Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Just thinking.....

It’s back again!!!!!!

The end of the year I mean. It keeps coming back with monotonous regularity and too fast for my liking but I have never complained….till recently ie. Infact I have always looked ahead and ushered the new year in with a lot of fanfare. Then it was exciting and there were lots of possibilities. But now it sort of…I mean the end of the year depresses me when I think about it.
Years are just flying past. And I’m not so sure I like it.
Actually I don’t. Not one bit.
Stop. Slow down. What’s the big hurry dammit????

I really don’t know why I’m panicking. I’m so afraid time is running out on me, afraid that I’ll die without achieving anything. Accomplishing nothing. Achievements & accomplishments not measured in terms of a good job, position or status, more like a need within me to give back to Society what I have received. To make a difference. To feel worthy. To satisfy a hunger clawing at my insides….like it’s something I need to do.
It gets a 100 times worse when I think about it at night. Especially when I can’t sleep. Every fear is magnified and the darkness makes me feel like I’m all alone even though my loved ones are all around me. But well….they are sleeping.

Daylight brings with it a clarity wherein I console myself there is time. Lots of time. Like decades and decades stretching ahead of me to do whatever I want to. Why, take my mother who is in her 60’s……. she’s so in her element now. Almost half of her life she stayed home & took care of her family. I used to wonder secretly how she could be so content to play homemaker when she could have put her teaching degree to good use. But she says she never regretted it and just look at her now, always busy with her church meetings, conferences, voluntary work and her friends, not to forget her determination to stay in shape. I’m just so in awe of her. I hope to be atleast half of what she is when I reach that age.
Most of the time I’m content with what I have. I know that compared to many others I’m so blessed. But there is this niggling thought which refuses to go away. A thought that reminds me that I’m capable of much more and am probably wasting away the best years of my life. Alright there are no regrets when I look at it from the point of view of a mother; I’m so glad I have the choice of being a hands-on mother. I have no lofty ideals for my children; if they grow up to be grounded beings with their heart in the right place I’d consider it a job well-done.

In a couple of years I’ll be four zero. That’s like half my life over. And nothing to show for it.
Atleast that’s what it feels like.
….
….

Then again I pause to think….
Why can’t I be satisfied with what I have????
Why I am not able to convince myself that to reach out for more is not a crime???
Am I looking at the whole picture or missing out on important details???

Why do thoughts have to be so conflicting???

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Wishing U All....

A Merry Christmas:-))

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Sister Symphony

I’m at the bus stop watching my kids alight from the bus.

Nikita walks up to me and says excitedly “Mama, meet my new sister” pointing to her side where I can see only empty space.
I’m puzzled and turn to look at Naina who is walking behind us at a snail’s pace with a very grumpy expression on her face.
Not again I think to myself wryly. They’ve made it like a fashion statement to fight in the school bus and come home with grouses.
“Mama, mama, look at us…..my new sister is waiting for you to say hello” says Nikita tugging at my arm insistently.
“Hello new sister” I say obediently and wink at Naina at the same time.

Naina marginally brightens up at my expression and joins us.

“My new sister is the best. She listens to me and likes everything I have to say. She doesn’t argue with me or fight over silly things. I’m going to have a great time with her” announces Nikita with a quick sideways look at Naina.

“What’s your new sister’s name???” I ask.

“Pakoda*” says Nikita grandly. “I have named her Pakoda and she’s going to be my bestest ever sister.”

I coughed to hide my laughter and even Naina  couldn’t help but grin.
As we walked up the stairs Nikita was very dramatically showing off the neighbourhood to her imaginary companion.

“Pakoda, this is where we live, this is how we walk up the stairs, see this is our front door and this is my living room…….come on I’ll show you all my toys and we are going to have lots of fun together”.
For the next 1 hour she didn’t let up…….it was all Pakoda this and Pakoda that.

And inbetween she’ll look at Naina & me and say with the most innocent expression “Pakoda is the best sister I have ever had in my life. She is so much fun and I JUST love her”.
I found the whole thing amusing but couldn’t help feeling sorry for Naina who had no sense of humour when she needed it most.

Naina who was silent all this while couldn’t bear it anymore and announced her decision to have her own imaginary sister.
Nikita who was acting like she was super busy with Sister Pakoda had her ears trained in our direction all the while.

She was at our side in a flash and firmly stopped Naina’s plans from taking wings.

“The imaginary sister thing is MY idea. You can’t copy MY idea” she says authoritatively.

“Yes I can”
“No, you cant”

“Yes I can”
“No, you cant”

“Can”

“Can’t”

“Mamaaaaaaa…..”
“Stop it u twooo…”

“Naina if u copy my idea then I’ll copy ALL ur ideas for the rest of our lives and you will not able to stop me.” says Nikita resourcefully.

Nikita leaves the room leaving Naina to mull over the statement.

Naina who knew the consequences of that left it wisely alone.  She retreated for the moment and sat down to think of new strategy.
 Just then Nikita calls out “Naina, can u get me my library book, it’s on the bed”
“Ask Pakoda to get it for you” says Naina without missing a beat.

There was a resounding silence punctuated by me trying to muffle my laughter.
And for the rest of the day Nikita was royally ribbed by both Naina and me.

 “Nikita, ask Pakoda to get me your lunch-box from your bag”.
“Chechi** will Pakoda play with me if I ask her nicely”

“Pakoda lay the table for me please”

“Pakoda I like u more than my real sister”

By the end of the day Nikita looked like she wished she’d never started it  but very good-naturedly endured all the teasing;-D.
The next day the teasing continued and in desperation Nikita put Pakoda to sleep from 2 to 6pm.

Naina & I were so bothered about Pakoda ‘s sleeping pattern; we kept urging Nikita to wake her up because she won’t get any sleep at night if she slept too long.

And the next day when no mention was made about Pakoda till evening I was dying of curiousity.

“Where’s Samosa??? Errr....I mean Pakoda" I ask.
“Oh Pakoda stayed behind at school to help with the chartwork. She’ll be there till night” says Nikita very casually avoiding our eyes & had a small smile playing on her lips.

Naina grins at me from behind Nikita.
And that was that I thought with relief. The better-half when he first heard about the imaginary sister had reacted very differently from me. He was very upset and asked Nikita why she felt the need for an imaginary sister when she had a real sister who was so much fun and who thought the world of her.

