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A tribute to the sisterhood

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Apar gave me this friendship band.  I am touched – just to be called a friend when we have never met and have purely communicated through blogging and Facebook chatting. 

  This sent me down memory lane – thinking of all the friends I’ve had in my life – well the female friends in my life.  I have had many male friends in my life too – but I always think there’s that invisible line drawn in a male-female friendship.  I truly believe that friends are angels sent to you at different times in your life for different purposes.  I’ve had friends who’ve been there for just a short time in my life and then I’ve had friends who are there for the long haul.  There are friends I don’t see often – but when we meet, it’s like we were never apart.  Making a friend, forming a friendship is not very different from getting into a relationship with someone of the opposite gender.  Finding things in common, achieving a sense of comfort in each other’s presence, building a trust, being there for each other, even trying to impress each other in the early stages of a friendship (I’ve found myself changing outfits just before meeting a friend – just a female friend)…. – it really isn’t very different at all, is it?   

So as I sit here and listen to the songs from Umrao Jaan, I thought, what better way to honour these women for Valentine’s Day who have been in my life than to write about them.  But I do think I need to clarify some things before I start – firstly, these are my feelings and my perspective so the other parties may not necessarily feel them, it doesn’t matter!  To me, a friend is someone I’ve been able to share a part of myself with.  Secondly, with my atrocious memory, I may leave some friends out unintentionally, forgive me!  It definitely doesn’t mean that you don’t have a permanent place in my heart already.  For one with a hopeless memory like me, I think the way to go would be in chronological order, don’t you think?

Let me start off with God’s best gift to me, my mother.  She has always been more of a best friend to me.  I think I bully her too much to let her do her mothering job properly 😀 – I tell her almost everything (wouldn’t want to embarrass her with some details hehe) and she’s my rock – solid, stable, always ready with a listening ear, kind words, encouragement to get through the tough patches in life and ofcourse her routine nagging.  A strong woman – I’m so proud of.  I’m so glad that I can be her support now as she has been to me all these years.  Thank you Amma.

Vaane – this woman, I’ve known since I was 6 years and 2 months old.  We went to the same Primary School for 4 years till I changed schools.  We were not really the closest friends back then.  We even had a small fall-out when a bunch of us carried her and accidentally dropped her!  I know!  Crazy little kids that we were.  Then many years later, we met again in University (College) and became friends again.  I can’t say that we’ve always been the closest of friends, but we’ve shared special times and there have been times that she has been there for me, times that mattered a lot.  Thank you.

Mohana – She was my best friend for 2 years – the last 2 years of my Primary School (after I had changed schools).  And I shall be forever grateful for having her help me settle into a new school.  We were the only 2 Indian girls during those years so it was a special friendship.  Thank you.

Sonal – My first friend when I moved to New Zealand with my family.  The daughter of very close family friends.  I can’t even begin to describe the moments, the times we’ve shared – spiritually, and not so spiritually hehe.  The times we went out and had a ball of a time, even though we were underage – sneaking into clubs :).  Such is the special friendship that we have – not just with her but her whole family – that she came all the way for my wedding to Singapore.  And although we don’t always keep in touch, she is never far from my thoughts and prayers.  Thank you.

Anita – My first friend in Wellington High School (when we moved to NZ).  Although a short-lived friendship (she moved to another school after the first year – nothing to do with me :p), she was the person who eased me into school life in a new environment.  Thank you.

Bharti – My best friend through high school.  Someone I even keep in touch with till this day (not always regularly).  We shared feelings, thoughts, experiences and chocked up HUGE phone bills with the HOURS we spent on the phone.  A very special time in my life – my teenage years, my formative years – I shared with this very special woman.  Thank you.

Felicia – My friend, my buddy.  We went to the same High School and stayed not very far from each other.  We spent hours pretending to study when she came over to my home or when we met at a playground near our homes –  only to spend time freezing and dangling our legs gossiping about some guy we had a crush on at that time.  Thank you.

