On Productivity

Two things work through my mind as I start typing this out:

On how pretentious a productive person I might sound (loving the alliteration though, can’t help it, slurp);

IT’S BEEN THE SECOND DAY IN A ROW SINCE I WROTE SLASHED BLOGGED. GAH. YAY. OHMYGOSHImuststopbeingasdramatic.

December Diaries copyJokes aside though, I have some productive tendencies. It all comes down to how productive I genuinely want to be. Emphasis on the genuine (and not some as most would’ve assumed, lol), because I have come to realise that I cannot fuck with my brain. It knows when it is urgent and how important it is to me or something on those lines.

So of my twenty-something years on board, here’s what education, work, familial and other relationships have taught me on productivity: 

a) Sleep has nothing to do with this

I don’t know about you, but as a kid I had plenty of autographs. You remember those yes? 90s kids? 80s kids? 70s? 60s, no that was my Mum. But these autographs, (not the funky ones with questions that became a hit in the 2000s) were colourful blank often-perfumed pages for friends, family and loved ones to write nice things about you, so that when you grow old, grey and miserable, life has given you something good to fall back on. I jawk, aren’t I just hilarious? 😀

In one of my first autographs (I may have been 7+), my Mum wrote in it, “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a girl healthy, wealthy and wise.” I mean, I’ve always been a night-owl. As a child of seven, I used to clean my desk between 08-10pm every Tuesday night. (I don’t recall what the deal was on Tuesdays though) As an adult, health aside, the wealth and wisdom may have been accumulated from night-time adventures.

FYI, for those who are confused about the sort of work I do, no I do not moonlight as a hooker. My area already has a few prominent bodies who may not be accepting of mine and my body is still not on par with theirs and hence, it comes down to a matter of tough competition.

On the health side of things, yes, your face would look brighter, but then again I have for most part of my life never had the issue of circles or bags under my eyes and have begun using an under-eye cream to prevent any such nuisance in the years to come.

b) Do not however, ignore the importance of sleep

This does not mean that you are to work all night long because you need no sleep, like Jon Snow, you know nothing. Even if sleep does not come naturally to you, while I do not advocate for sleeping pills and what not, if you must, do go ahead with it, if not, try exercising, eating lighter meals and Googling as to how you can sleep better at night. Even if you don’t sleep, try to lie on your bed listening to music. Try to avoid reading or watching anything that will bring additional strain on your eyes, but just chill and hopefully, you’ll fall asleep.

c) Understand your body type / environments you work (best) in

This is a weird productivity tip of sorts, but I think for me to have written the first two points, it took me a while before I figured out that I was a night person. It’s not only night-night that’s most important to me, but also the environment you work in.

For example, when I’m at home, I work into the nights because the house is quieter and everything is really calm. I even tend to workout most at nights. However, if I am travelling for work or on vacation, I do have early night (sometimes as early as 10pm?) because I tend to finish up on work during the day because of the change in environment (and also due to the less number of household chores / responsibilities that you may otherwise have).

It’s best for you to understand on what works for you. For example, while in uni, my roomie was an early bird. So during exam time, I’d study from 10pm – 3am and I’d wake her up when I’m going to sleep where she will study from about 4am till mid morning.

d) Exercise

It’s funny that I speak on exercise because I’m anything but sporty. haha. In school I didn’t do any sports. Probably played badminton for about a year and clearly my Mum’s sports gene had hit neither my older sister nor me.

We don’t really have the most athletic of bodies either and due to our genetic mix, we are the if-you-eat-too-much-you-will-put-on-weight as opposed to the my-metabolism-is-naturally-high types. Towards my late teens and uni in India too had a lot to do with this, I started doing yoga. I started off with a yoga class (not the traditional one, this was at a gym, lol) and then followed a lot of yoga videos online and started reading up more on it. When I started feeling my body becoming stronger, I gradually incorporated more cardio and strength training into my routine and now, I have a relative-commendable schedule of working out thrice a week with some yoga, some cardio, stretching and core-strengthening. I don’t use machines or hit a gym (because of a very bad and funny gym accident I had a few years back); don’t jog (this tropical weather I’m telling you and we have weak-ish knees) and have put together a routine based on various workout videos and articles that strain neither the knees or the wrists.

