Like Duck to Water, thats how I have taken to life :). This blog is the saga of love and adventures of a small duck in a large water body called LIFE....

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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Winds of change :-D

Had been wanting to change the template for God knows how many days. Didn't really want to go for the sample templates that blogger gives. After much and much experimentation, I'm finally satisfied with the results. Its again in my favourite pink, but I feel this is much softer and sober. That background pink was sorta gaudy and had started to grate on my nerves :-D I haven't created my own template, just modified Dan's pink Thisaway (Rose) into what I wanted :-D. Believe me, it took a LOT of modifications :) But it was fun :)

Ok Just to have a comparision here's the BEFORE look and feel:

Though the current one is the AFTER look, I'm uploading a photo anyways (who knows I might change it again tomorrow :-D):

I also changed the blog name. Again Deep Thoughts is good, but just felt like a change. Dip-tea is what one of my close friends Ranjini used to call me. Am stealing the idea from her and copy-righting it ;-)

Its as if changing the blog look has brought a fresh outlook to me :) Its really strange, but life's not so dull anymore :) I feel a lot more cheerful and happy. I sure am weird ;-)

So, how is the change? Feels lotsa better na? What d'ya say?

Monday, June 27, 2005

Longings for Bangalore {sigh}

Longings for Bangalore

Living in a far away country
Is not a very stressful chore.
Then why do I long to go back
To my good old beloved Bangalore?

I have a lovely home here
And a husband I absolutely adore.
Yet, why do I long to go back
To my good old beloved Bangalore?

Beautiful roads, tall buildings
Restaurants and markets in galore.
Why do I still long to go back
To my good old beloved Bangalore?

Lawns, trees, hills and falls
Various hiking trails to explore.
If so, why do I long to go back
To my good old beloved Bangalore?

Not U.K, Russia or Africa
Not Brazil, Japan or Singapore
Why do I only long to go back
To my good old beloved Bangalore?

Sometimes I feel all alone.
Sometimes everything seems a bore.
Is that why I long to go back
To my good old beloved Bangalore?

Mom, Dad, and Darsh are there,
So are friends, relatives and more.
That is why I long to go back
To my good old beloved Bangalore.

Someday I will see my hometown
Someday I will fly to the Indian shore.
Someday soon I'll surely go back
To my good old beloved Bangalore.

Then I'll not feel these longings anymore...

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Holler on a roller :-D

Had been to Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom in Louisville last weekend i.e on 18th June 2005. Since it has become my habit to log these kind of adventures (or should I say misadventures :-D) in detail, I am putting up photos with lots of descriptions here :) Click on the various links scattered here and there to be taken to the rides listed in the official site of Six Flags :)

We reached the park by about 11 AM, due to some wrong directions taken (we actually landed in another state Indiana!! Louisville in Kentucky is separated from Indiana by only a bridge, and wow, what a bridge!! ;-) ).

Our first ride was the Hellevator :) While we were standing in the queue for the same, Sri pretended to have forgotten the handicam battery and fooled me nicely :-p He also got a couple of playful beatings from me for the same ;-) After a wait of 45 min, we finally sat on the ride. The Hellevator can seat about 20 people in one go. What it does is simple, brings your heart to your mouth :-D Actually what it does is, it goes up slowly till the top for about 180 feet and after reaching the top, drops suddenly. Stops suddenly very near to the ground. Man!! It was totally scary but lots and lots of fun. Definitely would like to go on it again though my hand was shaking when I took this photo :)

Ever since I remember I've been wanting to sit on one of the really big roller coasters. The ones with lots of slides, loops and twists. Imagine my shock when I get on the first of my really big roller-coasters, and its not sitting, but standing!! :-D I'm not complaining :) Chang is one of world's first (am not sure if its the only one) stand-up roller coasters. The photos I took were directly under the sun, for better ones, check out the link above :)

The 2 min ride was awesome. The first slide is breathtaking (literally so, I held my breath throughout the slide :-D) Chang has about 3 loops, 2 twists and lots of slides. After we completed the ride, my head was reeling and I was swaying from side to side :)

Immediately after Chang, we headed towards T2. T2 stands for T-square i.e Terror to the second power :-o It is the first suspended looping roller-coaster in the United States. Suspended means the track is above you and you are sitting in a bucket seat hanging on to the track!! This is especially fun when there's a loop (check out the T2 link above to know what I mean) . You will be sorta riding on your head :-D

By the time we finished these 3 rides, it was 2 PM in the noon! The wait time for each was so much!! We decided we had had enough of the rollercoasters. Moreover, we had to have lunch too. Neither of us wanted the lunch out of our mouths in a hurry (sitting on a roller coaster after lunch meant anything could happen ;-) ). We went into one of the numerous restaurants and had pizza. The pizza with tomatoes and cheese was really good (or I was reallllllly hungry :-D).