Roshni – A girl I didn’t know very well.  We became friends in High School through common friends. And later, we were in a Biology class together.  A strange friendship/acquaintanceship we had.  She liked to tease me and yet, she would not let anyone bully me (yes, I was bulliable even back then).  She would give them a punch (literally) if they did.  She was also the one who would dissect my frog in Biology, I couldn’t handle that.  She passed away in an accident during our high school years.  A waste of a precious life and yet an angel amongst us while she was here.  Thank you

Tajinder – My colleague in my first ever job.  Well, a temporary job until I started University.  I worked at a country club.  She was the first person to teach me how to survive in a work environment.  We became friends and I was even her bridesmaid when she married her secondary school sweetheart who was South Indian.  The usual Indian movie scenario – North Indian marries South Indian and parents make a movie of it, objecting and all.  Anyway, Thank you.

Kumari – Kumari!  Where do I start?  Have you ever had a friend in your life – someone you are sure you have had a previous life connection with. This woman is her in my life.  She was the first friend I made in University – I met her at an orientation programme – we exchanged numbers and we were stuck with each other for life.  Our friendship is the type that is almost a relationship-type.  We have our good and bad moments.  We’ve shared A LOT with each other – hours talking and hours just not talking but just being.  We’ve had crazy fights.  We have been there in our ups and downs – not always, but a lot.  She is the woman I have cried buckets on, she is the woman I have puked on (sorry!  in my drunk moments), she is the woman I shared a journey of a lifetime to India, the woman with whom I took a dip in the River Ganges with!  I think I need a separate post for this woman.  One of the strongest women I know.  Watching the sun set in Haridwar as the aarathi was performed.  My sanity pill.  My Thursday girl.  My sister.  I miss you.  Thank you.

Malar – She is the second friend I made in University.  We shared many special moments and memories with.  Unfortunately, it was short-lived friendship.  Due to some really immature misunderstanding, we had a fall out.  But I am glad to say that years later, we overcame those immature moments and even attended each other weddings and keep in touch now sometimes, thanks to Facebook.  Thank you.

Kavitha – One of my first few friends in University.  I would say we have a strange friendship.  We spent one December holiday together and became quite close and then drifted apart.  We even went on a holiday to Australia with Kumari and her sister.  She married a mutual friend.  Although I can’t always say we’ve been close, I have been comfortable enough to share personal things in my life with her.  And that is something special.  There are some people you will feel comfortable enough to share things with immediately and some you won’t.  We have always drifted in and out of our friendship and I am so glad to say that we have now picked up again – communicating with each other.  Thank you.

Zalina – My junior in University.  I can’t say we have been the best of friends or that we have shared everything.  But the moments, the experiences, the confiding – I will always cherish.  Thank you.  

Jagjit – My first friend in my 2nd temp job (and later my permanent job).  She was the mother hen.  Always looking out for me and advising me and yet, she was cool enough a mother hen to hang out with – our favourite times when we were watching Hindi movies or having some drinks by the seaside.  We shared a lot with each other.  Living so close to each other, we always shared, not only taxi rides but special moments on the way home.  If not for her, I wouldn’t even have lasted as long as I did in my first job.  Thank you.

Premela – What can I say about this woman!  She is one of a kind.  Have you ever had a friend – the type you thought you’d never click with in a million years.  I was probably the nerdy one to her while she was the cool one to me.  And yet, a special friendship was formed.  And although I can’t really say why, she is truly an inspiring person – with all that she has been through in life which is A LOT.  I honestly don’t know how to put into words, this friendship that it is.  Sadly, I don’t keep in touch much with her now – that’s telling me that I should start again right?  Thank you.

Angelina – This woman!  And yet another unlikely candidate as my friend – it turns out, she is one of the most special friends in my life – one of the most special I’ve ever had.  Don’t be fooled by her Ah-lian wannabe outlook.  Still waters run deep as they say – or as in her case, toilet bowls run deep (sorry, only she will get this!).  She is the first person I met when we joined Fuhua.  She accused me of staring at the pimple on her face and so began our friendship.  We’ve shared so much with each other – hours and hours of just “hanging” and talking.  I can safely say, she is one of the very few who has made it into my inner circle of friends.  I think what makes this friendship so special and stand out amongst the rest is the fact that we are so comfortable in our own skin when we are around each other and the fact that we just have no expectations of each other – something which is very rare in female friendships.  There is no pettiness.  My memories – our SARS episode, having hotel food and coffee at 3am in the morning, marking sessions together and most of all, talking.  She is one of the few reasons I miss being in Singapore.  Thank you.