Nikita who looked guilty and mutinous at the same time said that Naina was not treating her with respect and not listening to her or doing anything she asked her to do. So then her father gently explained that only if you treat her well and give her respect will she also give you the same. Just because she is your sister she can’t be expected to obey you blindly. And even after that Naina treated her with disrespect she was to tell us about it & we’ll soon set her right. I don’t know how much Nikita gleaned from the conversation but she didn’t argue anymore. Naina was also given a warning that she was not to forget that Nikita was her elder sister and that she’s not to get over-familiar with her especially in front of their friends and schoolmates.

After a few days we forgot all about it and then yesterday….

Both get off the school bus and run up to me….

“Mama, may I introduce my sister to you” says Naina excitedly pointing to Nikita.
“Meet Pakoda, my new sister!!!!!”
 Chechi stayed back in school to help with the chartwork”


And they walk off hand-in-hand talking excitedly about their plans for the afternoon.


Here we go again……

@picture above: Nikita’s new found hobby. She found an old church directory and decided it was going to be her comic book. She stuck colored paper on the front & back and illustrated it on her own. At the end of each day she cuts out the cartoon section from the newspaper and sticks it in the book. Initially the book had only her name on it but one day when Naina was sad about some incident which happened in school, Nikita magnanimously added her name below. I was sooo touched.

p.p.s: Before you go all awww…..
…when Naina does anything to irritate her the first thing Nikita does is threaten to scratch her name off the comic book;-P

*Pakoda: a small, spicy fritter containing pieces of vegetables, made usually with a batter of chickpea flour and deep-fried.
**chechi: elder sister in Malayalam

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

As far as I can see...

I’m checking mail, commenting on blogs, playing christmas carols…….the sunlight is pouring through the window and my screen was reflecting some of the light.

I couldn’t see clearly. Sighing in irritation I go to the window to block the light.
I pause while drawing the curtains…
And see….
The blue sky…..
The plants bending in the direction of the sharp wind…
The birds huddling together to keep warm…
It was cold….
And I think...
I’m so blessed…
To have a roof over my head….
To be able to serve hot meals for my loved ones….

To have a family who loves me….

Friends who care….

I have a laptop…
An internet connection…

I can read….
I can feel….

I have a body which follows my bidding…
I can sing…

I may not have seen the world…


But I can dream…
I can see.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Hah....tagged ya:-)

It’s been a looong time since I attempted a tag & so when I came across this somewhere on the web I felt like taking it up. Its called the 7 meme post. Basically it’s all about the different types of posts you have on your blog…..and a chance to show it off;-D. I thought it would be fun to to take a walk down memory lane remembering times when I put up like 8-10 posts a month[hawwww…..;-o].
What this is about:
To unite bloggers (from all sectors) in a joint endeavor to share lessons learned and create a bank of long but not forgotten blog posts that deserve to see the light of day again.

Rules:
1) Blogger is nominated to take part

2) Blogger publishes his/her 7 links on his/her blog – 1 link for each category.
The links are:
- Your most beautiful post
– Your most popular post
– Your most controversial post
– Your most helpful post
– A post whose success surprised you
– A post you feel didn’t get the attention it deserved
– The post that you are most proud of

3) Blogger nominates up to 5 more bloggers to take part.

4) These bloggers publish their 7 links and nominate another 5 more bloggers

5) And so it goes on!

Only after cutting & pasting & writing the intro and formatting the text to my liking did I realise how tough it was going to be to choose for each category. No not because I have so many options but because I didn’t feel any of them made the cut.
Since I spent 45 minutes already on this I can’t think of back tracking & scrabbling around around for something else to post;-P.

So here goes…..

Your most beautiful post- The Unwanted Third
I wrote this in my early blogging days so you may find the words & sentences not so coordinated but I chose it simply because it was a post written from the heart. It is about my neighbours who’ve moved away now…..it is about a little baby whose face still is so clear in my mind even though I haven’t seen her in years.

Your most popular post – The baddest word of them all
I got over 100 comments for this one but that’s not why I say its popular. Every single day my stats shows me keywords like ‘baddest word’ ‘world’s baddest word’ which have been typed into google and reached my page. But I doubt my post satisfies the curiosity of the people who are searching for whatever they are searching for;-D.

Your most controversial post – Hot and Happening
Controversy and me…..hilarious*Nancy wiping tears off*. I never deliberately go out of my way to court trouble either here or real life. I do realise putting up a controversial topic on my blog can get me a lot of comments but it goes against my grain. ‘Judge ye not’ is my motto. Life is too short reallyJ. Even here in this post I was just talking about the weather…..atleast I started out saying it was too hot for words & the rest just happened;-D

Your most helpful post – How to Blog
I’m this really very helpful person in real life….so helpful that people start doubting my intentions after sometime;-(. So nowadays I act most offhand when people ask me for help. And you know what…it works. Everybody is so grateful now even if I just tell them the time. Oh yes my helpful post….I reluctantly direct most of the new, full of doubts bloggers to this post and they rave, exclaim, jump up & down and claim to find it very helpful;-D

A post whose success surprised you
I scanned thru a lot of posts & wasted maximum time on this link……to tell u the truth, the response I used to get for every post used to be surprise me all the time. When I got up in the morning & checked out the number of comments I received I would be like “Wow, do people really relate to it this muccchhh….;-o”[note: don’t go by the present scenario, I’m talking about the golden era when a whole lot of us used to live and breathe blogs;-D ] 
Take the post I have selected for example……even today I shake my head all puzzled when I see the huge response it had generated. I mean how can people can get so excited about ‘How I met my husband" sagas…..;-D.

A post you feel didn’t get the attention it deserved:
Nope I can’t think of a single one….like I told u I’m always surprised at the attention my posts get that I keep scrutinising my posts to see what is it exactly that all of u find so interesting out here;-P. But since I’m obliged to put one up I’ll choose a personal favourite - My Fathers (S)cars

The post that you are most proud of - Layali Dubai
I wrote this post on the Global village after going through a 100 links[atleast it felt like that]. When I was finally done it was time to make lunch and so closed the word document WITHOUT saving it……I had absent-mindedly clicked on the ‘don’t save’ option and the whole post just vanished. I stared stunned at the monitor in shock and then just put my head down on the keyboard and wept. Unlike most posts this post had not come out of my head, it had taken me 3 hours and then some more to get 2 pages of material.
The next day I sat down and waded through pages and pages of information again….can u just imagine how boring it must have been. Under any other circumstances I wouldn’t have bothered & would have convinced myself “Maybe it was not meant to be…”. Not really proud of the post as such, more proud of my determination to see it posted.

