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//For some unknown reason, my images refuse to get displayed on this page. WordPress is acting Wonky but I cant really blame it because my office firewall is playing truant 😐 . Kindly adjust 🙂 //

A funny thing happened a couple of days back.

I was at the chemists store, waiting to get a box of Pediasure for the twins (highly recommended by the pediatrician!). A man walked in and this is the conversation between him and the shop attendant(SA) –

Man : Do you have face cream?

SA : Yes sir. Which one do you want?

Man :  (looking around vaguely) Just anything….any plain face cream for men.

SA : (Dumping a few brands on the counter) Take this, Emami skin cream.

 

Man : (giving an embarrassed laugh) No no. I don’t want fairness cream. I just want any normal skin cream.

SA: Garnier sir?

 

Man : (Taking a look at the Garnier box ) I said I don’t want fairness creams. I don’t intend painting my face white!

SA : Sir , we have just these two and Vaseline.

Man : Give me Vaseline.

(The shop assistant hands over the tube of Vaseline face cream)

 

Man : Oh No!! Yeh bhi whitening?!!! Don’t you have any normal cream??

SA : Sorry sir….we have only  these creams 😦

(A helpful lady, overhearing this conversation, pipped in)

HL : Why don’t you try Vicco?

Man : Vicco?? Isn’t that a toothpaste?

(Clearly, this man must have been an NRI!! Imagine, living in India and never hearing of Vicco Turmeric :O !!)

SA : (Placing a tube of Vicco turmeric on the counter) You can try this Sir…very herbal, good for skin.

 

By this time, even I was quite piqued by the array of face creams.

Me :  (to SA) Whats this “WSO” in this cream?

SA : Its for “Without Sandalwood Oil”.

Me : Oh!

Man : Oh!

HL : Oh!

Man : …And, how does that help?

SA : No idea sir. But regular use of this cream will make you fairer. The turmeric is for fairness.

Man : AAAARRRGGGHHHH!! Isn’t there just one simple cream that I can use?? How about Nivea??

SA : Sorry sir, we are out of stock.

Me : (taking serious pity on the guy’s plight) Why don’t you try Boroline?

SA : Yessir. Very nice fragrant cream.

(And he dumps the dark-green tube on the counter)

 

Man : I hope this isn’t a fairness cream 😐

SA : (laughing ) He he!! Why you need fairness cream sir?! You are already very fair.

Man : 😐

Me : 😐

HL : |

SA : Ohh sorry, you don’t want fairness cream!! But we get demand only for whitening creams sir…thats why we have to keep it. Everyone wants to become fair now! He he  😀 !!

Man : (paying for the tube of Boroline and turning to me) Thanks.

Me : You are welcome.

The man left the store, but I was left with many a questions in my mind.

Firstly, why indeed are Indians crazy about becoming ‘white’ ??

Why do movie stars, who are already fair, have to endorse fairness products? Do they really believe in the product? Are they aware of the psychological impact their actions have on millions??  Do they feel accountable for what they do?

Why do men have to look pretty ALL the time?? Is it a crime if they sweat at a game of tennis??

Why do women have to be white ALL OVER?? Earlier it used to be just about the face. Now they’ve gone into regions which are best not mentioned 😐 !!

A long time back, when we were looking for proposals for my sisters, I remember guffawing at the “wanted brides” section. “Tall, fair, convent educated….” , went the requirement list. Some people, who wanted to clarify that by fair they didn’t means the bride’s sense of justice, would word their requirements as ,”Tall, gori, convent educated….”.

“You know Dad, going by this list, I will never get married through the arranged marriage system 😦 ” , I once confessed to Pop.

“Hmmpphh”, was all he said, busy with his morning papers. Obviously, his daughter’s marital prospects were of least concern to him 😐

It wasn’t so funny when we had people coming over to our place and then rejecting my sisters because they didn’t find them fair enough! For the record, one of my sister is just short of being milky-white and the other was fairer than the term “wheatish”. In such demands of ‘white’, what hope did I have? Luckily, the BF (who is around 8 shades lighter than me) never bothered about the colour of my skin. Just as well 🙂 …it isn’t even a topic of discussion between us…has never been!!