Maha – A reunion of sorts.  This woman, I knew as a child.  We belong to the same spiritual organisation.  But I don’t think we remembered each other much.  Besides the occasional “bump into each other” times, we first became friends in University.  There were some special secrets we shared and swore each other to secrecy, didn’t we Maha?  Do you remember?  And then as fate would have it, I was sent to the same school as her to teach.  Besides being colleagues and friends, I think our special spiritual bond is something we have that I don’t share with many of my other friends.  Thank you

Fadelinah – Fada!  One of the friends who got me through my first year of teaching.  We were in a “gang” – 4 of us. I think without this group of friends, I wouldn’t have lasted as long as I did.  We kept each other sane and never failed to make each other laugh especially Fada.  We were drawing partners – constantly doodling during staff meetings, making fun of other colleagues.  Our passion for hanging out and food is like none other.  I’ll never forget the overnight camp of confiding as I was falling asleep or the under-the-table crying sessions :).  We got pregnant at the same time and our little angels were born 6 days apart – a bond I will only ever have with you Fada :).  Thank you

Sabariah – A short friendship we had as she left teaching to follow her dreams in Australia.  Part of the “gang’ – she was part of that time in my life when I most needed that sanity.  The laughs, the times we’ve shared is something I’ll never forget – and ofcourse, the flashing!  Scarred for life.  Thank you.

Lalitha – A special human being is all I can say.  Well no, I can say a lot more.  We became friends when she invited me to change desks and sit next to her at the school we taught at – not because she wanted me there but because she didn’t want someone else to sit there hehe.  And if ever there was a moment written by God, that was it.  She became the sister I never had.  Our friendship slowly grew – with mostly me confiding everything in her.  She’s a woman I cherish, a woman I admire – a woman of strength, a woman of incredible beauty.  I am so glad that I can be there for her as she always has been for me.  Thank you

Divya – My kutty girl.  Yes, she’s the youngest friend in my life.  Not even 3 years of age, she has become my best, littlest friend.  She is with me 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  She’s even sitting on my lap as I type this.  She sees me when I’m sad, when I’m happy, when I’m worried, when I’m excited, when I’m angry.  She kisses my “ouch-es” and says “All better Amma”, she hugs me for no reason, she makes me laugh when I’m sad, she celebrates with me when I’m happy – although, I must say, she doesn’t always provide a listening ear when I’m telling her my problems (especially if her cartoons are on) – but she makes me want to be a better person – someone she will want to look up to.  Thank you my baby.

Stella – The wife of a colleague and also the colleague of Elan.  We haven’t really had a chance to get to know each other better.  But she is the first female friend here that made settling into life in Boise a little easier.  With our common background of being Singaporean, we’ve been able to share some moments when feeling a little Singapore-sick.  Thank you.

Tharangini and Gayathri – Two friends I’ve made here in Boise who belong to the same spiritual family that I do.  They’ve made life so much easier with their friendship, advice and tips.  And with the spiritual bond that we have, I have been able to share another side of me with them that I wouldn’t be able to share with many.  Thank you

Parika – Even though we met more than a year ago for the first time, it wasn’t until some time last year that we actually started hanging out.   She’s such a warm, bubbly person that you can’t help but feel relaxed around her.  Meeting her and her little one once a week really provides me with that short time of sanity – a time  for the kids to play and a time for us to just relax.  We even find the time to meet for movies now.  She makes life for me less lonely than it would be when one moves to a new place to live.  Sometimes when I make a new friend, I wish I could skip that “getting to know” part and just get straight to the “good friends” part, but I guess life just isn’t like that.  The birth of a new friendship.  Thank you.