And that’s it guys, I really hope you’ll go thru the links…esp the old posts…..I really feel I had written some of my best posts then. Unlike now I had soo much to say thenJ.

The 5 bloggers I’m going to nominate here all have been in the blog world for more than a couple of years now and so surmising that they have enough material to choose from…

Anjuli – One of my favourite bloggers…..we go way back in cyber years and haven’t looked back sinceJ. Her posts make me go all wistful…….did u know she has done this overland drive from India to England in 1985 in a 1958 Morris Minor.

Kala – She’s Indian, born & brought up in Malaysia & lives in the US of A. She makes handcrafted jewellery especially with beads, also makes beautiful paintings and…yep very artistic and her writing reflects her personality.

Preeti Shenoy: She needs no introduction….writer, artist, mom, blogger all rolled into one. I love all her posts except for the ones where she posts her pictures. I tell you nobody has the right to look so sexy when they are touching 40;-(. And nope, before u ask..nope she wont be mad at me for telling her age. Atleast I think she won't. She's not like that. I'm very sure she won't. Oh dear.....

Roshan: The resident Doc. And writer. And philosopher. And Aquarius…like me;-D. Don’t tell anybody I told you this…*nancy furtively looks around & whispers*….he holds full-fledged conversations with God.

Smitha: She’s so darn friendly that when you read her posts it’s like having a face to face conversation with her. Anybody can make out when I’m reading her posts….I’m like nodding and nodding my head all the while:-).

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

My weekend went like this, what about yours....

<> <>
Naina drew this picture from one of her story-books
Nikita: u should have come for the movie with us Mama, u really missed it.
Me: I know but I got you some good books didn’t I.
[Raising voice slightly]Nainaaaaa, have u kept your timetable for tomorrow???? And Nikita, what about you????


Nikita: I already kept mine Mama. Captain Haddock was too good, he made us laugh soo much, I had the best time of my life today. Papa when is the next Tintin movie releasing???? You must take us for it. 

Me: Naina  what are you upto….have u or have u not kept ur books ready for tomorrow??? And you have to go for your bath after that. U know[directed at better- half] if I had hung around for some more time I could have met Shobha De & MT Vasudevan Nair. And Shashi Tharoor is going to be there tomorrow.  [After a pause]Gimme a word for ‘one of the radial rods which form the centre of a wheel’???

Naina[a faint impatient voice from another room]: I’m keeping, I’m keeping it in a moment.

Better-half: How many letters??

Nikita: Mama, Naina cant find her Science project book, that’s why she’s taking so much time. Snowy was really cute but he doesn’t talk like how he does in the comic books, he doesn’t even have speech bubbles with his thoughts in it and Professor Calculus wasn’t there at all in the whole movie.

Me: 5 letters & ends with an ‘e’.  What about Thomson & Thompson??

Better-half: Try Spoke

Nikita: Oh yes they were there, they were soo silly & made us laugh so much. Papa got us nachos with cheese & salsa & also a huge bucket of popcorn. It was so yummy. 

Me: Righttttt ‘spoke’ fits in perfectly. I suppose you are full now after eating all that junk.  NAINA if I get there & find out u haven’t started on your time-table.......

Nikita: Look mama I know how to wipe a smile off my face…look, look.....

Nikita plonks herself right in front of mama & smiles widely. Then places her hand on the top of her face & brings it down sharply to reveal a face so very serious. She did it 2-3 times[up, down, up, down] in quick succession making us shake our heads in amusement.

Me: Now u go change & come back to clear the table for dinner. And check what Naina’s upto…its awfully quiet in there.  The Arabic books aisles were so empty whereas the Indian stalls were so crowded.  And you know, there was  a cooking demonstration by Sophie Grey. She showed us how to make Whoopies from her book. There was a good selection of childrens book also. I didn’t want to pick up the usual Enid Blyton books this time… how are the books I got for the kids??? Good na.

Better-half who was idly scanning through the books nodded.

Nikita: MAMAAAAAAA…..Naina’s not keeping her time-table, she’s sitting here and reading a bookkkkkk.


Me: Nainaaaaa…..u have 5 minutes to pack your school bag, have your bath and present urself at the dining table otherwise no dinner for u. I’ve finished the crossword, hopefully I’ve got all of them right, don’t forget to fax it tomorrow.

A loud THUD & sounds of a scuffle reach the living room and the better-half goes to investigate. Loud protests & complaints were heard before the matter was sorted out and peace restored.

Conversation resumes during dinner.

Nikita: And u know mama Tintin screams ‘put out the fire, put out the fire’,  Captain Haddock pours some water from the bottle he was holding & it goes BOOOM. You know what he did, he poured whiskey instead of water……hahahaha.

Naina: Look at me I’m a Walrus.

Everybody turns to look at Naina who had 2 rib bones from the mutton curry sticking out of her mouth. She really did look like a walrus.

Better-half: Stop playing with your food and eat Naina.

Nikita: Papa what if we watch the movie on our TV…will we still need 3D glasses???

Papa: If we buy a 3D copy then we’ll need 3D glasses but I’m sure they’ll sell normal copies where we don’t need 3D glasses to watch them.
Naina: Whats the meaning of 3D????

Nikita: 3D is when the cartoon figures are life-like….

Papa: They'll have depth.

Nikita: yes…and 2D is like Tom & Jerry…they are flat figures….we cant see their backs....no depth like papa says.

Naina: What about vondy???

Nikita: There is nothing like that Naina.

Mama[who had blanked out the rest of the world to concentrate on her dinner suddenly came to life]: Yes there is,  Vondy means vehicle in Malayalam.

The family burst out laughing. U see Naina was asking if there was anything called 1D.


[Incase u r wondering what all that was about……Nikita was discussing the Tintin movie she and Naina had seen at the cinemas along with their father. I was talking about a book fair in Sharjah my friend & I had gone to. Time-tables, crosswords, arguments, walruses all comes with the territory]

Monday, 14 November 2011

Cold light of day

Been neglecting the blog I know. But you know what, for the first time I have not been overly worried about it. Earlier if I didn’t update atleast once a week my mind would have been preoccupied with it. Time to take a break u think;-o????