Exercising has not only helped me fall asleep better at night but also help feel good about myself, especially that I-cannot-climb-up-this-staircase-but-oh-that-feels-good thought. Working out regularly has also made me make a mental note when planning things out because now we have one more thing to incorporate into the schedule!

e) Write your shiz down

As a writer that tries very hard, I essentially enjoy writing. While I was teaching, my students may have hated me, muhaha, but I try to institutionalise the practice of writing wherever I can, just as how I change computer languages from American to British English, HAHAHA.

Writing helps you put things in perspective and also helps you prioritise. I write both on paper and on the terrific Notes app on my laptop and phone. If you want a fancy shiz app, I’m sure there are tonnes on your phone app store that might hit your fancy.

If you are overwhelmed with hundred-and-one things to do and do multiple-thing-including-the-supposed-hooker-moonlighting like me and don’t know where to start, here’s what works for me:

  • Take a blank paper and write down in point or list form every single thing you want to do. These can include things like taking your kid to the doctor’s, calling up your friend to check on last week’s hangover (yes, these things happen and we forget), grocery shopping, paying you internet bill and so on. The list is not a work or house only list, but a list of everything you need to accomplish in life that moment. Of course if you write things like “graduate” then you might as well stay in school, silly goose.
  • Number them! Scan the list thoroughly and number them in order of importance. If some items are equally important, e.g. – shopping for your boyfriend’s birthday next week and finishing up a report, don’t hesitate to use the same number twice, but remember not to overdo it. Ask yourself if you will die, be fired, lose money or a relationship if the task is delayed and the answer is no, then it’s fine to push it to the bottom of the list. Do not mix prioritising with procrastinating, because what’s at the bottom of the list will make it’s way to the top, eventually and be complete.
  • Once the numbering is done, set time or date stamps, giving yourself a grace period as well (especially where client / employer deadlines are concerned).
  • Categorise your tasks then in either order of importance or a date-breakdown or just into baskets where they all belong.

What works best for me is when I put it in to a day plan – basically ten things I plan to achieve in a day (these also include chores and what not) and generic basket plan, where the different tasks are put into categories / clients / employers and then listed out it in the order of importance.

Yes this may sound terrifying, but once you spend time initially and get this ball rolling, encouragement and motivation will find its way here.

d) Deconstruct tasks

This is probably one of my favourite productivity tips that I made a habit while I was living away in India. I would basically breakdown a larger task and do it in small parts so that I wouldn’t be overwhelmed by the thought of it, when either a deadline or task is due. I use this most when it comes to household chores because I’ve seen my Mum clean the house inside out every weekend. For example, if it’s something like cleaning my bathroom, I would clean the floors on one day, the sink / commode on another, the wall tiles on another day and so on. This way, not only will my bathroom constantly be clean but when my loo can take no more, I wouldn’t be stuck in a pile of goo, literally. haha.

e) Incentives

I know, but this is great when you have to force yourself into doing something you don’t like, whether it is a school assignment or a task your line manager delegated to you, and you need that extra motivation to keep you going.

I usually make a mental note to reward myself:

  • if I complete something I’ve been putting off ages because it was too time consuming;
  • complete something I simply do not want to, but have to;
  • continuously work on a task / habit for a period of time. For example, last evening I shopped for some workout clothes because my workout schedule has actually been commendable over the past few weeks!

f) Take time off

I literally cannot speak or write more on this one. It’s a concept that is still new to me as it hasn’t been too long since I myself began practicing it. 

If you work unconventional job(s) or hours like I do, then everyone probably thinks that you lead suchha chill life. <insert image on Snoopy chilling on a beach chair with a Piña colada>

As if.

Chances are that you are (over) working most of the time, probably due to time zone constraints or there is simply too much work and your organisation does not have funding for an additional human resource, hence, alas and you soon start having your weekdays glide into your weekends and vice versa. The next step in this sequence is when you are termed a “workaholic”, “inconsiderate”, “bad relationship person”, “does not have time for family and friends” and so on.

I relate to this because I was this person about a year ago. Then, the words of my first boss / Editor found its way to my head. Six years back he told me,

It’s not about how (many) long (hours) you work, but how smart you work. 

Now, I make it a point NOT to work on Saturdays, I try for the entire weekend, but a Saturday is a start and a good one at that.

