Big Fat Indian Wedding in Mumbai

When I say I was overwhelmed by the wedding in December, it is an understatement. After we settled in, there was constant activity at my cousins house for the wedding preparations. Every day there was activity, more family visiting, more ceremonies, more rehearsals for the the festivities (Pre-wedding and wedding).

For 5 days we didn’t even leave the general vicinity of the house we were staying in. Shopping, eating, shopping, eating, dance rehearsals, wedding preparations and daily evening festivities were the order of the week. For these days passed so quickly, that I felt like I was living in a different world. So this was what it meant to have a real Indian wedding!

We were fortunate that we had purchased a cell phone with totally “free” service so we could communicate with the outside world. Keep in mind as a foreigner this kind of purchase has to be done by a native. For approximately $80 I got a phone which had dual Sims and unlimited data, voice and text messaging. Outstanding!

We were able to get currency exchange at the local market (thankfully), so we were able to spend cash freely. Keep in mind, the de-monitization issues were still visible everywhere. No money at ATMs and getting change when you do spend money was not easy.

With every day wedding activities and shopping, by end of day, we were exhausted and just wanted to sleep. Keep in mind of the first day or so we were both having jet lag issues, so sleep was a commodity!

Anyway.. we survived and back to the wedding preparations:

The love within the family for each other and their togetherness was absolutely genuine. What I realized is that family is family no matter if you are in India or outside the country. First and second generation cousins who had never met each other were spending hours upon hours and days together and enjoying each others company! Every day was a blast! When you have a large family like mine (I have like 17 first cousins), and of course these cousins have their kids!

Generation 1 (me and my cousins) and Generation 2 (the kids of my cousins) were so amazing and so in tune with what needed to get done for the wedding. There were three major event preparations happening simultaneously.

  1. My aunt’s 80th birthday celebration and the wedding preparations. Two nights before the wedding was my Aunt’s 80th birthday celebration. This was  a dual event as in addition the the birthday celebration, there were simultaneous Henna being applied to all the women and girls that were part of the wedding celebration!
  2. Dance Rehearsals for the Dance party (Sangeet) the day before the wedding ‘
  3. Wedding preparations (including all Hindu religious pooja’s  and food preparations on a daily basis

All of the above was going on in the same house we were staying!

My Aunt’s birthday celebration was a huge success. She had no idea about the party and she was absolutely overjoyed. For me it back fond memories of my mother and how great it would have been to see her here enjoying her younger sister’s 80th birthday party!

The night before the wedding was the Sangeet (singing and dances) celebration at a hotel near to where we stayed. OMG, the preparations, the dance rehearsals (your’s truly did perform a dance – which we will not discuss further), and the performances at this event were a sight to be seen. Let’s just say the alcohol was flowing and and everyone was having a great time!

The next day was the wedding! This wedding was an all day affair that included wedding and reception. There must have easily been a combined of about 500 to 750 people at both events. Of course my cousins and our huge family out staged everyone at the wedding and reception. We are absolutely a loud bunch of people! Someone called me their ring leader,  yet I do resemble that remark!

To see a wedding like this is kind of overwhelming! To see cousins and family you have not seen in years is such a joy and you get a sense of belonging. This is something I absolutely feel at times here. I really don’t have any close relatives that are in NJ and my cousin in California is quite a distance away.

Pre-wedding  shopping that my daughter and I did was endless. My daughter and I had to buy our wedding outfits and even though it was pretty straight forward, the choices were amazing. As I had said in my other posting, everything was just a taxi ride away at the local market area in Vile Parle East. Even after converting into dollars the purchases were a tremendous bargain!

By the time we got home from the wedding reception, we were exhausted!

The day after the wedding, my daughter and I took a taxi tour of Mumbai.. This was amazing! The crowds, traffic and the sights and sound of Mumbai was visual and audio overload! Let me leave details on this for another post!

The wedding celebration my daughter and I experienced, is something that neither one of us will forget for a long long time. It was exhilarating to spend time with family and to see the love that my family showed towards each other was something I have NEVER experienced.

To say that this wedding was “A big fat Indian Wedding” is an understatement, but from what I understand, most weddings in India are like this!