Thanks everybody who messaged and mailed me. I’m good, doing good, sorry about disappearing like that, been busy…..not the rushed busy but sort of the ‘occupied’ busy.  Have been reading a lot of books, tending to my plants, gone back to solving crosswords & Sudoku, baking a lot…..basically doing a bit of everything except blogging. To be honest haven’t looked into my blog for the past 1 week. No particular reason I can think of. Been sort of just pottering around and taking it easy.

And guess what, the weather has changed for the better out here finnnnally though the papers say that stating today it's going back to warm for another 10 days. But that’s ok…after 9 months of blistering heat & humidity, 10 days of moderate heat is like….like a breeze:-).  Just like the British, we here in the Middle East also obsess a lot about the weather. The other way around but. While the people in UK keep hoping to catch a glimpse of the sun we longingly wait for the drop in temperature. The sun which rose at 5.30am now shows itself only around 6.45 and the darkness which set in after 7pm envelopes us around 5pm itself. We just love it.
A slight drop in temperature and the whole lot of us are out in the sun. The parks are filled with families and kids running wild, the roads jam-packed; simply nobody wants to waste a day sitting inside the house. It’s another matter that some of these people maybe heading to the nearest hospitals & clinics as all sorts of infections viral and otherwise are dutifully doing their rounds. But that doesn’t stop any of us from making the most out of 'winter' we so affectionately term it as.

I have started going for early morning walks again. I had missed them so much. Nope not because I’m a health freak. No way. Oh alright initially I had started going for them thinking I’ll lose some weight. But now after 2 years I know better. It will take more than walks to shrug off the lard clinging so faithfully to me. I love my morning walks for many reasons; I walk to breathe in the crisp morning air. To watch the early morning rush swirling around me….just imagine this.....me in slow motion & the rest of the world in fast-forward. To watch a fat cat[no, it’s a really a FAT furry cat] sunning itself on the balcony. To not feel guilty about investing in a pair of expensive running shoes. To feel the cold air stinging my skin…..yesss that’s the real reason, to feel the morning chill biting into me. I just love that.

Was planning to post something here yesterday. But on a sudden whim went shopping. All alone. Leisurely checked out the whole store. Picked up a few items and brought it till the cash counter. Hesitated. I didn’t really need any of it did I. Went and kept them back in their proper places. That’s it, didn’t buy a thing. I just loved it. I saved so much money. Makes me wonder why I don’t do these things more often. Have it all planned out, I’m going again next week.

Please tell me I’m not crazy.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Did u hear about when the.....

1: Govt. of India declared 26th Oct as public holiday to celebrate the end of Ra One promotions...!

2: Govt of India just announced Rs 50,000 relief to all those who watched RA1 and Rs.25,000 for those who left at interval.

3: Breaking News...! Crocin, Disprin, Combiflam, Adol Panadol, Diclomol and all Headache Tablets out of Stock after RA.ONE's release

4: Salman to SRK after watching Ra.One, "Mujh par ek ehsaan karna, dubara aisi movie mat banana"

5: Rahul Gandhi to meet people affected after seeing Ra.One.

6: Even Ra.mu doesn't wanna waste time by watching Ra.one...!

7: Nahi chala RA.ONE...! Ab SRK bolega buy one get one aur ek week ke baad bolega, RA.ONE coming soon on Sahara.One and Star.one.

8: All bachelors must see Ra.One to understand what PAIN means to married men.

9: Get RA.ONE under Lokpal bill...! Put people behind bars who made such movie.

10: As SRK hates losing & hates messages he is surely going to take a break from Twitter. Now we came 2 know why he joined Google+ before RA1 release.

11: Faking News: 100 people committed mass suicide after watching Ra.one!

Monday, 31 October 2011

What's in a name????


How many of you have seen this fruit??? Eaten this fruit????

I had some for the 1st time a week back and it tasted terrible. Then I had some from the same basket around 2 days back and it tasted quite good.

What’s with the change of heart you are wondering????
Even if you are not…wondering I mean, I simply have to tell you.

I’ll start at the beginning.
A very good place to start.
When you read you begin you begin with ABC….

Fine, fine I’ll get on with it.

Every year our church celebrates something called the Harvest Festival. Back in the olden days when our forefathers were farmers and grew everything they needed from the earth they dedicated a day at church where they would give to God a portion of their fruits of labour. The Harvest Festival reminds Christians of all the blessings God gives them. And the idea is to share them with others who are not so fortunate. The day was also spent singing, prayer and giving thanks to God.

Cut to the present. All the above still happens but there is a carnival-like touch to the whole thing. The fruits of labour which we give the church is generally picked up from the supermarket and auctioned off at 3-4 times the actual price & the proceeds go to charity. The women organise the food stalls & the delicacies sell like hot cakes & the money goes to the needy. Not to be left out the youth install game-booths which again makes a lot of money and the proceeds….you get the drift, right.

Coming back to what I wanted to talk about…..the fruit in the picture. The auctioner holds a crate of this fruit high for everybody to take a good look at it & announces the fruit name & price & I was like what fruit did he say it was????

“Its called the kaaka fruit!!!” says cousin who was with me, very helpfully.

“What kind of fruit is that??? ” I ask.

“It’s very different, very tasty” she tempts me.

I had already picked up boxes of blackberries and mangosteen & thought I was done. Curiousity won.

So we join the circle of bidders once again. After some good-natured competitive bidding we bag the crate of kaaka fruit. They were bright orange in colour and looked just like tomatoes but with a thicker stem.

"Kaaka fruit, what a funny name Mama" say the kids eyeing the fruit doubtfully. I so badly wanted to agree with them.

When we reached home I cut a bowl of fruit and placed it on the table. The blackberries & mangosteen were so delicious it disappeared off the plate within minutes but the kaaka fruit remained. The kids made  faces when asked the reason. I tentatively tasted it. On the surface it tasted okay but a sort of bitter taste  followed & filled my mouth.

I went back to the kitchen and looked mournfully at the rest of the kaaka fruit. There were atleast 3kgs of it. How on earth was I going finish the rest of it? I muttered uncomplimentary stuff about my cousin’s taste in general, planning to call her & give her an earful.

