Jan 20, 2012

Useless Confessions - III

I have to start this confession with a confession. I got nothing!

When I planned out this series in my head, I had three separate incidents in mind. But somehow, over the past three weeks, the third one has managed to slip out of my woozy brain. I can't remember it, no matter what. I spent the whole day yesterday racking my upstairs, but it just wouldn't come back to me. I can remember other stories, but they're just not as interesting. I know I should have written this down when I remembered, but I was lazy and now I don't have it. I'm so sorry to disappoint.

But of course, there are a few useless confessions I can still make. About my greatest useless fears. Now, I know there are people who think fears are useful because they help you do better in life, but believe me when I say that my fears are basically, utterly and absolutely useless. So today I'll talk about one of them.

This fear is so silly that I'm even ashamed to admit it. But yes, I'm afraid of Ghosts. I always have been and, I know always will be. Can't even remember when it started. I'll just go list out a few crazy fears I've had about ghosts over the years. Go ahead and laugh all you want, don't be shy now.

  • My first nightmare was of a little girl - who was headless. A large part of my childhood I was pretty scared that girl was going to show up in my room in the middle of the night.
  • I made up this thing about a phantom who rode a horse, broke in to kid's rooms through the window at night and stole them away. No idea where I got that from, but I spent many a sleepless night over him. Not your typical knight-in-shining-armour stuff, eh?
  • Someone in school told the story of Bloody Mary. That if you go to the bathroom, switch off the lights, close your eyes, turn around three times saying Bloody Mary, a crazed woman would appear with an axe and chop off your head. Now after this, every time I went to the loo, nothing came to my mind except Bloody Mary. You know, like the song that gets stuck in your head and doesn't go away. I would just rush through my business and dash out as soon as I could.
  • In my Grandma's house, I was usually allotted the diwan in the hall to sleep at night. And the hall window was right behind my bed. They kept it open at night during summers. So if I opened my eyes and turned around, I could see right outside the house. I was so dead scared that the bell would ring and I would turn around to see some chudail woman standing at the window, smiling her devilish smile. 
  • The Ring. One of the scariest movies I've ever watched. I actually used to get scared that something would crawl out of the TV when I was up studying late at night.
Things have changed a bit, now that I'm older. Yes, I'm still scared but a little less and I've noticed a pattern. There are some houses/rooms where nothing happens at all, I'm never scared and I rarely get bad dreams. Then, there are a few places where I just cannot sleep once I'm left alone. It's just too involuntary to even know why. I just try to have someone with me in such places.

In spite of all this, I still do watch horror films. You know, like I'll be flipping channels and one of them would be playing a horror flick. And then I'll be too tempted. I know it'll scare the bejesus out of me and I won't sleep again for the next week or so, but I'll just have to watch it. 

Geez, this post makes me sound like such a nutcracker, doesn't it? Tell me you have some irrational fears too, won't you?

Read up on my other Useless Confessions, Part I and Part II

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Jan 16, 2012

And These Are a Few of My Favourite Things!

Photo Credit: {eclaire}

Blogs! I have come to love so many of them. And each week I discover new ones, all the time amazed at the beautiful posts people come up with. I read somewhere that blogging promotes mediocrity, but I don't really think so, when I see the super-talented people out there who now have the power to publish their own material.

Being a mediocre writer myself, who is struggling to gain a better understanding of the art each day, I am no real judge of who writes what well. But I thought it would be fun to share with you all, my dear readers, some of the endearing posts that I read each week. Just like we tell each other about great books, we should tell each other about great blogs, no?

I want to do this each week but I'm not sure if I will be able to, I'll try, nevertheless. I will be writing about the posts and not the blogs, the difference is important I think, because every writer has their finer moments, and their not so fine ones. So I may mention the same blogger more than once, or whatever, you get the idea.

So let's get started! A few blog posts I've read in the past week, that have kept me engrossed and interested in random order:

Note: These are not necessarily posts that were written in the past week, I just came across them in that time frame.