And then there are my blogging friends who fall into a whole different, amazingly special category.  People I have never met and may never even meet.  And yet, people I share things with – emotions with.  Sometimes I wonder, is this even possible?  A bond formed with an uknown person.  Is it even real?  And then, my blogging friends answer my questions every day with their care, concern and friendship.

Julie – Her blog was one of the very first few blogs I started following.  It was featured by wordpress one day and I got hooked with her and her beautiful family.  The kind person that she is – she even agreed to help me to edit a photo I needed for a presentation I was working on for my Mum – imagine that!  Helping someone you’ve never met.  Thank you.

Laksh – Her blog was the first one I read that was written by someone of the Indian race.  I was so excited to find it as she was not only Indian but also living here in the U.S.  Her blog has led me into the world of Indian bloggers.  I have even become comfortable enough to email her for advice on certain things.  I continue following her blog because she sounds like a kind, down-to-earth person.  Thank you.

Spillay – To be honest, I have no idea how I came to her blog – it may have been through Laksh’s.  But somehow, I felt and still feel this bond with her.  Like I almost know that if we lived close to each other, we would be friends who met up and talked.  And strangely enough, in a long complicated way, we share more than that bond – she even knows my relatives.  Yikes! 🙂  Thank you.

Anne – Like spillay, I can’t remember how I came to her blog, but I got hooked.  Sometimes following a blog is almost like watching a movie or reading a book – you can so involved with the lives of the bloggers that you just have to keep knowing what is happening.  And like with Anne, now we have even become friends who can “chat” and complain to each other when we’ve had a down day!  Thank you.

Mitr – I don’t know Mitr very well.  But I follow her blog because she always writes though-provoking posts and sometimes, I just need that shove in the right direction to recharge that very graying matter in my head.  Thank you.

Apar – The special person who even got me going on this post today.  The special person who gave me this “award” even without really knowing me or having met me.  I follow her blog because I want to know how she’s doing.  She’s been through so much in life – and I admire her for strength, a strength I think even she doesn’t know she has at times.    Thank you.

There are so many quotations on friendship that I could use.  But I think I’ll just define it myself.  Friends are the angels who sweep into your life when you least expect it.  Some are there for a short time, some are there for a long time.  They perform different roles in your life at different times.  Some serve to be your reality check, some encourage you no matter how silly a thing you may do, some sit silently and listen, some drag you out to party when you’re down, not allowing you to feel self-pity for a moment – it doesn’t matter what role they play.  To me, a friend is God’s way of telling me “I can’t be there right now, but here’s one of my angels I’m sending over to be with you”.  Thank you.

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An OX, a REINDEER and a couple of HORSES

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

It was another cold day today.  20ºF (-7ºC) at noon today!  There’s nothing like a warm meal on a cold winter’s day.  So it was the good old potato pirattal, spinach and sweet & sour tofu with rice today.

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 It was a busy weekend!  Kicking off the weekend was my baking fest – well, just me – getting ready for our Chinese New Year potluck dinner on Saturday night.  We were invited by our Singaporean Chinese friends to usher in the Year of the Ox.  So instead of cooking something I normally cook, I decided that I would try out some Singaporean dessert recipes – what better time would there be anyway!  So the 3 victims?

           Pandan Chiffon Cake                 Kueh Lapis (Layered Cake)

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                                             Pandan Kaya Cake

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The verdict?  The chiffon cake turned out pretty well except for the slightly Halloween look.  It tasted good!  The layered cake tasted right but didn’t look right – I couldn’t quite get the layers going.  The Pandan Kaya cake – too rich!  So I still have a piece of the Kaya cake in my fridge while the rest was wiped out 😀

Enough said about the cakes.  We had a pretty nice time at the dinner.  It was really nice and comforting having some Singaporean food, and lah-ing away in some good, old Singlish (Singapore English).  The little munchkin ofcourse had a great time racing around the room we had our dinner in with the other kids.  Even the oldies had some fun taking turns at pool, foosball, table tennis and air hockey.                                           

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                                                                 The fathers having their fun 🙂

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                  Check out my Incredible Hulk cake in the top of the 2nd picture

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                                                                        Everyone doing the “Low Hei”

 On Sunday, after having lunch with some friends, some of us decided to head off for some sledding with the kiddos.  There wasn’t as much snow on this hill as there was last year but we still had a lot of fun.  The kind reindeer daddies dragged the kids up the hill and zoomed down many times  – while the mummies came down the hill a couple of times with the kids too.

