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Blogathon 2014 Post 3 – There’s always last minute!

I just realized that there are just 10 minutes to 12! It’s my first engagement anniversary! 🙂 Our plans? Last moment packing, shopping & get set go!

I’m going home tomorrow! Woohoo! 😀

Though I packed last Sunday, I still have so many things to stuff inside the bags! My hubby hasn’t yet packed! He says, there’s always last minute!

I’m bunking office tomorrow but have to work in the morning. 😦 Don’t have much time left, so will just give the final touch & go to snoozeland! Good night! Happy weekend! 🙂

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Blogathon 2014 Post 2 – Last year this time

Last year this time I was having the time of my life!

I had quit my previous job & was free!

I was in Kolkata with my family, getting pampered! No more tension about meeting prospective grooms as the alliance was already fixed!

I met my dearest friend M after over a year!

Travelled to Delhi with parents & masi mausa ji in train! It was like good old days, going for winter vacation!

Got engaged!

Joined new work place.

This year has started well too.

I’ll be home soon though for a very short span, still I can’t wait!

Will be meeting my old buddy M!

Will head for Thailand.

Seems a bit like deja vu isn’t it? 😉

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Blogathon 2014 Post 1 – Happy New Year 2014!

Happy New Year! So I’m finally back in the blog world, reviving my blog, all thanks to RM & Blogathon 2014! Now where do I start! Let me start with a crisp review of 2013.

2013 had been about achieving everything which I was yearning for over the past few years. The highlights been getting married & switching job. I yearned for a job change & my parents looked forward to my marriage and the year gave us both!

To be technically correct, both my job offer & alliance were finalized in 2012 itself but I joined my new office & got engaged in Jan 2013.

This year (2013) I travelled to Manali for our honeymoon, it was short & sweet! Later in the year we visited Ladakh! That is one place I wanted to visit since years & thanks to my travel & Ladakh crazy hubby that I got to visit the pristine place! Our next destination is Thailand, scheduled in next few days! Do I need to say that I’m excited? 😀

New year is never incomplete without resolutions! This year I’m not taking any resolution which I won’t be able to achieve, so my resolutions are simple:

*Go for a vacation every year to a new place, be it a weekend trip or a long relaxing one.
* Read more. I’m happy to announce that I’m reading Harry Potter series. I had read book 1 & book 4 half when it was released. Now I’ve got all 7 books & currently reading book 5. Needless to say, I’m loving it!
* Blog more often. I really hope I’m able to live up to this one!

That’s all for now folks! Meet you again tomorrow! Have a great, healthy & happy new year 2014 everyone! 🙂

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Heartache

Why do we fall for the wrong person? Why does the right one enter the scene when it’s too late? Why can’t we understand that this is the right person till he is actually gone? Why is it obligatory to stay or take the decision to stay with someone and that decision for life has to be taken ASAP? We can’t undo the feelings we have for someone but we can control it. If we confess it, we are the bitches. If we don’t, our hearts get crushed. Few days, weeks, months and years time, it becomes a private joke or muse.

For all those heartbroken sisters hopelessly falling for the wrong ones, cheers!

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The time of the year

It is that time of the year when:

The wait to be in your home town becomes longer than ever.

Be in Kolkata or anywhere, the two flowers which captivates your mind are kaash & shiuli. You yearn for the fragrance of the latter over the most expensive perfumes.

You look up towards the sky during the day to find a brightly lit up space with clouds lighter than feather floating around. Some resemble a ship, some resemble a rabbit, some an ice cream cone or some an old laughing lady with open hair flying!

You don’t care about how much or what you shop & eat before or during the event.

You get loads of gifts & money from family and dear ones.

Grab all the pujoshonkhyas together and start looking for the novel/short story by your favourite authors & can’t wait to start reading them.

During the D days, it’s a madrush marathon. You start from early morning for the pandal hopping till afternoon, halt for lunch, start again, take rest, change to look your best and go for another round till dinner and if luck is on your side, you may be out throughout the night! The strategy is made for the past few months with the aim to cover north, south, east, west & central part of the city of joy! The plan often changes based on the reviews & suggestions from friends.

