City Living: Best date spots

Now that
it’s March and the first signs of spring are waking up our hibernated libidos,
we find ourselves longing for romance. In a time when love letters no longer look like
and tend to resemble this:

It is hard not to think that maybe the grand gestures of love are long
gone.  We’re not asking to be whisked
away to Paris on a whim (though,
we wouldn’t be mad) but something a little
more imaginative than take out and Netflix would be nice. Whether you’ve been
together for 30 years or three days, taking the time to go on dates keeps
that spark between you a burning, passionate fire of love. There is no excuse
for being in a couples’ rut when there is something for everyone in the Big

The New Couple

As awesome as
it is to sit fidgeting across the table from an almost-stranger that you have
definitely at least imagined making out with,
Toronto singles breathed a sigh of relief when Snakes and Lattes came on the scene to put an end to awkward first date silences. You still get the barfy stomach new-love-interest interaction, but with the built in conversation starter
of over 2500 board games. The playful buffer (also, beer) takes the pressure
off, enabling new couples to test out their chemistry with a game of Alchemy or
play doctor with a round of Operation.
Also, you get to see whether your potential partner is a graceful winner or a sore loser.  

The Frugal Couple

There are
plenty of date opportunities in Toronto for a baller on a budget. High Park is
one of Toronto’s most scenic parks and only a subway ride away.  Pack a picnic and enjoy the fresh air (tip: the
Cherry Blossoms
bloom in late April/early May for an incredibly beautiful and sweet smelling
display = instant spring fever and romance). You can stroll around the pond and
laugh at goats yelling like humans at the zoo,
all at no charge. Plan your day date on a Wednesday and if all goes well, head
back downtown and check out the permanent collection at the AGO, where admittance is free from 6 to 8:30 p.m.

The Active Couple

This lucky
city is home to the number one date destination where you can work up a sweat
with balls and paddles. We are of course
talking about
SPiN Toronto, King
West’s hip ping pong social club (what did you think we meant?). With 12 ping
pong tables, a deliciously inventive food menu and seasonal twists on classic
cocktails, you’ll always have something to occupy those busy hands (if you can
keep them off each other, that is).
Resident DJs, tournaments,
art shows and glow in the dark Tuesdays ensure the place is always bumpin, and
with co-owner
Susan Sarandon in the mix and a steadfast celeb following, you never know who you’ll
run into next.

The Culinary Couple

Food is love,
people. Couples with full hearts and empty bellies can book classes at Calphalon Culinary Center, for interactive hands-on and instructional learning. The calendar offers evening and weekend
classes for everything from the basics like Chicken 101, to more sophisticated cuisine like
Parisian Pleasures or Beer and Nibbles for those who like to keep it casual. Couples classes will
generally run you $300 for the pair, but some classes at the center can start
as low as $20.

The Adventurous Couple

You don’t
have to go too far to get out of your city bubble. The Toronto Islands are a sweet
local getaway for the adventuresome twosome. Bring your bikes (or rent them on site) to cruise around and see the city skyline from just a short
ferry ride away. Lay out on one of the
many beaches, or go off on your own for an out-of-Toronto experience.
Can-Pop superfans can recreate this video by the Moffatts, which was shot
on the Island. We won’t even think it’s weird.

Media, Darling: Bahar Niramwalla

After many years stuck behind a desk, and her mind on the latest mascara and wondering which conditioner was worth the extra cash, Bahar Niramwalla decided to make a break for it. The very same day, she became the Beauty Basics Makeup artist and presenter with the Globe and Mail‘s Globe Life section and weekly Beauty Q&A expert for the Globe‘s Saturday Style section. A few months after that, Niramwalla began to step in front of the camera as the resident Beauty Specialist in the first season of the Marilyn Denis Show.

She’s since written for Yahoo! Canada, and has her own blog, where she posts about beauty, travel and occasionally obsesses over perfume, as she owns more bottles than shoes, which is a LOT of perfume.

She is a makeup artist in Toronto and outside of playing with cosmetics as a job and, having recently conquered her fear of flying, she freelances as a travel writer and has had a chance to visit such countries as Croatia, England, Greece, Italy, India, Mexico, Slovenia and The U.A.E., just to name a few. Next on the list: Barbados or Belize.

Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon?
I recall loving theatre and having my folks say that was no way to earn a living. I also recall hating writing in high school after an English teacher told me I was terrible at it. I ended up taking a safer route post secondary to please my parents and crossed my fingers that I wouldn’t die of boredom. 
Upon feeling like I was dying of boredom, I took a few courses in makeup to see if I could make some extra cash while doing something creative. Thousands of hours of writing, presentations, public events and ten years of marketing and promotions later, I found myself right where I wanted to be, which, as it turned out, was in front of a camera spewing my thoughts on moisturizer and flat irons and then being asked to write about them, too. Haphazardly, I ended up performing, in a way, and dishing out some not-so-terrible writing.

I’ve recently been told I don’t take good pictures. I figure if I give it a few years, I’ll be putting professional photographer on my resume, too.

Where would you like to be five years from now?
I’ve never been one to think about my life in terms of where I want to be in ‘x’ number of years, so my answer is always the same: exactly where I’m supposed to be.

That often doesn’t fly well with people who want a more concrete answer, though. I guess I’d love to find a happy medium between my passions and my skills. 

I love all things makeup, skincare and beauty. I love writing because it’s challenging and I’ve got eight years of marketing under my belt. In time, the two shall meet. Hopefully, that’ll be in around five years. That sound more concrete?

Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
Be genuine with others, honest with yourself and sometimes, take risks that seem foolish. I’ve noticed the ones that seem foolish are the ones that pay off 10-fold.

What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own? 
I’m a sucker for funny, smart writing and BeautyGeeks delivers all the time. Janine Falcon is not only a great writer, but she likes to do what I like to do: figure out why or how a product works. It’s so important to know what is going on your body and how it is doing what it claims to, especially with the launch of a new product every two seconds. I’ve also got a thing for back issues of TIME magazine and The Big Bang Theory.

Best interview you’ve ever had? Worst?
The best and worst was a random chance to meet with Susan Sarandon a year and a half ago in New York. I had about 30 seconds to come up with interview questions and I had to make them relevant, engaging and not seem like I had just come up with them 30 seconds ago. Ms. Sarandon was genuine and super cool and, after we were done, she invited me to watch her play in a ping-pong tourney at SPiN Gallery Manhattan that night. That part was the best. If it wasn’t for the New York food poisoning I picked up, I would have. That part was the worst.

Best advice you’ve ever been given?
“There’s room enough for all of us”. It applied to the current industry I am in, but the woman who spoke those words didn’t realize how much they applied to everyday life. There’s never a need to slag someone off and there’s never a need to shove someone on the streetcar.

What rule(s) do you live your life by?
Be honest with yourself and those around you. If you’re being a shit, own up to it and if someone else is, you’ve got to let them know. Fake anything and, eventually, people will catch on. Oddly enough, nobody likes a fake.

Also, eat lots o’ candy.

What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
To be in the PR world, you have to love what you do. We can tell when you don’t. And if you don’t, stop and realize you’re not doing what you love.

Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
Too many last minute, heart attack inducing moments have been saved by some of the pros I’ve had the pleasure of coming in contact with, but two people who made my life better are Adriana Lurz of Strategic Objectives and Courtney McGeever of Lush cosmetics. The former helped me to see travel writing as a serious avenue and makes me laugh hysterically. The latter has saved my butt in countless manic rush situations and also shares my love/secret shame of the hot mess that is the Jersey Shore.

I hate?
How negative people or energy can suck the life out of you if you let them/it.

And bad espresso.

And sugary, lame chocolate.

I love?
Laughing ’til I cry. Even more so the next day, when I remember what was so funny the night before and I randomly burst into a fit of giggles on the 504 Queen car.

And quality espresso. And sea salt, preferably in quality chocolate.

Christopher Moore’s The Stupidest Angel and Marjane Satrapi’s Embroideries.

Best place on earth?
Anywhere I get to hold my niece and nephew.

Dinner guest?
Anyone who is willing to try some of my experimental baked goods is welcome.
I always offer a Nespresso coffee afterwards to wash it down, just in case I missed the mark.

My nephew. He saved me at a moment when I thought I’d lost myself and he doesn’t even know it.

Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
DailyHoroscope. I check it first thing every morning. It’s so accurate, it’s scary. Somedays, I think it’s watching me.

Pool or ocean?
Pool next to the ocean. That way, I get to enjoy nature’s splendor and avoid my toes touching the stuff I can’t see at the bottom.

Voicemail or email?
I once saved a VM from my nephew wishing me a happy birthday for over a year. If that didn’t exist in my world, email.