I try to take at least one weekend off doing nothing or spending time with family, friends, grocery shopping or travelling.

The break, I’ve grown to realise helps me reset and recharge for the next gruelling week ahead that I actually look forward to.

Word of the day: hustle

g) Spend time building yourself and your relationships 

This is not the yogic mantra nonsense telling you this, but taking time off has led me live somewhat of an offline life (of sorts) or at least to stay a few hours offline, spending time with myself or those whom I adore the most.

I’ll start with myself, because I’m narcissistic. If I have time to kill or purposely am avoiding work because I need a break, I do things that I find therapeutic, workout or just sleep. Even if I sleep in a little longer on a day I intend to wake up early, I have learned to stopped blaming myself because, perhaps the intention was not genuinely present when I fell asleep the night before. Spending time with myself either doing weird yogic nonsense like meditating has also helped me appreciate myself better and also worked a bit on the self confidence.

In case you didn’t realise, the narcissism was a sarcastic plugin.

My “me-time” usually pays off in good (productive) work vibes and that sort of positive chain reactions. I also think that good vibes and positivity goes beyond a hippy acid trip. It’s only natural for you to want to do the sort of work you do (regardless of how much you may not want to or how much you dislike it) when you are in a good mood. 🙂

I also now try to socialise and open up a bit more to family, friends and other favourites when I take time off. I either chill with them, do something fun together or just walk hand in hand to the sunset < #haw ❤ > because not only do we all need to calm the fuck down but also take some time off to appreciate one another by giving them our time.

I haven’t proofed this yet because it turned out WAY longer than I expected, but it’s honestly been something on my mind a long long time and here it is, finally. So excuse the typos and other (many) possible grammatical errors. Some of these work their way into productivity in a weird way (like motivation?), hence the reason I’ve included them in.

Until (hopefully) tomorrow, have a lovely Wednesday.

On (More) Travels

One of those days. I had a very short (work) travel stint the past two days and am trying to settle back to normalcy. The more I travel (even on work) the more I seem to understand why most may like to do so. To me, the most blatant of explanations is that those who travel regularly are perhaps those who seek adventure and new experiences different to their own. However, for me, I am not adventurous and as for new experiences, I could live without.

I’m neither a born traveller nor do I have that innate need in me to travel. What happens to me is that, I do get attached to places. People, maybe not as much, but places yes. India, did that to me and it forever will have a special place in my life (I refrain from saying, “heart” as it may seem an absurd choice of word, to most).

From somewhere towards the end of the first quarter in 2014, I began travelling, not a lot, but much more than I otherwise would. The start of 2015 so far has been more inland-bound travel that I have always secretly enjoyed more. This may perhaps be due to the familiarity in language that tells me that everything is going to be okay. I don’t need to communicate in broken English with few phrases from a regional or any other common language, in order to tell the taxi driver that I need to go back to the hotel to pick up my suitcase.

But the familiarity ends there.

In every town or city I travel to, it is the people that make the locality what it is.

It is among those very people, foreign to you and you to them, that you can voluntarily get lost in and seek the truth you are searching for.

It is in those very long commutes do you get to look outside and wonder how things became what they were; how a city not too far from a little desert had turned to what it was; how communities can look alike in skin tone and in close proximity to one another, but be so different in clothing, mannerisms and tone of voice.

For me, travel doesn’t bring out that sense of adventure and thrill. It is a new experience, I agree, but perhaps more than discovering new cities and places, for me, it is more so on discovering myself all over again, just this time, in a locality that is not familiar to me.

I hope you all have a good weekend.

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Take a Moment

N.B. – Not all of these may apply to me 😉

…to think of all the things you did and didn’t do because what else do people on holidays? 😀

…to think of the moment you bought something absurdly expensive but then bought it anyway because it was a necessity made you look cool.

…to think of the memory of that one person you would want to push to the back of your head or memory (regardless of scientifically inaccurate this is!) because it was just a bad run and most runs are usually bad.

…to think of the time you did something remotely naughty and knew that it was probably the best thing ever. teehee.

…to think of the time you did something you felt accomplished about.

…to think of the time you made your first table / meal / pot or any other object that required much skill.

…to think of the time you made a decision you still feel great about.

…to think of the time you dated more multiple people, simultaneously.