After lunch we decided to go to the water park and relax. God, if only we knew!! After changing into swimming gear and storing all our stuff in lockers, we strolled towards an attraction called Tornado. It was advertised majorly on the internet, so we wanted to see it. God!!

We had to drag a rubber floating tube all the way up (don't worry it wasn't very heavy). Once you reach the top, you are supposed to put the float into water, sit on it, slide through a water slide and are launched into a funnel which is called the tornado. Wooooohooooooo!! The sliding was way better than any roller coaster (no belts, if the float overturns, then its you, water and the tornado :-p) :-D Thankfully for us, the float didn't overturn, but water splashed all over us and we both were laughing all the way. It was totally coooooool (in fact, COLLLDDDDD)!!!

Still laughing, we walked towards vanishing falls, a body slide. After a climb with a wait of more than 30 min, we reached the top. Body slide means in simple terms 'no float to sit on' :-D Its your body, the slide and water. The slide twists and turns and drops you into a swimming pool. Its like a jaarobande in the parks, only really big and filled with water :)) Fun, fun and more fun!! The major fun is when you drop into water, you really don't know when and where the slide ends, so you are splashed into water very unexpectedly :)

After the slide, we enjoyed a small cruise. Its just you lying on a rubber float and the current slowly takes you on a soft, soothing, wonderful cruise. But beware, the water also has surprise water volcanoes, which bursts under you and waterfalls here and there :) Climbing onto the rubber float was a bit tough for me as the float slid from under me and I was dunked into water twice :)) Finally I somehow managed to climb onto it and the rest of the sailing was smooth ;-) We actually went back for another round :)

Later we went into the Hurricane Bay Wave pool, which is a normal swimming pool. But every 15 min or so, a bell rings announcing the arrival of WAVES!! Waves are generated artificially. The pool is like the sea, only you don't get salt water in your mouth. The waves are hugggggggggge and we both had so much fun jumping over each and every wave. The best part is when the bell rings, people all around just run towards the pool to enjoy the waves. We jumped over 3 rounds of waves and had the most amazing time.

We also went into a water tree house (what a term!!) where you can climb a house and it has water pouring and sliding everywhere. It also has 1000-gallon bucket which keeps getting filled. Once its completely filled, it overturns and throws water on anybody below :-D Later returns back to its filling. Standing under the bucket is like standing under a hugggge waterfall :))

It was evening 7 PM when we finally gave up and decided to go back home. We had slight aches and pains from the various rides but we had smiles on our faces.

But you know what? I had always imagined roller coasters to be a great thrill, and they truly were! But once you are done with one, you know that they are not very scary anymore. The many loops, twists and slides are okay, you can handle them. The free falls are the only place you are actually scared and your breath gets stuck. Or maybe the problem with us was that we had already done bungee and that fall was truly biggggggggg compared to any of these small thrills. Anyways the day was perfect and we were totally tired from a day of absolute enjoyment :) Headed home in bliss :)

Monday, June 13, 2005

Hmm Dis I like!

Well, today is exactly a month since I landed in U.S, the "Land of Dreams" as one of my very good friends calls it (not my land of dreams, thank you very much :-p). So I thought why not have a post which talks about what I like/dislike about this place. Lets start with the dislikes so that I can leave what I like for last :-D


Dislike 1 - Cost of stuff:

Man!! Its a costly world. I know the dollar-to-rupee conversion plays a major part here but I can't help but crib about it. Can you blame me when a Rs. 20 coconut in India costs more than 3 times here? The cost at Walmart ranges b/w $1.5 to $1.7. If you are ready to compromise the quality, you can go for a $0.99 one in an Indian store, but believe me the quality sucks! Everything from a small peanut to huge furniture seems to cost a fortune. I know, I know that we also earn in dollars, but we don't earn in millions of dollars :-p It'll just take a bit more time to get adjusted. I have also stopped noting the price for stuff I really want, just so that my mind doesn't get boggled :-D