 

 

 

 

 

I’m thankful for

As another holiday season approaches, I’m on annual staycation during Thanksgiving week and have had a chance to reflect on things. I know I ramble and I don’t necessarily stay on point on my postings, but today, as a I sit here listening to some great music on my Echo device, I am truly thankful for many things in my life

What am I thankful for today and every day of my life?

  • My Family – My kids and my brother. They are the ultimate barometer of me as a parent and as how I’ve influenced their lives. As they have grown up, they continue to showcase everyday their independence and their ability to persevere.
    • The last few years have been difficult for them, but yet both my girls have thrived and become the young ladies I always wanted them to be. Resourceful and successful each in their own rights.
    • Over the past few years, I’ve started to see life through their eyes not only as my children, but as young ladies growing up in today’s society. My girls are truly my pride and joy.
    • My brother has been my rock for the past few years. For many years, we didn’t get along, but over the past few years, we have healed our relationship and become not just true brothers, but really good friends. Over the past few years, he has gone out of his way to support me emotionally as I rode my roller coaster of emotions. Spending time with my brother and his family in Texas (yes it is hot in Texas!), I’ve managed to maintain my sanity, and at the same time realize that blood is always thicker than water.
  • My Life – My life over the past few years has been chaotic to say the least. Many don’t know that I’ve been working on version 2.0 of me. Why? Well when you don’t truly appreciate what you have and fight to keep it, you tend to lose it. Well that’s what happened to me.
    • Many don’t know that I become a divorced dad over 2 years ago. After almost 24 years of marriage, my married life ended. The cause for the disintegration of my marriage was multi-dimensional. I won’t go into it here. Yet let’s say, that relationships will either fail or succeed with communications and compromise. If you and your partner are not are not able  work together on both, you will end up a part of the divorce rate which now exceeds 50%!
  • Rebirth – Divorce is like death and rebirth of the individual. Even as you are going through the various stages of grief for the loss of a relationship, you are always walking forwards and looking for that light at the end of the tunnel where the sun will shine through once again.   Oh yes,  I  have spent the past two years plus in various stages of grief (anger is the one stage that is pervasive and a consistent formula in my daily life). I’ve learned to cope with my situation with various mechanisms for introspection and several parts humor (mostly sarcasm which is my forte).
  • My friends – I have very few friends, but the friends I do have have shown me over and over again what the meaning of true friendship is. These friends have now seen the best of times in my life and been and the worst of times.  There are only a handful of friends that can be honest with me and stand by me in my times of need. My friends helped me to keep my sanity when I felt totally isolated and didn’t know when it would stop raining and the sun would come out again for my life.
  • Tennis – Playing tennis has enabled me to re-direct my negative energy into a positive force on the courts. I found that the more negative emotions I had, I focused more on the game to be a better player and focus on the game as a “safe place” for me to be in my darkest hours. At times, I entered into a Zen state when went on the court and all the grief, anger and the overwhelming angst was left on the court. I actually became a better player over the past few years!

As 2016 draws to a close, I’ve turned the corner into a new sense of individuality and purpose. Perhaps its just that I’m getting older, but perhaps being retrospective allows me some gain some perspective on where I’ve been and where I’m going.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone.. Be sure to tell your loved ones, how grateful you are that they are in your life and be thankful for everything you have.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Father’s Day 2016

Yesterday, was one of the best Father’s day I ever had in many years.. I got to spend a whole day with my kids! Spending a day together with my girls is the best gift I can ever get from my girls.

The day got off to a rough start when I missed the train from Hazlet, NJ to NYC… but that’s what happens when you don’t anticipate traffic from point A to B. The day almost got cancelled before we got started, but of course it was my fault as my lack of planning can always cause unnecessary chaos.

Taking New Jersey Transit and Path to World Trade Center is pretty exhausting.. I still don’t understand why they have escalators that don’t work on weekends in Newark, NJ Penn station.  By the time we changed trains from NJ Transit to PATH.. I was huffing and puffing and sweating profusely.

If you are traveling from NJ to NYC.. you always know you are going to be on the move and be prepared to spend money every step of the way.. I was shocked that PATH was now $2.50 for a ride.. I can remember when it was $1! Yet when you think of the NYC subway’s costing $2.50, this PATH fare just seem to be over priced!