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            The munchkin and her nemesis 🙂                                                      3 of us 🙂

Since we came back so late on Sunday, we couldn’t go for the walk I had promised Divya.  She’s been wanting to go and see the “horsies”.  So the “really smart” me decided to take her on Monday for a walk in the afternoon.  With the glorious blue skies and the sun shining, can you blame me?  It turns out – it was about 22ºF (for my Singaporean friends, that’s -6ºC, YES!  NEGATIVE!)  The walk started out wonderfully.  Although possibly a little cold, Divya still stopped to smell the roses beat the snow off the bushes and even pose for me.  Once we reached the horses’ enclosure, I really started to believe that it was our lucky day!  The kind horses actually made the effort to amble over to us – possibly hoping that we had brought them some snacks in this cold weather.  Divya definitely has an affinity for animals.   

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She whispered to this horse……(can you see her at the side?)

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And this is what happened 🙂 [my own little horse whisperer].  I whispered to the same horse………        

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and this is what happened…..     

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It’s a little over-exposed, but can you see that little figure standing by the fence?

The tips of our fingers were beginning to fall off, so as the responsible person in this relationship, I decided that we should start taking that walk back.  The journey was very slow, but we were getting there.  I was thinking to myself how lucky it was that I had decided to wear my warm cotton tights under my track pants, mentally congratulating the Fruit of the Loom team for coming up with such a perfect design and gently prodding Divya along and suddenly, plop!  I was on my knees and hands checking out the paved path!  Quickly trying to untangle the laces of one shoe that had gotten stuck on the other while glancing around for any witnesses, then tying the laces up again and putting my gloves back on, I was convinced that not a soul, except that squirrel on the grass, had seen what happened.  So, standing up proud and cool, and refusing to check the condition of my knees, I was about to continue the walk when Divya suddenly shouted out “Oh No!  Amma fall down!”  Yes!  Bad English and all.  And one thing that girl isn’t, is quiet.  She even needs to shout out her numbers when she counts from 1 to 10.  So just imagine her volume.  I think it was a delayed shock!  But then, she ran over, kissed my leg and said “All better!”  Now, how could your heart not melt?  I said to her “Thank you” and then we headed back home at a quick speed, with my hood now on (Hey!  I had to conceal my identity at all costs!)

A day later, with 2 scraped knees, a sore right knee and back, I’m doing ok.  It was still a wonderful walk – Divya was thrilled she could touch the horse’s nose.

Oh My Goch!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The 20th of January really should be the first day for resolutions in the New Year, don’t you think?  After all, it takes about 4 days after Christmas to get over the Christmas hype – which includes the shopping, which I’ve found out, is MUCH BETTER than the Black Friday sales.  So that takes us to the 29th of December – which is the time one needs to start planning for the New Year’s Eve Countdown.  New Year’s Eve is spent celebrating and bidding farewell (gleefully) to yet another year of unaccomplished resolutions.  In all good faith, one can just not be asked to start a resolution on the first day of the New Year – I know I wouldn’t want to put down my glass of Jim Beam when the clock strikes 12 if I were crazy enough to make a no-drinking-anymore resolution! 🙂

The next few weeks are then usually spent correcting yourself constantly when you write 2008 2009.  That brings us up to the inauguration of the first black President of the United States.  Now, if that isn’t a day to start your resolutions, then I don’t know when is.  Wasn’t it just amazing yesterday?  Watching Obama take the oath and then make his speech.  Personally, I was much more moved in November with his victory speech.  Nonetheless, I still felt those goosebumps on my skin and tears in my eyes.  To truly understand this feeling, one would have to be able to identify with the feeling with being a minority one’s whole life.  Well, race aside, it doesn’t hurt that this man has had the ability to inspire the old, the young, the black, the white, the green…. – but now, the time has come for him to show what he is truly made of.