My sisters finally got married to men who saw beyond their skin colour. I’m glad to say, they have perfect spouses (touch wood). Conversely, my bhabhi (who is around 15 shades lighter than my brother) never bothered that Bro was three shades lighter than Rajnikant! All my siblings had arranged marriages. They all get along fabulously with their spouses. And I’m sure, none of them would ever, EVER suggest the other to use any kind of so-called skin whitening products.

Then who uses them??

The people who  use these creams are the impressionable youth.

It is used by youngsters fresh out of college or young men/women available on the marriage market. It is used by young men who are advised that girls are attracted to only the fairest amongst them. Young girls use it believing that the same expectations rise from the guys.

It is used by youngsters who are easily influenced into believing that to achieve ANY success in life, they have to look fair. That employers are more impressed with their glowing looks than their capabilities.

Every time such an advertisement played on the telly, I would have a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. My kids are not fair, but given the societal expectations, I’ll have a tough time helping them build their personalities without worrying about the color of their skin. I’m already mad at that unknown person who put it in Lui’s mind that she is not fair enough and if she wants to be, she needs to use a ‘fairness cream’. So every time those dumb ads come on screen, my daughter demands that I buy her that very cream because she needs to become fairer. Any amount of counseling on the lies perpetrated by those ads, falls on deaf ears.

“Woh aunty gorey-gorey ho gaye na. Mujhe bhi hona hai”, is her stubborn claim.

Keeping the telly switched off around the twins is the best option possible.

The only bright spark in this gloom of fairness is the latest WHO report on the use of Mercury for skin lightening (Read more here :- http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs361/en/ ). The article lists out the various harmful effects of mercury. Among the list of common culprits using mercury are (from the site)  :-

  • batteries
  • measuring devices, such as thermometers and barometers
  • electric switches and relays in equipment
  • lamps (including some types of light bulbs)
  • dental amalgam (for dental fillings)
  • skin-lightening products and other cosmetics
  • pharmaceuticals

“……….Inorganic mercury is added to some skin-lightening products in significant amounts. Many countries have banned mercury-containing skin-lightening products because they are hazardous to human health.”

Obviously, India is NOT one of those countries. I doubt whether the Government itself would think of pulling down the shutters on a 2000 crore industry (and growing), if these reports are to be believed :-

Skin whitening trend driving male cosmetic market in India

“……Having amassed a dominant share in the Indian men’s cosmetics market, fairness creams are emerging as a key trend in the country according to a new market report.”

http://www.cosmeticsdesign-europe.com/Market-Trends/Skin-whitening-trend-driving-male-cosmetic-market-in-India

 

Though this is a serious reason for concern, I don’t blame the men for wanting to look good. Women have been at the receiving end of being psyched out into believing that they are the ugliest, fattest, darkest damsels on the planet. Clever money-making manufacturers of fairness products have just shifted the focus on to the men now. The men have, unfortunately, bitten the bait 😦 .

If the above news reports on Indian male cosmetics market is true, then what can I say guys?!

Join the club 😐

(You know when I’ll be like, REALLY worried?? When they start making sanitary napkins for the men 😐 )

*EGAD!!! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO *

Anyhow, to end this post, I would like to say that I personally know a couple of girls who used skin whitening creams right before their marriage (as insisted on by the in-laws/family members) and ended up with severe skin rashes. Believe me, their wedding snaps weren’t very pretty 😐 .

The only way to reduce the usage of these harmful products is to spread awareness. If you see people around you using them, ask them politely why they want to use a fairness cream. I tried it with the nanny. She was flustered for a minute, then sheepishly admitted that she thought she would look fairer. I asked her then if she has found any difference from before. As expected her reply was a simple ‘No’. I then told her to stop wasting her money on it and she hasn’t used it since. Believe me, she looks much better now 🙂 .

I only pray that this fetish for ‘fairness’ dies a natural death one day, preferably before my kids hit puberty !

On that note, have a great week ahead you all 🙂

Ciao!!