  • It's Fungi This post is by Srikanth who blogs at 'Journey of Life'. He talks about a walk he took one evening and saw something that compelled him to return the next morning with a camera. The unusual, yet beautiful sighting is documented with lovely words and some simply-superb photographs. It was a refreshing read.
  • Look What We Found Written by The Girl Next Door, right here in Bangalore. Wish she lived next door to me, I'm so craving some good ol' girl-bonding :( Anyway, she's written a great description of some amazing Bangalorean street food, that got my mouth watering right away. I gotto try this place as soon as I can.
  • Parenthood, and all that Jazz This is not one of her latest posts, but the one that struck me the most as I was going through her blog. She's Smitha, a 'confirmed Blogomaniac' who needs just Any Excuse to Write. In this post she articulated quite well the predicament her daughter was facing at school, and how she handled it. A common scenario faced by many parents, I suppose. The post is very much well worth the read. 
  • Confidence Is The post is what the title suggests, oozing with confidence. The picture at the top says it all. As a person with a similar build, I could never pose for a self portrait with such an attitude. Nevertheless, Rashmi's words had a nice effect on me the day I read it, a bit of the confidence seeped in through my brain cells as well, working its magic. We girls should write and read such posts more often!
  • Awakening the Social Animal Okay, I so I cheat a bit, I read this more than a week ago, but I couldn't help mentioning it. The post is so reflective of the late-twenties-something girl that I have evolved into. Piya introspects at Yesterday Once More,  inspired by a profound quote from Winnie the Pooh.
  • Heads You Win; Tails I Lose Another gripping work of fiction from none other than the talented Phatichar. I would describe it as unputdownable, but since it's a blog, I'd say it was un-unscrolldownable. :D
  • A Helping of Buddha Vikas wrote this at Vicky~Pedia, as a part of the KFC Fiery Grilled contest on Indiblogger. How he managed to find a connection between KFC and Buddha is something baffling to me, but he did and with awesome style. This is some amazing talent if you ask me, I would be very surprised if he did not win.
  • My Encounter with the Inevitable Again, I cheat. Keirthana has a profound conversation with her inner-self, somewhat inspired by the last one between Harry and Dumbledore. Made for a very interesting read. Some important revelations came out of it too.

That's all for now, folks. Don't forget to tell me about your favourite posts! 

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Jan 12, 2012

Useless Confessions - II

This post is the second of a three-part series I'm doing on Confessions from my past. The thing about them is that they're utterly useless. It feels good to write about them, though! Check out Part I here.


I was about 8 or 9 years old. We hadn’t gone on our usual trip to India during summer break, we had stayed behind. After dad went to work, mum and I went to a local health club for a few hours every day. A summer kids camp was on that year at the club, so we kids were packed away while the ladies splashed around in the pool and did their aerobics.

It was a fun camp for the most part. The organizers were mostly American housewives who were pretty good at engaging children in various activities. The kids at the camp came from various backgrounds – there were British, American, Arab, Indian (of course) and even a few African kids I think. We all mixed well for the most part, although I do remember a few curious stares and strange questions from the white kids. Some of them were polite and well behaved, while others were downright rotten.

I remember visiting an Ice Cream factory that summer as a part of the camp. There was also a trip to an Insect Zoo. The American kids had brought jars to take pet insects home. The very idea seemed repulsive to me then. We had games in the pool and the gymnasium and several other activities. I played baseball for the first time in my life. I just couldn’t get the hang of it. J

We had a couple of art classes that summer. One of them is where the story of my confession unfolds.

All the kids had assembled in a conference room at the club. The ladies took out several art kits and opened them, explaining to us what each item was meant for. Metal wires were to be twisted into loops and dipped in paint to look like petals. Several petals would be put together to make a flower. The flower then had to be stuck onto a board that made the base. That was the project.

The ladies began distributing the material. Turns out they were a few boards short, and some of the kids didn’t get any, me being one of them. I was pretty pissed. I thought the lady deliberately hadn’t given me a board so the white kids could have enough. I’m not sure why I felt that way. Maybe I had witnessed something of that sort earlier. Or maybe it was just my imagination at work. I can’t remember now.

Anyway, I was pretty mad. I glanced around the table, and then I spotted it. There was a board left unattended. It was just lying there, with no one around to claim it. I couldn’t believe my eyes at first, but I slowly began inching towards it. When I finally reached it, my hands itched. I knew it belonged to someone, I knew it was wrong to take. But I so badly didn’t want to be left out. I didn’t want to be the one to show my mom a half-baked art piece at the end of the day when all my friends had good ones. So I gave in to the temptation. I grabbed it and ran.

