Growing with Chicken biryani


I am a big fan of chicken biryani. When I say big, I don’t mean Burj Khalifa-big- but, Big bang theory-big would be an understatement. Whatever, I am a true, loyal fan of chicken biryani. To me, from time immemorial, this has been a magical dish. A dish that has always made my soul -complete, stomach-full, heart-glad and any day-memorable; I am proud to feature my views on this amazing dish in my blog.

Of the few things that I am known for apart from writing about poems, current affairs, movies, news, Obama ( I am accused of writing pretty much about him, too) is a new found love for cooking. Prior to coming to Canada, I have never touched a knife to chop onions, a peeler to peel potatoes, or for that matter clean my plates. Though I was appreciative of anything food, I’ve always knew that they arrived on my dining table through a certain act of divine intervention-of which I am mighty proud, too.

In my growing years in a Muslim country, Friday was the markedly blessed day. The day when my mother after days of pestering, gets down to make this dish. In a family of two children, where the older one (me!) had a long standing love affair with this dish and the younger one (my sister!) had a love for chicken fried rice, it required enormous amount of tact and ploy to make sure that the weekend special that emerged from the kitchen-was chicken biryani. Let’s not divulge into the relevant backdoor politics that ensued, chicken biryani was our Friday dish and, as many Indian hotels opened and closed in Abu Dhabi, as I grew like a rocket both physically and mentally; the chicken biryani of mom was the best.

It saddened me to leave Abu Dhabi for my secondary school education to God’s own country that mom (out of her sorrow for letting son go,) and me (ever happy to capitalize on it) made her make back to back dishes both to take back to India .

Studying in St.Thomas Central, was a challenging experience, but the first dish in those funny canteens, was once again chicken biryani and I fell in love with the dish. But in Kerala, I realized how Malayalis had a certain affinity to make it a chicken-less affair. This dish, was a regular with all our family friends, this was Tenny’s favorite and if you needed to be in his good books, this had to be there on the table. I still remember the first visit back to Abu Dhabi after St. Thomas in 11th Standard, when I landed in Dubai minus 15 kilos from leaving the Emirates to the wails of parents; only to have them reassured when I gobbled up 3 straight plates from my cousins’ house.

Then in 12th Standard, came the escape from boarding to a Catholic- run hostel in Trivandrum, where this dish was a regular, in addition to the countless trysts with Hotel Chinnus in Keshavadasapuram, Trivandrum; just to have this dish. I relished this dish like no other and loved it.Then came the TKM days, the Uniarab-oilfield days, I ate, ate and ate. Everyone used to make fun of me and my infatuation to this dish. I dint bother. As long as I got mom’s variant or the Arab, Hyderabadi, Bombay etc etc variant of this dish, I was just might happy.

However things changed, when I came to Canada. There was no one to make biryani. I felt so sad; and however way people made it here, it never tasted good or any better. Nostalgic and depressed, there was no solace, except a South Indian restaurant, where it was so oily that you could fill your automobile engine with it. Then came the astonishing cooking madness phase of my life in 2009; and I made, made and made chicken biriyani. I still fondly remember my first chicken biryani, when I mixed the rice and chicken separately in a pressure cooker and without tightening the lid (I was fortunate here), I put it in the oven to bake, only to be alarmed by the burning of the plastic handle-the biryani was good enough for my roomie to leave me with a warning.

Cooking this dish brought issues like over-cooked rice, flavoring etc etc. Reading Kite Runner gave me the idea of a life time to use turmeric milk as a flavoring agent; with further experiments, judicious use of cilantro, the use of green onions in the chichen masala to the time required for baking, to proper use of nuts, eggs- I perfected making my own chicken biryani and could never appreciate it from anywhere.

Incidentally one of my testimonials in Orkut, introduced me as Biryani King; which till date, my friends use to refer to me.

I believe in this dish. Its magnitude and scope to make any one happy; the aroma to make the salivary glands run crazy with passion, the humbling ability of anyone to make this dish, despite the time consuming task involved, the ability to make people happy eating the one you made; to see it, savor it with a heavenly feeling is-priceless.