I couldn’t bear to throw it out & so it languished in the fridge for around 1 week. Every time I saw it I kicked myself for being so impulsive. But I still didn’t throw it out. I couldn’t bear to….it didn’t look the least spoilt…infact it was a bright red now.

This weekend when I went grocery shopping I caught sight of a familiar fruit piled up high in the fruit section. I went across to check it out. Oh yes it was the very same kaaka fruit.

The board read:

Khaki fruit
[France]
Dhs.39.95/kg
[works out to rs.420/kg]

I’m not sure how long I stood there. I had never seen it before in the supermarket. Or maybe I never noticed it. A lot of people were standing around and buying them. Seemed like it was a seasonal fruit & not found all year long like the others and quite popular too.

Came back home & googled it.

Persimmon also known as the Kaki fruit is a deep orange, waxy fruit which is similar to a tomato in shape. Persimmons with light-colored flesh have astringent taste until they soften. The astringent taste is due to the presence of a large amount of tannin, the same substance found in tea. As the fruit ripens and sweetens the tannin disappears.
It is advisable to remove the skin before eating the flesh which, too, is bright orange. The best way to remove the thin skin of this fruit is by placing it under running water while scraping off the skin.

Health Benefits of Persimmon:

* Persimmons can help prevent cancer because it is high in vitamin A.

* Astingent taste of persimmon can help stops diarrhea, reduces sweating, and slows or stops bleeding.

* It is use as a traditional Chinese remedy for hiccups. Take 9 grams of calyx of the persimmon fruit and 3 grams of fresh ginger. Add water and steam for a few minutes and eat.

*It contain compounds known as shibuol and betulinic acid that are thought to have anti-cancer properties.

* A study conducted in Japan showed that the peel of the persimmon contains phytochemicals known as proanthocyanidins which may protect cells against oxidative damage associated with aging.

Buying Tip: When choosing persimmons look for ones that have a deep red color, plump and without blemishes. Avoid ones that are hard if you plan on eating them immediately since the immature persimmon has a bitter taste. Ripeness is usually indicated by softness.

So yeah I’m eating them everyday. They are actually quite tasty……honest.

And I'm sure there is a lesson in it for me somewhere.


*I got the info about the fruit from here.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

She's all mine

We brought the new laptop home last weekend and I am soooo busy nowadays. I'm spending all my time caressing it lovingly and admiring it from every angle. I just dont have time to do anything else. Every time I look at it which is all the time, a beautific smile fills my face and my hands keep making these multiple namaste motions upwards. Looks like Khushi and her Devi maiyya movements are contagious. Ignore previous sentence if you don't watch Star Plus. Every morning my 1st thought is of my new laptop. The 1st two days I wasted so much time opening the laptop bag at the crack of dawn to check if it was still there.

It was;-D.

But the school bus wasn't;-(.

So now I content myself by blowing a quick kiss in its general direction before rushing off to attend to worldly matters. All through the day I'm preoccupied with the laptop or thoughts of it. At nights I carefully pack my heart’s desire into the neat looking bag they gave me and carry into the bedroom with me.

The old Compaq was everybodys. It still is.
But this baby....she's mine, only ma-ma-ma mine;-D.

I clean my new laptop like every 20 seconds. Nope I don’t do any other work. I have made other arrangements for that. No dust or germ is going to get a chance to sit on my precious. I have already kept aside a special scrap of cloth[umm…the soft cloth you get from the opticians for your glasses] for the same. So when I'm not admiring the features I'm gently dusting away non-existent dirt from its body. I used to smirk at the better-half when he forbade all of us from touching his new 42 inch LCD & would clean it all by himself. Now I know exactly how he must have felt. I have my heart in my mouth when the kids are man-handling my dil ka tukda[piece of my heart]. I have given them the strictest instructions...

* no carrying the laptop from one room to the other.

* no eating or drinking allowed when you are using it

* no laughing loudly and passing envious comments

* You will get the laptop only after u finish your studies, keep your time-table, clean your room, clean the house and the bathrooms, water the plants, feed the dog........

Whaaat...we dont have a dog???

Okay then feed the fish, have your bath and finish your dinner. By which time I'm fervently hoping that they are exhausted and just want to crash into bed.

You think I'm over-reacting.....huh if only you knew. When we did the initial rounds to check out the range of laptops I had no particular brand in mind. I just wanted a something, anything which was faster than the one we had at home. And yeah I wanted a windows OS, thats it. Gradually the sales-pitch started making sense to me and I was now very keenly observing all brands. One brand stood out; both looks and features-wise. And the price reflected it;-(. The more we checked all of them out the more I kept loitering around this particular model.

The better-half by now had it all planned; a Toshiba was a good buy he said. Seems like it was the Nokia of Laptops; it had a good lifespan, even if it fell somwhere it will not affect the working of the system. And the price was so reasonable that we could also pick up an ipad2 and still not cause any undue stress on our budget.

The kids whooped in delight. And I had to agree reluctantly. I didn’t have anything concrete against the model except that it looked big & bulky & the colours were not really attractive.

Alright so I was biased.

My eyes kept turning to the other corner where my heart’s desire was beckoning me. The better-half took one look at my expression and knew. In hindsight now I realise how badly he wanted to pick up the ipad. He tried his luck one last time; took me all around the room asking me to pick any other brand. We saw Dell, HP, Packard Bell, Samsung, so many others in the same range. They all looked good; I knew he was talking sense & finally told him to pick up what he thought was the best. Nope not bitter or anything, just resigned, disappointed and a little sad.

And just like that the better-half gave up and soon we were back at the counter where the one I wanted was displayed. The sales guy at that counter grinned knowingly. My hero doesn’t know it but I had very James Bondishly told the guy 'I'll be back' earlier. Or was it Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator who said that. Anyways…

I was now feeling all guilty and wrestling with my conscience....

Good Nancy [dressed in white flowing gown & with beautiful wings]: Listen to him, he is right.....Toshiba is sturdier, even if it falls there is no lasting damage.

Wicked Nancy[robed in black, bald with red horns]: So??? You are not going to be making a habit of throwing your laptop around the place are you????

Good Nancy: If you buy this the ipad won’t happen.

Wicked Nancy: Studies are priority, an ipad will only distract the children. Not buying it is not the end of the world.

Good Nancy: They'll be disappointed.

Wicked Nancy: Ohhhh yes that they will be and they won’t let you forget it anytime soon and I'm soo going to enjoy that buahahahaaaaaaa.......