And on a lighter note, besides the 2nd toe on my right foot that hasn’t seen a very good New Year so far, the New Year has gone by so far without much incident.  Why is it whenever you have an injured part on yourself, that SAME part keeps getting injured again?  Do you know what I mean?  An already injured toe usually gets knocked or stepped on again!

As for resolutions, I’m a chronic resolution maker.  It’s a sickness, I tell you!  Making those damn resolutions and actually believing you’re going to keep them.  This is probably the first year I’ve broken that tradition.  I’m going to just take each day as it comes.  Ofcourse it doesn’t hurt to set some short-term goals, but in general, it’s going to be just day by day.

And in the little munchkin’s favourite words OM MY GOCH (Oh My God), it’s 2009!  And I’m back!

Wishing everyone a very Happy 2009

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

See you all in the New Year 🙂

The Queen’s Return to Singapore – Part 1

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Yes, that’s where I’ve been for most of the past month – in Singapore.  Ok, let me start at the beginning.  I made a trip back to Singapore for almost 4 weeks in October.  It was the first one since I came here to live in the U.S.  So it’s been awhile since I’ve met my friends and family.  REWINDING THE STORY A LITTLE – this trip had been planned months ahead.  I booked and paid for the tickets in April this year.  But the reason why you may not have heard about it on this blog is because the main reason for going back was to surprise my mum for her birthday AND to surprise relatives.  Most of them, including my mum, knew I was coming back in October but had no idea that I would be back before her birthday.  I had to even help plan her surprise party (with my sister-in-law’s help) without her knowing about it or about my arrival. Hence, the hush-hush.

Anyway, forwarding the story this time.  I shall not reveal the number of candles on her cake this year (you know about old people and their superstitions hehehe – Amma ;)).  I arrived a few days before her birthday.  My initial plan was to just turn up at her doorstep, but after constant “persuasion” from Elan, I decided not to give her too much of a shock and give her a week’s notice (she needed the time to do a little spring cleaning hehe). 

Oh yeah, did I mention that Elan wasn’t able to take leave to join us, so it was just the munchkin and myself on that LONG LONG trip – aren’t I brave  The journey to Singapore is a vague memory now – thanks to my bad memory.  I do remember that the Boise-door to Singapore-door journey took 29 hours. 

The Northwest stewardesses on the LA-Tokyo part of the journey were HORRIBLE (most of them were Japanese, and no, I don’t have anything against Japanese).  They refused to help to warm up Divya’s milk – yes, “I know you don’t have a microwave oven”.  So here I was squashed with Divya in that small toilet running the bottle under the hot water from the tap for a long time which didn’t help much.  But much to my surprise and HAPPINESS, the stewardesses on the Tokyo-Singapore part of the journey were much nicer and made the effort to find a way to warm up the milk for her.  They were mostly Singaporean – and for those who know me, you’d know that I’m in no way Pro-Singaporean or anything like that.  I’m just stating an observation.  Anyway, many hours and few tantrums later, we reached Singapore – to be greeted by Divya’s Periappa and Tha-tha.  A few hugs and “Hi-s” were exchanged before we set off for my mum’s place which was where I was to stay for the next 3½ weeks.

And so began a trip of a lifetime – mother and daughter, 2 suitcases, 1 backpack, 1 camera bag, 1 pouch, 1 diaper bag, 1 blanket, 1 Mickey Mouse, a bucket-full of tantrums and a bunch of beautiful memories.

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Yes, these are the 2 best pictures I have of Divya on the plane – when you travel that long with a toddler, taking good photos is just not a priority!  The first one is actually of Divya’s head – while she was sleeping.

Protected: Obama For Positive Change

Monday, November 3, 2008

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Protected: I’m back….

Monday, November 3, 2008

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