Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Reb Eye Anyone?

I couldn't help snapping a shot of this Specials Board at a popular local eatery. I find it especially funny since El 3atal's father always starts with Eye Rib and then remembers it's Rib Eye. So, when they turned it into Reb Eye, I had to grab a shot of it. And, while I'm on the topic of steaks in restaurants, why is it that Jordanian dining establishments think that putting some beef in a pan of butter and frying it is "grilling a steak"? Then, to cover (literally) the evidence they smother it with a sauce. In fact, the idea of grilling seems to be a bit outside of the norm here altogether. As a commitment to his health, El 3atal has undertaken a diet guided by a dietitian. In giving us his menu, she says we should "grill" chicken for him. When I ask what she means by grill, she describes pan frying. Too funny. In the US, grill means using a grill. Really, you know cooking over coals (or gas) rather than frying in a pan. So, steak as a whole concept is not so well-understood here. A few places do them very, very well (and you pay for the privilege), but most are mediocre at best. Such a sad thing for a beef-eater like me. Mmmmm, just saying that got me thinking about Jason's Deli's Beef Eater sandwich. Now, I've got an unfulfillable craving :(.
Happy grilling!

Disgusting Food Combinations Courtesy of the Beans...

Of all the beans, JoojooBean has the most unusual taste in food. ButterBean has always had very... advanced... taste for her age. She's always loved olives, peppers, broccoli, and cauliflower. But, JoojooBean's tastes go all the way to the, okay I'll say it, gross. I knew she was a rare bird when, at the ripe old age of 16 months we caught her dipping her pacifier in the hummus to get at it herself. But, lately, she's been taking her food weirdnesses to all new levels. Maybe a year ago, I introduced them to the concept of dip. I would give them ranch dressing like dip on their plates to go with their vegetables. JoojooBean started dipping her fruits in as well and I thought, hmm an unusual taste combination, but not out of the realm of imagination. Then I caught her dipping her kibbe in whipped cream (yes the sweet stuff that goes on pancakes) and thought, Yuck. Well, today she far surpassed both of these previous bizarre dipping combinations. She was sitting with me at lunch having some Honey Nut Cheerios and started dipping them in ketchup. Talk about wanting to hurl. I think we've created a dipping monster. Perhaps we should should charge admission to watch my dipping wonder select odd food combinations. Or, perhaps we'll keep that joy inside the family...

Happy dipping!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Ode to a Lovely Day

If you dropped by looking for fine poetry, please move along now... there's nothing to see here. But, I did want to just acknowledge what a fabulous day it was today. I took the beans to the park today and it was like a spring day. I only hope the spring is this nice. The kids had a great time soaking up the sun for the first time in months. And, as a double bonus, ButterBean noticed the moon out during the day for the first time ever. At first she was a tad confused asking if it was almost night. I had to explain that sometimes (very special times) you can see both the sun and the moon out at the same time. I remember noticing this mostly in the summer when I was a kid. Funny it likely happens fairly often, but we rarely notice it. At any rate, between the warm sun, gentle breezes, and general warmth, it was a beautiful day in Amman. Praise to God for small wonders and the ability to appreciate simple blessings.

Happy playing!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Speaking of sights I never expected to see in Amman...

Okay, so last year I talked about seeing unlikely things in Amman vis-a-vis bagpipers. But, today's sight far surpasses that in the surreal category. As I got home and was taking the kids out of the car, I looked over to my gate where I heard voices. A girl (maybe 10 years old) and her maid were out taking a walk with their monkey. Screech! Warning whiplash from spinning double take imminent! On the second look, I discovered that indeed it really WAS a monkey. Now, if this isn't quite surreal enough for you, the monkey was clutching a little yellow rubber ducky. I was stunned and in my stupor watched this unlikely (okay, I admit it unbelievable) trip go on down the block and around the corner. And, in case you're wondering where my trusty camera phone was, it was safely in my pocket until they had gone too far to get them in a shot...

Happy zooing!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Could we be... a catnip family?

There's something about the Bean family that seems to draw cats. Mind you, we don't have any ourselves. After growing up allergic to a full menagerie of animals, I've vowed to avoid pets until ButterBean is old enough to truly insist. So, we don't have any pets. In fact, other than people we have nothing living in our house. I'm hopeless with plants and won't do animals. So, our attractiveness to cats in all the more unusual. For those of you who may not know, catnip is like chocolate for cats. They love the stuff and cat lovers will fill toys and the like with it to please their cats. So how, you may be asking, is our family like catnip?

