVE what we do!!! :)

  7. Okay. I cried reading your post. It touched me profoundly. You are truly a very special young woman. I’m so glad I adopted you. We are Canadian, eh?


  8. Claudia says:

    I’ve seen just a tad of naysaers regarding the competition. But have witnessed overwhelming support from bloggers not involved as well as bloggers in the competition. The output and creativity you have all done in this competition has warmed my heart and I try to visit all the contestants (getting easier now… won’t lie!). In the end, the accomplishments of every blogger involved in the competition have been huge. Nothing wrong with being Canadian for awhile… I’ve considered it!

  9. Mariko says:

    I have been really surprised by some of the responses from people about PFB (after they were eliminated) that they felt that the competition was not a community building or well thought out thing. I think they are totally wrong! I suddenly have been introduced to amazing bloggers (present company included) and love the creativity it has fostered. I have said to my friend, many times now, that if I don’t make it through this round, I totally admit defeat to good competition. I know for sure everyone deserves to win in this round and I was seriously having issues with keeping my votes to 24.
    You know what’s cool? That “your” country is recognizing your part in the competition! I love that they would applaud you for it.

  10. Liren says:

    Heena, if it weren’t for PFB, it might have taken longer for me to discover you, your beautiful blog and a budding friendship in the food blog world. I know the competition has had its share of controversy, but that just goes with the territory. I try to keep my head low and my nose in the books, as they say. In the end, it’s been such an interesting experience, and I have no regrets. I know you will be moving forward, and I will be cheering you along!

  11. I have yet to hear negative stuff about the contest. I am so excited to read all the entry posts and support all the contestants. You all work so hard. Best of luck in the rest of the competition, honorary Canadian!

  12. Winnie says:

    Heena- you are the best. XOXO

  13. sippitysup says:

    What a charming post! I am not Canadian, nor do I live in Canada. But I can see why those Canucks are fighting to claim you as their own. You are a special, talented and super warm-hearted woman. GREG

  14. What’s that’s SO awesome! Congratulations to you!

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