ACB 1 Speech – Mind the Gap

 

After achieving the Competent Communicator (CC), I embarked on the ACB (Advance Communicator Bronze) journey. The manual I selected was the Entertaining Speaker so, have to complete 5 speeches to meet the objectives. The first speech of this lot was delivered on Saturday, April 29, 2017. The objectives of the speech are:

  • Entertain the audience by relating a personal experience.
  • Organise an entertaining speech for maximum impact.
  • Time: Five to seven minutes

Here is the transcript of my speech.

Mind the Gap

“Please mind the gap between the train and the station”

Elbowing “Wake up Papa. Our station has arrived”

As some of you have experienced, sleeping comes to me so naturally that even on train ride from Santacruz to Vile Parle, I can fall asleep. During conferences and meetings, if you are sitting around me you will know when I am asleep as I SNORE loudly.

Toastmaster of the Day, Fellow Toastmasters and Guests. Welcome to the sleepy times which are now sleepless.

That fateful day, Kavya and I were going to watch a movie, Ra.one for the first day, first show. Was it due to SRK’s marketing prowess or his charisma with the female audience? I still don’t know and don’t want to know either. As we enter,

“Don’t fall asleep. It is really embarrassing as you snore so loudly and heads turn to look at you and HENCE me. Worse they laugh!!”

“Young lady, I am footing the bill for this ridiculous movie not to mention the popcorn and the coke that you consume and I don’t even have the right to sleep in peace?”

No marks for guessing what happened in the movie but after that experience, she now keeps elbowing me lest I fall asleep.

Wake up to their fashion ideas – Jeez. I feel like I am from the ice age. The other day, Kavya sports a pair of jeans which in my humble opinion are torn and tattered.

“Kavya, have we fallen on such bad times? You don’t even have a decent pair of jeans?”

“Papa, you just don’t understand fashion”

Talking about jeans, I just hope those low waist jeans that were once in vogue don’t get to her. It was such an embarrassment watching people with those jeans and I always wondered if they would fall off in absence of the belt.

Oh Lord!

When it comes to shoes, she owns 3 of the 5 drawers in the shoe rack.

“Shoes have to match the attire”
“But what is the logic of using different coloured shoe laces on the shoes?”
“Papa, my friend has different coloured shoes on her feet. Atleast thank me for not doing that.”

Mind the gap!

Communication – This generation has a way with Technology but as a Toastmaster I just can’t digest the acronyms that they use. Using K in place of OK!! How many milliseconds will you save if you just typed the extra O? Dis instead of This, Y in place of Why, Dat instead of That…. The list goes on. They don’t just murder, or even massacre, they simply annihilate the language in broad daylight and I would second Arvind Nair’s anguish at that one.

Maybe the time saved is used for their obsession, selfies.

I don’t know what their poses mean especially that pout and the two fingers. And they adapt to technology changes so fast. Kavya is the tutor in the house as my wife, father and mother are coached by her – not on using the phone, but on the correct tone, manner and form of clicking the all-important and almost reverent selfie.

Mind the gap.

Ever heard of fingies? That is the selfie but of their hands.

Friday evenings, hours will be lost in fixing fake nails which to me look more like claws. Or then she will apply nail polish which to me WAS a shade of pink but now, I realise that nail polish can be in myriad colours including black. (Remember Eastman Colour Kodak from our days of yore?) She applies a certain colour on half the nail. After it has dried, she applies another colour so you see two different colours on the same nail. She will then garnish it with some drops of white on it. Voila! A good hour is consumed in this futile exercise. Come Sunday night and the room smells of acetone as the nail polish remover is working feverishly in getting rid of the efforts put in barely 48 hours ago. Why oh why do you apply it in the first place?

I honestly have lost it completely with this generation. Blame it on my age or call it the generation gap, these kids are just impossible to fathom. Nirav, as a father of two princesses, get ready. You don’t know what is coming. Kshitij has already been through this phase so he needn’t fret. Yet please mind the gap between fathers and daughters.

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Hair Donation – A worthy cause

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fileSunday, April 20, 2014, is the day I attended a musical program by the Tuning Folks (Thanks to Sanjay Mehta for the invitation). Tuning Folks are a group of doctors whose passion is singing. Sanjay invited me for one of their performances and along with the music they also had an education session in which some people from Madat Trust (www.copewithcancer.org) came and told us about Hair Donation.

