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SQ 61 landed after 21 hours and disgorged its weary and permanently crumpled passengers at 6 am on December 17. Continental had come to the delayed conclusion that a full flight would mean far too much baggage to fit into the overhead compartments – which meant a free check in for my second bag, straight to Singapore, and left me with just the laptop and A Perfect Spy. So I breezed through the “Singaporeans and Permanent Residents” immigration customs (one of the few times I feel genuinely patriotic), picked up my bags after an interminable wait, and walked into bear hugs from my parents. It hadn’t really hit me until then, but I literally hadn’t seen my family in a year.

I know this isn’t exactly new, but good god I missed decent food. My mum has been trying to stuff me full of sambar and rice with all the enthusiasm of a taxidermist; I literally don’t have to do my own laundry; my brother’s cheerful laziness means that I look pretty good in comparison; and my GPA is still decent enough for me to enjoy the holidays.

The idea was that I’d surprise my brother one day before his birthday. I did, but not exactly in the way I’d intended. After the yelling and the flailing had died down, my dad (jumping up and down in the background) informed me that my brother was supposed to leap on me instead. Being my brother, he’d set five different alarms and still managed to oversleep. So I surprised him anyway.

Other surprises – my brother literally doesn’t fit on his bed anymore, I think his feet hang off of it, because he’s now 175 cm (5.74 ft) and towers over my dad. I mean, yes, ok, I knew he would grow, but I know for a fact there was a time when I piggybacked him around, and that time seems so very, very far away now. He’s also become dazzlingly intelligent (although I severely question his taste in music, why and how does he have Miley Cyrus on his playlist?! although there is hope, he’s now obsessed with Shafqat Amanat Ali’s Coke Studio performances), is as funny as always, and can actually hold a meaningful conversation on a variety of things. Last year we discussed why anything divided by zero becomes infinity. This year we were talking to my dad about the underhanded ways of the Indonesian government. And most stupefying of all is the fact that he still seems attached to me. I now have this theory that younger brothers with (relatively sane) older sisters grow up to be much better men, overall.

My mum is as nuts as always, but I think I’ve been finding this more hilarious than usual. She spent a wonderful half an hour reducing my brother and I to tears of laughter, telling us stories about growing up in India with six siblings. Dad – whom a close friend of his once described as “more suited to being an impecunious poet than a banker” – has already begun calling me by my brother’s name with benign absentmindedness; I now automatically respond to “Sriram”. We seriously need to get a game of badminton up and going one of these days.

So far, I have read an entire James Patterson book and have determined that Sidney Sheldon is a disappointment, gotten my brother to watch the Prestige, eaten three times the amount of food a day that I normally do, and have been for an actual legit walk. Now I just need to convince everyone to play Cluedo, and the weekend will be perfect.

And I’m meeting H sometime tomorrow, and H and Ams this Thursday. Also, library expedition on Tuesday. How can my life be bad?

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