…to think of how blessed all of us actually are and we just don’t realise it.

…to think of a few more additions to this list. Let me know what you want to add to this!

Yes, I’m currently listening to this.

<insert pole dance>

A non-statistical Analysis of the 2015 Presidential Election

Lol at the title and happy new year! 🙂 There was another post I had written halfway down the line but clearly, more important things got in the way noh, like the elections! Haha. To be honest, I was the least bothered by it and voted for the “now” opposition or former Government, shoot me, but I had a few reasons I thought (and still find) to be justifiable, at least to myself. However, when the news of the “new” President was made public, I was happily snoring, drooling most probably too, with my mouth open when Mama walked into the room at six-something in the morning. Apologise for the overly graphical image over there. Haha. As I said, no the election was not my primary concern and I was thinking of the best way to save up for a pair of Sarah Jessica Parkers, a Kate Spade handbag and a car. At least some of us have our priorities sorted.

Also this post is bound to get very country-specific and for those (if any!) who are not Sri Lankan, this might be a good time to go bake cookies.

Sunday I was having dinner by myself dead in the night, coz food happened in between meals and well you know. I was going through the Sunday Times supplement with all these information and given that my food was hot (and I don’t eat hot food), it turned out to be the perfect opportunity to map for trends and number patterns and what not. Not that I’m good at math or statistics but whatever okay I like comparing numbers and figures and judging people with my oh-so wise judgement. Lol. There are three main “patterns” I saw in the stats when compared to 2010. The Times supplement had given a side-by-side analyses of both the years. I am too lazy to get the physical paper from wherever it is so here it goes in no order of importance.

1. Registered Voters 

There are two (very obvious) significant changes that have taken place.

a) An increase in the number of registered voters;

b) A decrease in the number of registered voters.

So besides the very most obvious result of children growing older and being eligible to vote, (did I mention that this was my first election? shoving showing selfie) my first best guess is migration, for both a) and b).

It’s interesting to note how there are significant increases in the numbers that are closer to the capital city and other podi capital cities. But for people to actually “remove” themselves from their gama and register in the city closest to them? I asked my Mum on election day if people did that but she said that it wasn’t too frequently (or we both maybe wrong). But these were significant reductions and increases I tell you. Maybe when I become less lazier I will get the paper and quote the statistics.

Another reason could also be that people might be dead? (wait, the war ended) or they migrated,

by boat.

2. Voter Turnout 

From my not-very mathematical analysis I will say that the average voter turnout as a percentage of the registered voters was between 72-78%, which seemed promising, especially when compared to the figures from 2010. I narrow this occurrence down to three reasons.

a) An informed public

Maybe those not living in the city have been educated on the importance of casting their vote and the awareness generation programmes have done its part, voila.

b) A liberated public

Not in an attempt to take a hit at what took place six years ago, but I don’t panic (as much as I used to) when I leave the house without my NIC.

c) Democracy at its best

I nearly cringed when I wrote the title for c) but I don’t know man. The “Common” Candidate was by the People (we elected) and the “People” spoke and elected him. I’m not sure what I’m trying to say here but if you get what I am trying to say, have a cookie.

3. Change in Preferences 

Damn son! Certain areas, which I will insert when I get hold that wretched piece of paper, which were pro-now-opposition had completely transformed its views and political opinions and preferences over a matter of five years or even the start of the “new” campaign. Amazing. As someone who is genuinely interested in marketing campaigns this is truly fascinating.

I’m a big girl now.

There were a few more I noticed while nomming down the plate of rice but these were the three that struck the most. Until I write, hopefully soon, and get that piece of paper, you babies stay safe. I’m excited about the Pope coming here. Woots.

Table for One

I’m writing an additional post because I feel generous like that. Haha. (I like how I speak as though my audience is humungously large. Oh little pleasures) Also, quick apology on the home page layout, I wanted the “December Diaries” logo out there but clearly it is looking shitty. Will sort it out slowly. I am also seriously considering a domain name purchase, hmm.

So, as part of #BloggingTuesdays I thought of writing on my solitude-driven moment from last night. When I ended last night’s post, the plan was to get sloshed but that didn’t happen noh. Instead I thought of getting a bottle home and drinking alone while watching a movie, but then it was a meh moment so I went for dinner instead. Went to one of my all time favourite Italian places but sadly they had only pizza, because it was only the “pizza chef” who was available on duty. Meh. I was marginally offended when they thought I could eat an entire nine-inch pizza by myself. I mean uhm not to uhm, seriously?