Dislike 2 - Sunset at 9 PM:

It drives me crazy!! The sun is high up in the sky at 8:30 in the night! Doesn't seem like night at all :-p Ok does it atleast rise late to compensate? Nope it promptly does so at 5:45 AM whether you want it to or not :-p

Dislike 3 - Restaurant food:

In one word - SAD!! No spice, no khaara, just bland-tasting stuff you just have to keep on munching to finish eating :-p Spice for these people implies salt and pepper! I have been to several restaurants so far and have eaten at various joints during our trip to Florida. U.S restaurants are NOT a place for vegetarians. Mexican and Italian restaurants are ok, Indian restaurants pretty good, but American is quite pathetic. If you ask for a burger with no meat, you know what you get? Its cheese and some veggies within 2 buns. No patti. If you get a vegetarian patti, its like eating a tyre (not that I have actually eaten a tyre but I have eaten a vegetarian patti :-p). People here seem to live on meat - they eat all sorts of meats and drink hell lot of cola. More than they drink water! I was really surprised at little kids aged less than 6 years being offered cola. Hello!! Cola's not very good for health, people!! And they seem to think salads compensate. Atleast are the salads eatable? Bland stuff again! But life certainly seems better for non-vegetarians here. Yet, I'm gonnu stick to vegetarianism though I am already tired of saying "no meat" at every eating joint :-p

Dislike 4 - Ulta (reverse) driving:

Oh God!! I'll never get over it!! The steering wheel at the left side of the car rather than the right. Driving on the right side of the road rather than left. Free right instead of free left. Why do Americans always have to do exactly the opposite of what the rest of the world does? :-p When I first landed in airport, Sri had come to pick me up. When he went to sit in the car, he obviously went to the left of the car. I almost shouted "Hey pal, that's my seat" :-D Till sometime back, it was almost a constant struggle to find my seat-belt because I'd always look for it on the wrong side. Whenever Sri would suddenly take a free right, I'd be scared out of my wits!! I am a bit used to it now. But doesn't mean I like it :-p Also, I tried my hand at driving here once. Thankfully, our car is an autogear! I dunno what I'd have done if the gears had been manual and had to be put by the right hand that too in the reverse order!!

Dislike 5 - Self help is best help policy:

Clean up the house, wash utensils, clothes, whatever you do, do it on your own! Yeah it does make me self-reliable, but hello!! Doesn't mean I have to like it ;-) Self-help is not out of choice. Its usually due to a cost factor. Labour is hell lot costly and household paid help come with a millionaires-only-tag :-D That reminds me, I still have to wash the utensils from today morning's breakfast :(

Dislike 6 - Wooden Houses:

Houses are made of wood here and not of brick and mortar!! Ok my house is strong. Ok it hasn't cracked anywhere yet. Ok its not easily breakable. But I'm still scared that

A strong wind will blow
and away my wooden house will go.
and craaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaash!!
It hasn't happened till now, I know
but who knows what's in store tomorrow?


That's about it for the dislikes. I still might have many but I think I've covered the major cribs. So lets head right on to the likes. I like zis part :)


Like 1 - State resort/recreation parks:

I love them!! I have already visited 3 parks till now for treks (Will be writing a lengthy picture-pretty blog on that :-D) and I'm just crazy about them. Unused land with forests/caves/river/lakes are all converted into state resort/recreation parks with hiking trails. There are also lodges/cottages and picnic areas created so that its convenient for those who want to camp and stay overnight. The main thing is each and every one of them I have been to till now are maintained very well. There are no charges for hiking, but obviously there are fees for lodging/using the resort facilities like swimming pools/golf courses etc. Special events/tours have fees as well. I basically liked this innovative way of protecting nature, but not restricting people from enjoying it :) Wish its done in India. I have trekked to quite a few spots there too. But its just a self-trek or a group trek. There are no hiking trails as such. It'd be great if such a system is implemented in India. There are so many forests being exploited mercilessly, anything remotely like this will probably save the ecosystem to a great extent and encourage more people to go back to nature :)