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I’m SO Ticked Off

Am having one of those phases where nothing seems to make sense.
When anger is a persistent bug on the tip of my nose.
When I feel as though the entire world is against me.
When I have this deep, DEEP desire to run away from the everyday grind.
*Sigh*
It always comes down to running away, doesn’t it? Though God knows that I’ll have to return soon enough 😐
That things will be right here waiting for me when I get back! That things will be in exactly the same state that I left them in.
This bad mood of mine isn’t helping any. The twins are supposed to be enjoying their vacations, but I haven’t done anything constructive for them yet. The BF’s Birthday came and went, I didn’t bother him with any celebrations.
(We did go out for lunch and a movie though)

I feel lazy and down in the dumps.
The vacation we were planning was cancelled due to SIL’s visit and stay at our place. I don’t blame her. She had no idea we were planning on one. The BF wanted to surprise everyone with an impromptu vacation. The only one left surprised is me. Though frankly, going by his earlier efforts at surprising people, I should have been ready for the ‘fall-flat-on-your-face’ part.
But.I love him too much 😐
So where was I?
Yeah, right here, being ticked off at the cancelling of the vacations.
And though it is passe, I’m still ticked off because I was asked to visit and stay over at the SIL’s place on the BF’s Birthday!!! I bluntly refused. Probably the first time I did that, but seriously, >i>on the BF’s Birthday?? Were they kidding me??

The nanny is still playing truant…coming one day and bunking the other. The regular maids and cook are vacationing too.
Drat it!
I think the cancelled vacation is making me more grumpy than I intend to be 😦
After a really hectic year and the last few depressing months, was really looking forward to some fun time 😦 . To spend time reading under a tree near the sea…to walk the kids along the beach…to make sand castles and moats…to eat loads of fish!!!
Alas….



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It’s a bl**dy awful day , that’s what!
It’s the second week of Feb and the sun’s burning right through the roof! I have no idea what to do with the bundles of blankets lying around the house, hopeful of being used one day. I’m sure that the day I will put them away, the sun would go behind a cloud and we’ll have a cold wave sweeping across the city. The kids would shiver under their bed sheets and the BF would gruffly enquire as to why his wife was insanely eager to put away those blankets when we were ‘technically’ still in the winter season.
Anyhow, what I wanted to say was that today I had to visit the regional passport office to submit the updated birth certificate of my son. The BF warned that there is a mad rush at the passport office and it is always wise to reach there early. So I woke up earlier than usual, did my regular chores , got the twins ready for school and handed them over to their father (to wait for the school van) and reached the passport office at sharp 09:40. To my utter horror, the place was crowded with around 200 people already in queues and more coming in by the minute. The worst part? The office wasn’t open yet….the regular timing was 10:30 AM. *GROAN*. So I stood there in the heat and the dust (yes, loads of it, because the parking area right outside the passport office was nothing more than the flattened left-over remnants of the existing hill-side. There were boulders, stones and dust galore. As luck would have it, the queues stretched right out to the parking area. So every time a vehicle came in or drove out, we were all covered with a thick layer of dust. And oh, did I mention that I was wearing white today? Well, it aint white no more  . When I finally did get to enter the building, we were made to wait in a queue. After about 25 minutes, I went in and submitted the letter that I had received. The lady official asked me what the problem was and I told her that my son’s application was rejected due to discrepancy in my name and I’ve got new documents for submission. She brusquely snatched the letter, ignored the documents and asked me to wait outside the cabin.
The ‘outside’ was crawling with people, with barely an inch to spare. After a long wait, I finally got a chair to sit. So I pulled out the latest Agatha Christie from my bag and started reading. Must have read more than 50 pages before it finally clicked that I’d been sitting for a rather long time with no updates on what I was supposed to do next. So I quickly asked one of the peons and he said that the names will be called out shortly. So I went back to my book (Thank God I had the sense to get it along!) . After another 20 or so pages, my turn finally came. I stepped in gingerly and went up to the lady official. She was definitely in a foul mood! At one point I almost lost my temper and told her that my son’s twin sister got her passport around 3 months back! And both the forms were submitted together. When exactly did the official realize that my name on the application form was ‘wrong’ compared to the one on the birth certificate, I have no clue. But after submitting documents again and again, the BF went the whole hog and had my name officially changed to carry his surname (Now this is one thing I NEVER wanted to do, but I never had a hint that these people would make such an hue and cry over it. For the sake of my son’s passport, I had to take this drastic measure  ) . I was armed with these new documents when I went in. After a lot of haggling and explaining from my side and a lot of grumbling and snootiness from her side, she finally grabbed the Xerox copies and told me I could leave. So drained was I from the experience that I forgot to ask her if the application was accepted or rejected. Later on, when I spoke to the BF about it, I realized that the lady was insinuating a little about palm-greasing and being rather ignorant about the tastes of government officials, I was rather slow to get the drift 
Anyhow, the form is submitted, I’m back in office and the ticker runs while we wait patiently for the passport.
I was supposed to get my driving license by yesterday. It still hasn’t come. Now I’m worried 
The campaigning for the civic polls is getting on my nerves. The bike rallys, the auto rallys, the followers bearing banners and flags, the children hollering slogans…..it so ticks me off! I have half a mind to cross out all these revolting parties from my options…but then, I wouldn’t have anyone left to vote for  . Thankfully, it should get over in a day or two. Also, it helps that we aren’t in the South or UP, where poll campaigning is a blatantly aggressive exercise with little or no regard to general public comfort. Pune, I love these little mercies you bestow on us 
Happy Valentine’s, to Ye who Believe.
For the rest, glad to be a part of a club that’s in love forever 