The first thought that came to my mind is who in his / her right frame of mind would donate hair of all things and why? Little did I realise that there was a lot that goes behind a simple thing like this.

Some little-known facts about hair donation:

  • Hair loss occurs when people afflicted by cancer under chemotherapy or such.
  • It takes the hair of about 8 to 10 women to make a wig.

What we did:

The very next day, we spoke to Kavya about what cancer was all about and how people would lose their hair. We then prodded her into the donation aspect of it and she agreed. I exchanged e-mails with another doctor friend, Dr. Bhavin Jankharia, whose family member had donated her hair. Kavya was over 9 years then. Since the hair was less than the 12 inches needed, we decided to let it grow. Finally, on June 2, 2016, we cut her hair and sent it to Madat Trust the next morning.

Please note:

  • The hair length should be of minimum 12 inches (from top to bottom). Longer lengths are always better.
  • Hair needs to be clean, and thoroughly dry. What we did was took Kavya to the parlour and got it shampooed and blow dried there itself before cutting.
  • They made a braid and tied it at the top as well as bottom using rubber bands before cutting.
  • They then cut the hair above the rubber band to keep the hair bundled together.
  • Once it was cut, it was directly put into a clean Zip Loc bag that we had carried from home. Please note that hair, if it falls on the floor is not usable.

I would want her to speak about it to her friends in school so that more and more girls can donate their hair. Let us see if that works out.

It was a joy to have used her hair for a worthy cause and I do hope young girls get inspired and do the same too. She is keen to let it grow again so she can donate yet again.

Please visit http://www.copewithcancer.org/hair-donation/hair-donation-wigs/ for more information.

My P6 Speech at Toastmasters – Projects from the Incompetent Husband’s manual

Woman Shouting with Bullhorn --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis
Woman Shouting with Bullhorn — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

The aims for this speech project ie P6 are to use your voice to complement your message by enhancing your:

  • pace
  • pitch
  • power and
  • pauses.

Your voice is the best tool in your delivery toolbox. You must learn to use it effectively to enhance your presentation.

Also just for the information of the uninitiated, at Toastmasters, we have 2 manuals to start with the Competent Communicator Manual and the Competent Leadership Manual. The speech title was a take off on those manuals.

God created the earth and rested. He created man and rested. But ever since He created woman, neither He nor man have rested.

Toastmaster of the Day, Fellow Toastmasters and guests, like with all married men, my wife too has a laundry list of my shortcomings. But I will sound you on the pitfalls of married life after joining Toastmasters.

Fast forward 20 years of marriage. The year 2013 is when I meet someone by the name of Suneel Agarwal and we hit it off. I enter BTM with him as a guest and become a member. The icebreaker is delivered on January 25, 2014 – How can I forget that day? The only meeting attended by her Highness, Pauravi Kamdar. She is all smiles in the room and so I think I have a platform that meets her approval. As we get into the car, I ask her “What do you make of it?”

“Ice breaker? It’s a head breaker. Looks like a clan of people who have nothing better to do but stand there and talk to each other. You think I will waste my time at this Loudspeaker?”

Kavya interjects “Mom it is Toastmasters and not Loudspeaker”

“Kavya, you keep out of this. They all mean the same. You stand there and talk or you go to Shivaji Park and cry yourself hoarse – no one cares. Atleast not me.”

Gradually, we start having trainings, Leadership Conclaves, contests on Sundays in one remooooooote corner of the world, Thaaaaane.

“You said it was alternate Saturdays. Now you have started going on Sundays too. I am glad you go cycling on Sundays even if you return home and snore away till 5 in the evening. Now this? You say you will return by 4 and knowing you, will sleep till 7. Why do I get a feeling that you have washed your hands off teaching Kavya? If her grades suffer, I am going to shut off this loudspeaker. And leave aside Kavya, what about me? You just ignore me and I will not take it lying down. I have forgotten what a movie hall looks like ever since you have joined this Loudspeaker.”

“Honey, Bajrangi Bhaijaan is being released this week. When would you like to go watch it?” White flag waved.