Like 2 - Huggggggggge Shopping Malls:

They are huggggggggge and they are awesome! Its really difficult to think of a thing that's not available in one of these malls. The Walmart near my home is something like the whole Jayanagar 4th block in Bangalore put under one roof :) The malls are very easy to get lost in, as Jerry Seinfeld puts it "When a man walks into a supermarket, its with a sense of purpose. But after 10 min you find the same man thinking 'What am I doing in this aisle? Why did I come here?'" :-D You get groceries, clothes, cosmetics, medicines and what not!! And you know what's even more amazing? There are supermarkets wholly dedicated to babies, pets, toys, bedrooms, bathrooms and even maternity!!! Nevertheless, totally cooooooooool :)

Like 3 - Fresh fruits, veggies, milk and curd:

There's no milkman pinging you in the early hours of the morning and making you swear. And, no, you don't have to ferment milk to get curd :-D Milk is available in cans, only problem being that its branded with an expiry date :-p Curd (or as these people say Yogurt) is so thick and again available in cartons. Only restriction being that you buy plain yogurt and not a flavoured one or you'll end up eating vanilla/strawberry/what-not-berry tasting curd :-D As for fruits, I just adore the variety of fresh fruits available - bananas, grapes, apples, pears, cherries, peaches, cantaloupes, wow!! Cost, again, should be scrupulously unnoticed and avoided at all cost :-D Vegetables are the same. You might not get some Indian veggies, which are easily available in the Indian store but whatever is available is really fresh and kept fresh. There are also frozen veggies available, but somehow I felt they are a bit too soggy for my liking. I did like the frozen chopped mixed veggies which means I don't have to look for veggies and chop them up when I am preparing pulav or any rice which requires mixed veggies. All in all, freshies me like :)

Like 4 - Strangers greeting each other:

I absolutely love the concept of 2 total strangers saying hello or smiling at each other. Everybody greets the other, no matter you know the other person or not. Say hello and you can forget the person ever existed or that you ever met him/her. But the gesture in itself is, I think, really nice :) Not very surprisingly, the case is not same with Indians living here. I have seen several Indians in the Indian store, but have never seen anyone greeting a Indian stranger or me for that matter. I guess its because we are a bit more reserved and I can't really complain as I have not greeted any Indians either {grins sheepishly}. Ought to cultivate this good habit :)

Like 5 - Traffic Rules:

Strange but true! I really like the traffic rules they have in place here and what's wonderful about it is that every driver follows the rules. Be it the speed limits, stop signs or signals. Everyone has to follow the rules! Ofcourse there's the "OR-ELSE" factor. If you break the rules, you are given a ticket and its like a "mera-baap-chor-he" tattoo on your arm :-D :)). I would like to mention some of the rules, which I think are really cool. You drive straight and nobody can cut across you. People who want to turn into a road have to first give way to the ones already on the road. Simple, but we Indians never do so in India (me too :-D Been there done that :-D). Also, I like how these people slow down at a siren - be it an ambulance, fire-engine or a police vehicle. Its a rule but they follow it!! And how pedestrians always come first :) If a person is walking across a road, even if there are 100s of vehicles on that road going at more than 50 miles per hour, the vehicles HAVE to stop/slow down for the person. Right now I'm a pedestrian, so I think the rule is cool. After sometime, once I get into driving, maybe it won't be that "cool" anymore :-D

Like 6 - Radio stations/Multiplexes/Planned Roads etc:

Last but not the least are miscellaneous things like radio stations, multiplex theatres and planned roads :) There are so many radio stations - rock, country, pop, rap, top 100s and so on, all English. Moreover, these stations unlike Indian ones, don't have city limits. Say, if you are crossing Kentucky border to Tennessee, then a Tennessee station immediately takes over! Super or what!! And as for the multiplex theatres, I have been to 2 till now. Watched "The longest yard" 2 weeks ago and "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" last week. Enjoyed both. The first one I had been to had only 8 theatres but the second one had more than 12!! And all are pretty big and not at all cramped :) More cool than this - NO intermissions :-D Only regret is there are no theatres in Lexington playing Hindi movies :( But you never know, there maybe one coming up soon :)