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Toothy Matters

This post isn’t about the twins. Its about their momma….and her teeth-troubles.

(The kids are fine by the way, chewing away with their 20 teeth each, bless those little pearlies ! )

Somewhere towards the end of last month, I realized that

1) my teeth seemed more sensitive than usual

2) they looked an unhealthy shade of white (err….off-white, 😳 )

This kind of flummoxed me, since I’m the person who stocks up on everything from toothpastes to brushes to flosses to mouthwash, the works actually. So why oh why do I have to hold a hand in front of my mouth while laughing I ask you!! (No, don’t bother answering that).

Action had to be taken, and pronto! So I hunted a bit on SnapDeal, found a dental surgeon near my place and went in for some serious consultation.

Here’s the report  :-

Total number of teeth faulty : 9

Extractions required : 2

Root canal : 1

Filling : 6

But the worst part was this : I’ve gnashed my teeth so hard in my sleep that the enamel coating has worn off!! Apparently, this erosion takes a long time to occur and it seems, I’m severely stressed out and have a tendency to clench my jaws real hard. Finally, I got an answer on why I have a stiff jaw every morning and also, why I dream of my teeth falling off. AND, the yellowing is because, the white enamel wore off to expose the yellow dentin layer underneath (Whew! I thought he was going to blame the tea :D)  .

Doc also said that dreams of falling teeth are indicative of severe worries and stress. Hmmm….and to think my BIGGEST worry was to save those same darn teeth 👿

Needless to say, I’ve stopped grinning since 😐

“Would you consider removing the entire set and giving me some new implants??” , I inquired politely, looking at the posters of women with purrrfect teeth .

“Sure, it’ll just cost you an arm and a leg, your apartment and all your savings for your children’s future.  When shall we book the first appointment? “, replied back the good doc.

😯

“Err….ummm….leave it. I think I’ll make do with the current ‘God’s implants’ for a little longer. Heh heh? “,I joked. He didn’t smile. Must be hiding his teeth!

Anyhow, fact of the matter is that, I got one tooth drilled and filled. The doc’s suspicious that the decay could be deeper than what it currently appears to be. So the tooth is full of stuff that’s generally used for kids. In other words, my tooth is under observation.

Two more teeth got a little filled, or rather, coated with the same composite stuff. It would have solved the problem really, but since my jaws don’t rest all that naturally on each other, my face looks a little crooked, if you know what I mean!

A little scaling, a little polishing, loads of instructions on oral care, a handful of pamphlets later, I walked out feeling like a new woman. A woman, who’s MUCH older than me. A woman, who’s advised to stay off biting into hard things (good bye ice-cubes….it was lovely to bite into your crunchy blandness all these years!). A woman who’s been asked to stay off tea 😯 and coffee *gasp*

How will I survive??

(No, don’t bother answering that either!)

I still have to do that root canal and those extractions (of the wisdom teeth), something that I’m putting off for now….not too keen on it actually…but what has to be done, has to be done! If not now, I’ll suffer worse later on 😦

(Wisdom comes while sitting with your mouth agape, I guess . With cheek pads and cotton rolls stuffed in the most unlikely places).

2012, you’re turning into quiet a pain, you know!

