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At the other end of the line… December 8, 2010

Posted by Sreyasi Nag Chowdhury in Just casual blabs....
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Some years back, not very long away, it used to horrify me to find walking people talking and laughing all by themselves. My mind went like “O good gracious! People going crazy all over! The end is near!” Every time I saw them it took a few seconds to sink in me about what’s going on actually, forgetting each time about the last occurrence. Winters were worse! With mufflers and caps and shawls covering up their ears, it took me longer to gauge the affair without those black things stuffed in the ears and no trailing circuitry leading to their pockets. Mobile phones with ear-pieces were just a baby in our lives and I wasn’t that much of a baby-sitter. Now of course it’s a different question with all the ‘Walk when you talk’s. Rather it strikes discord not to see talking people walking (or the other way round). With all those tending to size zero girls in slim fits and striking belly buttons (and the guys sneak peeping at their bellies! Some keeping gaping and the beauties keep showing!) saying “r ektu wait koro sona, ei to ami eshe gechi, Park Street’e” and then submitting to a fit of giggles and falling over the shoulder of the peace loving person next to them who wakes up to find its only Shyambazar (hours away from Park Street), or those plump ladies with fat bangles yelling “mach ta freeze e rakha ache, Puchku k khaiye dao!”, mobile communication has brought personal lives into the open. However much public transport stares at it with rolling eyes, throw disgusted glances, and make disapproving grunts, it seems to take no cue what-so-ever! And on the roads, cars coming to screeching breaks to save a ‘walking-when-talking’ maniac have become a common sight. Traffic sergeants have to often rub sweat off their brows to tackle such lunatics; drivers have severe heart problems with rising palpitations, while the happy-go-lucky passer-bys (with another set of ear-pieces pressed to their ears) laugh their heart out to watch the expression of the narrowly escaped. Cell phones are creating havoc! They are a nuisance posing as bliss! And when you desperately need them, they sing a lullaby “The subscriber is currently switched off, please try after some time.”, as if we are supposed to fall in love with them at a time when our soul yearns to sue them and their owners!

All the swear words are gurgling in my stomach to be spelt out at cell phones while I’m shivering in the chilly December drizzle of Durgapur, Control System book in one hand and cell phone in the other, my lips paining out of worrisome biting, tired of hearing “The subscriber is currently switched off, please try after some time. Beep.” and waiting to be relieved by hearing the most awaited voice at the other end of the line.

It’s YOU (& me)… December 4, 2010

Posted by Sreyasi Nag Chowdhury in My thoughts..., Society-politics.
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The following is the product of a conversation a few days back with a very dear friend of mine. I broke the ice with-

I was just contemplating why we live at all. Rather what are the things we do to live. Sometimes, or in most cases (just my assumption), living seems to be more like a compulsion than a passion. All these growing up, then looking for a job, family, grow old and die. Where’s ‘ME’? Where’s the individual we’re speaking about? But giving it a second thought, it’s all about ‘ME’. It’s human (in fact animal) nature to be naturally selfish. It’s like you study to get a job…why? For you-to earn YOURself luxury, not for some much needed altruism for the society. Then you need a partner…why? So that you can dump YOUR woes on someone, you can make someone take care of YOU. Then you have kids…again for YOU…not for the joy of creation, but simply as a provision for YOUR old age. Then you go for a second kid…to ensure YOUR security and shelter doesn’t go scarce.

But looking at it from a positive edge, although the self-centeredness is a driving factor, everything has a wider meaning. Studying for the joy of learning; here I’m not speaking of the academic theories of scholastic knowledge. Every person, on trying, can find a field of interest, and pursuing on that line, paradise is not too far. This of course gives an idea of a near perfect social situation where everyone can answer his/her call. Then earning for living (not the other way round); living in turn for happiness; happiness lies in sharing, living for others; here comes in love-wanting to submit to someone mind and soul-the companionship, the acceptance, to be able to bestow in entirety, the deliverance that comes with it. Kids-the pleasure of creation, bringing up is satisfaction, and then the delight in succeeding (and coping with failures in the process). Letting ‘ME’ subside and ‘OTHERS’ dominate can be a much better perspective for living. One also gets to know oneself better through others.