In Baton Rouge, we lived in house with a nice big yard. We had comfortable outdoor furniture that we rarely used (El 3atal is not a big fan of the heat). We also had a herd of cats. Or is it a gaggle? No, no that's geese. A pride? Nope lions. A litter? Nope related kittens. Okay, a herd it is then. These cats would come and dig in to our lawn furniture and make themselves at home. And, I really do mean at home. There were about 10 of them, from what I could tell, that frequented our house. And, before you ask, we did not feed them. Ever. Period. And yet they came. I felt like we lived in the field of dreams house (whispery voice "if you have it, they will come"). It was truly bizarre. The worst were the late night cat fights that would wake me from sleep and have me rushing for the kids rooms to respond to the wailing. But it was the cats...

Next we move to Amman. Now, Amman isn't a city with lots of pets right? I mean, there are many more than there were 10 years ago, but still, it isn't like the US where everyone's got a pet. And yet, we have our own little herd of cats here too. This one is actually a litter of cats. A mommy cat that hangs out about the street decided to have her litter of kittens in the boiler room under our building. The boiler room has a small window that opens onto our garage, so we find growing kittens wandering about our car, dangling over our trashcan, generally carving out a life about our house. So, I begin to wonder, are we a catnip family?

Happy meow-ing!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Women Drivers are Safer! (Okay, maybe not in Amman, but...)

Carnegie Mellon University recently published a study that found that American men have a 77% higher risk of dying in a car accident than American women. Ha! Take that! I've known for many, many years that the old American stereotype that women are bad drivers is untrue. Now, partially that's because I know I drive more cautiously than pretty much every guy I've ever been in a car with. It's also partially because when guys start shouting at those stupid women drivers it's because the women are in the way of them doing something illegal or dangerous. So, for many years I've been offended by the bad-woman-driver jokes and comments... then I moved to Amman.

As much as the stereotype still offends me, women here drive terribly. I don't know if it's a visibility thing, a practice thing, or what, but nearly every time a car changes lanes nearly hitting me (seemingly without looking first) a woman is driving. It has caused me to doubt my gender... I can no longer defend women drivers as I see first hand how inconsiderate and truly dangerous they are. I don't believe it's because they mean to, but rather it seems they are more unaware (or uninterested) in what's going on around them. And yet, it saddens me that I can't defend my gender. Oh well, maybe someday we'll have a public service awareness campaign to improve driving skills :).

Speaking of PSAs, further to my previous one about car seats, the safest passenger is a child strapped into a car seat being driven during morning rush hour. So, read that carefully (since all day every day is rush hour traffic in Amman). Children in car seats are the SAFEST passengers in the US.

Drive safe, ride with an American woman!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Deteriorating Driving Skills

As I was driving along today, I realized a very disturbing thing. I was watching the guy in front of me wandering along the middle of the lane with the line immediately under the center of his car to avoid a guy walking on the side of the road. Suddenly I realized that I was in exactly the same position. It's not an unusual one, by any stretch of the imagination, but the thing that struck me about it is that I had not checked my mirrors before moving over to the middle. I just drifted in the same way as the guy in front of me (and every other person). How scary is that! Oh, and although I never did in the US, I spend alot of time talking to (read that shouting at) other drivers. ButterBean constantly reminds me, "Mommy, it isn't nice to call him an idiot." From the mouths of babes comes the wisdom of ages. And so, perhaps I should have a prayer session before I start the car each time, Lord give me the patience to graciously accept crazy driving and the silence to hush about it already...

Happy weaving!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

A Contentious Service Award?

Now, given the person at my company who used this meant Continuous Service, but... Combined with El 3atal's post, maybe Contentious Service is more apt? When I tried to point out the error, I found that most people don't seem to know what the word means. So, for those who may not be familiar with this term:

con·ten·tious /kuhn-ten-shus/
1. tending to argument or strife; quarrelsome: a contentious crew.
2. causing, involving, or characterized by argument or controversy: contentious issues.
3. Law. pertaining to causes between contending parties.

So, maybe after all people are competing for this award when on the front lines of customer service :).