You get to hog the street food like never ever! Starting from fuchka & churmur followed by fish fry/finger, chicken roll, kebabs and biryani/chinese for dinner!

You never really admire the artistes & creative extravaganza of your city and the fashionistas throughout the year apart from this time of the year.

You would never really buy those heart shaped red balloons or bubble making things or red glowing devil horns any other time of the year even from India Gate.

Would cheer for your para/housing society pujo to win that award by The Telegraph or The Times of India.

Would play with vermillion like crazy with mother, grandmom, aunts and the married ladies and touch the idols for the first time in the season.

Would eat sweets & nimki like a drought torn person and touch each & every elder person’s feet till you get spondelitis and reach out for that tube of moov/volini to soothe yourself.

Run from hall to hall with your cousin bro who is more of a friend to catch the latest movies.

Before you realize it’s over for the year and time to go back to the mundane lifestyle.

The mantra for your life becomes Aschhe bochhor abar hobe! (Waiting till next year) Chant it till Diwali.

Happy Puja folks! May this year bring you lots of joy, fun & extravaganza! I’m going home! The time of the year is here!

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Why is it a big deal?

To buy something exclusively meant for a woman? No, I’m not talking about cosmetics but sanitary napkins. Especially when the shopkeeper is a male and there are other male customers around?

It may not be a big deal for several women or even men who regularly buy the above mentioned things for their partners. Unfortunately I still feel awkward in buying these things of necessity for myself. No, I have no problem if the shopkeeper is a lady or there are female customers around. It’s the male gaze which perturbs me to no end.

I still remember the day/moment when I bought the first pack of sanitary napkins. I was coming with my father from my grand parents’ place while mom was at home. I had informed her that I needed it but it wasn’t there at home. She instructed me to take money from dad & buy it. I was embarrassed to bits. Asked her why can’t dad buy it for me? He buys it for you! But the verdict was passed. I went inside the shop & whispered the noun form of this very word to the uncle. The uncle shouted the name to another guy to ensure that the entire shop & the people present there know what I’m there for. I think I also saw the guy flashing a wicked smile! Awkward & embarrassed, I sulked to mom. She said they do it everyday & they don’t even bother who is buying what! I wish! From then onwards, the pack was always available at home and I never had to buy it myself, at least while staying in my home town Kolkata.

While shifting to Delhi, mom gave me enough packs to last me for at least the next 3-4 months. My stock was refilled everytime I visited home during my vacations. After my hostel life was over and I started office, I had to come to terms with the situation and started buying it on my own & quite confidently, without making it a big deal!

Generally I club buying sanitary napkins with other stuffs, sometimes they are not necessary, still I buy them, trying to kind of camouflage the main purpose. Why do I do it? Perhaps this is the reason…

Once I could not think of anything else to buy. Absolutely nothing! I just picked up the pack & put it in the cash counter. The guy in the looked at me & asked, “That’s it? Nothing else?” Arrghh! Again that awkward moment & I could feel other customers’ gaze on me.

Another time when I asked the shopkeeper for the brand, he got it but I wanted a different one of the same brand. I told him not this one but that one. He smiled & got it. It wasn’t a big deal but still the feeling of embarrassment didn’t leave my mind.

Why? Why does our society treat menstruation as such a taboo? This has left this innate stigma in my mind related to menstruation & I’m finding hard to get rid of it. It’s just a sign of puberty when it first starts and an ensurance that the girl is capable of bearing children. Why can’t it be treated normally? Why can’t our education system include the chapter in biology in the syllabus & don’t skip it just like that? Why is it always talked in hushed tones so that our fathers, brothers & male friends don’t know about it? If we can freely talk about the Adam’s Apple or beard & moustache, why do we have to treat it as such a national secret? Everyone knows about it, but nobody talks about it. While we buy female deos, soaps, hair removing creams, we are not half as conscious. Why now?