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I was stunned recently. Very much that it took me some time to regain my breath. Couldn’t speak or utter a word for a long time. It  was really breathtaking.

From time immemorial, the memorable saga of the Jewish race from the time when Abram was asked to move from Ur right through the messianic times till the Holocaust and the subsequent formation of the nation of Israel to the various Jewish lobbies that control different aspects of the American society from its politics till its culture and various contemporaries, has made for some rollercoaster literary reading that rants well with any reader. Yours truly always made it a point to stay away from any type of movies with underlying political overtones. But the innocent poster of two boys sitting and separated by a barbed wire as shown in the above picture intrigued me to spend some of my time on visualizing the celluloid format inspired by a book (as the poster vividly shows). Expecting a relaxing weekend treat, the movie well started with a whimper.

It began with this obscure Nazi general promoted to a higher rank and leaving his home from Berlin to an obscure area. Bruno his son was lone dissenting voice in the household and was further disappointed when he saw his future home. His sister Gretel too disappointed was relieved to end up liking another German officer at their home. The young kid Bruno who had the dreams of being an explorer despite being dissuaded from exploring the behind woods of the home for it being out of bounds, went and ended up meeting the only boy of his age at that place called Shmuel. Separated by barbed wires, a beautiful friendship grew, stronger when it came to be known that they were enemies. Events later till when Bruno ended up in the gas chambers with Shmuel, innocently and the finally shot of the door to the gas chamber finally shut and the striped pajamas of the prisoners left hanging outside, shook me for sometime. Any calamity man made or else resonates a simple theme for everyone, there are no sides in any conflict. Suffering is universal. It was profound and the message was shattering.

Some of the memorable dialogues from the movie include:

Bruno: I’m Bruno.
Shmuel: Shmuel.
Bruno: Sorry?
Shmuel: I’m Shmuel.
Bruno: That’s your name? I’ve never heard of anyone called that before.
Shmuel: I’ve never heard of anyone called Bruno.
Bruno: Shmuel? No one’s called Shmuel.

Bruno: Why do you wear pajamas all day?
Shmuel: The soldiers. They took all our clothes away.

Bruno: My dad’s a soldier, but not the sort that takes people’s clothes away.

Bruno to Shmuel: We’re not supposed to be friends, you and me. We’re meant to be enemies. Did you know that?

Bruno: There is such thing as a nice Jew, though, isn’t there?
Herr Liszt: I think, Bruno, if you ever found a nice Jew, you would be the best explorer in the world.

Auschwitz Inmate to the kids before the gas chamber: It’s only a shower.

13 Guiding Virtues

1. Temperance: Eat not to dullness and drink not to elevation.

2. Silence: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself. Avoid trifling conversation.

3. Order: Let all your things have their places. Let each part of your business have its time.

4. Resolution: Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve.

5. Frugality: Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself: i.e. Waste nothing.

6. Industry: Lose no time. Be always employed in something useful. Cut off all unnecessary actions.

7. Sincerity: Use no hurtful deceit. Think innocently and justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly.

8. Justice: Wrong none, by doing injuries or omitting the benefits that are your duty.

9. Moderation: Avoid extremes. Forebear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.

10. Cleanliness: Tolerate no uncleanness in body, clothes or habitation.

11. Chastity: Rarely use venery but for health or offspring; Never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.

12. Tranquility: Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.

13. Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

Great Expectations


The best thing about the future is that it only comes one day at a time. Abraham Lincoln

Expectations. Well a very abstract term in scope; very convergent in ambition. We all have lot of expectations from future, from our families, from our career, from our friends and from everything that is associated with us. Our life revolve around lot of expectations as well. Hence it is a web of cross linked beliefs and faiths. It’s very common for expectations to be broken, so it is for expectations to be fulfilled.