I also love the planned roads here. The freeways are exactly as they are named - free. That means absolutely no signals :-D The exit roads from the free ways are all flyovers planned in such a way that they join the roads they are supposed to join without any interruptions :) Also in between the lanes with traffic in opposite directions, there is enough space left for any future road extension requirements. Most of the roads have more that 2 lanes in each direction. Even road work happens without the whole road being closed. But the only sad thing is that Kentucky roads are not very smooth and there are dents here and there. According to Sri, these are the worst roads in the whole of U.S :-D But for a person coming from Bannerghatta road, this is way better ;-)


Ok, so I like all these. But what I like most of all about U.S, is that the person I like best lives here - my Sri. Hmmm all the other likes and dislikes become so, so, so negligible when compared to this major like ;-) :)

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Happy Birthday Mommy :)

It feels really strange not to be with mom on her birthday :( I guess this is the first time I've ever been away on her birthday. I sort of feel a bit sad about it, but it isn't like I can suddenly catch an aeroplane and fly out to India :( The situation I'm in can't be helped.

Anyways this is a short post to say:

"Many Many Happy Returns Of The Day Mommy!! Hope you have a very beautiful, joyful and a wonderful birthday :) I miss you and love you a lot."

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Mickey Mouse, here we come :)

Those were the words written on the back of a car going the same way as we were headed i.e towards Orlando, Florida on the humid day of 27th May 2005. I know I haven't blogged for what seems like weeks, sort of became too lazy to write in detail about a great trip :-D After more than 10 days, I finally made up my mind to write about it {rolls her eyes}. But I AM doing that atleast now :-p You have to be grateful for that :-p :-D Also, click on any of the photos to see all of our trip photos :)

The drive was long and by long, I mean loooooooooonnnnnnnnnngggggg. It was almost 12 hours. We had Sri's project mate Anjay along with us and later picked his fiancee Vidya up from Atlanta. Sri and Anjay took turns driving the SUV that Sri had rented specially for the trip. We left Lexington at around 11:00 AM in the morning, but reached our hotel in Orlando only about 2:00 AM on 28th May 2005, thanks to the heavy traffic and a jam for about an hour in Atlanta. But I did love the tall buildings there, which according to Sri, are nothing compared to the ones in New York downtown :-! Anyways after reaching the flashy Orlando (and believe me, it was flashy at 2 AM in the night!!!), we did nothing but fall fast asleep as the next couple of days were going to be hectic ones :))

Disney World

The hotel had free bus transport to Disney world. After a sad breakfast of a cold bagel and muffin, we caught the bus. Disney World Orlando is a huge place. The campus stretches to miles and I am pretty sure they'd have spent billions on it. No irony that they are earning more than billions each day :-p But it seems Disney World California is a much better place or so saying were some of the people in the bus ;-)

Disney world itself has many parts - Magic Kingdom, Disney-MGM Studios, Animal kingdom, Epcot, Disney downtown etc. But each of these require a day each to visit and since we had only one day per Disney World, we had fixed on seeing Magic Kingdom. After submitting the online ticket at the entrance and receiving the real ones, we caught a monorail to the Magic Kingdom. Imagine!! A monorail/ferry ride just to go from the entrance to the Magic Kingdom!! That shows how much has been spent!!

At 9:30 AM promptly, with much pomp and splendour (with a train full of cartoon characters arriving and waving, throwing balloons and coloured ribbons at the crowds below), the gates were opened. Disney World is any kid's paradise, a fantasy land where the TV cartoon characters come alive. The castle, the old authentic looking shops, the old-styled horse carriages, vintage cars, if that's not a fantasy, what else is?

We first decided to go to Tomorrowland which was designed in a future perspective with rides and shows all having a future theme. For Eg, "Stich's escape" is a show about how a prisoner escapes from a future prison. The fun is in that the character jumps on your shoulders (simulated by shoulder pads), spits on you (water is thrown at you ;-) ) and also grins near your ears :-D I loved the Space mountain the best in the lot, where you ride a roller coaster in almost dark. You don't know what to expect next and that was really fun :)

Our next stop was Mickey's Toontown Fair where you can see the houses of Mickey and Minnie (designed as shown in the cartoons) and meet cartoon characters like Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Donald. We took photographs with them :-D Kids were even taking their autographs as if they were real :) Later we walked through Fantasyland where there were merry-go-arounds and shows for little kids, to reach a haunted mansion, which wasn't scary at all as it is designed with children in mind ;-)

Next was Frontierland where I had the most fun. See below ;-)

The picture is of a roller coaster ride called Splash Mountain to ride which we had to wait for min half an hour :-o!! But it was a great thrill when we were hurled to the bottom of the mountain, later splashed into water and ended up half drenched :-p I also enjoyed another roller coaster ride called Thunder Mountain Railroad. There are also ferry rides here.