Same happens in the case of buying condoms or other contraceptives, pregnancy test kits & related stuffs. Though I haven’t had the experience of buying them but I can very well understand the apathy of the people who have been there & done that. I heard this incident from a close friend. In our college, a girl went to a medical shop to buy a pregnancy test kit. The aged shop keeper asked her, “Why do you need it? Must have done something naughty eh? Why didn’t you take precautions?” He had no right to ask these questions to her. Such joke of shopkeepers/salesmen make things even more difficult for girls. They make people feel guilty, embarrassed nonetheless. These are anything but natural. Why can’t they take a chill pill?

But there are some good salesmen as well. I really salute their professionalism. They don’t give any awkward ‘I know what’s going on’ look or ask twice or clear throat or ask if that is all what I want. They just do their work & respect the customer and his/her privacy. I wish there were more such people who treated the chumming/about to chum women in a little more respectable or at least normal manner, not adding the woes to her already miserable state!

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Numbed thoughts

I am disturbed. Yesterday when I read the news about four men raping a 1.5 year old baby girl in Kolkata, I was at my wits end. For some minutes I sat still, not knowing how to react. There were several thoughts doing rounds in my mind.

1. How could someone even think about satisfying their libido with a small baby who is not even 2 years old? I remembered another news several years back where a 2 year old girl was raped and killed in Siliguri, North Bengal. Her body was found in a jungle adjacent to a tea garden.

2. Park Street, now renamed as Mother Teresa Sarani is known to be the safest part of the city for women. Since my college was there, the area is very close to my heart. I’ve treaded the place fearlessly even at around 10 pm during our college fests. Though I was always in a group including boys but still I never felt any insecurity or uncomfortable vibes during those wee hours. What is happening now? First the women and now the baby. How? Why?

2. The baby is the daughter of pavement dwellers. The perpetrators of the heinous act were also pavement dwellers and most probably drunk at that time. But is that an excuse? Can the homeless people be taken for granted? Don’t they deserve any security?

3. When will the administration wake up? The police refused to take the complaint of the woman who was molested in front of a pub in Park Street saying that she was a single mother, what was the need to go to a pub at night? What was the connection anyway? Her highness Ms Mamta Bannerjee claimed the incident to be a planned action of the CPI(M) to malign her reputation. How long will we tolerate your drama Ms Bannerjee?

4. After the Guwahati incident I was very shocked and surprised to see that some well educated high society people blaming the girl as she went to a pub wearing skimpy clothes. But what can we say to them now? What alibi do they have now? With my personal experiences I have realized that a girl’s appearance & clothes have nothing to do with the sick men to pounce on them. They just need someone to vent out their awful libido & frustration on something remotely resembling a female. I have faced such horrible situations in every place possible. In public transports, on the road, in my neighbourhood, even in Vaishno Devi temple. In all the cases I was wearing “normal” clothes such as salwar suit or jeans top or a frock/skirt (I was 10-12 years old when I started facing such incidents). The perpetrators? They range from young to old, decent to people from the lower strata of the society to spoilt brats of rich parents. You will find them in every age group, every strata of the society, every shape, size & colour to be precise.

5. There can be some steps to avoid/stop the eve teasing scenarios such as fight back & react. Hit them hard, shout to attract crowd, spray the pepper/chili thing on their eyes or whatever that scares them. They are basically cowards. They don’t have enough courage to face your wrath and will chicken out easily.

Unfortunately my reflex is really poor. It decides to take a hike to Antarctica when I need it the most in India! I wish I can get over this syndrome but has a very rare chance though. 😦 

If I ever have a daughter, I will make sure that she attends karate/martial art classes and receives a black belt! The singing, dancing, art & drama classes can follow suit.

6. The current state of affairs is sad, very sad. We live under a situation of perpetual threat. Anything can happen anytime. Isn’t their anyway we can curb it, remove it permanently from the society? Till it happens, let’s pledge to be stronger & sharper. Stay happy, stay safe.

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Birthday Bash up on the sky

This post is a continuation of the Manali tale and my birthday celebration. Undoubtedly, it was the best birthday ever!