Was jerked back to earth when I felt the kids pulling at my hands & jumping excitedly....

Huh...what the….

Seems like the laptop came with a free MP3 player, a Cross Pen, a 16GB vault and 1 yr free McAfee anti-virus + a neat looking bag for the laptop…..courtesy GITEX.

You are not going to believe this but the kids forgot all about the ipad when they heard about the MP3 player. I know, I know. They are weird. Just like me. Whoever chooses a music player ahead of an IPAD. The thing is...the kids have been asking of an MP3 player for a long time now because all their friends have it. So the thought of getting their dream gadget completely obliterated thoughts of the ipad. The better-half’s heaven-ward look of disbelief was hilarious.

So it was one happy family which trooped back home that night. Oh yes even better-half was. His funda is simple; if family happy, he also happy.

Yup thats my funda too....if I'm happy, my family also happy.

Here’s a glimpse of my beautiful, beautiful ……machine.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

No particular reason

Feeling very sad.

No particular reason.

Restless.

Wandering room to room.

It’s so quiet.

Feel like having Bebinca*.

Ages since I had some.

Laptop is sooo slow.

Have nothing much to say anyway.

Nobody called me today.

Better-half did though

for some mundane detail.

Ate a squishy kiwi.

I want to climb a mountain.

Summit.

Breathe in pure, unpolluted air.

He called again.

Asked me to check out laptops.

I sat upright.

Sometimes I think he can read my mind.

Gitex** or not,

He’s the best, the better-half.

Mamma mia played in the background.

Sang along.

Loaded washing machine.

Music

Invigorates,

Calms the soul.

Jagjit Singh, we’ll miss u.

Time

Changing weather.

Must start going for walks.

Mornings

And evenings,

maybe some skipping too.

Yeah right;-S.

The Phone.

It was my Friend.

Laughed together.

Rebooted laptop.

Waittaminute.

Dare I pass it off as a post.

[if anybody is looking for rhyme or reason in the above post let me assure you there is none. Just told u about my morning, the short-cut way].


*goan delicacy

** GITEX is an annual consumer computer & electronics trade show[read massive discounts & freebies] which takes place in Dubai

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

TP, CT & PT*

Dear Manu,
Hope u guys enjoyed dinner at our place!!!! I'm sorry I didnt serve too many snacks as I was afraid you'll be stuffed and won't eat the dinner I slaved over. From where I stand I pronounce it a success...well the kids didn’t approach us with their grievances even once;-o.


Dear Baskin Robbins,
What is the neccessity to set up shop in every corner???? At any given location the kids sniff you out and then proceed to make my life miserable until I agree to get some.


Dear Jigsaw puzzle makers,
I've completed 80% of your puzzle but am going all crossed eyed trying to piece the sky together. There simply has got to be an easier way.


Dear mama,
Do your exam well. Don’t waste time looking here & there. Answer every question whether u know it or not. Dont forget to recheck your paper to see if u've missed anything. If u come back with less than 80% I'll not be very pleased.
[My mother was attempting an exam in church....I got the CT's repeating the same dialogues I heard all my life;-D]


Dear Pineapples,
I know I got you for a very low price but that doesn’t mean you have to all ripen at the same time;-/. My fingers are bone tired googling for all kinds of recipes.


Dear Maid,
Lifting the mats and vacuuming underneath will cost you only an extra minute of your time. What do you mean How???? Just bend, pick up mat, shake it, vacuum underneath, put mat back and vacuum over it.
Seeee it's so simple isn’t it. What???? Yes you have to do that way with all the 15 mats around the house. YES that will be 15 minutes.


Dear Blogger creators,
When are you going to settle all my complaints???? There are too many issues to mention, though for a start you could offer us a facility wherein we can respond to each comment individually.


Dear School authorities,
You guys are the best. Thanks for the tracking device which helps us follow the school bus all the way home. Now I don’t have to wait endlessly in the HOT sun for the bus to arrive.


Dear God,
You know me, a regular complaint box………..was just airing out a few of my grouses, and entertaining my blog friends with the weekly update. Thank You for all the blessings you have bestowed on me. Amen

Errr....Pineapple Trifle anyone???

* Title of the post : Time-pass, Cheap Thrills & Pineapple Trifle

Monday, 26 September 2011

First things first

I know I cribbed so much about the vacation but lot of interesting things happened too. It was also a holiday of many 'firsts' and I'm going to generously share my experiences with u.

The kids & I were so tickled when we caught sight of this lil guy. It was the first time we were seeing a real live snail. We reluctantly left to go have breakfast. When we came back it was nowhere to be seen; who ever said snails were slow need to check up on their facts.

That’s the Mysore Palace. I have already seen it before. Twice actually. But I have never seen it lit up like this. Did you know it’s illuminated only on weekends....and only for an hour. It was beautiful…totally worth waiting for. 
   
Now you’ll say ‘Huh puhleeeese don’t tell us you haven’t seen a crow before’. Ofcourse I’ve seen crows. But this is my FIRST picture of one;-D. Now this crow didnt seem like an ordinary crow; it was standing there & quietly staring into the sea for atleast 5 minutes. Me thinks it was thinking philosphical thoughts. Unless it had a constipation problem.

My mother-in-law slipped and fell; dislocated & fractured her left wrist two weeks back. The first step from the bottom was the slippery culprit.

Clicked this from a moving train. The path looks so inviting doesn’t it???? Oh the temptation!!!! If I decided to follow my heart I’m sure I would have felt like the first woman on earth walking down that particular road. Oh all right, I'll cut the crap......I was just looking for an excuse to show off what I think is one of my best photographs.

I had slipped off my flip-flops and was walking barefoot on the lovely green grass when I was introduced to this bird. Her name is Rosie. The guy who introduced her to us said she was a Macaw. She walked up to my footwear and snapped the straps neatly into two with her sharp beak. "Shoo-shoo" I waved my hands trying to stop her, then she turned & started walking towards me with this crazy glint in her eye. I backed off in a hurry. 
Oh ya I forgot...
First time I met a bird named Rosie.
First time a bird destroyed my footwear.
First time I heard of a Cockatoo being called a Macaw 

My sister clicked this picture of me at the Zoo. First time I find myself in the same frame as a rhino.