And the year has just started 😐

Hope you all are having it better. No? No??

Tell me about it 🙂



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I should have done this post last month (VAW) , but it lay in my drafts as I struggled through work and a hectic life at home. But its never too late to look for answers and suggestions.

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

We have two house-helps. One is a cook, the other does the utensils and clothes. They both started working for us around 3 years back. But that’s just one of the similarities between the two. The others being –

  • both have abusive husbands
  • both have husbands who do not earn or earn less than them
  • both have children dependent on them
  • both have zero support from relatives
  • One has teenage sons who demand everything from video games to mobile phones.The other has a son-in-law who beats her daughter black and blue if his demands are not met.

The cook’s husband is an alcoholic. She had taken steps to get him admitted to a local self-help group for alcoholics…he was even clean for 3 months. But Diwali poured water over her efforts as her husband drank enough to ooze the booze through every pore! Thats her statement, by the way, not mine ! She has been single handedly running the household, with two sons studying in good English-medium schools. She wants to give them a good education and a better life (Any mother would).
Post Diwali, her husband is after her to purchase him an auto-rickshaw. He has demanded the same from her father. Obviously, everyone is reluctant to give in to his demands. One of the key reasons being that he had an auto-rickshaw earlier that he had to sell-off to pay his alcohol-debt. She doesn’t want her father to pay for something that her husband has no respect for and will most likely sell off again. Her own refusal results in either a black-eye or bruises all over her skeleton-thin frame.
What has she done to deserve such treatment, God alone knows.
What keeps her from walking away from this man and starting her life afresh (not that she isn’t doing everything herself now), she alone knows!

The maid has a teenage son who has nothing better to do than pick fights with the basti-boys, get beaten and laid up in hospital for days. She has a husband, who for all his efforts, isn’t able to earn enough for his family. Also, he beats up his wife whenever the mood strikes him. Her daughter was married off early and now suffers because she isn’t allowed to go out for work and her husband expects his in-laws to fulfill his demands, the latest being, he needed a gold-ring which was allegedly promised to him at the time of marriage, but never materialized. When the maid expressed her inability to purchase said ring because of rising gold rates, he resorted to beating her daughter black and blue. The hapless mother went around begging for money to pay for the ring.

I took the trouble of informing the maid that the more she ran around for that guy, the more he was likely to make her daughter suffer. He knew her weak point for her daughter, so if he can do it once, he’ll do it again and again. Surprisingly, the maid thinks that all those beatings are a small price to pay for her daughter staying ‘married’. Because walking out is NOT an option, however rotten the guy. And not so surprisingly, the cook too thinks the same. For the record, the cook is Hindu and the maid is a Muslim. And both women believe strongly that marriage ties are NEVER meant to be broken, never mind if they break their own bones in the bargain.

I’ve been fretting over these two ladies and I wonder why the maid’s daughter doesn’t pack up her kids and come to Pune and stay with her mother. She can contribute to the house by being a house-help herself. I wonder why the cook cannot move out and live with her parents for a few days until she finds accommodation for herself and her sons. She has no dependency on her husband whatsoever, so why should she put up with his tantrums and his wayward ways?

I have a healthy respect for the institution of marriage, because I can see how it benefits me and my family. If these women had the kind of security I do, I wouldn’t question them on their decision to stay married.

But suffering abuse day-in and day-out does not a marriage make!

Suppose the sides were turned. What if the man was the bread winner and home-keeper, both. What if he looked after the kids and made sure his wife was well-fed and also paid for her *gasp* bad-habits. How long do you think that man will suffer such a wife? It would take seconds for everyone around him to suggest separating from such a wife.
Whereas in the case of these women, all their relatives, including the in-laws, beg them to ‘adjust’. To stay for the sake of their children. To bear the pain now for rewards which will appear in future (magically, I assume).

It is rather hard to watch these women struggling through such a life. I know life for them will be loads better if only they had the guts to walk out. I know a lady who walked out of an abusive relationship, worked hard and made a living in a new  city,  with a daughter in tow. I was privileged enough to stay in her house as a paying guest during my PG days. Life wasn’t easy for that lady either. She alone knows the efforts she had to put in to make life successful for herself and her daughter. What helped was that there was no one to decide for her. No one to beat her up lifeless for days. No one to fear.