Tip of the Day: If you are in NYC, make sure your Metro Card is loaded! This same card can be used on NYC Subways and Path!

When we finally got to WTC, I was in absolute awe at the changes and the rebuilding that has happened and is ongoing. WTC continues to evolve but for me it brought back memories and sorrow. I used to commute to work through the original WTC in the late 1980’s. Yes I’m that old..

When you are in NYC, your attitude just automatically changes.. Once a New Yorker always a New Yorker.. I grew up in NYC, went to school in NYC and worked in NYC for many many years. Yet if you are not used to the hustle and bustle of NYC, you will get overwhelmed by the speed of NYC (from walking to running to subways).  I felt that I was walking in slow motion and everyone else was walking in high gear!

My girls took me to a great “bottomless” mimosa restaurant on 14th street. I forget the name of the restaurant.. but needless to say.. I left very happy (if you know what I’m trying to say here!).. When you have enough Mimosa’s your happiness level goes up exponentially!

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I think the highlight of my Father’s day was walking from 14th street to 30th street on the High line.. This is an elevated walking platform where trains used to run and now is an elevated park that runs for about 5 miles!

The art, culture and the ability to enjoy the various art and neighborhoods that surround the High Line is truly amazing.

I bet you are asking yourself.. what was the best gift that I got? Well it was given to be my younger daughter.. She got me a Dad’s Taxi tag for my car.. This made my entire day.. So if you see a car with Dad’s taxi in the back window.. you will know that it’s me!

Dad's Taxi Yes simple things like this can really make me happy!

By the time we returned to NJ, I was exhausted and I needed a few hours of nap time to recover.. This is when I truly felt old! I used to commute to NY for work in the 80’s and 90’s! Now just one day trip wore me out..

Well I’d like to hear from my follower’s on how was your father’s day.. For me, yesterday was one of the best father’s day I ever had!

 

 

 

 

 

Dad’s Taxi: No longer Needed

This week, the day that I dreaded finally came true. The days of Dad’s taxi came to an end.. No.. I’m not shutting down this blog!

My 17 year old daughter got her provisional driver’s license and now she is totally mobile with her own car.. A hand me down.. from my father. .. to her sister.. to her.. A 2003 Honda Civic with very very low miles..

Of course.. in my last attempt at maintaining some control I had to take some final steps to ensure her safety has she hit the perilous travails on the roads of Central New Jersey.

  • I signed a contract with my 17 year old.. on what hours she can drive using her provisional license (6AM – 11PM).. Nothing outside those hours
  • Only she can drive the car.. The car is NOT to be used by her BFF’s.
  • She needs to tell mom/dad whenever she goes out as to her destination and must text/call us that she has arrived at her destination.
  • She is responsible for ensuring car is in working order.. If any major maintenance is to be done, Mom/Dad will take care of it.
  • She’s fully insured (Courtesy of Dear Dad).
  • Drive defensively.. There is a reason why NJ has one of the highest insurance rates. If you live in NJ, you know what I mean by this.
  • No Texting and driving! Phone is to be turned off whenever she gets in the car if she is the driver.

She even started taking the care to High School!

So Dad’s Taxi is now officially out of business.. Unless of course my girls want me to drive them around when they are home!

 

 

Summer of 2014 – Where have you gone?

Where did the Summer of 2014 go and what changes lie ahead?

I know, Dad’s Taxi has been on hiatus.. No updates in quite a while.. It doesn’t mean that I’m not here.

Honestly the past almost two years have been the most chaotic and dysfuncational time of my life. It’s been a long and winding road to where I am today.. Working to be at peace with myself… I never thought that would be a possibility, but as a friend of my said to me a few days ago on the tennis court.. “it’s a process which needs to be understood”. No idea how this applied during our tennis, but it sure applied to me in my life!

Sometimes in life, it’s best to step back and reflect internally and not publicize things that are happening in your life. At least until you are ready to publicize..  Let’s just leave it at that for now.

It’s hard to believe how fast this summer has gone by.. I blinked my eyes and it’s Mid-August. Only a few more weeks to Labor day and the “unofficial” end of the summer of 2014.