Instead, I went to another recent favourite Italian place and well, they sat me a nice quaint corner.

#ProTip : When dining alone, do not sit with your back to the restaurant, even though this seems more “private”, it becomes a leelte inconvenient to distract a waiter. I mean your chances of flashing also are less noh, as distraction methods of course. 

I was craving ravioli and alcohol, but I don’t think they have a liquor license (nor do they want to be breeding potential alcoholics like myself. lol) and asked for hot chocolate instead. I mean it’s Christmas noh and I’m mainstream and vain like that.

I brought along with me the book I’m currently reading (which deserves a post of its own <3) and honestly did not feel the time go by, but half an hour later my stomach did. Meh. The food did finally arrive and it was pretty good, the sauce could’ve been thicker if I say so myself, but it was a delightful meal and heavens, I was hungry!

Please note that I’m not mentioning names because it’s not a “review” per se 🙂

The lady who runs the restaurant was very apologetic about the entire affair, (apparently it’s that time of the year when chefs of Italian restaurants go on leave 😮 ) and said that I get dessert on the house.

It was the moment of truth.

Do I tell her that I don’t like sweets or do I accept it as a token of apology without being the usual bitch I am?

Well, I opted for the latter because I’m nice like that 😉 *batters eyelashes*

I asked for Tiramisu because it is one of my favourite desserts sitting on par with baked Alaska and yay for it being available. I was also aware that a hot chocolate was on the way and it would be an overdose of chocolate but alas. I had it all anyway. *glutton moment*

Also interestingly, my hot chocolate arrived after my meal. For those who know me, I usually drink (any beverage) with my meal and this was an entirely “new” experience and after it followed the Tiramisu! Dang girl. I didn’t manage to finish the dessert as the sugar rush was not what I was used to, though I must admit that it was some pretty good Tiramisu. But then again, I’m neither a foodie nor have I had Tiramisu in more than ten places but it was pretty good mostly coz it wasn’t too sweet. *thumbs up*

Another thing I realised was that I ate very slowly. Now I am not the “savour” your food types because eating is more chore-ish for my than an act of enjoyment. But I had to eat very slowly (because the food was very hot, lol – and) as I had no work or responsibilities or curfew or whatever to look forward to. My folks were away at a wedding far far away and I knew there wasn’t anything urgent I had to look into and probably for the first time in a very long time I really enjoyed what I was eating, probably because I ate with a p(i)e(a)ce of mind, literally.

If you reallyyy want to know where I went, let me know. I highly recommend this place for solo-dining (which I might do quite frequently in future) as the restaurant is run by a sane and non-judgemental bunch.

Until evening.

Tuesday Voices

Hello lovelies!

It’s been a while since I last wrote here and for those who actually stop to read the nonsense I write, first thank you and secondly, I apologise. Writing has been difficult for me the past few days and even months. It’s always been a process that has come easy to me, by this no I do not mean that I didn’t put effort into it, but it’s something I could do with little or no motivation whatsoever if it was for work or even for something fun, like writing here. But these days, motivation has been sitting below ground level and for the first time it’s probably affected this process negatively.

I don’t rant about it as much because I know that I somehow pull myself up and pinch my eyelid to get things done last minute. The second reason I keep myself from ranting about it is because I am aware there are those who have it worse off than I do and I have absolutely nothing to complain about.

Also, I must add that it’s still Sunday over here and I want to write a bit of a longer post so will be spanning this across the next two days, hopefully.

On Journeys 

One of the many things that has fascinated me is the concept (and even the act of) a journey. I am deeply (and very cheesily) moved by inspiring music that is used as a background track for a journey, in any form of transportation. I’ve experimented this while editing videos while in university too and it does leave you with that feeling of content and warm fuzz. <turns into slime after all that cheese>

However, what I haven’t been fascinated with is why most people compare life to a journey. True there is the beginning and the end, but unlike in a journey when you set out, you wouldn’t know the stops you would make for fuel, food, sleep and you wouldn’t have Google maps either. And more often than not, our short-term destinations are not always pre-destined are they.