And I wonder, what do my house-helps fear when they are the ones who keep the gears of their family greased? When they are the decision makers, they are the bread-winners, they are the mother and father both, then why do they let a non-entity tear their self-respect and pride to shreds? Why don’t they simply take hold of a rolling pin and give it back to the abusers?!!

Am I too violent in my thinking or do you agree with what I say?



Note: Image courtesy - Google images.

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We have a fire drill in the office building next week.

Rather a harmless event, given that we are forewarned (unlike real instances where we need to act without prior intimation) and forearmed. In my company (the one I belong to, not the one where I sit) I used to be a fire-marshall, or the floor incharge. I even received fire-fighting training from the personnel belonging to the fire station nearest to our office. The training was much fun. I learned to differentiate between the A,B and C class of fire-extinguishers. Also learned how to use a water hose and how to change its flow. Much fun was had in the trainings.

(Uh. I think I went off-track there)

Coming back to the fire drill in this office. It is next week. So the security guards in the office were asked to carry out some preliminary rounds and talk to a few people regarding the same. On one such duty, this particular female security guard sidles up to my desk this morning. I look up at her enquiringly. This is how our conversation went :-

Me : Haan?

Female Security (FS) :  Ek baat bolni thi aapse.

Me : Haan bolo.

FS : Agle week iss building mein fire drill hone wala hai.

Me : Haan, mujhe pata hai. Mail aaya tha.

FS : Madam, humko instructions mila hai ki office mein jitni bhi pregnant ladies hai, unka list banana hai.

Me : (remembering how we were trained to follow the same routine) Haan haan, sahi baat hai.

FS : Toh madam, aap pregnant hai na, issliye next week woh siren bajega to aap darna mat. Aapko pehle bahar nikalenge.

Me :  😯 *Stunned speechless*

FS : Madam?! Okay madam??

Me : (Finally able to breathe) Err…ummm…*ahem* *cough*  Mai pregnant nahin hoon.

FS : 😯 OHHH !! Sorry madam….mujhe laga…… sorry madam.

(This is the cue for me to breakdown sobbing on my desk and for you to hold your tummy and guffaw out loud 😐 )

Me : Nahin nahin…koi baat nahin….

With gentle reassurances, the lady left my desk.

Needless to say peeps, am sorely upset today. I mean, my kids will turn three in a couple of month’s time…and here I am, still hanging on to my cesarean pouch as though my next kid lived in it 😦

Gaaaah!!

Ramzan went by and did nothing to give me a break! I still haven’t lost an ounce! Why O why does the fat love me so?! I’m so hopping mad today 👿 !! Haven’t mentioned the tale to the BF. Much ‘I-Told-You-So’s expected 😦 . You know, I’ve been trying real hard lately. I’ve changed my diet, have moderate meals , use the stairs and do as much physical work as possible. But looks like its all pittance in the vast ocean of adiposity (is that even a word?!).

*Sigh*

Can anyone please burn away this fat for me……or at least turn that water-hose on me and wash it away?!

Pretty please ?

😐



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Feeling Low

The weekend was hectic with a capital ‘H’. All the maids bunked( including the nanny and the cook), the twins were up to their destructive best and I was struggling to cope with the twins, house-hold chores, guests, GMIL’s needs and the fast. Right now, I feel as though I’ve been through a grinder , all choked and ragged. The icing on the cake is the squabble I had the with BF. If I were ignorant, I’d blame it on the fasts. But , I know that these are the issues we face every year during Ramadan, these tests of patience. It is a requisite to face the difficulties on an empty stomach and yet retain your calm, to hold your tongue and your temper.  Every year, I make a resolution to hold my temper, irrespective of whatever crap flies my way, and each year, I fail myself 😦

I came to office today , thinking I will post something positive and happy (and indeed I have loads to say about the twin’s antics which keep us in splits 🙂 ), but somehow, my fingers refuse to oblige to that note. So I now type as I whine about how rotten I feel (which is actually loads better than most days!)

Forgive me folks, I’m just not my self today. I think of all the hectic weekends before ,  this last one was the worst . Am down in the dumps and severely morose. I also know that by the time I reach home and have something, I will cheer up 😉

But just for now, I have nothing more to say 😐



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