Happy Contention!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Open 1 hour! and my top 5 favorite restaurants in Amman

In direct contrast to the open 25 hours people, I've discovered that there is a restaurant that is open 1 hour. I was driving between the first and second circles when I saw a banner for a Chinese Restaurant (no not Abu-Khalil's, which is my favorite). It indicated that they were pleased to announce that they were open open from 11 am - 12 pm. Granted 12 pm seems like it SHOULD be at night, but it is, in point of fact, noon. So, this fine establishment is open from 11 to noon... one whole hour. In the US, most restaurants and shops avoid this by saying they are open from 11am to midnight or noon to 11 pm. Saves the confusion on everyone's part since the am/pm with the 12 is counterintuitive. Of course, I'm certain that the restaurant means from 11 to midnight since I ate there at 7pm one day. I wasn't excited about the food, having already established my favorite dishes at Restaurant China, but the atmosphere was quite nice and the food was good. Now, I think I'll go ahead and drop in my Top 5 (okay, I haven't eaten at a whole world of restaurants, but still...)

5. Restaurant China
4. Vinaigrette
3. Osra
2. La Bruschetta
1. 282

Now if I could only get El 3atal to take me to them more often :).

Happy dining, from 11 am - 12pm!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Just like home? and another addiction confession

El 3atal and I were driving in Shemisani today when I saw this place. Made me feel just like I was back home in the US, well except the misspellings. And the Greek columns. And the parking lot. Okay, so there's nothing about it that seems American except the name. I couldn't help but share this one. And it brings me to another thought. I think I've become addicted to my camera phone. This is a brave new world for me. Let me explain...

When we moved from the US, I gave up my cell phone kicking and screaming. Now, many of you are thinking, what amazing bells and whistles did she have that she wanted to keep her cell phone. Well... none. My phone was a vintage 1998 Qualcomm cell phone. It didn't have a vibrate feature. It didn't have a camera phone. I mean, really it had nothing. So why was I so attached to this phone? Let me tell you. My circa 1998 Qualcomm phone went through everything. My kids played with it, they pulled out the antenna and chewed on it. They suspended the phone from the antenna. They dropped it. Basically, they could have been a commercial for quality tests on the phone. And, they never managed to harm it in any way. It got great reception, few dead zones, rare dropped calls, and very little static. But, I knew it wouldn't work here, so I gave it up. Since I don't really care so much about cell phone, I borrowed (rather permanently it seemed) my in-laws' pay as you go phone. It was a bulky Nokia phone and worked fine. But, I did drop it and it didn't work quite as well afterwards. So, finally I decided that I would spring a bit and get myself a new phone.

I looked around and found the phone I wanted (which they don't have available in Jordan). It was beautiful, a hot pink Motorola Sliver. How amazing this phone is. But, I couldn't work it out to get one from the US and didn't find one here. I like the slim profile of the phone, so I went with my mother-in-law and got a "special offer" (whatever that actually means) and got myself a spanking new Sliver. I love this phone. And, it has a camera in it. Not having had one before, I figured I wouldn't really make much use of it. Was I wrong! Now, I'm pulling out my phone and using the camera constantly. It's easily accessible, always with me, and takes decent pictures. So, like the above shot, as we're driving down the street I stop and snap a photo. What a wild world it is. And, I think I'm addicted. I went to see Ragheb 3alama for New Year's and was taking pictures with my phone... How sad is that? So, here's another addiction I have, snapping photos with my camera phone.


Friday, January 05, 2007

How does a parent ever get over this?

While I was at Kinzi's house today letting Little Kinzi and Butterbean play, I was mentioned my participation in some on-line parenting Boards. One of the stories of a child four days younger than Butterbean touched me deeply and it occurred to me that it might help some people here. As many of you are likely aware, in the US, we are somewhat fanatical about the use of car seats. Car seat laws are in place in all of the states to varying ages. I know that Arab parents here who have their children in car seats often get funny looks, comments, and what not. In the spirit of public education, I though I'd share this video with everyone here who'd care to watch. This is a video made in memory of Butterbean's contemporary. He was killed when his belt-positioning booster seat (not as sturdy as a standard car seat) came free and he was ejected from their family minivan in a crash. This video has been extremely widely viewed in the US and Canada (over 1.5 million views so far). The link is here -> My hope is that seeing what can happen to your children without the protection of a car seat and 5 point harness may help illustrate to readers here why we crazy Americans go nuts over this. As one of my on-line friends says, it's not about laws, it's about lives.