If I continue I'd probably be tempted to add I was the first person to conquer North-pole and I have no photographs to prove it. So I'll conclude here and request you NOT to write down the first thought which occurred to you when you finished reading this post. Unless you want to compliment me on my superior insights & complicated thought-process.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Just the other day.....

Naina[7 ½yrs]: Mama can we get married to our classmates???

Mama[very sweetly]: No!!!!!

Naina: But Ron & Hermoine were classmates & married eachother didn’t they????

Mama: They married when they grew big.

Naina[eagerly]: So does that mean I can marry Joe when I'm big.

Mama looks stumped for an answer.

Naina: I so badly want to go live with him. His mama makes yummy fried rice.

*************************************************
Naina was grumbling away about something. I crane my head from wherever I am to see what she was so upset about and watch her shaking her fists at someone outside the window.

Concerned I move closer and hear her complaining “Oh you bad sun, stop shining on my face and disturbing me, just go away will you????????

All she had to do was close the curtains but the lazy bum didn’t want to get up from where she was sitting;-/.

*************************************************
Naina[wistfully]: How I wish I was a cow!!!!!

Mama[curiously]: Why?????

Naina: When I’m coming back from school I’m so hungry!!!

Mama[bewildered now]: So????

Naina: I’m so bored sitting in the bus & doing nothing; if I were a cow I could chew some cud and then I won't be so hungry!!!!

Mama is really impressed with Naina’s logic.

Nikita[10yrs] who is listening to the conversation starts giggling……..she was imagining Naina as a black and white spotted cow with her pink Barbie school bag on her back standing in the aisle of the school bus chewing cud;-D. Soon all 3 of us kept adding to it and laughed uproariously.

*************************************************
This picture was drawn by Naina almost a year back. I fell in love with the drawing as soon as I saw it and kept it away safely. So safely that later on when I wanted to have a look at it I couldn’t find it. When I found it last week I left everything else and sat down to admire it, admire myself in it to be more precise.

Just look at me everybody…..

I look so GOOOD!!!!!!

Well ok just ignore the hands which look like forks.

And the eyes which are looking in different directions.

And the feet.

Just look at me….ME

Check out the figure;-D

Dressed in a hot pink number.

With thick black wavy hair till the waist.

Scanned the picture to show u guys,  then put it in a place where I can take it out & look at it whenever I'm down in the dumps;-)).

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Any idea at what age children ideally should start reading Harry Potter????? I gave Nikita the 1st book when she was around 9yrs and Naina[almost 7yrs then] begged me so much that I gave it to her thinking she wont understand or like it. She loved it. She has since then read the 1st 3 books and is after me for the 4th. I'm so confused that I have the rest of the series under lock and key.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Monday, 12 September 2011

A different beat

The first I heard of it was when the better-half was asking a friend[who was going to Kerala, India] to check the price of a chenda.

Chenda, what’s that??????” I ask puzzled.

“What do you think it is???” the better-half questions back.

“”Noooo ideaaa…………. the only chenda I can think of is the one they use in the temples in Kerala, you know those long drum-like thingies which they beat with sticks for temple festivals. But you were not talking about that, were you???” I joke weakly.

“I’m talking about the very same chenda” the better-half says happily.

“Okkayyy…..so why are you asking your friend to find out the price” I was totally mystified now.

“To buy it” says better-half casually and walks out of the room.

I stare at him open-mouthed trying to assimilate the information.

*************************************************
I always knew he was crazy about drums. Within a month of marriage I found out that his dream from childhood was to be a football player & to buy himself a state-of-the-art drum-set. Injuries and a back-problem ruled out a career in football[thts the story he sticks to;-D] but he was determined to realize his other dream come what may.
Since he didn’t know how to play the drums and plus we really didn’t have the required space in the apartment he decided he would buy it whenever we moved into our dream house in India[whenever that was].

Right, all this was cool with me. I cherished a secret fantasy myself to bang on a drum set…….. diding dish bang BOOMMMMMM tish-tinsh tadum dish tidding tish TisHH TISHHHHHHH.
Which is why I was so bewildered as to why he was opting for a chenda……a chenda for goodness' sakes.

A chenda for your information is a …..a…....actually I had no clue what a chenda was all about other than the odd glimpses in the Malayalam movies where the actors portraying simple village life, play it very enthusiastically in their temples during festivals & such-like…..oh let me just google it for you……
….
.....

Ok here it is….according to Wikipedia….. “The Chenda is a cylindrical percussion instrument used widely in the state of Kerala. It is mainly played in Hindu Temple Festivals and as an accompaniment in the religious art forms of Kerala like Kathakali, Koodiyattam, Theyyam and among many forms of dances and rituals in Kerala.”

So you see what I’m getting at….

*************************************************

I followed him into the living-room “You are joking!!!!!”

“Nope, I dont want to wait anymore. Since we have no space for a drum-set in the apartment, I’m going to get myself a chenda and start practicing on that."

On that note he started beating an imaginary chenda with accompanying sound…….
“Tan-tan, taga taga taga, taga taga taga,
 Tan-tan, taga taga taga……………....”

I shook my head in bafflement; I mean whatever next.

In the following months I heard the......
“Tan-tan, taga taga taga, taga taga taga,
 Tan-tan, taga taga taga……………….....” every now and then and couldn't help smiling.

Then when we went to Kerala recently I heard him telling his father about it. I quickly positioned myself so that I could watch my father-in-law’s face. Then ducked away & laughed so much; I understood his incomprehension & bewilderment so well. Why did his son want to buy a chenda of all things[now all of u please don’t mistake me….a chenda is beautiful instrument and we have nothing against it. Its just that nobody else in our whole family or acquaintance or anybody(in my knowledge) ever expressed an interest in it. So many of us send our kids to learn to play the piano, guitar, violin and even the veena & tabla but chenda.....we know next to nothing about it, the closest we've seen it is in the movies]

Anyways my father-in-law found out places where they sold musical instruments & off they went together to check them out. Before going the better-half armed himself with some basic knowledge about the chenda from the internet[can you just believe this???] so that he could converse knowledgably.

I found the better-half’s obsession with the chenda very endearing and the situations centred around it hilarious. I mean he is such a practical & sane guy most of the time;-D.

When they came back they had different emotions reflecting on their faces. The better-half was disappointed that the chenda cost more than double the price in his home-town compared to districts like Trichur & Ernakulam[the hub of art & culture] and his father was relieved that better-sense prevailed.