On Valentine’s Day this year, I find other ways of romancing – I am preparing for my P5. As usual, Kavya is my timer and my wife, the eternal Arnab Goswami

“You want her to sit with you and listen to your Loudspeaker? When is she going to study? In all these years have you ever thought of me? This morning, our neighbour comes over and flaunts the beautiful necklace her husband gave her. And me? I don’t even have a rose to show her.”

“But darling, I am taking you out for a nice dinner tonight.”

“Nice Dinner – my foot. You are taking me for the Club night at Matunga Gymkhana and I jolly well know it is a free event for members and their kids. You think I am so naive?”

I let the argument blow over.

With a spring in my step, I return home “Kavya, I was adjudged the best speaker”

“Yay” High fives, hugs and kisses follow while a pair of roving eyes is staring at me as I feign ignorance. The lights go off and the floodgates open like the swollen Bhakra Nangal dam, “Why is it that all your speeches revolve around Kavya, your sister, your parents? Don’t I exist in your life?”

“Sorry Honey. I promise my next speech will be all about you and only you.” My P6 topic is decided.

The level of a Toastmasters commitment reaches a new peak with Oration2015. Meeting Suneel and Atul is a given over weekends. Foodies that we are, whether we work or not, binge we will. One evening on opening the door –

“Don’t they have a wife and family? Every Saturday you have something planned with them. Is this a loudspeaker or a loud eater? Have you bothered to look at yourself in the mirror lately? The bulge is worse than before?” Before I can digest the barrage, I hear “Tomorrow you will take Kavya and me out for a nice dinner.”

Thank God, we’ve smoked the peace pipe.

To all the unmarried Toastmasters out there, never try to understand your wife. No man ever has, no man ever will.

To all the married ones, I fully sympathise with you. It is a herculean task for us to come here braving the wife at home. The rains, traffic, table topics, grammarian’s role – all pale in comparison.

To the ladies out there, have mercy on us men. We are running out of white flags but still will wave whatever is left of them ALWAYS. That is a Toastmasters commitment.

And yes…. I ended up being voted as the Best Speaker of the Day too:-)

Random Thoughts mid air

random thoughtsThese are random thoughts that I penned down mid-air so pardon the incoherence in my mind. As it is I am challenged there:-)

My journey to the USA has always had some kind of a twist. When I went in 2010, my mother in law was in hospital but at that time I was going alone. This time the three of us were traveling and dates were known to us well in advance but not announced. My father in law was to be operated for his spinal problems but somehow or the other it kept on getting postponed and finally it happened only on April 20th when we were leaving on 25th. We did leave but not without wifey getting extremely tense and continues to remain tense.

The day of the journey, 25th was a day to remember. We were booked by the 1515 flight to Dubai and from there we had to take the 2215 flight to Atlanta. So we were set to leave around noon. Just as the baggage was being loaded, some sixth sense told me to check the web site for timings. Thank God I did. The Dubai – Atlanta leg of our flight was delayed by over 14 hours which would have meant we would have had to sit idle for 20 hours as we had a 5 + hour lay over in Dubai. Called up the Delta call centre and spoke to them. They too weren’t aware of the delay as she said the flight is showing as scheduled when a simple Google search told me that it was delayed. Finally reality dawned upon them too and they agreed to reschedule us. Put us on the 0220 Air France to Paris and then after a 2 hour 40 minute lay over we were to head to Atlanta. Things worked out well and I am writing from the Paris Atlanta sector right now. Unfortunately they do not have a plug point to charge my lap top. All they have is a USB so will have to switch over to the iPad in case I run dry.

What have I done? Watched some TV shows. Watched a movie called Humpty Sharma ki Dulhaniya which was recommended by Kavya too. Honestly she was watching it and I was only aping her. Slept. Black coffee. We are about 4 hours 30 minutes away from Atlanta says the online map. We have completed the trans atlantic leg almost and will soon enter Canada and from there head south to Atlanta.

Listening to some remix music. Currently listening to Hare Rama Hare Krishna (not the movie) but the chanting of the Lord in remix format. I wonder if any other religion would have the tolerant nature to admit that we could listen to remixes of God’s songs. Sometimes I feel like Hindus are the most tolerant lot but let me not get into that.

