Flashback Friday #7 – A Poem for My Grandma

MyGrandma-Copy2

~~~

In the special corner of my heart

My Grandma you reside,

And you will always live there

Till my heart beats beside;

The blanket of your love

I feel blessed to grew up under,

Reason my childhood memories are so beautiful

Because you are the part of them I ponder;

Even though you lost your father

At such an early age of two,

But you still learned all the family values

And ingrained them in me too;

Grandma, I am yet to find

A calm, sensible and learned person as you are,

If I manage to inculcate just a bit of you

In life I would go really far;

You are so modern for your age

And understand the generation gaps so well,

Makes me wonder are you really that old

Or it’s just your wrinkled skin and gray hair create an illusionary tale;

I remember when every adult used to scold us kids

For making ruckus in the house and noise,

“Adults forget they used to do the same themselves”

You always whispered softly never once raising your voice;

When my school notes used to go missing as usual

Grandma, you were my friend in crime,

Helped me secretly in preparing my notes again

Always saved me from mommy’s time;

I loved my summer vacations more

Just because I could spend more time with you,

For learning, drawing, reading, writing

And sometimes flying kites too;

Listening invaluable life’s lessons

While sleeping in your lap,

I have learned so much from you

I can’t ever repay or even keep a tab;

Like, money is surely important in life

And one must earn in abundance,

But never take wrong short cuts for it

Just believe in your skills and keep your patience;

Like, this world is full of different characters

Everyone in their own way right,

Don’t burn yourself trying to keep everyone happy

Let some weird ones go and keep your close knit tight;

Grandma, can’t imagine my life without you

I feel dreaded to even think about anything wrong,

But I am sure your blessings will always shine on me

And in my smallest of success you will always sing your melodious song;

And I say again, in the special corner of my heart

My Grandma you reside,

And you will always live there

Till my heart beats beside;

~~~

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Only true friends would do this…

After making a mistake of coming back to US alone without Isha and Kiaan, I was sitting alone in my living room, three pints down, feeling lonely, missing my family… when Tyagi called.

“Dude, you back?”

“Yup.”

“What doing?”

“Getting bored, alone.”

“Why?”

“Isha and Kiaan will join after 3 weeks”

“Come over here.”

“What will we do there?”

“True, it’s kinda suburb. I should come over there then.”

“Cool, here we can have fun in NYC.”

“Hmm, let me check flights.”

“Awesome, but check with your wife and kids first.”

After few minutes…

“Okay, I am booking fights tickets for tomorrow.”

“Wow!”

“Will come back to family by 31st noon.”

“Awesome, man! Send me flight details, I’ll pick you up.”

“Sure. See you tomorrow, bro!”

“Whoa!!”

I picked him up from Newark airport on 28th Dec 10 am and dropped him back on 31st Dec 10 am. And we had all the boyzzzz fun you can wildly imagine. wink! wink!

I don’t have lot many friends but I am proud of the ones I have. They are not just for namesake. They actually care. And this is what true friends do. Thanks Tyagi for being one of them!

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At Times square NYC

Introducing Kiaan (daddy blog post 1)

Kiaan

You are the most precious gift to us who promoted us in life from wife & husband to mommy & daddy!

Your mommy & daddy stole each other’s hearts but never thought their hearts would be stolen again on 28th May by such a cute little man!

You are just five days old and learning ways of life, and your mommy & daddy are learning along with you: lullaby melodies, power naps, surviving sleep deprivation and most importantly unlimited & unconditional love!

You are a Grace of God to us, and that’s why we call you – KIAAN!

What-the-fuck & Low carb diet

What-the-fuck!

I am sure everyone – almost everyone – of us must have had used this expression at least once. It’s that moment when we scan ourselves – in front of the mirror or in a digital image shot by a camera or in an internal image shot inside our head – and not happy with what we see, we say with a big sigh – ‘what-the-fuck I’ve done to myself.’

It happened to me in May of 2015.

Isha and I had just returned to Singapore from our home in India after long three weeks. Isha was reading some article on her iPad and I was changing my clothes. As I removed my vest, she looked at me and shook her head with a smile and a little frown between her eyebrows. She didn’t speak anything. But it was enough to made me observe at myself in the mirror. ‘What-the-fuck I’ve done to myself’ was the expression.