Our final stop was Adventure land where we took a Jungle Cruise in which the skipper of the boat will take you through a man-made jungle making jokes. Man, she was funny! We also enjoyed a ride called Pirates of the Caribbean and climbing a tree house :) Our trip to Disney ended with a toy train ride which covers the entire Magic Kingdom :) Night, had dinner at an Indian restaurant where food was pretty ok :)

Universal Studios

The next morning, i.e on 29th May 2005 Sunday, we headed towards Universal Studios. Again another huge complex. The parking itself was in a 4-floor building with each floor having names and row numbers so that you can easily (????) remember your parking spot. No transport this time, so went by our SUV. There are also horizontal conveyor belts from the parking lot to the main entrance, only fair as its so far :-p Again after collecting our tickets, we entered Universal Studios. I have to say that I loved all the shows, rides here. In Disney, most of the rides were designed for kids, but Universal had no such restrictions. So it was more fun ;-)

The first show we saw was Shrek-4D, which is a 3-D movie with 4-D effects like when donkey sneezes, water is sprinkled on you and wind blows on your face when they fly on a dragon etc. It was awesome!! Next one was Twister which is a total simulation of the hurricane, with rain sprinkling on your head, the ceiling almost falling on you and cows flying ;-) :-D We also rode a roller coaster called Mummy where the bugs from Mummy movie chase you and the coaster runs here and there to escape. That was one hell of a ride!! There were also other shows like Jaws - where sharks attack your boat, Earthquake - where the train you are on shakes dues to earthquake, the horror makeup show - which was funny and informative, MIB - where you are an MIB agent in the making, learning how to shoot aliens, Animal Planet live - where animals perform tricks etc. Last we went to the Terminator 2 4-D which was in word - Fantastic!! The merge of on-screen and reality was totally cool :)

We also window-shopped and did weird things like this:

Don't worry we haven't dyed our hair, just trying out hats in a hat store :-D Looks like pink is my colour :-D

Later in the night, we went to Orlando downtown and just drove around the place. Had dinner at a pure (surprise, surprise) vegetarian Indian restaurant called Woodlands. Hmm I'm sure they are from Udupi. The management people even spoke Kannada!! Ate dosas and Gobi Manchurian in a restaurant after what seems like months, though its only been a month :-D

Kennedy NASA Space Center

30th May 2005 took us to Orsin, in the Florida coast where we visited the Kennedy NASA Space Center, a working center where space shuttles are launched now and then :) First visited the model of a space shuttle and then saw a 3-D movie which is actually of a space station and taken by the astronauts themselves living in it :) Saw rockets in the rocket garden which are supposedly the real ones and later saw the launch pads where space shuttles are launched to-date :)

The icing on the cake was seeing the simulation of the successful Apollo launch to the moon. That was too thrilling, especially when the countdown ends and the rocket is launched :) There is also a stone from the moon which is displayed (am really not sure it is real :-p) and that's what Sri and me are touching here:

The sizes of each of the rocket parts are so huge that its amazing, but its really surprising that the cabin of the crew is so small that it can only fit in three people and that's it!!! Everything was really interesting and the amount of information I learned here was tremendous :-D

We were supposed to leave Orsin by 12 noon but we could do so only at 2 PM due to the tours we took :( By the time we reached Lexington, it was 3 AM in the night!! Are baap re!!! Sri and Anjay were really tired due to all the driving they did, but all in all it was a real fun and enjoyable trip. Well worth seeing once. But you know what? Sri had already seen the California Disney World and Universal Studios, so most of it was a repeat for him :-D Anyways the poor guy never complained and planned the whole thing just for my sake. Isn't that extremely sweet of him? :))