For those who have not seen the Beanmobile, we have three monster car seats, one for each bean. It's like a field of car seats and yes, that's right, nearly 5 year old ButterBean still sits in a car seat. Oh, and her car seat is good until she hits 60 pounds. I expect that will be another few years. So, please watch the video (if you can live with a bit of sadness and have a box of tissues handy). And, if you have kids and don't currently, buckle them up. In their own special seat, not a regular seat with inadequate protection. Remember there are, on average, 145 road accidents with two fatalities every DAY in Jordan. 30% of road accident victims are children. If you don't have kids, don't look askance or make negative comments to parents who do buckle their kids in. In fact, commend them for doing everything they can to protect their most prized possession. If you know someone with kids who doesn't use a car seat, pass this video along. In a country where the sight of children hanging out of windows and sun roofs and climbing all over the driver are common, help change the mentality. After all, it's all of our future at stake here. And just think with me, if your child were killed in a car accident, how do you get over that - ever?

Buckle up!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Confessions of a junkie

For those of you hoping for the excitement of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, head on to someone else's blog. This is a post about secret (and potentially embarrassing but not illegal) confessions. I have a problem. I'm not really sure I should share it with you. I suppose, though, since I gave the post this title, I'm locked in now. I... love... teenage feel-good movies. There, I've said it. For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, let me illustrate it for you. When I was young my favorite movies all seemed to be Molly Ringwold movies. You know, Pretty in Pink, 16 candles. None of that teenage cool-kid angst of The Breakfast Club (I loved the movie, don't get me wrong, but it didn't mean as much to me) for me. I wanted the geeky girl gets super-cool, super-hot guy movies. I identified with Sam and her off-beat best friend Ducky in Pretty in Pink. I was always out of step with the small town world of the Southern US. I dressed in black and white zebra striped hose, I wore un-cool hats, I was just plain out there. And, I craved the romance and the love overcomes all. You would think I'd have outgrown this by now. I'm no longer super-cool but out of step. I now wear Mom Jeans. I now have a mother-of-three-including-twins figure. Basically, I'm just not that girl from a lower middle class family who wants to get the super hot football star. Or am I?

El 3atal can confirm that I love chick flicks. Anything made by Miramax is likely to be something I've nagged him to see. And, I really love the teenage chick flicks. I can watch movies like She's All That many times. I've actually seen Center Stage (teenagers moving to New York to study ballet), Bring It On (cheerleaders trying to win the national championship), Bring It On II (don't even ask!), the Princess Diaries (I own this one), etc. But the latest descent into the depths of this obsession is a movie that El 3atal and I picked up recently. Now, I pick up movies and look for the cheesiest feel good movies I can find. I saw one with Hillary Duff (of all people!) called A Cinderella Story and got it. Oh my goodness! It is everything I love in a movie. Girl's dad dies when she's young and has an evil step-mother and step-sisters, she's forced to work at her dad's diner and about the house like a slave, she has a secret e-mail relationship with a guy she's never met (star of the football team). Oh, and a happy ending of course. How could a movie get better? Anytime I find there's nothing on TV and anytime El 3atal is traveling I'm watching this movie again. I've probably seen it 40 times already. But, don't worry I'll watch it again tonight. So, for those who don't know this side of me, here's a peek into the inner workings of MommaBean's mind. I have a problem... and I'm not embarrassed. After all, Elmo loves to share and so do I!

Happy viewing!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Is El 3atal a Mr. Snuffleupagus? Thoughts on the Invisible Man

Okay, I recognize that the title line of the post may require some explanation. It's an American Sesame Street reference and with your loveable, unique, and altogether fun version here, you missed out on this character. I'm putting a link to Mr. Snuffleupagus' (aka Snuffy) Wikipedia Page here -> Basically, when I was a child, Snuffy was Big Bird's best friend. The only problem was that no one else besides Big Bird and the audience ever saw him. There were many near misses (Snuffy ran in a marathon with the other charachters, but finished so far behind everyone else that they all missed him once again). And, the adults never actually believed that Snuffy was real. They thought he was Big Bird's imaginary friend. So what, you may ask, does that have to do with El 3atal?