I don’t want to get into the details of explaining that image I saw because of obvious reasons.

The best part of this ‘what-the-fuck’ expression is that it’s more often than not strong enough to get us started in a right direction. It inspires us for a positive change.

The Four Hour Body

body

And so I started looking for diet plans for myself. I read a lot of articles, consulted my dietician cousin but what actually stuck me was a book by Timothy Ferris: The Four Hour Body. Maybe because of it’s a catchy name. The more I read about this book and about the author, the more inspired I felt.

This book is not only about dieting. It is about complete health: diet, exercise, physical stamina, etc. However, I’ve used it only for diet. So far.

Low-carb diet

Diet

It explains low-carb-high-protein diet. It is not a new concept after all but the way this book explained inspired me to follow it.

In short, it says NO to anything white except eggs. It says, everything white has carbs, so we shouldn’t eat them.

No sugar, no wheat, no bread, no brown bread (it is actually white), no rice, no milk, no potatoes, and for some reason no fruits or fruit juices (even though they are not white). The author explains medical/ scientific details for every point he mentioned in the book but I didn’t bother myself with those details. I simply followed.

Measure and Record 

The second important thing is to measure weight every day in the morning before breakfast and measure size (chest, waist, hips, biceps and thighs) every week and maintain all the records in a journal.

My daily diet

I started on 22nd May. I weighed 74.5 Kg.

8:00 am: Two eggs (boiled, scrambled, omelette, etc.) – within an hour of waking up.

10:30 am: One vegetable salad portion (carrot, cucumber, tomatoes – though not white but allowed)

12:30 am: One big bowl of lentils or beans

4:00 pm: One big bowl of lentils or beans

6:30 pm: Something full of protein such as stir fried green peas (optional)

9:00 pm: One big bowl of lentils or beans

Binge day

Now, this is the best part, probably the reason I was inspired to give this diet plan a try (apart from book’s name). One day in a week, it allows (in fact encourages) to have a cheat day to savor anything on the earth you want to eat or wanted to eat in last 6 days in this diet. It also encourages to keep making note of stuff you desire to eat during the diet days and then eat all of them on this cheat day.

I chose Saturday as my binge day.

Result

I followed diligently for 40 days, maintaining records of each day. On 28th June, I weighed 68.6 Kg. I’d lost 6 Kg. All my shirts looked better fitted and all my trousers went loose. It was an exciting feeling. My friends also noticed this change.

And then Hong Kong happened. I took a week break for my Hong Kong vacation but never went back to that diet routine. Eventually, in last six months, I gained all my 6 Kg back.

Sighed. What-the-fuck I’ve done to myself… again!

Give it another shot

I am determined to resume this diet plan from around mid-Jan once I get settled in my new place. And, I am confident it will work for me as effectively as it did last year.

Cheers!

Image courtesy:
http://www.wikiihealth.com/
http://fourhourbody.com/

On New Year 2016 Eve, I Promise to Myself

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New Year is all about new hopes. To start new innings. To make new promises. To shape our lives better than before. And to believe in the possibilities unlimited.

As 2016 dawn upon us, with new hopes and firm beliefs, I promise to myself.

Exercise: My biggest goal in 2016 to shed extra fat and get into a leaner body. I promise to myself to do running, cross-fit exercise and yoga on alternate days, five days a week.

Healthy diet: I promise to myself to say a big NO to all the junk I eat like chocolates, cheese, nachos, beer, etc. But for all practical reasons I am going to keep one cheat day a week to fully surrender myself to my taste buds. This actually works – I tried this for 40 days in 2015 and I lost 6 kg. Read about my experience here.

Reading: I read 10 books in 2015. I promise to myself to read 15 books in 2016.

Writing: I wrote 2 short stories (2500 words each) in 2015 as a part of Write India contest campaigned by TOI. I promise to myself to write two blogs every month in 2016.

Family: I promise to myself to spend more time than I did last year with my family and friends, and make more beautiful & everlasting memories with them.

Consulting/Product Management: I promise to myself to master consulting/product management skills in 2016.

Wish you all a very Wonderful and Promising New Year 2016!!!

Valentine’s day special

So I called to let her know I will be late in office today. I lied. But I did reach home late.