As the clock struck 12, I started receiving calls & messages which woke up my mother. She wished me! It was after 4 years that she wished me, gave me the special birthday hug & kiss! My father called from the next room as he was staying in a room next to us. When the barrage of wishes halted for the time being, I slept off.

Generally people start birthdays by visiting temples seeking God’s blessings. Even I started the day by visiting temple but the difference was, instead of God, I seeked blessings from demoness Hidimba!

From the very day we entered Manali my eyes were searching for local dogs as they are really cute with extra fur & fluffy tails! My wish was granted! In the temple premises a light brown coloured healthy & sturdy doggy! My father whistled at him & he obliged to stop. I was elated! We clicked pics with him & I must say that he was a very well behaved canine!

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That’s Daddy & Doggy!

Next I clicked pictures with an Angora rabbit with a reasonable charge of Rs. 10!

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Angora Rabbit

Our next stops were Ghatotkach temple, museum and Vashisht temple.

Finally the time came for which I was waiting for last 24 hours! We entered the paragliding camp.

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I was assigned a pilot who would fly with me. I would refer to him as wingman. Cute guy he was! *Blush*!!!

We took a ropeway to reach above 18,000 ft. There was another long trek to reach the place from where we would take off. A very sweet lady accompanied me. She is a trainer at the mountaineering institute. Then came the time. My wingman & another person harnessed me tightly, so much so that I couldn’t even move. I was scared to bits, honestly! I had half a mind to chicken out. The only thing I kept telling myself was, if so many people can do it, why can’t I? Wingman said you have to run & jump off from the cliff. I was like how can I ever do that!!! But when the time arrived, I saw the parachute going up & wingman screamed “Run madam run!” And voila! I was flying!!!

I could sense numerous butterflies dancing in my stomach. My heart stopped beating. I cherished every moment up there. I saw the mountain peaks, tree tops, clouds so close to me as if I could just touch them! I looked down. River beas looked like a tiny silver foil. The people… I couldn’t really identify them as everything appeared sooo small!

The wingman did some twists and turns which thrilled me! But me being not those expressive kinds, couldn’t really scream out loud. After spending quite a while on the sky, it was time to come down. The landing was smooth & I was too elated to describe how I felt at the moment. The world was spinning around me n all I wanted to do was to sit back, and rewind the experience in my brain again & again!

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That’s me up there! It was literally breathtaking

After that we came back, lunched & slept for a while. I couldn’t get over my achievement and received oodles of congratulatory messages from friends & well wishers! Most of them couldn’t believe I actually did it!!! Even I couldn’t? Now I aim to go for sky diving & scuba diving.

In the evening we went to Johnson’s Cafe for dinner. It’s a beautiful place! The decor & the ambience were too good. It had a very English/Italian feel in it. I so wish it was winter so that I could see the fire place with the burning logs in it. The place also had a beautiful garden outside.

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The fireplace

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Lovely blue flowers in the garden

We had trout fish fingers & a white sauce pasta.

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Happy, full & beaming, we came back being absolutely content. My dear parents, I can’t thank you enough for the lovely time!

The day ended with an absolute cracker. We discovered that there’s an unfinished brownie.

Ma: Come on, eat this brown cake.

Me: It’s called brownie Ma, nor brown cake!

Ma: But dogs are called Brownie na!

I just gasped, fainted & passed out!!!

Below are some really funny & interesting posters & grafittis!

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Punjabi movie poster!

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Outside a public loo

My father is so much in love with Manali that he wants to settle there and manage an apple orchard! Our driver Deepu sounded too excited & invited me too to be a part of life in Manali. In a quest to know how I can earn my living, he asked me, “Madam aap kitni padhi likhi hai?” Me: “Post graduation ki hu.” Deepu: Baapre, phir to aap yahan k school ki principal ban jana! Main to graduation bhi nahi complete kiya!”