What I stated as my ‘positive edge’ is also stereotype I agree, but its stereotype with a purpose. And the purpose is happiness, liberation. I’d say stereotype brings happiness. That’s largely because of our social structure, its true. Shoving off stereotype with disregard may seem to be adventurous and revolutionary in the beginning, but is bound to lead to seclusion, because humans are social animals and it’s in their nature to flock together, follow others and make follow…it’s a psychological problem…all to ensure security. You disavow stereotype, you’ll virtually be trampled to death…death that comes from abysmal loneliness and rejection. That’s the appalling truth.

The other day I was listening to a talk show about the problem of separation. They were, at one time, discussing about the rampant rate at which separation is cropping up lives now-a-days. So the question was, was previous generations happier and more accommodating, less egoistic, more perfect than today? What the specialist said was so convincing. He said we don’t know whether or not they were good, they must also have had problems, and they must have had to adjust a lot too, many might not have been happy. But today, separation is a way out which they didn’t have the luxury of. It’s all about the society. Today’s society allows separation for good; yesterday’s didn’t.

This again gives an idea that we’re like rag dolls in the hands of the monster called Society. But while trying hard to free from its shackles, its role in guardianship must also be borne in mind. Monsters can be good mentors sometimes; after all we grew up reading fables about Aladdin’s genie and the giant who let little children play in his garden. Without some binding rules of the society, lives would have gone berserk. Who says grown ups don’t need a custodian?

This is what he had to say-

In return of the assured security, the society often snatches our individual freedom. Many may say freedom is good but worthless if people misuse it. Gandhiji had something to say in this regard- a freedom which doesn’t allow you to commit mistakes doesn’t hold any value. This kind of freedom is of great importance too. It helps us evolve as individuals. It is a recognized fact that we aren’t free in many respects. We don’t enjoy complete freedom of speech, there’s always the looming existence of a sensor board; books, movies still get banned. Somebody (I can’t recollect who) said “I don’t trust what you are saying at all, but to ensure that you can say what you want to, I won’t hesitate to even give my life.” This has to be the ideal mentality of the society. Keeping mum is hazardous. If you are against some notion, you have the full right to protest hard, but everyone should have the right to speak out however atrocious her comment maybe.

About stereotypes, they are surely underrated. There was a beautiful line in the movie Ratatouille- “In the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than us critics designating it so.” It takes a lot of guts to step out of stereotypes. And, when anyone is able do so, she deserves appreciation and honour, not seclusion and “O *a*a antel!” (“****ing intellectual moron!”) tag. Basically people are afraid of things they don’t understand. That’s why they are harsh on new things, new ideas. They are afraid because they love to stick to the old and secured. If they come to know what they had been treasuring for so long isn’t useful anymore, it breaks their hearts. To save themselves from heart-breaks, they find it easier to believe in “ignorance is bliss”. They don’t want to gamble. That’s why stereotypes are so popular.

I’ll leave it here to everyone for more arguments, counter-arguments and opinions.

Hakuna Matata!

Erronous Mind… December 3, 2010

Posted by Sreyasi Nag Chowdhury in Just casual blabs..., My thoughts..., Society-politics.
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From the little experience I have, psychological counselling is a total failure! I’ll site two examples.

First, when I was in high school, as board exam hulked over the shoulders, and I was gradually cracking with the pressure of keeping with the mountain of expectations, notwithstanding the gallons of tears that rolled down my cheek in the bizarre hours of light & dark in which I tried to counsel myself, I decided to visit our school’s professional counsellor to hear what she had for me. But, in her chamber, believe me, it didn’t help me much apart from clearing my blocked nose out of loosing another gallon of water and mucous from my eyes and nose. What she did was to try to boost my confidence in myself. She tried wooing me by reminding me of my qualities, how good I was, and even to my utter disbelief, how pretty I was (hadn’t thought in my wildest dream that someone could revive from depression by listening to the reverberation of her beauty, when the reason is something much more evocative). The problem here was, I already knew myself, and I only needed someone to tell me how to prove my worth to the others who are waiting wide eyed for me to make them proud. This, she failed at, establishing my distrust towards counselling.