Back in my seat, I glanced around the room again. My little act had gone unnoticed! Thereafter I kept very quiet, silently working away at the instructions. Only for a while, though. Soon, somebody had started bawling in the room. I looked up to see a girl standing at the very spot of my crime. It was evidently her board I had taken. She cried and cried and cried some more. People consoled her but she refused to be consoled. She actually threw a tantrum, stomping away in fury. A part of me wanted to give it back, but then I had gotten stared already and I didn’t really fancy approaching someone throwing such a hissy fit. So I let it go.

Eventually they found her a makeshift board made of thermocol. She was silent the rest of the day, sullen and moody. I remember feeling guilty about it, I’m not the sort who likes to make people cry. The art had lost all its joy for me. It was the last time I’d ever taken anything that wasn’t mine.

So there you have it, yet another useless confession off my chest. Nope, no one knew about this until now. One less thing to take to the grave!


Do you have useless confessions to make too? I'd love to hear about them. Stay tuned for part III, coming up same day, next week.

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Thank You Purvi!

I'd just like to make a quick note of thanks to Purvi, who graciously passed on her Versatile Blogger Award to me, among others. Thank you girl, that was a very sweet gesture.

I know most of you already know her for her blog is quite popular. For those of you who don't, Purvi is an amazing art, fashion and food blogger, who documents her beautiful work at Purvi's Creative Hub. The wall art pieces that she showcases through her blog are intricate and nothing short of lovely. True to the name of her blog, Purvi is extremely creative. The girl paints with coffee! Can you believe that? I can't even paint properly with regular paints. Go check out her blog for more information on her work.

Now, I'm supposed to write random facts about myself. Well, I think I write a lot about my life and this blog is strewn with several such random facts so I don't want to be repeating myself and boring you all.

I'm also supposed to pass on the award to 15 bloggers. It seems unfair to choose only 15 among the many beautiful blogs that I read. I would anyway be writing about the blogs and bloggers I love in the posts to come, focusing on one at a time. So I think I will pass on this one too. :)

Thank you once again, Purvi!

Stay tuned for Part II of my Useless Confessions, coming up later tonight!

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Jan 9, 2012

Books || Growing Up Bin Laden

Note: The contents of this post might be perceived as sensitive by some. Please understand that I come from a very neutral point of view, free from prejudice against any religion. My intention is absolutely not to offend anybody from any walk of life. 

When I first got to know about this book through The Hindu’s Literary Page, I knew I had to read it right away. There are few things that hold my attention as much as the topic of terrorists. I’m always interested to know about the people behind the acts of terror that we see and hear about. What kind of people are they? What drives them to do what they do? Why don’t they ever give up, even when they fail? What makes them so passionate, that they are willing to sacrifice life, even their own?

It was the answers to such questions that I was seeking when I first opened the book. Until I turned the final leaf last night, I was literally hooked on to the journey into the lands of the Arabs, and later that of the Pashtuns. All through, I learned many startling facts about the man who was until recently, the world’s most wanted – Osama Bin Laden.

Growing Up Bin Laden shows us a glimpse of the life lead by Osama, through the eyes of his wife and son. The book is co-authored by Najwa Bin Laden – his first wife and first cousin, Omar Bin Laden – his fourth son from Najwa, and Jean Sasson – an American writer who recounts their stories. It was written a few years before Osama Bin Laden’s assassination.

Through this book, I was surprised to learn that as a boy, Osama was held in high regard by his family - as  quiet, studious, staunchly religious and extremely well mannered. No one could ever have guessed that this boy would one day be responsible for the death of so many people around the world. Although their marriage was arranged, Najwa and Osama had fallen in love before they were wed, as they often spent time in each other’s company as cousins.

The book presents us with two very personal and paradoxical roles played by Osama, as a husband and as a father. While he appears to have succeeded in the former, as is evident from Najwa’s account, in the latter he seems to have failed. The pages of the book are filled with stories of Osama’s neglect of his children, and how Omar was very keenly aware of it. On the one hand he permitted his wife to leave him and their home in Afghanistan when she requested it and on the other, he encouraged his sons to voluntarily sign up as suicide bombers.