At midnight, I surprised her with beautiful card which was perfectly hidden beneath my pillow. I wrote few lines in that:

You smile, I smile

You cry, I also do

On this valentines my love, I promise

I will live for your happiness

And breathe my entire life with you

She was indeed happy to see that. I am sorry baby I wanted to buy flowers also but didn’t get any time, you know, I said with sad face. No need baby, this card is so special.

In a while, she opened the microwave to prepare some late night snack, but jumped to see a red rose inside. Baby, when you got these flowers? What flowers, I don’t know. And I blinked.  

Okay, there is one more gift waiting for you. Please tell me no where she said excitedly. Search for it. And she looked at every corner but didn’t find. Okay, a hint, in the kitchen. She looked in the refrigerator and finally in the fourth attempt found a white pup hiding behind a bottle. She was mesmerized.

Gifts over, okay, I smiled. Thank you so much baby. You made it so special.

She woke me up for office when from inside my cozy blanket I said it is too hot in here why don’t you switch on the AC. She looked surprised but came back running with another card she found lying over the AC. This one is so darn cute! Thank you, thank you, thank you!  

Please tell me all other gifts. I hope there are no more, right. Obviously, this one was the last.

Around 3, she called me all excited…when did you buy and hide all these gifts…she asked after discovering a heart-shaped chocolate box beside the other snacks on our kitchen side table. I was enjoying to see her so happy. Okay, now that was finally the last one. You liked my surprises? I just loved them. And in the evening, we will go out to your favorite Mexican restaurant. Wow.

We were getting ready for our romantic dinner, when she usually asked which pendant to wear. I don’t know. She asked again. I really don’t know. But, one of the dinning chairs might know. She looked puzzled for a second and rushed. Swarovski necklace was shinning there. 

And, I used to think I am no romantic.

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The blessed memories of Diwali

Hands folded in Nameste and head innocently bowed in front of Goddess Lakshmi’s in our small temple in the living room, I am sitting next to my Grandma. Now, dressed up smartly in black achkan (indo-western jacket) and white churidar pajama with a white pearl necklace around my neck, I am putting tikka on my grandpa’s forehead. And here at our terrace with my beautiful mom smiling in her yellow chiffon, holding a phuljhadi (sparkler) in my hand from behind and asking me to look towards my dad taking our picture, but looks like I am more into that phuljhadi than the picture. Thank you dad for capturing these memorable moments and many more, for these are the ones through which I still, after so many years, cherished my childhood Diwali celebrations.

As a child, I was madly fascinated by Diwali – the festival of light, though for me it was more a festival of crackers. I don’t remember my age then, just old enough when kids are allowed to step down alone to the nearby market. That street near our house is very narrow, and during the festival, with the crackers and sweets shops stretched almost to the middle from both ends, it used to become crowded, noisy and “lively”.

DiwaliMy crackers shopping used to begin a week before Diwali with pencil bombs and taabeez (triangle shape bombs). They were 100 for five and 2 packets a day were decently budgeted in my pocket-money. All that week, morning to evening, mostly alone at my terrace, except a few times with my friend Varun, I used to blast those bombs. Crazy isn’t? Divyang, my younger brother, was least interested in joining me. I am still not sure why he never enjoyed crackers. In this case, he is very much like grandpa who always refrain us from bursting crackers. His reason is pollution of course which I am sure is not Divyang’s. But grandma always use to give me money for crackers (the expensive and fancy ones). She is simply the best.

A few times I got light burns but no one knows about them yet. After that “bomby” (to avoid writing “bombing”) week, the terrace used to look like a dirty pit with busted bombs, ashes, burnt papers and match sticks all over. On the Diwali afternoon, I used to sweep clean the terrace by myself with the same enthusiasm and excitement. Then after putting a folding bed for everyone to comfortably sit and enjoy the show of fancy crackers, I used to light hundred of candles on all around the terrace boundary to brighten up our Diwali house some more. The very next morning, I would be the first one to go upstairs to gather the melted wax of those candles for making the hand-made different-shapes candles. Recycling, you see.

I had a similar passion for greeting cards then. I used to handmade Diwali cards for all my close relatives and friends – trying to make all different and as beautiful as I could. Then with my Grandma’s help, I also used to prepare envelopes for them, matching the color with the card (those were the days when we didn’t have loose envelopes in the nearby stationary shop).