Since we moved to Jordan, I have attended two gatherings of the women bloggers of Jordan Planet. I also bumped into several of the ladies again at the ICT forum. And, yet El 3atal has yet to be seen by anyone. Kinzi and I made plans to get Little Kinzi and ButterBean together. I thought, ah at last Kinzi can meet El 3atal. And then, El 3atal scheduled a short trip out of town. Okay, this is getting ridiculous. I told him that soon the JP ladies are going to think he's my imaginary husband. It's like Mr. Snuffleupagus who's never seen except by Big Bird and the kids. Everyone will begin to think that I actually write both blogs :). So, soon, I'm going to force El 3atal by stealth and quickness to meet the JP ladies. Keep your eyes peeled ladies, I promise he DOES exist!

Happy searching!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Got coin? (on the opening of a new grocery store amid much hype and hoopla)

It is nearly impossible for anyone living in Jordan to have missed the fact that Carrefour recently opened it's first location here. The hype in advance was huge. And, much of it was viral marketing from those who had visited locations in other cities. Having recently visited one in Dubai, I was very optimistic. As a result, I forced El 3atal to go with me to do our weekly shopping last week. Their ads talked about selection and good prices, so I thought I'd put them to the test. This is especially important to me as our grocery costs doubled when we moved to Jordan (and I have to go to three stores). I have to admit our initial impression did not change for the better upon greater exposure. We pulled in to the parking garage (under the building) amongst the debris and hanging power lines of an active construction site. Not what I think of when I think of world-class openings. We noticed as we walked toward the doors that the carts were all in one location in the middle. El 3atal asked the attendant if there were carts inside as well. Seemingly not. We then discovered that you are, in effect, putting a deposit on the cart. You have to place a ten piaster coin in a slot to take the cart. If you return the cart to the corral (again one for the entire side of the garage), you get your ten piasters back. Well, I can see that this might eliminate paying someone to go out and collect carts. Oh, wait, but they're still paying that same guy to stand around and give change to those who don't have the change on them. Who knows what one would do if they didn't carry cash...

Next you go inside the mall and up an escalator (ala Safeway) with your cart to reach the store's entrance. Let me start by saying that I wholeheartedly agree with El 3atal's assessment that the entire experience is designed for the convenience of Carrefour, not the consumer. The supply issues that every store supplying Western products faces is apparent at Carrefour as well. Where in Dubai they had 3 or 4 brands of every product, here they had only one, if that. No Bisquik, No Campbell's Sirloin Burger Soup, and the list goes on... The unavailability that plagues Safeway, Cozmo, and to a lesser extent C Town were clear here as well. And they just opened! After looking all around the downstairs, I realized that to buy simple kitchen and bathroom cleaning products or diapers, I'd have to go upstairs. Go upstairs I did. They didn't have several cleaning products I needed. And, the search for diapers was ridiculous. El 3atal stopped one guy only to find out that, appearances to the contrary, he's not really an employee and doesn't know the layout of the store (then take the darn Carrefour badge hanger off!). We finally find that the diapers are literally buried as far across the store, past every other item, as they could be. Okay, I'm the already harried Mom to three, the last thing I need in a weekly grocery experience is to have to navigate all the way across two floors of junk. At either Safeway or Cozmo, I can do all of my shopping on one floor. I may have to go to both, but I'm still only on one floor. We finally found the diapers (no Pull-Ups, so a wasted adventure to find the section) and went back downstairs to complete the purchase of fresh fruits, veggies, and bread. The fruits and veggies were about the same as at Safeway and Cozmo although the section is much larger with the same number of pricing counters, so the mob effect was in force. And now, for the piece de resistance, they had NO ARABIC BREAD! With Western products, I get the supply issue. However, somehow Safeway, Cozmo, and C Town have managed to deal with the bread issue (they outsource, duh...). I mean, not to be obvious but, you are in the Middle East. What self-respecting store in the Middle East doesn't sell Arabic Bread? That's truly pitiful. While I expected I might have to go to another store to complete my shopping (I hoped not, but am realistic), I didn't expect to be going there for Arabic bread!