There is no doubt about the fact that Osama was a highly intelligent man. A mathematical genius, if you will. But he was also ruthlessly stubborn. And a believer of violent Jihad. A powerful and dangerous concoction was always in the brewing, and the political situation in the Arab world only fuelled the fire.

Through the book, Omar bin Laden tells us of his father’s missions, his true motives. The following words were spoken by Osama, directly to Omar:

"First we obliterate America. By that I don’t mean militarily. We can destroy America from within by making it economically weak, until its markets collapse. When that happens, they will have no interest in supplying Israel with arms, for they will not have extra funds to do so. Their defeat and collapse may not come in my lifetime. It may not come in your lifetime, but it will come. One day Muslims will rule the world. That is God’s plan, Omar, for Muslims to rule."

Osama’s life vision was that “the entire world should be Islamic.” Omar goes on to confess that he felt “not one jolt of passion” for his father’s life.

It also came as a surprise to me that Osama was a frugal man. Although born into one of the richest families of Saudi Arabia, his wives and children were not permitted to use modern conveniences such as air conditioners, refrigerators and televisions. He believed that these would be a hindrance in the practice of true Islam. No, I suppose he was not greedy for power or wealth. He was only a man so driven by his belief in his interpretation of religion that he was willing to put everything at stake. Absolutely everything.

Which makes me wonder. I mean, put aside the fact that he was a terrorist. Put aside everything ‘evil’ he’s done. I know it’s hard, but let’s. What remains is passion. The man did whatever he believed was right. Without a day’s hesitation, without a day’s lethargy, without a day’s rest. How many of us can claim to be able to do that, with whatever we are passionate about in our lives. How many of us ‘good’ people can go about life with that kind of fire in the belly – to do the opposite of what he did. For the number of passionate ‘evil’ doers there are out there, are there an equal number of passionate ‘good’?

Of course, this doesn’t justify what he’s done. It’s just an observation, my observation.

Growing Up Bin Laden certainly makes for an excellent read. It provides the quality of a gripping novel of fiction, it’s a book one would find hard to put down. The sad thing is, the stories in it are true. And enough to give you goose bumps all through.

I’ll leave you with a few more quotes. The book is available on Flipkart, here and Amazon, here.

“During all the years of our marriage, Osama had always said that any of his wives were free to leave any time they felt the desire to do so.

Osama saw me several times before I left. He made a particular point of telling me, as he had when I had gone to Syria to give birth to Nour, “I will never divorce you, Najwa. Even if you hear I have divorced you. It is not true.”” – Najwa Bin Laden

“I often wonder if my father has killed so many times that the act of killing no longer brings him pleasure or pain. I am nothing like my father. While he prays for war, I pray for peace. And now we go our separate ways, each believing that we are right. My father has made his choice, and I have made mine. I am, at last, my own man.” – Omar Bin Laden

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Jan 7, 2012

When the Maami Wore a Burkha

Passing time at the doctor’s office can be a big bore. Especially if you don’t have a good book or an interesting conversationalist for company. It’s usually my mom or M who accompany me and they’re no fun. Doctor’s lounges transform them into zombie-like versions of themselves, they simply stare into space, holding on to their chins, a small frown between the brows. No amount of my pestering can snap them out of it.

So over the years, I’ve devised several ways to amuse myself. The best one is observing people. I’ll admit it, I’m one of those loony girls who will stare until you’re wondering if there’s something stuck in your teeth. I know it sounds creepy, but I can’t help it, I just find people fascinating. I take in all the details, right from what they’re wearing to their tiny mannerisms, and then I make up stories about their lives in my head. Silly ones.

Some people look incredibly Indian, while others look like they might be from anywhere in the world. This always gets my attention. I wonder if this is so because of their genes, their dressing or their attitude towards life. So I give them a mental makeover. For instance, if there’s this ultra-hip girl in tight jeans and heels, I imagine what she would look like if she lived 30 years ago, in a sari, hair tied into a tight plait, and a big red pottu on her forehead. I do the same for guys, imagining them in a lungi and well-oiled hair. It’s funny to see in my head that they all fit pretty well into Indian costumes. Very rarely do I see someone who just doesn’t look Indian from any angle.