I loved to watch my mom making rangolis and painting on our doorway the little footsteps, white and beautiful, welcoming the Goddess Lakshmi to walk through our house on that auspicious evening to pour her blessings on us. We also used to hang a kandil, with an electric bulb inside it, high on the television antenna, so that at Diwali night, it lit colorful inside the kandil. At every house, there used to be at least one Kandil of some weird shape and bright color. In this cable and internet era remain no more television antennas and no more kandils on them, but still we buy a kandil and hang it somewhere inside the house.

Dad used to take me along with him to greet relatives and friends with Diwali sweets and gifts, and eventually, as I grew up, dad handed over this responsibility to me. I never enjoyed doing it alone except for visiting some close relatives. And so I handed it over to Divyang as soon as he grew up a little more. I think he, being an extrovert, loved it, except when not lazy.

Amidst all these beautiful blessed memories, I have a memory which is not pleasant but equally blessed for no one was hurt. I was very small then. My mom-dad, uncle-aunt, Divyang, all were there on terrace celebrating the Diwali evening. Someone gave me a sparkler and after a few seconds, scared of getting my hand burned, I just dropped it completely ignorant of the fact that I am standing next to the box full of crackers. The only scene I remember is that the rocket bombs going all over the terrace, my mom running towards the staircase holding Divyang and dad rushing towards me to drag me inside our terrace store-room. Thanks Almighty, no one was hurt. BE VERY CAREFUL and SAFE THIS DIWALI!

For the Diwali pooja, everyone in their best outfit sit next to each other, bow and pray. A few times, we used to celebrate the festival together with our close relatives and the joy was manifold. I pray to feel that joy again. After the pooja, we used to dance on the loud music and run towards the terrace for the fireworks. One time along with Nishtha and Suketu, I had this crazy fun of having a bonfire with piles of old newspaper and throwing bullet bombs in it causing the ashes and pieces of burnt newspaper to blew up creating beautiful images and we used to dance around that. After getting tired with all the dance and fireworks, we used to play cards together till the wee hours of the morning.

And this is how I celebrated my Diwali as a child, as a teenager, and a few times as an adult. The best of times and celebrations! I miss that. I miss my family. I miss that fun. Well, I am going to attend Diwali pooja this year with my lovely family…over FaceTime.

WISH YOU ALL A VERY HAPPY, SAFE AND PROSPEROUS DIWALI!

Say “Thank you” to those who changed you and feel “Awesome”

“Do you have people in your world who changed your life positively?” asked me the morning, when I stepped in the balcony rubbing my eyes.

“Of course I’ve!” I replied, surprised why it is asking me that suddenly.

“Did you ever thank them for that?”

That question made me think… many times people changes our lives forever with their actions, words or just by their presence, and often we forget to thank them for what they did, taking their love and care for granted. I was no different, I am now… from this very moment…

So go ahead and thank those who really have changed you, your life and the way of think… It feels AWESOME!!!

Nishtha

Thank you Nishtha for always there in my life. I am so grateful for that. You are the bestest sister ever. I remember vividly when I saw you for the first time, a little more than my palm, I felt an angel has entered my life. And after so many years, I feel exactly the same…just never knew my little angel will grow up so fast!

I know you miss me the most when I am away from home. I miss you too but I am a little poor in expressing. You’ve taught me many things in your own way. The way you believe in me makes me more confident and responsible. You make me go for knowledge by relying on me for answers, making me more aware. Your trust in me makes me a believer, affirming my belief that I will always be there to hold you, to support you in all times, and the way you listens to me makes me feel I’m a good speaker. And, I go to gym to look like a handsome brother of such a gorgeous sister ;)

I LOVE YOU and want the best of the bestest for you in all the spheres of life.

Sonal

I am so thankful to you Sonal for being such an amazing and caring sister. The way you care about me and the way you are a little possessed (in fact, for everyone you love ;-)) shows and reflects your pure love.

Our childhood memories are so precious – long summer vacations, playing hide and seek, going to the park for orange bar, and running from p l sharma to begum bagh for no reason. But even though we have our busy lives now, I want to thank you for always making me feel that you are always there for me.

I am really grateful that you introduced me to Isha, the best thing happened to my life. I am really thankful to you for that. You have changed my life.