I knew someone. Well he had this knack of expecting, a lot in-fact from life, people around him, his loved ones, from his career and his abilities that most of the time, he used to make sure that his expectations are met. Ambitious in his nature, zoomed past his contemporaries never for a moment realizing that in the process he was missing out a lot in life. Expecting too much from life and love, he got bored with them both and eventually let go of both at a stage in his life. Losing life was bearable, but the pain of losing love hit him hard. Disillusioned, he stopped expecting from anything in life. Just moved apart and watched life craft its amazing tale around him. As he watched, he saw life in a new light, places he never felt he could be, doing this he never expected he could ever do and in the process becoming a better person. When he was all settled, he started to expect love in a new way, in a way he never thought he could. But love never came back, but life still ushered him happiness after happiness. He became disillusioned, ignoring the happiness, instead running behind love all the time. Still it ignored him. Frustrated, tired, he just gave up disillusioned. For a moment someone offered him the hope of a drink. Looking up to that someone with gratitude, he asked for a name. Life came the reply. Surprised, he asked again, but the man just disappeared. After an introspection he realized that all these times, his life was his true love, his expectations from his life his true companion.

This story might sound utter gibberish and trash. But the question I wanted to pose to many people is, do you love your life ? Are you selfish about your life ? I am. I always feel we needs to be selfish about our life, the way it is. I know that its always harsh to believe the fact that love, faith and God should come first in our life and etc. I agree with them and I don’t want to corroborate that very fact. These days people love to associate anything and everything around them to destiny. Isn’t that the very reason that we worry in life ? I have always felt people spend hours and hours in meaningless worries about life that the very time for constructive activities get diminished. The moment a man is comfortable in a comfort zone he becomes the master of the situation that he ignores his potential and just slogs on. They don’t dream or think higher. Countless people that I know just vanished into obscurity because of this very fact.

Let me tell you a very funny incident. I have been using a Macbook for the past two years. All these times, the Mac was just used for general purposes only. Over time, it slowed with time and it ended up being a tool for browsing the Internet only. Couple of days back, yours truly was seriously thinking of buying a new Mac when the thought hit on why not I format the whole thing? After formatting, the Mac started to work just like a beauty till about today when again by mistake, yours truly spilled water all over accidentally and the Mac won’t work. I am keeping my fingers crossed. On my way to university today, my Eritrean colleague and myself were discussing the very issue when he mentioned that’s how life is. When we live life with zero expectations we get the best in life: be it in career, relationships anything. The moment the mind starts to weave its control or seek ownership, the sweet turns bitter, the success to failure, the love to hate etc.  The same was the issue with Mac as well.

The question remains: Why ? Why does this happen ? Why does a person who studies till Ph.D burning oil, struggle for months to get a job, insulted on various factors from his religion to his degree on this very issue, turning his job hunting into a nightmare. Disillusioned, the moment he stops expecting , life just gives him many jobs. Why does a person who when he wants to go for further studies doesn’t get into a single university, but when he least wants it universities come calling ? Why does it all happen ? No one knows. No one will know. Expectations are supposed to be our best companion, but they invariably get broken, the moment we aspire for them to be a reality.

One of the thought provoking books that I read this year was Become a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day by Joel Osteen. This book had a profound impact on me this year as it really shook me and crafted me into a sculpture of a true personality from the debris of the severe identity crisis I had earlier this year. It speaks about the same thing: Expect, Dream and Belief. Joel also mentions how important it is for us to prepare for whatever we believe in and letting it go once we are 100% prepared. Now any average reader might ask, what the hell is that ? But that’s the invariable truth. The anecdote of a tale he mentions is about a family he knew. They were living in a rented apartment. The husband always used to tell his wife that we are going to move into a new house and hence used to buy expensive items to fill the new house. The wife though a bit perplexed about the man and his intentions, supported her husband fully. One day unfortunately, the man was laid off. Then neighbors jeered at the family for their folly as they used to spend their money on this freaky expectations by the man. The wife supported her husband fully in this ordeal which lasted months. The man never lost hope. Later he found a new job which paid less than the former one and he continued to prepare well. This time the wife would have none of this crap. She rebelled vehemently, to which the man said “I will stop when I am 100% prepared”. As months passed, the man was promoted quickly and before anyone knew it, he reached a post where he could easily buy a house and the rest fitted in like a glove. That’s the power of preparing.

Concluding, expectations about life makes a man. Its all about expecting, preparing yourself and letting it go. One day somehow the butterfly comes to the very net prepared for it soon after the hunter leaves the chasing game tired and discouraged. That’s life. How expectations are met nevertheless how much battles were lost in the due time, the war will be always won.