The new Airport at Mumbai was impressive thought Kavya. She was over awed by the brand stores at the airport in Paris but Mumbai Airport was far better she felt. I think I would agree with her.

Just heard yet another remix of my favourite, Yeh Vaada Raha which happens to be the title track of the movie. I always loved that movie and it’s soundtrack composed by none other than my favourite, Panchamda. I thought the movie and the soundtrack were both a hit but got to know only later that the movie didn’t do too well and so the soundtrack too suffered. What a tragedy!! Remixes have brought some songs back to life but honestly the original sound track is so so good. My other favourite was Harjaaee again composed by Panchamda. Some awesome soundtrack that was too. Don’t know how that movie did in reality. Panchamda produced phenomenal music but maybe the generation did not understand the brilliance then. I now realise it after so many years. We have indeed lost a great composer.

Children grow up so soon. Kavya went for some haircut which included some really stupid hair style “Flicks” which I find ridiculous. Tells me “Papa, you don’t understand girl stuff and you don’t have an idea about fashion” No choice but to agree. Daughters really know how to handle Dads and make them accept any and everything.

Wow…. Music these days make your feel so much out-of-place…. Finally found something I know in the Live Concert clips. Opening song is Scorpions’ Rock you like a Hurricane. But the doubting Thomas in me has the gall to think, is he singing really or is it lip syncing? These days you never know what is possible and what isn’t. Even the guitar pieces could be orchestrated with the stage mic switched off? Who knows? Do they have LIVE as in really LIVE concerts? I wonder. But for now let me enjoy Scorpions.

While I knew the Scorpions, there was another artiste I knew Tina Turner but the song was unknown. Must give it to her that even at this age she can show her energy on stage. She is a grandmother.

Now Cyndi Lauper – She looks so different now. Normal hair!!! No colours on her hair which is a record of sorts. Though her eye shadow et al are in a multitude of colours.

Toastmasters P5 – All shook up

My P5 the 5th speech project from the Toastmasters Competent Communicator Manual. The objectives of P5 were to complement your message with your body during delivery. Specifically, be aware of:

  • posture
  • body movement
  • facial expressions
  • eye contact

Thanks to Kavya I could bring in Lungi Dance into this speech and I enacted it as well. The icing on the cake was when I was selected as the Best Speaker of the Day. God knows what I would do without you, Kavya. Here is the text of my speech.

Kavya completed 10 on November 29, 2014. During the four months in the run up to this date, she’d return home from the numerous birthday parties and would talk about the theme they had be it Snow White or Pirates etc. And I’d think “She is only describing the good time she had there”. Lightning struck me in early November when she asked me “What is the theme you plan for my birthday party?” I was all at sea. As a child, my parents decided on birthday parties but they too would never have thought of themes. Cutting a cake was the only thing I knew aside of inviting some friends. Wake up and smell the coffee, Manish! Times have changed

Toastmaster of the Day, fellow toastmasters and guests, enjoy the time capsule ride.

“If music be the food of love, play on” said William Shakespeare. Gone are the days when we would strain our ears to listen to Ameen Sayani on Radio Ceylon for his Binaca Geet Mala on short wave. As a child I used to think that Ameen Sayani was a Sri Lankan who would play Indian music sitting there. Now we have a plethora of FM stations and Kavya having already met Malishka, insists on listening to 93.5 RedFM only. I for one prefer those soulful melodies sung by my favourite, Kishore Kumar composed by stalwarts like Panchamda and the likes with meaningful lyrics. Today when Kavya and my nephews sing “Char bottle vodka”, I just want to hang my head in shame.

Dance then was a form of art what with the classical ones teaching you movements of fingers not just the hands. Also expressions using the eyes! Now we have Shiamak Davar and other styles which honestly are nothing more than aerobic exercises put to rhythm. But wait! How could I ever forget we also have dances now like Lungi dance which make absolutely no sense but are extremely popular!

Telephones – This generation has never experienced a phone with a rotary dial but I do hope you have noticed the black contraption they show in those antique Hindi films. Yes I grew up with them. I am sure you did not know that there was no direct dialing facility then. You had to book trunk calls, pay double for urgent calls and pay 8 times for lightning calls. During the rains, we experienced something which was called delayed dial tone. All you had to do is pick up the phone and hold on for atleast 2 minutes while saying a silent prayer just to get a dial tone.