The way you go an extra mile to take care of Nishtha is commendable. I never mentioned this but I really appreciate (I know you must be thinking now, ughh…isn’t she my sister ;-)). You left your work pending to attend my roka-ceremony on such a short notice made me feel really special.

I can go on and on saying how grateful I feel for having you as my sister, but I want to finish it short by saying, I LOVE YOU SIS !!!

Abhishek

Thank you Abhishek for many reasons than one. First of all for always being my best friend, standing on my side in good times and bad, in right and wrong. For always listening to my stuff patiently and always believing in me. For never shouting back on me even in our fights. For making me think I am much better than what I think I am, and that I deserve the best in life.

For leaving your college classes to support me during dad’s abduction. For making me calm and strong when I was at my lows. When we’ll meet again, and I know soon, we will follow our tradition of mall road and hariya ki lassi ;)

Thank you for being my bestest friend. You’ve changed me and my life in many ways.

Friends Forever!

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PS: There are so many other people whom I want to thank equally… Surely will, on some other beautiful morning :-)

Shocking: British airways cancelled my tickets without my request !!!

Are you planning to book international air tickets for yourself or your family? If so, please read this to avoid falling in this pit unfortunately my wife and I fell into.

This happened to us by British Airways (BA) when they cancelled my air tickets without any request from my end. This has affected us both mentally and financially.

Let me explain:

December 2011: I came to US to work with my company for 6 months from December 2011 till 30th June 2012. Due to some personal reasons, I’d to sponsor our own air tickets instead of my company. So, I booked 2 return tickets for my wife and myself. New Delhi to Boston dated 27th December 2011 and Boston to Bengaluru (connecting London) dated 30th June 2012.

9th June 2012: My wife called British Airways customer care to inquire rescheduling and cancellation policy just in case my I’ve to stay further in US beyond 30th June 2012.

13th June 2012: I asked my wife to call again and check the price break-up of the individual tickets, since on BA website only the summed amount of all the tickets (including my travel in December 2011) was getting displayed.

20th June 2012: My company confirmed that I’ve to go back to India on the earlier decided date i.e. 30th June 2012. So, I went to BA website to take the print-outs of my tickets. But I was shocked to see that the tickets were not getting displayed there.

21st June 2012: I called customer care and they informed me that the tickets have been cancelled for both of us on 13th June 2012. They also mentioned that cancellation request had come from my side. I clarified them multiple times that my wife had never requested any cancellation or refund. I also requested for the recording tapes of the conversations between my wife and the customer care associate which could prove this. But they denied all the requests. The tickets were booked under my name using my credit card, but the associate didn’t ask any information related to me or the card. How could any associate just cancel the tickets without asking the necessary information? The weirdest was that we never even received a single cancellation email or notification. Just imagine if I would have not checked the tickets till the last date as we generally do, convinced that the tickets are there.

22nd June 2012: I called customer care again multiple times but the manager said there is only one option – buy new tickets. In fact, he asked me a weird question that why my wife called twice. Can’t a customer call multiple times to inquire something? I also contacted BA customer relations but didn’t hear any positive response yet.

This seems either a mistake by customer care associate who spoke to my wife on 13th June 2012 or an error in the BA reservations system. I suspect latter because customer care informed me that both Boston – London and London – Bengaluru tickets are cancelled, but the main page of ‘Manage my Booking’ still shows London – Bengaluru flight details, as displayed in below snapshot of my booking. See in the top circle my July 2012 booking is getting displayed with the online check-in countdown in the right circle but the same details are not there in the below circle. Isn’t that shows their mistake?

I’ve bought this situation to my company’s senior management notice. They have extended my US stay for sometime, but the new tickets did cost me lot of $$$ provided the expensive air tickets price on such short notice.

I’ve emailed to Keith Williams, CEO of British Airways. His staff did respond with the same reply I got from customer care, and I am still following up with them trying to convince that it is not my fault. I’ve also raised a complaint against British Airways through a legal channel for the compensation of $$$ I’d to spend on my new tickets. I am willing to settle with the minimum.

Though this bad experience has given me my wife and me a lot of financial and mental stress, it has taught some lessons (this could apply to other airlines or service providers as well):

1. BA has the most pathetic customer care. 97% passengers of BA agree with this. Google it and you will find it out. So try to always avoid calling them.