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The Assiduous Power of Belief


“….Mr Obama I am waiting for 2008. Maybe in this Age of Aquarius you are our man for the job!!” Tenny on March 31, 2007 (Barack Obama and the Law of Infinite Growth and Hope)

Seriously speaking, I don’t like self-praise or acclaim when I start this post with a quote of mine. But watching President-elect Barack Obama yesterday on CNN Pipeline, I was more than just flabbergasted. Man! he did pull it off…royally. The first colored president of the United States of America. Years after the civil rights movement spearheaded by Mrs Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, the resonating cries of oppressed slaves from times gone by, the belief of Abraham Lincoln who risked everything to fight slavery, it was a climax of biblical proportions. As the scripture says “…to hold on steadfastly without losing hope” after a prediction made a year and a half before, I just humbled myself in front of this amazing power, which has been bestowed on us: the power of belief.

Next morning, my friends all over the world, left me scraps, offline messages and even calls to congratulate me on a absolutely amazingly true prediction. Couple of them even made me delve into my wallet for their lunch. I was more than happy to accommodate that, for happiness whenever and wherever it happens, has to be shared nevertheless. Here I had to admit without any arrogance that it was a prediction that went absolutely true.

At 24, I feel life has come full circle. I saw God, years back struggling for my life in Central Hospital Abu Dhabi. There he came to me and told me that I will be cured and before leaving, he promised to take care of my life henceforth. There were many incidents in this year that made me actually doubt its veracity. But, again time and time on, I have to admit that whatever I have actually believed in has always come true.

Without wanting this banter to sound like utter narcissism, let me quote some examples. In 2002, I had the opportunity to lead the youth of my native church back in India. It was my first hands on experience in leading the youth of a church which was deeply fragmented. I did face lot of problems from the established lot, from the people in authority of the church and I struggled to leave a legacy which never made me happy. Seven years later as I write this post, I have successfully handed over the reins of the youth group in the church in Edmonton to safer hands after a remarkable year of mind-blowing achievements and a legacy I am always proud of. That is just one of the many examples of the power of belief.

Some of my most loved ones have always told me not be overwhelmed by my achievements. Some people ask me not to be under-whelmed in the same tone. I have always felt that whatever I achieve is not because of any of these or my abilities. Most of the time, my crowning achievements have been whenever I have believed. Life has from time on tried to teach me this very lesson about amazing the power of belief. The power of words. The power of ideas. The power of dreams. They do come true, provided we believe in them, prepare ourselves for them and wait for the results to show. It may not show now, nor tomorrow but at the apt and right time. For its always said “…when the teacher is ready, the student shall come”.

What should we believe ? Anything. I remember a chilling incident in 1993. I was in Dubai and glancing through the pages of the school magazine of my cousins. There was an article about World War IV in 2000. The writer had apparently predicted a world war then and it was to be led by one Mr. George Bush Jr. In those times, after the successful Operation Desert Storm conducted by the Americans, Mr. George H.Bush was nothing short of a hero for us and it was simply naive to assume then about a World War in 2000 with his son in realm. Years passed and I was in St.Thomas doing my senior school when there was this election between AlGore and the actual Bush.Jr. Everyone predicted an AlGore victory and to me based on this tale years back, assumed Bush to win. Though the manner in which the victory was achieved is debatable, to me the belief years back from a mere reading of a school magazine struck a chord for its prophetic form.

Many instances in life, from coming to Canada to working in the oil industry in Abu Dhabi have happened due to the power of belief. Though then I have never admitted it, now at this age, I feel more than ever that, yeah, it happened not simply because it happened out of destiny, it happened because once a time I actually believed or thought that it would happen. That I feel friends, is the power of belief. We live in an age where we are opulently blessed in resources both monetary and physical along with the power of knowledge. All over people are worried about tomorrow and what it brings for them and their family, their career and lives. But let me ask a question, instead of worrying in that tomorrow, do you believe in that tomorrow ?