I do the opposite as well, put traditionally-dressed people in modern attire to see if they could ever ‘adapt’. Most of them would, my conclusions tell me. Cross-religious dressing is fun too. Like a imagining a woman in a burqa dressed like a Tamilian maami  and vice versa. Sounds blasphemous, I know. But I guess it’s just my way of removing the tags people have created for themselves, realizing that essentially everyone is the same. Okay, that was too meaningful. This is a silly post. Moving on…

Yesterday I found myself waiting yet again, while the super-busy doc kept seeing medical reps. It was exasperating, of course, until my eyes fell on this person and then he had my complete attention. I found him so fascinating, I almost had the mind to walk up to him and say, Excuse me sir, I find you fascinating. I now severely regret not doing that.

I immediately started my Sherlock-Holmes-wannabe-type investigations. The man was visibly in his early to mid-forties, owing to gray strands, bags under his eyes, and a large paunch. He was pretty fair by Indian standards. I was guessing Muslim, and he confirmed it by answering his mobile in a pronounced Urdu twang. By then, I was hooked.

What drew me to him was that despite the telltale signs of aging, his face had retained a boyish sort of aura. He wore a perpetual frown, as though he was confused about something. Reasonably well-dressed, and yet I couldn’t help thinking that he was charmingly careless about things. I shamelessly listened in on his conversation, turns out he had forgotten his file and was asking someone to get it for him. Aha! One of my observations turned out right.

His gait and mannerisms suggested a certain amount of affluence, yet the powerful personality that comes from a successful career was missing. He kept glancing nervously at a crying baby in the room, as though he would have liked to do something to cheer her, but wasn’t too confident of speaking up. The man with the baby dropped his pen, and Mr. Boyish-charm immediately stooped down to pick it up. Ah, my object of observation had a good, helpful heart, I concluded.

My fun was interrupted when the doc was finally ready to see me. And then I forgot all about him, until now.

So this is what I do, more often than not. Not just at the doc’s, but at bus stops, railway stations, airports, pretty much anywhere I’m waiting. Please somebody tell me this isn’t too creepy. Oh well, it’s okay if it is I guess. The world needs more creepsters like me, or so I would like to believe.

One day, I’m going to muster up the courage to speak to the people I find interesting. Hopefully, when I do that, I will come back and tell you all about it.  

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Jan 5, 2012

Useless Confessions - I

This post is the first of a three-part series I'm doing on Confessions from my past. The thing about these confessions is that they are pretty much useless. But I'd like to have people know about them anyway!


I was little, very little. I don’t remember how old. I could walk and talk, but I was little. Keep that in mind, okay? Okay.

We were on a plane, me and mum. I don’t remember if we were coming or going. This is a very vague memory, almost like a dream. I was thirsty, I asked mum for water. She told me to go up to the stewardess and ask for it. Moms in the 80s had some new-fangled ideas about teaching their kids to be independent. Does this still happen?

So, I got out of my seat, went to that little place up front where all the stewardesses disappeared into. There were a group of them standing around, talking, laughing. I barely reached their knees. They looked very pretty in their silk blouses and short skirts and pantyhose and those smart caps they wore. I went up to one of them and tugged at her skirt.

The rest of the memory is sort of hazy, like in slow motion. She looked down at me and smiled. I said something that included the word ‘water’. She smiled even wider and nodded. Then she led me to this water dispensing thing, filled a small paper cup and handed it to me, before returning to her friends.

The cup was full and difficult to handle, I think. I took a sip. And then the unthinkable happened. I dropped it. One neat ‘splat’ and the cup was on the carpeted floor, water splashed all over. My heart was pounding, I was scared. The low hum of the aircraft was all I could hear, it was deafening.

I picked up the cup gingerly, walked slowly up to the stewardess and gave it back to her. She smiled yet again, took it from me and returned to her conversation.

And then I ran. Back to my seat and my mom, where I believed I was safe.

“Did you get your water?” asked mum.
“Mhmmm,” I nodded.

Every time I saw that stewardess come up the aisle, I was shit scared that she was coming to scold me, or rat on me to my mom. But she never did. I continued to feel pretty awful though, as though I had done something terrible. That was one flight I was very glad to get off.