He said something which was truly evident. In the hills, there is no dearth of resources to earn a living. If you want to lead a lavish life, you may not be satisfied, but if you want to be happy & a fulfilling life, this is the place for you.” Amen! 🙂

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Mesmerizing Manali

Now before it gets too late I want to put down my experience of turning 26 in a phenomenal way! A trip so memorable & something which I’ll cherish forever.

My parents had planned a trip to Manali on the occasion of my birthday. Though monsoon is not really the best time to visit a hill station but we didn’t mind as we really wanted to go for a vacation & wanted to spend my birthday with the entire family.

So on Saturday, July 22, 2012 we started for Manali by bus in the evening. It was an overnight journey coupled with some interesting co passengers!

We reached Manali in the morning. After freshening up I went in search of a computer with internet connection as I had to file a very important story & send it to office. After it was done I completely forgot the workstress and just let go the bad mad world outside the serene hill station.

Post lunch (Chicken masaledar, veg polao & chicken chowmein which ma had ordered for herself) we decided to go for a trek. Ma decided to stay back & take a power nap while Baba & me went ahead.

We walked for almost 2.5 hours crossing Van Vihar, a forest of coniferous trees, Picadily theatre, Beas river…which was absolutely amazing! I could watch the torrent flow for hours. It was wonderful to see how the speed increased manifold when the river collided with the huge stones in the midst of the river. It’s like life. Unless you face real challenges, you don’t really know what your actual potential is. Or like they say, best quality wines are result of thousands of grapes getting crushed.

Well lot of philosophy up there! We also crossed a hotel named Honeymoon Inn! What a cheesy name! We finally reached our destination, Atal Vihari Vajpayee Mountaineering Institute, where my father underwent training in the year 1981. It was beautiful inside with lots of colourful flowers which were of most amazing combinations. We came out, had tea in a small yet cosy tea shop & headed back to the hotel. By that time my feet started aching badly and wanted to dip them in warm water. In the mall road we went to this ‘German’ bakery named Cafe ‘Amigos’ (What a German-Spanish combo) to buy something to munch for our next day’s Rohtang trip. We ended up buying cheese cake, walnut cake, brownies and bread. I also wanted to buy apple pie, banana cake n chocolate cake but somehow resisted… After coming back we had fried rice and chicken manchurian abd retired for the day.

Next day we left by 6 in the morning for Rohtang Paas. We had a jolly & chirpy driver, Deepu Thakur. The day looked nice & bright but like the true blue climate of a hill station, it started pouring cats & dogs. My over optimistic dad didn’t even feel the need to bring umbrellas even while carrying them for the trip! We went to a shop and hired special snow suits, which were basically windcheater jumpsuits and snow boots. After a long journey we reached Rohtang Paas. I’m unable to decipher the scenic beauty in my words.

High up there when it ceased to rain and I looked outside, I could see clouds in the midst of the valley. It was like white smoke. As if the valley was on fire.

By the time we reached it had stopped raining. But the altitude was so high that the lack of oxygen made us a bit uncomfortable. We had to take horses to reach the snowpoint. My over enthusiastic daddy insisted that he would trek to the destination. We were not in favour of it as he just recovered from illness but he was adament. I was nonchalant & asked ma to chill! The road was really bad. It was steep, stony & muddy due to the rain. I had a feeling he shouldn’t walk. It was really not safe. I kept looking back to find him walk slowly & steadily with the stick in his hand, borrowed from one of the local horse fellows. After a point I could not see him. Finally we reached the snow point but we were pretty morose as there was no trace of Baba.