Journeys and motivation. Happy Tuesday my babies 🙂 (c) Google Images

On Motivation 

It’s Monday night, in case you were wondering.

I may have written on this before but things may have a bit of twist because Winter is here. I recently watched one of my favourite YouTuber’s say how she cheers herself up on a bad day by saying, “Today is the youngest and the oldest I’ll ever be (and hence will live today as it were the last day on earth – or something to that effect).”

But from what I know of myself, it’s easier to stay sad and miserable as opposed to trying. Trying requires too much effort and trust me, some can only try to get through the day. Night becomes hell. Sleep comes to you less and when it does bad dreams accompany it. You wake up feeling like you were hit by a truck or had a Sumo wrestler sleeping on top of you. Either way, it isn’t too pretty to wear salonpas on both shoulders as if it were part of your daily attire. But you can’t help it because this is exactly what you want to do and want to be and you frankly cannot do anything to make better the situation because there is no effort left in you.

I’m not saying that you can, if I knew you can, I would be trying that out on myself first. But what you can do however, to better the situation is to *drum roll please* compartmentalise. Yes, my shameless self-promotion of what Mr Lorry (A Tale of Two Cities) does best and what I have grown to imbibe in me as well. This way, your chances of being susceptible to what I call the “Domino Effect”, where everything in your life comes crashing down at the same time, becomes lesser. You become like those surviving Christmas lights you’d be taking out sometime next month to light up the tree and continue to shine bright despite that one little LED fucker who is not sunny.

The show must go on.

Even if the sky falls down, even if everything seems wrong and nothing makes sense anymore, the show must always go on. At times like this, the only solace once could find lies in trying to find the purpose of life and perhaps why we are here today. Why we may have had a “near death experience” as opposed to “death” itself. Why we should be thankful for ourselves and for everything and everyone we have in our lives. Even if the “Domino Effect” does come into play and Mr Lorry’s compartments all starts come to a halt at the same time, find the one that has the least damage and start healing that first before the crowd of compartments lures it into burning water. Once in a way, a bottoms up approach doesn’t hurt 🙂

Day Six: On Top of the World

So in case you didn’t already guess this one, I climbed Sigiriya! Woots. The first time in like twenty-something years. But it was the sense of accomplishment that comes with it. I’ve always been a bit of a Frescos and seeing it was quite a treat. The museum was all sorts of lovely as well, a must-go museum for all history buffs.

Since it is Friday, and once upon a time I started something on the lines of #FridayWisdom, let me share what I have in store for you today.

First is on solitude. Being alone is so underrated and not many people attempt it. I like and enjoy me-time as it is one of those few times I actually get to reflect on myself, what I want and lots of other things I do not have time to think of otherwise. While a lot of this would turn out bad, a bit of it everyday or a lot of it (catch up time, lol) once in a way is quite healthy. I thought through a lot of things and most importantly would like to think that I gained clarity on a few things as well. I hope these would reflect into all things positive in my life in future, only time will tell.

More wisdom is to be on these posts soon, will streamline them into something meaningful I suppose.

Signing off early tonight, read 7pm and then will be heading back home tomorrow. Yay.

Time for pictures and I might not post during the weekend as I have work catching up.

Have a good weekend lovelies 🙂

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Day Five: Bicycle Trails!

Greetings readers!

How was your day? Mine was a bit of rain and shine, literally.

We were in Polonnaruwa this morning. We left Minneriya at 0800h and got there in about an hour. We rented bicycles at LKR 400 each, a total rip-off but then the rental chap said “10-12 kms” when in actuality it was just four or something. Hayyo.

We had to go back to the museum area because of our Nepali friend and no, I didn’t ride down the main road, too chicken for that noh. Teehee. Also, before you ask, yes I did fall! It’s been a while since I bicycles and lol. Nothing too scary, just a few bruises that will turn blue tomorrow.

The weather gods were not in our favour however, was raining on and off and meh. The museum was quite swell though, highly recommend to museum enthusiasts.

Despite the falls, the bicycle ride was calming. It’s a pity I can’t do more of it in Colombo, on straight roads that is. Haha.

It’s almost about publishing time so going to end it with a couple of pictures. Will be heading to Sigiriya tomorrow.

P.S. – We made our Nepali friend watch “Ex-Alien” #swagballs

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