These days, I work part-time collecting data for cancer research at the university. I met up with a colleague who speaks the same language as I do. A middle aged man, unfortunately physically impaired but fortunately blessed with dreams and beliefs; most of which he has accomplished or came true. He was telling me a tale of how he met his wife long time back. Years ago, a chance meeting with a lady, he felt that inner calling in him that she was the one. He went and asked her hand. She refused saying that she was getting engaged soon. This did not dissuade him and he asked her parents. Her father kicked him out due to his financial condition then and apparently his family too dissuaded him as well. Disappointed, yet not losing hope and heart, he moved on in life to better himself in his career. Couple of years later after making some money, on a chance visit to his hometown, he came to know that this woman had been widowed unfortunately. Without hesitation, he went and asked her hand this time around. She had no hesitation to agree and today they are a happy family. That my friends is the power of belief.

I have had a successful run this year in predictions. People ask me how do you do it. I have only one answer, if you believe deep down inside for something to happen, it simply happens. There are no paranormal explanations nor is it voodoo or black magic nor any chants of faith. Just the power of belief. The assiduous power of belief we have deep down inside. The gift we never realize that we had. So the question today for each one of us: are we ready to begin believing ?

To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe. Anatole France

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Authenticity of Love, Hope and Faith

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” Source: 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 

One of the greatest lessons I learnt in life at the age of 24 is about love and how strange and magnificent an emotion it is. It’s not that I have never been in love before or something like that. But the authenticity of love, the authenticity of missing some one, the authenticity of rejection, the authenticity of lost love and the authenticity of failed love and hopes!

I had a very close friend, a powerful and really good friend. Over the span of years we got closer and one day yours truly started having feelings for the person. Sheepishly I tried to circumvent through it and ended venting it out in the most messy matter as possible. The expected rejection through the travails of distance and destroyed feelings intensified from chronic loneliness landed me into the worst seen emotions ever, un-experienced never before in my life. Shrugging away all attempts at a rebound, you finally realize how you are finally a man. Really felt how authentic and powerful love was.

Even after all this time
The sun never says to the earth “you owe me”.
Look what happens with a Love like that!
– It lights the whole Sky. (Hafiz)

I was thinking why do people fall in and out of love ? Why do people really love breaking hearts as if it is the most honorable thing to do ? Why does a male and female attach themselves under the false guise of friendship, over a period of time, fully knowing each other, just break apart like total strangers (like seeing each other for the first time) the moment the word ‘love’ is mentioned ? If God is love or if love is the finest of emotions bequeathed to man by the creator, why does it hurt? When you fully know a person, is committing to that person so bad ? Agreed not all male and female who gets attached need to fall in love, is it so bad that long time friends when they start to have feelings should hide it forever? These questions raged in my mind for months.

I just took some time off and went on with my friends. There were similar cases like this all around. People living heart broken lives. Not that they were weak personally or professionally but definitely yes heart broken. Cowards love to go for a rebound, brave people live through the experience. So I went to these people (couple of my friends); I just told them ‘Just believe the girl will be back’. Miraculously for them and luckily for me, many of them came back. I doubt if it was prophesying power or a miraculous intervention; one thing is sure it worked!! But I still believe I just told them what they wanted to hear and it worked!

Love is a testimony to the great human condition we have. All our achievements, successes are just a speckle of dust before love. When you truly love someone, you actually worship that person for what they are; the moment they leave, feelings of loss, despair resulting in heart break and the actual ‘mourning process’ that ensues shows that no matter how mammoth the we are in ego, persona, ambition and riches, we are actually frail and weak just to our emotions and feelings! See the check that God has on men. How the greatest of men are held captive to this unseeingly powerful emotion!

‘What goes around comes around’ or karma is another notion that is used. It’s true. I believe life is one big diary of checks and balances. Let me share a personal experience. When I was in college, I used to get even at my ever quarelling grandparents with a lethally potent weapon called ‘silent treatment’. Tried it couple of times and my grandfather used to tell me it was painful. I discontinued it’s use after that, coz it was potentially lethal in a relationship. Still at times I used it one loved ones. When I got at the receiving end this year, man life came full circle.

Life as always said is a giant balance book. Ever since I have been careful about what I speak, what I think and most importantly the importance of being mature with the age. I still believe we individuals have a free run. But one day we are held responsible for our actions.