And now you have mobile phones. No dial tones, no delays whatsoever and no costs to worry about. Kavya thinks talking to my sister on the phone is so downmarket. She believes only in using FaceTime with my sister so that she can flaunt a new dress, new shoes, trinkets etc. and then also some new dance step she learnt from an upcoming Bollywood movie.

Letters – One thing I would wish returns for the good of all. I have pen friends since 1982 and am in touch regularly with them. We used to write letters and I distinctly remember my longest letter was 22 pages to my friend in Australia. She responded back to me using an audio cassette. Aside of letters, we exchanged currency notes, stamps, coins for our collections and built some weird hobbies. I, for one, collected and still collect postcards, knives, forks, spoons from airlines. That was before 9/11 happened. Now of course we have only plastic knives and forks. My French friend still collects newspapers from different countries. Another friend collects wrappers of different kinds of cheese.

Kavya I doubt would ever realise the joy of letter writing. Her generation is completely electronic what with e mail, Whatsapp etc. I know what is there for homework even before she has reached home as enthusiastic parents post it immediately on the Whatsapp group. Their birthday parties are organised on Whatsapp complete with invitations. Parents beam pictures and videos on the Whatsapp group from the party. As if someone would hang you if you posted the pictures after the party.

Friends, we are living in this weird wired world and the new generation is fast adapting to technology. Children are far more intelligent than we were at that age. Gone are the days when we could say, “Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone.” High time we changed ourselves or our children will move on and we will be left stranded singing I am all shook up, hmm hmm hmm…..

Shishuvan’s trip to Durshet Forest Lodge

Durshet-961556_1The big day it was – Friday, January 9, 2015. Kavya and her classmates why just classmates the entire Class IV was going on a field trip to Durshet Forest Lodge near Adlabs Imagica. Shishuvan also has this concept of parent volunteers and this time they wanted only Fathers. I was one of the 12 Fathers entrusted with this mammoth task of handling 108 kids. Honestly, they may look like kids but these 10 year olds when they gang up together, are an extra energised combination. We were to report to school at 0630 and believe me waking up at 0800 is a challenge for Kavya on normal days but that day waking up at 0500 was a breeze despite having slept past midnight. She was ready before me at 0600 which is another record! Kids they never cease to impress. All they need is a motive close to their hearts and they are all set – come hell or waters high.

The school ground resembled a crowded bus depot with a melee of parents ensuring the last-minute instructions to their wards. After all it was their first overnight trip and there would be no phone calls, no Whatsapp updates etc. (Volunteers were specifically instructed not to use Whatsapp and the network there was abysmally slow – 2G – so much for Whatsapp)

We left at 0700 in three buses for the 3 divisions. One thing I learnt is that they don’t permit any Bollywood songs so the kids need to be creative and think of songs other than Bollywood. The only song that I could remember (aside of the usual picnic songs we grew up with) was O La Paloma Blanca. I distinctly remember Adil and me singing it on the stage in school. As the kids sang their songs (they have a school song too. Impressive!), we fathers were busy exchanging notes on what each one of us did etc.

Reached there at 0900 and it was a very nice place. Kids swarmed to the ground so it appeared like a sea of yellow and green all over. They divided the children in groups of 9 so each dad had to take care of 9 kids and they had ensured that no father gets to watch over his own kid. I just tried to ensure Kavya had breakfast in the morning. Next thing I am instructed by her is “Treat me like any of the other 108 kids!” I was stunned.

They had different sets of activities such as ladder climbing, team game, map making. Interesting team games and the best thing was when kids would encourage each other to deliver. Wow!! It didn’t matter if they were from the same division or not. Encourage and enjoy! After a sumptuous lunch, there was rest but in the company of the kids, sleep was ruled out for me.

In the afternoon the kids had an enthralling set of activities – rappelling and zip lining. An amazing experience and every child (save and except a solitary case) made it. Absolutely no inhibitions. They didn’t give a damn about fear of falling, failing etc. And this time the support from other students was just deafening. Each one egged on the other to carry on with cries of “Come on, you can do it” echoing in the air all the time.