People around us were enjoying in the snow clicking pictures, skiing, rolling on the dirty snow (yes it was really dirty with the muck and horse poop :-|), riding on the sleigh, eating maggi n sipping tea/coffee. We sat on a stone slab waiting for baba to arrive. Clicked some photoes till I got bored. Both of us were worried for baba. What if he lost control, fell down and hurt himself or got a hypoglycemia attack (when sugar level goes down the person feels dizzy, sweats profusely and the worst case is death due to cardiac arrest). I predicted that he must have gone back and took a horse for coming here. But my mom said no, the stubborn him would rather go back and wait for us to return than take a horse. After a while we saw him descending from a horse. My mom’s knight in shining armour finally arrived! Suddenly everything seemed so happy & sunny! Literally! I gave Ma a smug look & said, “What did I tell you?” She replied, “Really! You are so intelligent! That’s why it is so difficult to find the right guy for you who can match up with your smartness!” Uff how I love her for this! 🙂

We first decided to have tea & eggs. But they couldn’t boil eggs due to the altitude & rising oil prices, the one which they use for the stove. We had bread omlette and tea. Unfortunately like every other place, some people so lack civic sense…! They littered away in glory! I asked the vendor for a dustbin to which he showed me a carton which was a saving grace for me.

In next 10 minutes we climbed up, sat and did people & nature watching. After 5 more minutes, we resolved to the latter. It seemed like an eternity that we kept looking at the sky. Which was crystal clear at one minute. So blue that it seemed that it would melt and a drop of blue would turn the white snow blue. It was more of turquoise than blue. The other moment it would be cloudy. The next moment the mountain would be shrouded with mist. We were totally mesmerized untill we realized that it was time to leave.

While coming down I saw some flying beings… Paragliding people. I so wanted to do it. My parents were scared but I assured them that I really want to do this! We visited the camp and saw all the arrangements and decided to come back for the next big thing in my life the next day, my birthday!!!

More on this and my birthday in my next post…

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Friday the 13th

I’m not a superstitious person but I do get conscious at such popular superstitions such as sneezing before leaving for some place, seeing one brown bird, which we call shalikh in bengali or say Friday the 13th!

2012 has a lot of such so called jinxed dates! Last one was in April. That day I was travelling and was on my way to home. The trip was nice. I had lovely copassengers, lot of kids. But then the most dreaded time of the month arrived. Thankfully I was prepared! But unfortunately Eastern Railway had to bear the brunt of it… Poor helpless me! While deboarding the train, my father & my soul sister M were waiting for me in the station. Instead of waiting in the long line for the taxi, we decided to follow the tried & tested auto route. But then again the auto in which we travelled for over 15 minutes, we realized that it’s taking a different route all together. We got down, walked and finally found a taxi. The spell of Friday the 13th!

Now this 13th of July… The clock struck 12 & the omen started casting its spell on me. Everyday I keep my glasses beside my pillow towards the wall. That very night I had to put it on the other side of the pillow. While I was getting down to fetch a bottle of water it fell flat on the floor and le, the left side of my specs cracked. 😦 And to add cherry on the cake, I couldn’t remember where did I keep my extra pair of specs. Arrgghhh! For someone who has power over -5 with a complicated spherical-cylindrical combo, broken specs is more painful than broken heart… With a sour mood, I thought of watching a sitcom in my laptop to help myself feel better. While sitting, I got pricked by a nail on the wall on which I decided to rest my back on. Talk about series of bad luck! :-/

While talking to my friends M & A, I had expected sympathy. But they laughed at me & made fun of me! What b*****s man! x-(

Next day I wore contact lenses to work. I wear them occasionally but. Wearing them for 14 hours straight is no child’s play, at least not for me! Initially it was troublesome. My computer screen looked hazy, eyes became watery, tired & heavy. But somehow I managed. People in my office were sympathetic towards me but I really don’t need your fake sympathy you know? Especially when you come and say how harmful contact lenses are for eyes! Hmmphhh! It’s been 4 days now and I’ve managed just fine. I wore my cracked glasses while at home. On Saturday afternoon I even took a power nap with my lenses on my eyes & trust me, nothing happened!

This Sunday I have given it for repair & it might take a week. Let it be. I know I will be fine. I have found my old spare specs as well on Sunday night. It’s a bit uncomfortable as the power is not the same. But still I can see and it’s working.

My back was hurting for a couple of days where the nail was pricked but I chose to ignore it. It is not hurting now. Hence it’s proved that it wasn’t serious.

I will be fine. This too shall pass. Amen.

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