Then hope. After with the case of love ‘returning’ for a couple of my friends, the power of hope is even assuring. But to hope you need to believe. I believe in the power of words; the power to inspire people and put down people. It is imperative that through our words, we need to inspire people and a heart broken person rather than being consoled, if he is made to believe that the love will return, it returns faster. And trust me its not magic, nor a miracle, just the power of words and the spirit of belief.

See how its all in our words and deeds. Loving someone is not bad, if there is a chance to be taken it has to be taken. But to me the the dastardly of all human actions is actually giving hopes and then breaking it; pretending nothing happened; deceiving it. It is the worst nightmare and I do have friends who actually go through the nightmare. Same is the case with messy divorces and separations. To concluding hurting love does no good, nor is breaking hopes resulting in lost faith.

Then there is consolation. Actually it is great to be heartbroken. simply a great feeling to be heartbroken if the energies are utilized in the most positive manner as possible. I have seen people achieving the very impossible from heart breaks and rejections and vice versa also. But once it is lost, don’t stay back, forgive the person who wronged you and support them with love (expecting nothing in return), move on with life and be the victor realizing the fact that what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger!!

Mr.Bean: Life,Humour & Me

Mr. Bean..the man of infinite laughter and humour. I heard somewhere it only takes a genius to play a fool and Mr.Bean is one hell of an example for that. The tough situations he faces in life and how easily he finds a solution to them are commendable. As I write I am thinking of the church scene in one of the tele-series episodes where he croons…Hallelujiah…drew me to laughter. It is a best example of how we complicate minor things as church going. We are all dressed up and damn serious….crooning worship songs with high degree of complicity…when there is nothing but the same thingy over and over again every week and we end up not enjoying the whole purpose of the situation. Recently I was going through a fellow blogger’s blog in the blogosphere and it astounded me with one of the generalisations he made which is that we pretend to be busy, pretend to be serious. Mr.Bean (a personal inspiration to me ) is a slap on the face of those people.Well this is a funny blog with no intention of getting serious..I dint want to make Mr. Bean cry……! Remember those scenes from the TV series..especially the one in which he was with this damn sick kid and was making all sort of gimmicks to make him smile and laugh…without knowing that the kid was sick. So kid pukes into the sick bag and Mr.Bean unknowingly converts the bag to a balloon and bursts it to make the kid laugh…! We did laugh!. the scene with the queen….all of them are so memorable, so innocent. What do you call a person like Bean? Fool? I will slay the person who calls him a fool…As I said in the beginning, it takes a genius to play a fool!. I am not writing this article as a prelude to watching the latest Bean movie or promoting it…but the gimmicks he does are actually serious in the damn silly, silly world that you and yours truly are part of!!

Somebody has once said…It is very difficult to make someone laugh easier to make him cry..Its true. Humour can be of many forms. It should be short lived and to the point-direct and provoking. We cant be like Mr.Bean, being the fool at all the time.but think of how can we make life so simpler with happiness all the time.
Ok ok this is not turning out to be damn speech n humourless. Think about Mr.Bean as he went around the town playing the golf ball thingy.The visit to the dentist, come on all these are thought provoking. This man is damn selfish, insensitive….he lives in his damn silly crazy world with no idea and bother on how other people feel or think about him! We can’t live in today’s world too like that…We will end up sooner in a mental asylum without a question.
Think about the scene with the butlers….The man did how he ordered for steak and how he ended up eating it…Or the movie where though accidentally the kid is resuscitated from death….the examples of these man are horrendous..They loiter between the narrow alley of fantasy and reality…Seldom life is luckier like that.
am I overdoing all I said in the beginning…Never..We have is a unique creation of a man with amazing contrasts and since we have so many examples of buffoonery around us its hardly surprising!
Lemme finish this banter with the scene from the movie…he goes around America after getting (finally) into the good books of his (pissed off!!) hosts. Saluting a rash driver on the road with the Englishman’s ‘hi’ only to be replied with a the everyman middle finger fantasy!!
Life ain’t getting better!! H-a-l-l-e-l-u-j-i-a-h