Maybe she tried her best, but my mind was oversaturated with presumptions regarding myself and how I was supposed to be. For this, I think, the average middle class Bengali mentality has to bear its ounce of blame too. And, our parents, being a very integral part of the society fall prey to its various notions of guidance, which, to their oblivion, result in turning our ships topsy-turvy instead of assuring us a smooth sail. Most of us grow up with “don’t go there”, “you’re a kid”, “and if you get the highest I’ll give you a new dress”, “Result’s out? What’s the highest? How much did B get?”, “You won’t understand”, “You’ll understand when you’ll be a parent”, “Stop arguing!”; and those eyes the size of soccer balls, voices more amplified than the microphones during vote campaigns, and the palms straightened, looming over us and drawing near with every split second looking thousand times magnified even from a feet apart …seems like we’re born and brought up in a horror movie! And then when any of us exceed expectations (read top our exams [as Bengalis seem to be worried about only one thing which is this]), our parents go out of the way to say “AMAR chele/ AMAR meye” (“MY boy/girl”) with misty eyes, lips in the shape of a croissant moon with teeth glittering like diamonds, while all our backbreaking efforts-our night outs with books in hand, all the mosquito bites we took in, all our sacrifices of favourite things-books, movies, hobbies, passions, and all our endeavours to stand straight instead of the inhumane demands, fall unnoticed into the great big dark abyss of disapproval , since soon we hear our parents being praised with “TUMI sarthok” (“YOU are successful”). But WE want to be appreciated! We want to be befriended, listened to and understood. Yes definitely we want to be expected from (otherwise we feel worthless), but within our stress limit. We don’t want to buckle under pressure and stand with wobbling knees while trying hard to stay firm in the face. Are we so hard to identify with? The problem is again mental setup and pseudo notions. Our parents have all our best interests at heart…I surely give a nod to it, and I love my parents a lot…but it’s about time they try to drop their prejudices and look at us with a different light altogether. If we are good at dance, we want to get staged. If we are good at acting, we want the proper backup. If we are passionate about martial art, we want to hear “go answer your call” instead of being grounded with piles of academic books by the time we reach high school. The issue here is not “no studies”, its “not only studies and marks”. And, one more request- “no comparisons”. There’s a lot more to life than the printed black letters on our yearly report card.

But I was speaking of counselling. Here I’ll sight another example.

The other day, there was a parents’ counselling session arranged at my sister’s school (and my ex-school). Ma was telling me just a while ago about what Ms. Saloni Priya (the visiting counsellor) put forward to the parents. There was a specific point where she asked the parents to stop demanding marks from their wards and instead suggested them to pay more attention to the quality of education they acquire. Also, she advised them against comparing their children with others. At this I asked Ma, “So you finally understood it?”, and she said “About what?” I said, “About this marks and comparison thing. That the 1st question you ask me after my semester report comes out shouldn’t be ‘How much did Mr G get?’” To this she said, “All these counselling sessions are for parents of the less meritorious who find it hard to tackle their children under pressure. Why will I compromise with my girl getting less marks when I know she can perform better?”, and with it the retaliation was such that I had to hold my cell phone at a feet’s length to save my ear drums! Again, counselling proved to be a complete failure! Sigh!

“I’m tired of being what you want me to be.

Feeling so faithless, lost under the surface,

Don’t know what you’re expecting of me;

Put under the pressure of walking in your shoes…”

That’s what’s playing on my roomie’s laptop. And it fits so smugly with my mood.

Psychologists and counsellors should do a better job. I’m biased, I agree. But is there any need of counselling if there exist healthy mentalities and relationships all over? Shouldn’t every individual try to understand another soul a little more than what they do now? And shouldn’t they try to comprehend where is it that they are going wrong? I, at my age, am done with being worried about other peoples’ expectations. By this age we have our own expectations to match. But I’m worried about the little kiddos, who, with every passing day and increasing throttling competitions, are having their innocence snatched. Creativity and talent is being endangered.

And, we certainly cannot wait for aliens to come and fix it.