I’ve never told anyone about this, until now. I had planned on taking my secret to the grave, but oh well, now I can go with a clear conscience. 


Do you have useless confessions to make too? I'd love to hear them! Share in the comments, or do a response to this post on your own blog. :) Stay tuned for part II, coming up same day, next week.

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Jan 2, 2012

2012 Happenings

In my last post, 'Reflections', I openly challenged the year ahead. I believe my precise words were, 'Bring it on, 2012!' Perhaps I was being a tad idiotic, perhaps I should have been a bit more respectful, for the 2012 fairy godmother appears to have taken my words too literally. I received a nice shocker right at the stroke of midnight.

No, it wasn't a beautiful white ball gown, or a Pumpkin-turned-chariot, or even a pair of glass slippers. It was nothing like I expected it to be. Ladies and Gentleman, as celebrations erupted in this part of the world welcoming the arrival of a brand new-year that has been proclaimed to bring doom to planet Earth, the thing that I received was a nice, long lecture from my mum. About why I should be having kids this year.

I'm not kidding. This is exactly what happened. M and I were up, doing this and that. We hadn't planned on calling anyone at midnight. Eventually, the clock struck 12. We looked at each other, smiled. Our arms outstretched, we moved towards each other, expecting to receive warm hugs. Instead, we froze mid-hug, when the phone rang. Smiles turned to frowns, and then quizzical expressions followed. We dropped our arms and M went to answer it. My parents.

I couldn't believe they had stayed up till midnight, but apparently my dad had insisted that they wish us first, before going to bed. So M spoke to Dad, Mom spoke to M, I spoke to Dad... That was all sweet and nice, I thought, until I spoke to mom. And then the lecture started. Let's just leave it at that.

For those of you who are wondering, no I'm not against having kids, but I don't know when it'll happen. It'll happen, I know that for sure. One day, I will magically know that I'm ready and everything will fall into place. It could be tomorrow, a few months later or whenever, I don't know. I believe parenting is a calling, and when it calls out to me, I will rise to the occasion. Anyway, baby-planning as a topic demands a post of its own, so I'll leave it at that as well.

The First Day

1st Jan turned out to be nice. We did go to Woodstock for breakfast, except that it turned out to be brunch instead. The poor guys were severely understaffed, owing to the fact that the previous night's party had gone on until 4 AM. Nevertheless, the food was yum yum, as usual. So, no complaints there. I actually wanted to take a pic to share with you guys, but I was too famished to even remember by the time food arrived.

We then went shopping for a scarf, but I ended up buying an omelette pan and a pair of house-pants. I call them house-pants for lack of a better term, but they are the most comfortable pair I've ever slipped into. So comfortable, that I never want to take them off again. I love my new pants.

The Second Day

I started a new workout regime today. It's real fun. Can't wait to do more!

More News!

In other spectacular 2012 news, one of my good friends has taken up a whopper of a new year's resolution. She calls it Mission Impossible, and I think the title is befitting. It is so amazing, and I think she's amazing for even attempting it. Hold on to your pants, I'll tell you more.

Rafath (that's her name), is one of my good friends from Google. The first important fact of relevance here is that she is a totally heels-crazy gal. She writes a shoe blog, where she showcases beautiful designer heels that are absolutely drool-worthy.

The second fact is that she has been trying to lose weight for some time.

So in a brilliant strategy that kills several birds with one stone, she has decided to put the two together. She's started a challenge to lose a certain amount of weight, failing which, she will be giving away all her heels. For free! Yes, you heard me right. For every kg of weight she does not lose every fortnight, she will be giving away one pair from her amazing collection of heels.

Oh, and she's blogging about it. So please go and read all about her mighty endeavour, here. She's already put up the first pair of heels on the altar - gorgeous red suede platform pumps.

Oh, and there's a double-incredible-nail-biting twist to this. An anonymous reader has promised to gift her a Giuseppe Zanotti pair, if she is on track for three months. Now I don't know much about heels, but going by her reaction it's pretty huge, and it's gotten her all the more pumped (no pun intended)! All we know for now is that the mysterious generous benefactor is male (oooh!), and presumably, rich. :D

That's all the exciting new from me so far for this year. How have your first two days of 2012 been?

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