The check-out experience was as lackluster as the rest of the shopping experience. We had a huge cartful of groceries (as usual) and the bagger at the checkout line bagged everything and set it on the floor. Now, at Safeway they would simply have pulled up another cart and we would have ended up with two (like most weeks). But, here again the 10 piaster folly strikes. So, without another 10 piasters and the patience to go ALL THE WAY down and floor and OUTSIDE, we just overburdened the cart and left it at that. We got the groceries out to the car without too much falling off the cart in the process, loaded it down, and El 3atal returned the cart to get our stupid 10 piasters back. Meanwhile, the guy who waiting for our space gave up and kept driving because we were about as far from the carts as you can get. We then had to hunt and search for the exit (found after navigating the entire garage and following signs to exits that don't exist). Going up the ramp, El 3atal pointed out that this lane, which barely fit us alone, was intended for 2 way traffic as evidenced by the lane dividers.

In sum, instead of going to Safeway for my primary shopping, then Cozmo for the items I couldn't find, then C Town for Bisquick and Pull Ups, to shop at Carrefour, I would need to go to Carrefour, then Safeway, then Cozmo, then C Town. I think not. If your current shopping experience is C Town and you'd like a Super Wal-Mart feel, Carrefour will be a revelation. Otherwise, Carrefour won't solve any of your Safeway/Cozmo problems, it will just add a few more (got coin?). Oh, and the prices are comparable to Safeway, so you won't be saving anything by going, just spending the gas to get there and find your way out of the lot...

Happy shopping!

A Unique Start to the New Year

Last night, El 3atal and I had a wonderful evening ringing in the new year with hundreds of people we didn't know. The night was full of interesting occurrences and bizarre sights. We went to Le Royale to see Raghab (and Yara I suppose). The ballroom was very nice, but was a totally different layout than what we expected and had been promised. We bought the cheap seats, which we were told were in the balcony. They weren't. They were, rather, on the side floor in the back. Neither of us was inclined to make it an issue and it turned out that the seats were generally fine. They told us that they would start serving dinner at 10:30 and so we headed over at about 10. We finally were served the main course at midnight... Talk about late. The food was marginal in general, certainly not what I was expecting and hoping for. However, certainly the interesting things were the people.

Our "neighbors" at the tables on either side of us were very interesting. On one side we had two very nice ladies who had NOT bought the cheapest seats, but were actually farther out than we were. On the other side, a couple showed up at about 11:30. I suspect they had been to a party or ten before they arrived as he was three (make than 10) sheets to the wind before they even came (really drunk for those unfamiliar with the idiomatic expression). It also appeared that perhaps he brought some with him and he had a small water bottle with a liquid that wasn't water in it. It appeared that he and his companion were really there more to see Yara. When the rest of the audience was sitting and enjoying Yara's music, this guy was up on his chair dancing in that loose-limbed, about to fall off way of the drunk. He continued through out her entire performance. He was, as El 3atal mentioned, a bit TOO into it.

Once Raghab came on, the formerly comfortable seated crowd got a little more excited. One table, in particular, decided that they need to stand on their chairs and table. Unfortunately, we were seated behind them and so made our way around to the front of them to see. It didn't last, they finally calmed down and sat. Ironically, if everyone stayed sitting, all seats would have been fine. As it was, they kept standing and getting up on chairs, making it impossible to see around them. Quite a shame if you ask me. After over an hour of complaining to everyone they could find, once Raghab started to sing, the ladies next to us got moved up to share a table closer to the stage. The funny thing about this is that they were right behind a group of standers and couldn't see anything from there either. One they vacated their spot, I suggested to El 3atal that we go sit on the columns behind their former table. It turned out that this was perhaps the best seat in the house. We got to sit in relative comfort and still see over the table and chair crowd. Very nice.

After Raghab had been on for awhile, we noticed a huge contretemps near the stage. It looked like a fight was just about the break out and a couple of guys were being forcibly separated. Wouldn't you know it was our neighbor who had, some time earlier disappeared in the direction of the stage. He was escorted (like by about 10 guys) out of the hall. He reappeared about ten minutes later and was kicked out for good. (Should I admit that I rather envied him as it was about 2:45 by the time that happened?) A few minutes later, I noticed that a man two or three tables away was flossing his teeth. Yes, that's right, imagine the scene: crowded ballroom, Raghab performing on stage, and man flossing his teeth. It was definitely surreal.

To top off the evening, on the way home, we saw one car pulling another with TWINE. No need for rope or chains, just get out some craft twine and get to towing! So, the new year is off to a very interesting start. Here's wishing you and your family a very blessed and happy new year.

Happy New Year!