My Summer accomplishments (in no particular order) 

  • Recovering from multiple injuries (self-inflicted via Tennis and some stupidity when it comes to stairs!)
  • Going to the Movies (by myself) whenever possible
  • Spending time with my kids (when they had time for me).
  • Spending time with my best friends doing things like hiking, tennis and just hanging out
  • Taking my first vacation (a mini-vacation actually) to Wildwood and Capy May County NJ!. This was the highlight of this summer. Dad’s taxi was truly a taxi for my girls on this vacation!
  • Going to Binghamton, NY to see a tennis tournament
  • Getting in touch with my soul by meditation and connecting with god. This was something I really needed to do! With the chaos going on in my life, this was the only thing that kept me from going over the edge..
  • I actually went off-line Facebook for almost a month.. Of course I posted some pictures, but I was not logging in to see what others were doing. This self imposed Facebook boycott was the most difficult thing for me to do. I realized that I had become such a facebook h
    • First few weeks, I found myself gravitating to my smartphone to see how many “pokes” I had, whose “Birthday” was today, and just basically looking into the lives of my friends.. At first I thought I was being selfish, but I realized, that not being active in social media, allowed me to “go off the grid” and focus on myself!

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be going to Dallas for my annual visit.. for both fun and business!

Stay tuned as Dad’s Taxi “evolves”..

On the road again – Dallas state of Mind

Dad’s Taxi goes to Dallas this weekend.. unique thoughts on Dallas

Dad’s taxi is taking his show on the road this weekend. I’ll be in Dallas (Plano) all next week.

It’s my annual pilgrimage to the land of “everything is bigger in Texas”.. I get to see the my Texas family and get to hang out with them for a few days.

All kidding aside, I really enjoy visiting Dallas. It’s very different from NJ.. and the attitudes of the people are very different as well.

Here’s my list of “You know you are in Dallas when… (in my normal rambling order):

  • When someone says “it’s a five-minute drive, that really means.. Five minutes if you drive at breakneck speeds to get to your destination.
  • Shopping, Dining, Entertainment. Huge Malls, with huge selection of food, and lots of entertainment.
  • You enter a mall looking for a dollar store and all you see are 20 different restaurants. Each serving better and more delicious food than the next! Why cook when you can go out for amazing food?
  • You want to know is whether you will be overheated or whether it’s “mild”. Mild is  a relative term in “hot” Dallas.
  • One city (Plano) can have 4 high schools and each high school is bigger than the last
  • Hotels are just amazing. If you haven’t stayed at the Hotel Anatole, you have not seen great artwork, a piece of the “Berlin Wall”, and much much more.
  • “Man Caves” in every house.. Yes, I want one for myself.
  • Classic case of suburban sprawl. When in Plano, you see almost identical community houses surrounding you. Remember when you are driving you are driving in perfect squares, so when you make 4 right turns, you will be back where you started!
  • 12 months of outdoor Tennis! Oh don’t forget the whirling wind on the courts!
  • Best Dim Sum brunch I ever had. My trip ends on Sunday with my annual Dim Sum brunch with my friends..
  • Best $1 Tacos I’ve ever had.. That’s typically my first stop for lunch when I visit my brother.
  • When in Plano… you must, must visit the Indian store (forgot the name…) where you can get $1 special daily.. Guaranteed to put on the pounds
  • Huge booming economy with no state Tax!
  • Pools in each house, and almost non-existent back yards.

I could go on, but Y’all see my basic message don’t you!

 

Loss of a Parent and emotions

After the passing of a parent, I realized that I’m now a middle aged orphan!

Last week, I lost my father to the complications of dementia and other medical ailments, after Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey. Actually posting this entry today is ironic in that today is the 100 day anniversary of Hurricane Sandy and it was right after Sandy that his downward spiral was noticed by me.

For years he hid his dementia from me and his family by being what they call a “functional dementia patient”. He could get basic tasks done as long you did not disrupt his established routine. I won’t go through his last three months, as the pain of seeing him suffer still continues to numb my senses.

 

He was 84 years old and he fought bravely for 3+ months through hospitalization/rehab/assisted living. So now that leaves me and my brother as “middle aged orphans”.  For the past week, my brother and I have reached such a tremendous outpouring of love and affection from our friends and family that we are at a loss to define our gratitude. I realize that many times, when I write Dad’s taxi, it’s with my personal brand of humor, but this time, I’m writing to put my feelings into words so I can look back on these words and get a true understanding of my emotions at this time. I guess that is the best I can do at this time.