Awake again! October 25, 2010

Posted by Sreyasi Nag Chowdhury in Everytime I come back from dormancy!.
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9 months since my last post! An awful lot of time to be dormant for someone who claims to own a blog! I won’t blabber more…a wonderful piece of thought is coming up your screen (I have improvised on the time of publishing the post so that the article really shows up when you scroll down). It is written by a friend of mine, Abhiraj Ganguli. For the lack of a suitable platform to share his views on, he asked me to post it in my blog. This was a long 3-4 months ago. Yes…it was my lethargy again! Feeling like banging my head on the wooden table my laptop’s on. Then again you’ll miss a lovely read. So I’ll restrain my emotions & let you read what Abhiraj has to say.

Oh I almost forgot. Let me first introduce Abhiraj to all. He was a bit shy at school, only keeping to his gang of friends and smiling sweetly (on a second thought a little mischievously) whenever others (specially girls if I’m not wrong) came his way. Never knew he thought so productive. College surely brings out the person sleeping in us. You can speak to him at his Facebook profile – http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/profile.php?id=1210830357.

Read on. And don’t hold back your views.

Calcutta-A Tale of Two Cities October 25, 2010

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An Essay By Abhiraj Ganguli…

“The city is what it is, because its citizens are what they are ” – Plato

This is a Dickensque tale of two cities. Twin faces of a mirror. One city whose
citizens buy, spend, sell, live and laugh and another city where the citizens
grope, right, get knocked about and die. Where one city ends and the other
begins , no one knows. The border between the two cities is invisible or maybe
we, the citizens of both cities alike have intentionally dissolved them.

Let’s talk about the city of chaos, the city of disorder and dismay, the city of
alcoholics and swindlers, the city of drug peddlers and the city of tears.
People declare “This is the city of decay, run away if you want to live.” The
citizens think there are no escapes out of this torture chamber. Their existence
is lost in a mesh of inadequacies and in a feeling of decadence. The roads or
the city are potholed, the houses are in shambles, the population comprises
drunkards, lunatics, prostitutes and swindlers leading a life of failed
aspirations in an incoherent existence. Anarchy and corruption rule here.
Tourists and strangers detest the city and some even vow to never come back. The
sun shines reluctantly on its twisted alleys, crooked lanes and dingy cluster of
roof tops and telegraph wires.

Now of its twin. The city of progress, the city of success, the city of
businessmen and bureaucrats, the city of hope and the city of laughs. The
“Wheels of progress” and the “Chariot of productive change” roll over the city
streets to the delight of onlookers. People exclaim “What an example of life,
what a celebration of existence, this is where there is hope.” Its many asphalt
laden streets are walked on by exuberant masses of dreams, rays of hope shine
through the clouds. Its population of dreamers and thinkers, rich, richer and
the richest, successful and fulfilled lives rest in the bosom offered by the
security of opulence. Its gilded towers, glass facades, marble staircases and
extravagant chandeliers are examples of supreme splendour.

We, though shocking it may sound, live in both cities. To us, the concrete
demarcation of the two cities has long been obliterated. We never know which
streets we walk on, which sun rays peep down upon us. The myths of progress and
stagnation, the clichés of warmth and chaotic traffic, the decadence and the
opulence have clouded our lives in the cities. The chaos and order of the
contrasting cities have confused us to the extent that reality and fantasy have
been caught up in a giant whirlpool. May be the cities are the projections of
we, the citizens ourselves. This glaring dichotomy is nothing but our own
existence in the twin cities.

The lives of the cities shall not end prematurely. May be only time will get to
decide, not us, which will exist and which will fall by the wayside.
Wait. I think the power to decide, the power to choose has been handed over to us,
the citizens. But can we make out which is the city we live in?

To learn or not to learn… January 25, 2010

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I’m back here to speak about the Education system, which haunts me time and again. A friend of mine, Soumya, commented on one of my previous posts (https://sreyasi09.wordpress.com/2009/12/04/why-do-we-have-to-suffer/). I was just replying to his comment but felt the flow of thoughts overpowering. So, I decided to publish it as a post.

This is what Soumya had to say-

“Not just WBUT, the same case happens also in J.U.Recently we fought over ‘open air’.Yes they impressed that the Open Air Theater of J.U would not be available for this year fest. Now what the hell is that?? But we fought and snatched our victory.Besides it is very sad to say that still now as a 2nd year student I am just not more than a bloody mugger who just commits into the memory and vomits into exam paper.and its just not me,many of my friends also do the same.WE ARE NOT LEARNING.IS ANYONE LISTENING?????”