In the evening, they had to do some entertainment activity so each group was working hard at being creative and they had to ensure participation from the entire team. Some danced (some dance to remember, some dance to forget – Hotel California by The Eagles) while some presented skits. At night a bonfire with the local talent performing some amazing stunts which as a yoga student made me realise that even though they looked like stunts they were well-practiced yogasanas.

The next morning, I was woke up not by the alarm but by the boys! Amazing energy. They were out at the appointed hour and they had to gather some natural waste such as fallen leaves, twigs etc. and make a presentation. Interesting to see kids work on such things. We then went to a village and met the locals there. Understood their way of life. We also visited the local school. Returned to the resort for a game of treasure hunt and then lunch.

Boarded the bus and left at 1600 sharp as per schedule and entered the school gates at 1827 again 3 minutes ahead of schedule.

Takeaways:

  • Children are naughty PERIOD. They may paint a docile picture at home but when with their friends they are something else. (But let us be candid weren’t we the same?) Their collective energy is infectious.
  • The teachers insisted that children eat salads, vegetables during meals and not just the stuff they liked (sweets etc.).
  • Anyone reading this blog for next year, don’t worry. The kids took good care of me. And the school ensured all of us were well fed. And yes I didn’t lose a miligram of weight.
  • Kids love to get away from parents so let them be independent. They learnt how to pack and unpack their bags and lug the heavy luggage (for those who got that) on their own. Parents, please consider how much you load your child with. Be practical. It is only for one night. And when the school has said no food, please don’t give the children food. They as it is stuff you with food.
  • And don’t worry about your child falling sick (Mothers PLEASE note). We had one child who was feverish and he was well cared for.
  • Also safety maybe a concern for parents but the activities were as safe as they could be unless you are paranoid about lightning striking or the roof falling only on your child for which there is no cure.
  • Reminded me of all my school trips. I was so nostalgic that on Sunday our school Whatsapp group more than doubled in a matter of a few hours and yes we are planning a reunion picnic.

Take a look at the pictures here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsk6YnS55

Christmas 2014 – A memorable day for me.

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It was a normal day to start with just that the previous night, I had promised Kavya that I would be back by 1030 from cycling. She had taken my phone which at that time I felt was to play Lumosity (That is the only game permitted on my phone). I had expected it to be a cakewalk as was going to do about 40 kms. Woke up early and was out by 0600 and cycled to Lucky Biryani in Bandra along with Nitin. BCCT let by Vishal Sharma had planned the Christmas ride to an orphanage, Swagat Ashram near Malad. We were under the impression that the ride would start at 0630 sharp but we left only by 0650. Made it to the Ashram by 0820 or so. Waited as the food packets hadn’t arrived. Finally at 0905 left as I knew I had to reach home. Dropped by to meet my Mami in Kandivili who was surprised to see me and shocked that I was on a bicycle. When I was there Kavya called and reminded me of my promise so I confirmed that yes I was on track even if I knew that it would be impossible to reach home from Kandivili in 30 minutes.

When I was at Jogeshwari, I took a hydration break when I heard the phone ringing. I picked up only to hear a bawling Kavya. I checked my watch and it was 1040 already. Asked her to calm down and tell me what the matter was. She simply said “You broke your promise! Not fair!” I tried to argue with her but she would take none of my stories. Checked the phone and had clocked just under 50 kms so decided to go on for a few more minutes to get over the 50 km mark and then take a cab. Around the Domestic Airport, after completing just under 54 kms, I boarded a cab with my cycle on the carrier. As we were moving, I called her up to inform her that I was on my way home. I could not fathom what the din honestly was all about. Once home, she snatched my phone and ran into the room and locked herself in. Finally she opened after 10 minutes and asked my parents and us to get in with eyes closed which we obeyed.

As we entered, she asked to open our eyes and we saw her with a Santa mask put on. She asked her to look for the gifts that she had got for us. And while we moved she played “We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year” recorded in her own voice on the phone. She bought chocolates for my Dad, Pauravi and me. And a Sudoku book for her favourite, Dadi (my Mom). She then danced with each of us while playing the song in the background. It was so touching. And she said “No one ever gets you all gifts so I decided to get you this time” Never have I had such a memorable Christmas Day in life. Thanks so much Kavya for making it so special.