I did empathise with the better-half at this point. He was the kind who never splurged on himself. This was actually the 1st time he showed so much interest in something which he didn’t really need in his normal day-to-day life. I was like “Just get it” but he shook his head. He wasnt that far gone yet;-D

The “Tan-tan, taga taga taga, taga taga taga,
        Tan-tan, taga taga taga……...............” tune was still hummed at odd intervals but very mournfully now.

Soon it was time to go back to Dubai. In all the bustle and the shopping I forgot about it but just once saw him wistfully looking in a particular direction[while we coming back home from a shopping trip] and I glanced curiously in the same direction. It was one of the musical instruments shop which he had gone to earlier. He hadn’t forgotten.

Reached Trivandrum airport and found the flight cancelled. It was rescheduled for 11 hrs later.

I thought it was a Sign.

All the way upto the hotel my eyes unconsciously searched the shops we were passing. Reached our room & I found the yellow pages right on top of the shelf which gave me some information. When I casually questioned the head-waiter at the restaurant, within 5 minutes he got me all the names of the stores which specialised in musical instruments and directions to boot.

I tell you it was meant to be.

The waiter asked us to hurry….all shops closed by 7.30-8pm & it was already 7pm.

The kids[they were excited too] and I tore out of the hotel with the better-half following hesitantly. He had other things on his mind now[the flight delay had played havoc with his appointments for the next day]. We caught an auto and the nice guy took us around the whole town; the 1st shop was closed, the next shop had a piece which was not tuned[will take a day to tune it], the next shop had a damaged piece, the third shop had moved, another closed……….we were rushing from 1 shop to the other to beat the closing time. The auto driver finally dropped us back at the hotel around 8.30pm.....we had come back empty-handed.

The better-half was resigned but I just couldn’t understand it. The signs were all in our favour but we were beaten by time I supposed miserably. If only we had started off half an hour earlier we could have made it to all the shops. Just then, right next to our hotel we see this old board which read “………..Sports and Music equipments”. It had some sad looking crickets bats & badminton racquets on display. Not very reassuring, I looked at the better-half & mouthed “just one last try”.

The shop had only sports equipments but the shop-keeper points us to his other shop down the road which had the musical instruments & warns “We close in 10 minutes.”

The kids by this time were totally grumpy. According to them we rushed all around the town for nothing; we didn’t stop at even one book or stationary store which was downright unfair. They were also hungry and tired.

I rashly promised them everything they wanted and we took off in a run. Reached the music shop and found it very different from the old & dusty sports shop. Impressive-looking instruments[Indian & western] adorned the walls and the sides of the room. We found our beauty almost immediately. There were just 2 pieces and ours was the one with white ropes on it just like how we wanted[the other had yellow]. It was perfectly tuned and just waiting to be taken home. The price was a little more but not as expensive as the one in our hometown. Still there was no harm in trying is there??? I hesitantly asked them to reduce the price and what do you know; we got a discount. Paid up quickly, got it carefully packed and brought it back with us to Dubai. There was a bit of a heart-stopping moment when a customs official tore thru all the wrapping and wanted to open the drum to check the insides. Luckily another official intervened and they let us off.

As of now the chenda stands proudly in its special place in the apartment; the better-half has downloaded a few chenda tunes from the internet and is practicing very conscientiously. My advise to go learn the basics at a kala-kendra* is treated very disdainfully. The kids watch him very interestedly and try their hand at it under his supervision. He gave a marvellous performance[only for us ofcourse] on the occasion of Onam...... well it sounded pretty good to my inexperienced ears.

Everytime I walk past the chenda I marvel at how it all fell into place, I told you it was meant to be….I knew it the minute I heard the flight was cancelled, I just knew it.

Here's a picture of the prized possession......


“Tan-tan, taga taga taga, taga taga taga,
 Tan-tan, taga taga taga………………………….” **


*institutions which specialise in art & cultural dances

** our version of how the instrument sounds

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Vacations are overrated

This year’s Vacation is something I’d like to forget as soon as possible.

# First my mom falls sick and ends up in hospital.

# I land up in charge of the kitchen by default and was super busy trying to feed 6 hungry human beings 3 times a day.

# When my mom finally recovered it was time to go…to kerala.

# There I find that my mother-in-law had fired her maid just the previous day.

# I spent the rest of my vay-cay-shon around the kitchen sink washing, cleaning, peeling and making tea/coffee atleast 8-10 times a day[record numbers of guests this yr] and back to washing up.

# Nikita got 4 injections at one go…..the doctor praised her for being so brave. She came out of the clinic, burst into tears and threw up all her breakfast on the pavement. She was then sick for the next few days.

# Went shopping and managed to lose my purse along the way. The purse had money, all kinds of id/debit/credit/membership cards and an iphone. Found it after 45mins and I don’t ever want to relive those moments again. The better-half and I were on the brink of initiating divorce proceedings.

# The tailor misplaced the material I gave for stitching and I was at my wits end. I finally got it on my way to the airport. She made me go to her shop innumerable times and I did not murmer my disatisfaction even once.
Now why on earth do u think I was so patient with her????

You see she was the one who found my purse and kept it safely for me;-D.

# It was raining lightly and the roads were wet. I was striding up the road while the better-half and kids held eachothers’ hands tightly and walked very carefully. I shook my head at them and asked them to walk faster; its only a bit of rain not a natural calamity for heavens sakes. Right then I stepped on a slippery patch and fell flat on the ground. Yup I fell right outside Blossoms. Got up quickly and fled inside the book store[Oh this happened in Bangalore.]. My back still aches on and off.

# Finally it was time to get back and I was actually looking forward to getting back to the hot and humid and sweltering Dubai. We reach the airport[it takes 4 hrs to get there] and find out that the flight was cancelled. Somehow I was not very surprised; the whole trip nothing had really gone according to plan.

.....

Wait, its not over…

# Came back to Dubai and started cleaning the house with a vengeance. Collapsed after 2 days with fever and severe body pain. Self medicated crocin for a few days. No good. Went to the doc and was prescribed antibiotics. It took another 5 days before I was able to think clearly.
As of today I’m feeling good; a bit shaky but good.

# Now the kids are showing symptoms.

# And oh did I mention we have term exams happening in a week's time and havent studied a thing.