And here’s what came out of my fingers-

No one’s listening Soumya…or they don’t want to…whatever the reason maybe…highly political or lack of caliber…I don’t know and don’t want to comment. But if a majority think this way, will it be very difficult to change the system? Maybe in a hundred years? Why can’t we be a trend-setter instead of a trend-follower?

Although learning that it’s the same way in J.U. helps in overcoming self-pity, but in no way does it brighten my mood. J.U. is a top-notch college, with more responsibility to produce substantial quality every year than the WBUT (no offence).

With the education standard dwindling, we, the young are at stake (and so is India in the global front). Maybe all of us will get jobs; but where is the security? Knowledge stays, money doesn’t.

When I read literature written back in earlier centuries, I get a glimpse of the depth of education and knowledge of the contemporaries. Their thoughts reflect their wisdom. Their ideologies can make your life. Even when I hear about the education system in my parents’ time, I feel it’s a hell and heaven difference in what is now and what was then. They gained knowledge while we have already forgotten what we studied in school. Our fault? Yes. Maybe the urbanization (or modernization) and with it the satisfaction in superficial pleasure has killed our urge to know more. But we can’t be blamed entirely. The education system has to bear its quota of blame too. Previously education or knowledge was for enjoyment and self-growth, now it is for marks…to climb higher up the ladder…not realizing that when the ground our ladder stands on is so weak, we are bound to fall off face down any day. Competition is no longer healthy; it’s sickening us; constricting our mentality; minimizing the range of our vision; making us weak spiritually.

O yes I blabbered a lot here. But I’m no philosopher. Neither am I so knowledgeable as to be able to implement whatever I said. I’m just another student of the 21st century crying out to everyone to open his or her eyes, realize and act accordingly.

“Knowledge-ke piche bhago” (“run for knowledge”) is very true…but how many of us do that? Many may think alike but we are very weak to act, because we are not sure of support and success. One person cannot bring about a sea of change, but a vast multitude of people sharing similar mind-wave can. How about holding hands and raising our voices together? We have the way to communicate right at our homes-the Internet. Blogosphere and tweetosphere are doing their jobs…we just need to voice our opinion.

What makes you wait? Anyone reading this please share what you feel, pass this on, search for people who think alike…lets make us heard.

A year gone by… January 4, 2010

Posted by Sreyasi Nag Chowdhury in Just casual blabs..., Me-myself-my life....
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Many of us might now be determined to live up to the New Year resolutions, but I don’t list resolutions in the apprehension of not keeping them. I’d rather prefer to let life flow in its natural rhythm than to bind it in some fixed boundaries, but make the best out of it. Here I want to retrospect the year gone by.

2009 for me was a very eventful year. Unlike other years, it didn’t seem that the year just came and went. I won’t say it was the most important year of my life or the best…that’s too relative, but it has in a way left a prominent mark in my life.

The year began with a wonderful experience of group work…I’m speaking of being a member of ERPC (Entrepreneurship Resource Planning Cell) of our college and participating actively in E-week ’09 organized by the NEN (National Entrepreneurship Network). It was enriching…taking responsibilities, interacting with a lot of people, managing events, anchoring…and also bearing with differences as well as dodging power struggles. It brought out a part of me that was dormant…and partially gave me back my lost confidence.

I met Betrayal. I closely felt Jealously. I saw a friend suffocating in their grip…and lost her eventually.

It was a year of breaking bonds, sorrow, tears…realization and smile…

My juniors arrived. Here came the test of my leadership qualities. Close interaction and being with them where they were right was the key to what I am in their eyes now. I stood for what I believed when I was a 1st year…respect can be earned, not forced.

Then came the College Fest. Another big experience. I came to close proximity with many of my seniors…misunderstandings were silently resolved, & friendship evolved. This too helped develop a part of me.

I got back someone who made me realize who I am, helped me look forward to the wide vista before me instead of looking back at the dark avenue I was so afraid to tread on again…reminded me to sit down and think so that I could stand up for what I believe.

Academically, 2009 took me somewhere I never, in my wildest dream dreamt of being. KVPY as I said before was a life changing experience.