I didn’t think it would be this difficult at the passing of our father, as much as a sense of loss I felt when I lost my mother 13 years ago, but when you lose your parent (regardless of how you felt towards them when they were alive), many emotions come flooding to you. For me the feeling of emptiness, relief and just a sense of numbness all collided simultaneously. I wanted to cry, but tears would not come. All I felt was a feeling of solitude with my inner child and knowing that I’d never be able to see my dad and that after this life event, I’d no longer have any parent who would give me the unconditional love every child craves for from his/her parent.

Luckily I had my family and friends surrounding me to help me balance my emotions on my dad’s passing. The support I received from my inner circle of family and friends from  all over the world helped me understand the impact my father had on others and how to celebrate his life. This helped me to reconcile my emotions which had continued to collide on a daily basis during his life and his death.

As my brother and I continued to wrap up the memorial services and financial matters, we both gained strength from each other and just talking. Even as my brother is a few years younger than me and much more logical, his range of emotions allowed me to understand and grasp the loss in the proper context.

When you lose both your parents, the void left cannot be measured by words. The emptiness that you no longer have a mother or father who loved you unconditionally is a difficult concept for  any child to grasp. My relationship with my father for most of his life was strained to say the least. Yet during his last 3 months of his life, I gained closure on a my emotions as I took care of him and saw him deteriorate into a state of despair as he realized that he would never “go home”.

Everyday as I talked to him in his state of dementia, I realized that I no longer had any rights to feel the anger that I felt for most of my life. Now was a time for forgiveness and understanding. This allowed me to move on and take care of the necessary tasks a son has to do when he is taking care of his father. Yes, I may sound cold and heartless when I say these words but everyday I spent with him chipped away at every ounce of the residue of anger which I carried in my heart every day of his life for the way he treated his children and his wife when he was of sound mind. His toughness and independence was a staple of his existence of 84 years and I realized that if live to his age, I may not be able match his courage and dignity he showed till the day he passed.

When my dad left us, he left under his terms (peacefully) and with grace. He left telling the nurses “He would not be in the hospital after Today (January 29th, 2013)”. And as in his life, he kept to his word. He fought till the to get out of the bed that had imprisoned him.

At his memorial service, I spoke from my heart when I eulogized him and it enabled me to let go of all the emotions had kept pent-up inside for years. His fierce independence, his sense of right and wrong, and above all his wanting not to interfere in the lives of his children.

Yes as I normally do, I ramble on and on..

Dad, I hope you rest in peace and your soul finds rest wherever you are!

 

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Natasha sings “My Immortal” with Evanescence!

See Natasha M Sing with Evanescence “My Immortal”. Best 2 minutes you will spend today!

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...
Image via CrunchBase
My dear friends, we need your support! Here’s a Mashup song “My Immortal” made today by my teenage daughter  Natasha (BharatBeat Idol) M with Evanescence. This is a Mashup contest on Facebook that Natasha has entered! Follow the link below and give her a big LIKE and a word of encouragement!!
http://www.facebook.com/Evanescence?sk=app_116272508446233&app_data=4549

As her proud Dad, please view the video on Facebook and vote for by giving a big thumbs up LIKE!

As you may know this 13 year old is quickly becoming a star in her community!

Dad

Where I’ve been

Having fun and doing charity work gives new meaning to the word enjoyment and giving back! Try it!

It’g been a pretty crazy few weeks. Every time I decide I need to write a post, something comes up to distract me. Life continues to keep me in the fast lane, that even a seat belt wouldn’t have slowed me down. With doing double duty at work and spending time with the kids at home, I’ve wanted to put on the brakes to stop, but have not been able to do so! So here is a summary of where I’ve been over the past few weeks. Pictures to follow!

Over the past few weeks, I’ve attended multiple marrow drives for a friend nephew and went to NYC this weekend for St. Patrick’s day Parade and festivities. My first parade in NYC! Gotta admit this was truly the highlight of this year for me.

We must have walked over 5 miles in NYC! You know when you are getting old when a 5 mile walk stays with you for days. Oops, forgot the few hours of tennis.. I could remember the ancient days when I could do this and be ready to go at it the next day.. oh well such is life..