2. If you no other option but to call BA’s pathetic customer care, try not to call more than once. They might misunderstand it, assume something by themselves, and propably take weirdest action without even informing you.

3. Always keep reiterating what they should not do even if you are requesting them to do so, like in my case we should have reiterated that please don’t reschedule or cancel my tickets, even though we never asked for cancellation.

4. Always book your tickets through a good travel agent, even if it cost a little more but then such incidents would be the agent’s overhead and not yours. This is most important.

I am hoping something positive soon and will update the post. I request you to share this post as much as possible…it might ring a bell somewhere. Thanks !!!

The law of attraction and my US stay

YES, it worked for me. The law of attraction actually worked for me. WOW! It’s real and now I aspire to make it work for my bigger dreams! And well, it worked for me…so it could for work for you as well.

I am sure you must know what I am talking about. Because “The law of attraction” is not a secret anymore…it is revealed by “The Secret”. Thanks to Rhonda Byrne. Millions of people across the globe have experienced miracles in their lives following this law and its secret. Well if you are not in those millions of people, I recommend you to know The Secret. 

I would have been in India now, I am not…I am writing this post sitting in my cozy apartment on 6 Danforth Road in US. So, here’s want happened:

Well coming to US was always one of my dreams. I know it sounds a little childish since these days every other person from software industry is coming to US for work. Thanks to globalisation. The world is getting flat as they call it.

In my case, it took a little long. After waiting for seven years, I came to US on a work assignment in mid 2011 till June 30th 2012. And since it was one of my dreams, I fell in love with the country. But as my end date was approaching, the feeling to stay more in US was getting rooted. I started thinking that I am going to stay in US much longer. I shared the same with my US Director in April 2012 and he pulled some strings to extend my stay till December 2012. I was very excited but suddenly, some issues arose back in my India team because of which my extended stay got cancelled. It was very disappointing but somehow I always had this believe that I am not going back on June 30th.

Then, in early June a new US Vice President took over our group and he showed his willingness to have me stay back till December 2012. It again got finalized and I was verbally conveyed that I am not going back till end of the 2012. But this time I wanted the written confirmation. But again some misunderstanding happened between my India and US group, and on 20th June, just 10 days before my departure date, the extended stay was again cancelled and I’d to go back on the same 30th June – and this time it’s final and couldn’t be changed. I remember when my US Director was conveying this disheartening news to me, I knew it is just 10 days and now it is over. It is impossible that my stay would extend by any chance now in such a short timeframe. The case was closed. But still my thoughts were – ‘It will still happen. I am staying back in US beyond June 2012’. Though at that time I didn’t know – How it will happen?

My wife and I started packing our stuff and suddenly I asked her to check our 30th June air tickets to confirm the time. She logged in to the British Airways website and guess what tickets were not there. We were completely shocked. Never in our wildest dreams I thought that British Airways could cancelled our tickets without any warning or notification. Next afternoon, my wife called British Airways customer care and yes, they actually did cancel our tickets and put it on us that we requested a cancellation. The most weirdest thing we ever expected. And then they informed that they can’t help us in anyways. The only option is to buy new tickets which were 5 times expensive (approx 1.3 lacs per person) than the one those stupid people cancelled. My wife got so scared and tensed to cry. I went home early and called customer care several times. Same cold response. (I am going to share the further details of this “unfortunate” experience with British Airways in my next post, this post is for the “fortunate” experience with the law of attraction).

So, finally I informed my US director about this unfortunate incident. And he calmly said – “okay let’s extend your US stay for 2 months. By then the air tickets price would also go down, so you could afford them. Also we will reconsider your situation to extend further.” I didn’t believe my ears. That unfortunate event was actually a miracle which actually did what I really wanted to happen – to stay in US beyond June 2012. At that time I didn’t know how it would happen but see it made its way and I am still in US writing this post. Though I’d to spent around $1200 more from my pocket for the new air tickets for which I’ve filed a complaint against british airways for compensation, but most importantly I am still in US and my dream for further extension is still alive (and I will let you know when the law of attraction will work again :-)).

I called my wife to tell – Baby, The Secret is no more a secret now…It actually worked for us. INCREDIBLE!