2009 made me see ‘friendship’ in a new depth. Human psychology is the toughest to understand. Closeness may make bonds shallow while distance strengthens them.

It was a year of good movies; wild imaginations; petty disputes; hilarious laughter and gallons of tears; a year of new ties; a year of closeness and understanding; a year of love; a year of regaining myself. It was a year of growing up.

Now as I stand looking ahead, maybe I can’t see a distinct light that’ll lead me; maybe I can’t proclaim convincingly ‘that is what I want’…but I’m confident of not being lost and crying for help. I feel self-assured, secure and positive. I’ve learnt to live.

I’ve learnt to believe in Me.

Smile…an everlasting smile… December 30, 2009

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I realised that twitching a few muscles of the face and pulling the lips into a half moon can work wonders…yeah I’m speaking of a ‘smile’… Only today I was out with my friends having lunch…we were in all smiles…jokes, pulling each others legs, remembering old times…and there was this lady sitting at a nearby table looking at us and smiling… Again in the bus I was sitting and was looking up and speaking to my friend who was standing beside me…I was smiling…and there was this man…a bit aged, kind of shabby, maybe a loner…who was smiling with me… If my smile has such a wonderful power to make people around me smile, I will smile forever…

We involuntarily smile when we see a baby smiling…

My lover’s smile can make my day…

Foreigners smile at you when you look at them…

A dust covered child in the slums will smile back if you smile at her/him…

A smile is precious…priceless…more so if you are the one who’s making it happen…

Smile…build reasons for others to smile…life will be happier and worthwhile… How? Smile…you’ll know…

3 idiots December 30, 2009

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Amir, Sharman, Madhavan…the 3 idiots….and the mastermind-Rajkumar Hirani! Sure Chetan Bhagat deserves acclamation too…but the way Hirani presented the story on the 5 point someone base is simply wonderful! & the film is doing great business too! Loooong serpentine line before the ticket counter! We were supposed to go for the 12.00 show at Star Theatre today. People stood in the line till 12.20 to get to the 12.00 show! We couldn’t make it…so went for the next show at 3.00pm. All along panicky faces buying newspapers to see where else the movie’s showing in case they miss out on the tickets…such is the craze.

I guess by now most of you have watched it, and for the sake of those who didn’t, I’ll not write anything about the movie ‘coz I don’t want to spoil the fun. I’ll just say…the 1st half was rib-tickling! Don’t be surprised if you fall off the chair laughing. About the second half…umm…I felt it was slowing down a bit at places…other than that it’s a guaranteed 3 hours of total entertainment… Tears may roll down your cheeks a couple of times…don’t worry about that…it’s human nature ;)…

Lethargy…yeah that’s the culprit! December 30, 2009

Posted by Sreyasi Nag Chowdhury in Everytime I come back from dormancy!, Just casual blabs..., Me-myself-my life....
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Ah! Back after a long time! Hi guys! You know what…lethargy is a demon…& it’s damn hard to shake it off if it’s sitting on your shoulder and swinging its legs! Exams got over a decade ago (that is on the day after Christmas) and I was there all this time laying on my sofa under the blanket, cell phone and remote control in my hands (when I wasn’t killing mosquitoes that is…couldn’t even gather the energy to get the mosquito coil on you see), a bottle of water beside me…and staring at the TV… Yeah one positive side is that I could catch a few good movies…but then I went 3 days without tea or coffee (the demon named Lethargy said “O come-on! You’ve got to pull your blanket off, get up, put your slippers on, go to the kitchen, wash the kettle with chilling cold water, light the gas, put the kettle on, add milk, look for the sugar and tea leaves/coffee, if its tea wait for a while………..and then you’re going to get a hot cup…….by this time you’ll freeze in the cold……..better go without it!”….I said “yeah right mate…dump the coffee!”)…..and drank only two litres of water in two days…I gaped blankly at my colours and brushes….read the names of the story books on the rack…..thought of millions of things that could be done instead laying idle…..and then I opened my eyes to see that its morning…beginning of a new day…24 hours have passed… That was more or less my past three days…but TODAY, 3 idiots kicked the lethargy off my back…and here I am…typing…saving my fingers from going numb and my brain from going dumb! 😀