Have you ever been to Georgetown Cupcakes and Chelsea Piers! Gotta admit, eating cupcakes and hitting Golf balls was never this fun! Walking in NYC and seeing the throngs of people is just uplifting and shows what life is and how fast it moves.. Just look around if you are in NYC!

We of course went to the happiest place on Earth (of course it’s the Apple store anywhere, but this one is in historic Grand Central Station!), is such a treat! Of course this place is not so happy when your iPhone gets smashed and you have to shell out money to replace it the next day.. that’s what happened to my daughter.. oh well, such is life..

I have to admit that the Marrow drives were the most rewarding! It’s the first time I felt that I gave back to the community and am now thinking of other ways I can do more of this. If you ever want to save a life, this is one great way to do it. If you are between the age of 21 – 61 this is an excellent opportunity!

It’s been a pretty hectic few weeks and I could write pages and pages on each of the activities above as everyone know’s Dad is never one to be word shy…

Spring starts on Tuesday Morning at 1:41 AM… Ready for it?

NYC Day tripper

Who would think that a New York native would be in awe of a day trip to NYC? ok.. I’m guilty as charged!

Broadway show billboards at the corner of 7th ...
Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday,  my family and I went to NYC for a day trip. I gotta tell you something, it was one of the most tiring, fun,

and enjoyable day trips I’ve taken in a long long time.

Our goal was to see the play “Wicked” by buying 1/2 price tickets from TKTS.. Of course that plan fell to the wayside when we found out that play is NEVER available via TKTS. We ended up buying tickets to “Mary Poppins“.  An Excellent decision.

We drove in to NYC and went to the TKTS location near South Street Seaport. I even got lucky by finding FREE street parking! This was itself worth the entire trip. Considering that I had spent most of my young my 20’s and 30’s working in NYC.. I continue to be amazed at the transformation of NYC to be the tourist capital of the world. In 2011, NYC everywhere you look in NYC, the tourists rule! From South Street Seaport to Midtown, you can see the tourists as they see the sights of NYC.. Now I am one of them as I really

can’t recognize NYC anymore with the transformation that has taken place over the years!

I used to work downtown for a few years and the South Street Seaport was where I hung out. Of course Ground Zero for me was the World Trade Center Site where I commuted from to/from NJ.  Of course I digress

I would have been happy hanging out at the South Street Seaport, but we had an agenda! We were in NYC to see a Broadway play! We drove to Midtown and parked our car 2 blocks from where I worked on 6th ave and 44th street! OMG, this area has transformed into a tourist’s paradise.

We went to the famous Shake Shack for lunch and let me tell you the burgers at this place are just amazing.. I personally prefer to the 5 guys chain but the Shake Shack’s burgers, fries and the shakes are just too too good!

After lunch came the highlight of this trip! We went to Times Square to Toys R US.  This has to be the happiest place in the world for any child.. 4 to 5 floor of toys of every possible shape and size.. I particularly loved the Jurassic Park T-Rex! The indoor Ferris Wheel was unbelievable.. I wanted to ride.. but I would never heard the end of that.. so I didn’t say a word and a waited while my kids went on this amazing indoor Ferris Wheel!

We still had a few hours to kill, so we went into Times Square and we found seats! I sat in the middle of Times Square with my feet up on the table and couldn’t help but say to my self.. “Oh my, I’m king of the world!”.  Thank goodness, my wife didn’t hear me say that! I could not help but smiling for over an hour as I sat there.. Of course I got the nasty passing remark to me when they saw me with my feet up on the metal table! Me being a New Yorker at heart.. thanked them for their kind remark!

After having my “Chai Tea” which my older daughter got for me from Starbucks, we were on our way to the New Amsterdam Theatre for our Play! The theatre was magnificent and the show was absolutely marvelous.. I did fall asleep before the interval, but that was because I was getting bored with the silly songs in the Play.. The play itself was unbelievable after the interval and I thoroughly enjoyed it! All of us did.. I know now that what I had been missing all my life. To think it took me almost 40+  years.. to see my first Broadway Show.. what a shame!

To see NYC at night is something you must experience!  The life, the lights and Broadway!

My day trip to NYC was something that I will remember for a long long time.. Now I have to plan the next one to see the Phantom of the Opera!